CLASSIFIED | POLITICS | TERRORISM | OPINION | VIEWS





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HUMANITARIAN ORGANIZATIONS OR
ANTI-SOCIAL BUSINESSES?

Daya Hewapathirane, Ph.D
Brampton Ontario Canada

Humanitarianism

Governments, corporate sponsors, private donors and sensible people in the West are perhaps not fully aware of the deplorable nature of operations of the so-called Christian humanitarian or charitable missions operating in poor countries such as Sri Lanka. The World Vision and Evangelist organizations funded by the USA are at the top of the list. Their approach to, and methods of assistance is founded on the “give and take” business principle, rather than on a altruistic humanitarian philosophy. Their generous ‘givings’ are laden with strings. In terms of real value, what they give is negligible when compared to what they seek and get. What they do at grassroots level among the crisis-ridden, poverty stricken, distressed and desperate people do not qualify as humanitarian or charitable efforts. Humanitarianism or charity is to generously give without expectation of anything in return.

Predatory Behavior of Christian Missions

The tsunami disaster has attracted many hundreds of Christian missions and secular organizations to the affected regions. These missions appear to be openly exploiting the tragic situation in these places. They are involved in unethical conversions in the form of buying clients for their religion with material inducements of varied forms.

The tsunami disaster provides good examples of the predatory behavior of the Christian organizations, towards the helpless and vulnerable people. Their intentional targeting of the most vulnerable children that has annoyed most people. What these people need is assistance to recover from their tragic state brought about by the loss of their loved ones, their dwellings, their material possessions and income. They have not lost their Buddhism or Hinduism or Islam to be assisted with another religion, particularly with a religion that is being discarded in most of the Western world.

Divisiveness and Disharmony
Proselytization actions of Christian organizations are not only working against religions and cultures that form the foundations of life in these countries and have given an identity to these countries, but also, in the process, bringing about divisiveness and disharmony among people. This is a most reprehensible form of exploitation. Divisive tendencies thrust upon people have become threats of the well-known community coherence, hospitality, cordiality and unity, especially within rural communities of Sri Lanka.

Allurements and Inducements
The practice of allurement, or providing "inducements" to the poor in return for their conversion to Christianity, is quite common, and one that many missionaries readily admit using. It is also nothing new, the Portuguese and Dutch used this technique extensively in the 16th to 18th century period in Sri Lanka. Today's methods are subtle and more concealed. Converts are now being "bought" with food, medicine, promises, micro-loans and many other means. Micro-lending programs are increasingly popular, providing a revenue stream for cash-strapped missions as it adds financial credit to the other blandishments missionaries can offer in exchange for conversion.

Conversion is the Price of Charity

The practice of enticing the hungry and sick to Christianity with offers of food and medicine may not be illegal, but is hardly ethical--especially given that so many of the poor people have little or no understanding of the concept of religious "conversion." Mahatma Gandhi, that icon of compassion and self-sacrifice, detested proselytizing, and criticizing this practice said "I strongly resent these overtures to utterly ignorant men," he once protested, criticizing missionaries who, in order to gain converts, "dangle earthly paradises in front of them and make promises to them which they can never keep." In his Collected Works, Mahatma Gandhi states categorically that "the idea of conversion ... is the deadliest poison which ever sapped the fountain of truth." If missionaries could not conduct service for its own sake, he said, if the price of their charity was conversion, he preferred that they would quit India altogether.

This practice of bribing, rewarding and buying people over to Christianity, is not a recent phenomenon, it has been the common characteristic of all Christian and western humanitarian and charity missions and their NGO affiliates operating in poor countries.

Intimidation and Fraud
When these baits and allurements fail, the missionaries resort to more-aggressive means which border on intimidation and fraud. In Sri Lanka they resorted to making of the Buddha- shaped cookies to be eaten by children and smashing and destroying statues of the Buddha in their presence in order to kill children’s spirit of veneration to the Buddha. For these peculiar Christians the "harvesting" of souls has become an end that justifies almost any means. "It's not how we convert that matters," Paul insists. "Conversion is what counts."

