29 October, 2020

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“And They Also Come For The Christians” – With Apologies To Martin Niemöller (1892-1984)

By Asoka N.I. Ekanayaka –

Professor A.N.I. Ekanayaka

Amidst the widespread condemnation of recent attacks  on Muslims by hostile Buddhist militants in Sri Lanka, it is fair to say that Christians in Sri Lanka though saddened and outraged by these incidents are probably not surprised. That is because they have in many ways been  getting  a bigger beating  and over a much longer period of time, than their recently beleaguered  Muslim counterparts. Considering incident reports many in the public domain during 11 years from 2002 -2013 there seem to have been at least 250 hostile incidents against Christian churches, Christian pastors and Christian worshippers in Sri Lanka – and still counting. They constitute a depressing tale of  beatings, insults, verbal abuse, stoning, stabbings, destruction of property, desecration, arson, mob violence, death threats, attempted murder, disruption of worship, obstruction of funerals, defiling people and places with human excreta, as well as framing up victims with fake charges. In one of the most recent incidents it would appear that at Meegoda in the Colombo district a Christian prayer meeting was disrupted by a mob led by some monks who forcibly entered the premises destroying musical instruments and damaging furniture and glass windows. Evidently the pastor was assaulted by a monk who hit him over the head with a guitar until it broke and the pastor fell unconscious to the floor.The recent attack on people who were taking refuge inside a church in the Weliweriya massacre ( an  act of desecration strongly condemned by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjit himself ) also deserves mention here, since it points to the seeming disregard of the government itself towards the sensibilities of Christians. We may speculate that if  provocations even fractionally as serious as these had been directed against the Muslim community in the nature of things there might have been grievous repercussions.

By comparison the persistent harassment of Christians has proceeded with relative impunity, amidst frequent police inaction if not seeming partiality towards the culprits, overall government apathy , the sanguine indifference of a predominantly Buddhist public and the complacency of a predominantly Buddhist media for whom this is not a priority. Moreover being a longsuffering placid non violent community, Christians in Sri Lanka have been restrained in the face of these humiliations rather than attract public attention by raising a hue and cry.

It is of course important to emphasise that these violations though perpetrated in the name of Buddhism are an unspeakable contradiction of the teachings of the dhamma. Such hate crimes are the very antithesis of Metta, Karuna, Mudita, and Upekkha. Sadly the upsurge of violence in defence of Buddhism shows that the pristine Buddha dhamma of its compassionate founder has virtually disappeared in Sri Lanka. It seems that what passes for Buddhism nowadays is a hideous distortion  that might more aptly be titled  ‘militant Sinhala Buddhist nationalism” ( a curious jingoistic religiosity) where ironically the dhamma instead of promoting detachment from the world – itself becomes a focus of insecurity, obsessive protectionism, and craving. Any true Buddhist with ‘right understanding’ would find this situation deeply distressing.

There is obviously  no provocation that can even remotely justify the kind of violence documented  in the various reports on any legal, moral or spiritual perspective. However it is a fact that historically allegations of so called ‘unethical conversions’ and agitation for anti conversion legislation, have formed the backdrop to such violence and a back handed excuse for it . Consequently while not wishing to disgrace themselves by openly condoning such violence, it would not be surprising if chauvinistic Buddhist political parties, some religious organisations, and individual diehards ( even including some otherwise respectable intellectuals ), may silently gloat over the plight of the Christian victims  on the grounds that they “got what was coming to them” for engaging in ‘unethical conversions’. However this article is not about the vexed issue of ‘unethical conversions’. Indeed, it is even possible to argue that on any logical reasoning the whole concept of unethical conversions is a meaningless contradiction because a so called ‘forced conversion’ is by its very nature a ‘no conversion’ – but that is not the point.  Nor is it that the occurrence of such activities  in Sri Lanka if at all has been  grossly and maliciously exaggerated to the point of paranoia by interested parties. The point is that whatever our opinions about such matters decent peace loving Sri Lankans who have a proper understanding of the core teachings of their religion ought to draw the line at violence and have a zero tolerance towards it, because violence in any form, at any time, against anybody, for any cause, is a gratuitous violation of both religion and the law.

