21 October, 2021

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The Foolish Bigotry Sorrounding Conversion Phobia

By Asoka N.I. Ekanayaka

Prof. Asoka N.I. Ekanayaka

It seems as if the foolish obsession with conversion phobia has raised its ugly head again this time with the incendiary encouragement of Malcolm Ranjith a garrulous apostate pluralist Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, whose open endorsement of the Buddhist philosophy makes one wonder whether he is a Buddhist at heart though a Christian by name. Indeed his 2018 Vesak message where he boasted that all religions existed in the shadow of the Buddhist Chintanaya from which we draw our thoughts and ideals, is a direct contradictions of Jesus’ timeless dogmatic affirmation that as the incarnate Son of God Jesus uniquely is the “only way the only truth and the only life”! 

No self respecting Buddhist leader will compromise his own understanding of the Buddhist view of Truth by bending over backwards that much in an excruciating spiritual contortion to make himself popular with Christians. Not so this Cardinal who has made himself the darling of the Buddhist majority especially the extreme fanatical Buddhist fringe, by devaluing the Christian “Gospel”. Consequently on the issue of Christian conversions the beleaguered Christian Church might well say of Bishops like Malcolm Ranjit “with friends like this who needs enemies” ? !

Against this background it is timely and relevant to reproduce herewith my article “Legislation Driven by Conversion Phobia” which received national publicity far back in 2004 when this was a hot issue. It explodes several of the myths, distortions, and foolish notions Sorrounding the subject of Christian conversion. The contents may be anathema to Cardinal Malcolm Ranjit who tends not to favour any conversions to Christianity. But they were strongly endorsed by that godly Roman Catholic Bishop the late great Dr Frank Marcus Fernando who though he had never met me ( I not being a Roman Catholic) wrote to me saying “This little note is to thank you and congratulate you for your excellent article on the pending anti-conversion Bill . . .”. Now 16 years later I still treasure the gracious handwritten note dated July 6th 2004 by this loveable saintly  Bishop a true pastor to his flock and servant of God, compared to those with more exalted titles before and since who deviating from sound doctrine have betrayed the Church and face a terrible accounting.

Reproduction of 2004 Article

Watching the film of Victor Hugo’s book “Les Miserable”on TV a few days ago, I was reminded of one of the most moving and inspiring encounters ever described. It is the moment when Monseigneur Bienvenu the saintly Christian Bishop saves Jean Valjean from being returned to the galleys by telling the police that the silver plates stolen from him by the dissolute fugitive were a gift, and giving him the silver candlesticks as well. With the words “Jean Valjean, my brother, you belong no longer to evil but to good. It is your soul that I am buying for you. I withdraw it from dark thoughts and the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God !”. Monseigneur Bienvenu launches the conversion of Jean Valjean. It is a dispiriting thought that in terms of the narrow unenlightened degeneracy of Sinhala Buddhist extremism that is relentlessly driving the thrust for anti conversion legislation, in Sri Lanka the worthy Bishop would have been accused of unethical conversions. According to the government’s proposed bill he would be liable to 5 years imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 100, 000 as extremists takes satisfaction in the thought that the interests of Buddhism have been served. 

However to a non Buddhist, one of the sad things about the current phobia about Christian conversions which underlies the aggressive drive for anti conversion legislation is that it seems to be the very antithesis of Buddhism. The appearance of insecurity, fear, resentment, and restlessness associated with the frenetic craving for anti conversion laws, seems so much at variance with the attitude of patience, kindness, detachment, equanimity, and renunciation that  is at the core of Buddhism. If I am mistaken in this (and hopefully not), then Buddhism is a more militant philosophy than I had imagined. Amidst the upsurge of violent attacks on Christians in many parts of the country in recent times one would have expected that by now any concerns about unethical conversions would have quickly given way to widespread moral outrage and indignation at such inhumanity. Far from it – but then history records that religions have been most discredited by those who were its most zealous defenders, encouraged by the seeming acquiescence of the silent majority.  

There have been over 100 attacks against Christians since March 2002, and 20 of these took place in the first 18 days of 2004. Such violations have included beatings, arson, acts of sacrilege, death threats, violent disruption of worship, stoning, abuse, unlawful restraint, and even interference with funerals, amongst other acts of thuggery against peaceful Sri Lankan Christians. 

Reportedly 146 places of Christian worship have been forced to close down within a space of four months. To say in response that Christians are only getting what they deserve for indulging in unethical conversions that must forthwith be halted by passing legislation – is of course the worst form of victim blaming. 

