By Emil van der Poorten –
The recent attacks on Christian denominations bears out the contention I made earlier and which significantly more erudite observers of the national scene have identified as a government gone completely mad in its efforts to distract the public from the realities that are descending upon this nation and for which the current corrupt and violent government should take complete responsibility.
It is more than a year since the invasion of a mosque in Dambulla by a thousands-strong Buddhist-priest-led mob and NOTHING has been done to bring those responsible to book. Even worse than a government from which little better can be expected, the religious hierarchies, inclusive of those of the Islamic faith, have done, as the saying goes, “diddley-squat” in the matter of seeking appropriate investigation and justice. As for even the usual mealy-mouthed motherhood and apple pie statements that are traditional in this nation of invertebrate religionists, forget it! Either they haven’t even uttered the usual hypocrisies or our permanently supine media has not even bothered to quote them.
The artificially-generated “Halal controversy” has been another nail in the coffin of those wishing to practice their faith in a country where that right is supposedly guaranteed in its very constitution. But then, after the so-called “impeachment” of the Chief Justice for not doing the bidding of the Chief Executive of this country, one might as well whistle Dixie as expect law, order and common decency to prevail in this land of 2500 years of Sinhala Buddhist Civilization, particularly after the appointment of Ms. Bandaranayake’s successor whose credentials more than speak for themselves.
The continuing attacks on Christian denominations reached a point when even that “evangelical luminary,” Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, was embarrassed into appealing to the government to intervene when one of his denomination’s churches in the Sabaragamuwa Province was vandalised and a statue of either the Virgin Mary or Jesus Christ, built at very considerable expense, totally destroyed. Of course, his Eminence, after going through the motions of “protest,” then retreated to the Vatican where, not untypically of a denomination that produced a Pope that collaborated with Adolf Hitler and the Borgias before him, was considered a candidate for the Papacy! As used and abused as that saying is, “O tempora, o mores” is apt in the circumstances!
Of course, the so-called Evangelical Churches have proved, once again, to be sitting ducks for the saffron-clad storm –troopers of this regime. The primary reason for this is that they appear to be the most successful in bringing people into their fold, mostly because they are prepared to lay emphasis on dealing with the worldly needs of the very poor and offer them succour in a form that the “main-line” churches usually don’t deign to do. That success, obviously, lays them open to allegations of unprincipled conduct in effecting those conversions. As one who dealt with this mode of operation in another country at another time and sought, as a community organizer, to ensure that unprincipled methods were not applied in efforts to convert the most vulnerable members of a community, I believe I can state with some objectivity and, certainly, with a significant degree of experience, that these “unethical conversions” are not always what they seem to be. In fact, there were a number of occasions when I and other community organizers ended up with egg on our faces when the “converts” proved a lot savvier than we thought they were and abandoned their new-found faith after extracting whatever material benefits they needed at the time from the evangelists! To the disappointed evangelists, all we could offer was the old piece of advice, “Caveat emptor” or buyer beware, more than partially tongue in cheek!
However, this self-righteous objection, backed by a proclivity for violence, to “unethical conversions” is coming (surprise! surprise!) from those who wouldn’t know ethics if they came and bit them in that part of their anatomy in which their grey matter obviously resides. To call these self-righteous goons unprincipled thugs would be to understate the case. To expect them to act with a modicum of decency and intelligence would call one’s own intelligence into serious question.
Of course one of the strange things, upto now, has been the fact that there have been no major recent attacks on Kovils or other Hindu places of worship, at least no very high-profile incidents that rival the recent attacks on mosques and mullahs and Christian churches and their pastors. However, a friend, better versed in the manner in which attacks such as these are orchestrated, has warned me that it is just a matter of time before those places of worship will also come under attack. After all, people of this stripe have a precedent going back more than half a century – the immolation of the Pusari of a Hindu temple south of Colombo during the communal riots of 1958. And the current crop of goons has more than tacit support for their murderous behavior, something that the hypocritical S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike didn’t openly offer those who launched the attacks on the Tamils.
As a side-bar, it is interesting that the two heads of government when the pogroms were launched against the Tamils in 1958 and 1983 had very similarly dismissive evaluations of those landmark events. Bandaranaike described them as a few isolated incidents and was ready to ignore the behavior of the “goondas” until the Indian government allegedly threatened to land troops at Ratmalana airport to bring law and order to the streets and villages of Sri Lanka.
I have one little piece of advice for those Sri Lankan observers of what is obviously a wave of intolerance and hysteria that is being built to tsunami proportions by those determined to camouflage their moral and ethical nakedness, our relegation to the status of a pariah state and the looming economic collapse: don’t waste your time looking for events in Sri Lankan history where some statesman came galloping in on his white steed to save all that is (was?) decent in this country where many of its loudest defenders claim that the philosophy of Gautama is sacrosanct and will be maintained forever. There was no such person in the past and it is even less likely that there will be such a savior in the future. Pretty well all those who might have had the intelligence to engage in such a task are too busy either raiding the public coffers or directly or indirectly helping those who are!