Boundaries have always been central to the dynamics of armed conflicts. Wars involve the activation and hardening of certain boundaries, thus dividing friend from foe. But despite the efforts of political potentates to carve out clearly delineated impermeable boundaries, people continue to travel across and sometimes challenge these boundaries. In this article, we study the boundary crossing practices of religious actors in eastern Sri Lanka, a multi-ethnic and multi-religious context affected by protracted war and a tsunami. We discuss two case studies, one on local conflict mediation activities and another on post-tsunami humanitarian work, to examine how religious actors engage with boundaries. We find that paradoxically, religious actors derive their ability to intervene in politically controversial issues because of their perceived distance from the 'dirty' world of politics. But conversely their religious and institutional identities are threatened when they become too visibly enmeshed in everyday politics.