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Render unto Caesar ……

I refer to the letter published under the above title by a "concerned Anglican" and the response by Rev. Sydney Knight.

While I fully agree with Rev. Sydney Knight that the Church cannot keep away from issues relating to the country, the concern of many Christians is that the Church has lacked consistency in the statements made from time to time and the stand taken by them on current issues, and has been adopting double standards on these issues. My comments in this letter are not directed specifically to statements by Church dignitaries, whom we hold in great respect, in their individual capacities, but more specifically to certain Church bodies.

Several instances of this inconsistency could be quoted. For example, while the Church hailed the now infamous ceasefire agreement by RW with the LTTE, which later was seen as a sell-out of a part of the country to the LTTE and only helped the LTTE to rebuild and entrench themselves in a strong position, it spoke very little when the agreement was violated with impunity by the LTTE. After the termination of the agreement, when the LTTE hit back with mass murders and killings of both civilians and armed forces, the Church again was slow in condemning these killings but did not hesitate to promptly spotlight any lapses or so called excesses of the armed forces, giving ammunition to the western world to accuse our forces of war crimes. The Church, while quite rightly, spotlighting the plight of the IDPs and civilian killings which inevitably happened in the last stages of the war, downplayed the triumphal military victory of the government and the armed forces in crushing the LTTE and eliminating the LTTE, which victory has brought about a lasting peaceful environment in the country. The Church, till the very last was echoing the voice of the west calling for a negotiated settlement, when everyone knew that the LTTE had made a mockery of negotiations, only using it as a means to regroup and rebuild themselves. In the current issue on SF, while the Church has rightly spoken out on the despicable manner in which he was arrested, both the Church and the Buddhist hierarchy cannot be blind to the various offences which he is now accused of, not without any foundation, and should allow the legal process to carry on.

What the Church should now fight for is the urgent need for reconciliation in the country with a solution acceptable to the minorities, and the end to media and all other forms of repression which is going on and in fact increasing daily. It is the duty of both the Church and the Buddhist hierarchy to bring maximum pressure on the government to bring about reconciliation and an acceptable solution and put an end to all forms of repression.

So, while accepting the views of Rev. Sydney Knight on rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, we call upon the Church to be bold and consistent in its stand on issues relating to the country..

Nimal Bhareti

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