CLASSIFIED | POLITICS | TERRORISM | OPINION | VIEWS





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RE: Attacking the Christian community in our motherland.

Sumith

Firstly, Prasad De Silva makes a serious error in his submission. He claims that 99.9% of the Christian community in Sri Lanka is composed of Sinhalese. This is absolutely and patently false. The Christian community in Sri Lanka is composed of both Sinhalese and Tamils. Both the Catholic Church and the various Protestant groups in the island claim followers from the Sinhalese and Tamil communities. Infact, as a percentage of the population, Tamils are over-represented in all Christian denominations. A more accurate breakdown of the Christian population in Sri Lanka (both Catholic and Protestant) would be around 60% Sinhalese and 40% Tamil. Much of the missionary activity in colonial Sri Lanka was centred in the Jaffna peninsula. It has been said that many visitors to Jaffna are surprised at the Christian influence in what is thought to be a bastion of Tamil Hindu culture. Mannar has a large Christian presence as well.

Secondly, pointing out how some sections of the Christian clergy support the LTTE is certainly not "attacking Christianity." Surely aiding and abetting terrorism is not a part of Christian teaching? If anything, these Christian priests are debasing Christianity by their behaviour and should be reprimanded by church authorities for their patently anti- Christian behaviour. Allowing the hallowed grounds of churches to be used as storage places for arms and ammunition, and giving permission for the LTTE to fire mortars from church grounds is absolutely criminal and should be condemned. Equally condemnable is the clean chit given to the LTTE time and time again by several Catholic priests including the Rev.

Rayappu Joseph. And what exactly are these Christian priests doing attending LTTE rallies and holding up placards of Prabhakaran? Are these Christian priests happy when our soldiers die? Are they supporting the suicide bombings, child soldiers, bombs on buses and trains, attacks on Buddhists and Muslims, and the cold-blooded massacres of innocent civilians? Are they supporting the facism and violent racism of the Tamil Tigers? It sure seems like it.

Prasad points out flaws in the Buddhist clergy, but what about the Catholic clergy? We see many of them living in palatial churches with the finest furnishings while the parishioners live in mud houses. We see them wearing the finest silk vestments while their parishioners struggle to feed their families. We see them wearing gold crosses and gem-studded rings while the tsunami victims are struggling to recover. We see them using luxurious cars and availing themselves of first-class plane rides while others walk miles to get somewhere. If you want ostentacious one only need to look at the Vatican and the lifestyle of His Holiness the Pope. I don't think there are many kings and queens themselves who have such a life of luxury. Recently, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles made a payment of US$ 600 million to settle clergy abuse cases. Now that is just one archdiocese out of the thousands found around the world. One can only imagine the amount of wealth hoarded by the Catholic hierarchy.

Thirdly, Prasad attacks Lankaweb for apparently not criticising the Buddhist clergy.
Clearly, Prasad must be a very recent reader of the website. Lankaweb has carried some of the most severe criticism of the Buddhist clergy, especially prior to the elections when the JHU came into formation. It triggered a vigorous and very democratic debate over the role of the Sangha in politics. Sri Lankan Buddhists have been far more critical of the Buddhist clergy than have Christians been of the Christian clergy. If anything, it is the Buddhist clergy that gets criticised much more often than the Christian clergy, not only at Lankaweb, but at other Sri Lankan websites as well. So I am afraid Prasad's accusation has no foundation whatsoever.

Fourthly, Prasad claims that he is "shocked" about the fact that some Christians give money to Buddhists to convert. Prasad, where have you been living? This is nothing new. It is happening all over the world and not only in Sri Lanka. The missionary business carried out by certain evangelicial groups is apalling to say the least. Their target is not only Buddhists, but all non-Christians. The agenda of conversion carried out by these groups and their ring leaders - the Christian priests - is unacceptable and only leads to religious discord. Aggressive proselytism in a multi-religious society such as Sri Lanka leads to conflict. It is not only the Buddhists who are being targeted, but Hindus and Muslims as well. Christian missionary groups are very active in trying to convert the refugees and internally displaced in the country. They attack and threaten Hindu priests who stand up against their unethical activities just as they attack and threaten Buddhist monks. They are also targeting the largely Hindu Tamil population in the central hills of the island.

Here are three websites that I hope Prasad will take the time to visit:

(1) http://freetruth.50webs.org/D4g.htm

In like manner to how Christianity has formed ties with communism and Islam in India, Sri Lanka's own volatile internal situation is being used to give Christianity greater leverage over the pre-Christian Sri Lankan majority. The country's Sinhalese-Tamil strife is exploited by local Christian Churches and international missionary organisations who have teamed up with the obvious side in attempting to bring down the majority Buddhist religion, as well as the minority Hindu. For over a decade, the extreme terrorist group of Tamil Tigers (LTTE) has been composed of a significant portion of Christians. (A former prime minister of India was assassinated by a Christian LTTE suicide agent.) Many among the Tamils sympathetic to LTTE have now become Christian as well. On the other side, the Churches are equally active in working upon the Buddhist Sinhalese. By taking advantage of the gaping divide, missionaries continue to harrass both sides. The situation is much like that in Africa, and neighbouring India.

(2) http://www.geocities.com/focussrilanka

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....A Fundamentalist Christian believes his or her overriding purpose in life is to "save souls," and that all other goals in life are trivial by comparison. That person is therefore motivated to convince others to adopt the same belief, complete with the self- replicating notion that the belief must be passed on."

(3) http://www.crusadewatch.org/index.php

Prasad says that "we must strive for a united Sri Lanka." And on this, I totally agree. But what Christian missionaries are doing in Sri Lanka is the opposite. They are trying to divide the country along religious lines with the "belivers" on one side and the "heathens"
on the other. This ideology is being set loose upon the world as well. Creating religious discord in Sri Lanka through unethical and aggresive proselytism is not acceptable. No matter our religion or ethnicity, as Sri Lankans, we need to stand up against this fundamentalism and tell the Christian priests who are spearheading the missionary business that their activities are only tearing apart the Sri Lankan nation. This is not "attacking Christianity" but standing up against intolerance and religious extremism.

I appreciate Prasad's submission, but if the Buddhist clergy can be criticised, then the Christian clergy should not be immune. Sri Lankans of all religions have a lot of respect for religious leaders, but that does not mean we have to agree with everything that they do.

Sri Lanka is a democratic country and we need to have discussions on various issues which affect the country at large. We need to have introspection in order to progress.



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