22 February, 2024


Inclusive Sri Lankan Anglicans Welcome Non-Christians & Dogs

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Prof S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

A quiet movement has been taking place in Sri Lanka to take Christ out of Christianity to make Christianity accessible to all; to make it a culture rather than a religion. It began with Wesley Ariarajah of the Dialog Unit of the World Council of Churches whose ideas were opposed publicly by Bishop Sabapathy Kulandran in 1985. 

De-Christianizing Christianity has taken strides in North America and Europe. In the words of Alana Massey (1 May 2015) in the Washington Post, Christianity is the dominant religion in the United States, but the cultural experience of Christianity here varies at least as widely as its practice does across denominations, families and individuals. Despite the persistence of Catholic guilt, only a third of people who identified as Catholic in a General Social Survey in 2014 were actually practicing the faith. Polls conducted by the evangelical research firm Barna Group found that young people leave because of factors such as the church’s views on sexuality and science, and its failure to acknowledge “the problems of the real world.”

At Toronto’s West Hill United Church on the faith’s holiest day, Easter, it will be done with a huge difference. The words “Jesus Christ” will be excised from what the congregation sings and replaced with “Glorious hope.” Thus, it will be hope that is declared to be resurrected – an expression of renewal of optimism and the human spirit – but not Jesus, contrary to Christianity’s central tenet about the return to life on Easter morning of the crucified divine son of God. Generally speaking, no divine anybody makes an appearance in West Hill’s Sunday service liturgy.

How did West Hill succeed when Sri Lanka failed? In Sri Lanka those who espoused this route were the likes of Bishop Kenneth Fernando who kept trying like wishing Nibbana to deceased Buddhists. However he and his priests into dialog were opposed by those who wondered if they believed in the Christian teaching that we are born but once or in Buddhism’s cycle of births and rebirths. Their theme was all religions are true despite the different religions’ counter claims.  But there were Christians in places like Moratuwa who would have none of it. So Bishop Kenneth ad a lively homegrown opposition that kept him in check.

Accordingly, Kenneth Fernando’s successor Bishop Duleep de Chickera once in a marriage homily at a cross religious wedding told the couple they are brave to have married across religions and urged the Buddhist partner not to take baptism as intended then. So the plans for baptism were aborted after the Bishop’s homily, much to the chagrin of the Christian family.

It was a strange world then. Priests with non-traditional beliefs could be elected Bishops because winning elections is more an organizational achievement than an expression of shared faith. Many successful priests were Marxists who found the church providing them with a soap box they lacked. 

The difference came in May 2011 when Bishop Dhilo Canagasabey was elected Bishop. He is known as an evangelical who by definition “ takes the Bible seriously and believes in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.” His followers had a lot of faith and trust in him.

Bishop Canagasabey began taking Christ out of the unique position as Lord and Saviour” by tackling the Tamil liturgy. Tamils were not wary of him at all. The Church’s Liturgical Commission had hardly any Tamils and the Sinhalese who could not read the Tamil Liturgy blindly followed Canagasabey’s picked leaders like Rev. Joshua Ratnam who has openly stated that he is neither traditional nor evangelical.

In taking out Jesus from his primacy position in prayers, the Liturgical Commission did three things:

1. In the Nicene Creed which is recited every Sunday is a summary of our faith of long history. The opening lines, “I BELIEVE in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And of all things visible and invisible: And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God …” the words “Almighty” and “one” were taken out. The explanation as given by a priest coming out from the Pilimatalawa Theological College where our priests are trained, is that if our God is almighty, it is a put down on the Buddha, Vishnu, and Siva. et al. So he is simply Father, not Almighty Father. Likewise, he is not one Lord, but simply Lord.

2. The second place is in the prayer known as Gloria in Excelsis, also recited on most Sundays:

GLORY be to God on high, and on earth peace, good will towards men. We praise thee, we bless thee, we worship thee, we glorify thee, we give thanks to thee for thy great glory, … Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us. For thou only art holy; thou only art the Lord; thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

The crossed-out words have been removed because they imply that the Buddha, Vishnu, Siva et al. are not Holy,  not the Lord and not most high in the Glory of God the Father.

