15 December, 2017

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The Aluthgama Atrocities; Lessons For Religion-Engagement Or Estrangement – A Reflection

By Bishop Duleep de Chickera

Bishop Duleep de Chickera

Bishop Duleep de Chickera

The recent spate of senseless attacks on the Muslim community was brought about by the convergence of a chronic breakdown of law and order, manipulative politics and the sinister provocation of religious intolerance. It is to our collective shame that these trends were allowed to fester into violence and death in a land of religions.  

Since religion is sadly an intrinsic part of this crisis, this reflection highlights seven realities within which our religions are to rediscover their role for the common good, in our plural and violent society. In the idiom of the Bible, seven signifies wholesomeness.

Truth telling

The shared role of religion is interpretative truth telling in a changing world. This requires constant clarification on the purpose of life and the anticipated fulfilment and integration this brings all life. When interpretation however distorts the core teaching of any religion, others of that respective religious community are obliged to engage in counter corrective interpretation. Silence discredits both the religion and the community.

Interpretative truth telling can never be done in vacuum. Other versions of religious and philosophical truth also prevail. Consequently religion today has to decide between dialogue with other truth traditions so that truth may abound, or rivalry that inevitably leads to polarisation, suspicion and animosity.

Devious political strategies

The nature and strategy of divisive politics is to entice and silence religious truth telling for political gain. This is done through the granting of favours, gifts and politicised appointments. Since submission to this trap undermines religious independence and credibility, religion in Sri Lanka today has to decide whether it will succumb to this type of enticement or remain vigilant to resist these snares always.

Crossing Boundaries

Communal party politics, characteristic of our political culture, have accentuated communal polarisation. Our religions are to counter this trend by crossing boundaries to offer solidarity, especially when another religion is ridiculed or harassed. Such affirmative measures are built and sustained through personal friendships. If we are to live together, religions in Sri Lanka must learn to become each other’s friends. It is then also that theories of religious superiority and contamination through association will be addressed by “friends” from within their respective religions. Inter religious solidarity and intra religious conversations are to go hand in hand

The value of religious freedom

The freedom of religion enshrined in our constitution and world charters and covenants is in recognition that religion has a contribution to make towards a better world for all; and is not to be seen as concessions made grudgingly by a distant secular force. Religion in Sri Lanka is consequently to decide whether it will defend religious freedom for all so that truth telling will flow from each to the other for the common good or subvert this freedom as a destabilising conspiracy.

Arresting fundamentalism

A primary obstacle to healthy religious co-existence is religious fundamentalism; the ideology that one religion has monopoly over all truth and that all others are to be converted, subdued or excluded, if the world is to be a better place.  Since fundamentalism stems from the ambition of religious leaders in search of power bases, religious moderates in Sri Lanka today are to decide whether they will contest this form of extremism in defence of truth that endorses coexistence or allow it to spread with growing malice.

Sustainable spirituality 

Engagement in public affairs calls for a rhythm of engagement and detachment. Continuing social interaction requires corresponding self-scrutiny in order that the inner person stays humble and enlightened to enable goodwill to spill over and embrace ones neighbour and all life. To the extent that this rhythm is nourished; religious animosity, violence, divisiveness and exclusion will be shunned in Sri Lanka today. The light indeed dispels the darkness.

Reconciliation through vulnerability

While religion is to be wary of siding with policymakers the only side it can and must take is the side of marginalised victims; those of all communities who are subject to the evils of poverty, injustice and violence. It is from here that religion discovers the call to work for a governance of just healing, in which victims are vindicated, repentant perpetrators forgiven and reconciliation descends without partiality like the dew.

With Peace and Blessings to all

 

 

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Latest comments

  • 6
    5

    Dear Bishop Duleep de Chickera,

    May be I am rather stupid, but I like to ask a simple question for all people to ponder:

    During mass killings of Sinhala youth in two waves, mass killing of Tamils for 30 years and killing of Muslims and destroying the properties of Tamils and Muslims (note Sinhalese properties were not destroyed no Sinhala or Muslim women raped) what did the Gods of the Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims do?

    Did they take time off during those times?

    If these Gods can’t protect people, what use are they to people?

    Sorry for being rather blunt, but isn’t this a relevant question for all religious peoples to ask?

    If they find the rational answer most of our problems will be solved.

    • 4
      2

      Thiru,
      If you are in your mature age, I would say your question is a dumb one. I had the same question when I was young too Now I believe that all those great teachers taught people about the power they are empowered “by the God or nature”, that is the power of goodness, kindness, love, forgiveness to win all the evil within them… I don’t think none of those teachers taught people, if they just sit and pray, Gods would solve all their problems. Unfortunately, lot of people have interpreted their teachings this way..