The innocent Buddhists are the most prone to this conversion menace because they form over 70% of the islands population and form the overwhelming majority among people seriously affected by the tsunami disaster. In many places it has been reported that the rural poor have refused to be bought over by these undesirable elements. The more educated ones are bitter and have developed much resentment towards those resorting to these unethical means.

It is most unfortunate that the English media of Sri Lanka which is controlled by Christians, rarely give publicity to the deceitful activities of Christian missions operating in Sri Lanka. On the contrary they highlight often fabricated stories of churches being destroyed by Buddhists. Christians in Sri Lanka account for a mere 5% of the population. Owing to the special opportunities and privileges accorded to them by Christian colonial powers for some five centuries in the past, they still continue to wield much power in the political, business, media and educational fields (Daya Hewapathirane, Plight of Sinhela Buddhists, LankaWeb, 2004). They are alleged to be sympathetic towards the terrorist Tamil LTTE.

The growing agitation for legislation against unethical conversions is a reaction on the part of the preponderance of Buddhists against the invasion of a foreign religion and way of life that have the effect of undermining the indigenous culture and social values of the country and creating disharmony among its people.


Incompatibility with Culture and Way of life
What these missions are attempting to introduce to the predominantly Buddhist country, is incompatible with the way of life and the social value system of the country. Sri Lanka’s well-established Buddhist culture extends to a period that exceeds 2200 years and is marked by ingenious creativity and accomplishments. The UNESCO designated several historic Buddhist sites in Sri Lanka as World Heritage Sites owing to the masterpieces of culture evident in them (Daya Hewapathirane, Heritage of Buddhist Art of Sri Lanka, TES, Brampton, Canada, 2004).

Sri Lanka’s Buddhist culture is characterized by cohesive families, respect for parents, elders, the educated, strong and lasting family bonds, children being great sources of inner satisfaction and pride for parents, taking personal care of parents and elders during their sunset years, maintaining close ties with ones relatives, taking pride in their accomplishments, and helping those in need, being charitable and compassionate towards others, generation of satisfying community feelings through numerous religious, cultural and recreational activities where Buddhist principles form the basis, and people’s active participation in these festivals, ceremonies, rituals and celebrations.

Peoples community attachment and feelings of togetherness are best expressed at weddings and funerals, which are attended by many. Annual Vesak festival, Sinhela Hindu New Year celebrations, Dalada Perahera festival, Sri Paada season, are among the many historic events which generate a good amount of community feelings. Towns and villages have their own individual festivals and celebrations that attract many people.

On the other hand, some negative social tendencies that characterize western ‘Christian societies are uncommon in Sri Lanka, and these include excessive divorces, broken families, family violence, single parents, abandoned children, child abuse, abortions, teenage pregnancies, drug and sex addiction, proneness to stress and depression, excessive sensuality.

Community Feeling and Individualism
Community feeling pervades the Sri Lankan society, especially among the rural masses, whether Sinhela, Tamil or Muslim. This was well expressed during the time of the tsunami disaster when as a community the people voluntarily came together as one, to help those affected.

Those Sri Lankans who have been well exposed to the western world, are aware of the largely individualistic tendencies that the western corporate culture promotes where aggressiveness, craving and sensuality reign supreme. In these ‘Christian’ countries, the system promotes limitless craving for material possessions, physical comforts, sensual pleasures, and to become rich and powerful. Role models are the rich and popular movie stars and sports personalities.

The educated and concerned Sri Lankans who have been exposed to both cultures are in a better position to judge what is in-keeping with the basic values of their people. Uprooting something that has become essentially a ‘part of nature’ of Sri Lanka with something foreign and incompatible is against “sustainable development” that the western development specialists are trying to promote all over the world including poor countries.

Sustainable Development Strategy
Buddhism and Buddhist culture are essential components of the tangible and visible and intangible and unseen socio-cultural infrastructure of the country. Sustainable development means implementing a process that integrates environmental, economic and social considerations into decision making. As far as countries such as Sri Lanka, with a rich and well-established ancient Buddhist cultural heritage are concerned, sustainable development means the achievement of continued economic and social development without detriment to the island’s physical and cultural environment and natural resources. Concerned Sri Lankan professionals maintain that the quality of future human activity and development in Sri Lanka needs to be seen as being dependent on maintaining this balance. They believe that Sri Lankans are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature and their cultural values.

