CONVERSION AND IT’S DANGERS TO INDIVIDUALS AND THE COUNTRY
Posted on July 25th, 2009

A Concerned Buddhist

Conversion to another Religion is being spoken of lightly by many people today without any real understanding of its dangers. What is conversion? According to the Wikepedia “Religious Conversion is the adoption of a new religious identity, or a change from one religious identity to another. Conversion implies a new reference point for one’s self identity. It is a matter of belief and social structure””‚of both faith and affiliation. This typically entails the sincere avowal of a new belief system, but may also present itself in other ways, such as adoption into an identity group or spiritual lineage.”

 

What is the danger of conversion? Conversion of a person for example from Buddhism which is a very open philosophy, to one like Catholicism which demands total blind obedience to the Pope, is a major change in a persons psyche. 

 

Buddha never demanded BELIEF as a pre-requisite to attainment of Nibbana. He said “Ehi passiko” meaning “ƒ”¹…”come and see’. He in was one of the most futuristic thinkers of the human race because he actually demanded people to learn by their own direct experience rather than depending on books, reason and logic.. His advice was quote: “Yes, Kalamas, it is proper that you have doubt, that you have perplexity, for a doubt has arisen in a matter which is doubtful. Now, look you Kalamas, do not be led by reports, or tradition, or hearsay. Be not led by authority of religious texts, nor by the delight of speculative opinions, nor by seeming possibilities, nor by the idea: “ƒ”¹…”this is our teacher’. But O Kalamas, when you know for yourselves that certain things are unwholesome (akusala), and wrong and bad then give them up….And when you know for yourselves that certain things are wholesome (kusala) and good, then accept them, and follow them’. The Buddha went further. He told the Bhikkus that “a disciple should examine even the Thathagata (Buddha) himself, so that he (the disciple) might be fully convinced of the true value of the teacher whom he followed” end quote (from What the Buddha Taught by Dr. Walpola Rahula, page 2). 

 

The conversion to a religion which demands the suspension of free thinking and adopting a total belief in a new view of the Universe, is equivalent to putting blinders on a horse. After the blinders are put on the horse becomes more obedient to the master. It prevents the ability of people to search and seek Truth independently and prevents independent thinking. Progressive thinking in Europe suffered greatly due to the blocks of the Catholic Church. Galileo was jailed by the then Pope for heresy for suggesting that the Earth may not be flat and is not the center of the Universe, and many people were burnt at the stake and suffered horrible deaths for heresy (going against the doctrines of the Church). Scientific progress was slowed down because of the Catholic Church. Sir Isaac Newton had a hard time because he did not accept the Christian faith in total. His work was almost not allowed to be published. One of the reasons why England progressed much further in industrial development was the breaking away from the Catholic Church under King Henry VIII. Europe was controlled by the Church and even today is mostly under the control of the Pope. Unlike Protestants, Methodists, Lutherans etc., who use the Bible as the guide, the Catholic Church regards the Pope as the ultimate authority. The current Pope, previously as Cardinal Ratzinger, was the main investigator for child abuse by the priests of the Catholic Church.  After many years of investigation, in USA alone, billions of dollars have now been paid as compensation to victims of abuse by Catholic priests.

 

Thomas Aquinas, who is a Saint in the Catholic Church is said to have said “Give me a child under the age of 7 years and he/she will be mine for the rest of their lives”. The human psyche is very delicate and impressionable in its formative years, and is like a blank disc on a computer which can be programmed in any way we wish. The best thing we can do is to provide guidelines on morality and ethics and provide a sense of values to live by. Otherwise leave them alone and not try to cram their heads with our false ideas and concepts. The Buddha treated his own son as one of the people who came to listen to him and did not give any special advice or talks to him. Rahula sat with the others and listened to his sermons. 

 

The Catholic Church attempts to control the devotees sex lives. People are made to feel guilty for the natural expression of sex, and then they are controlled by using guilt and fear to make them obey the orders of the Catholic church.  They also gain access to the innermost secrets of peoples by using the act of “ƒ”¹…”Confessions’ to a Catholic priest as a necessary religious cleansing. This aspect of control is not there in any other religious or other Christian group.. The ultimate weapon used by the Church is ex-communication from the Church which is supposed to throw the miscreant into everlasting hell and, of course, removal of the Catholic Church favors bestowed on the miscreant. The luscious “ƒ”¹…”plum on the cake’ is the Novena where one’s wishes are written on a paper and put in a box.  These are then sorted out by the priest who will make the “ƒ”¹…”wishes’ come true. They act as marriage brokers, family counsellors, job finders, job placement agencies and provide travel abroad to the ones who are really good re the bidding of the Church. The Catholic Church today has little to do with the teachings of Jesus Christ and is nothing but a well organized business unit which is also hand in glove with some western politicians in destabilizing and taking over countries. 

