Friday, July 27, 2007

Hinduism, Mormonism and more - Fundamentalist America in disarray

How the mighty have fallen.

Only seven years after inflicting Cheney/Bush upon the world the American Fundamentalist faces ruin on every front. Gay relationships barely draw notice (do they draw any notice?) in the Twin Cities -- at the very heart of fly-over land. The creationist movement, though far from spent, is in disarray. Polls suggest a dramatic increase in the number of Americans without religious affiliation (though still a smallish minority). Wiccans have their symbols in military cemeteries, and are an identified religious group in the military. Islam has come to Congress. So many evangelical figures have gone down to flames that scandals barely draw notice any more. Perhaps worst of all, current GOP presidential candidates range from incredibly lapsed Catholic (3 marriages?) to a flip-flopping non-Christian.

Into the ruins comes .... Hinduism [1]. Along with Jains, Hindus challenged the display of the ten commandments in the court (though they lost that fight). Now there've been Hindu prayers in the Senate, six years after Bush's post-9/11 invocations pointedly ignored "non-biblical faiths" and non-faiths:
Hindu Groups Ask '08 Hopefuls to Criticize Protest -

... Ante Nedlko Pavkovic, Katherine Lynn Pavkovic and Christan Renee Sugar -- identified in the Christian media as a couple and their daughter -- were removed from the Senate floor and arrested by Capitol Police on July 12 after they began shouting, "This is an abomination," and asking for forgiveness from God...

... A brief prayer was then delivered by Rajan Zed, a chaplain from Reno who was invited by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.).

Several Christian organizations spoke out against the prayer, before and after it was delivered. The American Family Association circulated a petition, urging its members to contact their senator to protest the prayer. "This is not a religion that has produced great things in the world," it read. The Rev. Flip Benham of Operation Rescue/Operation Save America issued a statement saying the prayer placed "the false god of Hinduism on a level playing field with the One True God, Jesus Christ."...

... A focus of the Christian organizations was the perception that Hindus are polytheistic. "Our national motto isn't 'In gods we trust,' " Janet L. Folger, president of Faith2Action, said the day before the Senate prayer.

However, the U.S. Hindu groups say this criticism reflects ignorance of the monotheistic underpinnings of their faith. Hinduism has many deities, all manifestations of one god.

According to the foundation, there are 2 million Hindus in the United States.
Hindusim is monotheistic? Umm, I don't think it's that simple (read the eb article by the way, it's fascinating). Mormonism, Islam (excl Sufism), Judaism, and Christianity are all pretty different theologies -- roughly equidistant from one another in some multi-dimensional doctrinal space. Hinduism is an order of magnitude away from the those four, as are Bahai, Unitarianism, Shinto, etc.

There's no way to paper over those differences, and they are disastrous for American fundamentalists. The world is moving on, and American politicians want those Hindu, Jain, Bahai, Buddhist, Shinto votes ...

[1] After reading the EB article it's not clear that "Hindu" is a theologically meaningful label, but I'll stick with it for this post.

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