Reaction of Buddhist Monks and Temples
In fact, many have rediscovered the overflowing solace that their own religions and cultures have provided them in their hour of need. It was their own people in neighboring areas who were unaffected, who came to them first for their rescue. They continue to be involved in various voluntary emergency recovery services in affected regions. Most people took refuge in Buddhist temples that are found in almost every village and town in Sri Lanka. Buddhist monks have never in recent times been seen so active in providing emergency relief and assisting in disaster recovery work in every corner of the tsunami affected coastal region. They not only provided and coordinated relief measures but more, through sermons and other religious activities they comforted people. People rallied around them in large numbers because they felt secure in their minds, they knew that they will not be covertly exploited in any way.

Direct Relief International
“Direct Relief International” is an US based humanitarian organization that was active in the tsunami prone region including Sri Lanka. Its approach is diametrically opposed to that of the Christian missions and their affiliates. Direct Relief International is a non-profit, non-political, and non-sectarian organization that provides assistance without regard to religious, race, ethnicity or political affiliation, gender, or ability to pay. It is committed to making every dollar count – less than 1% of its support going for administrative and fundraising expenses, as opposed to Christian organizations such as the World Vision, where a significant amount of donations and collections goes for administrative and fundraising expenses, including the physical comforts and conveniences of those involved in the so-called humanitarian activities.

Commendable Indian Attitude
India did not permit these unscrupulous missions and organizations to be involved in tsunami assistance. India claimed that they are a source of problem. Besides the unethical means of promoting their hidden agendas, these personnel spend little time per day, directly helping disaster victims as compared to local Indian relief personnel. It is always more efficient and beneficial to have local people who are conversant with the local environment, community and their language, be involved in emergency work. Foreign disaster workers consume a large part of the donations for their comforts in expensive hotels and their sight-seeing trips and safaris in exotic places, which could otherwise be spent on helping the poor disaster victims.

Subordination to Proselytizing
This subordination of humanitarian service to proselytizing is a matter of theology--evangelical Christians believe they hold a divine mandate, their "Great Commission" from God, to spread their creed. But it is also a matter of policy as far as the Catholic Church is concerned. Pope John Paul II, during his 1998 visit to India, stated categorically that the "Christianization" of Asia is an absolute priority" for the Catholic Church in the new millennium. Missionaries have long capitalized on the leverage they exercise over the young through thousands of church-run hospitals, schools, and orphanages.

It is reported that in the 16" century, the Catholic Church came to Sri Lanka with sword in one hand and the bible in the other. “They and their lay collaborators under the Pope's Treaty of Tordesallas had been given license to plunder, destroy buildings, rape and kill. That was Christianity old style as they rampaged destroying an entire civilization. Their Protestant successors, the Dutch drove these marauders away. But Sri Lankans, who at the time were almost exclusively Buddhists, gave Christians sustenance in their country, and allowed them freedom to practice their religion. Their other Protestant successors, the British, talking with double tongue favoured Christians and Christianity over Buddhists and Buddhism, whom under the 1815 treaty they promised to protect. They created a new collaborator Christian class drawn from spies and those who betrayed the country. They rewarded them with lands stolen from the people and the Buddhist temples.

Relevance of Legislation
The present Christian regrouping in Sri Lanka is an unholy alliance between Catholics, Anglican Protestants and fundamental Christians from the USA. The Christian resistance to the "Anti-conversion" Bills is carefully stage-managed with enormous amount of money being spent. Foreign funded Christian Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) and arc being mobilized.

It should be emphasized that Christianity in whatever form did not spread in this island through liberalism, that the Christian churches now expect the Buddhists to adopt. On the contrary, the Christian faith came to stay because the Buddhist rulers accommodated them not through ignorance but through their magnanimity and tolerance, a fact now forgotten.

