Hinduism is not cast in caste

Millenial questions haunt various religious traditions, and their adherents are too often forced into the roles of apologist or antagonist. … Continued

Millenial questions haunt various religious traditions, and their adherents are too often forced into the roles of apologist or antagonist. Islam is hounded by the questions of extremism and violence–of the past and present; Christianity deals with a history of the crusades and inquisition of yore, and church scandals today; Jews are bedeviled now by the Palestinian question; and Hindus, well, there is the caste conundrum.

A hierarchical system of caste based discrimination against those belonging to the “lowest” castes, often referred to as Harijans or Dalits, is still in play in parts of India, especially rural villages. Hindus too often feared to tread on this “untouchable” issue–one that is so contrary to the lofty ideals of a religion that speaks of an immanent and transcendent divinity that inhabits every being equally–or historical analogies and tortured explanations are proffered to explain what should not be.

Marking Human Rights Day and the sixtieth anniversary of the ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Hindu American Foundation released today a report that confronts the caste issue head-on. Hinduism: Not Caste in Caste–Seeking an end to Caste Based Discrimination is a groundbreaking, 172-page report, that states with brutal honesty that Hindus bear a special burden to denounce caste-based discrimination since some Hindu texts sanction the caste system. But in contending that caste is in no way “intrinsic” to Hinduism, the report is redemptive: the solution to the caste blight actually lies in a proper interpretation of authentic Hindu scripture. It is an admission, a renunciation and a call to action.

Presented here, is the report’s Executive Summary, as authored by the report’s editor-in-chief, Swaminathan Venkataraman, and co-editors, Pawan Deshpande and Mihir Meghani.

Caste-based discrimination is a serious human rights issue in the Indian sub-continent. Over 160 million people fall under the category of Scheduled Castes (SCs), the erstwhile untouchables, and still suffer from terrible discrimination. And, while untouchability has been outlawed, abuse and discrimination of SCs persist, particularly in rural areas of India. In 2008, the Government of India recorded 33,615 human rights violations of various types affecting SCs.

Hindus must acknowledge that caste arose in Hindu society, that some Hindu texts and traditions justify a birth-based hierarchy and caste-bias, and that it has survived despite considerable Hindu attempts to curtail it. Caste-based discrimination represents a failure of Hindu society to live up to its essential spiritual teachings and is not an intrinsic part of Hinduism itself. It represents a lamentable gap between the Hindu teaching of divinity inherent in all beings, and the failure of society to put that precept into practice in its dealings with fellow Hindus.

While many in Hindu society may have failed the SCs in the past , it is critical for Hindu leaders and the larger community to own up to the problem and address it. While we recognize, and salute, that much work is already being done in this regard by many Hindu religious leaders, organizations, and individuals, there is a need for a more forceful, coordinated, and concerted approach than has been undertaken thus far, given the sheer magnitude of the problem. In this connection, HAF presents statements from 13 prominent Hindu religious and spiritual leaders categorically denouncing caste-based discrimination as having no part of their teachings and practice of Hinduism. Several more leaders support our effort, but were unable to provide us with written statements in time for this publication.

HAF supports the reanalysis and subsequent rejection of any and all teachings that promote caste-based discrimination and birth-based hierarchy. Most such teachings are found in texts called Smritis, or books of ancient Hindu social law, which by their very nature and intent, are recognized to change with space and time and do not necessarily teach Hinduism’s eternal spiritual truths. Hindu religious and spiritual leaders must take the lead in ensuring that those parts of the various scriptures that promote notions of caste-based discrimination and a birth-based hierarchy are explicitly denied any authority in the minds of their followers. We hope that they work more actively to end discrimination, promote equality, and end birth-based hierarchies by ensuring that their followers put Hindu spiritual teachings into practice.

At the same time, traditional power structures in the caste hierarchy have undergone a substantial change, and any solution to the problem of caste-based discrimination must incorporate the new dynamic that has emerged in India. The urbanization and economic development of the country, the Government of India’s (GoI) reservation policies, and the sheer dynamics of representative democracy have wrought a sea change in caste dynamics since India’s independence in 1947. These factors have also lead to dramatic improvements in the social status of numerous erstwhile “lower” castes. Thus, while much remains to be done, especially for the SCs and Scheduled Tribes (STs), the significant progress in the six decades since India’s independence must also be acknowledged and built upon.

We must also recognize that caste violence in India today is significantly driven by political and economic considerations and occurs not between “upper” castes and SCs but rather largely between the erstwhile “backward” castes and the SCs. For this reason, eradicating caste-based discrimination not only places a religious responsibility on Hindus, but also a secular responsibility on civic and business institutions, and a political responsibility on the GoI as well as state and local government and law enforcement. Effective implementation of police reforms and stringent law enforcement are critical in combating caste-based discrimination.