Against this background there is a need to clear the mists of emotion, prejudice, and ignorance that underlie the prevailing obsessions about Christian conversions, and move towards a mature understanding of the relevant issues . 

Constitutional Guarantees and Human Rights

The right to actively practice and propagate the Christian religion are guaranteed by articles 10 and 14 (1e) of the constitution of Sri Lanka. In particular article 14(1e) gives Christians the constitutional entitlement to manifest their religion in “worship, observance, practice” and most significantly “teaching”. Given that “teaching” can have many different modalities for example teaching by example, teaching through preaching, teaching  through the distribution of printed material and teaching through intellectual persuasion, it follows that the constitution allows Christians the right to peacefully use such means for the propagation of the Faith to non – Christians. Such constitutional provision closely follows the right to manifest ones religion or belief in “teaching, practice, worship and observance” as contained in Article 18 of the Universal declaration of human rights. 

The fundamental rights guaranteed by article 14(1e) of the constitution are  in no way weakened by the provisions of article 9 for the protection of Buddhism as article 9 makes it clear that its provisions are conditional on the rights guaranteed under articles 10 and 14(1e) remaining intact. Finally nowhere in the constitution is it stated or implied that the “Freedom of religion . . . including the freedom to adopt a religion or belief” of an individual is imperilled by the peaceful overtures of another individual who seeks to convert him/her to another religion. 

Over and above the right to “teach”, the constitutional guarantees in article 14(1e) provide for Christians to “practice” Christianity. It follows that Christians are entitled to “practice” Christianity in terms of what the practice of Christianity entails.. So the question is what does the practice of Christianity entail ? 

Peaceful Propagation of the Faith – An Inescapable Christian Imperative

The practice of Christianity entails faith in God who as Christians believe, has historically revealed himself in the humanity of Jesus Christ in order to save mankind from the stranglehold of sin. Such faith places upon the Church the inescapable obligation to introduce all men everywhere to the love of God  in Jesus Christ. Christians are in the position of people who have come into possession of some wonderful good news – news  that is literally life giving which they are bound to share with others in a spirit of love and goodwill. It is a compulsive labour of love unequivocally commissioned by Christ himself. The Church has been faithful to this commission throughout history in the face of all odds,  even martyrdom. The impulse to engage in Christian conversion is fundamental to the practice of Christianity and cannot be denied in any rational interpretation of the Constitution which guarantees the right to practice Christianity. 

Therefore, the judgment of any Court which holds that the propagation of Christianity would not be permissible because it would impair the very existence of Buddhism is at variance with the Constitution, because the Constitution guarantees the right to “practice” Christianity where the peaceful propagation of Christianity is an inextricable part of the “practice” of Christianity !. 

“Unethical Conversions” a Contradiction in Terms

Central to the controversy are accusations of so called “unethical conversions”. However on closer examination the very concept of “unethical conversions” is meaningless.  Conversion denotes a true change of heart, nothing less. Therefore a so called ‘unethical’ conversion is no conversion. The so called “conversion” of a person supposed to have been purchased with some material inducement is pure pretence. It is not a valid conversion. The entire concept of “unethical conversions” is a contradiction in terms. As for genuine conversions it is the work of God not man. The worldwide Church is bound to relentlessly teach and preach the Gospel. But God converts the heart at his will and pleasure. Consequently the notion that conversions to Christianity can be suppressed through legislation or other restraints is spurious. Man may contend with man – but in the final analysis no man can prevail against God. That is the definitive Christian position.

The Hidden Agenda 

It is possible that underlying the current aggravation about “unethical conversions” is a general hostility to Christian conversions altogether, ethical or unethical. This is not surprising considering that many genuine conversions to Christianity might indeed have taken place in recent times. Such trends are predictable. That ordinary simple people, harassed, confused and burdened by the manifold vicissitudes of an uncertain life in these turbulent times should find solace through Faith in a loving God – should surprise no one. Moreover it has to be admitted that the disillusionment created by the seeming corruption and distortion of Buddhism in Sri Lanka today – may be a further factor causing people to drift away at this time. Rather than make a scapegoat of Christians it may be more expedient for the Buddhist establishment to put it’s own house in order.  

Historic Christian Commitment to Social Justice

It is a common  complaint that  Christian conversions are secured through material inducements to the socially deprived. Such criticisms reflect an ignorance of the essential nature of Christian mission throughout history. That mission has been marked by a historic tradition of caring concern for the material needs of the poor and destitute within a fundamental commitment to social justice  which is as old as Christianity itself.

