Saturday, September 17, 2005

Conversion, Converts & the Converted - following on from Morquendi's Blog

The issue of the perceived, real or not real, under-hand methods of winning over the natives is actually at the very core of the religious divisions that permeate throughout Ceylon & Sri Lanka.

All over the British Empire, the way to get ahead was to convert. You then climbed the social ladder via education at an English institution & joined a hierarchical Civil Service, hey and maybe even got a knighthood. Once the Poms left, most of these ex-colonial colonies maintained structures that they inherited. I think they were enamoured by the social status afforded everyone from Headmaster to Governor General.

By and large, yes we can say, that if you were "British Educated" and Christian, you were a chosen one. Again right across Africa, India, Malaysia, Hong Kong - as it was true of Tamils in Ceylon.

However, in Sri Lanka, following independence their was a fierce determination - through astoundingly discriminatory legislature to reverse the privileged position of Tamils. Sri Lanka sent delegates to "Non Aligned" conferences, had a woman for Prime Minister & voted in favour of other indigenous minorities liberating themselves at the UN. Back home, segregation was introduced into every classroom in the country - astounding! We kicked out those pesky Poms because we didn't like them sticking their noses up at us & thinking they were better ... and then introduced a method where we could feel just as superior. Frankly it's a social disgrace & not one that the international community knows about Sri Lanka.

Hence was born a fantastic tool to deliberately introduce a new class system. High caste, a party member and a relative of the Bandaranike or Wickramsinghe clan? You got the job - oh & of course, you had to be Sinhala and Buddhist - not Tamil and Christian anymore.

Now some might say, well what's wrong with that - we replaced one "Class" system with another & those Tamils deserved what they got anyway. Except for one thing - most Tamils were & still are HINDUS!!! They didn't convert!!!

So people "converted" to a belief system that was based purely on gaining membership of the new cult. They survived & could now continue to be upwardly mobile. Again, you might say, what's wrong with that? Everyone else did it. In Zimbabwe, you joined ZANUPF, you were maShona & ... you got the job. In Malaysia, you joined Mahathir, were a Malay Muslim & ...you got the job.

What's wrong with this - well I think "converts" are often fanatics. The "converted" enjoy an exclusive club, they get a whole new identity & all of a sudden, they are on top of the heap - it's intoxicating & it goes to their heads. But tell me, what does "conversion" do for Spirituality & morality. What exactly do you believe in when you are indoctrinated & you become a blind follower, a crusader of your new faith, caste, party or cult?

In Sri Lanka, politicians used the introduction of religious intolerance and they unleashed an ugly violent fist at minority communities. Following the Tsunami, well-meaning do gooders have flooded into the country & boy have they felt some hostility.

A comment was made about World Vision on Morq's Blog - I think it has been deleted so I won't be able to debate it precisely. I will say though that there is a very strong perception amongst anti-Globalisation supporters that the intention of World Vision is less than honourable. It's unfortunate because World Vision hasn't come out in force & dismissed these allegations.

Frankly, I have absolutely no tolerance for Christian/Catholic Evangelists. Give me some real - not silly propaganda - evidence about how "dumb natives" in the rural coastal areas of Sri Lanka have been "converted" & I'll get on the anti-conversion bandwagon in no time at all. Use it to just attack another group of people that are helping both Tamils & Sinhalese & really all you are doing is showing the world how backward you are. Attacks dished out to, Christian, American, Norwegian foreigners & NGOs are a joke. It also displays what the real new religion is in Sri Lanka - racial/religious intolerance. We'd dish this out to Blacks, Chinese or Eskimos if they dared to show up here in droves & make friends with those Tamil scum...

I agree that not so tranquil natives are now able to say "thanks Mr Missionary, I'll have your dosh but you keep your faith." More importantly, how safe is it for someone to convert to Christianity if you live in a village dominated by one party or another??? Fact of the matter is in Sri Lanka, to this day to be Male, Sinhala, Buddhist, from a high caste family, connected to either B or W means you rule the roost. Sure, join the JVP, become a monk but overall, we know who calls the shots.

