A Buddhist State?

A number of prominent Buddhists in Ceylon, some with political ambitions, constituted themselves “The Buddhist Commission of Inquiry” two and one-half years ago. This year, the group made its report, entitled “The Betrayal of Buddhism.”

As expected, it proved to be a highly partisan document, re-writing the “good old” (Buddhist) days of Ceylon’s history in a manner which no modern historian could approve. But the document proved illuminating as a mirror of racialist views.

The Buddhist re-write of history said that the Buddhist kings of Ceylon had a superb kingdom which was completely spoiled when the Portuguese invaded in 1505, followed by the Dutch and finally by the British in 1795. “The Betrayal” pointed the way back to the palmy days before foreign rule began.

(Some have pointed out that Singalese rule was at its lowest ebb when the Portuguese came. When foreign rule ceased in 1947, Ceylon was a state at peace, with its security founded on the rule of law. Its welfare government gave citizens a widespread system of education and medical care).

Modern Buddhists, bitten by excessive nationalism, dream about another kind of state. As outlined in “The Betrayal,” all religious and charitable bodies should be required to pay income taxes—except Buddhist temples and their lands. This exception, it was explained, would serve as compensation for losses suffered by Buddhist institutions due to foreign conquest.

Other recommendations: A representative Buddhist Council should care for the Buddhist religion; the capital should be moved from Colombo in order to get away from undesirable foreign influences such as horse racing, which should be banned.

The greatest concern to the Christian Church was the commission’s recommendations that within two years all schools be run by the government. A majority of Protestant churches in Ceylon are more or less dependent for support upon the staffs of nearby schools. Any religion, however, which wishes to run a private school can do so at its own expense and with all pupils of its own faith.

In any state school, if the pupils are 51 per cent or more of one faith, the head of the school must be of that faith. The teachers of any particular faith must be in proportion to the number of students in the school of that belief. Coeducation is forbidden.

Finally, the group recommended that it be a punishable offense to seek conversion of a person under 21 in any school.

The number of such fanatical Buddhists does not seem to be large, and Christian leaders do not expect the report to become law. They do feel, however, that the days of denominational schools (tax-supported, at present) are numbered.

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Hindu Praises

Nine prominent Indian Hindu leaders, in a joint statement at Madras, praised the work of Christian missionaries and assailed charges made against foreign missions by some state government groups.

The Hindu leaders said, “It is not our experience that they seek to undermine patriotic or national loyalties.”

This charge was brought against missionaries in July by the Madhya Pradesh government.

Among the signers of the joint statement were Jadunath Sarkar, former vice chancellor of Calcutta University; B. V. Narayana Reddy, general manager of the Bank of Mysore; Dr. P. Subbarayan, former chief minister of Madras and now a member of parliament; and Teja Singh, retired chief justice of the Punjab High Court.

Church Merger

A proposed merger of Anglican and Protestant churches in northern India and Pakistan has been approved by the 12th General Assembly of the United Church of North India.

Five bodies are involved. They are the United Church of North India, the Church of India, Pakistan, Burma and Ceylon (Anglican); the Methodist Church in southern Asia, the British and Australian Methodist missionary societies and a Baptist Church of British Commonwealth origin.

The plan will be presented by the negotiating committee to the churches involved after the committee’s next meeting in April, 1957. If approved, the union will be known as the Church of North India and Pakistan.

The United Church of North India was formed from American Congregational, Evangelical and Reformed groups, British and American Presbyterian bodies and United Church of Canada mission congregations. It has a membership of over 400,000.

Hong Kong Rallies

An estimated 2,500 conversions resulted at more than 200 rallies attended by 75,000 during a two-week Baptist evangelistic crusade in Hong Kong and nearby Macao.

The campaign, sponsored by the Foreign Missions Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, was the first of its kind in the area.

Speakers included three from the United States, two from Formosa, two from Japan and one from Thailand. American speakers were Dr. Forrest C. Feezor, executive secretary of the Baptist General Convention of Texas; Dr. J. Howard Williams, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and Dr. Ralph Herring, pastor of First Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

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Clubbings On Bus

Brutal treatment by Egyptian secret police was described by an expelled Australian chaplain after his arrest in Suez.

The Rev. William Robert Tyler, chaplain of the Seamen’s Mission at Port Said, stated:

“Eighteen of us were put into a bus and we were made to sit with coats over our heads. After a while, one of the guards, who must have been a hefty fellow, went along the gangway of the bus and clubbed us all at the back of the head with a rifle butt.”

New Translations

The Wycliffe Translators plan to send teams into Papua and the Australian Trust Territory of New Guinea—a territory with hundreds of languages and few Scriptures.

The latest government list names 471 languages in Papua and Australian New Guinea. Two of these have the whole Bible; 10 have the entire New Testament and 39 have some lesser portion of the Bible. This leaves 420 languages with no part of the Scriptures. Most of the languages have not been reduced to writing.

Digest …

► American missionaries take over work of two British mission groups in Egypt. Personnel placed under house arrest.… Rt. Rev. Kimber Den, former Anglican Bishop of Chekiang, China, released and “publicly exonerated” after four years as prisoner of Reds.

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