Jesus himself was born in poverty. He lived in poverty, and was tortured and killed by those with wealth and power. Consequently from the earliest times the exertions of Christians as they preached and taught the Christian faith ( invariably leading to conversions ) have been inextricably associated with practical action to alleviate poverty. In the long meritorious history of Christian mission worldwide Christians have founded schools,  hospitals and refuges for the outcast. They abolished slavery and improved the conditions of workers in mills, mines, and of prisoners in jail. They have fought against the commercial exploitation of children in the factories of the West and ritual prostitution in the temples of the East. They have cared for the blind, the deaf, the orphaned, the widowed, the sick, the lepers, and the dying. They have befriended drug addicts and held their hand through the agonies of withdrawal. They have opposed racism and political oppression and agitated for social justice in the inner city,  the slums,  and the ghettos.  

A social conscience in the Christian perspective is everywhere the inescapable dictate of love.. The answer to critics who complain that Christian social action leads to Christian conversions is that it cannot be helped. In this situation it is only natural that people who convert should be as touched by the life and example of Christians who attend to their dire material needs as impressed by the force of the gospel of salvation which they preach. Christian service and Christian preaching are two sides of the same coin. They cannot be disengaged.  It is a wicked distortion to interpret such activities as a form of bribery. 

Hostility to Modes and Styles of Christian Evangelism

A further cause of aggravation is the hostility towards the reportedly aggressive and seemingly tactless manner in which some pastors are accused of spreading the Christian faith especially amongst the poor, amidst questions about their real motives for charitable work. 

Anecdotal allegations of “conversions” secured through artless material inducements if not outright bribery, tend to evoke strong resentment especially when such stories are embellished with accusations that mercenary NGO’s with access to liberal foreign funding are behind such activities. Such emotive accusations have the potential to dangerously inflame public opinion. 

In the best traditions of evangelism the propagation of Christianity is something that ought to be motivated by compassionate selfless zeal for the spiritual health of people and their immediate material needs. It is never driven by mercenary aims or worldly ambition. It is neither triumphalist, nor coercive nor manipulative. It involves intellectual persuasion through the formation of relationships, dialogue, discussion and teaching. Above all Christians are required to draw people to God by the quality of their own life and example in the world,  to be a shining light of integrity so that people will be so moved by their purity and goodness as to be drawn to their Faith.  

The extent to which pastors  have deviated from this ideal standard in Sri Lanka has never been objectively documented. The current public agitation about Christian conversions is frequently a response to anecdotal reports that are capable of variable interpretation. There is no reliable quantitative evidence to suggest that such activities are sufficiently widespread as to constitute a public nuisance. Therefore it is possible that reports of aggressive provocative Christian evangelism are biased and grossly exaggerated if not palpably false,  especially when they originate from sources who would like to magnify isolated incidents and stir up public discord with the intention of putting an end to  any kind of Christian propagation. The current morbid obsession with “unethical conversions” in Sri Lanka does not stand on a foundation of detached objective investigation and evidence. It is unthinkable that legislation should be contemplated against a presumed vice whose true social distribution is only a matter of hearsay. 

All allegations of Christian workers using improper means to propagate their faith remain unproven until they are corroborated through fair and independent inquiry. What if the only fault was an impassioned, perhaps overbearing style of communication which might at times have lacked tact ? It is irrational to castigate as crimes what may only be the indiscretions  of people whose zeal has exceeded their prudence. 

However there is a more fundamental issue. In a selfish world of pervasive social degradation and inequality,  does it really matter who helps the poor ? Who cares about the motives of benefactors, or the source of their funds whether local or foreign ? It is easy to engage in pharisaic nit-picking from the comfortable security of guaranteed monastic lifetime subsistence. It is more humane for a  secular society to take the pragmatic view that in the absence of criminal intent any person or organisation is welcome to relieve the economic distress of the indigent in whatever manner possible, whatever their motives.  

It would of course be a great mistake to exaggerate the naivety of ordinary people in Sri Lanka. In a highly literate society most people are capable of  reasonable discrimination on matters of faith. Should anyone be so foolish as to crudely solicit their conversion in return for material favours,  many would be sagacious enough to take what is given and feign a spurious change of  belief  – hardly a valid conversion ! Emotive reference to “forced” conversions in Sri Lanka with the subtle connotation of violence implied by the word is a mischievous distortion.  

Christian Conversions and the Proliferation of Christian sects

Current reaction to Christian conversions is associated with antagonism towards the small indigenous non formal churches and loosely organised groups of Christian workers who are blamed for many conversions. A spurious distinction is often made between the established mainline organisations like the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches, and the numerous smaller Christian denominations (some of them no more than informal aggregations of domestic worshippers), that operate peacefully in many parts of the country. Despite the aberration of some recent attacks on Roman Catholic churches, on the whole the former are accepted as legitimate. The latter tend to be spurned as unauthorised sects intent on proselytising. 

