When the Karen were first visited by a European (a British diplomat) in 1795, the Karen were waiting for the fulfillment of a prophecy that they would one day be visited by a white man bringing with him a book, like they themselves lost long ago. This book was written by the Supreme God, Y'wa.
The Karen had resisted attempts by Buddhist monks to convert the people to Buddhism, but when Christian missionaries arrived many years later, many Karen readily embraced Christianity, which now makes up at least 30% of the Karen population. Animists and Buddhists make up the rest.
Journalist Phil Thornton describes the Karen as a very ethical and not greedy people, with a long history of oral literature, respect for elders, and an unwillingness to take bribes. They have never taken their fight outside their own territory.
- Karen Website
- Richardson, Don, Eternity in their Hearts, 1984, pp. 73-108.
- Thornton, Phil, with Adams, Phillip, The Karen Conflict and Life on the Thai-Burma Border, Late Night Live, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 3rd September, 2007.