Sunday, May 28, 2006

Here's Your Chance

So the JHU has already jumped on the bandwagon we talked about in the post before this. They put out a press release yesterday saying they support the banning of the 'Da Vinci Code' as it may hurt the sensitivities of certain groups. Brilliant. The statement goes on to say that they don't believe that artists have unlimited freedom and if they do something that hurts the setsitivities of someone else then that should be stopped.

So the JHU now has the Catholic Bishops of this country by their side in the fight to turn this country into a Theocracy. Yipee!

All that was missing in this country was a vocal group of Christian Fundamentalists (imp: vocal). We have Jihadis and the Allah-Hu-Akbar-BANG-BANG crowd in Puttlam and in Ampara. Can we please ask Karunanidhi to arm the Swamis who run the Hindu temples? Then at least there'll be some equality.

But what happens when the Sinhala Buddhist Right Wing gets where it's going? Do the Catholic Bishops really think that they're going to be tolerated anymore? Once the JHU and the likes get powerful enough the Catholics, Anglicans, AoGs, JWs, Seventh Day Adventists, Pents and Tom Dick and Rev. Fr. Harry are all going to have to walk the plank.

Anyways the Bishops are not going to be persecuted in their lifetimes, being the old men they are. So they're just fucking it up for everyone else. Hope they're happy.

So here's a thought, why doesn't someone in the Catholic community speak up and start some petition saying you want to allow the 'Da Vinci Code'. We know how everyone whines and whines about how the moderate Muslims don't criticise the extremist Imams. In my opinion that's a very good reason to whine about.

Well, so here's your chance. Prove yourselves. Do all of you believe that it was correct for the Bishops to call for the banning of the film? If no, speak out against the banning.

Show us what moderate Christians of Sri Lanka are made of.

Join us in Prayer

By Rob Gowland

The Guardian

I had a very interesting talk with a journalist from Sri Lanka the other day. Among other things, he spoke of the spread of fundamentalism on the island. Oh, not Islamic fundamentalism but Christian fundamentalism.

It seems that Sri Lanka has been invaded by a multitude of reactionary Christian fundamentalist churches from the USA — Baptists, Assemblies of God, and a lot of others.

They are all lavishly cashed up, and they pursue the same tactics.

The most popular method is to go to poor villages or poor urban areas, and display an interest in how the people are coping with poverty.

Then they encourage everyone to "join them in prayer".

The next day, when those same poor people get up, they find on their doorstep milk, fruit, packets of food, children's clothes etc. Like the poor cobbler and the elves, it seems like a dream come true.

A day or two later, the Christians return, asking innocently how things are going, has anything interesting happened?

Then they make their big play: the goodies left overnight were in fact left by the Christian God in answer to their prayers a day or so earlier.

Having demonstrated that their religion actually works, they set about signing up recruits.

Of course, it's a simple coupling of bribery to credulity, but with lots of money at their disposal the fundamentalist Western Churches are able to produce tangible benefits for people who have nothing.

Small wonder that with such blatant huckstering tactics, the Christian fundamentalists are making converts in a big way. And not just among Hindus and Muslims.

The fundamental churches are making inroads into the followers of mainstream Christian faiths especially among the Catholics.

The areas these Christian fundamentalists choose in which to dispense their largesse in order to win converts are the traditional strongholds of the left.

But while the left is urging the people to stand up for their rights, the US Christian fundamentalists are handing out cash and goods, in plentiful amounts.

It's immediate, it's tangible, it's "real", and it's now.

Buying converts in this way must be extremely expensive, but for the very right-wing US fundamentalist churches, saving the poor of Sri Lanka from the evils of Islam or Communism (or both) would undoubtedly be regarded as money well spent.

There is probably a US government department — several, in fact — dedicated to fostering and supporting just such activity.

It is after all merely a variant of the good old US political tactic of "pork barrelling".
The "God squads" are creeping through Section 21 of the Companies Act: They come for your children and your heritage.
It was John Hancok who came up with the telling descriptive "God squads" to refer to the various evangelical operations operating under the cover of "people-friendly" NGOs. He describes in his revealing account of the business of development titled "Lords of Poverty" how officials of World Vision handed over two Honduran rebels over to the El Salvador military who summarily executed them. The work of Christian missionaries in our country needs no introduction.

The colonial project came to our shores armed with the Bible in one hand and the gun in the other. Capitalism, or globalisation as it is now called, has not thought fit to abandon this time-honoured custom. What the guns cannot subdue, the missions will take care of. This is the operating dictum. Today there are those who lament the incapacitation of third world peoples to roll back the global processes that plunder our resources and exploit our people. What most people do not realise is that the physical incapacitation is nothing compared to the cultural defeats inflicted by capital. These include both a capitulation to western ideological prerogatives as well as a steady erasure of cultural ethos. The latter being the most telling in the final surrender of our independence. And here, the various "God squads" form the vanguard.

Jesus Christ would have been appalled at the way those who act as his messengers work, invading poverty-stricken villages and buying allegiance to the cross. Sections of the Catholic Church have done this for centuries. We all know how conversion to Catholicism was a necessary prerequisite in order to obtain access to education in an earlier era. The complicity of the Catholic Church in the neo-colonialist project is perhaps best demonstrated in the fact that when Pope John Paul II visited Nicaragua during the Sandinista years, he refused to bless those who had been injured in the Contra war that Washington financed on behalf of multinational capital. The Pope's role in the defeat of the Soviet Bloc has been well documented.

To be fair, the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka have more or less reconciled to protecting and not expanding their turf. Yes, they were the most vociferous among those who protested the free education movement, because education was the trump card in the Catholicisation of this country. Since the aborted coup of 1962, they have been lying low, restricting themselves to making sure that their flock are well-placed in government and the private sector. As for their schools, some of them have been taken over by the government, the state essentially subsidising the Church. No one in the peace industry and all those culture-less progressives who advocate inter-religious justice and equality, berating all and sundry about how the state has to be separated from religion, have nothing to say about this. No wonder, because most of these outfits are subsidised by Church-based organisations of the larger corporate interests of the Christian world.

This is not to say that the Catholic Church has "given up" on Sri Lanka. Catholicism, as the Ven. Dhammavihari once said, is a world-conquering movement and as such it is not surprising that the Pope wears the mantle of conqueror now and then. True, he has apologised for the excesses of the Church recently, but we are still to see anything by way of compensation. The least he can do is to tell his priests to let our people be. Desmond Tutu once said "First we had the land, they had the book. They said 'Close your eyes, let us pray,' and when we opened our eyes, we had the book and they had the land." This is exactly what happened all over the world, not just in Africa. The Island recently carried a review by Ven. S. Dhammika of a book titled "The Catholic Plot Against Buddhism," a document that included classified excerpts from the Bulletin of the Secretariat for Non-Christians (a confidential publication of the Vatican). Clearly the Catholic Church has designs that are more pernicious that John Paul's derogatory views on Buddhism published in his much celebrated piece titled "Crossing the Threshold of Hope" where the good father tripped several times in manifestly unfamiliar territory,

The latest subsidiaries of Christianity Incorporated are, however, done with accepting the place of Christian organisations in our country. Whereas there are some Catholic priests who are enlightened enough to claim "Catholicism is our faith, our culture is Sinhala-Buddhist," these new organisations have more or less vowed not to let one stone unturned in their mission to turn the entire island into Christians. They did this to the Philippines and have accomplished it to a large extent in South Korea. This, in addition to their various forays into North Korea, China and Mongolia.

Dr. Sasanka Perera, a sociologist in Colombo University, in a work that has unfortunately not received the publicity it deserves, "New Evangelical Movements and Conflict: Sri Lanka and Nepal in perspective," mentions 73 such organisations operating in Sri Lanka (the document can be accessed at ). He said that the number refers to those he had counted, surmising that there are probably many more. Some of them are registered as charities and some as NGOs. Other sources say that there are over 125 such outfits in Sri Lanka, many of whom are registered under Section 21 of the Companies Act No. 17 of 1982.

They are, therefore, "companies," and that tells us a lot about their agenda out of the book that god is supposed to have written through his/her prophets. Typically they insert a notice in one of the English newspapers, surreptitiously calling for objections. Typically too, no one reads these tiny notices, perhaps because they have other things to do than to wade through the legal jargon in which the true intentions of these "companies" are hidden.

This is how they word their statements: " In pursuance of Section 21 of the blah blah Association about to be formed under (insert some vague sounding church name) to be registered with limited liability without the addition of the word 'Limited' to the name. Yes, if they added "Ltd" it wouldn't sit well with their evangelical zeal, would it now? Let us consider some of these organisations.

Among the "primary objects" for which the New Testament Church of God has been set up is to "train and ordain Ministers and other leaders to be in charge of Churches to establish communities of Christians in various parts of the country". The Tyrannus Ministries Lanka want to "promote knowledge of the Christian faith by charitable and benevolent instruction of the Bible through literature, visual and audio devices, lectures, conventions and by any other means as the Association think fit." (emphasis mine). The Living Church of God and Ministry of Jesus the King, similarly, have inserted a bunch of ambiguous terms which naturally lend towards convenient interpretations. All in order to get the legal cover needed to convert.