To discriminate between different Christian groups in Sri Lanka in that manner reflects a complete ignorance of the essential character of the Christian Church and contemporary trends in the growth of Christianity worldwide. Every Christian knows that in the Final Judgment the Pope will enjoy no advantage over the itinerant preacher! 

While legal registration by Act of Parliament has been customary especially for the older and more established denominations, nevertheless the validity of a “Church” does not depend on such State recognition. Rather for Christians the “Church” simply denotes “ the people of God” – even if that literally means a gathering of two or three Christians with a common commitment to practice Christianity and tell others about it. By this definition any group of people actively involved in Christian teaching and community service  would have natural legitimacy irrespective of whether or not they functioned under the label of a mainline Church. Some of the Christian workers who are resented for inducing conversions to Christianity belong to this category. They have as much right to exist and practice Christianity ( which includes its peaceful propagation), as any of the larger Churches. State registration is not a sine qua non for the collective practice of Christianity. 

Even so, it is a little known fact that many of the so called ‘smaller’ Christian sects have indeed been formally incorporated by Act of Parliament several decades ago and have the same legal status as the larger denominations. They cannot now be arbitrarily disregarded simply because  people have converted to Christianity through their labours.

The proliferation of indigenous independent Christian sects is neither new nor peculiar to Sri Lanka. It has been a respectable global phenomenon for many years, with Christians seeking a deeper spiritual experience beyond the drab conservatism of institutional religion. The House Church Christian movement in China for example has flourished despite Communist repression with 75 – 100 million Christians meeting in their homes and an estimated 12 million conversions yearly. Such trends are the expression of  an authentic global charismatic Christian revival. 

The futility of Anti Conversion Laws 

What has been said so far underlines the absence of any rational basis for anti conversion legislation  in Sri Lanka. Such legislation is basically unjust because the propagation of Asian religions is permitted without any legal restrictions in the Western democracies notwithstanding the historical dominance of Christianity. Even worse such legislation would be inflammatory for while ostensibly targeting “unethical” conversions it will be seized upon by unscrupulous extremists to harass and bully a religious minority. Anti conversion laws at this time  will severely undermine the current peace process because legal restrictions will be perceived internationally as  narrow minded, and retrogressive, and a concession to extremists. It will make minorities nervous as it signifies weak governance that in the final analysis can be coerced and manipulated by a chauvinistic Sinhala Buddhist majority. 

More importantly anti religious conversion legislation would be an exercise in hypocrisy amidst the slander, false promises and monumental deceit  through which “unethical conversions” are constantly secured in other innumerable areas of human belief,  where the promulgation of preventive legislation would be cumbersome and unrealistic. “Unethical conversions” if they take place at all may be undesirable – but in a mature society it is futile and hypocritical  to legislate against such practices, provided the methods used are peaceful. 

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 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. It goes against the norms of a civilised society to promulgate protectionist legislation (to artificially prop up fixed religious ratios) thereby hindering the unfettered conversion of human belief by any means provided they are peaceful. 

In the final analysis what stands out is the sheer futility of anti conversion legislation and history’s testimony to its counter productivity. Anti conversion laws are after all as old as Christianity itself. It is recorded that when St. Peter and St John were arraigned before court 2000 years ago, and ordered to stop propagating the Faith they replied “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”. And thus it has been in every age. 

However the Church which began with hardly a dozen men against the might of the Roman Empire has since expanded to every corner of the earth. The ultimate irony of anti conversion laws is that spurred by oppression and martyrdom Christianity throughout human history has grown and flourished ever more strongly even as Christians have been forced to choose between obedience to God and loyalty to the State. Those who resent the tide of Christian conversions would be foolish to ignore the testimony of history that passing anti conversion laws, is the surest way to accelerate the spread of Christianity”. 

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Latest comments

  • 13
    11

    Does the writer think that it is very Christian to use foul means for conversion?
    Let us not compare the present day ‘Dollar-backed conversions’ with efforts of an ancient era when Christianity appealed to the oppressed and no bribery was used to convert.
    There is more than religion involved in most Evangelical conversions of today.

    • 3
      2

      …”when Christianity appealed to the oppressed”….
      Why? Not all were by conviction of the religious faith, but being oppressed, it appealed to one’s desire to have material or worldly relief.

