20 April, 2024


An Open Letter To The Presidential Candidates – From A Christian Perspective

By Rohan De S Ekanayake

Rev Dr Rohan De S Ekanayake

To All Presidential Candidates of 2019 Election:

I wish to address you on a matter that may be insignificant to you, the candidates, nevertheless the principles if recognized and due attention is given, would be  far reaching and first step to stop the speedy highway to the abyss that our nation is heading for. 

It is ironic that the Christian Community received attention, when Churches among other places of commercial interest were attacked by a small group of our Muslim community. Ironic I say – as ‘it is appointed for man to die once’ and hence death is universal, although the method of death may differ. It is sad to observe that ‘terrorism’ and ‘martyrdom’ is fast becoming methods of this universal truth. In our Nation it is estimated approximately 1000 abortions takes place a day. In a Country where recitation of ‘thou shall not kill’ takes place daily, such killings of innocent lives go unnoticed and sometimes with tacit approval. Hence the approximate 275 lives loss during the Easter massacre receiving attention could be not necessarily for the evil act itself. It is evident that the reasons are political for many. Further the following detailed account of the oppression directed towards the Christian community since independence affirms this statement.

I say this as the minority Christian community has been at the receiving end from the majority community i.e. which happens to be Sinhala–Buddhist, very specially since independence.

The justification of all violence whether physical or rights violation directed at the Christian community has been justified with the perennial song of “unethical Conversion.”

Towards the end of the 19th century Anagarika Dharmapala among others originated these accusations. Obviously the teachings of Christ of “Love thy neighbor as thyself” and his “Great Commission” ‘the proclamation of the gospel’, which we believe as an absolute truth, was misinterpreted. Conversion can never take place without the usage of free will, and “free will is fundamental” for genuine conversion.

The same drum beat was heard from the nationalist movements in the 1940’s prior to independence. Christianity is wrongly referred to a religion of the Western imperialist, while the fact is – it is a Middle Eastern faith. Christianity was brought to Sri Lanka by the western Missionaries while all other religions in Sri Lanka were brought by Asian or Middle Eastern missionaries. It is common in countries who were colonized to reject all – the good and the bad; ‘throwing the baby with the water’ syndrome.

If unethical conversion has taken place, the Christian population should indicate a growth. In the contrary, the Christian population has been declining according to government statistics. The chart below is statistics taken from the Census Department.


Year 1891 1910 1946 1953 1963 1971 1981 1985 2001 2012
Christian Community 10.7% 10% 9.6% 9% 8.3% 7.9% 7.6% 7.4% 6.9%


Protestant Community 0.6% 1.3%

2. According to the last census the Protestant community is 1.3%. The accusations, attacks, violations of rights etc. to a community who is a minority within a minority is horrendous. No other community has been subjected to such pressure. In a recent documentation by Prof A.I Ekanayake titled “List of Attacks on Christian churches, Christian Pastors and Christian worshippers – Sri Lanka 2002-2017” gives details of 495 such incidents. 

3. In addition to physical attacks the following violations too are reported. 

Constructing of Christian centers for worship being refused on the pretext of preserving religious harmony. 

Systematic campaign in the media and on public platforms to incite anti-christian feeling -very often with inaccurate reporting. 

There is a move to preserve certain parts of our country for the majority religion.

Misusing existing clauses of the constitution to persecute Christian workers Eg: Section 81 of the CPC where “Breach of the peace” is used unfairly. Section 98 under the CPC which deals with the abatement of a nuisance in relation to noise and environment pollution, has been invoked to legally restrict church worship .

Churches have been closed down or ordered to stop by police in some areas, on the basis of a challenge to the legal validity of such places of worship.

General burial grounds been refused to Christian burials.

Christian children have been refused to be admitted/denied the right to study Christianity and in some instances are forced to study Buddhism but also follow its practices.

Action is not being  taken or the law enforced in many instances when Christians are assaulted or their rights are violated, although the attackers are identified.

These are some of the issues that the Christian Protestant Community face mainly in the villages of Sri Lanka.

