3rd reply to Prasad
By Sumith Perera
Dear Prasad De Silva,
Thank you for your reply.
Unethical craft of conversion
Unfortunately, there has crept in the purity of the early Christianity an exclusiveness, a feeling of sole proprietary right over God. This exclusiveness, this feeling amongst Christians, that "we are the only true religion, and all other gods are false gods", has had the most catastrophic and bloody consequences: millions have been killed in the name of Christ, entire civilisations, such as the Atzecs and Incas, have been wiped out, "to bring them the word of Jesus". Even Christians have savagely murdered each other, whether in France or England. One would have hoped that this intolerance, this fanatical and militant drive to convert, forcibly or otherwise, pagans to the "True" God, had ceased in this new millennium of "enlightenment."
When you have time, take the time to visit this website: http://freetruth.50webs.org/
Now let us take a look at what the Catholic Church has been up to:
Catholic leaflets warn of Asian fundamentalist 'danger'
Beware of Fundamentalists" warned the thousands of leaflets Church workers handed out to the 25,000 Catholics who gathered on Divine Mercy Sunday at Risen Christ Church.
The volunteers were busy on the hot afternoon of April 15 in front of the church in Kadolkelle, Negombo, about 25 kilometers (about 15 miles) north of Colombo. According to local church sources, the 4,000-seat church will be one of Asia's largest when it is completed in the coming months.
Slogans printed across the yellow leaflets charged fundamentalists with "converting people by distorting the gospel," "spreading false information regarding Lord Jesus" and "insulting our mother Mary." The leaflets warned: "Don't enter into their churches or partake in their activities. Avoid accepting help and gifts from them."
"It is a trying time for us, because new theologies on the gospel are being given to our people by the 'fundamentalists,'" continued Father Nonis. "They give money and materials to the people."
So it seems the Catholic Church is apparently "attacking the Christian community" as well Prasad?
If the Catholic Church and the Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka have accepted that unethical means of proselytism are used by certain Christian groups to gain converts, why are you having so much trouble accepting this truth? It certainly is condemnable how Christian groups used the tsunami as a means of gaining converts, by abusing the shock, the destitution and poverty of the victims and their families. It also disgusting how they demean other religions and claim that everyone else will burn in hell unless they convert to their particular sect of Christianity.
It may come as a shock to you Prasad, but there are bad Christians just as there are bad Buddhists, bad Hindus and bad Muslims. There is no point in pretending as if all Christians are snow-white angels. There are bad apples in every religious groups and most of the Fundamentalist Christian groups operating in Sri Lanka and the rest of Asia do not care for religious harmony or dialogue. They believe that everyone in the world should be Christian and do whatever it takes to harvest souls for their God even if it means tearing apart the society they are targeting.
It may seem convenient to forget the past, but many of the problems we face today have been the result of our past. As the adage goes, those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. During Christian rule, Buddhism and Hinduism were oppressed in the most vile of fashions. Did you know that marriages in the areas controlled by the Dutch were not accepted unless they were Christian? Or that education was provided to students if they only converted to Christianity? Or that the colonials paid people to go from village to village slandering Buddhism? You may wish to sweep things like these under the carpet but in my opinion, all Sri Lankans need to learn about these things.
There is nothing wrong with the Joshua Project website per se Prasad. But it goes to show how Christian groups actually keep tabs on who is Christian and who is not. Now are these Christian groups governments? Nope. Their purpose is to target these so-called unreached groups and try and get them to convert to Christianity. I dont know about you, but I find it slight unnerving how these Christian groups are so interested in who is a Christian and who is not. Infact, their website covers almost every single ethnic/tribal group and their entire aim is to convert these non-Christian to one religion, one belief system, one world-view. One might term that facist really. And if you dont have a problem with facism, then what can I say to change your opinion?
Plenty of Christian children are admitted to Buddhist schools. But Christian schools actually have a religious ratio even though you seem to claim as if they are free from any religious bias. They do not qive equal place to the religious celebrations of the Buddhists, Hindus and Muslim. And in case you havent realised, in Sri Lanka children study the religion that they follow, it is compulsory. Thus Buddhists study Buddhism, Christians study Christianity, Hindus study Hinduism and Muslims study Islam.
After 500 years of giving preferential treatment to Christian students you are now complaing about Buddhist schools? Buddhist schools came into existence because of the bias and unequal treatement given to Buddhists by Christian schools. The Buddhists were sick of having to convert to get an education, sick of having their religion disgraced, sick of having their culture made fun of. Can you blame them? I ask you, who started schools on a religious basis? Who started sectioning burial grounds on a religious basis? Who started giving education and jobs preferentially to a religious group? We all know the answer to that dont we?
Since when has the Vatican helped people Prasad? The Vaticn takes but it does not give. It certainly wants to convert non-Christians to Catholicism just like Fundamentalist Christian groups. A lot of money is spent on (1) the luxurius lifestyle of the priests (2) on building bigger and bigger churches and (3) in the missionary business trying to convert Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims to Catholicism. What is the Catholic Church doing about the millions of poor Catholics in Latin America? In the Phillipines? In Africa? In the rest of the world? One archdiocese in the USA can part with US$ 600 million to settle clergy abuse claims, but cant do the same to help the Catholic poor?
Prasad, people can be forced to convert. Previously it took the form of violence and oppression and today it happens through much more devious means. The ancestors of much of Sri Lankas Christians were Buddhists or Hindus. Many of them converted to gain positions in the colonial government, others were oppressed violently, couldnt get an education, couldnt get married unless they became Christians. Yesterday it was the sword in one hand and the Bible in the other, today it money in one hand and the Bible in the other. The methods may have changed, but the motive remains the same. If these extremist Christian groups are TRULY and GENUINELY interested in helping people, then they would do their helping without having the motive of converting the unsuspecting. They would respect other religions. They will not abuse the poverty and destitution of someone just to harvest souls and gain brownie points with their God.