Having said that one must concede that Christians in Sri Lanka find themselves in a somewhat more difficult position than their Muslim counterparts. Recent attacks on mosques and Muslim business premises may not have been dominantly motivated by the paranoid fear that large numbers of Buddhists might somehow be attracted to Islam, become intellectually convinced of its truth, and convert to it.  By comparison attacks on Christians may have an added dimension reflecting the anger and bitterness of those who feel threatened by the potential for the purely voluntary conversion of individuals to Christianity. Indeed amidst the manifold  trials tribulations and uncertainties of life on earth, the inexorable advance of death, and the awful fear of what may lie beyond – it is not surprising that ordinary people should be attracted and excited by the simple Christian Gospel.  It is a Gospel that proclaims the incredible love of God who came down to earth in the form of Jesus,  in every way shared our human experience, suffered the horror of crucifixion as a propitiation for human sin, and triumphantly rose from the dead, so that  those who put their faith in Christ may forgiven of their sins, enjoy peace and joy for the remainder of their earthly existence, and confidently look forward to the absolute guarantee of eternal life beyond the grave. It is not surprising that people should find such extraordinary “good news” irresistible, and it is intolerable and unfair that they should be beaten up for it along with those who introduce them to it.

To complicate things further the Christian Church lives under the inescapable imperative of the “great commission” where Jesus unequivocally exhorted his disciples to “ Go forth to every part of the world, and proclaim the good news to the whole creation . . .” . Accordingly Christians all over the world are called to peacefully respond to this divine imperative by preaching and teaching, respectful dialogue and charitable service carried out with love tolerance and sensitivity. Their response to those who want them to stop doing this is the same today as that of the apostle St Peter 2000 years ago who on being arrested, put in prison and produced in court  for preaching the Gospel answered “ Is it right in God’s eyes for us to obey you rather than God ? . . . We cannot possibly give up speaking of things we have seen and heard”

It is well known that throughout history millions of Christians who have been faithful to this calling have suffered much and endured great persecution.  One of the more horrible examples from our own time and region is the case of the Australian missionary Graham Staines who was serving amongst socially outcast lepers in Orissa India. In 1999 he and his two little sons were ambushed by frenzied Hindu activists with flaming torches, and burnt alive while sleeping in their station wagon. His wife Gladys Staines has since forgiven the killers saying that she had no bitterness towards them.  In Sri Lanka the numerous attacks against Christians during the past 12 years though not as bad, nevertheless reflect a similar mindset in the attackers. It is this mindset that is responsible for much intolerance towards religious minorities in all cultures.

It is a mindset characterised by a  fundamental  fallacy that has been around for so long that everyone, even the so called educated classes,  tends to take it for granted.  As William James the father of modern Psychology is supposed to have said  “There’s nothing so absurd that if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it.”. In this case wherever in the world religious minorities are harassed the underlying driving ethos is the notion  that the majority religion has territorial sovereignty and enjoys an intrinsic hegemony in a  specific geographic zone.  But the assumption that this or that religion has a unique incontrovertible claim on this or that geographic region in perpetuity, constitutes a dangerous and irrational ideology that is utterly obsolete in a 21st century globalised world.  It is a springboard to much violence against religious minorities, for the implication is that other faiths may exist in such regions on sufferance, only for their own followers, within strictly defined limits at the will and pleasure of the majority community which of course holds the whip hand. No wonder  fanatics in such a society will extrapolate that if in their view a religious minority ‘steps out of line’ they can take the law into their hands, and beat them up ! Alas, in Sri Lanka Article 9 which gives to Buddhism “the foremost place . .”  unfortunately enshrines this inimical notion of territorial religious sovereignty  in the constitution.

But the truth is that such exclusivity diminishes the very religion that it is intended to foster. If one subscribes to a religious faith believing it to be truth, then one must believe that it’s truth  is true for all  people everywhere. It follows that one is duty bound to try and evangelize the world with its truth. To settle for anything less is to undermine the validity of a religion and diminish its relevance. Each religion represents a unique and mutually exclusive spiritual perspective on such critical matters as life, death, sin, suffering, salvation, happiness  and eternity.  Notwithstanding the manifold theological contortions of religious pluralists and their wishful thinking, the reality is that there are irreconcilable differences in what the different religions say about such things.  Notwithstanding such differences true religion does not consist in jealously guarding its traditional dominance in one corner of the world where it has a majority and aggressively fighting off the competition. Nor does it mean harassing adherents who think better of it and convert to another faith. All that sounds too much like a shopkeeper desperately trying to retain his customers by hook or by crook. Indeed such obsessive protectionism is a dis-service to a religion for it is a sign of weakness and an admission that the truth of that religion is not convincing enough to retain its followers.