If Christianity was planted here with discriminating legislation it is quite in order to resort to proper legal measures to prevent any undesirable development. The opponents of the Conversion Bill introduced last year warns "… it would bring the country to the brink of another disaster which it can ill afford after twenty years of internal conflict in another area. " (IPC Mendis, The Island 01/09/2004) Some even warn against a religious war. Who is armed for a religious war? Certainly not the Buddhists.


Planned Campaign to Discredit Buddhists
In recent years the Christian dominated English language press in Sri Lanka and the uncritical Western press that is fed by the local media reports, gave much publicity to fabrications such as persecution of Christians by others, and the destruction of Christian churches by non Christians of Sri Lanka. This was a planned campaign by the Christian establishment in Sri Lanka in order to disrepute non Christians and with the ulterior motive to draw more and more funds from the western countries. Since the campaign of half-truths and highly exaggerated stories began, the money to missions has increased substantially.

Established Churches and later Entries

The Buddhists have no track record of religious wars in their history as it is in Christianity and other religions. On the contrary, religious wars may result if the present trend is allowed to continue; there could well be religious conflicts that the opponents propose. There are the established churches of different denominations like the Catholic, AnglicanWeslyan, Baptist, Salvation Army and Methodist churches and there are the later entries to this island which are considered to be Charismatic/Evangelical churches of Assemblies of God, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, Apostle church, Calvary church, Church of Prayer, Divine Love Church, East Lanka Evangelical Church, Four Square Church, Gethsemane Church, Every Home Crusade etc. It may be remind that the incorporation of three churches namely, Christian Sahanaya Doratuwa Prayer Centre, New Wine Harvest Ministry and Provincial of The Teaching Sisters of the Holy Cross of The Third Order of St. Francis of Menzingen of Sri Lanka, were rejected by the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. Today there are over thirty seven Christian sects in this 25,000 square mile area of territory. Religious conflicts will arise due to the competition of so many sects. Conflicts among themselves is the threat to our country. Some critics have referred to Section 2 of the Anti-Conversion Bill which prohibits conversion using force, allurements and fraudulent means.

Anti Conversion Legislation
As pointed out the major premise of the opponents of this Bill was based on the rights of the individual enshrined in Article 10 of The Constitution of Sri Lanka. Individual rights are also violated " when missionaries use psychological and propaganda techniques plus financial resources to manipulate the free will of persons........." However, Section 10 does not provide for propagation of religion.

The Bill against forced conversions is not a monster. But there is a tremendous effort to blow it out of proportion and prevent it becoming law. .Those who are for freedom of thought must mobilize against the current machinations. The Christian hierarchy should know that what is being asked is freedom to think unfettered by bribes. If they persist in raising the stakes, then our stakes could and must be raised.

The devastation wrought on this country by Christian plunder, mass murder and theft could then be remembered. And as in other countries, compensation sought. Buddhist Sri Lankans are not asking for that, they have some five hundred years experience of resistance.

Some Christian missions have sought revenue in the most unethical way as child-adoption rackets in missionary orphanages. Like parochial schools, church-run orphanages have long been fixtures of Christian evangelism. The children of Christian orphanages are raised as Christians.

Four Thousand Missions
According to the World Evangelization Research Center (WERC), there are more than four thousand mission agencies. Collectively they operate a huge apparatus, manned by some 434,000 foreign missionaries wielding an annual global income of 18 (eighteen) billion dollars. And yet, for all the money that is spent--an astonishing average of $359,000 for every person baptized--the benefits of evangelism are meager. The mission personnel operating in poor countries appear to be having a good time in these countries, with good sources of material income and comforts. Those financing them in western countries are unaware that they are being cheated and taken for a ride by the unscrupulous people.

Western Christians find Solace in Buddhism
The sensible and intelligent people of the western world are withdrawing from Christianity in increasing numbers, and through their own conviction, have turned to the meaningful Buddhist way of life. Today Western Europe, the traditional homeland of Catholics and Anglican Protestants, is a post-Christian society. The churches are empty, the people increasingly secular and some significant sections turning to Buddhist meditation and yoga. A similar situation exists among many in USA among whom are the educated, professionals and celebrities.