      • 2
        0

        Oi, down under, your concept of god is vague like the american preaches we see especially in NE India.

        Why are some born into poor families disabled and have no assistance??
        Is not your god unjust??
        Church vs euthanasia and condom is sick.

      • 2
        0

        Looks like you have to sit an pray a lot. To get the power of goodness. Good luck

    • 2
      0

      Don’t worry he is not Socrates as in Hippias to say he is not happy to have won if he wins in words what we see in real life as misery.

      If god was just he could have switched off the Mr Hyde aggressive effect.

      If we achieve by helping ourselves then it has nothing to do with the hand of god but may be great timings.

    • 3
      0

      Well said. This bishop thinks he is cleaver he knows when to say something and when not. He did not even condemn when catholic priest were murdered. Now he has woken up.

    • 4
      0

      Dear Bishop Duleep de Chickera –

      “The recent spate of senseless attacks on the Muslim community was brought about by the convergence of a chronic breakdown of law and order, manipulative politics and the sinister provocation of religious intolerance. It is to our collective shame that these trends were allowed to fester into violence and death in a land of religions.”

      This is Sinhalese “Buddhism” as per monk Mahanama lies, to maintain Monk Hegemony.

      They are all Paras, from South India. They want to deny that fact despite their DNA confirming they are Para-Sinhala.

      If you want to make any headway with these Wood-heads, please print and distribute Amarasiri Poster, that clearly show that they are Para from India.

    • 0
      2

      So Thiru has betrayed his age and immaturity ! We are forced to listen to immature brats like this because of the anonymity of the internet !

      • 0
        0

        Big Brother is Watching !

        Whats up Brain Dead Mafioso in cloak and dagger??
        Are you planning a white van killer hire??

        There is nothing called anonymity on cloud.
        Only the dead have seen the end of war

  • 5
    2

    The muslims appreciate the support meted out to them by both the Catholic and Anglican churches. RESPECT. We should stand together and defeat these thraada extremists who preach hatred in the morning and have a shot of toddy at night!

    • 4
      0

      Muslims should respect other religions as well and condemn all attacks on non Muslim institutions and personal where ever it happens. Also they too should refrain being collaborators when attacking the Tamils and the Hindus.

  • 7
    1

    I think Therawada Buddhism has morphed onto Terror-a-wada Buddhism in Sri Lanka, Burma and Thailand mainly due to the terrorist actions of the bhikkus.

    • 2
      0

      Well didn’t the fascist Japanese Buddhist have free access from Theravada Buddhist Thailand (never conquered by foreign nation) to kill millions of unarmed Asian civilians saying they were dirty and also bomb Colombo church st Lucia’s??

      The Japanese are the largest aid givers to lanka Why so?? Tell me one nation that does not exploit??

      You cannot become a Tibetan Buddhist unless you are European.

      Happily Agnostic

  • 6
    1

    In the beginning God created all the living beings and endowed them with just enough intelligence to survive well in the world.

    Then he said to himself: Let me do something creative.

    He created man, and woman of course to make matters even more complex, and provided the species with a little more intelligence and then he thought it is not fair by the animals. So he gave the humans the power to believe anything they want to compensate for their better intelligence.

    Now He watches from the Heaven and enjoys the fun as these guys and gals believe all kinds of irrational things including religions with their own gods and start killing each other. He decided to call them back when they have done too much damage and punish them for their sins.

    In the meantime He let the poor animals to be recycled usefully on Earth.

    Praise the Lord.

    • 4
      0

      Thiru,

      Praise the Lord and raise the cloth. That is how God has survived with the masses.

    • 0
      0

      Thiru has so pertinently asked “What was God doing” when Prabhakaran rounded up all those innocent people and held them captive as human shields?
      What did God do when innocent children were swept away in a horrendous Tsunami?
      They were not even baptized, and so full or original sin, and constrained to eternal hell fire. Shouldn’t the Bishop be praying for them and asking God to pluck all those people from their misery — cause by his poor planning.

      When some one rapes a woman, or commits adultry, why does God connive with the act by providing a soul in the act of illcit reproduction?

      If I buy a car, and if the car has faults, the manufacturer is at fault.
      This God create this world and Lucifer himself, a world to produce the burning of witches and “heretics” in the middle ages and even upto 1887, massacres of Muslims by christian knights, nuclear Bombs, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Polpot, Wijeweeras, Prabhakaran, or Mervin Silva — isn’t God responsible for all this. Aren’t Bishops like Chikera not coming out openly about all this, and covering everything by the “Oh Holy father mambo jubmo”?
      At least our Hindu Kururals are better in that we can fashon our gods even from the Lingam Phallic symbol or get gods custom made for each job.

