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Anglican Conspiracy contention fictitious and fallacious

"The only contention of Lenin Benedict that has some elements of truth is that the Anglicans to a great extent hardly identified themselves with ordinary Tamil civilians and were focused on Colombo but even more on western climes and values."

by Satchi Sithananthan from Frankfurt

(January 11, Frankfurt, Sri Lanka Guardian) An Anglican Conspiracy by Lenin Benedict from Toronto is pock-marked with far too many inaccuracies. In the north, the Anglican Church is a small entity, the third in strength in relation to the other Protestant churches, the American Mission and the Methodists.

The Anglican Church hardly wielded any political influence; in fact none. It is like a broody hen that keeps its chicken under its wing. The Catholic Church had a major influence with the coastal community and they mostly belonged to the fisher caste. The LTTE drew most of its supporters from this community, Prabhakaran being one of them.

Mr S J V Chelvanayagam was not an Anglican. He was a member of the Tellipallai and Colombo churches of the American Mission. Lenin Benedict’s problem is not with the Anglican Church but with the high caste of the Tamil community and its counterpart in Colombo, the Tamil urban elite. There were the Ponnambalams, Chelvanayagams, Suntharalingams, Thambyahs and a whole lot who depended on the north for their political power but spoke and worked only for the elite and the high caste. Mr Chelvanayagam to some extent was an exception.

Unlike the American Mission and to some extent the Methodist Church, the Anglican Church was focused on the upper class elite and some of them supported the Federal Party of Chelvanayagam with which they were more comfortable. All the churches except for some individuals kept out of politics like a plague. All of them hated the LSSP and the Communist Party, the main reason why they could not make any impact in Jaffna despite their highly favourable stand on the language issue. The UNP was the favourite party of the Tamils even when the arch-racist Junius Jayewardene was its leader.

The LSSP and the Communist Party were seen as the voices of the socially discriminated castes, bus drivers, cigar rollers, municipal workers and lowly employees. Reckoned as a danger to the elitist bastions of upper caste urban elite, they were damned as irreligious and anti-God. Essentially, it was a class issue which Lenin Benedict has conceived inaccurately as an Aglican conspiracy. He should have tried to understand why a high caste arrogant Hindu like Professor C Suntharalingam took a stand against the admission of caste ostracized Tamils to the Maviddapuram Temple at Kankesanturai.

Lenin Benedict refers to the Vaddukoddai Resolution of 1976. Apart from Mr Chelvanayagam, the other leaders were Hindus one of them being G G Ponnambalam and another Mr Thondaman. Though there were people like Professor K Nesiah, an Anglican, supporting this move, the Anglican Church was not involved in at all; neither were the other churches.

The only contention of Lenin Benedict that has some elements of truth is that the Anglicans to a great extent hardly identified themselves with ordinary Tamil civilians and were focused on Colombo but even more on western climes and values. They were isolating themselves with the traditions and culture of the Tamils and looked up to the west as their models. None of the Christian schools propagated the fine arts traditional to the Tamils but then even the other schools, with the exception of Ramanathan College, were weak and indifferent on this aspect.

If the Protestants looked up to America and England as God’s favoured lands, there were people from Lenin Benedict’s community who looked up to the USSR for their liberation from the caste tyranny that prevailed in Jaffna. They expressed themselves with such names as Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky they gave to their children and in some cases, Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy.

All these reflected the sad spectacle in Jaffna where political ideologies never emerged from the grass roots but were dictated by the Colombo elite from the time of Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, all hailing from the high caste land-holding Tamil community with palatial residences in Colombo’s Cinnamon Gardens and pockets of political influence in Jaffna. They were the favourite locals of their British masters and regularly collected such accolades as Mudaliyars, of the Gate and others, Muhandirams and some of the top favourites got knighted too whenever the British monarch had a birthday or Britain celebrated the New Year.

They have brought this bad habit to Canada where every summer weekend is literally an honour awarding ceremonial affair where hollow speeches are made and inscribed metal plates are handed over, most of the receivers hardly deserving of any merit. This is a mutual back-tapping spectacle that betrays the community as pitiably shallow.

It was the Lanka Sama Samaja Party and the Communist Party that spearheaded the move for independence in Sri Lanka, another reason why the Tamil urban elites never supported these two parties. It is unfortunate Lenin Benedict, now having made his home in Canada is barking at the wrong tree and strangely when there is no reason whatsoever for raising such an issue at this time. Sri Lanka Guardian should have ignored his contribution as irrelevant, immaterial and extraneous to the current political situation in Sri Lanka.
- Sri Lanka Guardian

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