      When Monseigneur Bienvenu the saintly Christian Bishop saves Jean Valjean from being returned to the galleys by telling the police that the silver plates stolen from him by the dissolute fugitive were a gift, did he not lie?. Is that truly Christian – deceit to serve a purpose. He should have pleaded for mercy by truthful means.
      This conversion by external artifices is what many find distasteful. Whether it is money, offer of rank or whatever, it is immoral. But if there is conversion without external pressures or expectation of material worldly favours, then it is a personal right to change one’s faith if convinced.
      This from a rationalist point of view and no denigration of any particular religion – it only refers to methods of conversions and their morality.

      • 2
        2

        My View,
        $
        No great deed by the bishop giving Jon Valjean the silver chalices. Poverty in France at that time was at an all time high because the aristocrats and the church held onto all the country’s wealth. Indeed, the mobs during the French revolution also attacked the churches and clergy. French churches at the time were different from the other churches around the world that propagated their wealth and gave bread and occupation to the masses. The church wealth was tightly held onto for the aristocrats. It was a club for the aristocrats.
        $
        It is like what these newly fangled evangelical groups are doing – holding onto wealth (with a few poor people in the sideshow), so the elite will remain wealthy, and become even wealthier with the current country’s monetary system. And they actually feel they are truly blessed.
        $
        The bishop in Le Miserables should have stood up and shouted out about the corruption of the church, and given all the gold and silver it owned to all of the poor, and not because he felt sorry for just one man. His treasures in heaven would surely have been assured if he dismantled the whole corrupt capitalistic aka feudal system that was supposed to be looking after the Masses, but instead got stuck up at the very top.

        • 5
          1

          There is an old saying:
          “When the sage points to the moon, the fool looks at the finger”

          • 1
            1

            SJ,……..I am pointing to Mars. But Inspector Javert also sat obsessing over one nonentity concept on sin rather than looking at the true nature of the national situation that would have benefitted a great many more.

            • 0
              0

              RTF
              I did not realize that meditating on Mars has a hallucinatory effect.

              • 0
                0

                Not at all SJ. Not at all.

      • 3
        0

        MV
        Thanks.
        I was referring to early Christianity.
        As for Monseigneur Bienvenu the saintly Christian Bishop saving Jean Valjean from being returned to the galleys by telling a lie, the Christian value upheld is stated in general terms in the Thirukkural (3rd Century, I think):
        பொய்மையும் வாய்மை யிடத்த புரைதீர்ந்த
        நன்மை பயக்கும் எனின், meaning
        Even falsehood has the nature of truth, if it confer a benefit that is free from fault.

        • 1
          1

          Dear SJ,
          Yes agree to that saying if altruism is what is practised. But here it is selfish with a desire to convert by immoral means that a downright lie was uttered. So with due respect, there is a critical difference of motive involved.

    • 1
      1

      My View,
      $
      No great deed by the bishop giving Jon Valjean the silver chalices. Poverty in France at that time was at an all time high because the aristocrats and the church held onto all the country’s wealth. Indeed, the mobs during the French revolution also attacked the churches and clergy. French churches at the time were different from the other churches around the world that propagated their wealth and gave bread and occupation to the masses. The church wealth was tightly held onto for the aristocrats. It was a club for the aristocrats.
      $
      It is like what these newly fangled evangelical groups are doing – holding onto wealth (with a few poor people in the sideshow), so the elite will remain wealthy, and become even wealthier with the current country’s monetary system. And they actually feel they are truly blessed.
      $
      The bishop in Le Miserables should have stood up and shouted out about the corruption of the church, and given all the gold and silver it owned to all of the poor, and not because he felt sorry for just one man. His treasures in heaven would surely have been assured if he dismantled the whole corrupt capitalistic aka feudal system that was supposed to be looking after the Masses, but instead got stuck up at the very top.

  • 23
    1

    What I find most amusing is this Cardinal, the descendant of converts, grumbling about other people being converted. What sin have ordinary SL Catholics committed that they have been punished with an intellectual dwarf at the top of their Church? He is largely to blame too for this Nandasena regime coming to power.

    • 4
      0

      OC, the fellow at the top of the catholic church is not the only intellectual dwarf running riot and spouting his potty mouthed verbiage in dear Lanka.

      Just pick one from the ruling class of ignoramuses and pseudo academics who can be trusted and respected for fair play and integrity and I’ll give you a hurrah.

      • 3
        1

        Easton Scott

        “the fellow at the top of the catholic church is not the only intellectual dwarf running riot and spouting his potty mouthed verbiage in dear Lanka.”

        The fellow at the top of the catholic church is not really a Catholic, but a cross dresser who spoke Sinhala/Buddhism.