      The Bishop should confine himself to his prayers and stop meddling in politics.

  • 1
    0

    Arresting fundamentalism should start with evicting the Muslim terrorist and evangelical organisations that operate in the country. The BBS will then have nothing to complain about.

    Just one example – it is a well known fact that Lashkar-e-Toiba has been operating freely for some years. I believe that they were first noticed when Muslim home guards were being armed by the government. According to the US there are now over 200 operatives.

    • 2
      0

      Paul

      “Arresting fundamentalism should start with evicting the Muslim terrorist and evangelical organisations that operate in the country.The BBS will then have nothing to complain about.”

      But the Sinhala/Buddhists always find enemies to complain about perceived perils and they are very creative in that one should accept. In the worst case scenario they create one according to degree of their fear psychosis.

      Symptoms include:

      Hallucinations (seeing, hearing feeling or tasting things that other people don’t)

      Difficulty filtering stimulation from the environment

      Delusions (false personal beliefs based on incorrect inferences about reality which are inconsistent with culture and previous beliefs, and which are firmly sustained in spite of evidence or proof to the contrary)

      Confused thinking or speech

      Difficulty doing ordinary things (often includes problems with memory, attention, putting thoughts together)

      Inability telling what is real from what is not

      If a person is having new, significant and worsening difficulties in two or three of the following areas, call the doctor for a consultation:

      1. Reduced Performance

      Trouble reading or understanding complex sentences

      Trouble speaking or understanding what others are saying

      Becoming easily confused or lost

      Trouble in sports or other activities that used to be easy (Example: can’t dribble basketball or pass to team members)

      Attendance problems related to sleep or fearfulness

      2. Behavior Changes

      Extreme fear for no apparent reason

      Uncharacteristic and bizarre actions or statements

      New, bizarre beliefs

      Incoherent or bizarre writing

      Extreme social withdrawal

      Decline in appearance and hygiene

      Dramatic changes in sleeping or eating

      3. Perceptual Changes

      Fear that others are trying to hurt them

      Heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells or touch

      Making statements like “my brain is playing tricks on me”

      Hearing voices or other sounds that others don’t

      Reporting visual changes (colors more intense, faces distorted, lines turned wavy)

      Feeling like someone else is putting thoughts into their brain or that others are reading their thoughts

      http://www.easacommunity.org/
      ……………………………………..

      Mass hysteria is another form of illness which frequently attack Sinhala/Buddhists.

      Medical definition of Mass Hysteria:

      Spontaneous, en masse development of identical physical or emotional symptoms among a group of individuals, as in a classroom of schoolchildren.

      A socially contagious frenzy of irrational behavior in a group of people as a reaction to an event.

      Paul

      Sinhala/Buddhist have amply demonstrated symptoms of both illnesses therefore they need to find cure.

  • 3
    0

    Unlike the other religions/beliefs of the world, Buddhism does not believe in a God. Buddhists theoretically are atheists.To pretend that that Buddhism is a religion is absurd. It is unfortunate that Sri Lanka is not a secular State. Unlike in the Progroms of 1983 and those preceding there were no convenient scapegoats as in the case of the BBS created by the Rajapaksas to take cover under. This scapegoat will devour them in due course. In 1983 JRJayewardene did not pretend to be unaware of the race riots that he created. Bensen

  • 1
    0

    “God is in his heaven,and all is right with the world” – is an old christian saying.
    The Bishop is a good man,but ignores realities on earth, like the “devout” Buddhists who ignore the political extremism leading to what may have become “state terrorism”.

  • 2
    2

    Agree, freedom of religion enshrined in our constitution. One mustn’t forget the constitution also says that Buddhism is in the foremost position and the State has to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana.

    Agree also that “religion today has to decide between dialogue ….” But I do not know of what “truth traditions” the good Rev Bishop is talking about for following is what ‘the Jubilee memorials of the Wesleyan Mission, South of Ceylon,’ is said to have published in 1864. “… were convinced that it was the intention of the missionaries to destroy Buddhism and place Christianity in its stead”.

    Some of our leaders may have forgotten but we Sinhala Buddhists have a very good memory of the colonial rule. For us, motives of the then missionaries, I mean, motives of Bishop Duleep de Chickera’s ancestors are absolutely clear. I must say, other Christian and Catholic sects that demand religious freedom today had been no different. If that is not the case today, it is up to their descendants to prove in practice that they are different now. But we see, new evangelists are hitting the road daily with new road maps and fistful of dollars. Need I remind that in Islam, apostasy is punishable by death?

