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Beware of wolves in sheep's clothing

Beware of wolves in sheep's clothing

Author: Sesha Samarajiwa
Publication: Asian Tribune
Date: October 9, 2007
URL: http://www.asiantribune.com/index.php?q=node/7724

I am at the ancient Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya in Sri Lanka. I have come to this sacred Buddhist place seeking some sorely needed serenity. In a great hallway there, I see once again a painting - a panel of paintings - that tells a familiar story of brutal intolerance. It shows an army of Portuguese soldiers destroying this very temple. In fact, they did set fire to this sacred place and partially destroyed it. They also confiscated the temple, banning Buddhists from entering the precincts. Later, they reclaimed and rebuilt their temple.

But the stark reminder of historic injustice and intolerance on the wall made my eyes mist over. And it kindled deep within me a spark of outrage, for it dawned on me, as clear as the blue sky outside, that nothing much had changed in our world; the same mindset that drove those long-dead Portuguese aggressors still fuels today's oppressive trespassers.

So in a tea shop with a view of this achingly beautiful temple - a sacred temple my people had built over 2300 years ago years ago in honor of their Beloved Master, a temple which had withstood much tribulations - I began to sketch this essay.

Pests from the West

Evangelists belong to a long line of pests from the West who have come and keep coming like locusts to colonize our souls and cannibalize our cultures. I have in mind the whole bandwagon: Mormons who hunt in pairs, Jehovah's Witnesses, Baptists, Anabaptists, Church of This and the Church of That, well-heeled evangelists of a mind-boggling array of corny creeds and cults, all of whom, in slick American style, are engaged in aggressive marketing and PR campaigns to boost their ranks and their coffers with suckers from the East. Of course, they command the money,

the power and the technologies to back their campaigns, their fishing missions.

The latest incursions are merely a continuation of the 500-year-old sorry saga of Asia, Africa and South America, which began with the arrival of the Portuguese and the Spaniards. Some have never recovered from the machinations of their priests and the savagery of their conquistadors. The baton of imperialism has passed from the Europeans to the Americans. That is not to say that the rest of the West has dropped out. They have not. They are very much in the game. It's just that the Americans are in the lead, the new Romans on the rampage.

Carrots and sticks, time-tested tricks

The old tricks still work. Priests from the West come to the East. They tell the natives that good things will happen now and in the afterlife if only they accept their blond, blue-eyed god as their savior. Otherwise, the prospects would be dreadful.

"Now, close your eyes, and let us pray," says the priest. "Let us pray that the god of your conquerors will save your miserable, heathen souls. Let him carry your burdens, give you comfort, so that when you die, you can enjoy eternity sitting on his lap. Every Sunday, let the blood of the lamb wash your sins away, so that you can live to sin another day. If you don't, you'll roast in hell forever. So, let us eat the flesh of our god and drink his blood to make sure that doesn't happen!"

So we shut our eyes tight, clutch our bibles tighter and we pray. When we open our eyes, we have the bibles, while the canny comforters and their kind have our land, our blind allegiance and even our pennies, which can multiply into a tidy sum for the 'spiritual' cartel. Carrots and sticks. Time-tested tricks.

Cannibalizing Cultures

We know well how the Europeans won the West. They won it through mass genocide of the native populations in North and South America. In South America, hundreds and thousands of natives who resisted conversion were garroted. There is a poignant painting depicting such conversions. It shows armored Spanish soldiers garroting native priests, while a Spanish priest holds up a large cross. More terrified natives await their turn. On the side, another Spanish priest feeds stacks of ancient gold-leaf books of the Mayans into a fire. On the face of the Mayan priests, a look of utter sadness mixed with resignation.

In places like India and Sri Lanka, they were no better. They too faced abject horrors. In his book, Christianity's scramble for India, Navaratna Rajaram says that "the Christian Missionary is neither a Christian nor a missionary. In fact, he is a racist and a white supremacist in priestly guise."

The cruelty of the Christians when converting the natives of places like Sri Lanka, India and the Philippines is well documented, but I can offer just a small sample here.

As Senaka Weeraratne asserts in this article, Repression of Buddhism in Sri Lanka by Portuguese: "The Portuguese imperial agenda was to create discord in the country and then take maximum advantage of the situation for their benefit in terms of siphoning off wealth from Sri Lanka and converting Buddhists into Christianity, who then in their calculation would remain loyal to the Portuguese Crown rather than to the Sinhalese Kings of the land."