3. There are several such editings. The worst is the prayer 5.2.3, saying “Thou without holiness or destruction, have mercy upon us.” At the Diocesan Council, Rev. Joshua Ratnam explained that “without” applies only to destruction and not to holiness. The majority seemed hoodwinked. He was parallel to me at St. John’s, I in form V and he in Form Special V for repeaters, coming from Trinity. He left St. John’s as soon as his results came. It is surprising that he who did badly in his GCE OLs was put in charge of liturgy and later made Canon. Or should I say not surprising?

Prayers in Sinhalese have been inserted in the Tamil liturgy by a Church that broke off from Rome about the use of Latin saying we must pray in words we understand. It seems that the same logic does not apply to the Sinhalese language.

Tamils have been worshipping with these words without realizing what they are telling God or what the removal of the key words means. It reveals a total intellectual failure of Tamil Anglicans.

Explained a priest his silence: “I have children in Mission Schools. Please understand my position if I am transferred by the Bishop to Mullaitivu!”

These mistakes were pointed out to Bishop Canagasabey in 2011. He promised a revision. Since then, again and again, revisions have been promised without delivering on their promises. For 13 years now we have been fooled. The new Bishop Dushantha Rodrigo also promised revisions soon. The untruthful promises show that the deletions are deliberate. After 13 years Tamils seem to not have noticed or  rebelled. Week-in and week-out they nonchalantly insult God. Will the Church now try these experiments with the Sinhalese too? Is Jesus not our only Lord any more? Why have the Tamil priests kept quiet? It seems a dead church when priests do not ask why these changes, and often do not even know that the changes have been made.

The evangelical Canagasabey might claim that these are mistakes and not deliberate to save himself from the wrath of his evangelical base. However, if so, the Tamil language mistakes in Bishop Canagasabey’s Preface and that he himself used these horrible prayers without noticing, suggest something seriously wrong with the quality of our priests who get the call to be priests from the Holy Ghost on failing their exams at school.

There are now signs that LGBQT behaviour is increasingly accepted by the public. This has forced the Church to abandon biblical positions and follow society. As shown in the PEW Research findings on US attitudes in the Graphics nearby, in all churches the public acceptance of LGBTQ behaviour is increasing. The Archbishop of Canterbury under whom the Church of Ceylon operates has agreed to bless homosexual unions. This has split the Anglican Church with the worldwide majority rejecting the leadership of Canterbury. In Sri Lanka, we being under Canterbury, there are now brazen moves to side with the Archbishop and include LGBTQ behaviour as church sanctioned without any church discussion or resolution. 

The Anglo-Catholics, the most conservative branch of Anglicanism who hold that the Protestant rebellion nearly 500 years ago threw the baby out with the bathwater,  have been somehow bamboozled into sponsoring a talk titled “Affirming Catholicism” pushing LGBTQ positions through a speaker from London who is an active Lesbian. Whereas the Catholic church has refused permision for a homosexual to be even a child’s Godfather, the seminar by the organizers is a dishonest caricature of what Catholicism stands for.

Opening up a second front, Kithsiri Fernando, Rtd. Bishop of Kurunagala, has written a long essay on human sexuality where he says, inter alia, “The same fact that we are a moderate and outward looking Congregation needs to be highlighted in this regard. While we are bound with creeds and the instruments of unity we also recognize that we are all [sic.] belong to diverse affirmations and contexts. While we use the same pillars of tradition, scripture and reason we must also remember that we are an outcome of a revolution but also with a firm resolve of an Anglo-Catholic nature. It emphasizes the fact that we need to be a bridging Church, a Church that needs to tolerate and accept different affirmations. … The Anglican Communion with diversity in geography, culture, languages, contexts, theologies, traditions etc spell [sic.] this to us more clearly and challenges the Communion than any other Church [sic.].”

A sleight of hand by the Bishop is to use differing sexual tendencies in us to argue for giving in to natural tendencies. Many men have a natural attraction to women outside marriage. In Christian life, however, a Christian prays for strength to fight that attraction. We do not say that is how God made me, and go on exercises of unrestrained debauchery. That thinking can justify theft, anger and even murder saying these tendencies come from our creator. Says the Bishop, “We cannot expect or force everyone to belong to one category.  It would seem as strange as asking everyone to colour one’s skin one way or the other.” 