These are only a few of the many "companies" some of which have been awarded BOI status, that I have got to know of. Perhaps the most interesting name that these god squad goons have come up with is "Lanka Village Gospel Mission". At least they are pretty naked in their objectives. Once they attack the village, then Buddhism is doomed. Don't get me wrong. I am not interested in "saving Buddhism". That was after all not what the Buddha wanted. I am more interested in saving our people, and it is here that it becomes imperative that the best in our cultural heritage is protected. For sans culture we are spiritually dead. And Buddhism is the bed rock of our cultural sensibilities. This is why the forces of capital turn a blind eye to proselytizing, for they are full aware that when those roots are destroyed, the rest is child's play. I am not saying there is a well-articulate grand alliance between capital and these evangelical missions, but there certainly is joint complicity in the crimes against the people.

The Voice of America (who else!) on August 9, 1998 clearly states that "Religious Proselytizing is Human Right"! Whose human right? Those whose hands carry the blood and whose blood carried the genes of the millions whose lives were violently destroyed by their colonial comrades-in-arms? The way I see it, my humanity is reserved for human beings, for non-human beings, I am humane only to a limit.

In 1973 the then Minister of Cultural Affairs, presented a Bill to the National State Assembly of Sri Lanka titled "Places and Objects of Worship" which sought to "prohibit the construction and establishment of any building, statue or other object or the conversion of any building for the purpose of being used as a place of public religious worship except under the authority of a licence issued by the Director of Cultural Affairs". That bill was NEVER PASSED INTO LAW! Indifference in these matters naturally lead to relinquishment. The question is, are the Buddhists and Hindus ready for this?

In India recently there was much ha-ho about Churches being attacked. I for one, was certainly not sorry. Why? Because these people are hardly the devotees of that good man Jesus, who had the humility to ask when nailed on the cross "father, why have you forsaken me?". Jesus would not have condoned the naked assault on other cultures. Smashing churches is I believe the wrong starting point.

The Sinhalese and Tamils must first recognise that poverty is the fertile ground in which these missionary mercenaries operate to destroy their cultures. Just as their fore-fathers held the book of knowledge in one hand and the cross in the other saying "kiss the cross and you get the book," these days, operating as charities, they say "accept Jesus, indulge in Buddha bashing, and you get some bread." The first thing to do, then is to ensure that the people's basic material needs are addressed. If the state can't provide this, others must step in to strengthen the people economically so that they are not led by hunger to pledge allegiance to an alien doctrine that threatens to disrupt their way of life.

This is not to say that until the question of poverty is resolved, we have to look the other way when the god-squads come to our villages. The priests in each and every village have to organise the people against these cultural death-bringing vermin. If they have the gumption to use the blank cheque "any means that the Association thinks necessary" then it is clearly our right to say.

It is fashionable to say that the Muslims are a belligerent lot. As a matter of fact, the Christians are worse. I already mentioned the colonial project. I did not forget the crusades. A Jewish friend of mine once said, "The problem with Christian Fundamentalism is that these people think through their fundament, they break wind and spread the bad news around." I am beginning to think that Yonatan was putting it mildly. We are suffocating here in Sri Lanka with this god-rubbish. That it is an insult to Jesus is hardly the point. Jesus being a human being and a man who was acutely aware of social inequality and dispossession would agree that the people have a right to protect themselves from invasion.

The Buddha Sasana Ministry is sleeping. So is the rest of the government. In fact they sleep so well, that I believe that they have been drugged. Or dead. The people, on the other hand, are not. Sooner or later, they will stand up to defend their heritage. I predict that it will be "sooner" rather than "later."

Aren't there yet any "moderate" Christians to start a campaign?

What about media-freedom-watchdog NGOs? Sleeping...???
Hello Again,

There are moderates of all kinds in Sri-Lanka and perhaps they are the majority. Then you have the minority of extremists on all sides....and you may even call them the lunatic fringe. But these lunies are very articulated, they quote each other or bouce each other back...and make it looks like there is a ground swell.

In Sri-Lanka it is true all the extremists are only a minority. Whenther thhe Sinhala Buddhists, the Christian fundamentalists, the Tamil Hindus they are all only a very small percentage. But the policians take advantage and know how to use these fears to win elections.

But the majority goes about its daily routine as Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and actually yearn for peace and prosperity. These are the only normal human activities.

Banning of the film was not by the Bishops, it was by the government. At the end of the day everything was and still is done by our governments. They know how to take advantage of every little things. Percy Mahinda knows that the American Christians don't approve the film banning it will earn him a few points with the Bush and his fundamentalists, so he can sell his anti-Tamil propaganda effectively to Richard Boucher, Lunstad and the rest of the Crusaders. Easy as that.

So again to remind the main idea, there is a vast majority of good moderate people of all persuations in Sri-Lanka. Please note , I deliberately didn't mention Muslims of Sri-Lanka, though they are mostly ok. But what is happening in the larger part of the world is any indication, we have to be careful about our Muslims too, before it becomes a monster like Al-Qaeda.

Where are the saviours of media freedom? Where are these NGOs sleeping?

It seems that a minority of extremist catholics have suppressed the voices of "moderate" catholics....
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