The movement for the emancipation of SCs is an important one. HAF is fully committed to the end of discrimination against all SCs, Hindu or otherwise. We are supportive of the vibrant Harijan and Dalit movement that has taken root in India today, are working with such groups today and seek to work with more in the future. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s greatest legacy consists not only in his authorship of the Indian Constitution but also the self-empowerment that he has inspired among the Dalits, as seen in the large number of secular, Dalit, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are engaged in improving the lot of SCs in various parts of the country today.

The modern Dalit movement has been joined in the last decade or two by many Christian organizations, often supported financially from Europe and the U.S. HAF lauds those organizations involved in mitigating or eliminating human rights abuses, but is wary of the motives of those that seek to exploit the situation through anti-Hindu propaganda and that are driven primarily by conversion agendas. The presence of caste-based discrimination in Hindu society is one of the reasons that provides missionaries the ability to “fish in troubled waters.” This is why we argue that Hindu society has a great moral burden to act in a more determined and concerted fashion to end caste-based discrimination.

Missionaries are correct about the prevalence of caste-based discrimination in India, but their claims about caste-based discrimination being intrinsic to Hinduism, and that conversion to other religions is the only way to eliminate this problem, must be seen in the light of their vested interests of “harvesting souls.” Tellingly, conversions to Christianity have not led to an improvement in the situation of SC converts, who continue to suffer discrimination at the hands of “upper” caste Christians. We also present testimonials from a Hindu SC community leader in Chattisgarh affirming his pride in Hinduism and only demanding for an end to social discrimination, as well as an article on the plight of Christian Dalits by a well-known Christian interfaith activist.

About

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Dr. Shukla,Thank you for this column.Farnaz

  • siyer79

    Excellent article. I agree 100% that Hinduism would never support discrimination by definition that everything is part and parcel of Brahman. Nor would it be wise for Karmic reasons to act that way.

  • Secular

    Excellent article. I agree 100% that Hinduism would never support discrimination by definition that everything is part and parcel of Brahman. Nor would it be wise for Karmic reasons to act that way.*******************************************Siyer, I suggest you read Manu Smrithi, before you make all those claims. You are like an Ostrich with its head buried in sand.

  • calexo

    Neither India’s caste system nor the US’s racial discrimination can ever be eliminated completely until Caste-based and Race-based preferences in employment, educational opportunities, (officially sanctioned by laws such as India’s and US’s affirmative action programs) are eliminated.Just as in the US, where even “octaroons” of any mixed race will qualify for preferential social benefits, so too in India, despite change of religions by low caste Indians, the latter cling on to their pre-conversion caste identities so that they can qualify for “set asides” in government employment and admission to institutions of higher learning. Nations with diverse racial and or caste or color problems ought to be bold enough to reserve societal benefits and preferential treatment only to those who are economically poor and truly disadvantaged either by physical or mental disabilities.

  • calexo

    TO SECULAR:Your admonition to Siyer,reproduced below is amusing for me to read as a Christian. “Siyer, I suggest you read Manu Smrithi, before you make all those claims. You are like an Ostrich with its head buried in sand.”Manu Smriti is no more central to Hinduism than Leviticus or Kings or Lamentations are to Christianity. For every “defect” or “cruelty” that you can cite in any non-Abrahamic religion, an equally vicious passage can be found in the sacred texts of Jews, Christians and Muslims. So, as a Christian, I will not hasten to point to the mote in my neighbor’s eye while ignoring the pillar sticking out of mine.From my modest reading of the world’s major religions, the monotheistic faiths are the least tolerant of other faiths while the non-Abrahamic faiths truly respect other faiths. I grew up in India as a Christian, amidst Muslims, Jews, Zoroastrians, Jains, Buddhists and the overwhelming majority of Hindus, I never felt discriminated in India because of my religion. Hinduism is in my view, the most tolerant of all faiths, even though it has a caste-conscious millstone hanging around its neck which can only be cut asunder if India abolishes its preferential laws guaranteeing preferential employment and educational opportunities to people of lower castes. That is why low caste Indians even after converting to a non-Hindu religion hold on to their pre-conversion caste identities!Reservation of societal benefits ought to be based on economic deprivation of an individual, or physical or mental disability, and not on the basis of caste or race. That should happen both in India and the US. Most likely, it will happen earlier in India than in the US, because of our bogey-man fear of “creeping socialism”!

  • Secular

    And you are just plain anti-Hindu, just looking for any excuse to spread your hate. If you what you say is true, Hinduism wouldn’t have survived for 5000 years. