The situation in Sri Lanka centers around the Catholic archbishop appealing to the country’s radical Muslim sect to denounce extremism in their actions. The core issue is the killing of 629 people on Easter Sunday in 2019. Sri Lanka is 70% Buddhist, which interests me because the minority populations of Christians and Muslims are in such conflict. The radical Islamic state supporting groups are also responsible for bombings at two Catholic churches, a protestant church, and three hotels frequented by tourists[1].

            The Sri Lankan government’s response to the bombing is met with suspicion by the archbishop since there is a high probability that the responsible organizer remains at large. The Catholic church claims those responsible are part of a larger international group. After two years, there has been no progress in the investigation of the Easter bombing.

            Like any other political party or religion, the Muslim worldview can tend to the extreme according to their behavior. While the attacks may originate based on a foreign political stance, the aggression toward Christians in Sri Lanka also follows their perspective on dealing with other Abrahamic religions. These values are not random but “reflect an underlying system of beliefs.[2]” The underlying system can be a cause of dissonance between their religiously defined values and those they exhibit behaviorally. Kwast expresses that worldview is based on what is real[3], but the reality is in motion when under the influence of arbitrary weights based on emotion.

            The local implications of such violence are manifold. While hosting mostly a tolerant Buddhist population, the Sri Lankan government must contextualize and admonish these acts of violence. In the call to reject extremism, archbishop Ranjith suspects political reasons as the cause for stalled investigations. Since these questions on governmental due process remain, the reliability of the Sri Lankan government is under suspect. The legitimacy of the archbishop’s complaint is reasonable, considering no consequential arrests occurred in the preceding two years.

            Like Christianity, Islam must become more contextualized to provide a more consistent basis of beliefs as an example all adherents will follow. While Christianity is “reincarnated” in every language and culture[4], The Islamic faith finds a common language in which it is still practiced. This leaves less room for interpretative error in regards to the Koran’s exegesis. Sri Lankans ‘ Muslim practices should be uniform with those practiced in foreign countries, but we find the same issue in Christianity. In any religion, the possibility of syncretism remains when these systems of beliefs are enculturated. The many interpretations of religious thought influence the local and international public perception of their basic tenets, especially when there is violence. No religion that claims to adherence to God’s principles is intolerant of their fellow man.

            The Christian response to violence against any persons or groups should always be to denounce such actions. Along with all other religions, Christians must publicly rebuke those who commit violent or intolerant acts against others as not reflective of their worldview. Too often, political and faith-based beliefs continue to be conflated by those with a plan that does not serve God.  In the Sri Lankan attacks, the Islamic cleric spoke at the memorial, acknowledging that Islam offers no justification for crime. Christians should continue efforts to speak out against those who practice violence or intolerance in the name of God, and where appropriate, acknowledge the political motives masked by religion.


              [1] Krishan Francis. “Sri Lankan Archbishop Asks Muslims to Reject Extremism.” In ABC News, April 21, 2021. https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/sri-lankan-archbishop-asks-muslims-reject-extremism-77209827.

              [2] Lloyd E. Kwast, “Understanding Culture,” in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader, 4th ed., ed. Ralph D. Winter and Stephen C. Hawthorne (Pasadena: William Carey Libray, 2009), pg.396, https://app.wordsearchbible.lifeway.com/workspace.

              [3] Ibid (p. 399)

            [4] Charles H. Kraft, “Culture, Worldview and Contextualization,” in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader, 4th ed., ed. Ralph D. Winter and Stephen C. Hawthorne (Pasadena: William Carey Libray, 2009), pg.405, https://app.wordsearchbible.lifeway.com/workspace.