The reality is that religious faith is one dimension of human ideology amongst many – political, economic, scientific, social and moral. In a democracy all such beliefs including religious beliefs are ( in a manner of speaking) a freely marketable commodity. In the free market of human ideology those that are more convincing, stand the test of time in the furnace of human experience, and are of greater immediate value in coping with the problems of life will inevitably win the day and attract more converts. Religion is no exception to this process where additionally its attractiveness will also be strongly influenced by the practical witness to holiness and loving kindness, of its professed adherents .

Such are the fundamental changes in mindset on the part of both society and government  required for the permanent eradication of violence against religious minorities anywhere. Wherever in the world irrational and outmoded concepts of  inherent territorial religious supremacy persist, minority faiths will always be resented, tolerated on sufferance, and potentially persecuted. However, whatever the imperative for such a fundamental  attitude change, there is little doubt that in Sri Lanka the government can stop attacks on Christians by appropriate measures provided it has the political will. The principled exclusion of any chauvinistic quasi-religious political party from the government and prohibiting ( instead of appearing to sympathise with ) the known militant religious groups that are openly running riot harassing religious minorities, are amongst the measures that will restore  the confidence of religious minorities, and demonstrate the intention of the State to  enforce the rule of law without fear or favour. Such measures would also be in the best interests of Buddhism, by sending a strong message to  ugly rampaging militants who try to bring Buddhism into disrepute by the display of hate and violence in complete violation of the teachings of the dhamma. As to why the government hesitates to take such action is puzzling considering that the President having vanquished terrorism is widely perceived as a national hero whose impeccable Sinhala Buddhist credentials are beyond reproach however firmly he may deal with religious militants who are a disgrace to Buddhism.  As the old adage states “where there is a will there is a way”.  In the meantime Christians wherever in the world they are besieged will echo the heartfelt prayer of the ancient Psalmist who many centuries BC complained “ O Lord how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exult ? They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast. They crush your people, O Lord, and afflict your heritage . .”

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Latest comments

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    It is ironical in a country where the Sinhalese are majority Buddhists
    another group of Sinhalese, “guilty” only being of a different faith, have to plead merely to live peacefully in the country. Sri Lanka is supposedly ruled under the law and a seemingly plural Constitution. What a strange contradiction.

    Is it surprising a smaller part of Tamils took to arms to set the wrong right. Tamils continue to be insecure sans justice and the protection of the established law/Constitution by an indifferent regime.

    Senguttuvan

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      Christians Churches’ / US/west NGO/INGO who promoted / supported/ financed Separatist terror killed thousands of lives should take blame for any attacks on Christians / Churches , if they ever believed in Christianity, not telling untruth & siding with Anti-Christ

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        What? Get back on the sleeping pills mate. You need them.

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        Talk of a fellow whose ancestors are responsible for the genocide of natives, their culture & religion.

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      Group 1911 2012 % of % of 100 year
      ‘000 ‘000 Total Total Increase

      Buddhists 2,141 14,222 60% 70% 564%
      Hindus 827 2,554 23 13 208%
      Muslims 246 1,967 7 10 699%
      Christians 349 1,509 10 7 332%

      The above comparison between the census of 1911 and that of 2012 shows the changes in the religious make up of our population. The salient points are:
      … Muslims have replaced Christians as the third largest religion in SL.
      …the largest percentage increase over the last 100 years has been Muslim.
      …Hindus have fallen considerably due to several factors; I really need not elaborate.

      Buddhists have done very well overall. During the last hundred years there was a substantial reversal of Sinhalese who had adopted Christianity returning to their Buddhist roots. Notable high profile examples were the Bandaranaikes, Jayawardenas et al, stalwarts of the Walauwa who tacitly delivered to the colonial masters a quiescent native population in exchange for many favours. Many of the those who followed hamu to church now followed the same hamu to the temple.

      So the question is: where did the Muslim increase come from? Was it from the old Indonesian principle of ‘copulate to populate’?

      The Christian (mainly ‘new’ evangelical church) conversions are really small in number but high profile visibility which has given the wrong impression.

      So, now we know what the BBS et all knew all along.

