Friday, July 13, 2007

why interreligious dialogue is necessary

Interreligious dialogue is not going to convince everyone to put aside their differences and live in total harmony. But it can, at the very least, begin to raise public consciousness about the importance of interreligious issues and minimize stupidity like this: a loud Christian protest against a Hindu chaplain who was to give the opening prayer in the US Senate.

Three people were arrested Thursday after staging a noisy protest as a Hindu chaplain read the opening prayer at the US Senate, branding his appearance an "abomination."

US Capitol Police said the protestors, apparently Christian religious activists, were ejected from the chamber and charged with an unlawful disruption of Congress.

As Hindu chaplain Rajan Zed started to recite his prayer, one protestor was heard chanting "Lord Jesus, forgive us father for allowing a prayer which is an abomination in your sight.

"You are the one, true living God."

Fucking idiots.



daeguowl said...

While we're on Hindu's do you have an opinion on the fate of Shambo the Bull?

Kevin Kim said...

I'm of several minds about Shambo. The problem stems from the fact that the bull-- which has bovine tuberculosis but apparently isn't sick-- might spread infection to other animals.

I have to admit that, as someone who doesn't get into faith healing, fortune telling, and all the other magical aspects of religion, I have trouble seeing a cow as anything other than a source of food, clothing, and other products. The notion of "living symbol" is a bit problematic to me, despite Gandhi's eloquent explanation of why Hindus view cows as objects of veneration.

But that sentiment aside, I do respect the Hindu community's right to venerate their bull. The problem, as so often occurs in pluralistic Western societies, is that we see here a conflict between secular and religious law.

My own reflex, in such cases, is to follow the law of the land, because I'm thinking about the big picture: for overall pluralism to be possible, citizens have to respect the idea of a secular neutral ground. Religions that settle in the West have to yield on some issues.

This attitude is hard to swallow if you're a believer who (quite naturally) holds his/her religious beliefs to be primary, with the law of the land a distant second. But imagine if every religious community in a Western country had total freedom to practice even the most bizarre or cruel aspects of their tradition. We'd see people fighting for their right to administer clitoridectomies; we'd see even more animal sacrifice (ancient Hindus venerated cows but had no trouble sacrificing horses), and so on. As things stand, Western countries already allow a host of bizarre and possibly cruel religious practices; I don't want to add to that list.

I don't know how the judge is going to rule in this case, but for me, the Solomon's Solution would be either to have Shambo slaughtered as per British law, or to have Shambo shipped to India, there to spread disease (or not-- who knows?) as freely as he wishes. I wouldn't want the bull to remain alive on British soil.

I can't say I've been following this story all that closely, so my response may be a bit off the mark, depending on the actual details of the situation.


daeguowl said...

Or put in some kind of isolation bubble...good response thanks...