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Barbara O'Brien

Hate Speech in Honolulu

By March 7, 2009

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This is sad. Leila Fujimori writes for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,

A mainland group of born-again Christians shouted a message of hellfire for homosexuals and others for five hours yesterday as University of Hawaii students shouted back. ...

... "They started making personal attacks on people's culture," said Ann Clarke, 18. One of the "preachers" told a Korean student that he is going to hell for his Buddhist beliefs and told Hawaiians they are going to hell because they worship false gods and believe in witchcraft, she said.

The proselytizing group, Bema Ministries (also known as Cry to God Ministries), sees its activities as "preaching." But of course it's not preaching, it's just hate. I believe I remember the Gospels pretty well, and there's nothing in them that would justify this. Christians I know are appalled at this sort of behavior.

Any cause or religion can turn malignant. It has happened in Buddhism from time to time. Eric Hoffer wrote in The True Believer (1951):
Only the individual who has come to terms with his self can have a dispassionate attitude toward the world. Once the harmony with the self is upset, he turns into a highly reactive entity. Like an unstable chemical radical he hungers to combine with whatever comes within his reach. He cannot stand apart, whole or self-sufficient, but has to attach himself whole-heartedly to one side or the other. …

… The fanatic is perpetually incomplete and insecure. He cannot generate self-assurance out of his individual resources — out of his rejected self — but finds it only in clinging passionately to whatever support he happens to embrace. This passionate attachment is the essence of his blind devotion and religiosity, and he sees in it the source of all virtue and strength. Though his single-minded dedication is a holding on for dear life, he easily sees himself as the supporter and defender of the holy cause to which he clings. … The fanatic is not really a stickler to principle. He embraces a cause not primarily because of its justice and holiness but because of his desperate need for something to hold on to. … [Hoffer, The True Believer, HarperPerennial edition, pp. 84-86]

Sound familiar?

Discuss this topic in the Buddhism Forum!

March 8, 2009 at 12:52 pm
(1) Bob Mellon says:

Sadly, I can not name any Buddhist organization who’s main goal is to stop the Evangelicals from executing the planned demise of Buddhism. The Evangelicals are dedicated, large in size, well financed and highly efficient organizations that are in it for the long haul. Examples of such organizations are The Central Asia Fellowship, World Vision, The Overseas Missionary Fellowship, The Sonrise Centre for Buddhist Studies and The South Asia Network. All Buddhists should heed the call to protect their culture and teachings by peacefully disrupting these missionaries and their organizations. As Alan Carr wrote not too long ago “No wonder the evangelicals are always so angry and defensive, so self-conscious and full of nervous energy. Every day they live with the contradictory belief that their God is full of love and yet throws people into eternal hell-fire, even people who have never heard of him. But of course it is the same old spurious and empty promise missionaries have always made in the lands they try to evangelize; ‘What a mess your country is in! Your gods have failed. Accept Jesus Christ and everything will be wonderful.” The present moment is at hand and it’s time to organize a precise effort to disrupt the Evangelical hidden agenda activities all in the name of humanitarian aid and relief work. I may be a peaceful Buddhist who throws fists of flowers, but my fists of flowers will instantly bloom inside the ribcage of an Evangelical missionary, thereby quickly getting to the heart of the matter. Will anyone join me?

March 8, 2009 at 10:02 pm
(2) jackson says:

I have friends who live in Hawaii and are Christians involved in active ministry. I can guarantee you that they look down upon acts such as this with just as much sorrow and contempt as we do. Hate is hate, regardless of whose name is evoked in the process.

March 12, 2009 at 6:18 pm
(3) John Sumner says:

As a “recent” Buddhist who comes from a family of older generation evangelical Cristians, I see two sides to evangelical christianity- those who are “mainstream”, and actually try to live according to the Gospels (which incidentally contain many teachings from Jesus which are stikingly similiar to some Buddhist concepts), and in these same individuals, a “quiet/kindly” yet persistent belief that their sole mission in this life is to convince others, not just Buddhists but other non-evangelical Christians, that their church is the only “real” chrisitan church, using terms like “born again”, “on fire for God”, etc. Of course, their polite, AMWAY-like attempts all hinge on what the Bible says (of course, the same Bible that has been translated, altered, changed for the last 2000-3000 years). It is the ultimate in “self vs. other” behavior. I sometimes have to remind myself, however, that the same precept applies to me, that I could get just as easily caught in the same trap with my feelings on Buddha’s teachings. I know at some point a discussion will arise between me and my relatives, but compassion in my mind has to rule the day when this happens. The hard part is being compassionate and honest at the same time.

