Sri Lanka draws inspiration from Tamil Nadu's Anti-Conversion Legislation

In Sri Lanka, it is not only the Hindus, but also the Buddhists who have been affected by conversion
Jan 05, 2004 11:41 AM EST

Colombo, Sri Lanka., Jan. 5 - Tamil Nadu's draconic anti-conversion law banning 'forcible' religious conversions in Tamil Nadu may not have pleased the Christian community in India, but it certainly seems to have caught the fancy of the neighboring island nation of Sri Lanka.

The government of the neighbouring island nation of India is now scrutinising the state law as Colombo, too, proposes to ban religious conversions.

The law, enacted in 2002, proscribes religious conversions through allurement or fraudulent means.

Lanka’s Hindu religious affairs minister T. Maheswaran said in Chennai that a draft bill, modelled on the Tamil Nadu legislation, was ready to be introduced in his country’s parliament early this year.

Maheswaran had gone to Chennai to attend a four-day international conference on the Mahabharata, which was inaugurated by the Kanchi Sankaracharya, Jayendra Saraswati.

"Unlike in India, in Sri Lanka, it is not only the Hindus, but also the Buddhists who have been affected by conversions to Christianity. So the Buddhist clergy is also in favour of banning conversions," Maheswaran said.

At least 7,000 Hindu families in Lanka have been converted over the last few years. The Buddhists as well as the Hindus there support the bill, the leader added. According to Maheswaran, the law was being considered because the new evangelists were trying to woo the poor with attractive economic packages.

This has come in the wake of the recent persecutions perpetrated on the Christian community by the Hindus and Buddhist monks living in the island nation.

- by our Special Correspondent