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    At any future elections Christians, Hindus and Muslims should vote enmasse against the UPFA and the RajaPox family. That is the only way for the minorities to live in peace. So go forth and vote for the UNP (the lesser evil). :-)

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      I totally agree a very sensible idea.

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      Unfortunately many in the mainstream Christian denominations also see the Evangelical churches as a nuisance (the intellectually challenged late Jeyaraj Fernadopulle, a Colombo Chetty and Roman Catholic, is memorably quoted as saying he was a true Christian because he was born a Christian and not converted), as do many Muslims and Hindus. Similarly many Hindus and Christians dislike Muslims with a passion, so why would they unite against the Rajapakses on religious grounds?

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        Because Rajapaksa is an evil SOB.

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          If they thought so, wouldn’t they already be opposing him?

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      Even if no one votes for the raja fuck ses, they still win as the elections are rigged

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      How about requesting all intelligent Sri Lankans to void their ballot papers by putting crosses for all candidates

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    Throughout the world minorities are under attack. They are not limited to any religon, race or creed. The age of materialism seems have blinded humankind to the simple feelings of kindness, mercy and justice. The power of the mob, the majority, the gun have overtaken the power of the holy spirit that lives in the heart of every soul. May Humankind realise its self destructive folly and return to the fundamentals of human existence.

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    I completely sympathize with Asoka N.I. Ekanayaka lamenting on behalf of the religious minorities.

    However, by compartmentalizing himself to religious minorities, he appears not to bother about the ethnic minorities: Estate Tamils, North-East Tamils, Muslims, Burghers and others: Persecution of Tamils has a long history since independence.

    Another thing, he dismisses as mere terrorism, as most Sinhalese seem to do whether Buddhists or Christians, the LTTE fight for separate State for Tamils as a reaction to continuous persecution of Tamils since independence.

    If Asoka N.I. Ekanayaka is honest to himself, he should seek justice for all persecuted minorities equally: This is the problem in Sri Lanka, or even all over the world; each community fights for its rights, but doesn’t care for the others’ rights.

    Isn’t it what the Sinhala Buddhist majority community is doing?

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    Buddhism is all about meditation, self-control and peace.

    But recently, with Buddhist Talibans in Burma, Srilanka and a Buddhist follower going on rampage in Washington DC, I wonder what’s going on?

    Why this Kolaveri?

    :-)

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    Interesting. However some questions need to be asked. When our Lord said ‘go out and spread the gospel’ did he say do it any possible way? ie Go with a gun in one hand and the bible in the other? or more recently ‘give material comfort and insist that people be baptised’?
    Preaching the Good News is one thing, bribing and forcing, another. Fanatical buddhists should remember however that christianity has always thrived most under persecution, so they are really helping to spread the gospel. One disconcerting observation- Many christians are ambivalent about the latest attacks on muslims-perhaps an innate hostility?

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      There is no evidence whatsoever of coercion or bribery in converting people in SL. When one cares for the poor, who are neglected by their own faiths, they naturally become curious about the beliefs that inspire the people helping them when their own clergy are busy with politics and driving around in their luxury vehicles.

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        David Blacker:
        Never thought I’d see the day when I was in agreement with you! However, if anyone takes a look at conversions both here and elsewhere in the world, particularly to fundamentalist Christian groups, the truth of what you say will be most evident.
        I would add also that where “converts” (usually to fundamentalist Christian groups) find that particular group not to their liking,they move on, either back to the religion into which they were born or to another Christian group.

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    While I agree with the ideas presented in this article, it is worth while a reminder. In most of the Western hemisphere the growth of “Chistian sects” is without precedents. The ways these sects use to attract or hunt followers are amoral and based in high economic interests. A case in question is Brazil, where whenever you put the TV on you will find too many channels showing predicators shouting and using methods to control people’s minds. They have caused a great deal of problems in LatinAmerica.

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    With 70% buddhist votes Rajapassa needs only 51% of the votes to keep ruling forever. He will get the 51% buddhist votes by beating tamils, muslims and christians.

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      Simple! The sinhala-buddhist hegemony claims that the war against the LTTE was won by a sinhala-buddhist army. MR was the architect of the political will that won the war and our grateful sinhala-buddhist people will not forget that. Hence, it will be a long time before MR and his dynasty lose their democratic grip on power.

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        But isn’t it the Tamil nationalists who call it a Sinhala Buddhist Army?

