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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Atheism and Buddhism - causes of corruption in Mongolia? I don't thinks so!

So, I found this letter wriitten, by the president of the Buddhist Federation of Norway, in response to some article written by the president of Eagle TV, Thomas Terry. Mr. Terry insinuates that Atheism and Buddhism have something to do with corruption, WTF??? Pfffff, typical of those thousands of missionaries that arrive in Mongolia to convert people into their religion. What 70 years of socialism didn't achieve, these people will.... Buddhism, Shamanism and Mongolian culture in general will become something from the past if Mongolians continue believing these people....
This is the letter (copied from here):
Thomas Terry on Buddhism and corruption in Mongolia – an answer to his response
Wednesday, 16 July 2008
By Egil Lothe, President of Buddhist Federation of Norway

My article “Buddhism – the cause of corruption in Mongolia?” published in UB Post and Mongolia Web drew attention to viewpoints on corruption in Mongolia expressed by Mr. Thomas Terry, the president of Eagle Channel in UB, on his homepage[1]. Judging from his emotional outburst in his comments to my article this seems to have caused him some embarrassment. The main point in my article was a discussion of his allegation that the prevalence of corruption in Mongolia can be explained by the influence of Atheism and Buddhism on the Mongolian people. This is how he expresses himself:

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[2].
In other words the prevalence of corruption in Mongolian society can be explained by a deficiency in the worldviews of Atheism and Buddhism that prevents Mongolians from perceiving corruption as morally offensive. Thomas Terry generally expresses himself clearly, and so also here where he elaborates on this point:

Corruption can only be solved when people make a personal decision that corruption is so morally offensive that they will not participate in it at any cost. When we view corruption as personally offensive and destructive to personal character, then we will take pains to avoid it and consistently condemn it in deeds as well as words instead of the situation we have now – excusing it and finally accepting it as so much of Mongolian society seems to have done. [3]
This reasoning clearly justifies in his thinking the title of his article: “Why do Mongolians view corruption as “acceptable”” He does not say “some Mongolians” but “Mongolians”. Presumably he excepts the 1,5% Christian Mongolians from this characterization but as far as the Atheist and Buddhist Mongolians are concerned (the great majority of Mongolians), is it precisely his arguments quoted above that target them as the objects of his characterization (underlined above). This is nothing but a vicious attack on the moral integrity of most of the Mongolian people. Thomas Terry’s attempt in his response to my article to claim that he has been falsely charged with attacking the Mongolian people[4] is therefore without any credibility whatsoever. I am in fact surprised by his cowardice when confronted with his insulting allegations regarding the Mongolian people. Rather than defending his statements that Atheist and Buddhist Mongolians are morally blind in relation to corruption due to the influence of the worldviews of Atheism and Buddhism, which thus facilitates corruption, he makes a pathetic attempt to avoid the condemnation of Atheist and Buddhist Mongolians (which he will surely receive once they read his article)[5] by making the ludicrous statement that my analysis of his article is a “misunderstanding”. However, strangely he also adds a new insult to his previous insults in his response to my article:

What I did do was make a social commentary on the historic influence of Atheism and Buddhism and ask why, if these worldviews are so constructive, hasn't their increasing influence and exercise here facilitated a dramatic drop in corruption instead of a dramatic rise?[6]

The derogatory insinuations expressed in this quotation and elsewhere above have not been supported by any evidence. On the contrary, as I have shown in my article, as far as Buddhism is concerned, its moral stand against corruption is crystal clear. I would therefore suggest that Thomas Terry pay more emphasis on speaking truthfully about Buddhism. Unfortunately the misrepresentation of Buddhism in his present article is not an isolated case, but only one of many others found in his writings[7] . In the present case I suggest that if Thomas Terry is not ready to stand up and defend his accusations against Atheist and Buddhist Mongolians he should have the moral courage to offer them an apology for his untrue and insulting statements.

Finally, regarding Eagle Television I would like to repeat that I do find it disturbing that a person, being as careless about truth concerning other religions, as Thomas Terry has proven himself to be, is allowed to operate a television channel in Mongolia. Presumably the channel will be sufficiently scrutinized in regard to this particular area. To the extent these attitudes of Thomas Terry are reflected in the editorial policies of his channel any renewed discussions about the future of Eagle Television are surely justified.

[2] ibid.
[3] ibid
[4] See his response on:
[5] The article (as referred to in the previous note) has also been translated into Mongolian
[7] I will deal with these misrepresentations in a separate article.

1 comment:

Samuel Skinner said...

Ha. Reminds me of the "Protestant work ethic", which was broadened tothe Christian work ethic, than the Jewish work ethic, than the Confucist work ethic... apparently some people can't seem to realize that culture is fluid. After all, the same elements that are considered good for each one have been flipped around to show how they couldn't possibly succeed.