23 Comments:

At September 18, 2005 2:54 am, Blogger sittingnut said...

glad you got a blog finally. congrats!

Fact of the matter is in Sri Lanka, to this day to be Male, Sinhala, Buddhist, from a high caste family, connected to either B or W means you rule the roost - that is no longer true btw. in colombo now if you are hardworking, clever and determined you will eventually rule the roost, with a bit of luck. that is why this is the place to be at this moment in history.

 
At September 18, 2005 3:39 am, Blogger ashanthi said...

Hey - Sittingnut - you're up late - nice to have you on board.

I'm sure your comment is true - to an extent especially the luck bit :- )

 
At September 18, 2005 4:09 am, Anonymous BB said...

Why only concentrate on Sri Lanka?

Please have a look at -->

http://www.christianaggression.org


What Aggression?

You are probably wondering what is the aggression caused by Christians in India. You may wonder how can a minority religion that is only 3% of the population cause aggression in a nation of over 1,000,000,000 people. In the press, the aggresion and "persecution" of Christians is often publicized. However it is never publicized how Christian Fundamentalists often incite this cycle of violence and aggression.

The root cause of Christian aggression in India is caused by the fact that Christianity believes that Jesus Christ is the only son of god. He is supposed to have been sent to earth to wash away the sins of the people, and so redeem them. Of course, this happens only to those who accept him as the only son of god. All the others do not get the benefit who do not have this shared belief will be burnt in hell for all eternity.

Christianity says that it has a unique path to salvation, and all the other paths are false. While there is supposed to be some modification in these views, the acceptance is that all the other paths may at most be second best. Therefore, it is better if people accept Christianity and not take a chance.

Christians believe that they have been commanded by Christ to go and “save” (convert) the people of this world. This is also supposed to give them special merit when it comes to the day of final judgment.

While there are many Christians who today do not believe in this exclusivity, there are a still large number of misguided Christians who still believe that in the exclusivity of Christianity and the concept of saving souls.

It is this misguided belief that causes breeds a hatred and intolerance for other religions. and from this hatred, these Christian Fundamentalists begin their aggression to convert. And often they will go to any means to convert even if it means violence.

This website seeks to educate the world about the atrocities that conversions bring and to bring this aggressive nature of Christianity to an end.

http://www.christianaggression.org

 
At September 18, 2005 4:28 am, Anonymous Dugi said...

Why is this conversion thing just related to Christianity? What about Islam- the fastest growing religion in the world?
What about Hindu sects such as the Hare Krishnas and Buddists sects emerging in many Western countries?
Let's talk about conversion from all sides.

Ashanti>Hiiiii:)

 
At September 18, 2005 5:12 am, Blogger sittingnut said...

ashanthi:
you are up early? :-)

gg and dugi:
all religions(buddhist,christian, islamic, etc) are by nature exclusive because they are built on irrational supernatural beliefs. you either believe it or you don't. but if you don't, the believers(not all but the losers with nothing else to do) feel that they and their religion is insulted etc. this is the root of the problem.

gg:
people are free to convert others or to get converted for whatever reason. period.
so instead of trying to interfere with rights of others you should probably try to some converting yourself.

 
At September 18, 2005 9:32 am, Blogger ivap said...

Ahanthi - Welcome to the blogosphere.

Comments to follow.

 
At September 18, 2005 9:45 am, Blogger sittingnut said...

in my above comment gg means bb. sorry:-(

 
At September 18, 2005 11:10 am, Blogger ashanthi said...

Bloggers- HELLO!!! :-)))

bb - thanks for the article - next time just post the link, I prefer to read what you have to say about the article - unless of course you wrote it - hope that makes sense!

Duggi (Hi MATEY) - agreed. Let's not just focus on Christianity & "conversion" isn't specific to SL.

However, it's Peace in SL that I'm after.

There is a perception that English speaking Tamils were priviledged & this justifies to this day the need to hound them. To the extent that legislature was introduced to re-dress this so called imbalance. Now the focus is on expat Tamils - except of course they speak French, German, Swiss, Norwegian as well as American & Australian. So now we attack Americans, Australians & Norwegians too. Furthermore, they still tend to be a well-to-do socio economic group who are mostly Hindus. Is this why they get attacked?