  • 2
    1

    Well written by professor Ekanayaka, actually. He gives good reasoning and has a thorough knowledge of how the Christian faith operates, and the need for democracy in religion.

    I agree that there should not be anti-conversion laws as it does not give humans the freedom of choice to determine their own religious fates. As he says, Buddhism in Sri Lanka needs to clean up its own house first and not go against its precepts in trying to control people. Anyway, Buddhism is a fast growing religion in the West with many Bikkuhs from also Sri Lanka giving a guiding light in other countries.

    However, if a religion starts a revival with all kinds of rich and influential people in it (with a side show of poor people to give it legitimacy), then it is a highly suspect one. It is a controlling body aimed to move the country into one that it more controllable on the global arena’s stock exchange, and for rich Lankans to secure their wealth that way.

    • 1
      0

      Ramona,
      “However, if a religion starts a revival with all kinds of rich and influential people in it (with a side show of poor people to give it legitimacy), then it is a highly suspect one.”
      Since you live in Philadelphia, you wouldn’t be likely to know that the religion with the largest number of “rich and influential people ” in SL is neither Catholicism nor evangelical Christianity.

      • 0
        1

        old codger,
        Try in proportionality- the percentage of rich people in any one religion. In Buddhism, it will be 1% rich people in the rlgion. In Catholicism, it will be 5% of rich people in the religion. In Evangelicalism, it will be 99.99% rich people in the religion.

        • 1
          0

          Ramona,
          “In Evangelicalism, it will be 99.99% rich people in the religion”
          So are you suggesting that we should all become evangelicals and get rich? Please send me the contact details.

          • 0
            2

            OC,
            Only the already rich would benefit. Poor fellow like you will be shouting Alleluias on the side in glory and praise of the rich beings on how God chose to make angels of them.

  • 3
    0

    Conversion can happen only if a person decides to change his or her views on religion. Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith who created a new voting block “Catholics” was expecting all Christians to follow his line of politics supporting Mahinda Rajapakse. Unfortunately 50% of the Christians are not Catholics, they had their own view and went against Mahinda. Then the Cardinal came with an idea to work with the Buddhist Monks against a common enemy they see “the Evangelists” whom they brand as “Born Again”. Reason why Cardinal is so mad against the Evangelists is because he is losing large numbers of Catholics to Evangelists.

    I have spoken to so many Sri Lankans and they openly call the Cardinal as a Mahinda Rajapakse Golaya.

    • 2
      2

      Also 50% of the Protestants and Catholics in the island are Thamizh and they hate this racist Cardinal , who originates from the recently Sinhalized North West Negombo/Chilaw/Puttalam coast. His parents or grandparents would have definitely identified themselves as Thamizh and most probably he is also very familiar with the Thamizh language. Like one Catholic Thamizh MP from the North West commented , that this so called Cardinal instead of taking a neutral position is now seen cavorting , with Chingkalla Buddhist Fascists and racists and have become their mouth piece. What a disgrace to Christianity

  • 2
    0

    I feel sorry for God.

    Soma

    • 3
      0

      soman

      “I feel sorry for God.”

      God is dead – Nietzsche

      • 1
        0

        Nietzsche is dead – God

        • 3
          0

          Svenson

          God is dead – Nietzsche
          Nietzsche is dead – God

          If both are dead why are we talking about them?

  • 2
    1

    Best way to convert is a bottle of Arrack ( preferably ‘Gal’ variety) and a packet of rice ( Samba).
    Virgins are nice but the trouble is not worth.

    Soma

    • 2
      1

      soman

      “Virgins are nice but the trouble is not worth.”

      Is it why you became a habitual Kerb Crawler?

  • 5
    1

    It is time up for the current Cardinal to hand over to another unbiased Priest to take over the reigns. He had been too close to Rajapaksas. He would have some inkling that an huge disaster was brewing well before the Easter Sunday bombings in 2019 —an event that helped NGR to come to power—> Another huge disaster.
    I wonder whether a Tamil can become the Cardinal in the RACIST country?

  • 1
    0

    Regarding the new birth experience into becoming a Christian, it was Jesus who said “You must be born again” John 3,3 to Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. Nicodemus asked “How” Jesus said “Born of water and the Spirit” This membership of church in baptism and confirmation applies to all catholics and other Christian denominations. Jesus himself gave pastors or shepherds to the church flock. Eph.4,11. Cardinal is a fraud word, not in the bible but he dares to attack pastors, commanded by Jesus. Human heart conviction cannot be done by men or money. Be sensible in belief.

