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Protecting Freedom of and from Religion: Questioning the Law's Ability to Protect Against Unethical Conversions in Sri Lanka

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In recent years, the issue of improper and unethical conversions has attracted much attention in Sri Lanka. The issue is a highly emotive one, with members of the majority Buddhist population calling for measures to protect their religion from 'threats' from other minority religions, and members of these other religious groups expressing growing feelings of discrimination and unequal treatment. This article examines recent case law in the field of unethical conversions in Sri Lanka. An analysis of the decisions of Sri Lanka's Supreme Court relating to the incorporation of Christian organizations suggests that the legal system in Sri Lanka has struggled in its attempt to secure the right to freedom of religion and the right to manifest a religion for all people. Moreover, it is argued that the law has ultimately fuelled the growing religious tensions across the island. This article questions the law's ability to protect against unethical conversions in Sri Lanka, and therefore seeks to add weight to the calls for a non-legislative approach to the issue in order to allow for respect for the human rights of all concerned.


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