You ask any Christian/Catholic Jaffna Tamil mother who is trying to get her daugther married. Not much choice out there!!!

I mention Zimbabwe because prior to independence you had a very, very obvious system of racial intolerance under Ian Smith's Rhodesia. Mugabe was extremely successful in recruiting people because the climate of racism was petty, violent & enforced by law. It too was a disgrace. Does it justify what Mugabe has done to his country since independence? No. I can assure you I have no love whatsoever for white supremists. But I also know that Mugabe HATES white people because of the brutality he suffered at the hands of certain missionaries. He has not forgotten nor is he ever going to forgive.

Are we really surprised that Christian fundamentalists all over the world have more clout since Sept 11th? No. Does it justify raging into Iraq without ANY understanding of how complex the country's situation was & no WMD?!!! These acts are perceived by Muslims as acts of vengence & we are ALL facing the consequences. Sure I wanted Saddam & the Taliban gone - but did Bush show good Governance in the way he did this? Was there a better way?

Do we think that Hitler was justified in exterminating 6M Jews because the League of Nations imposed harsh conditions on Germany after WW1? No!

Because there were relatively more English speaking Tamils in the Ceylon Public Service which meant that they got a bit more dosh in their pockets does it justify what has been done to them? No.

In most cases when politics & religon/race come together it spells disastour for one minority or other.

So we need Democratically elected Governments to act without biais. When they do not - there will be a violent response - not justifiably but almost inevitably.
Let's not pretend we don't know why.

I want religous beliefs to be something we express as a way of enhancing our spirituality. I want our Temples to be free of politics & the preaching of hatred. I want the individual's sense of spirituality to shine through.

I want Buddhism in Sri Lanka to be preserved. Morq - Tooth & all! I want Muslim Tamils to be preserved too. I want Sri Lankan Hindus to be allowed to worship & practice their beliefs without petty, pathetic attacks on their Temples. As for the Christian & Catholic communities of Sri Lanka, the Tamils have long established themselves overseas. The Sinhalese Christians/Catholics have either converted or learnt to play the game.

We have never really been religously tolerant. That's crap but we do need to grow up now & show that we can be.

 
At September 18, 2005 3:29 pm, Anonymous BB said...

"people are free to convert others or to get converted for whatever reason. "

I'm sure that's what the Conquistadors said when they ran around killing millions of South Americans in their attempts to being them to the glorious Christianity that they followed.

I suppose according to your logic it's perfectly alright to forcibly convert people too. Great reasoning there sittingnut.

"Unfortunately, there has crept in the purity of the early Christianity an exclusiveness, a feeling of sole proprietary right over God. This exclusiveness, this feeling amongst Christians, that "we are the only true religion, and all other gods are false gods", has had the most catastrophic and bloody consequences: millions have been killed in the name of Christ, entire civilisations, such as the Atzecs and Incas, have been wiped out, "to bring them the word of Jesus". Even Christians have savagely murdered each other, whether in France or England. One would have hoped that this intolerance, this fanatical and militant drive to convert, forcibly or otherwise, pagans to the "True" God, had ceased in this new millennium of "enlightenment."

http://geocities.com/focussrilanka/gautier01.htm

 
At September 18, 2005 6:56 pm, Anonymous ashithan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At September 18, 2005 9:34 pm, Blogger ashanthi said...

"people are free to convert others or to get converted for whatever reason"

Have to say I'm not one for conversion. if it is through personal choice & a personal spiritual journey - that's different. It is about what is the underlying intent. If it is malicious, political & a means to dominate then it isn't about conversion - it's about manipulation.

