Have you seen a recent article on the Island titled ‘Buddhism – “The Best Religion in the World” award’ ? If you haven’t, you should. This wonderful article proceeds thus:
The Geneva-based International Coalition for the Advancement of Religious and Spirituality (ICARUS) has bestowed “The Best Religion in the World” award this year on the Buddhist Community. This special award was voted on by an international round table of more than 200 religious leaders from every part of the spiritual spectrum. It was fascinating to note that many religious leaders voted for Buddhism rather than their own religion although Buddhists actually make up a tiny minority of ICARUS membership. Here are the comments by four voting members:
Jonna Hult, Director of Research for ICARUS said “It wasn’t a surprise to me that Buddhism won Best Religion in the World, because we could find literally not one single instance of a war fought in the name of Buddhism, in contrast to every other religion that seems to keep a gun in the closet just in case God makes a mistake. We were hard pressed to even find a Buddhist that had ever been in an army. These people practice what they preach to an extent we simply could not document with any other spiritual tradition.”
A Catholic Priest, Father Ted O’Shaughnessy said from Belfast, “As much as I love the Catholic Church, it has always bothered me to no end that we preach love in our scripture yet then claim to know God’s will when it comes to killing other humans. For that reason, I did have to cast my vote for the Buddhists.”
A Muslim Cleric Tal Bin Wassad agreed from Pakistan via his translator. “While I am a devout Muslim, I can see how much anger and bloodshed is channeled into religious expression rather than dealt with on a personal level. The Buddhists have that figured out.” Bin Wassad, the ICARUS voting member for Pakistan ‘s Muslim community continued, “In fact, some of my best friends are Buddhist.” And Rabbi Shmuel Wasserstein said from Jerusalem, “Of course, I love Judaism, and I think it’s the greatest religion in the world. But to be honest, I’ve been practicing Vipassana meditation every day before minyan (daily Jewish prayer) since 1993. So I get it.”
However, there was one snag – ICARUS couldn’t find anyone to give the award to. All the Buddhists they called kept saying they didn’t want the award. When asked why the Burmese Buddhist community refused the award, Buddhist monk Bhante Ghurata Hanta said from Burma, “We are grateful for the acknowledgement, but we give this award to all humanity, for Buddha nature lies within each of us.” Groehlichen went on to say “We’re going to keep calling around until we find a Buddhist who will accept it. We’ll let you know when we do.”
It’s dated September 13,2014, and is available on the island.lk, home of one of Sri Lanka’s most famous newspapers.
It’s also completely false.
This story, reported in a solemn, firsthand perspective (as if whoever was writing it was actually in Geneva, taking firsthand accounts from a meditating rabbi) is actually an old hoax that surfaced way back in July 2009 (see http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/onecity/2009/07/freedom-from-religion-buddhism-wins-best-religion-in-the-world-award.html).
However, even the shortest read through the text would lead anyone to smell a rat. At the time, it sparked massive debates across blogposts. ICARUS – this mythical Geneva-based International Coalition for the Advancement of Religious and Spirituality – does not exist. No serious body be so stupid as to bestow an award for the best religion in the world, unless they’re that infamous troll site the Onion. Nor, for that matter, would you find a rabbi confessing to practice Vipassana before his prayers. It’s not brain surgery or rocket science. The average Sri Lankan journalist (of which there seem to be many, like Sri Lankan photographers and Sri Lankan ants) should easily be capable of figuring this out.
Unfortunately the Island (est 1981) either hires BBS militia or coma patients to write and edit their news for them, because not only are they running some nonsense dug up from a Google search, they’ve also clearly run it without performing that most basic of journalistic duties – verification. Yes, they’re so bad that they need to be reminded of how to write news by people on Facebook and WordPress. It’s that bad. I’d take a wild guess and say the original wordslingers who ran that paper must now be flipping like salmon in their graves. I’d also say their standards are going to the dogs, except that would be an insult to perfectly respectable dogs.
Let’s give the Island a clap, folks – because clearly nobody else is going to.