Yes Buddhists have their temples around the world. But they do not set up groups with the sole purpose of converting every single non-Buddhist to Buddhism. They do not abuse the poverty and destitution of people to convert them to Buddhism. They do not print phamplets claiming that those who do not follow Buddhism will burn in hell for eternity. They do not go knocking from door to door and harassing people to convert. They do not pay people to convert others. They do not set up websites with statistics on who is Buddhist and who is not Buddhist. Personally, I can tell you that none of the Sri Lankan Buddhist temples overseas Ive been to engage in any sort of evangelism whatsoever. They cater simply to the Sri Lankan expatriate groups.
As Venerable Dhammika the Australian Buddhist monks says:
Another argument evangelicals use to justify conversion activities is to say that Buddhist monks go to the West to spread Buddhism so why shouldn't they come here and try to convert Buddhists. It is true that both Christianity and Buddhism are missionary religions but their concept of how to spread their respective teachings differ dramatically. Both now and in the past the Buddhist approach has been to establish a presence and then leave anything beyond that to the individual concerned. And even then, Buddhists only establish a presence in a community or a country when they are invited to do so. Without exception, all the Western Buddhists I know converted themselves, no one came knocking on their door, no one argued them into believing, no one approached them and told them that Buddhism is the only true religion. Buddhist conversion efforts are gentle, unobtrusive and always initiated by the person wanting to find out about the religion, not by the Buddhist missionary.
You might like to spend some time trying to open a Buddhist temple in the west Prasad. Perhaps you will find it is not as easy as you think. In London, one cannot build a Buddhist temple because it doesnt fit in with the local architecture. Now imagine if in Sri Lanka we said that Christians couldnt build their church somewhere because it doesnt fit in with the local architecture? In Sri Lanka churches are built anywhere, wherever the priest feels fit. Building Hindu, Buddhist temples or Muslim mosques in the west is not that easy.
You claim that Chistians can convert to Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Of course they can. But many who have converted from Catholicism face ostracism from their families and the Church. Many have been kicked out of the church, one gentleman Ive met told me the Church refused to come to funeral of his parents because he converted to Buddhism and refused to offer a burial spot in Church grounds.
You say that Even then the Christian clergy do not insult Buddhism the way some of the Buddhist monks does. Is that why Christian clergy print out phamplets attacking Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam? Is that why they claim that all non-Christians will burn in hell for eternity unless they convert? Is that why they paid people to go around disgracing Buddhism? Is that why they support the LTTE when it has killed Buddhist monks and Hindu priests, ethnically cleansed the north of Muslims? Im certainly not saying all Buddhist monks are innocent, but the Christian Clergy preach that all-non Christians are destined to go to hell for eternity. According to Catholicic priests, even those who are not baptised are destined for hell.
You claim that right now Sri Lankan society is NOT TOLERENT to
any RELIGION other than BUDDHISM.
What I can tell you is that Christian extremists are NOT TOLERENT towards any RELIGION other than CHRISTIANITY. They want their religion to rule the roost. They want everyone to follow only one religion their own. They want to harvest all the souls for their God. They do not care for religious harmony. They believe that only Christians will be saved and everyone else will burn in hell for eternity. They teach that Sinhala and Tamil New Year is a pagan festival and un- Christian. They teach that Bharatha Natyam is a pagan dance and un-Christian. They preach that it is wrong to celebrate or help out during Vesak and Deepavali because that would mean supporting the heathens. They preach that Harry Potter is evil because he deals in witchcraft. The list goes on.
As Jon Rabbit says Fundamentalism seeks to destroy competing beliefs. Fundamentalist Christians believe that all other religions of the world are attempts by Satan at deceiving humanity. This belief is pervasive and resistant to logic or reason; all attempts at reconciliation have met with failure
Now tell me Prasad is there ONE Christian-majority country in this whole wide world that officially celebrates the religious days of the Buddhists or the Hindus or the Muslims and sets aside at least one public holiday for them? Why do they only give official recognition to Christianity?
You say in a democratic civilized society, a country cannot identify it self with a single religion, but unfortunately in Sri Lanka it is not. But many countries do identify with a single religion. For example in the United Kingdom, The Church of England is the oficially recognised religion. In Norway, which is now attempting peace in Sri Lanka, Evangelical Lutheranism is the offical religion. And are you seriously claiming that the USA does not identity itself with a single religion when its Pledge of Allegiance states under God and its currency states in God we Trust? Im sure you will have no problem then, if like in democratic and civilised Norway, we make Buddhism the offical religion and like in democractic and civilised USA we have a Pledge of Allegiance that says Under the Buddha and have in the Buddha we trust on our banknotes and coins?
Once again is there ONE Christian-majority country in this whole wide world that officially celebrates the religious days of the Buddhists or the Hindus or the Muslims and sets aside at least one public holiday for them? Why do they only identity with a single religion Christianity? According to your own definition then, they cannot be democratic and civilised societies.
You ask to be a full blooded Sri Lankan You got to be a SINHALA/BUDDHIST. Am I correct????
My reply is no you are not correct. If you perceive it that way, then that is your issue and something you need to work on personally. For example, Lakshman Kadirgamar was neither Sinhala nor Buddhist but I think he was more Sri Lankan than a lot of Sinhala Buddhists. But do remember Prasad that Sri Lanka is largely Sinhalese, and largely Buddhist just as the United Kingdom is largely English and largely Christian, and Malaysia is largely Malay and largely Muslim, and Pakistan is largely Punjabi and largely Muslim, and Thailand is largely Thai and largely Buddhist.
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