Sri Lanka: Who Created Religious Disharmony?

Here is an article by a distressed Sri Lankan Buddhist about the antics of Western evangelists in Sri Lanka and how they are trying to destroy their faith and take over the country. It is a cry from the heart of this Buddhist to be left alone and be allowed to live in peace. Do you see any parallels with what is happening in India right now?

Who Created Religious Disharmony in Sri Lanka?

Each religion in this country has its own religious identity which calls for the highest respect of all citizens. In order to blend with the local culture, it is not necessary to borrow the identity of another religion as we have seen happening in a subtle manner.

The Christians (orthodox churches) have their own practices and culture and it is beautiful. So does the Catholic church of this country. Authentic Catholic rituals have a beauty of their own which gives it that special value and respect. However, we have seen the Catholic church changing the tune of its hymns to sound like the “Bhakthi Geet” of Buddhists. We have seen the Catholic church use traditional Gok Kola which Buddhists use (coconut leaves) to decorate their churches during religious festivals.

Mimicking Non-Christian Practices 

We have also noticed the Catholic church adopting terminology used by the Buddhist clergy such as  Maha Nayake (Chief Monk), Anunayake (Deputy Chief Monk) to address their Catholic clergy, Aramaya (which is the Sinhala term for a Buddhist temple) being used to call a church, to use Bhavana for meditation in the church. The very meaning of “Bhavana” in the Buddhist sense, is totally different to the Catholic implication.

Formerly Christians went to Sunday School, now they go to Daham Pasala like in the Buddhist practices. The word “Sunday School” has a very specific meaning to the Christian community – why change it to Daham Pasala? The word “Daham Pasala” or “Dhamma School” is very special to Buddhists because they teach the Buddha Dhamma. Where would you find Dhamma being taught in a Catholic/Christian church?

There is more such terminology which has been adopted by the Catholic church on instructions received from Rome. This has given the Catholic church in Sri Lanka an artificial flavor. These changes have not been done without a motive behind it. The Muslim mosque and Hindu ‘kovils’ have continued to use their own forms without any distortions.

The problems began in Sri Lanka when governments changed in the late 1970s and the then government began what they called “the open economy” and permitted foreign NGOs to enter this country in the guise of helping Sri Lanka in socio-economic development work. Needless to say that these so called “wonderfully philanthrophist” NGOs were/are all Christian-backed organisations. This was only a ruse for them to enter and destroy our culture.

With this came the hordes of US-based Evangelical Groups who thought that they were the “only saviours” for this Asian nation. They did not enter with permission to spread their Christian faith but began their evangelical work once they set foot in this land. We may call that intrusion into “our privacy – the privacy of this nation.” It is they who began a systematic onslaught to create religious and racial disharmony. It is they who coined the word “ethnic problems in Sri Lanka.”

If Sri Lanka has an ethnic problem, how come that the majority Tamil, Muslim and Sinhala communities are working so harmoniously in all parts of Sri Lanka except in the North? The Tamil terrorists (LTTE) are fully backed by the Catholic/Christian churches and this is no secret. When they attacked religious places of worship, only Hindu and Buddhist places were attacked, not Catholic/Christian churches!

Who Began “Disharmony”?

The same applies to “religious disharmony” as used by the Evangelists. The Buddhist citizens of Sri Lanka have lived for so long with Christians who belong to the Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Weslyan, Church of England and Hindus and Muslims with no animosity whatsoever. However, it has to be mentioned here that the “disharmony” began with the entry of Evangelical Christian groups from the USA, UK, Australia, South Korea and some European countries into this country.

The disharmony began when these Evangelical groups began to coerce Buddhists and use unethical methods to convert them. The disharmony began when they deceived people by promising them instant cures to illnesses by praying. The disharmony began when they began to sow the seeds of disunity in the rural villages by adopting favoritism to those who follow them as against those who don’t. The disharmony began when they started insulting Buddha statues by smashing them and getting “the new entrants” to their faith to spit and urinate on the smithereens.