Former Christians are in increasing numbers, turning towards Buddhism and Buddhist practices such as meditation to enrich their lives, because they do not see depth and meaning in the lifestyle promoted by the western materialistic and individualistic life style. They find it to be both stressful and shallow. Buddhism is the fastest growing religion and spiritual influence in most western countries at present.

Science and Buddhist Knowledge
In recent years western scientists in fields such as psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience and medical science have shown much interest in the vast field of Buddhist knowledge. They concede that Buddhism has refined meditation methods in order to probe the nature of mind, using the mind itself as the instrument of investigation. Today, bio-behavioral scientists in increasing numbers are extending their methods and expanding their conceptual frameworks realizing the complementary nature of the approaches of science and Buddhism. What science and Buddhism really share is the goal of understanding the nature of reality. Science uses that scientific method and a lot of technology – it starts from the outside and probes the nature of reality. Buddhism uses the human mind, reformed through meditation, starting from the inside, looking at the same questions.

It was a great western scientist and thinker who said that :

“The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description.... If there is any religion that could cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism”. (Albert Einstein).

Appeals to Those in Search of Truth
To quote Justice Christmas Humphreys (1901-1983), the eminent British Judge:

“The way of Buddhism is Middle Way between all extremes. This is no weak compromise, but a sweet reasonableness which avoids fanaticism and laziness with equal care, and marches onward without that haste which brings its own reaction, but without ceasing.


The Buddha called it the Noble Eightfold Path to Nirvana, and it may be regarded as the noblest course of spiritual training yet presented, in such a simple form, to man. Buddhism is neither pessimistic nor ‘escapist’. It is a system of thought, a religion, a spiritual science and a way of life which is reasonable, practical and all-embracing.

For 2,500 years it has satisfied the spiritual needs of nearly one third of mankind. It appeals to those in search of truth because it has no dogmas, satisfies the reason and the heart alike, insists on self-reliance coupled with tolerance for other points of view, embraces science, religion, philosophy, psychology, mysticism, ethics and art, and points to man alone as the creator of his present life and sole designer of his destiny”.

Violation of Human Rights
The sooner the governments, corporations and people in the west realize the highly superfluous and unprincipled nature of these Christian, so-called humanitarian ventures the better it is for the West and East, it can lead to better relations and cordiality among all peoples. The most detested among organizations involved in unethical conversions operating in Sri Lanka is the World Vision.

“Each country has a freedom of choice in the wider world. Every government has a freedom to choose what is good for its people. If an outside organization like IMF, UN or a powerful country like USA or UK interferes with another country’s freedom of choice and maneuver its actions by force or monitory means, without any regard to its people, then international laws must be enacted safeguarding the rights of the weaker nations. Whether these international laws are rightly enforced or not is another matter. If a country or institution try to sell some substandard goods to another country by way of offering monetary inducements it is plainly illegal.

But this is exactly what the people who believe they have a right to convert others do. They are tampering with the rights of the others to choose. When somebody uses unethical means to influence another to choose some actions, which he otherwise will not choose, you are violating his human rights.

No Conversions in Buddhism
To quote Waruna Fernando, “Yet this fundamental tenet of human right, these aggressive religious salesmen (salesmen of religious products) cannot comprehend. The Buddha understood this fundamental reality of man’s existence, when he decreed “Ehi Passiko” (“come and see”) relating to his doctrine (I deeply regret having chosen to compare the “unequaled” (Asama Sama) Buddha with these sinners). No Buddhist priest… or any other Buddhist will ever interfere with another person’s freedom of choice to preach him Buddhism. It is up to an individual to choose whether he is willing to learn the doctrine and become a Buddhist. The Buddhist temples are there for those who “come to see” the path shown by the Buddha - as we do when we choose to study. The Buddhist priests or Hindu priests will only teach, if they are invited to do so.

In this modern information age, people are flooded with information, predominantly in the electronic media and to a lesser extent in the print media. If anybody required to know any thing, he can get loads of reading material on any subject in a matter of seconds. In the present information revolution why should any aggressive salesman or Christian fundamentalist force himself into our homes to teach us plain lies? Are they trying to create a monopoly in disseminating religious knowledge?

