By Chandra Jayaratne –
The General Secretary,
Congress of Religions,
C/O. The General Secretary
National Christian Council of Sri Lanka
368/6 Bauddhaloka Mawatha,
Representations to the Select Committee of Parliament to Recommend and Report on Political and Constitutional Measures to Empower the People of Sri Lanka to Live as One Nation, Promoting Social , Economic, Political and Cultural Development and Ensuring that All People will Preserve and Promote Their Respective Identities and Live With Dignity and Security as One Nation and Enhance the Unity of People of Sri Lanka
I am unaware whether the Congress of Religions, has already made or will be making, by the closing date of 15th August 2013, submissions to the Select Committee of Parliament appointed to recommend and report on above.
In pursuit of long term religious amity in Sri Lanka, and to foster the unity amongst people living in one nation, recognizing the rights and freedoms enjoyed by all people of Sri Lanka, I have placed before the Parliamentary Select Committee referred to above, the under noted submission,( amongst other suggestions), for their due consideration;
- In order to ensure religious amity and foster the unity of people living in one nation, and recognizing the rights and freedoms enjoyed by all people, Article 9 be amended by its deletion and substitution with a new Article titled, “Right to Freedom of Religion” which shall read as follows;
9. All persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion; and
9(a) without in any manner regulating, undermining or restricting the generality of the application of (9) above, Right to Freedom of Religion, the foremost place shall be accorded by the state to Buddhism, being the religion practiced by the majority of the people.
- Consider amending the constitution to bring in to effect an appropriately amended section similar in scope of section 29 of the Soulbury Constitution which reads as:
“29. (1) Subject to the provisions of this Order, Parliament shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Island.
(2) No such law shall –
(a) prohibit or restrict the free exercise of any religion; or
(b) make persons of any community or religion liable to disabilities or restrictions to which persons of other communities or religions are not made liable; or
(c) confer on persons of any community or religion any privilege or advantage which is not conferred on persons of other communities or religions ; or
(d) alter the constitution of any religious body except with the consent of the governing authority of that body, so, however, that in any case where a religious body is incorporated by law, no such alterations shall be made except at the request of the governing authority of that body
(3) Any law made in contravention of subsection (2) of this section shall, to the extent of such contraventions, be void.
I appeal to the Congress of Religions, to make its own submissions, in time, to the Parliamentary Select Committee and thereafter through effective advocacy, promote such position across the island, recognizing that religious amity will be a significant pillar, in achieving the long term objective of people of Sri Lanka living as one nation.
10th August 2013.
CC. Most Rev. Itthapane Dhammalankara Thero
Most Rev, Prof. Bellanwila Wimalaratne
His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith
Rt. Rev. Bishop Duleep de Chickera,
Rev. Dr. A. W. Jebanesan
Mr. Javid Yusuf
Mr. K. Neelakandan,
Editors of Media,