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Agree to Disagree
If you have ever been bugged by a housefly, compassionate and polite words of rejection is just not enough. Some of these, in fact most, are just as persistent as a housefly. (With no offence, an analogy only) What I am saying is that even after you have expended using all the polite answers and phrases spelled out in this book, they will still bug you. They have the right to share their beliefs and if they respectfully leave me alone when I say “No, thank you”, then I will not feel disrespected or harassed. I think it is the prevalence of many unpalatable behaviours by many of these people that have led to the need to come up with this book, I believe. We are lucky because this place is governed by laws and rules. If within school premises or work places, I will politely tell them “NO, I am not interested and Thank you”, and make it known that I do not wish to carry on the conversation with them anymore and walk away. If they still persists, I will ask for their name and contact number and tell them that I will be taking the information to the Principal or boss for a solution to my problem, which is someone is harassing me even after I have made my intention clear. If they refuse, I will tell them to go away or I will use handphone to snap a picture of them for filing a complaint. If in public places, I will tell them it will be the police station that I will be filing a report. All these still can be done politely and calmly with sufficient warning. And it is also a kind and compassionate reminder that what they do can run afoul of the law here. Cannot play play…
Is there a link to the Chinese version?
This book exemplifies the respect with which Buddhism treats all others of differing views even in trying circumstances. It is a religion’s ability to live its teachings that differentiates the truth from the untruth and the enlightened from the unenlightened.
To You Your Religion, and To Me Mine
EXCELLENT! This is a firm and assertive response to the mindless and insensitive attempts to religious conversion. I am a Muslim, and I’ve always respected the Buddhists for the peace and compassion that you preach and practice. My respect for you has been elevated with this book. As the Al-Quran says: “To you your religion, and to me my religion.” If I may suggest: you should start a wiki and have people contribute more responses to the scenarios you have painted. People can and should be more assertive in their responses. Please keep up the good work.
Suggestion to start a wiki
It is a very good suggestion. As we are a multi-racial and multi-religious country, we should start one.
The three blind men and the elephant
When I was in primary school, I read a story of the three blind men and the elephant. These men were blind at birth and had never ‘seen’ an elephant before. They were very excited when they learnt that an elephant was passing through their village with its owner.
When their opportunity came to ‘see’ the elephant, the first blind man got to feel and hold onto the elephant’s tail. He then knowingly proclaimed that the elephant was like a rope. The second blind man was going over one of the elephant’s ears and he refuted the first man’s ‘view’ by saying that the elephant was like a huge banana leaf. The third blind man who had his arms around one of the elephant’s enormous hind legs, said that both his friends were dead wrong! He said that the elehant was in fact a tree trunk. All the three men refused to budge from their positions and even became abusive when challenged.
What is the moral of this simple children’s story? When we refuse to investigate and verify our own views and the views of others but instead, choose to convince others of our own views, we will not be able to ‘see’ reality for what it is.
Publication is Informational and Useful
This is an excellent reference especially since most of my friends and I have encountered the instances that are cited in the e-book and appreciate some guidance on the possible responses. In some cases, the encounters are exacerbated due to the power dynamics involved. This is where Buddhists will need to continue to be patient, firm and polite. Kudos to the outreach effort! Look forward to more of these initiatives 🙂
Applauds the timely efforts to dispel the myths of conversion.
Useful for all
Simple and good guide, even for Christians.
i think this book is fantastic. i’m not a buddhist myself but i subscribe to some of the beliefs. everyone in singapore should read this and understand the true meaning of freedom of religion.
it’s time to act against bigoted views
great work, folks!
it’s time for individual buddhists (and buddhist groups) to act against religious bigots out there to proselytise and slam other faiths in the name of their own God.
i cannot say i know every religion well, but it is common in most teachings that we should respect each other, and be humble. good article. respect and humble does not mean giving in.
sadu sadu sadu
Having A Strong Buddhist Faith
The new guidebook helps when one is facing proselytising from another group. Proselytising has been going on for many (thousand) years. Besides the points given in the book, Buddhists must be strong in their faith. Buddhists must possess strong will power so that they will not be proselytised. When one has weak will power of one faith, the person can easily cross over to the other camp. Buddhists must have strong determination and strong will power of their faith in event of sickness, problems and etc. A strong mind is very important so that one will not be tempted by the “Goodies” or Force from the other camp.
Strong determination based on internalising of Dharma
Strong determination should be grounded though. By learning the Dharma (Right View and Understanding) and putting it into practice in our daily lives, we can internalise the Dharma and know exactly why Buddhism is good for others and us too.
