Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Burmese Repression

A disturbing new report suggests that the military dictatorship that rules Burma is planning on eradicating Christianity from that country. The ultimate goal is that there "shall be no home where the Christian religion is practised" and anybody accused of evangelization will be imprisoned. Interestingly, the report notes that the government is following the lead of a state-sponsored Buddhist group, whose goal is a Buddhist state, brought about by coercion and forced conversions.

Two points.

First, Pope Benedict's persistent exhortation against compulsion in religion remains timely and of utmost importance, not just in the Islamic world. As he noted in his World of Peace address, religious freedom is a core precondition of true and authentic peace.

Second, there is a myth by many in the western world that somehow Buddhism is purer, nobler, and generally better, than so-called organized religions, chiefly Christianity. This matter proves otherwise. And in Sri Lanka as well, the government is frequently held hostage by a vocal lobby of virulent Buddhist nationalists that opposes any peace talks with the Tamil Tigers. No, Buddhism should not be held to a higher standard. Frankly, I've never understood the "Hollywood" fascination with (what they perceive as) Buddhism. I believe its more a reaction "against" Christianity than "for" Buddhism.

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