The disharmony began when they established pre-schools all over the island in the guise of offering good English education, with a promise of entry into good schools. Here, their objective was “child proselytisation.” The disharmony began when they started to teach these innocent Buddhist children of 4 to 5 years that they “must not kneel in front of anyone other than God,” thereby destroying the age old cultural practices of our Sinhala people who pay reverence to the Buddhist clergy, teachers, parents and elders.

The disharmony began when they paid men to don the yellow robe and misbehave in society to create a rift between the Buddhist temples and the Buddhists by getting these “fake Buddhist monks” to go and purchase liquor from the liquor bars, to go into meat stalls and super markets and purchase meat and fish for everyone to see, to go into restaurants after 12 noon and order food and eat it in front of everyone.

The disharmony began when they paid young couples to go into village temples in the night requesting shelter from the temple monk (on the excuse that they were travelling far) and in a short while the male would leave the female alone in the temple, and go out. Within minutes, the girl would ring the temple bell and inform the villagers that the monk had tried to molest her (the purpose is to bring disrepute to innocent monks)

The disharmony began when they started to chase the monks out of their temples. The disharmony began when they started a scheme to send paid workers to destroy Buddhist archeological sites and rob temples. The disharmony began when they started teaching innocent Pre-school children not to offer flowers at the temple because the bees and butterflies will be left with no food.
The disharmony began when they started teaching our children that Prince Siddhartha was a bad father because he left his baby of one day and renounced the world to seek The Truth and ultimately to become Gauthama Buddha – The Enlightened One.

Gift boxes are opened for the children saying “This is Lord Buddha’s and this is Jesus Christ’s. In the box allocated to Lord Buddha, they cleverly keep it empty while filling the box allocated to Jesus Christ with lots of goodies that children love! When the ”Evangelical Visitors” to this country behave and act insensitively to the culture of this country, when they try to force themselves into villages which are 100 percent Buddhist or Hindu without an invitation, they are rubbing us too hard.

“Well-meaning Intentions” of Western Organizations

Since 1978, this country has been invaded by various “philanthropic and concerned” foreign organizations that entered on the pretext of investing in various socio-economic development projects. They have ventured to “reach out to the un-reached” rural masses of our country, attached themselves to various provincial government projects and worked. No projects have been conducted altruistically purely for charity and development. These have always had some strings attached.

After a few years, their “well-meaning intentions” have surfaced to be that of unethical conversions of innocent Buddhists and Hindus living in rural hamlets throughout the country. To achieve this agenda, they have acted in many devious ways such as opening tuition classes to help students preparing for examinations, organizing tours for children and youth “to see the country” (which often end up with at least one visit to a church), doling out dry rations to the families of children attending their pre-schools and providing uniform material to the children free of charge and conducting medical clinics and prayer sessions to heal the sick.

Often, these foreign organizations run by evangelists obtain signed consent of parents and children to say they embrace the Christian faith, before any further help and education is given. Socio-economic development projects are done together with the relevant regional provincial governments. On completion of a project, they set up their logo (which often resembles a cross) at these sites.

Children’s Homes are opened to help destitute children, they claim. Children in these homes often have “visitors” who come to check the welfare of the children while throwing in a few words about God and how wonderful He is. Homes for Elders are also opened with the same motive in mind. The list of insensitive/crafty methods can go on and on.

In the process of their “well meaning concerns”, what they really want to achieve is to get the younger generation weaned away from the religious and cultural customs to which these Buddhist and Hindu children are born into. Instead of teaching the children to continue their age-old practices, they are taught to ape western Christian customs and habits. While doing all this, gradually the children are trained in reading and praying in the Christian method. Although the evangelists targeted to convert an overwhelming numbers to Christianity annually, they are unhappy that their actual numbers are still way behind the original targets.

