Incidents are too numerous to be listed but here are a few recent ones.
After the Tsunami…
…we came upon the more or less disguised (in parts also massive and direct) attempts of Christian fundamentalist groups to convert native Sri Lankan Buddhist and Hindu tsunami victims into Born again Christians.
We later met Mr. D.S. a well-known businessman in the south, his reputation flawless. He has been helping his people, effective and fast. And he too, told us about this temporary housing area, where the Baptist Church of Omaha is ruling a strange region. He took us to a Tsunami Camp where we met a young woman, who had lost her beloved sewing machine in the tsunami. For her it was the income source for her family. The young woman was approached by members of this obscure church. She was told to attend services and masses for one week and pray to the Lord to give her a sewing machine.
A week later, after she had attended the services, she got a brand new sewing machine, worth 25,000Rs (US$250). She was told that other needy things, too, could appear in that way, if she would keep up attending the Christian masses and bible reading hours. This reminds one of the Steven King Bestseller /"Needful things – in a small town"/, doesn't it? And: it’s a deeply immoral way, of gathering "sheep" for the Christian Church.
D.S. sent us to a Buddhist Monk, living in Galle. He had more stories about these un-ethical conversions. We paid him a visit in the Buddhist Temple. He showed us pamphlets by the Christian group /"The sword of the lord"/*, from Tennessee USA printed in Singhalese, and Tamil and English.
The pamphlet claimed that the people would be better off, if they would give up Buddha, who is constantly alliterated as a reincarnation of the Satan himself. He collected the leaflets from four different Tsunami camps he used to visit to bless the Buddhist Tsunami victims in these camps by chanting Pirith the traditional religious chanting performed in Buddhist homes and religious functions.
The monk said the Christian group who was in charge of these camps to do "humanitarian work" complained to the police about his presence and the way he publicly defended Buddha in his preaching in the Camps – the Sri Lankan Police in return warned him and now he is no longer allowed to visit those camps due to an order. Strange world, isn’t it?
It seemed to me that Sri Lankan Human Rights organizations and foreign Conflict Management Organizations who cry loud in regular intervals of human rights violations and fundamental right abuses seem to be deaf, dumb, dead silent and most certainly-absolutely inactive on this issue.
Source: Christian Eckert. The Next Tsunami Coming to Sri Lankais a Religious One 22/05/2005http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=70,1234,0,0,1,0
Faith Healing-Taking Advantage of the Vulnerable
Healing services are held in popular public spaces with people being transported from all parts of the country. On 31st October 2009, two women who attended a healing service held at the Vihara Maha Devi Park in Colombo died on admission to the National Hospital. The two women were from Ambalangoda in the South and Matale in the Central Province. The condition of the two women was reported to have deteriorated during the service while the pastor who conducted the service had taken no action to provided medical attention when their condition turned for the worst. The healing service was held by the Jesus Never Fails Ministry, Battaramulla!
Use of Deceit
This is the story of L. Swarnalatha of Prison Road Ragama.
“My husband had a stroke about five years ago. He was recovering after taking treatment but he was mentally affected as we got into financial difficulties. He gradually started to lose his memory and was depressed. A neighbour said that she will take him to a healing service at Jaela, but I objected to it. She is not a Buddhist. But she had taken him when I was not at home. When he was questioned as to what happened he said that they put on a stage and got him to spread his arms and walk. About a week later the neighbour said that the pastor is visiting and would like to see my husband but we declined. Later in the month my husband’s sister took him to the Lunawa Auyrveda Hospital for treatment after the New Year.
In June (13th) my brother in law said that he saw a large photograph of my husband on a poster with his arms raised with the caption ‘I was Paralysed for 4 Years NOW I CAN WALK’. It was an advertisement by WOW, Works of Wonder for an event to be held on 5, 6 and 7 July at the BMICH.
Swarnalatha complained to the police of this incident.
The following incidents are from the Report of the Commission Established to Investigate and Report on Unethical Religious Conversions. Colombo: All Ceylon Buddhist Congress, 2552/2009.
Catching the Young
- A friend of mine wanted to admit his child to Marie Stella College in Negombo. I had a friend, a retired Director of Education. I told him to help my friend to get admission for the child. As he had been a Director he contacted the principal. The Father had said that he will try to get him in. On several occasions the Father got my friend and his wife to meet him but he wouldn’t admit the child. Then the parents had said that if he wants money that they will give any amount that he asks. The Father had said he doesn’t want money but that if the child becomes a Christian he will admit the child to school. The parents did not do what the Father wanted them to do.
Annex A-p. xxxii
- There is a poverty stricken village called Mount Temple in the Kandy district. These days they have being giving books, packets of milk powder, food etc. Then they get Muslims to sell drugs. These fundamentalists go to the houses of those children who are hooked on drugs, take the children, with the consent of parents to the church. Then they send them overseas. Thereafter they get the family to convert. This also happens in Gampola and is the latest method of conversion. They are now planning an AIDS awareness programme. There are two persons – Sarath and Bharata who are the organizers. They offer a packet of rice and Rs. 200.
Around 2003 a Father from a Colombo church had purchased a house from a Buddhist family. They tried to have a church. There is not one Christian in the area. Everyday he brings children into the house and gives them sweets, chocolates and allows them to play. He gives them books, signs and reads the Bibile. The people became aware of what was going and made a complaint at the Police Station. His explanation was that his wife has no children and that is why they are getting them there. Shouldn’t they pray to have a child of their own, the witness asked?
Ridiculing the Sangha (Buddhist Monks)
One day a three wheel driver who is at the Kandy bus stand phoned me and said that a drunken Buddhist monk is singing at the bus stand. I went only to find that he was not a monk. He did not have the required robes and the monk’s identity, but a person who had come from Ragama. We got him to change his clothes and handed him to the Police. He was produced in court and remanded for 14 days and then released with a warning.
There are Christians who don robes and frequent bars; they eat after 12 noon. Then things are done to make Buddhists feel alienated from the monks. Then the pastors says “… there, your monks are drinking …”
Annex A-p. xxxvii