Sri Lanka: “anti-Christian violence suddenly escalates”

Via assistnews.net, an apparently Christian news service, comes word of increasing religious violence in Sri Lanka:

Religiously motivated violence, including arson, threats and intimidation, has been escalating unchecked in the volatile eastern district of Ampara for some time. On 17 February 2008 Pastor Neil Edirisinghe (37), who was leader of The House of the Lord fellowship in Ampara, was fatally shot in the chest while his wife Shiromi (31) was shot in the stomach and critically wounded. Their young son received minor injuries and shock. Investigations exposed this as a contract killing organised by a local Buddhist nationalist angered by Pastor Edirisinghe’s ministry.Also on 17 February, a mob of some 50 angry locals attacked believers attending Sunday worship at King’s Revival Church, Mathugama (in the south-west), with Tamil Christians singled out for more severe treatment. The following Sunday the attackers returned and stopped the believers meeting. On the evening of 2 March, ten students of the Believers Church Bible College, Lunuwila (north-west), were walking from the railway station when they were ambushed by a group of about 10 masked men who kicked and bashed them mercilessly. On 3 March, Zion Mount Prayer House in Mulaitivu District (south-west) was set on fire while the pastor, his family and guests were inside — fortunately they all escaped.

This of course has to be wrong, after all, Vox Day has already proved that the violence in Sri Lanka is purely secular. Or at least, that’s what he says in The Irrational Atheist, in the course of trying to make Harris and Dawkins look ignorant for suggesting that religion has a role in violence and war. Perhaps TIA isn’t yet a real big seller down in Sri Lanka?

 
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Posted in Current Events, TIA. 5 Comments »

5 Responses to “Sri Lanka: “anti-Christian violence suddenly escalates””

  1. jorgaba Says:

    Deacon,

    This set of reviews for TIA is outstanding — the best I’ve seen.

    Found you through Brent Rassumssen’s blog. Keep up the great work.

  2. blacknad Says:

    So these crimes being committed against Christians are held up to prove your point.

    Exactly how many of the incredibly blood-thirsty 2 billion Christians on the planet are engaged in violence at the moment?

    Do a bit of research and bring some facts to the table instead of focusing upon one conflict as if it represents religion in general.

    You may want to compare your findings with all current conflicts over non-religious issues such as land border disputes, resources, ethnic differences etc.

    See, Vox Day has researched it and had found that religious ward account for only 6.93% of all wars.

    And yet the religious have consistently been the majority of people on the planet.

    Religion’s track record is beyond dispute more positive than negative – unless you are an ex-Christian who’s religious experience has been a poor one and you are now burning with anger at those ‘nutters’ who made you so unhappy and cannot see anything regarding religion in a balanced manner.

  3. Deacon Duncan Says:

    The only thing Vox has proven is that he can come up with an artificially narrow definition of “religious war.” He looked up various statistics and cited them, but his conclusion simply assumes that if any other factors were involved, religion is thereby automatically off the hook. As impressive as this may sound to those on his side, it’s really just a dodge that avoids considering what role religion did play in the conflict. Even Vox admits that at least one religion (Islam) shows up as a party to various violent conflicts a lot more often than it should, statistically speaking. He just doesn’t give it much emphasis because he’s too bent on “proving” the alleged ignorance of the New Atheists.

    The big problem is that the term “religion” shows up in various ambiguous usages throughout Vox’s arguments: sometimes it means Christianity, sometimes it means theism in general, sometimes it’s not real clear what it means. But what the debate ought to be about is God. Only God does not show up in real life, so we have no alternative but to debate, instead, the religions of men. If there were a real God in the real world, then we’d be able to compare the various religions against the real-world God, and pick the right one. In God’s continuous and universal absence, however, the only way to “settle” the issue is to fight about it, either verbally or physically. This situation inevitably increases the amount of needless conflict in the world, and it’s a direct result of God’s failure to show up in real life. Vox does not and cannot address this point.

  4. blacknad Says:

    “Exactly how many of the incredibly blood-thirsty 2 billion Christians on the planet are engaged in violence at the moment?

    Do a bit of research and bring some facts to the table instead of focusing upon one conflict as if it represents religion in general.

    You may want to compare your findings with all current conflicts over non-religious issues such as land border disputes, resources, ethnic differences etc.”

    DD – this is the issue. You have all sorts of notions about what Christians do, such as fight over who is right or wrong (how many religious conflicts actually have something like this at their root? Can you give some examples?)

    A 2001 study by Jonathon Fox found that:

    “Conclusions

    This study has both expected and surprising results.

    Religion is more important in Middle Eastern ethnic conflicts than elsewhere. Religion is important in the ethnic conflicts of all Muslim states, and it is more important in the Middle East than in Muslim states outside the region. This means that while Islam may provide a partial explanation for the particular importance of religion in the region, it cannot provide a full explanation. One potential explanation for this is the historical importance of religion in the Middle East, a region that gave birth to three of the world’s major religions. On the other hand, this historical importance may also mean that whatever it is that makes religion particularly important in the Middle East is not a new phenomenon, and the findings presented here are simply the latest manifestation of an age-old phenomenon.

    The Middle East is the most autocratic and least democratic region in the world. Muslim states outside of the Middle East are found to be more autocratic than other non-Middle Eastern states but less autocratic than Middle Eastern states. Again, Muslim states outside the Middle East are more often autocratic than their non-Muslim counterparts but considerably less often autocratic than those in the Middle East. Thus, Islam may provide no more than a partial explanation for the autocracy of the region.

