This article argues for a different reading of the history of law and religion in independent Sri Lanka, one that does not associate the persistence of religious tension with the failure of law, but, somewhat counterintuitively, with the legalization of religion in the first instance. I argue that it is not law's failure that adds to the intensity of religious tensions on the island, but its pyrrhic success. Sri Lanka's success in drafting, ratifying, and deploying legal regimes of religious rights has led to the further ossification of the very conflicts they were intended to arbitrate. Through a condensed overview of the history of debating, drafting, and adjudicating constitutional religious rights in Sri Lanka, this article demonstrates how, in turning to law to resolve religious disputes, Sri Lankans have deepened and hardened the very lines of conflict that those laws were meant to resolve.
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