The directive issued by Ministry of Cults and Religion Affair of Cambodia signifies two aspects: the extreme practices of Christian missionaries and the current situation of Buddhism in Cambodia.
Christian has employed tremendous missionaries to various locations of the world especially to those developing countries. In the past they used colonization to spread their religion and convert people. Now, they have changed from colonization to corporation with the facade of charitable organization, as well as from foreign pastors to domestic national shepherds. It is arguable that most of those charitable Christian organizations don't have genuine intention to help and service the people, they intend to convert and change the people to believe in their faith. Most effective strategy to convert people that those missionaries are carrying with them are the proselytizing and talking bad about their original religion. Undeniable that youth or people who come to churches in the hope of receiving some gifts, learning English, recreating or finding job for them. But step by step, the obvious thing is to brainwash them to believe in one god or creator which is psychologically and logically cleansing all their past belief. The theory of monotheism in the Bible unavoidably undermines divisive and religious conflict among the people. We can observe that Christianity is operating like a business corporate or mega-enterprises with full coffer.
Contradictory, Buddhism has been well-known for its tolerance, compassion and non-violence. Its teaching essence and principle stress on well-being and full freedom of human beings. Buddha's teachings have no agenda of conversion or proselytizing. The Buddha primitively advised his disciples that "Bhikkhus, go now and wander for the welfare and happiness of many (bahujana hitaya), out of compassion for the benefit, welfare and happiness of gods and men (bahujana sukhaya)". It is critical for Buddhism in Cambodia that Cambodian Buddhists are not really understanding their own religion; they are still firmly attaching themselves to animism and Hinduism. Importantly, the Cambodia Buddhist monk-order and its institution remained disorganized and unharmonious practices. Lacking of well-learned in their own religion, poverty and loosing monk-order organization leads to pitfall and easily deceived in Buddhist community. Coincidently, the directive happened during the frequent demonstrations and defrocking of Khmer Krom Buddhist monks, especially the controversial order commanded by Buddhist Supreme Patriarch of Cambodia to defrock Khmer Kampuchea Krom monk in Takeo. So we cannot predict that the directive has its original content or not.
By Bhikkhu Vodano Sophan
- Buddha's first advice of Bhikkhu monk missionary
- The associate press