Infringement of the Right to Chose
The irony of this phenomenon is that all these violations of human freedom of choice, originate mainly in a country boasting to be the champion of the free world, USA … Therefore it is not a big surprise to know that Christian Evangelist movement, the most leading violator of the human freedom of choice, originated there”.

The word conversion itself has an alien connotation. It is a term originated in connection with the God based religions. We say in Buddhism and Hinduism person became a Buddhist or a Hindu. It is a passive action; conversion on the other hand implies action committed by somebody else on another.

It is the people of the non-European origin who are most vulnerable to this flagrant violation of right to choose, mainly because most of us do not have any idea of our rights due to generations being manipulated by those in power. We still have this feudal mentality. Opposed to this, the Westerners are very conscious of their rights. They will never allow anybody to dictate terms, which could hamper their freedom of choice.

When one says man must be free to choose religion or any other human activity, one means his action must not only be free also seen to be free. If a person choose a religion under pressure or some other compulsion like lure of money, a job, citizenship in a European country etc., that is not a free selection by any sense of the phrase. Under such circumstances person is not acting as a free individual. He cannot be held responsible for his actions. Even courts do not hold a person responsible for actions committed under such compulsions.

So how can we make these Christian fundamentalists understand, that all their conversion methods are unethical. All the followers of God based religions have this problem of understanding what is good and bad, because any act which presumed bad in majority view, could be shown good, when interpreted as the will of God. This fact is constantly being exploited by terrorists. So laws are required to safeguard the freedom of choice of the people. There is no other alternative.

If Christian fundamentalists cannot understand that they are violating the basic human rights, only way open for a government whose subjects are mainly Buddhists and Hindus, is to bringing in laws safeguarding the people’s rights as early as possible” (Waruna Fernando, 2004).

Common Agenda: Evangelization 200 and Beyond
It is no secret that all the world churches- most important of them

being the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Church -- have a common agenda which they call "Evangelization 2000 and Beyond". Evangelization 2000 is not an isolated phenomenon. It comes in wake of two other movements, globalization and Westernization (which is another name for Americanization).

Westernization/ Americanization has culturally enslaved many people’s minds and lives. All this together constitute a single, three-pronged onslaught on our national sovereignty – economic, cultural and religious. Evangelization is in fact homogenization. It seeks to impose "one God , one Prophet and one Book” over all mankind. It will destroy cultural pluralism and religious diversity. It is the evangelizing faiths that threaten the rich and colorful diversity and impose a monolithic way of life over all peoples.

US Private Corporations Business Interests
The tsunami disaster in South Asia has revealed vividly that not only the Christian missions but also the US private sector corporations, which is at or near, the top of the list of all sources of tsunami aid, exceeding the contributions of many governments, including that of the United States, are not in actual fact totally humanitarian in their gesture towards the tsunami victims. Business interests and business value was an essential consideration in their “charitable” gestures, much the same approach as that of World Visions and other Evangelist or Christian organizations. Washington Post of January 26, 2005 reports that, the Indian Ocean tsunami has unleashed what may be the biggest example of it ever, according to experts on corporate philanthropy and marketing. Major corporations cite a variety of reasons beyond altruism for responding generously to the tsunami.

By far the biggest single contributor to tsunami emergency assistance - Pfizer Inc. (USA), says that "Philanthropy is an integral part of our business model, but that does not mean it is purely altruistic. "Companies, unlike charitable foundations, have a dual vision, which is to create business value as well as social value”. The overall volume of corporate giving, does not depend on changing social needs but on profitability; year in and year out for at least two decades, it has been 1.3 percent to 1.5 percent of pretax profits.

Mixing Politics with Tsunami Assistance by Canada
Canadian government’s response to the tsunami disaster in Sri Lanka is coloured with political motives. Canada has played a hypocritical double game, by providing tsunami assistance with the motive of safeguarding its huge Sri Lankan Tamil voter base in Canada. The Prime Minister in particular overlooked that fact that the motive of his supporters in Toronto was to use the tsunami crisis to channel funds to the internationally recognized Tamil terrorist organization the LTTE. The PM and the member of parliament who met with terrorist Tamil LTTE sympathizers while they were in Sri Lanka, while subscribing to democracy and human rights, are either unaware or were prepared to overlook the fact that this terrorist LTTE prevented any census or registration of voters in the north and the east in past elections and that in the 2004 election, the international election observers condemned the LTTE for denying the Tamil people the freedom to elect the representatives of their choice to the Parliament, by rigging the polls?