Bishop Kithsiri Fernando seems to justify and excuse lust, murderous rage etc. as God-given and irresistible – a divine gift!

Pushing an all-inclusive agenda, Bishop Dushantha Rodrigo of Colombo came to Jaffna this last weekend leading and opening up the third front. The Jaffna Christian Union organized a meeting at the Anglican Archdeacon’s Office to discuss “The Relationship between Religions in the North and our Future” on 22 June, 2023. Dignitaries from other religions and leaders of other denominations were invited as the latter too were part of the Jaffna Christian Union. However, only some 22 persons came, 20 Anglican priests who had to come to meet their Bishop, and two lay Christians. It seemed that the other churches and religions were not interested in Dialog. Such Dialog is an Anglican show on its inclusivity.

With no one to discuss religious Dialog with, the Bishop turned the discussion to homosexuality: “How would you react if your child turned out to be a homosexual? Would you not accept homosexual behaviour?” The priests who owe their promotions, transfers and placement of their children in mission schools, failed to ask, “If my son began living with a divorcee outside marriage because of his sexual urges and lack of sexual discipline, is that a reason for condoning his unbiblical behaviour?

The rest of the evening was devoted to discussions on including dogs in the church because a faithful Anglican asked for a Christian burial service for his dog! 

Sadly, we do not have a burial service even for humans because our priests are lazy if they are educated enough to write the liturgy. We mongrelize our burial service with pages of the Church of South India Prayer Book and something here and something there. I do not think Sinhalese Anglicans even have such a Prayer Book even as we berate colonialism when we cannot do anything original. 

Our Mongrel Tamil liturgy seems tailored for dogs.

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Latest comments

  • 3

    Professor Hoole,
    You are fighting with people who are strong enough to overrule the one and only Almighty Lord!
    May God bless you.

  • 5

    The article has validity. But, not the Heading.
    The Heading is typical Prof S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole!
    I wish to illustrate with an anecdote.
    A group of us, all Tamils, were to gather at a house of another Tamil. The location was decided upon because his house was quite spacious.
    As we arrived at the venue, we couldn’t miss a sign at the door.
    ‘Tamils and Dogs are not welcome!

  • 2

    Hoodwink! Savitri wants to produce homosexual saints with a Catholic orientation, so claims the Colombo chapter of affcath. That would be the first saint produced in history through this unusual route for intimacy with God (which is claimed as the goal of affcath.).

    Combined with a prayer book denuded of its efficacy the Ceylon Anglican Church is more and more a spiritual Kanatte.

    For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Jude 1:4

    Parents, save your children from this edifice of smooth deception for they are there solely to profit in everyway taking advantage of your gullibility.

    • 6

      What is wrong with homosexuality? One can be a heterosexual and be utterly perverse.
      It is now a natural choice– more natural than the institution of marriage.

  • 1

    Prof Hoole, I am also a Thamizh Anglican

    What do you think of this?


    • 0

      Some of those girls are quite good looking. Surely there must be plenty of men available for them?

      • 5

        Good looks are not good enough for a Tamil girl if the purpose is marriage, but fine if the purpose is extramarital.

  • 4

    The beauty of religious mania is that it has the power to explain everything. Once God (or Satan) is accepted as the first cause of everything which happens in the mortal world, nothing is left to chance…logic can be happily tossed out the window – Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzche

  • 2

    Prof. Hoole,

    This is very interesting to know. Thanks for the write-up.

    Conceptualizing religion too much beats the mystical human-need purpose. To do away with traditional illustrative religion like in the Toronto’s West Hill United Church will make the religion really very uninteresting and tedious. They will shout with joy for a while, but initiating their children with only pure concepts will kill the children’s awe of the Divine. (I wonder if so many youth go into drugs nowadays to fill the 4th-D void).

    Humans need that human or even imaginative face-forms (as in Hinduism) to delve into that elusive attachment with the Divine. Even Islam with only one pure God has all kinds of glorious visions of Heaven. They also have fancy calligraphy in the Koran, with beautiful voluble chanting and supplications together with the black box, and the very idea of Mohammed and his lifestyle. Buddhist, the most conceptual of religions yet goes quantum internally. Together with their beautiful Pali chanting, flowers, food, divine looking Priests floating around that get worshiped, and the after-life awareness of rebirth that is very tangible (you’d be enclosed in flesh and bone again (or maybe chlorophyll) if you haven’t yet glided into Nirvana).

