I got this link from one of my students in the “Doing Theology Interreligiously” class–we are having such a great time!
The story is about the first Hindu member of Congress, Tulsi Gabbard: she is a Democrat from Hawaii. The story mentions that she will be taking her oath of office on the Bhagavad-Gita, which I think is really exciting and very cool. As I was thinking about WHY I am so excited about this event, I realized that it is because I think religious diversity, in and of itself, is a good thing for a society–and for the whole human community, for that matter. Therefore, I think that public, visible expressions of that diversity are good and valuable for everyone. The fact that the United States finally has a Hindu member of Congress is a positive sign of the growing number of Hindus in this country, as well as the respect and acceptance of Hinduism in general. Both those things are a cause for celebration.
You might think that because I’m a Lutheran pastor that I would [or should!] want everyone to be a Christian, but honestly, I don’t. Instead, I believe that religious diversity–like other types of diversity–glorify God, and bear witness to the surprising and abundant creative work of God in the world. Religious diversity enriches all of us, as we learn so much about the world and about ourselves when we worship together, talk together, study together and work together. And, even more, we gain new insights about who God is and how God is in relationship to us in these interreligious conversations. As a Christian, I want to share what I know of God in Jesus Christ–God’s saving grace, and God’s great love. But I also want to learn from my Hindu colleagues about how they relate to Devi, for example, or how they celebrate Diwali. I firmly believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in these conversations, transforming us in new and exciting ways, walking with us as we seek to love our neighbors by honoring their faith traditions.
In the article, Gabbard says, that she hopes her new position in Congress will inspire other Hindu-Americans to be proud of their faith. She said: “On my last trip to the mainland, I met a man who told me that his teenage daughter felt embarrassed about her faith, but after meeting me, she’s no longer feeling that way….He was so happy that my being elected to Congress would give hope to hundreds and thousands of young Hindus in America that they can be open about their faith and even run for office, without fear of being discriminated against or attacked because of their religion.”
And that’s something we all can [and should!] support–Christians and Hindus alike.