 

If we look at the countries which were taken over by the Church such as the Phillippines, Brazil, Mexico, etc., these are today in dire poverty and very heavily populated owing to lack of birth control being allowed by the Catholic Church. The rich in these countries are very rich, with a huge poverty ridden rest of population.  People are made to be more  intent on prayers and worship at the Church and being dependent on the priest than in uplifting themselves in life through education and higher thought. Everything negative that happens to any of the followers of the Catholic Church is blamed on their lack of faith or they are told to accept it as “ƒ”¹…”God’s Will’. The Catholic Church will initially spend a great deal of money to convert people knowing that once the conversion is complete then they are willing and unquestioning servants of that Church. 

 

In spite of all these shortcomings of Christianity, it is interesting to ask why so many Sri Lankans are converting. There are many reasons. In India the Dalits (Untouchables) are removed from Untouchability by converting to another religion. Dr. Ambedkar, who was the leader of the Dalits up to the 1950’s, converted about 500,000 to Buddhism. Subsequently, after his death, the Christian groups became very active in conversions. So much so that Tamil Nadu passed a law in 2002 banning conversion to another religion. This ban was lifted in 2004, presumably after the Tsunami.  Even in Sri Lanka the LTTE was mainly Catholic. Initially the graves of LTTE heros were marked with crosses. These were quietly removed.  At the last stages of the Wanni Battle in 2009,  some 23 Catholic priests came out of the Wanni at the last minute. One of these priests had collected some 600 children (who had been given to him for safe keeping), and handed them all to the LTTE for child soldier training. We can see for ourselves that these activities of the Catholic Church has nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

 

How about the Sinhalese who are converting? What are the reasons for Conversion ? One of the main reasons among them is “ƒ”¹…”upward social mobility’. There is such a great desire among some of youth of the Sinhala villagers to ape the west to get ahead, that they think by becoming Christians they will gain instant “Mahattaya or “Nona” status. They see all the Brown Sahibs of Colombo who seem to have the good life going to Church and want to be like them. I know many middle class families from good back grounds whose children married Catholic partners. Invariably the children are brought up as Catholics. The Sinhalas have such a wonderful culture and yet they are running after these “thuppiah” cultures from the west. The Western countries have really civilized only in the last hundred years or so while Sinhalas had a very advanced civilization even 2500 years ago. Buddhism must also however adapt to the needs of the modern society and seek ways to help the householders cope with the modern pressures of life. The Christians excel in this aspect since they provide counseling for families, help in job training, help to go abroad etc., of course at a price.  Also the western models of living help Christians to adapt to the changing times faster.   What Buddhists have to realize is that to adapt to life, one need NOT change ones religion.The role that the village temple provided in the old days must be extended to the cities somehow. Organizations such as the YMCAs and YWCAs help young people who migrate to cities in all the Western countries. In USA under the Bush regime all aid for Charities from the Federal Government was channeled through the Churches. Sri Lanka Government should adopt the same policy to help the all important YMBAs & YWBAs. 

 

I salute President Mahinda Rajapakse (and his Cabinet) for promoting the Arya Sinhala dress code and also the Buddhist ethos his actions. He is setting a trend to show that one can be a Buddhist, dressed in eastern clothes, and yet be a great leader respected by the whole world.  All the private sector Brown Sahibs wear a tie with their shirt in spite of the hot weather of Lanka. In the West where the tie originated, hardly any of the people working in the Corporations wear a tie ! Everyone dresses in what is called “ƒ”¹…”business casual’. So why does our private sector insist on a stupid tie in the heat of the Tropics ? In spite of all the bungling the UNP did over the years, the Colombo crowd even today will gladly hand over the government to the UNP lead by the non-patriotic Ranil Wickremasinghe. It does not matter to the “Colombians” that Ranil is an “ƒ”¹…”agent of some in the West’ and his cabinet was some 78% Catholic in a country where 72% are Buddhist Sinhalese. This type of warped thinking by our Colombo elites is what has led to the down fall of the country and its people.  President Rajapakse is attempting to correct some of these injustices meted out to the people since Independence..

 

In closing I would like to point out that already there are 7% Catholics and Christians and there is a Catholic Belt in place in Sri Lanka. This is a large increase in the last few years. When South India banned conversions, the groups moved over to Sri Lanka. Our leaders need to wake up and become aware of what is going on under your very noses. The Madhu festival will be an occasion for Tamils Dalits to migrate to Sri Lanka to convert and then stay on. Sri Lanka government is bending backwards spending millions doing up roads to promote this festival.. Why? Let the Catholic Church which is the richest in the world spend the money. Why spend the poor Sinhala Buddhist tax payers money?