4. A common factor in Countries that has developed is their treatment of all citizens with equality and justice immaterial of religion and ethnicity.To consider them otherwise is a proclamation of ‘sub-humanness ’which is a paranoid of Hitlerism.

The following chart speaks for itself. 

Country Christianity Other faiths No-religion System of Govenment Per Capita Income-US $
U.S.A 70.6 % 7.4% 22.8% Federal  Democratic Republic 62,641.0
U.K 59.5% 10% 25.7% The United Kingdom is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarch 42,491.4
Japan Christianity and other faiths




A multi-party parliamentary representative democratic constitutional monarchy System of Government 39,286.7
Canada 70.6 % 7.4% 22.8% Federal  Parliamentary Democracy 46,210.5
South Africa 81.2% 18% A parliamentary


democratic republic

France 51.6%  6.6%  39.6% A semi presidential system of government 41,463.6
Germany 61.1 % 6% 27.9% A democratic, federal parliamentary republic 48,195.6
Singapore 18.7% 64% 17.5% A parliamentary representative democratic republic 64,581.9
Australia 52.1% 10.6% 30.1% A federation, a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy 57,305.3

In South Africa, soon after the apartheid war ended in 1994 a new constitution was drawn by the Parliament elected. It was promulgated by President Nelson Mandela on 18 December 1996 and came into effect on 4 February 1997. When Bishop Tutu was consulted for his opinion as to a religious constitution in view of over 80% being Christian his wise counsel was that South Africa should adopt a secular constitution if it is avoid religious conflicts and should  consider all citizens equal.

Country Christianity Other faiths No-religion System of Govenment Per Capita Income
South Africa 81.2% 18% A parliamentary


democratic republic


On the contrary; countries that do not treat their citizens as equals, one of the main features of those societies are disunity which hiders development. Open Doors –a group which monitors persecution of Christians in their latest list gives the following countries where Christians are most persecuted.

According to Open Doors the Profile of Persecution in Sri Lanka is as follows

Violence  42%
Church Life  60%
National Life  69%
Community Life  63%
Family Life  49%
Private Life  66%

The gradual deterioration of the religious liberty situation since independence and the country moving into ‘religious nationalism’ could be seen by the chronological events in modern history.

1956- The introduction of the Sinhala Only Act in 24 hours, which affected mostly the Christian Community short term and the Tamil community long term.

1957-1965 -Takeover of the Christian schools in 1960, removal of nuns from all public hospitals and cancellation of visas of missionary priests, Brothers and Sisters.

1966-Removal of the Sunday Holiday

1972-A new constitution introduced moving away from the 1948 secular constitution. Introduction of a special clause for a majority community.

1978-Further strengthening of the article which gave the majority community a superior place in the constitution.

1980-1990-Waves of violence against the Church

1992- Commission appointed to investigate into NGO’s and the repercussion to the Church and Waves of violence.

2004-Waves of violence against the Church subsequent to the demise of a prominent Buddhist Monk

2005/2006- An interpretation given by the then Chief Justice to Article 9 of the Constitution, (was taken up at the Human rights Commission in Geneva, where a ruling was given that it violates the human rights charters signed by Sri Lanka and requesting the Government to take action to correct the situation which was never rectified) has disabled any Christian organisation to obtain any valid  registration. 

Under these circumstances, I urge you to give due attention to the principles addressed above, and to ensure equality and justice under strict adherence to the rule of law to all citizens so that under your rule this country would regain its status as a ‘peace loving paradise nation’.

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Latest comments

  • 11

    Rev Dr Rohan De S Ekanayake,
    As a leader of the Christian faith, it is logical that you draw attention to presidential candidates of the perceived lack of religious freedom in Sri Lanka. An argument has been developed to support such a view with a list of instances where Christians have been intimidated (and also assaulted).

    Religions are used by politicians to polarize people and then persuade them to vote as a religious block. Such an outcome is certainly not the intention of the author, although there may be unknown or unintended consequences.

    There have been instances where people have been financially rewarded for conversion. The question of ‘Free Will’ does not arise then, it is purely an incentive to change the religion.

