Police are known to take strict action against perceived insults against Buddhism
Sri Lanka’s penal code protects religion in a strange way and shields it from open discussions regarding their various claims. This kind of privilege of religion has no rational basis and is not found anywhere in the developed world today. We had this kind of privilege in the West until 500 years ago in the Middle Ages, also known as the “Dark Ages”. It’s a different world out there now where the statistics show a marked decline in religious faith. The same with Australia.
In the countries of this part of the world, individuals are free to discuss religion as they discuss any other subject. Religious instruction is not available in public schools where children are encouraged to treat claims of religion the same way they treat other beliefs. It is an entirely new revolutionary world that is being created in the West where individuals are free to form their own opinion on the basis of public evidence and not on the authority of the holy books, priests, monks and others. of the mullahs.
Sri Lanka Criminal Code
Let’s look at the law in Sri Lanka. Articles 290 to 292 of the Penal Code “provide the framework for restricting expressions that offend religious feelings. Articles 291A and 291B limit expressions deemed offensive to religion.
Article 291A states:
“Anyone who, with the deliberate intention of injuring a person’s religious feelings, utters a word or makes a sound to that person’s hearing, or makes a gesture in sight of that person, or places an object in front of that person. view of that person, will be punished with imprisonment of either description for a period of up to one year, or a fine, or both.
Article 291B states:
“Anyone who, with the deliberate and malicious intent to insult the religious feelings of a class of persons, by words, oral or written, or by visible representations, insults or attempts to insult religion or beliefs nuns of this class, shall be punished with imprisonment of one or the other description for a period of up to two years, or a fine, or both.
Police are known to take strict action against perceived insults against Buddhism. Foreign tourists perceived to “disrespect” religion have repeatedly broken the law. Even a young local poet was detained for writing differently about the Buddhist religion.
The wording of the Penal Code is dangerous although it is presumably preceded by an “intention”. In the prevailing political context of Sri Lanka, it is easy to interpret a criticism as a criticism “intended” to provoke “contempt of religious sentiment”. If Martin Wickremasinghe lived today, he probably would have been imprisoned for his unconventional portrayal of the Buddha in “Bavatharanya”.
There are many rowdy people wandering in saffron robes who can be mobilized to inflict unnecessary harm on individuals who can simply express their human rights to interpret and speak freely of the teachings of the Buddha. The teachings of the Buddha are open to interpretation anyway because the Grand Master left nothing in writing. If the justice system does not deal with “delinquents”, these lawless “holy tribes” will. And politicians can exploit this to score points for a gullible population.
Religion has lost its magesteria
A religion represents a system of beliefs relating to the reality of the universe, of life and of a hereafter. Depending on the interpretations, countless rituals, prayers and worship practices follow.
Children are labeled at birth as “a Christian child”, “a Muslim child”, or a Buddhist child “, or” a Hindu child “, and so on. The newborn is not aware of what happens to him during baptism, for example. However, this practice is abominable and constitutes a violation of the right of the human being to form his own beliefs and opinions. Yet this is what is happening. But that is not the subject of this discussion.
The central problem with religious beliefs is that they are based entirely on the faith as given in a Holy Book. They are not the result of a scientific investigation of the discovery derived from evidence and reasoning. This explains the many contradictions within the different religious denominations, but the believer is brainwashed to ignore the contradictions and consider that his particular faith is the true one and that his God is the good one.
In the days before the advent of science, religious teachers were the only guide to reality, life, and the universe. So the Bible tells us that the earth was the center of the universe and that it was only 6,000 years old and was entirely created by an almighty Creator God in seven days. In addition, this transcendent being oversees each of the eight billion souls living in different parts and corners of the world. So beware.
With the Renaissance and the dawn of modes of scientific thought and discovery, scientists have discovered through hard evidence that the world is at least seven billion years old and that the life of organisms, including humans, has not created but simply evolved through a process of natural selection. -guided evolution. The process of natural selection explains the apparent design that we observe in life.
It is not possible to have two overlapping reality systems. We can thus understand that with the advent of science the old magesteria of religion has moved. To understand the world, life, human behavior, the movement of stars and planets, geology, climate, health issues and death, one must necessarily go to science. For example, scientific understanding of the disease has led to the technology of drugs and diagnostic devices. Understanding of space has led to the technologies of air travel and space travel.
Science must come first
It is clear from the above that we must invoke scientific methods of investigation and discovery to try to understand reality and that old religious interpretations must step back with grace.
Open and competitive environment
Modern humanity will live in an open and competitive intellectual environment. Individuals should be encouraged to ask questions, to test hypotheses and to seek the truth.
The hold of religious faith in these areas is therefore redundant and unfortunate. The habit of questioning must grow so that people are informed about their environment and their life.
This habit extends to questioning so-called religious truths received conventionally.
Was Jesus divine? How did the New Testament come about? What was the Old Testament? Was Abraham real? Were Adam and Eve Real? Did God send Jesus to die on the cross and atone for our sins? Wasn’t that cruel? If our sins had been atoned for in this way, why are we still considered sinners? Was Jesus born of a virgin? How was it?
Did the Prophet Muhammad fly to heaven on a winged horse? How is it that the Quran was recited to the Prophet by Archangel Gabriel? How could the Buddha speak immediately after his birth? With the death of our brain, there is nothing left called consciousness or soul. How, then, can we speak of the Hereafter: Heaven or Hell or Samsara? How do Hindus end up resorbing themselves with Brahma? Could it be that the caste system originated in Brahma? Should widows be condemned as the Book of Manu states?
Contemporary minds are ready to ask questions
Although this was not the case in the minds of people a century ago, more and more contemporary minds are raising such questions. However, as the above observations suggest, such doubts arise naturally in the modern mind.
What matters is what is true. We have every right to criticize any belief. These expressions are not necessarily criticisms of people. These are attempts to find out the truth. New “dangerous” ideas may hurt the feelings of those who still cling to them, but the intention of those expressing them is not necessarily to “insult” people but to question ideas. On the contrary, this “insult” is collateral damage. Should we avoid denying that the world is only 6,000 years old on the grounds that such denial could “hurt” those who still hold to this belief?
The Penal Code is open to the danger of treating any criticism of religious beliefs as “insulting” or “offensive to feelings”. Authorities can also abuse it to crush dissidents and throw them in jail.
(The writer can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org)