    • 2
      2

      davidthegood,
      +
      Jews believed in reincarnation. Therefore when Jesus said to be born again of the water and spirit, he meant of the amniotic fluids and a new spirit through rebirth. And when people like John the Baptist did baptism in the river Jordan, it was to remind them to get a new spirit when they are reborn from a new mother’s womb. It all boils down to context.

      • 1
        0

        Dear Ramona Therese, Jesus never believed in reincarnation and did not talk of amniotic fluid. It was Nicodemus who thought to re-enter womb. But Jesus said to be born of Spirit now into the human spirit. John 3 explains all this. When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit came and stayed on him for power for ministry on earth. Jesus taught them after his resurrection in Acts 1,3 That was not a rebirth or reincarnation, but the same Jesus, continuing from where he left off before the crucifixion. Christians are in the first resurrection as the same people. Rev.20,6 Reincarnation or rebirth in a new mother’s womb is faulty for followers of this same Jesus.

        • 0
          1

          davidthegood,
          +
          Jesus wouldn’t have spoken about reincarnation because it was implicit knowledge the time.
          +
          When he was baptized in the Jordan, it was his own heavenly spirit coming down to him. Only He arose from the dead to show his disciples that he was not really dead – that he was truly God! Only God could rise from the dead ; body and spirit.
          +
          And his disciples got the Holy Spirit because it was soon after his resurrection and ascension into heaven. Where does one see tongues of fire coming down on evengalist’s head nowadays and they doing all the miracles Jesus did?
          +
          You have to ask yourself if your interpretation is too literal, taken verbatim from the Bible that Christ never wrote but left it up to his fellow humans to interpret and reinterpret along the way.

  • 2
    1

    davidthegood,
    +
    Jews believed in reincarnation. Therefore when Jesus said to be born again of the water and spirit, he meant of the amniotic fluids and a new spirit through rebirth. And when people like John the Baptist did baptism in the river Jordan, it was to remind them to get a new spirit when they are reborn from a new mother’s womb. It all boils down to context.

  • 1
    1

    Thank you Mr. Asoka N.I. Ekanayaka for the article a Colombo Telegraph for publishing same.

    The reason why Christians preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is because they believe in hell and heaven.
    I too share the gospel with my friends and contacts for the very reason and pray that they too,
    like me will receive the GIFT OF ETERNAL LIFE, by repenting of their sins and accepting
    the Lord Jesus as their personal.

    The Lord Jesus after the resurrection said these words:
    Luke 24
    44 He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’

    45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, ‘This is what is written: the Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

    He also said:
    (continued below)

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    The Lord Jesus after the resurrection also said these words:
    Matthew 28
    18 Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’

    Saul of Tarsus, the persecutor of Christians in the early church, after his conversion said:
    Romans 1
    14 I am a debtor both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.

    16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes:
    The Apostle Peter siad:
    2 Peter 3
    9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

    Thank you.

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      Vijay my classmate, Prof. Ekanayake was two years senior to us at Royal.

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    Ramona Therese Fernando / February 25, 2021, commented:
    “….Therefore when Jesus said to be born again of the water and spirit, he meant of the amniotic fluids and a new spirit through rebirth. “
    Please read the words of the Lord Jesus Christ:
    John 14
    1 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.’
    3 Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[’
    4 ‘How can someone be born when they are old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!’
    5 Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, “You[c] must be born again.” 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases.

    (Continued below)

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    You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’[d]
    9 ‘How can this be?’ Nicodemus asked.
    The Words of Jesus on being born again:
    John 14 (continued from verse 9)
    10 ‘You are Israel’s teacher,’ said Jesus, ‘and do you not understand these things?
    11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.
    12 I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?
    13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven – the Son of Man.
    14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
    15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.’

    (Continued below)

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    The Words of Jesus on being born again:
    John 14 (continued from verse 15)

    16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
    that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
    17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
    but to save the world through him.
    18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned,
    but whoever does not believe stands condemned already
    because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
    19 This is the verdict:
    light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light
    because their deeds were evil.
    20 Everyone who does evil hates the light,
    and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.
    21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

    Thank you.
    Vijaya Lekamge

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      Vijaya,
      +
      Born of the flesh is to born into the earthly world of course. Born of the spirit means you look on the cross and accept Jesus as your saviour so when you die, you will be born in the spirit world of heaven…..failing of which you will be reborn on earth with a newer spirit from the old. Both have to go through the watery veils.
      +
      Doesn’t mean that you pour water on someone and they will magically get the Holy Spirit.
      +
      Catholics also have the baptism by spirit during confirmation which makes a person a full member of the church, and also at charismatic renewals. But these are only part of the full set of church traditions and sacraments.

