Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Crusade Watch Proselytizing & Human Rights

Arcade Fire song Intervention from their album Neon Bible- The video is quite inventive in using a clip from Eisestein's 1925 film Battleship Potemkin with this piece of music-
from YouTube user justsomeboy so enjoy but does it fit with today's topic !

The Conversion Agenda

Any protest against religious conversion is always branded as persecution, because it is maintained that people are not allowed to practise their religion, that their religious freedom is curbed. The truth is entirely different. The other person also has the freedom to practice his or her religion without interference. That is his/her birthright.

The quote is from the ineresting & thought provoking
The Conversion Agendawhich you should check out
Crusade Watch

" The Dalai Lama recommends a moratorium on proselytizing in order to give cooperative pluralism a chance. Likewise, Gandhi wrote: "If I had the power and could legislate, I would stop all proselytizing." Conversion belongs to the times of colonialism. No society has advanced, spiritually or materially, by converting from one faith to another. It can be proven that the economic progress in Europe happened only when the hold of the Vatican was reduced. When Christianity accepts the right of other people to follow their own beliefs and creeds, then only will Jesus Christ's spirit truly radiate in the world "

In my last post I talked about an Evangelical Proselytizing organization The Jesus Film Project so In this post I'm going to talk about an anti-proselytizing organization called Crusade Watch which provides information about the questionable strategies & techniques used by groups proselytizing on behalf of various religions though especially Christian or Islamic organizations.

Crusade Watch argues that proselytizing isn't merely a nuisance but that it is an activity when done aggressively or through subterfuge & stealth etc. is an issue of Human Rights - People have the right to their own religious beliefs & the practices of those beliefs & that they shouldn't be harassed , badgered, or manipulated in an offensive manner or made to feel that their religion is something evil & dirty which they should be ashamed of - And further that conversions which are brought about through undue pressure & propaganda especially when people are vulnerable & in need is unethical in the least & should be considered a crime as it ignores the human rights of others-

I'm sure if a Hindu or Muslim were to stand outside a Christian Church on a Sunday morning during service or at a Synagogue on a Friday & these Hindus or Muslim's were to shout & harass people going in & out of the church calling them evil & dirty & shameful because they are practicing a religion which these people believe is not sanctioned by the one true God or even a host of other Gods. Or if a group of Atheists were to badger & harass calling the Christians or Jews or whatever various derogatory terms - this would be seen as going beyond reasonable & acceptable behavior on the part of those with differing religious beliefs .

These sorts of actions would not help to build bridges between the various world's religions that is if we are interested in creating a pluralistic & a more tolerant & compassionate society.Tolerance though isn't enough because what is necessary is understanding & acceptance of other peoples belief systems . This is all well and good unless there is another human rights issue which means that certain beliefs might lead to activities which are unacceptable & that might be considered unethical & possibly criminal . For example an individual who's culture or religious beliefs allows for the mistreatment of women or children then other human rights values take precedence over the those religious or cultural beliefs .

Here are some samples from Crusade Watch in which the writers point out what they see as the flaws of Christian Evangelical Fundamentalist Proselytizers :

From Crusade Watch
Christian Fanaticism in Sri Lanka
Thursday, 09 August 2007
By Meredith De Silva

The arrival of Christianity to Sri Lanka was marked by violence and bloodshed. In contrast to Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam, which arrived on the island in a peaceful manner, Christianity arrived with sword in hand. The native Buddhists and Hindus were slaughtered, their temples destroyed and looted, and their priests killed - all in the name of Jesus Christ. For close to 500 years the people ofSri Lanka were subjugated and Christianity was forced down upon the populace with an iron fist.

Buddhists and Hindus were forced to convert to Christianity to get an education, and their marriages were not recognised by the Christian rulers. In order to gain any position of importance, one had to convert to Christianity. Buddhist and Hindu religious observances were prohibited in areas controlled by Christians and churches were built upon the destroyed remains of Buddhist and Hindu temples. Buddhists and Hindus who refused to convert were either killed, harassed or relegated to second class status. Men and women were paid by Christian groups to produce books and go from village to village attacking the teachings of Buddhism and Hinduism. In this manner, Christian fanaticism was brought into full force inSri Lanka.

Today, even after independence, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims are still being targeted by Christian extremists. While foreign Christian groups have set up shop in the island, many of the most fanatical followers are actually locals who care naught for religious diversity and pluralism. ExtremistSri Lankan Christians have attacked Buddhist temples, destroyed Buddha statues and beaten up Buddhist monks who have dared to stand against their aggressive and unethical methods of proselytism. In the eastern city of Trincomalee militant Christians have tried to convert Hindus by planting crosses near Hindu temples and handing out inflammatory pamphlets that attack Hindu Gods and ask people to convert to Christianity to supposedly escape the caste system. The driving force behind this fanaticism are both foreign andSri Lankan Christian priests, who have been brought up to hate non-Christians and non-Christian faiths.

- for instance the site has a list of complaints against evangelism & fundamentalist in particular- here are a few which are serious indictments for which there are is ample evidence -

Evangelism is a Pseudo-Religious activity

The pseudo-religionist (evangelical), loves his theory above everything else. It is his baby. He raises it up, applauds it, and makes it the standard by which everything else should be measured or interpreted. It is his idol. He tries to save it from refutation at all costs. And because it is the theory first and truth second a pseudo-religious movement is wedded to such incorrigible bedfellows as falsehood, dogmatism, and delusion. This difference in attitudes marks the essential demarcation between true Religion and pseudo-religious movement.irrefutability is not a virtue of a theory as people often think, but a vice.

Conversion destroys Social & Communal Harmony
A non-Christian who viewed the society as one entity after conversion to Christianity begins to see the society as two categories 'us' vs. 'them'. 'us' being the 'saved' and 'them' not worth living. He develops hate and ill will towards everything 'them' reveres.

Christianity promotes Racism

Racism is rooted in the founding Christian belief that all non-Christians were servants/soldiers of Satan, the relentless and cunning enemy of the Christian god and all morality (1 Cor. 10:20 21, Gal. 4:8 9, John 8:44 for examples). Christians considered pagans who converted to be morally cleansed and purified. Christians called pagans and Jews who rejected conversion obstinate, atheists, and an infection in the world, and treated them as a constant threat to Christian purity.

Church Fundamentalism is against Science

USA, which produced the world's top inventions and scientists is under siege due to Christian fundamentalism. These fundamentalists are opposed to scientific development because most of the scientific findings contradict Bible.

Other headlines on the website Crusade Watchinclude:

* Mother Teresa: In Heaven or Hell?
* Missionary arrested for converting 40 Hindu families to Christianity
* Creating a Set of Laws for All Religions, Like Asimov's Laws of Robotics
* Torture and sex abuse in church school: Nuns nabbed
* Not so fast, Christian soldiers
* Sikh girl may convert for place at UK school
* Christian groups up in arms
* Girl Dragged in Christian Boot Camp - Air Force Evangelism in Action?

Take care,

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