 
At September 19, 2005 12:28 am, Blogger sittingnut said...

bb:
what i said:
a)people are free to convert others or to get converted for whatever reason

from it you derive:
b)according to your logic it's perfectly alright to forcibly convert people too

!? how did you get from a to b? please give us detailed logical steps.

as for killing people in the name of religion, that is common to all (i repeat all) religions (that includes buddhism, christianity, islam , hinduism etc). that is in their very nature since their fundamental irrational supernatural beliefs are incompatible with each other.
some people( who submerge their individual identity in the collective identity of a group because of their lack of self respect and insecurity) feel a need to get or keep as many people in their group as possible and think of other such groups as threats. which means intolerance all around.

ashanthi:
a conversion is by definitions a personal choice & a personal spiritual journey. as for the motives of the converter or the converted that is none of our business.

 
At September 19, 2005 12:32 am, Blogger sittingnut said...

ashanthi:
btw did you jilt that asinathan fellow or something? because he sure does act like that. :-)

 
At September 19, 2005 5:39 am, Blogger ashanthi said...

Sittingnut - I think you are psychic. Was thinking that myself!

All depends on which continent I met ashitan. However, he does seem to have a very big issue with "whiteys" so I'd say this is who jilted him

Furthermore - I have only broken a handful of hearts in my time :- ). Only 3 were Sri Lankan & they've forgiven me too. I tend not to select men who are obviously so deficient in mind, body & spirit, either. You know it is actually the female of the species that chooses her mate... hence ensuring survival of the species. I predict a very lonely future for ashitan...

But yes he does seem to want to "hound" me - poor devil. That's OK - they say a man who cannot think for himself is like a dog who cannot bark - boring.

Oh - Kevin Lomax would be so unimpressed with all these animal references!

I think the above calls for a whole new topic...

Love & the Sri Lankan male - what do you think?
Is he getting any?
Does he know where to get it?
Does he know what to do with it when he gets it?

What do you think?

Ps - re converted & conversion - yep OK I hear you. I guess from my perspective, I don't have any inclination whatsoever to convert people to my religon. I prefer to respect other peoples beliefs. In all religons there is a lot of meeting ground. I have also obviously, been exposed to lots of different belief systems & don't feel threatened by ones that are different to mine.

 
At September 19, 2005 7:36 pm, Anonymous BB said...

What I read from your writing sittingnut is that people are free to convert others for whatever reason. Even to send them to a gas chamber? Even to harvest their internal organs? Yeah, whatever dude!

Christian fundamentalists have been responsible for so much bloodshed in the name of their religion trying to convert all the "vile" pagans to the "true religion." Absolutely disgusting and I don't think we have to talk about burning about people at the stake for going against Church dogma here.

In this day and age, in this new millenium, instead of running around the world trying to convert all the "pagans" and acting all rabid about it, AND CREATING RELIGIOUS TENSION IN THE PROCESS, the Christian fundamentalists and their cheerleaders should learn to live and let live and LEARN from other religions.

==========

"God is great." This phrase sounds very uplifting and motivating to a lot of people. It would to myself under the majority of circumstances. However, the quote is a translation of an arabic phrase that the hijackers of four planes on September 11th, 2001 shouted to intimidate and subdue passengers. I need not remind anyone what happened after that, but I must point out that the parties responsible ultimately were motivated by their faith in God. While Christianity has come a long way since the days of the Inquisition, I am convinced that there are factions within it who would bring back the exact same fanaticism that brought about the horrors of the church's resistance to the early Renaissance, as well as the horrors seen today under similar extremists who corrupt Islam.

Fundamentalist Christians in the United States are waging an active hate campaign against other religions. Right now their emphasis is on Islam, because of the recent terrorist attacks. Even as our president overtly states that the U.S. has no objections to the majority of Muslims, factions within the Republican political party are pressuring to promote Fundamentalist Christian values, including the concept of "spiritual warfare." They and other Fundamentalist Christians believe that they are involved in some metaphysical war over souls, and that all other religions collectively are the work of their diabolical enemy. They have declared this war themselves; they have taken the role of the aggressor. I have seen some of their literature attacking Islam in its entirity, accusing the entire religion of the Muslims as destructive and war-waging, a blatent hypocracy that the Fundementalists themselves fail to see.