Even if in less barbaric form, this was the agenda of the later colonial masters from Europe - the Dutch and the British.

The insidious destruction of culture

When people adopt an alien religion, it is not just a religion they adopt, but an alien way of life. Such people celebrate not so much local traditions, but the festivals and high points of Jews, Christians and Arabs and whichever colonial master they had.

In his masterly travelogue, Among the Believers - An Islamic Journey, V S Naipaul shares his intimate insight into the ways an alien religion destroyed indigenous cultures. This is an extract One of the most beautiful Buddhist temples in the world, the Kelaniya Temple epitomizes refined Sinhala esthetics. Buddhism fashioned the culture of the Sinhala. This Path -- from which the Sinhala have derived their spiritual sustenance -- is intrinsic to their heritage. from a speech he gave in 1990. Listen to Naipaul.

"Because I was soon to discover that no colonization had been so thorough as the colonization that had come with the Arab faith. Colonized or defeated peoples can begin to distrust themselves. In the Muslim countries I am talking about, this distrust had all the force of religion. It was an article of the Arab faith that everything before the faith was wrong, misguided, heretical; there was no room in the heart or mind of these believers for their pre-Mohammedan past. So ideas of history here were quite different from ideas of history elsewhere; there was no wish here to go back as far as possible into the past and to learn as much as possible about the past.

"Now, traveling among non-Arab Muslims, I found myself among a colonized people who had been stripped by their faith of all that expanding intellectual life, all the varied life of the mind and senses, the expanding cultural and historical knowledge of the world, that I had been growing into on the other side of the world. I was among people whose identity was more or less contained in the faith. I was among people who wished to be pure ... No colonization could have been greater than this colonization by the faith."

Naipaul describes the effects well. Christianity and Islam are just two sides of the same intolerant coin.

Cruel Custers and Cortezes

Their Buffalo Bills and their Wild Bills, their Custers and their Cortezes, and the long line of predators and priests made sure that the sorry remainder of once-proud nations would remain so, while they ruled the roost in lands drenched with native blood. Many weaker cultures succumbed to the relentless onslaught from the West. They either slaughtered those who resisted or they sowed the seeds of abjection and their eventual self-destruction.

Even today, we see the pathetic dregs of once-noble nations staggering around native reservations and barrios in North and South America, in Australia, in Canada, in New Zealand. They have lost their spirit. They have lost their will to live. They seem embarrassed to be alive. They are self-destructing. At best, they are performing monkeys titillating whites with a thirst for the exotic. These are abject peoples, vanishing tribes.

Now, not satisfied with ruling their large chunk of raided real estate, they are hell-bent on extending their hegemony over the whole world. Not even a little island nation in the Indian Ocean escapes their radar, a radar scanning new territories for economic, cultural and spiritual colonization.

They howl in protest when the natives resist. But it's very easy to substantiate the nefarious activities of their ilk. Still, in the interests of space and time, I do not intend to cite the corpus of studies which prove beyond doubt the devastation that has been wreaked on various peoples and cultures by the religious agents of Western imperialism - an arrogant and ruthless enterprise fueled by religion, money and armed might, the unholy trinity of neo-imperialism.

Happy hunting grounds of human misery

Human misery is happy hunting grounds for the spiritual cartels. It has always been so. They strike when their targets are at their weakest or bomb them to submission to make sure they
In the 16th Century, the great temple was set ablaze by Portuguese soldados, partially destroying it. Later, the Lankans repaired the damage.
are at their weakest. Thus softened up, they are susceptible to inducements and brainwashing.

They have many tried and tested weapons in their arsenal. They are canny. To 'convert' people, you must first make them despise and reject what had sustained their people for millennia. So they vilify their faith or convince them it is a spent force or dark superstition. In so doing, they make us spit on our heritage.

Focus describes a grotesque brainwashing technique thus: "A Christian missionary (pastor) brings two boxes before little children. He says one belongs to Jesus and the other to Buddha. Children are asked to select any box of their choice. The Buddhist children select the box of Lord Buddha. They find the box empty. The pastor now says select the box of Jesus. It is filled with many nice things. Then the pastor says "see how Jesus loves you."

You can read more about the Buddha Biscuit and religious conversion techniques in South Asia here.

