HUMANITARIAN ORGANIZATIONS OR
Daya Hewapathirane, Ph.D
Brampton Ontario Canada
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 childrens 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 Lankas 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 Lankas 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 peoples 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
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 islands 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, Jehovahs 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.
Appeals to Those in Search of Truth
To quote Justice Christmas Humphreys (1901-1983), the eminent British
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 countrys 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
mans 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 persons 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 peoples rights as early as possible (Waruna Fernando,
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 peoples
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 governments 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 `Gods Armour
As the conclusion of this paper, I wish to include relevant extracts
from a most informative paper titled Fighting Buddhists with `Gods
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
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
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
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,
(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 )