    Legislative instruments (India is the best example) on ‘conversion’ is a logical response that will promote harmony among all religious people.

    The most appropriate government policy should to separate the mechanics of governing from religions. Those who want to practise a religion has the freedom to do so. If such is the case, you would not be writing this piece.

    It is a matter of time before all religions disappear from the planet. It is already happening in the country that I live.

    Religions are passed down from parents to children and thus perpetuate the belief systems. Relevance of religion to a modern society deserves an open discussion.
    In my life time, Presidents will swear on the Bible or invoke the blessings of the Mahanayaka’s.

    Sri Lanka would be a far better place if all religions cease to exist.

    • 10

      Quite right, the use of religion by politicians is well established, but what is less well known is the way foreign Superpowers used ethnic and religious identity politics and Weaponized Religion to further their strategic security interests in small countries in Asia and Africa, particularly by using minority religious groups, such as Tamil Christians and Muslims in north East Sri Lanka.
      The Easter Carnage was masterminded by US Special Operations (SOF) forces using Saudi Funding to Muslim Politicians as well as to Tamil politicians and of course US puppet Bondscam Ranil in order to force Sri Lanka to sign SOFA and MCC LAND GRAB project set up US military bases in Mannar and Trincomalee.
      Divide and rule is still the name of the Game of imperial powers, and they use the discourse of victim hood, Human Rights etc.
      Lankan Christians should protest outside the US and Saudi embassy in Colombo on October 21, the six month anniversary of the Easter Carnage and ask the US Embassador to get out and stop visiting Buddhist monks to sell SOFA and Fake aid from MCC

      • 1

        Don Stanley:
        Don’t you EVER tire of parroting reprehensible “conspiracy theories” that do NOTHING except generate ill-will among the people who are cursed fated to inhabit this island? Why don’t you include us atheists/agnostics among your targets? They seemed to have escaped your (pseudonymous) attention so far!

        • 0

          You, an Atheist/Agonist?
          Height of deception, isn’t it?
          Never tire of it!

    • 8

      The author does not cite the sources of his charts. One can challenge the assumptions made. In many of the Western countries he cites, the percentage of observant and practicing Christians is actually much less than his charts indicate.

      Lets also not forget that the introduction of Christianity was linked to the Atlantic Slave Trade, to colonialism, to white man’s rule, to the extermination of the native American and the killing of the Australian aborigine. It is the white man’s religion that continues to spread in Africa only because of western money. It is a tool of US foreign policy intended to disrupt non-Christian societies. The Middle East is a case in point.

      Why, even the Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church would not entirely disagree with me when it comes to the Evangelical Church’s intrusions in the Catholic flock in Sri Lanka.

      Fundamentalist Christian administrations in Brazil have witnessed the persecution of Afro-Caribbean religious observances like the Macumba and Condomble. The same is witnessed in Guatemala where indigenous Mayan religious practice is attacked. Christian fundamentalists had repeatedly damaged Buddha statues in Korea in previous years. Christian evangelicals attacked shrines belonging to the traditional Yoruba religion in Nigeria.

      Let’s face it – Evangelical Christianity is a cult, a narcotic intended to deaden the senses and force zombie-like conformity on humanity all the while American corporate interests are spread throughout the world. Its rise in the United States supported Trump and his roll back of America’s commitments to climate change, support for reproductive rights and increased attacks on African Americans. Its reactionary. Its for this reason that China suppresses the church.

      • 8

        These are the verses that inspire American Evangelicals in the Middle East.

        Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some.. have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods… If you find it is true.. you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it. Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the LORD your God. That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt. (Deuteronomy 13:13-19 NLT)

        If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. Your hand shall be the first raised to slay him; the rest of the people shall join in with you. You shall stone him to death..(Deuteronomy 13:7-12 NAB)

        Suppose a man or woman among you, in one of your towns that the LORD your God is giving you..has violated the covenant by serving other gods or by worshiping the sun, the moon, or any of the forces of heaven, which I have strictly forbidden…If it is true that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, then that man or woman must be taken to the gates of the town and stoned to death. (Deuteronomy 17:2-5 NLT)

  • 10

    Rev. Rohan De S. Ekanayaka,

    Thanks for your article.

