There is an strong extremist Buddhist faction in Sri Lanka that believes that non-Buddhists are second class citizens and this group is powerful enough that it can influence the government, yet another example of the terrible consequences when religions can influence the use of state power.
When an announcement was made that Pope Francis would visit Sri Lanka in early 2015, one of these groups decided to use the occasion to whip up anti-Catholic sentiment.
Once the news of Francis’ trip got round, movements of radical and ultranationalist Buddhist monks verbally attacked the Pope, setting a dangerous media propaganda campaign in motion. Vatican Insider learnt that a group of monks stormed a meeting that was organized by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, hurling violent insults and threats against participants.
These radical Buddhist groups – whose actions are fuelled by fervent nationalism coloured by faith and culture – have been targeting Muslims and also Christian Evangelicals and Pentecostals for some time now. These religious groups are seen as advocates of a strong religious proselytism. Now, these groups seem to be targeting Catholics as well. This has sparked concern among bishops, civil authorities, the Nunciature of Colombo and other European embassies ahead of the Pope’s visit.
There seems to be no major religion that does not show a very ugly side when it achieves a significant level of power over the government. They start demanding that public policy be based on their sectarian beliefs and impose it on everyone. It seems like religions preach peace, love, tolerance, and understanding only when they are in the minority and need the majority to practice those virtues so that they can survive.