    Chanting in Latin, Pali, or Arabic, gives an ethereal experience. Of course, we can’t have all of it in unknown celestial tongues, but as long as one has the main perceptions of the religion, a good homily in the known language will solidify a profound religious mystical experience.

  • 2

    I need to make a correction with apologies.
    A couple of Moulavies came for the multi-religious meeting at the Jaffna Archdeacon’s office.
    It was the Buddhists and Hindus who kept away.
    To force their presence Bishop Rodrigo wants the next meeting on their premises so that they are forced to participate whether they want dialog or not.
    In an ongoing web-discussion on that failed dialog, former Archdeacon Nesakumar and present Archdeacon Selvan demand to know who gave me the information
    Do they not know it was a public meeting to which I too was invited? So what is the prohibition in sharing with me the information on what happened?
    The two venerables lived too long under the LTTE and some of the Tiger intolerance has taught them how to control people!

    • 8

      “To force their presence Bishop Rodrigo wants to…”
      Who on earth does he think he is top force anyone’s presence? G** Al******?
      What an arrogant utterance!
      A decent person will do things to persuade another but not to force.

  • 8

    “…Anglicans Welcome Non-Christians & Dogs”
    I remember boards with wording like “No Irishmen No Dogs” etc in the UK at a time.
    Will ‘yes’ to “Non-Christians & Dogs” convey any more respect to the human beings concerned?

  • 2

    ”Inclusive Sri Lankan Anglicans Welcome Non-Christians & Dogs”
    What’s the problem? In Buddhism, anyone of any faith is considered a Buddhist if abides by the 5 precepts but should Christianity fenced round ‘believers of god’ or ‘registered Christians’ only? As for dogs, a faithful animal, considered by many as a loyal companion, & if an ardent Christian requests a ‘Christian’ burial for a loyal companion, amusing it maybe, it is up to the priest, to decide, maybe, depending on his busy schedule & commitments.
    In the 21st century, we are better educated & science can prove or disprove most myths, therefore, we should be able to question the ‘teachings’ & decide for ourselves. Whether one believes in an almighty god, many gods or no god, it is a personal matter. People who don’t find answers to their questions, naturally, leave or find an alternative religion they find acceptable.

  • 4

    On the question of LGBTQ, we can’t shut out the fact that it is an ‘illness’ or an ‘urge’, as Prof. H. describes, just as rape or paedophilia, committed by despicable people, could be overcome by prayer or faith in god. If that is the case, it’s not working. If the almighty is the creator, then there has been a ‘manufacturing error’, as we call it in the trade, in the case of transgender people. I have gay friends & colleagues but I would be concerned with those in abusive marriages, usually sanctioned by the church, than a happy same sex relationship. A private same sex relationship is nobody’s business, just as someone living with a divorcee outside marriage. It is only in backward societies that LGBTQ is taboo.

    Prof. H’s beef seems to be with the Church of Ceylon & he can complain to the overseeing church of England but if his protest is ignored, maybe, he can form his own church, which could even be a profitable business. I am surprised an academic could have such a narrow view, in fact, no better than blind Sinhala Buddhists.

    • 5

      That is a most welcome comment.

      • 1

        Thanks SJ. Nice to know that we agree on some issues

  • 0

    SRH, You are really funny to comment that the discussion revolved round including dogs in the church. Possible to change homosexuals into right thinking even with peer pressure as God only created male and female in his image and not dogs and animals. Sad also that Archbishop Welby started in the anglican church as a tongue speaker believing then that he had a jewish heritage which subsequently changed into other truth. Leaders are held accountable by God himself. Jesus said he will build his church

    • 4

      “Possible to change homosexuals into right thinking”
      Right and wrong in such matters are utterly subjective.
      Homosexuals are, if at all, as intended by God Almighty. Most of them are that way by nature. Some may be by intelligent choice, and not easy to persuade otherwise.

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