Different Religions, Same Ethics?

by Ueli Minder, Mongolia-web.com, July 22, 2008

Ueli Minder, Director of the Golden Light Sutra Buddhist Center gives his view on the recent controversy of Christian and Buddhist supporters ventilating their opinion in the Mongolian media.

Ulan Baator, Mongolia -- For a long time I thought I shouldn't say something about what other foreigners working in Mongolia are doing. I have many friends here; friends with different religious backgrounds. And I'm respecting them for their work they do in Mongolia.

I don't have the slightest intention to put one religion above another, to praise one and to blame another. I'm here writing about the attitude I'm expecting from somebody claiming to be a religious person, especially if he has much power in voicing his ideas.

I'm concerned about the corruption in Mongolia (and in other countries
too), and I would be very happy if people would see the negative effects of corruption; for themselves, for the country and for individuals.

The only way to make them see this is by educating them about ethical behavior. All the religions are teaching ethical behavior; if people understand these teachings and apply them they will have harmony in their lives and they will contribute to the harmony in society.

Then I came across Mr. Lothe's article in the UB POST and I did some
small research about what the head of Eagle TV is writing about religions, and how much he cares about truth and mutual understanding – and I felt disturbed to see how he is trying to boast about his religion as being superior. Is this a way to solve the problems humanity is facing?

Human beings are human beings, and it's great if they live in peace together. Peace is so much needed these days, and in order to achieve peace we have to learn how to respect each other.

This respect is especially needed when somebody has the power to voice his ideas like Thomas Terry, the director of Eagle TV. I have been looking for this respect in the writings of Mr. Terry – and I couldn't find it. Unfortunately.

Mr. Terry is living in a country with a long Buddhist history and where a majority of the people consider themselves Buddhists. He wrote on March 10, 2008: "Certainly I'm no fan of Buddhism. The teachings of Buddhism cannot hold a candle to the life of Jesus Christ. As I've written previously, Christianity is superior to Buddhism ethically, historically, and factually."

Where is the respect?

In a previous article about corruption he wrote:

"Mongolian society has primarily been informed by the worldviews of Atheism and Buddhism; but they don't seem to be able to affect the kind of character in society that makes corruption a source of personal shame. If these worldviews actually had that ability, then one would expect with such a long history here that corruption's acceptability would not be on the rise. The same is true in other nations primarily informed by these worldviews." Mr. Terry, December 15 2006

Egil Lothe from Norway made a comment about this in an article in the UB POST. It's interesting how Mr. Terry reacts to this article - why isn't he looking at what he himself wrote?

That would be a Christian attitude, wouldn't it?

Then: Didn't Mr. Terry realize that in Mongolian society information about Buddhism was completely banned during the Communist period; and that there was almost no information available about Buddhism after the change in 1990? Only after the year 2000 there have been a TV series, the first books on Buddhism were printed in Cyrillic and only at a few places some regular Buddhist teachings in Mongolian language were available.

Why doesn't Mr. Terry write how since 1990 many Christian groups get lots of money from abroad to do their activities; how they have a TV Channel; how they are going from home to home, from ger to ger to convert people; how they have been building many churches (not with the money from Mongolians); how they are offering free English classes - mixed with teachings about Christianity.

Then he wrote: "…they (Atheism and Buddhism) don't seem to be able to affect the kind of character in society that makes corruption a source
of personal shame."

Only one remark:

It's true that no religion and philosophical system can prevent people from unethical behavior. Just think about all the Christian priests abusing young boys (this kind of behavior can be found in any religion, unfortunately). And think about all the corrupt and cruel dictators, presidents and prime ministers, claiming to be a follower of their religion – for example Mugabe, being a Catholic.

One may see the way Mr. Terry is manipulating facts in his other writings too; manipulating by stressing some facts and ignoring others Mr. Terry wrote on March 10. 2008: "Mongolia has gone from a single known Christian 15 years ago to more than 40,000 people who profess one form of Christianity or another. It has done this without state support, without a history of Christian adherence, and with being something new to the Mongolian heart and mind. Mongolian Christianity has gone from no churches 15 years ago to 400. Compare this to the resurgence of Mongolian Buddhism in the same period and the construction or restoration of only 52 temples—and some of those have received some government assistance because of their place in Mongolia's history."

When he writes "It has done this without state support" he doesn't mention how much money has been put into this missionary work from foreign Christian churches, for getting the best pieces of land for building Churches. He doesn't mention, how much Buddhists lack resources, how Buddhist teachers first have to be trained abroad and that the money some Buddhist monasteries received for the restoration is nothing in comparison to all the money coming from abroad for the building of big churches.

The attitude of Mr. Terry is getting again very clear when he writes: "If a Mongolian wants to be a Buddhist and openly express his Buddhism, let him."

What does this mean if he also wrote: "Christianity is superior to Buddhism ethically, historically, and factually." and "As one former Mongolian Buddhist said to me about why he finally rejected Buddhism in favor of Christ, 'In Buddhism there is no love.' Comparatively speaking, he is correct."

When Mr. Terry writes "let him be a Buddhist" it means 'let him be a Buddhist, but let him know that he is not that good as a Christian, and that he's completely mistaken.' This attitude is dividing human beings into higher ones and lower ones, into good ones and wrong ones.

I think Jesus would be sad to see what kind of game Mr. Terry is playing – playing the 'competition game' with religion.

If Buddhists would play this unworthy game, they would write on the internet the stories of Mongolians who have been sent to the USA by some Christian Churches and became Buddhists again after returning to Mongolia. But they don't do it. Why?

Maybe because as true Buddhists they respect other religions.

What about you, Mr. Terry?
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