Hypocrisy of The Catholic Church

On many occasions when evangelists have duped the sick into praying without taking medication and where the patients have ended up in coffins, the village has arisen to protest. Often these protests have been led by Buddhists and Hindus. At such gatherings, the Catholic Church of the area has sent their clergy to meet the temple monks and express their solidarity with the Buddhists because they say that even their flock is being snatched mercilessly by the evangelists.

The Archbishop Oswild Gomis himself has made such public statements in the news papers and at gatherings. If this were the case, introduction of an “Anti-Conversion Bill” to stop unethical conversions would be the ideal moment for these orthodox churches to stand behind the Hindus and Buddhists.

On the contrary, during the past months, we have seen many articles appear in the newspapers with headlines such as “Unethical Conversions: Christian Bodies Against Proposed Legislation,” “Anti-Conversion Bill: A Gross Violation of Religious Freedom,” “Special Catholic Media Programmes on Anti-Conversion Bill” and “Church Challenges Anti-Conversion Bill.” There is a massive campaign being conducted by the Evangelical Alliance, Catholics as well as Methodist Churches to build up public opinion against the proposed anti-conversion bill. How come so much hypocrisy is exhibited by the churches?

These Churches have been vigorously promoting “inter-religious peace committees” and many other such inter-religious themes, only to serve their agendas and purpose. If your next-door neighbor’s house was burgled and the police raided your house to find the culprit, would they find anything if you were innocent of the crime? You would have nothing to worry about, isn’t it?

Similarly, the fact that the Catholics as well as the Christian Alliance, have come out so vociferously against the Anti-Conversion Bill proves that they have something to fear. It is their guilt that is pricking them into action! It is because they are all guilty of unethical conversion practices that they want to fight tooth and nail against this bill.

Otherwise, any sane person will realize that Buddhists of this country have lived peacefully with all racial as well as religious groups without any disharmony whatsoever till the late 1970s. Problems started only after these Church groups aggressively went forth to hurt the Buddhist sentiments and the religious culture of this country.

The Hypocrisy Behind Human Rights and Religious Freedom

All the talk about human rights, democracy and freedom of speech and conscience are brought out as “golden theories” to justify their activities. Where are the human rights and freedom of conscience that are due to the Buddhists and Hindus of this country? When they smash Buddha statues and spit on them while getting new converts to follow in their footsteps, are they being sensitive to the human rights of the Buddhists?

When they make insulting remarks about Lord Buddha to Buddhists in order to ridicule and belittle the innocent unsuspecting Buddhist children, are they thinking about human rights? If they do, whose rights are they considering? Only their own Evangelical/Catholic rights to convert those of other religions? No one else has a right to object! Any such objections are labeled “extreme” by countries like the US who use religious freedom to twist the arm of poor countries.

With the introduction of the Anti-Conversion Bill, all guilty parties will find their activities curtailed and their source of income from foreign Christian organizations will be largely reduced. Their existence here will become redundant. All those guilty of conducting unethical conversion practices against Buddhists and Hindus in this country have not promoting or protecting the socio-religious culture of this country. Rather, they have been acting as agents of foreign powers to destroy our culture and religion.

When they vociferously support the LTTE, are they promoting peace of a unitary state? Will the US ever permit Islam to invade and convert Americans in the same manner that their Evangelists are converting people of the Third World? Even in the US, different states have laws prohibiting anyone from “selling” things door to door, including fundamentalist religions, without the express permission of the local authorities!

The manner in which they are behaving in Sri Lanka shows very clearly that they want the religious harmony of this country to disintegrate. They want to destroy whatever is left of our culture and identity. If ever there has been growing disharmony among religions in this country, that disharmony has never been initiated or master-minded by Buddhists or the Sinhalese. It has been created by foreign Evangelists who have intruded into the religious privacy of this island.