Fundamentalism seeks to destroy competing beliefs. Fundamentalist Christians believe that all other religions of the world are attempts by Satan at deceiving humanity. This belief is pervasive and resistant to logic or reason; all attempts at reconceiliation have met with failure. Similarly, Fundamentalist Muslims have claimed the mantra that "there is no God but Allah," proclaiming all other religions as false. They have declared a "holy war" against Western Civilization, whom they have similarly chosen to brand as the manifestation of Satan. Their fanatic devotion has motivated a series of terrorist campaigns culminating in the September 11th attacks on the United States, as well as an ongoing series of suicide bombings and other brutal crimes in Israel. In each case, the religion is motivating the person to remove by force other beliefs.

http://www.geocities.com/jonlrabbit/rants/01fund.html

 
At September 19, 2005 8:00 pm, Blogger ashanthi said...

bb - I think you are labouring a point here...

We agree that all religions are guilty of "crimes of conversion" - ALL Religions.

If you have a particular issue with Christian "conversion" coupled with a good dose of anti Bush sentiment - fine, we take that on board too.

The question is how do we stop mere men who don't really have the depth of spirituality required to preach the good words of any Religion from abusing peoples trust.

Will you leave aside your pasting of other writers articles & offer up a solution?

I am in agreement with you - but what are you going to do about it?

I say the simple solution that evolved through time was that State should be seperated from the Church (or Temple or Mosque). What do you say?

 
At September 20, 2005 2:44 am, Blogger sittingnut said...

bb:
i am still awaiting a logical explanation of how you got from a to b. as i requested above.

..people are free to convert others for whatever reason. Even to send them to a gas chamber?...
!? so if people are free to drive they are free to run over other people?!

you should calm down and think logically before making arguments you know. as i said above when some people lose their individuality in collective identity of groups, they lose their ability to think independently.

i think we all agree (may be you don't? one never can say with you) that ALL religions are intolerant and ALL of them deny each others fundamental irrational supernatural beliefs.
they certainly can learn from each other in best methods of prosecuting people.

and please follow the advice given by ashanthi and stop copy and paste jobs.

 
At September 20, 2005 7:12 am, Anonymous Dugi said...

I totally agree with sittingnut when he said:
"people are free to convert others or to get converted for whatever reason. period."

TRUDAT!

If I want to talk about my religion and someone wants to listen and know more then I'm happy to tell more.
I'm free to talk about my religion and they are free to follow if they like.

I feel no one can be truly spiritually converted into the doctrines and principles of a faith by sole desire for worldly things that the 'converter' offers (though they have the right to do so if they want to), it's a personal choice and personal spiritual journey- whatever the faith, whatever the religion.

I agree with Ashanthi when she said:
"if it is through personal choice & a personal spiritual journey - that's different. It is about what is the underlying intent. If it is malicious, political & a means to dominate then it isn't about conversion - it's about manipulation."

WOW, WELL SAID!

 
At October 05, 2005 8:44 am, Blogger ashanthi said...

This post is an official apology to Indi's Sister and Indi.

Sorry I don't know you guys at all & I got into a mudslinging match with ashitan at Indi's sister's expense.

Frankly, he has been nothing but a jerk & I was responding to this. I know nothing about Indi's sister - except I must say for the lovely photos of Indi's sister's wedding where she looks just gorgeous. Especially in her homcoming sari.

As you all know I'm a bit of a romantic. My wedding was quite similar except that I could not have mine in Sri Lankan. I often troll through Indi's photos, they give me a sense of Sri Lankan life.

Again, sincere apologies ...

 
At November 07, 2005 7:39 pm, Blogger Roberto Iza Valdes said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At November 11, 2005 9:33 am, Blogger Our Lady of Fatima Biloxi said...

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At December 08, 2005 1:36 pm, Blogger Roberto Iza Valdes said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At December 31, 2005 1:28 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi girl :) weirdly enuff... my names ashanthi too.. came up with your blog spot while googling for somethin.. just wanted to say hi.. i live in sri lanka :) if you wanna you can hit me back on ashanthid@gmail.com tc!
-Ash

 

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