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          Agreed, most of our Tamil brethren would call it that (they would, wouldn’t they?), and more besides. We know that our armed forces did have men and women of other faiths besides Buddhism, but the fact is that today the BBS, Sinhala Ravaya et al stridently hijack the victory of 2009 to support their plans for a new order. Galaboda Aththe Gnanasara fervently looks forward to the day when Sri Lankan is synonymous with Sinhala-Bauddha, and then everyone else will be guest citizens.

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            So isn’t it time that the Tamil nationalists stopped feeding the BBS ammunition?

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    Dear Mr Asoka N.I. Ekanayaka;

    I am not an academic neither an Intellectual.
    Not a member of BBS

    Did they sympathized with natives and delivered their message to innocent unbelievers with good heart and compassion ?????.

    Accordingly Christians all over the world are called to peacefully respond to this divine imperative by preaching and teaching, respectful dialogue and charitable service carried out with love tolerance and sensitivity.

    As your ancient Psalmist did the heartfelt prayer of the who many centuries BC ,
    “ O Lord how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exult ? They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast. They crush your people, O Lord, and afflict your heritage .”

    Were the natives of Sri Lanka [Then Ceylon Serendib] Wicked to those Encroaching, invading Crusaders.???????.
    Were they arrogant????.
    Were All of Evildoers ???????.
    Did they try to eradicate your crusader’s Heritage and Culture?????.

    Just give me an Answer dear Mr ASANKA Ekanayaka.

    JULAMPITIYE AMARAYA,I R C,[ Welikda, Sri Lanka, Changi Singapore]

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    So, what did Mahinda do when he met Devanampiyatissa?

    I have it on good authority* that when Mahinda arrived in our green and pleasant land he first met Devanampiyatissa out hunting with a retinue. After exchanging pleasantries, the venerable Mahinda delivered the coup de grace in the form of the Cuulahatthipadopama Sutta. ‘At the end of the discourse the king and his retinue of forty thousand people embraced the new faith’*, abandoning their previous practices of idol and tree worship.

    Now if that isn’t the mother of all conversions, I am a one-eyed chinaman.

    * I recommend you refer to this excellent work:
    “Buddhism in Sri Lanka: A Short History”, by H.R. Perera. Access to Insight, 13 July 2012, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/perera/wheel100.html . Retrieved on 17 September 2013.

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    If there is any truth in any of the Religions, the power of a creator, man need not intervene either to salvage or punish another as it is beyond all mortals. If all these pious believers confine their belief to one’s self, rather than try to spread the Gospel or the Koran to others for them to feel good that they have increased their flock is the primary cause for conflict. Besides Religion has always from time immemorial have caused conflict due to Religion being Institutionalized by self appointed custodians as the intermediaries between God and Man, when societies with different Religious beliefs started to mingle in the world due to movement of Humans for various reasons. Today the world is a Global Village where most if not all societies are Multi Religious and Multi Ethnic. Further Media has developed with IT and ideas of belief are more prone to be debated than for man to blindly believe as in the past. It is unfortunate that there are still large segments of believers who continue to hold on to their faith and try to undermine others. Then arises conflict. Some fear when their flock dwindle and happy if the numbers increase by converting others for Cash or Kind. At the same time the numbers of non believers in any Religion, as myself also increases in rapid succession. It is no secret that the Orthodox Churches in the Developed world, over the years have decreased in numbers in attendance. This has given rise to Born again movements financed by unseen forces for different reasons and is in vogue now. It is the same with Islam where Wahhabism has gained ground contrary to Shiites and Sunnis. This factional differences of all Religions in itself,is proof of evidence that Religion is man made and not visa versa.

    As much as the All Religions have undergone change, so with Buddhism a Philosophy made in to a Religion today, also Institutionalized by the followers mainly by the sod Mahanama followed by Henry Steel Olcott and Anagarika et al. Today Religion has become a handy tool in the hands of unscrupulous Politicians who pose off as Benevolent leaders to cheat the gullible masses the world over. All Religions are most safe with us, the Non Believers.

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    Just use your title to talk only one side of the problem.

    what selfish and self-centered way.

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      Whatever one does in order to be free from selfishness it will only strengthen and fortify it.Selflessness it’s direct opposite is only an imagination of the former.As such selflessness is useless because it is only an Utopian idea which cannot be achieved.
      So it is OK to be selfish and self-centered to survive in the real world.

