Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hindu leads opening prayer at Nevada State Senate; Christian protestors heckle him

This is an example of acting against your very interests. A Hindu led prayers at the Nevada State Senate, and the response by (three) Christians was protest. Their words were:

“Lord Jesus, have mercy on us,” one shouted before he was escorted out. “We shall have no other God before you.”

All three were arrested. I am not sure if it is something arrest-worthy, the protest of Hinduism, unless they trespassed. This is a first amendment issue. But that is besides the point. The reason I am posting this is firstly to note with pride the American Jewish Committee's response: they said that a Hindu leading prayer promotes diversity, and they are 'deeply troubled' by the protests. I am proud of the way this leading Jewish organization immediately spoke out against intolerance.

The TRUTH is that Hinduism is not necessarily polytheistic, and even if it WERE (and there is a large body of evidence to suggest otherwise), Hindus are OUR FRIENDS, and major allies in the war against Islamofascism. It is ludicrous to alienate your allies at a time like this. At a time when Christians should be *mending fences,* this small group of nutjobs has decided it is better to burn bridges. What should be going on is more dialogue like this, and less heckling and castigating of the religions of allies. Now is not the time for that; moreover, there never is a good time for that.

I am aware of the constant reference in the bible (and Koran) to smashing idols, as well as reference of a war between early Jews (and Muslims, in the Koran) and idol worshippers, however, that specifically refers to the idol worshippers of that time. Those idol worshippers believed in human sacrifice and were, for the lack of a better word, barbarians. The war the Jews fought was specifically against the Canaanites, and was not a war of expansion. (beyond Israel) There is no directive in the bible for battles against idol worshippers worldwide. This contrasts from the Koran, which specifically calls for a Jihad against idol worshippers. (whether this is meant to have a present day implication is up for debate) With that said, the Jewish weekly prayers contain references about smashing idols (but basically requests Hashem to do so, and does not speak of Jews acting violently). So is there a theological justification for bigotry against Hindus?

My answer is no. Hindus are NOT idol worshippers in the original meaning of the term. They are some of the most humane people on the planet; there are even Hindus who are theologically vegetarian, out of concern for hurting any living being. This is in utter contrast from the practices of idol worshippers during the biblical age. Moreover, as far as I know, Hindus are NOT idol worshippers in the sense they are derided for, in that they do not believe there is literally a God inside an idol. Rather, they look at images of Vishnu and Krishna as fixed images to hold their minds upon as they pray to the God as represented by the idol. The following says it best:

It is not that Hindus worship their idols in vain. The idol is just a symbol, a form, with which the mind can be connected and concentrated upon. The ultimate reality is beyond the senses, beyond the known field of illusion or maya. All human activity including the positive and negative aspect of it is part of this great illusion from which man has no escape till he gains true knowledge.

More on this subject can be found here.

If Hindus are seen as idol worshippers according to their interaction with these statues, then one can just as easily point to Christians as idol worshippers, what with their crosses with Jesus in the church. In short, the bigotry against Hindus stemming from their supposed 'idol worship' has to stop.

And thus, I would like to reiterate this blog's support for Indians and of India. This nation and these people are to be aided, not denigrated.


Adil said...

Whenever Muslims have wielded sovereignty, the Islamic attitude towards infidels has always been the law of war. And the situation for polytheists has actually been much harsher.

Islamic law ranks the unbelievers in descending order of privilege: first, the People of Scripture, Jews and Christians; second, Zoroastrians; and finally, the polytheists. Usually, the options faced by the infidels are that they must either convert to Islam, or accept subjugation, or be killed. For polytheists, however, the option of subjugation is permanently suspended. They must convert or die.

Some Muslims nowadays try to argue that massacres of polytheists were always limited to the time of the Prophet. But given that such atrocities have long continued into the modern age (take the case of Emperor Aurungzeb in India, for instance), that argument should be interpreted for what it really is: a post-rationalisation justifying the killing of those who cannot now speak their side of the story. It's pretty sick.

Michael said...

I heard about this incident, too, and found it pretty, well, repulsive.

Did you watch the video? The Hindu prayer given was a pretty inoffensive and ecumenical, like any prayer at a legislative session. The outburst was simply not called for.

Red Tulips said...


Glad we are on the same page. I believe there needs to be reform in the way Jews and Christians theologically look at Hindus.


Thanks for your commentary. I know polytheists are ranked the lowest according to Islamic law. The treatment of Hindus by Muslims has a long and complicated history.