Impact of Tsunami on Sri Lankan Economy
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has indicated that the damage from the tsunami would cut one percentage point from Sri Lanka's economic growth in the year 2005. The broader macroeconomic impact will clearly be substantial. It is estimated the tsunami left physical damage equal to 6.5% of the economy. According to IMF, the broader macroeconomic impact will clearly be substantial but the details are difficult to assess at this early stage. Growth, inflation, the balance of payments and foreign exchange reserves are all expected to show the effects of lost businesses and reconstruction costs.

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) at least one million people have lost their livelihoods in Sri Lanka and Indonesia alone and there is need for urgent action to create jobs. Sri Lanka launched a reconstruction drive worth $3.5bn (£1.8bn) about three weeks after the disaster, starting in the highly devastated Southern Hambantota coastal region. The ILO has reported that the fishing industry has been devastated, agricultural production may be affected and tourism will suffer, especially in the short term. The ILO estimated that 400,000 Sri Lankans have lost their jobs, mostly in these three industries.

Earnings from tourism this year are expected to be 15% lower than last year. Economic growth this year is expected to be 4%, which is about 1% less than previously forecast. Inflation could climb to 14% compared to a previous estimate of 12%.

With these enormous blows to the people and the economy of the country, Sri Lankans do not wish for additional damages and losses to its people, through devious, seemingly ‘humanitarian’ ventures of Christian missions and their auxiliary organizations, doing spiritual businesses in the pretext of tsunami disaster assistance.

“Fighting Buddhists with `God’s Armour
As the conclusion of this paper, I wish to include relevant extracts from a most informative paper titled “Fighting Buddhists with `God’s Armour’ written by a most cherished friend of ours - Janaka Perera:

“Small wonder that evangelists have virtually no respect for and understanding of Hinduism and Buddhism. If idiocy is the criteria of religious faith, then these Christian fundamentalists deserve the first prize. It is amusing to watch on TV the way in which Christian proselytizers in Sri Lanka try to overcome insurmountable facts of life with meaningless verbiage. Yet baloney is what makes their proselytizing a success and a danger to religious harmony in countries such as ours.

Christianity has been used as a Trojan horse from the time it replaced Paganism in Europe. Provoking people who do not agree with them and then accusing those violently provoked of intolerance and fanaticism has been the evangelist strategy, since colonial times. We see plenty of evidence of it today in Sri Lanka and India. Is there any other reason for these proselytizers to open prayer houses in predominantly Buddhist and Hindu areas?

In the late 19th Century, foreign Christian missionaries, hand in glove with Western powers, tried similar tactics (giving special privileges and powers to Christians) in China. When enraged Chinese peasants rose in revolt (the 1899-1901 `Boxer’ uprising) and killed not only foreign missionaries but also Chinese Christians, the West promptly branded the rebels barbarians and reactionaries. But democrats and liberals like American Author Mark Twain warmly defended the `Boxers’ and satirized the “defenders of civilization” who called for a crusade against the peasants.

The same proselytizing process is being repeated today in Sri Lanka and the rest of Asia at different levels in varying degrees. These evangelists are today fanning out to far corners of the globe to sell `God’. Once the’ poor and the gullible are anesthetized (with material inducements) against common sense, they are then ready for `Christian surgery.’

According to Dr K. Vigneswaran, adviser to Hindu Affairs Minister, Douglas Devananda, there are very disturbing reports from the predominantly Hindu Northern province and the Indian Tamil areas in the central province about Christian fundamentalist sects trying to convert the poor by promising various perks. He believes these groups pose a bigger threat to Hindus than to Buddhists.

K. Rajapuwaneswaram representing the Hindu Congress in a TV discussion revealed that Christian Evangelists in the West were converting Sri Lankan Hindu Tamils, promising them permanent residency status and/or citizenship in Europe.