    There said to be six religious founders and sixty-two religions in Bharatha (India) at the time of Buddha. Buddha is said to have had discussions with very many them but looked down upon none. He respected all of them, but he pointed out that their understanding of Dhamma was wrong. Therefore, criticism is not a taboo for Buddhists. This can be seen in Buddha’s sermon to his last disciple, Subhadda.

    I say, “one religion has monopoly over all truth and that all others are to be converted, subdued or excluded” has been the motto of ‘all’ Abrahamic religions of One God and their sects but not of Buddhism. Each and every prophet of Abraham’s ‘One God’ told their followers that they alone were the true devotees of the ‘One God.’ (Not applicable for Jews for Judaism has many Prophets.)
    Apostle Thomas asked Jesus Christ, “How can we know the way (to heaven)?” (New Testament-Jn 14:6) Jesus tells him, “I am the way … No one can come to the father (God) except through me.” Surely, this cannot be so if other messiahs ‘One God’ are genuine prophets. But, that is exactly what each and every prophet said. Every one of them degraded the followers of others and put himself on top. Thus, Prophets of this ‘One God’ were the pioneers of all known bigotry. It’s another matter that Christians and Jews deny Muhammad is a prophet of Abraham’s ‘One God’.

    Anyway, this ‘One God’ belief and his logos has been the best command for intolerance. Thus, all monotheists had become muddle headed and small-minded bigots. And, some had become dangerous fanatics. Then again that had been the case from the inception of One God. So no one should be surprised of what is happening today. What is amazing is; each of those religions says theirs is the religion of peace conveniently forgetting their past acts.

    But I agree that only through freedom of speech and open discussion that peace can be brought to everyone.

  • 0
    2

    Chickera,
    Very, very smooth aren’t you…….. No! religion aside, it’s the culture and heritage counts for any nation. If one want to be ultra-Islamic, one migrates to Arabia. If one wants to be ultra-Hindu, one migrates to Tamil Nadu. If one wants to be Christian(or the modern evolution which believes in ultimate freedom and liberties), one goes to the West and becomes ultra-Western. Therefore in Sri Lanka it is Sinhala-Buddhism that is paramount.

    The only reason Sri Lanka is forced to function as a democracy-minus-vote/per capita, is because the minorities hold the keys to the kingdom of money. Therefore she is striving to change so democracy can work for the majority Lion culture and heritage.

    • 0
      0

      “If one wants to be ultra-Hindu, one migrates to Tamil Nadu. “

      Now that is what I call an imbecile statement leading to the a slippery slope of smelly fish.
      Heard of the travelling monk who presented the east to west and tatte motte sihala buddhist with the borrowed ambude and stolen orange sari.

      Hinduism has no leader, no conversion, no crusade, are born and there is no necessity to know it all (very rarely we find schools teaching Hinduism even in India)

      The west is full of Yoga (healthy body and mind) and held even in the crypt but no religion involved and even atheist respect it. What have Sihala Buddhist given the world incest breed, and crusades- IAF will bomb you soon.

      So sihala speaking demala go wash phew!
      Your statement smells of rotting fish with hidden human carcasses of the innocent.

  • 0
    0

    Bishop Chikera has forgotten the past. During the time when the whole country was battling the psychopathic terroist leader Prabhakaran, the Bishop tried to “make peace” with him by claiming that Prabha was a good man. Even more than that, the Bishop suggested that the church buys `Killinochchi wine’ and serve it at church rituals as a gesture of good will and engaging with Prabhakaran’s ‘de facto’ state in trade.

    This was similar to P. G. Wodehouse, the British writer who spoke glowingly of Hitler and wanted to get involved in promoting German wine in Britain as a gesture of good will and communication “with the German people”. Later on in the war, Wodehouse went to Italy and participated in English broadcasts for the Nazis.

    Clearly, all the `Killinochchi-wine pronouncements’ of the Bishop, and many other political pronouncements show that the Bishop’s political judgment has always been wrong. Why does he not leave politics alone, and let the affairs of Caesar be separate from those of God the latter is the Domain of the Bishop.

    Aluthgama was a result of religious men involving themselves in politics.
    Much of European history was also the result of religious men meddling in politics.

    The Bishop’s interventions are like those of the colonialists, or those of Robert Blake, or Stephen Harper, with little understanding of the feelings and sensitivities of the Sri Lankan public at large.

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