There is no need to force anything here once you genuinely know how the Dharma benefits all.
thank you for your efforts! SADHU! SADHU! SADHU!!
dear dhamma brothers and sisters of the project team behind this excellent guide book, thank you for compiling this guide book! your meritorious acts not only will benefit the buddhist community, it will also benefit friends,brothers and sisters from other religious communities.
I like to share something from real life – a friend’s cousin, who is currently attending missionary school, constantly faces proselytism. in fact,recently, when he opted not to attend missionary sessions, he was given demerit points and when his parents tried to approach the authority, an officer from the authority did not approve his parents’ appeal for his exemption from those sessions. No doubt in the guide book, you have listed out appropriate actions that could be taken, however, in reality, they might not work. under such circumstances, the parents and their kids were left bewildered and did not know what could be the next action. it would be great if additional guidance could be provided
we need to stand firm and stand together to make our voices loud and clear.
Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!!
Proselytism in Mission School
I would like to ask if Mission School can demand that everyone attend missionary sessions? Even for non-Christians?
Even Boys Brigade, if you wish to raise to a senior level, you need to take Christian Education course. Is that allowable for a secular school education system?
Anyone knows what is MOE’s stand on this?
Missionary School & Missionary ECAs
As long as you opt to attend missionary school, chapel service and/or weekly sermon session and/or mass are compulsory for non-Christian, unless you are a Muslim (I also wonder why the auto exemption). Thus, such practices have been a deep rooted practice since the colonial days. Guess you gotta live with it.
Boy’s Brigade & scout movement are excellent examples of “successful” proselytising effort by missionary from the West. So Buddhist gotta introspect of why their isn’t any foresight to have similar outreach effort to attract the youths.
The objective of a missionary school is an obvious one. Thus, it is the choice of parents of other faith to make the informed choice of what school to send their children to. It is also of great importance for parents to educate their children in the Buddha-Dhamma, so their children are fully aware of their own faith as well. For the sake of maintaining religious harmony, we should and must inform the relevant authority, MOE, Home Affair Ministry and/or Press/Media on cases whereby teachers who proselytise in secular schools.
I beg to differ. No, you certainly don’t have to just live with it in frustration. Let’s stop being so passive.
If you refer to MOE’s forum letter reply, No proselytisation allowed in schools, the Director of Schools, Wong Siew Hoong, clearly stated these guidelines for mission schools:
It is definitely not compulsory for students to attend such religious activities. I guess most people are still unwillingly doing it today because they are not aware of such MOE policies? We should raise awareness so that more people can be informed. We should also learn to be more assertive in withdrawing from such activities, rather than continuing to suffer in silence.
efforts to convert us
Missionaries & their co-religionists will stop at nothing to ‘harvest souls’, even to the point of irritating non-believers. Yes, your book did offer some tag lines, but let me share about one hardcore lay missionary. She happened to be my colleague. She happened to be the only believer of her ‘sect’. Being shy but with a heart burning with missionary zeal, she leaves missionary tracts on non-believers’ tables. After one long talk with her telling her I am a staunch Buddhist and she needs to respect other religions, she stopped putting missionary tracts on my table but she did not stop putting religious tracts on other non-believers’ table.
Religion in the office
In an ex-company I worked in, I had a colleague who is a staunch Christian. Being outspoken, she would often tell us why she thinks her religion is the best and at times, attack other religions. Most statements she made on other religions were wrong and based on mis-information.
Being Chinese, most colleagues simply keep quiet to “maintain harmony”. There was once when i tried to rebut her and she went on attack mode. After that, there is this awkward silence and “truce” in the department.
It is a challenge in the work place to manage colleagues like these. On one hand, you want them to stop their bashing of Buddhism, yet at the same time you want to maintain a good working relationship with her and within the department. These ppls are usually the most hardcore ones and would not accept anything that challenge their views.
This is indeed a challenge some of us faced in the work place today and there is no easy way to handle these situations. Among Buddhist, we do not yet been able to form support groups to help one another and to discuss these situations and help one another.
I can’t imagine how things would be like if she was the boss…
This is exactly why I’m a Buddhist.
While I agree with this content, many Christian missionary schools make chapel session one period during the school hours. As it is during schol period, the students are ALL expected to attend the chapel session (except the Muslims are automatically exempted). This is a very sneaky practice in many missionary schools.
They have forgotten that even missionary schools are government-aided schools. In such a school, all the top management are Christians.
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