    There were several omissions.

    First of all, this is the Land of Native Veddah Aethho , who lives in peace with the environment and the land from about 40,000 years ago, until the Paradeshis, Para-Sinhala and Para-Tamils, Paras came from India about 2,600 years ago, to steal their land and persecute them.

    Then, other Paras joined them, and they embraced the Para religions from their Para Homeland, Bharat, Para-Buddhism and Para-Hinduism. Later Paras brought Para-Christianity and Para-Islam.

    However, in the Land of Native Veddah Aethho, tastes you describe, the Para-Sinhala Para-Buddhists have gone berserk, led by the Para-Monks, recruited as 7-year old child monks, abused by the senior Monks, and the politicians have been happy to comply to the dictates of these vermins, a distortion of Buddhism and an insult to the Buddha.

    They were attacking the Tamils and Muslims as well .The Easter Terrorists were Followers of the Devil, called Wahhabisam, Salafisam and it’s clones.

    Want to know more about Para-Sinhala Para-Buddhism? Read Buddhism Bettayed by Dr. Stanley Tambiah, printed about 30 years ago, with a forward by Lal Jayawardana.

    PS. Have anybody reached Heaven, Nirvana or Nibbana yet?

    • 5

      I don’t deny the kernel of truth in your nostalgia but your are missing the bigger picture of cyclicity of historical events. It is stated in the tongue-twister: History repeat itself (But, history never repeat itself is also fundamentally true!). Simple meaning of this statement is that everything that occur in the physical world or human world are governed by certain laws. The fate of “Native Vedda Aethho (aththo?) is the same.

      First of all, they also cannot escape the adjective “Para” as they must have migrated from somewhere – most likely from India; for, it is certain that they haven’t independently evolved in this Island. They may be the most ancestral human “Race” but it doesn’t mean that they were the very first migrants. This leads to the crux of my guiding principle: “Dominance”! The fossil evidence & some legends (Nittavo) strongly suggests that there were many events migration but Veddas achieved “dominance” either by chance or by intentional force.

      The same is true for Catholics who started as small deviant group from Jews. Dominant Jews subjected them to many harassment until Catholics were able turn the table to start to return the “favor”. They even developed “sacred law” for persecution of Jews by saying it is the result of sin of crucifying Jesus! Power of the church grew so much that by 17 century, a new mode of thinking began to emerge claiming to save poor from the church & Royals, two of which have become a severe burden to the mass.


      • 4

        When such ideas began to emerge, Church & rulers did say idle; Galileo was confined to house arrest for declaring “heleocentrism”. Darwin was chastigated for writing the “Origin”.Only when the Church realized that it no longer could “dominate” its version of science, they surrendered. Finally Pope Francis adopted the Newtonian version of creationism and declared that, “God did not created the Earth in seven days; God created physical & chemical laws for the Universe to function” (may be God is not part of the universe)!

        When European began to conquer the globe, Church followed to become “dominant religion” on conquered people. Same happened here in SL. They managed to turn the existing feudal bureaucracy into a church “dominant” system via perks & Church education. This system continued even after the independence via Church dominated bureaucracy. Even the 1956 S/B surge couldn’t challenge the system; it only self destructed after the failed 1962 coup attempt.

        Now, The Church has officially accepted its “lessor” role. I think that, compared to what Christianity has done when they were dominant in their history of “dominance” the list of harassment in this essay is almost nothing. I’m not suggesting that S/B should return the “favor”; I’m only recasting the repeating history of “dominance”.

        As a final note, I think that Cardinal Ranjith’s leadership made a huge disservice to Catholic community by not doing enough to prevent post Easter violence. He should have known that the extremists of S/B could Turn against them any moment & therefore abandoning the Muslim community – another minority – at a critical moment is a mistake. The “dominant rule” tells that Majority always hurts the minority. Cardinal Ranjith may have played the usual politics of leaders, but the extremists at the grass-root level don’t follow them, particularly when their blood get boiled.!