    In this case, history may provide an alternate explanation. Democracy and the liberal ideologies upon which it is based were developed in the West. Accordingly, it is not surprising that the West is the most democratic region of the world. Other regions particularly influenced by the West, such as the states of Latin America—which began as colonies of the West and whose inhabitants speak almost exclusively Western languages—also tend to be highly democratic, at least of late. Most of the former Soviet bloc is considered European but can be distinguished from the West in that it had limited historical exposure to central European experiences including the Reformation, Renaissance and Enlightenment.19 For nearly a century it followed another Western ideology, Marxism, and is now in the process of democratization. Other than the Middle East, the regions that are the most autocratic are Asia and Africa, regions that have retained much of their own cultures despite Western influences. Thus, the link between the Middle East and autocracy may be due more to cultural and historical momentum than anything else. Also, the link between Islam and autocracy may be due to the fact that most Islamic states are in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, the regions that appear to have the highest levels of rejection of Western styles of government.

    The level of ethnic conflict in the Middle East is about average. This comes as a surprise, given that religion is disproportionately important in the Middle East and that the region is disproportionately autocratic. It may be due to a feeling among the region’s inhabitants that religion and autocracy are normal, at least within the Middle Eastern context, and therefore do not deserve any special response. Perhaps expectations in the Middle East are lower. In the rest of the world, participants in ethnic conflicts are more sensitive to the presence of religious issues and more likely to respond to them than in the Middle East. To be specific, perhaps the Shi‘i minority in Saudi Arabia, the Copts in Egypt, and the Christian and Baha’i minorities in Iran understand that religious discrimination by the autocratic governments of the region is par for the course. Because of this, even though they suffer from high levels of religious discrimination, they engaged in no protest or rebellion in 1998 (the most recent year for which data is currently available). By contrast, in eastern Europe, where religion was suppressed by communist regimes until the 1990s, groups that suffered from religious discrimination tended to react more forcibly in 1998: the Turks in Bulgaria engaged in large demonstrations; the Abkhazians in Georgia rebelled against the state; the Chechnians in Russia have been continuously rebelling against the state; and the Albanians in Kosovo both demonstrated and rebelled.

    Islam is not an explanation for the Middle East’s uniqueness. As expected, religion is particularly important in the Middle East, and the region is the most autocratic in the world. Yet Islam cannot fully explain these findings; and the disproportionate importance of religion and the presence of autocracy in the region do not lead to the increased levels of ethnic conflict one would expect.

    These findings show that the obvious explanations for phenomena are not always the correct ones. It is easy to assume that the prevalence of religious conflict in the Middle East is due to the region’s Islamic and autocratic character. It is also easy to assume that the region’s high concentration of autocracy is due to the region’s Islamic character. Yet neither of these assumptions appear to be correct. Furthermore, the findings of this study show that, except for the finding that religion is particularly important in the region, ethnic conflicts which take place in the Middle East are not considerably different from similar conflicts elsewhere.

    In sum, ethno-religious conflict in the Middle East is unique but not in the way many believe. Yes, religion is disproportionately important in the region’s ethnic conflicts and the region is the most autocratic in the world. But neither of these findings is explained by Islam. Furthermore, most Middle Eastern ethnic conflicts are otherwise similar to ethnic conflicts elsewhere.”

    ———————————————————————————————-

    As an aside; Democracy is most entrenched in countries that have been exposed to Christianity?

    …and we know that democracies are less prone to conflict. In fact I believe that no democratic countries have ever warred with each other.

    Anyway, religions role in Middle Eastern conflict is less important than the new atheists would care to acknowledge (but I feel no need to defend Islam).

    But my question remains – ‘how many of the incredibly blood-thirsty 2 billion Christians on the planet are engaged in violence at the moment?’

    “In 2002 religious conflicts became the majority of all intra-state conflicts listed in the State Failure dataset. Beginning in 2003 all of the religious conflicts in the SF dataset involved Muslims. ”

    - The Future of Religion and Domestic Conflict by Jonathan Fox, Department of Political Studies, Bar Ilan University.

    DD, it is clear that if religion is conducive to conflict in the modern era, it is Islam that is responsible and NOT Christianity.

    So if people make the distinction between Islam and Christianity, then I have no issue and would agree.

  5. Deacon Duncan Says:

    I think the issue of religion as a cause of violence is misstated, and that any attempt to argue that religion causes war is necessarily oversimplified and misleading. There are always multiple factors involved in any war; the question is, of those many factors, what role does religion play?

    If God (as traditionally conceived) were actually real and were actually concerned about human conduct and were actually able to do anything about it, then we ought to see one religion (i.e. the correct religion) whose role in needless violent conflict was to prevent it. If all religions are more or less neutral, that would be consistent with the conclusion that they’re all more or less the product of human effort, with no more power or influence than men are able to give them.

    If you’ve read Sam Harris’ book, I think you’ll see that he devotes far greater attention and concern to Islam than to Christianity, but Christianity still has some problems as well, in the “Left Behind” variety of popular dispensationalism. The conflict with the greatest potential for global disaster right now is a conflict that involves Zionism, Islam, anti-Semitism, and Christian dispensational premillennialism. I don’t think you can possibly make any sense of the issues involved without seeing the religious aspects of that conflict and its history, and I think Harris is quite right to suggest that, given the stakes involved, we ought to conduct a more thorough investigation of the various “ways of knowing” that religion invokes. Granted that science has outrun its moral constraints, it’s time we brought our moral systems (like religion) up to the 21st century as well, for our own protection.