The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Christians Awake! - A Viewpoint

Darmitha-Kotte
LankaWeb
November 7th 2005

Reading through the one page message of Archbishop Rev. Oswild Gomis which was published in all Sinhala and English papers of 6th October,2005, the writer felt a sense of sadness. The sadness was because the Reverend Archbishop was being used by SOLO-U as a tool, to instill a fear psychosis in the minds of the readers both Christian and Non-Christian. What is the need for such a move one may ask? What is there for Christians to awake to? Is this done to send out a message to the western world that here in Sri Lanka, anyone other than a Christian is a barbarian or extremist? And to give any of these impressions whether it be to foreign readers or local readers, is it necessary to use the photograph and message of the Reverend Archbishop? In short- why is the Catholic Church making an effort to create religious disharmony so blatantly?

The Presidential Elections is not a religious issue but a national issue. The main fear it seems is whether Sri Lanka remains a unitary state or a fragmented state. The way the Reverend Archbishop’s message is worded gives the impression that the Catholic Church would rather have a fragmented nation in the name of “peace” rather than a unitary state with all races and religions living in harmony! We may ask “ is this what the Catholic Church really means” by publishing this kind of irresponsible message to the so called “ Christian community.”

According to the message signed under the name of the Reverend Archbishop “ One of the key issues that need to be considered is the civil war that has kept afflicting the nation for over two decades. We are all aware that is has wrecked the nation and its socio-economic fabric. Besides the loss of life and injury to persons, it has seriously affected the country’s economic progress and development...”

When the Tamil terrorists (the writer makes this distinction because it is well known that the majority Tamil community does not support the LTTE but silenced due to blood thirsty terrorists) first began their onslaught in the early 1980s, they first killed their own people mainly Hindus in the most brutal manner and hung them on lamp posts to instill fear and force the majority Tamil community into submission. This is a very well known fact. At that time may we ask whether the Catholic Church ever made the effort to educate the Tamil terrorists about their brutality to human life? Did the Church make any visible effort to talk about human rights, democracy or UN Charters? Did the Church ever tell the LTTE not to attach sacred places of worship belonging to other religions like Buddhist or Hindu places of worship? Who created dissention between races and religions? It is no secret that the Catholic Church has been supporting the LTTE in the name of “rights” of terrorists not the rights of the innocent Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese!

To quote the Reverend Archbishop’s message: “The peace process initiated two years ago, and agreement on the part of the two leading political groups that the problem could, and has to be solved, only through a dignified political solution has given us a respite and the hope of a lasting peace. However, it is regrettable that some radical and extremist elements are rejecting this path and paving the way for war. This would no doubt cause further havoc in the country and increase the suffering of our people who are already economically and otherwise burdened.”

Great words of wisdom Reverend Archbishop! Even after the so called “peace process” was initiated (2001-2003) by the then UNP government to tear this country to pieces, did the LTTE stop one aorta of their brutalities, did they put down their arms & did the Catholic Church then talk to the LTTE about human rights and UN Charters? Has the Catholic Church done anything against Child Proscriptions blatantly carried out by the LTTE- for surely Child Rights under UN Charters also need to be respected? Dear Reverend Archbishop, extremists are not “patriotic citizens of this country” who wish to see the continuity of the Sovereignty of this island nation. Extremists are those who wish to rule by the barrel of a gun and we do not have any patriots who wish to rule by the barrel of a gun! No patriots have ever propogated war like the brutal LTTE in which case the Catholic Church may wish to call the LTTE “ extremist” if they use the same yardstick of judgement- is this not so? The so called “havoc”, “……………and otherwise burdened.” Etc situations in this country have not been caused by patriots but by terrorists who initiated the war. These burdens have been initiated by those who supply arms to terrorists, to create havoc in this country. Please be honest and target your criticism at the right direction.

According to the Reverend Archbishop’s message: “Another matter of serious concern to us, as a minority religious community, is the freedom of religion spelt out in the UN Charter and presently guaranteed by our Constitution………………………………….” May we humbly ask “ Before the UNP government of the 1980s and the open economic policies initiated which opened the doors for unscrupulous Christian groups to enter this country under the guise of “ economic development projects” to spread the Christian faith, did the so called “ minority religious communities “ live or not live in religious amity in this country?” The orthodox Churches have enjoyed every right and privilage in this country without discrimination until the 1980s when the “Evangelical invaders” entered this country. UN Charters must be quoted impartially and accurately. When they are misquoted to suite ulterior motives, it can be extremely dangerous and “ extremist.” Who began the first move to hurt the religious sentiments of the majority of this country? Was it the Buddhists or the Christian invaders of the 1980s? Have these Christian invaders hurt or not hurt the Catholic Church and its community in the process? If so, why does the Reverend Archbishop and the Catholic Church not appeal to the Headquarters of Evangelical Church Groups and talk about UN Charters and human rights and demand that they leave our shores immediately? Or that they enter our country but respect our rights and democracy and the sovereignty of “ Our State.”

Again to quote the Reverend Archbishop “ It is very unfortunate, once again, that certain radical groups have been propogating hatred and dissention in the name of religion paving way to a religious strife when we are already on the throes of civil war. The so- called Anti Conversion legislation- be it labeled as Anti Conversion Bill or Freedom of Religious Act is a serious infringement of the fundamental right of every minority religious group in this country……………………….” The seeds of “hatred and dissention “ have been sown, definitely by “ certain radical groups” – in this context, by radical evangelical groups who have invaded our villages and entered 100% Buddhist /Hindu villages & used material inducement to create the hatred and dissention by dividing segments of our local rural Buddhist and Hindu fabric. When appeals have been made to such evangelical groups, they have turned a deaf year and carried on regardless. Whose rightful “ right” are you talking about Reverend Archbishop? On numerable occasions the Catholic Church has informed Buddhist groups that they too are against unethical conversions because the Catholics are also being bought over. If that is the case, and if the Catholic Church is sincere and genuine in their expressions, then they should support the Freedom of Religious Act or Anti Conversion Bill. However, they opted to stand on the side of the evangelists whom they have criticized showing the utter insincerity & hypocrisy of the Catholic Church.

In the light of the above Reverend Archbishop, it would be prudent for your highness to kindly re-think about your message because, as readers we tend to understand that you too are fanning sentiments of dissention, suspicion and division in this country in the run up to the Presidential Elections. As is the normal practise, try to remain behind the scenes and “pull the strings” without exposing yourself or the Catholic Church. Let not the Catholic Church be used as a tool by those with ulterior motives. Through the messages published in the newspapers of 6th November 2005, too much has already been revealed and that too, not extremely complimentary Reverend Archbishop- lest you too be called “radical“ or “ extremist” !

Everyone knows how costly it is to publish a one page advertisement- to exhibit such extravagance by publishing in all newspapers only shows how desperate “ certain elements “ can be. Why would you wish to be categorized in that manner. After all , Reverend Archbishop – you would need to maintain your distance from such mundane and radical issues.

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