March 12, 2009 at 6:58 pm
(4) Steve says:

“A mainland group of born-again Christians shouted a message of hellfire for homosexuals and others for five hours yesterday as University of Hawaii students shouted back….”

I wonder what the University of Hawaii students shouted back? I’m afraid it was also a message of intolerance. But I hope I am wrong.

Situations like these are deplorable and have a tendency to create more hate in opposition to the original hate-filled comments. For those who claim they stand above hate and intolerance, let’s approach dialogue with love and tolerance, even for those we disagree with.

March 12, 2009 at 8:05 pm
(5) meg says:

I wonder if that group is familiar with how much the “gospel of Jesus” and Buddha’s words are related. Thankfully, the more “unattached” we come to those negative emotions, the better we are able to let things like this bother us on a global rather than a subjective level. I am thankful that open-minded people want to change the world while not reacting to the ignorance of others.

By the way: Barbara, I just want to say that I am very thankful for all of the information and news that you bring to my email every month. I don’t have many links to the Buddhist community where I live, and your dedication to the Dharma really helps me as a teacher.

March 12, 2009 at 8:29 pm
(6) Justin says:

Christianity is one if not the biggest delusions ever contrived by man. Everyone knows that. . . in their heart everyone knows that.

March 12, 2009 at 11:00 pm
(7) Myk says:

JUSTIN says: “Christianity is one, if not the biggest, delusions ever contrived by man. Everyone knows that . . . in their heart everyone knows that”.
Very interesting. Tell me Justin, just exactly HOW do you know “everyone” . . . or what is in their hearts?
“Evangelicals” are not all made from the same cookie-cutter mold, anymore than Hindus, Buddhists or Jews are. Anyone who knows anything about the history of India should know that Mughal and other Muslim fanatics have committed more crimes against Buddhists and Hindus than any silly “Christian” bigots have ever committed.

March 13, 2009 at 9:33 am
(8) Greenman says:

I grew up in a proselytizing denomination (Mormon)and served a mission for that church. The sad thing is that the more you yell back at them the more they feel like semi-martyrs. I believe that the most appropriate response is to complain to the authorities (the university in this case). Then strengthen members of your group. You may not believe in Hell but you really should know why so that when you’re asked “Don’t you want to be saved?” you’ll know that you already are.
It does little good to argue with them. They have a very differant world view and won’t listen to anything you have to say.
They are only compassionate to their fellow followers, unlike HH the Dalai Lama whose compassion extends even to the Evangelical Christians who often hate him.

March 16, 2009 at 4:55 pm
(9) tony says:

I have found it best to ignore Christians. Their following of the Bible is at best used to push their own agendas, not Gods. They pick and choose which of Jesus’ words they like best, as it fits into their blinder eyed view. If they would actually do what the Bible says, every word of every passage, their hatred of others would vanish. They do however, want to hate others or they would all condemn people that act like this, like Tibetan Buddhists do the actions of Buddhists that likewise have their own agenda at heart, not Buddhas.

Free Tibet

April 3, 2009 at 7:48 pm
(10) Peace says:

I don’t believe one group of “Christians” portray all of them. Regarding Buddhism. In looking at Buddhism, it is more a way of life than a religion as Buddha was a man, an Indian Prince who supposedly found “enlightenment” and traveled the world to show others how to achieve it. Other offshoots grew in Asia and Japan and still exists today.

Back to the U. Of Hawaii. I am a graduate and a Christian. We do not have shouting matches with anyone and everyone is welscome in our church. We hope to attract more followers by being kind to our neighbors and by doing outreach projects. Yes, we believe in what the Holy Bible says, but the Bible also says that everyone falls short of God’s standards, thus we are accepting of others.

For what it’s worth, I apologize on behalf of the overzealous Christians and hope that they will extend the caring that our church teaches.

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