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    You preach buddhism here.

    But, you don’t talk about the human nature and the principal of Co-existence.

    Do Christians or Muslims have the WORD COEXISTENCE in their vocabulary ?
    Only thing they know is their FAITH is the ONLY TRUE FAITH, and their GOD is the Ultimate GOD. Christians say that is their motto is Conversion while muslims kill non-believers when they have the upper hand.

    Do you talk those things ?

    You can use your professor titie and preach non-sense.

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      Talk about a one sided opinion. Shame on you Softy. Conversion may be their motto in your opinion. They don’t go round with machete’s threatening and killing people do they? Neither do their white clad priests. Something to learn eh?

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    “It is a Gospel that proclaims the incredible love of God who came down to earth in the form of Jesus, in every way shared our human experience, suffered the horror of crucifixion as a propitiation for human sin, and triumphantly rose from the dead, so that those who put their faith in Christ may forgiven of their sins, enjoy peace and joy for the remainder of their earthly existence, and confidently look forward to the absolute guarantee of eternal life beyond the grave. It is not surprising that people should find such extraordinary “good news” irresistible, and it is intolerable and unfair that they should be beaten up for it along with those who introduce them to it.”

    why wld this incredibly loving god, restrict his rewards to those alone who put their faith in him?
    does this not sound like the offers of commercial ads? we will give u the best boys / girls in the world if u buy our soap?

    And why bring in muslims so negatively into this plea for tolerance towards christians?

    and then comes the genufluction:

    “As to why the government hesitates to take such action is puzzling considering that the President having vanquished terrorism is widely perceived as a national hero whose impeccable Sinhala Buddhist credentials…..”

    ha ha professor ga ga !

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    Professor A.N.I. Ekanayaka,

    First and foremost a lot of these problems would not have happened if certain Christians stopped going on a conversion rampage with the exception of the assault on the church during the Weliweriya massacre.

    “ Go forth to every part of the world, and proclaim the good news to the whole creation . . .” But Jesus did not mean to use dirty tactics like many Christian organizations are doing to convert non-Christians.

    By the way, did you know Lord Buddha said something similar – Go forth and spread the Dhamma? But do you see Buddhists trying to convert non-Buddhists to Buddhism?

    “O Lord how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exult ? They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast. They crush your people, O Lord, and afflict your heritage . .” Really Professor, quoting from Psalms? God does not hear those who claim to be His followers yet cause harm to others by condemning their religion and using despicable methods and schemes to convert them to Christianity. You can say all the Psalms you want but He will never acknowledge it.

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    Thank you Prof.Ekanayake.

    “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, The Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” ( Luke.9.26)

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    I just have a question I wish one of the BBS will answer for me –
    What if me, a buddhist-born person, along with half of the country’s population decide to turn christian ? will that constitute a crime? will the country go under? will our economy collapse – will our country be any worse than it is now?

    Whats all this big show about your religion? I am a good buddhist and try my best to live by the principles – it hardly matters to me what religion my neighbour or relatives are – after all thats their private affair

    Lord Buddha lived and preached his Dhamma in India whith so many other contemporary religious leaders – he never got kings to kill them or throw them out?

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      Citizen Silva, I too belong to a Traditional family who practiced the Buddhist Philosophy. I can not claim to be a Buddhist as there is no Register for any to claim as a Buddhist which Buddha has left. Therefore none can claim to be Buddhist, but anyone is free to practice his Philosophy.

      Even Buddha was born to Hindu faith although he enlightened himself with his Philosophy Buddhism. It is believed, I repeat again, It is believed that he has reached Nirvana a state that he will not be subject to be born again in this world. This concept is similar to the existence of God and both are beliefs and nothing more and cannot be proved or disproved as it is beyond Human Comprehension. For something to be proved it should be in existence. Therefore something that is non existent can not be proved or disproved.

      The so called Buddhists in this country are great copy cats. Today the phrase ‘Budhu Saranai’ is commonly used equivalent to God Bless. In the early days the phrase used to adorn the Lorries including those transporting cattle for slaughter. Then it started to appear on Private Buses that used to kill pedestrians by the score. It is also displayed prominently at sites of House Construction ‘Mema Nivasata Budhu Saranai’. The latest is Phone calls are wound with ‘Budhu Saranai’. This amount to the Christians that use the phrase, God Bless. I fail to understand the Buddhists who believe that Buddha who has reached Nirvana, a state he cannot be of any help or shower any blessings to any, still continue to seek his blessings.

