Thank you for forwarding me Tisaranee Gunasekara’s article.
Tisaranee in her analysis cites secularism as a panacea for all the ills that are prevalent in Sri Lanka.….. https://thuppahis.com/2019/05/16/secular-bulwarks-against-religious-fanaticism-our-urgent-need/#more-35640 I am afraid she is not only misguided, but her anti-Sri Lankan sentiment ignores the fact that many societies in the world that have adopted a secular constitution are in practice the very antithesis of the concept of secularism. You do not need to immerse yourself into Hegelian dialectics to eschew her simplistic approach in the analysis of Sri Lankan society.
While Sri Lanka’s neighbour India supposedly imbued with a secular constitution, currently has a government that is quite unashamedly Hindu and anti-Muslim. Again, look at the United States, which is founded on secular principles and prides itself on this concept of the separation of church and state, but now has the indignity and paradox of the President swearing his oath of office at his inauguration on the bible. Despite its secular constitution the United States has the highest number of fundamental Christians in it’s midst and portrays its Christianity with aplomb judging by the utterances of its current and past Presidents and senior officials in the American government. Even France, a bastion of secularism and the country that inspired the secular constitution of America, portrays itself as a Catholic country. though still proclaiming its adherence to the principles of secularism, it now utilises this very principle to stem the flow of creeping Islamism among its population.
By contrast Britain does not succumb to this principle of the separation of church and state. Britain is adamantly Christian and does not pull any punches on its religious identification. The Bishops of the ‘Church of England’ sit in the House of Lords because of their status and the monarch since 1534 (the Queen and head of state) is the temporal head of the Church of England. Moreover, the Archbishop of Canterbury is appointed by the Queen after consultation with the Prime Minister of the day.
In comparison Sri Lanka has been a citadel of Theravada Buddhism since about 270 BCE and all Sri Lankan kings since Devanampiyatissa have promised to uphold the prominence of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Unlike in neighbouring Indiawhere Buddhism was ruthlessly expurgated it thrives in Sri Lanka. Indeed, the majority community in Sri Lanka identify themselves with the epithet of the “protectors of Theravada Buddhism” and even to this day other followers of Theravada Buddhism in Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand consider Sri Lanka in the same analogous manner as the Roman Catholics consider the Vatican in Rome. The prominence given to Theravada Buddhism in the Sri Lankan constitution should not be a hindrance to any minorities from accepting the fact that a majority of Sri Lankans are Buddhists. If a pluralistic democracy like Britain permits what are perceived as discriminatory adjuncts to religion in its constitution, then the prominence accorded to Buddhism in the Sri Lankan constitution is in keeping with the majority aspirations and cannot be presented by any sane person as discriminatory to the other religions in Sri Lanka.
Bio-Note by Gus Mathews provided in Response to the Thuppahi Editor’s Request:
My initial education was in Sri Lanka and was capped by University education in England. I am of mixed racial origin in ways that epitomise the genetic footprint that many passers-by have left on the island nation of Sri Lanka. My immediate and extended family encompasses Sinhalese, Tamils, Malays, Burghers, English, Irish, Australians and Germans in its midst.
Tisaranee Gunasekara: “Secular Bulwarks against Religious Fanaticism –Our Urgent Need,” 16 May 2019, https://thuppahis.com/2019/05/16/secular-bulwarks-against-religious-fanaticism-our-urgent-need/#more-35640
Tisaranee Gunasekara: “Secularism or Barbarism,” 16 May 2019, …………..