Distortion of Facts Through Christian Media

To carry their plots even further, the evangelists have a habit of giving misleading information through various Christian websites to the international community. They publicize to the world through the media they control that Sri Lanka is fast becoming a hell-hole of religious extremism, that the Sri Lankan Buddhist clergy and laymen are barbarians who are attacking their “Christian Messengers” at every turn.

One can check the truth of this if one goes through the websites of International Christian Concern (ICC), World Watch or Christian World News (CWN). Catholics too have their own websites which give similar distorted information. Most of the so-called churches mentioned in these reports are grossly illegal operations which are not even registered, to which they try to give legality!

Typical of their mentality, they overstep levels of moral decency and then rush to give publicity to the repercussions, through the Internet and pro-Christian TV channels worldwide! It has also been exposed how Christian organizations have been using pictures and statues of Lord Buddha for commercial purposes solely with the motive of insulting and hurting the feelings of Buddhists worldwide. On the contrary, has there been any evidence of Buddhists or Hindus insulting Christ, Virgin Mary or Prophet Mohamed by using them for commercial purposes?

There is a saying in Sinhalese: “Even if the mouth lies, the tongue will not lie.” This has been proven beyond reasonable doubt in this instance. Come on Christian friends, be honest with yourselves and with those around you. Think and you will find the answer within yourselves and your conscience! Please show us an example of any country in the world where the minority race or religion of that country is ruling or aspiring to rule the majority race/ religion of that country and trying to justify their actions too, except in Sri Lanka!

No Need for “Globalization” of Religions

Is it possible for anyone to inform us whether such activities would be tolerated in any other country other than in a Buddhist country like Sri Lanka? It is due to the principles of Metta, Karuna, Muditha and Upekha as taught by The Lord Buddha that Sinhala Buddhists have tolerated such insults for so long. Tolerance also has its limits.

Please permit us to live in peace and harmony. Buddhists do not expect patronage from Catholic/Christian Churches, Hindu Kovils or Muslim mosques. Neither do these other religions expect patronage from Buddhists for their religious activities. Let each conduct their own activities without infringing or overstepping the boundaries of the other.

This is not asking for too much. It is the basis of decent living. Respect one another and be sincere in your actions. Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists should confine their religious activities to their own flock rather than try to “sell their beliefs” to believers of other religions. Peace and harmony among religions can be maintained and fostered only when the Catholic / Christian Evangelical Aggressors begin to sincerely and truly respect other religions from the bottom of their hearts and not when it is merely a hypocritical gesture. Each religion must maintain its own religious identity and cultural heritage. There is absolutely no need for globalization of religions!

1 Comment

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One response to “Sri Lanka: Who Created Religious Disharmony?

  1. John

    I live in the USA and am a practicing Buddhist. I must say that even though I live in an entirely different part of the world, I can totally agree with the distress that the proselytizing caused by the fundamentalist types of groups cited in the article. This is evident by my personal experience. In this regard there does not appear to be much difference between those encountered in various parts of the world.

    In my neighborhood one cowers behind locked doors when the inevitable “visits” begin in the Spring. While I can understand to an extent their zeal in their belief, I cannot understand their attempting to convert someone who is comfortable in their own belief.

    The article brings points reminiscent to the so-called rice Christians of China in the early 20th century. Setting up Christian schools using Buddhist titles confuses people. Establishing Christian indoctrination schools under the guise of teaching English is an affront to my sensibilities.

    On one occasion a woman approached me while I was doing yard work (too late to duck into the house) holding various pamphlets. I politely told her that her belief system is not mine and declined the proffered texts several times. At this point she became indignant and asked me why I was afraid to merely read the material. I explained that I’d me more than happy to if she would agree to read some pamphlets on my practice (Buddhism) first. At this point she turned and left in a huff.

    Perhaps there is a need to be firm in our conviction and practice when dealing with Evangelical aggression. It can be done without rancor but with the firmness and conviction the Buddha taught.

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