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        Gamini

        ‘God Bless’ and ‘Budu Saranai’ etc are feelgood salutations and really should not be taken at anything more than face value. It is a bit like ‘dear’ and ‘darling’ which you might hear when you travel in the UK; to the british, it is nothing more than a parochial expression and should never be taken as anything more.

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    citizen silva- Thats how I lived in many places in the south.

    I wonder now what TOOLS the early budhists used to CONVERT the singhalese in the south to Budhism.As the yrs went by more singhalese were coverted.

    Perhaps our friends on this thread can enlighten us on this part of history.What was the religion in existence before Sangamitha arrived
    from India.
    In the north we know Hinduism prevailed.
    In the South ?

    – and how were the siinhala people converted.

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    Professor Ekanayake has written a very scholarly and objective article on the current attacks on religious minorities. He has not cast any aspersions on the noble teaching of the Buddha. He has stated about the attacks on Christian pastors, places of worship and individuals, about which he has reliable information. He does not have such information about the attacks on the Muslims that has started in the recent past.He has a right to speak about his own religion. He is not holding a brief for the Muslims. But what he says about us is equally valid for other minority groups. What is being alleged about converting Buddists is a canard. We have not tried to convert and we cannot convert anyone. We only proclaim the Gospel. Those who are willing to listen will hear the Gospel. They will respond positively or negatively by their own free will. If it is a positive response it will be a conversion; which is what they do, not what someone else does for them. So conversion is something you do yourself. What we are doing is called Evangelism and not proselytism. Jesus Christ condemned proselytism. (Math.23:15.) The reason why Christians go to great lengths and pains is because of their obedience to the Lord Jesus, who asked us to go and proclaim the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth.His next great command is to love our neighbours as we love ourselves.In obedience to Him we do both, because we love Him so much.

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    What is most ironical is that a serious buddhist is expected to work towards getting rid of all “thanhawa” — including the “thanhawa” for sinhala buddhism. But much of the BBS ethos seems to be based on the thanhawa to see Sinhala Buddhism well established as a social movement within the country.

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    At the moment the NCC is the only Christian Church Apex body recognised by the government. The AOG and Four Square Churches are incorporated by Acts of Parliament are not recognized as The EASL is not recognized. Let all christian churches Unite. Let us discuss who is a Cult. The Churches were very close to Unity some time back. Let us face Persecution by uniting. Heresies were treated with disdain during the Early Church. Let God guide us in this respect. The NCC should take the initiative.The apostle Pauls views on culture between the Jews and Gentiles must be noted in considering Sri Lankan Culture. Let us examine Gods eternal Principles in light of today’s world. Let God, Jesus and the holy Spirit movement as show in the Holy Bible be our guide. Let us all acknowledge that Jesus is God and that he is our Savior and died for our sins. Most of all let us Pray for Church unity. United we can gain recognition from The Government.

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    Group 1911 2012 % of % of 100 year
    ‘000 ‘000 Total Total Increase

    Buddhists 2,141 14,222 60% 70% 564%
    Hindus 827 2554 23 13 208%
    Muslims 246 1,967 7 10 699%
    Christians 349 1,509 10 7 332%

    The above comparison between the census of 1911 and that of 2012 shows the changes in the religious make up of our population. The salient points are:
    … Muslims have replaced Christians as the third largest religion in SL.
    …the largest percentage increase over the last 100 years has been Muslim.
    …Hindus have fallen considerably due to several factors; I really need not elaborate.

    Buddhists have done very well overall. During the last hundred years there was a substantial reversal of Sinhalese who had adopted Christianity returning to their Buddhist roots. Notable high profile examples were the Bandaranaikes, Jayawardenas et al, stalwarts of the Walauwa who tacitly delivered to the colonial masters a quiescent native population in exchange for many favours. Many of the those who followed hamu to church now followed the same hamu to the temple.

    So the question is: where did the Muslim increase come from? Was it from the old Indonesian principle of ‘copulate to populate’?

    The Christian (mainly ‘new’ evangelical church) conversions are really small in number but high profile visibility which has given the wrong impression.

    Now we know what the BBS already knew.

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    Your ancestors were Buddhists Mr. Ekanayaka. Therefore please do not condemn Buddhism too much. Thank you

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