        • 3

          Yes, your are right.
          The word PARANGI (used to refer to Portuguese and Dutch Jews who tried to take over our land) is the total embodiment of the PARA concept. Like Columbus, most of these ‘explorers’ became CRYPTO-CHRISTIANS just days before their ‘voyages of discovery’ began, because Judaism is secret and tribal.
          By the way, is Dath Dostara on holidays!

  • 14

    More than the Islamic oppression, due to wars conducted by the Christian west, have decimated the populations in Africa,asia. And most of the time muslims have been targeted. The caliphate which had been existing from 700-1928 was destroyed by Britain and france. Which has led to puppets being appointed for muslim majority countries with fake borders. The Christian west slavery , decimation of indigenous tribes in Americas is well recorded. Your argument of Christian countries are developed is very shallow. you must put only white anglo saxon Christians who wrote their own bible saying blacks /Indians are satanic and to justify appathade in south Africa, whats happening is isreal by the jews against palastinians and even jews brought from Africa is the same. Your argument is known as a house slaves knowledge.

  • 9

    The argument that Christianity equal progress and development is absurd. Have you not heard of the Philippines?

    Talking of which, suppose Muslims started opening madrassas in every Philippine village, do you think the Government and the Catholic Church would sit idly by and do nothing? Do you think Fillipinos would not take the law into their own hands to resist this?

    The ‘purpose of the Church in Ceylon is to convert the population to the true faith’, I do not blame people for retaliating. Especially when the missionaries have their organisations established as corporations to circumvent the law. They are hypocrites to the core.

    • 11

      Christians are not alone in claiming that theirs is the true religion and resorting to conversions and practising non acceptance / intolerance towards other religions, their abrahamic cousins the Muslims are equally guilty of the same crime world over! India is a case in point where, in its not too distant past of its history, Muslim invaders coerced large segments of Hindus to covert to Islam and killed those who refused to comply and built mosques on sites of temples. Within our own country the destruction of statues of Hindu deities are a frequent occurrence in the East and Mannar. We should stop this holier than thou pretensions and condemn all those who resort to such practices with equal vigour.

      • 3

        Vithura I agree, Islam and Christianity are equally guilty. It is interesting that the other Abrahamic religion, Judaism does not feel the need to ‘save the sinners’. This need is a form of hatred disguised as love and concern. Ask any psychiatrist.

  • 4

    Rev father if I may please change the title to “from a minority perspective ” . Today another religious bigot told press ” if people cant agree with SB, they should leave the country , we are like chained rabid dogs and by letting us loose, you will end up mauled and do not blame after”. This is a guy who should be preaching about peace and tolerance, making threats to media.

    • 5

      They are what they have claimed to be ‘rabid dogs’, so should it surprise anyone.

  • 3

    God of the desert. Jews, Muslims and people of Christ, worship the same God.
    Unlike other religions it is very specific how, who and when the universe was created.
    Hence it contains the whole history of humanity from the start almost 6000 years ago.
    Europeans diluted the essence of Christianity. But the essence of it is very powerful.
    No doubt some scientists believe the universe is much older and how randomly everything began.
    None of them are based purely on science but mostly on assumptions and manipulated evidence.
    Idea of Christianity is biblical hope leads you towards peace.
    Abundance of peace leads you towards Joy.
    Abundance of joy will lead you towards Eternal love.
    In a nutshell the outside should not influence your inside.
    I totally agree with the literature written. Politics is a subject of influencing human feelings towards a derived goal.

    • 6

      Re. your last sentence ‘the outside not influencing your inside’, so why resort to conversions?

      • 0

        Dear Vithura,
        If someone is resorting to illegal avenues to make money, then yes you should legally handle the issue.
        If someone is converting purely based on faith and religious experience, then it’s fine by me.
        Based on principles, outside means the worldly greed and inside is your spiritual growth.
        According to Christian teachings, we are spiritual beings having a human experience and not the other way around.

