What is, but should not be
Child abuse in religious institutions. Lack of action from the leaders. Holy men making empty meaningless speeches. Religions run awry. Repeat – Child abuse in religious institutions. This is what is. This is what should not be. I am shocked. I am disappointed. Indeed, I am disgusted.
Two things happened recently. The Dalai Lama celebrated his 86th birthday and 1000+ unmarked graves of children were discovered in the grounds of Catholic schools in Canada. You can see historically accurate elements of the actions of the Canadian Government and the church portrayed in the Netflix series “Anne – with an E”. Note: This is an ongoing issue with almost weekly revelations of the discovery of more graves and survivors coming forward.
These two occurrences prompted me to think more deeply about what links there might be. The link is child abuse. I will not deal here with the decades-old well documented evidence of atrocities and child abuse in the Catholic Church and where the clergy offenders have been protected by the church. I will not discuss the Islamic terrorists like Boko Haram (and now ISIS) who abduct schoolgirls nor Hamas who abuse little boys and train them as child soldiers. Here I address one man and one group.
I am what I am
I like the Jerry Herman song “I am what I am”. The original version by Gloria Gaynor is the ringtone on my smartphone. It is true that I am what I am. I am born into a religion. I am born into a nationality. I could change both, but I chose not to.
I have, however, as a natural consequence of a curious mind and having interesting and intelligent friends of all degrees of religious observance, both hypothetically and academically discussed, studied and considered other religions. Had I wanted to make a change, Buddhism might have been high on the list of options. It appears to be a nice, kind, gentle, thinking, questioning, and all-embracing philosophy. Filled with meditation, introspection and study. Anyone, they tell me, can become a Buddha. It has never waged a Holy War. BUT … B U T – – –
A birthday message from the Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama issued a video on 6 July 2021 for his 86th birthday. Watch it here before you read on.
Did you think that his opening remarks about his great smile and how people like it were becoming of a holy man? Was his inane giggle (at 26 seconds) not similar to that of a guilty, naughty teenager? Were his comments about his handsome face and people loving him for it, appropriate for a religious leader? I thought not. Did these comments sound egotistical and arrogant? I thought, yes. He is, supposedly, a humble man.
He went on to describe why he loved living in India. He admired their freedom and religious harmony. This didn’t ring true at a time when Muslims are being massacred there. See the March 2020 Guardian article “Inside Delhi: Beaten, lynched and burnt alive”. Is the Dalai Lama unaware of this or does he ignore it as he ignores child abuse?
In the same month, Sameer Yasir/Delhi and Billy Perrigo/London wrote an article in Time.com headlined “Hate Is Being Preached Openly Against Us.” After Delhi Riots, Muslims in India Fear What’s Next. “We will never come back here to live among Hindus,” they quoted a Muslim man fleeing Delhi. “The divide between Hindus and Muslims is unbridgeable now.”
Is the Dalai Lama blind or deaf to the many reported incidents of religious intolerance or is he too stupid to recognize it or is he lying for the sake of expediency?
What about child abuse? Some recent history
I recalled, as I listened to that birthday message, what I had read over the years about Buddhism and the Dalai Lama regarding child abuse. It isn’t pleasant.
In September 2018, Deutsche Welle (DW) wrote: “Dalai Lama admits he knew about Buddhist teachers’ sexual abuse”. Read the article in which the Dalai Lama said “I already did know these things, [it’s] nothing new,” … “Twenty-five years ago… someone mentioned about a problem of sexual allegations”
He knew of the abuse in 2018 and said that he would investigate/discuss it at a meeting in Thailand. Why did he not take action immediately? He has shrugged off and ignored the child abuse for almost 30 years.
In October 2019, the Bangkok Post wrote “Temples no longer safe for children.” The article speaks of sexual slavery and states that “News about monks’ sexual misconduct has become so frequent that it no longer shocks.”
It’s no different in Cambodia. Paul Millar of the Southeast Asia Globe wrote in February 2018, in his article titled “CHILD SEX ABUSE: The sound of silence”
An unregulated pagoda environment, the status of monks, and the downplaying of male rape means that sexual abuse of children in the monkhood is likely more widespread than anyone dares to admit.
And still, nothing is being done.
Nor is it safe in Bhutan. As far back as June 2013, Vishal Arora wrote in the Washington Post: “Bhutan’s Buddhist monks accused of sexually molesting boys”.
There are so many occurrences of child rape, sexually transmitted infections and HIV that have been reported among young monks, that health officials make condoms available to monastic schools. Whaaaaaat? They don’t do anything about the rape but give them condoms! Why? So that the rape can be safer? INSANITY RULES!
The future ?
The Dalai Lama ends his birthday message by committing himself to non-violence and compassion (at 2’46”) He repeats this three times, asking others to do the same, but he is clearly doing nothing to demonstrate his stance for non-violence. His compassion doesn’t stretch to stopping Monks from raping little boys entrusted to their care. He hasn’t done anything for 30 years.
Does any religion specifically, clearly and unequivocally state that child abuse or sexually assaulting little boys and girls is prohibited? It isn’t stated in the Ten Commandments of the Abrahamic faiths. Has raping little boys and girls become acceptable simply because it appears to be common practice?
If there was a purpose for religion, might one begin to believe that it has outlived its purpose?
Ask yourself if religion ever had any moral value, does it still? Might it not have outlived that use? If not, how do we make it work for the good of humanity?
I do not wish the Dalai Lama a happy birthday. First, he must stop the rot. I do leave this in your lap. In your mind. On your conscience and mostly – deep in your heart.
A rhyme for you to complete: The one eL Lama he’s a priest. The 2 eLL Llama, he’s a beast. The 3 eLLL you won’t find … ?
My gratitude to Iza Grek for her editing skills and wise input.
DISCLAIMER: This article contains the facts and raises many questions. Don’t shoot the messenger. This does not necessarily reflect the opinion of SAFREA or the Safrea Chronicle or of its members