the past century all efforts to Christianize the Balinese
have failed, and the story of Nicodemus, the first Balinese
convert, is already well known. Nicodemus was the servant
and pupil of the first missionary who came to Bali. He allowed
himself to he baptized after some years in the service of
the missionary, but time went by and no other converts could
be made, so the missionary began to bring pressure upon
Nicodemus to baptize others. The poor boy, already mentally
tortured because his community had expelled him, declaring
him morally " dead," unable to stand the situation
any longer, killed his master, renounced his new faith,
and delivered himself to be executed according to Balinese
law. The scandal aroused in Holland brought about a regulation
discouraging missionary activities in Bali.
This, however, did not stop the missionaries; permits were
granted to them in 1891, again in 1920, and in 1924, when
Roman Catholics requested special concessions, but waves
of opposition from the Balinese thwarted these attempts.
Meetings were held among Balinese leaders to " stop
the catastrophe," and the permits were revoked.
But towards the end of 1930 the American missionaries again
succeeded in securing an entree, supposedly only to care
for souls already saved and not to seek new converts. But
quietly and unostentatiously they began to work among the
lowest classes of the Balinese. The more sincere of the
early missionaries had aimed at obtaining converts of conviction
and consequently had failed, but these later missionaries
wanted quicker results and followed more effective methods.
advantage of the economic crisis that was already making
itself felt in Bali, they managed to give their practically
destitute candidates for Christianity the idea that a change
of faith would release them from all financial obligations
to the community - all they had to do was to pronounce the
formula: " Saja pertjaja Jesoes Kristos - I believe
in Jesus Christ." If the man who was induced to pronounce
the magic words was the head of a household, the missionaries
claimed every member of the family as Christians and soon
they could boast about three hundred converts.
Soon enough the new Christians discovered they had been
misled; they had to pay taxes just the same, had become
undesirable to their communities, and were being boycotted.
In Mengwi, where the missionaries had their greatest success,
the authorities refused to release converts from their duties,
bringing endless conflict with the village and water-distribution
boards; lawsuits developed and trouble began.
In many villages regulations were written into the local
laws to the effect that those who were unfaithful to the
Balinese religion were to be declared " dead ";
meetings were held to discuss the possibility of banishing
the converts to remote places like Djimbrana, together with
" other criminals." The Christians had also become
deeply concerned when they found out that they could not
dispose of their dead, because they were not permitted to
bury them in the village cemeteries and all the other available
lands were either ricefields or wild places. At times the
situation became tense and nearriots took place. The alarmed
village heads reasoned with some converts and succeeded
in bringing back a number of them to the old faith.
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