At the bottom of the current religious tension is the Gospel According to Matthew, known as the Great Commission, where it says: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

Undoubtedly, the new Christian missionaries have beaten the established churches in following this command to the letter. Do we need any more examples of the conversion madness?

As in Central and Eastern Europe, traditional religion in Asia is inextricably related to culture and national heritage. Several years ago, one-time Russian Presidential Candidate, General Alexander Lebed, declared that Russia did not need any more religions other than Orthodox Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism all of which had existed in that country for centuries.

Christian evangelists try to justify their actions in Asia by alleging that Buddhist missionaries are doing the same thing in the West. It is a totally baseless argument primarily because of the fundamental difference between the two religions. Buddhism teaches people how to think – NOT what to think and believe in for the sake of earthly or heavenly rewards.

Members of the Buddhist clergy in the West do not pay house visits looking for possible converts. They do not claim to monopolize the truth. The bhikkus' vocation is NOT "soul saving." and providing material assistance. They do not open temples in defiance of the majority of people in a locality.

Buddhist monks, whether they are from Sri Lanka, Burma Tibet, Thailand or elsewhere are all open to dialogue and discussions. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the best example. He once a Western audience: “Probe your inner space rather than outer space.”

The problem with the West is that it has always been too outward bound. For the past several centuries it has been trying to conquer and convert the world – ideologically, culturally and economically. Christian evangelists have formed part of this offensive.

The tragedy is that all our rulers have virtually surrendered to it.”

Daya Hewapathirane, Ph.D
Brampton Ontario Canada

www.geocities.com/srilankanart

For Further Information:

(1) Sasanka Perera, New Evangelical Movements and Conflict in South Asia: Sri Lanka and Nepal in Perspective (Colombo: Regional Centre for Strategic Studies, 1998)

(2) Steve, Brouwer, Paul Gifford & Susan D. Rose, Exporting the American Gospel: Global Christian Fundamentalism, (New York: Routledge, 1996) 1, quoted in Sasanka Perera, New Evangelical Movements and Conflict in South Asia: Sri Lanka and Nepal in Perspective (Colombo: Regional Centre for Strategic Studies, 1998)

(3) Lionel Caplan, 1995. "Certain Knowledge: The Encounter of Global Fundamentalism and Local Christianity in Urban South India" The Pursuit of Certainty: Religious and Cultural Foundations (London: Routledge, 97) quoted in Sasanka Perera, New Evangelical Movements

(4) Nancy T. Ammerman, 1994 "The Dynamics of Christian Fundamentalism: An Introduction” in Martin E. Mart and R. Scott Abbleby eds. Accounting for Fundamentalism (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press) quoted in Caplan 1995: 97 and Sasanka Perera, 1998: 22

(5) Buddhadasa Hewavitharana, Why and Wherefore Pre-Planned Conversions to Christianity by Developed Countries and Why and Wherefore Sri Lanka is a Good Hunting Ground to Them - Economic and Social Reasons, A Paper Presented at the Conference of the Lanka Bauddha Sangrakshana Sabhawa held at the BMICH on July 30, 2001

(6) Reports of the Sinhala Commission, Part 1 (1998 ) and Part 11, (2001), Colombo, National Joint Committee

(7) Waruna Fernando, Laws Necessary to Safeguard the Freedom of Religious Choice, The Buddhist News Network, Sept 8, 2004

(8) Arunasiri Dias, A Bill Prohibiting Unethical Conversions: Lets Face It, Buddhist Times September 2004 .

(9) Daya Hewapathirane, Post-modern Charity, NewsTrove.com,January, 2005

(10) Daya Hewapathirane, Plight of Sinhela Buddhists, LankaWeb, 2004

(11) Daya Hewapathirane, Heritage of Buddhist Art of Sri Lanka, Traveling Exhibition Service, Brampton, Canada, 2004

(12) Frawley, David, The Ethics of Conversion (a paper downloaded from the Internet) ( Website address: http://www.pragna.org/Conver09.html)

(13) Chowgule, Ashok V, Arun Shourie and the Missionaries in India, (A paper available on the Internet )



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