  • 7

    Religion divides peoples of the world more than any other social phenomenon.
    Each ‘religion’ is a Way Of Life. Any intelligent person needs no ‘religion’ to exist.
    More wars have been fought over religion than due to any other cause.
    In Sri Lanka, the constitution confers more advantages to adherents of one religion, over all others. Clergy of this religion demand undue advantages. This does not happen in most other countries.
    Adherents of this religion wrongly believe that all others are inferior.
    This is the cause of social strife since independence.
    Most other nations, with many religious adherents, live in peace without discrimination & strife among them. This is ensured by strict application of the Rule of Law. Why cant we ?

  • 3

    Are we are haunted by Huntington’s ghost?.

  • 1

    The only way out is to repeal…..
    The Republic of Srilanka SHALL give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana…………..
    If this is not done the chained Rabid dogs will break loose in full swing and by then it would be too late.
    The fact is that no candidate contesting an election would openly campaign for the removal of this clause!
    A Secular State could only contain the SUPREMACY OF ONE RELIGION OVER ANOTHER.

  • 7

    Yes there is Buddhist thrust on all other religions in Sri Lanka. But at the same time, especially after the recent attack I begin to wonder if the Christians, especially the Catholics under the Cardinal are trying to create another distinct voting group like Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims – another group called Christians. This is being pushed by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith for his personal political affiliation to Rajapakse regime. By taking such an action Cardinal has become a political person forgetting he is no difference than the Bodu Bala Sena Gnanasara Thero. Rajapakse group knows that Tamils and Muslim votes to them is limited. Christians to date have been split and most of the votes have been going to UNP. By creating a group called Christians and pushing them against the Govt as a political block vote group (by attacking the present Govt and supporting Rajapakse gang) the Cardinal has become a political animal.
    This is the Cardinal who came out on TV and said there have been no attack against Christian places of worship when there were ample videos showing Buddhist Monks attacking Christian places of worship, especially the non Catholic Christian places of worship. He also made a public statement that he will not meet any Presidential Candidates, and within days of making that statement he met with Gotabaya. Although he keeps on saying he has information regarding the Easter attacks he never went in front of the PSC inquiring the attacks and provided his evidence. This again is a political stunt of the Cardinal to support Rajapakse from whom he has received Santhosams in the past.
    While the Cardinal opposes foreign influence in SL, he has forgotten he himself is a foreign agent. He is a Sri Lankan but he is not selected or appointed by the Catholics in Sri Lanka.

  • 3

    Secularism is the answer.

    Religion is very personal.

    Religion has been taken for political ride.

    Who made ministries for religions?

    (Earlier it was the cultural ministry concerned about every religion).

    One law for everybody in every matter.(no different personal laws/ no provincial laws etc.)

    Religion based charity should be discouraged.

    In other words country must run by law; not by religion.

    Christians themselves are responsible for this cause as there’re some Christians with superiority complex.

  • 0

    To the writer and the commentators:
    This is a matter best left to God. Allocation of population numbers to different faiths is determined by God. Clashes between different groups even God cannot help.
    According to Mahawansa the island of Sri Lanka has been allocated to Buddhists.


  • 2

    If one going to believe in book that suppose to be word of God as the truth and ready to kill others to in the name of the God obey every command of the powerful creator of every thing know and unknown to humans and believe that he watch you in your sleep and can punish you for thought crimes no wonder world is in a mess. I don’t point to one religion I say all religions are harmful.

    I have adopted Sam Harris analogy ff bless his breakfast string hoppers before one eat think that they have changed in to Vijaya Kumarathunga’s body one will be called utter fool or loony but thousand of christens carry out this ritual every day believe some how they are consuming the body of Christ. This what religion dose to good people. Just as Muslims believe Mohammad flew to have on a horse with wings..

    • 0

      According to the Bible, the entire earth belongs to the Lord .
      ‘The earth is the Lord’s,
      and all all it’s fullness,
      The world and those who dwell therein..’. (Psalm.24.Holy Bible)

  • 0

    Thank you Rev.Ekanayake .
    We appreciate this.

  • 1

    So Soma GOD created Bodu Bala Sena?

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