Then as now, rare is the native who can resist such marvelous baubles. Make the bait juicy. Dazzle the natives with their power and glory. Pile on the questionable comforts of the religions they are peddling, and reel them in, easy as you please. Add another zombie to the roster. Check!

This is cruel. This is unacceptable. But protest and you are sure to invite a howl of counter protest accusing you of suppressing freedom - freedom to engage in their agenda.

Selling pie in the sky

Western religious intruders are, in every sense, Trojan horses, the Fifth Column, which the dictionary defines as "A subversive group that supports the enemy and engages in espionage or sabotage; an enemy in your midst." In the imperial enterprise, the priests always went in first, then followed the firepower. They may use foreign and local agents, but their controllers are megalomaniac Westerners, the powers behind most of the 'churches' selling pieces of blue sky to natives.

We welcome them to our lands and accept their gifts at grave risk. For once they are in, once they gain a foothold, they will demolish our unity and integrity, which is tantamount to annihilating our culture. Then we are one step closer to extinction.

The self-righteous mob on fishy fishing missions fishing in troubled waters should know that Asian civilizations were established on, and sustained by, the finest and wisest spiritual and moral foundations this planet has ever known. Although colonizers from the West have tried for five centuries to colonize our souls, make us ape them and adopt their delusions, many of us have resisted, while some of us, of course, succumbed to inducements and spiritual seduction. It's too late to do anything about that now and I mean no offense to any Asian who worships the gods of the conquerors. I wish them well.

Fight cultural annihilation, resist converters

We believe it's worth preserving the unique, beautiful and, yes, great civilizations that flourished in Asia. I don't mean we should try to hang on to the past and reject modernity; that would be primitivism, guaranteed fossilization. That's not what I'm promoting. Besides, that would be impossible, for cultures are not static; they are dynamic; they change; they adapt; they move on. I mean it's worth preserving the quintessence of our cultures, for example, the way Thailand and Japan have done. They did that, to a large extent, by successfully repelling European priests - the Fifth Column I referred to earlier - from gaining a foothold in their homelands. Unfortunately, the rest of Asia was not so savvy. By the time they opened their eyes, the natives had the Bibles and the interlopers had their lands.

I believe we owe our future generations. It would be a pity if they can have a glimpse only in museums of the by then long dead cultures, the great cultures that had sustained their ancestors. I believe it is worth fighting for, as did our ancestors who fought against tremendous odds. (Admittedly, some of our ancestors sold out.) For that, we must be vigilant. For that, we must be courageous. For that, we should not allow alien cultures to colonize our souls. For that, we must resist bribes and brainwashing.

We know we are struggling against an enemy immensely more powerful than we are. But we must resist at all costs. In this do-or-die struggle to preserve our way of life and our spirit, we can take courage from the lessons of history. Where is the mighty Roman Empire whose dominion extended from remote Britain to the Middle East? Where is the British Empire where the sun once never set? Where today is the Soviet empire? Gone, vanished.

When the founding pillars of a people - religion, language and culture, all inextricably linked - are undermined, neither a nation nor a civilization can survive intact for long. Those who engage in such willful, relentless destabilization are engaged in emotional violence, psychological warfare. They traumatize and balkanize nations, set son against father, husband against wife, neighbor against neighbor, group against group, fermenting crisis and conflict, which will eventually lead to their destabilization and disintegration. Then they are soft targets for takeover.

For five centuries, their kind not only colonized our lands and bled us dry but, to add insult to injury, they also colonized some of our souls. Yet some of us, our heroes and our martyrs, resisted. So can we, if we have the guts to scream out loud: "Be gone, ye wolves in sheep's clothing!"


1. Navaratna Srinivasa Rasarum, Christianity's scramble for India and the failure of the secularist' elite, Hindu Writers Forum; (1999)

2. Sri Lanka: Conversions go south, Sunday Leader, June 5, 2005, reproduced in Buddhist Channel

3. Kamalika Piers, Christian conversion in Buddhist Sri Lanka
Island Newspaper, March 8, 2000. Reproduced in? Christanistian Aggression.org.

4. Sneak Warranto, Repression of Buddhism in Sri Lanka by Portuguese. (Abridged version).
The Buddhist Channel, June 28, 2005,)

5. V S Naipaul, Our Universal Civilization,City Journal, 1991.

Sesha Samarajiwa is interested examining foreign religious agents' role as Fifth Columnists of neocolonialism/neoimperialism.

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