Monday, September 20, 2004

Try, Try Again

I was just finishing up a lengthy post this morning when my browser crapped out and I lost the whole dang thing. Guess I should have saved a draft version along the way.

Oh well. This shortened version of what I wrote earlier will have to suffice.

Here is what riled me this morning: I got a form letter from the Foster Parents Plan telling me (and a gazillion others with foster children in Indonesia,) not to send our assigned charges any mail that might contain any religious text or symbolism. We might be perceived, the Plan tells us in the letter, as trying to 'influence religious beliefs' in Indonesia, and could thereby endanger the very people we are trying to help.

Here is a question for you, dear readers: Hands up, anyone who can tell me which religion dominates Indonesia. OK, you over there, the woman with the Madalyn Murray O'Hair t-shirt. Christianity, you say? Nope, sorry. There was considerable Christian missionary activity in Indonesia, but it was not terribly successful in getting converts. How about you, the guy flashing the peace sign, what do you think? Buddhism? Nope. You're wrong too. Nice try, though. How about you, the guy with the black robe and the white collar and blood spilling from your face, what's your guess? Islam, you say? You are absolutely right, sir. How did you know the answer to my question? Oh. First hand experience. I see.

Here, according to official CIA data, is the full breakdown of religion in Indonesia: Muslim 88%, Protestant 5%, Roman Catholic 3%, Hindu 2%, Buddhist 1%, other 1%.

What the Foster Parents Plan was trying to tell us in the letter, but were too politically correct to address directly, was that Muslims don't like competition from Christians. On occasion, and with increasing frequency, they deal with the situation in a very practical (from their point of view) and final way. What's that, you ask? Well, to be very blunt, dead Christians can't proselytize. Am I sure about this? Where have you been? See here and here for some examples.

What infuses my receiving of the letter with more than a touch of irony is my Examining Bigotry post of several days ago.

For decades, I have been a supporter of the Foster Parents Plan precisely because they had no official religious affiliation. The way I see it, if I want to help someone, I want to do it in an unconditional way. I don't want to force them to grace a church pew several times a week in order to get an allocation of rice or to be allowed to go to school. On the other hand, I don't think I should have to check to see if someone in any pictures I might send to a foster child is wearing a 'Jesus Rocks' t-shirt or a crucifix around their neck.

Because I feel that females in most of the world are second-class citizens (or worse,) the foster children I support are always girls. I want to give them the chance they might not otherwise have to get an education and a good head start in life. I want to help them and I am proud to help, to the extent that I can. Why don't all these Muslim fanatics around the world just cut us all some slack and let us live in peace? I will appreciate it. And the girls I support will appreciate it too.

Realistically, I think we are all facing a long, long wait for things to improve.

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