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    Native Vedda / February 26, 2021, wrote:
    “Virgins are nice but the trouble is not worth.”

    Is it why you became a habitual Kerb Crawler?”
    You have a nice sense of humour, Native Vedda.
    I wish to take the opportunity to share what the Lord Jesus Christ had to say about heaven.
    Matthew 22
    30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage;
    they will be like the angels in heaven.
    If interested ,please read 11 verses below for the story:
    Matthew 22
    23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question.
    24 ‘Teacher,’ they said, ‘Moses told us that if a man dies without having children,
    his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him
    . 25 Now there were seven brothers among us.
    The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother.
    26 The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh.
    27 Finally, the woman died.
    28 Now then, at the resurrection,
    whose wife will she be of the seven,
    since all of them were married to her?’

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    It completely boggles my mind that despite all the available evidence in science which the westerners had a big hand in inventing there are so many people who believe in a creator god.

    It boggles my mind these same fools in the name of this nonexistent diety. and killed and destroyed so many valuable civilizations. And now instead of using gunpowder, they are trying to do the same using the almighty dollar.

    I know not to laugh or cry at this mind-boggling stupidity.

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    Matthew, disciple of Jesus wrote that after the resurrection of Jesus, graves of saints too opened Mat.27,52 and their dead were raised, walked in Jerusalem and recognized by their living kith as their dead ones and not reincarnated ones in other wombs as babies. They went to paradise with him. The centurion then said “Truly Jesus was the Son of God” Who could resurrect the same dead. We are eternally ourselves, whether we accept God’s forgiveness of karma and live in his presence or we reject God and live independent in hell. When Jesus appeared to 500 on mountain in Galilee, they worshipped him but some doubted. Mat.28,17. He said, to go, make disciples, baptize, teach, do commands and he would always be with them. We are redeemed with that precious blood sacrifice. 1Pet.1,19 God is a Judge, Law giver and King. Isa.33,22

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    davidthegood,
    That is because Jesus was around on earth at that time 2,000 years ago.

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    Conversion by deceiving is absolutely criminal. Black magic performing voodoo Shamans who pretend to be pastors in Sri Lanka are ex-drug addicts or have dodgy past.

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    Thank you .Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam / February 27, 2021
    for not being ashamed to identify yourself with me ,by responding :
    “Vijay my classmate, Prof. Ekanayake was two years senior to us at Royal.”

    Most of my classmates avoid me like the Covid19 plague.

    Thank you ,Ramona Therese Fernando / February 27, 2021for your response.
    I think Davidthegood
    (I would have to refer to myself as Vijaya the horrible, dirty sinner, saved by Grace)
    has shared the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ very clearly.

    Ramona,
    you wrote:
    “Doesn’t mean that you pour water on someone and they will magically get the Holy Spirit.
    +
    Catholics also have the baptism by spirit during confirmation which makes a person a full member of the church, and also at charismatic renewals. But these are only part of the full set of church traditions and sacraments.”

    I would like to refer you to the story of the the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ,
    described in Luke 23.

    (Continued below)

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    Luke 23
    32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed.
    33 When they came to the place called the Skull,
    they crucified him there, along with the criminals – one on his right, the other on his left.
    34 Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.
    39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him:
    ‘Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’
    40 But the other criminal rebuked him.
    ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence?
    41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.
    But this man has done nothing wrong.’
    42 Then he said,
    ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’
    43 Jesus answered him,
    ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’
    Ultimately, there are only two groups.
    One group will mock the Lord Jesus Christ.
    The others, will take their place as the criminal who said:
    “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’
    Jesus answered him,
    ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’
    Ramona,
    I deserve hell . The worst part of hell but because the Lord Jesus Christ,
    the creator became man ,visited this planet and died for the sins of the whole world,

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      Yes Prof. All must look on the cross and be saved. Never mind the sign and symbol used, although signs and symbols have their use to us mortal men.
      Evangelists are also needed around to give new life and definition, for at times the old faith gets stale.

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    As I had exceeded the number of words ,some have been missed out. Continuing from where I got cut off:
    I deserve hell . The worst part of hell but because the Lord Jesus Christ,
    the creator became man ,visited this planet and died for the sins of the whole world,
    I too will be in heaven , like the criminal on the cross.
    Ultimately, there are only two categories:
    Those who will mock the Lord Jesus , and
    those who will trust in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ ,for every person.
    Eternal life is a GIFT !
    Romans 4
    1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh,
    discovered in this matter?
    2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about – but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.
    4 Now to the one who works,
    wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation.
    5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.
    Romans 6
    23 For the wages of sin is death,
    but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord.
    Ephesians 2

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