Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

July 14, 2007

Hindu Prayer in Senate Disrupted

Filed under: culture, politics, religion — codesmithy @ 9:26 am

For the first time, a Hindu prayer was used to open the senate.  Some people saw fit to let the prayer leader know that in their eyes, he was committing blasphemy.  Breaking the first commandment of their faith and possibly others.
The display was basically a litmus test.  The senate is supposed to be one of the most deliberative bodies in our government.  The prayer leader was trying to be conciliatory,  he wasn’t pointing out particular deities to worship, rather trying to communicate that God is everywhere and the need to reflect and meditate on the greater meaning in the world.  Even as an atheist, I agree with the overall message to meditate, try to take into account a view of the world beyond yourself and try to act accordingly.  The God being everywhere is something I disagree with, but since he is Hindu, I respect his attempt to reach out to common values that we share.  An attitude that was surely lacking in the people who disrupted him.

The fact that the attempt to honor the diversity of this country was greeted so shamefully at one of our most prestigious government institutions, in a nation that holds that there is a freedom of religion and that there is a separation of church and state, means that this country and this government is not living up to its ideals.

The fact that the hecklers were Christian makes me question the other agendas that they push in politics, such as the ten commandments and placing them in public spaces.  Here is a short summary of the 10 commandments for reference.

  1. One God, no others
  2. No idols, and no worshiping them
  3. No abusing the name of God
  4. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy
  5. Honor your father and mother
  6. No murder
  7. No adultery
  8. No stealing
  9. No lying
  10. No coveting your neighbor’s possessions or wife

Commandments 6,8 and 9 are pretty universal, no problem, put them everywhere.  The no adultery commandment (7) is in general a good idea, but not strictly universal.   Swingers would a subset of people that might disagree with  it, and it is tough to prove actual harm unless it fell under lying. Commandments 5 and 10 are more questionable than adultery, since they don’t cause harm, but it could be argued that they are needed to reinforce 6,7,8 and 9.  If you don’t honor your mother and father, you might not respect authority meaning you’ll be more likely to break the others.  Commandment 10 reinforces commandment 7 and 8, in that if you aren’t coveting those things, then you are less likely to steal them or attempt to commit adultery.  Commandments 1, 2, 3 and 4 are not universal and are the fundamental basis for rejecting attempts post all 10 in public places.

The fact that people insist on the whole set is problematic.  Usually, the people in favor appeal to the universal values, represented in 6,8, and 9.  It is tough to argue that you think murder, stealing and lying are OK.  But, the rider commandments 1, 2, 3 and 4 are not universal.  So, the burden is either to reject 1,2,3 and 4, and require that the commandments are not put up as a block, or we honor diversity and we allow the ten commandments in, but we also also allow other religious documents to go up with other similarly controversial statements.  The people who argue for the commandments in public places usually say they favor the diversity approach, because it gets them what they want.  However, when it comes time to actually honor the diversity, any statement that could be taken as a deviation from Christian faith is not accepted.  In fact, the true reason that they want the commandments posted is not for the universal values, but rather to forcefully inject the non-universal ones, as often and as loudly as they can, everywhere.  Just like these people did to impose their views in a very modest prayer.

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