One Response to “CONVERSION AND IT’S DANGERS TO INDIVIDUALS AND THE COUNTRY”

  1. cassandra Says:

    This is an interesting, long and discursive article but it seems to me, sadly, also a somewhat ill informed piece of writing. I wish to respond to some of the points raised.

    The writer is clearly under a great many misconceptions, as for instance when saying that the Catholic Church demands ‘blind obedience to the Pope’. This is just not the case. I can assure the writer that if the Church today demanded such servile submission, it will jolly well not get it! The writer goes on (still referring to conversion to Christianity) to state that “conversion to a religion which demands the suspension of free thinking and adopting a total belief in a new view of the Universe, is equivalent to putting blinders on a horse”. I could not agree more. But where I do not agree is with the suggestion that this is the fate that awaits those who convert to Christianity (or Catholicism, in particular). The Catholic Church has a long and chequered history, and some things like its treatment of Galileo or the Inquisition brought it no credit. But all this happened years ago. It does not mean the same is happening now. If the author made the right enquiries he will find that the Catholic Church does not restrict the right to free thinking. You have only to look at contemporary Catholic journals and magazines to see the range and diversity of opinions that are being so openly and freely discussed. But as with any organization, the Church expects those who belong to it, to accept its core teachings. It is simple as that. I would not expect my Buddhist friends to claim to be Buddhists if at the same time they saw fit to reject the essentials of Buddhist doctrine.

    The claim is made that England went on to greater prosperity, than the countries of Europe, because it saw fit to break away from the Church in Rome (and its assumed yoke). This is a specious argument. If this was indeed true, the good fortune it so found did not long endure. Today, it is England – not the rest of Europe – which is struggling in comparison!

    The writer is clearly unaware of the true nature of confession in the Catholic Church or of the traditional devotion of the Novena. The description given in the article is way off the mark, and the writer would be well advised to check the facts before writing in this fashion. To be credible, a writer should, at a minimum, get the facts right.

    It is true the Philippines is a poor country and there is a huge disparity there between the rich and the poor. You cannot blame these on the Catholic Church, and it is always dangerous to make the sort of conclusion the writer would have us make. In fact, life expectancy and GDP are higher in the Philippines than they are, say, in either Myanmar or Afghanistan. But it would not be sensible of me to link the conditions in the latter countries to their major religions, Buddhism and Islam.

    The writer has referred to how Dr Ambedkar was instrumental in converting some 500,000 Dalits to Buddhism. Clearly, the writer sees no problem there. So, why should it be any different if the religion to which people convert is some other faith? One must assume the decision of these 500,000 people was freely taken and based on their own thinking. I do not believe we should be overly concerned if people decide to convert to another faith. In saying this, I do NOT approve of any religious group attempting to lure people of other faiths by enticements and inducements or other irregular means. All religious groups should however be permitted the freedom to practice their religion and publicise their beliefs in the same manner as all political parties should be allowed, provided of course that they do not break the law.

    I note, not without some interest, that in talking of conversion to other religions, the writer has confined the comments to the potential conversion to Christianity. I wonder whether the attitude would be different in respect of those who convert to non Christian faiths, say, to Islam or Hinduism. Or is it only the Christian (and especially the Catholic Church) that are seen as undesirable faiths to move to?

    May I suggest that in this matter of religious conversions (as indeed, with anything else) we retain a sense of perspective and common sense. I can understand the writer’s disquiet over those converting away from Buddhism. No-one likes to see those of one’s own faith go away to other religions. Today, in South America the Catholic Church is ‘losing’ many of its members to the new Evangelical Christian groups. And in the West generally, many people are converting to Islam and even to Buddhism. And the Christian Churches and the West may well feel exactly like the writer, when witnessing such religious ‘defections’. But religious conversions are not new. They are as old as history itself and will continue as they always have.

    And, let us take a realistic look at the position in the island. What is the ‘state of play’ after more than 400 years of Western domination in the island, when the Christians will have had unfettered opportunity to secure conversions? The percentage of Christians in the country is a mere 7%, a figure that suggests the Christian missionaries and their allies did not do such a great job of it, after all. But what this low percentage does is to also attest to the ‘strength’ of the Buddhist faith. So, realistically, the Buddhists of Sri Lanka need harbor no fears of significant conversions away from their faith – their strongest assurance against conversions is the conviction they have in the truth of what they believe.

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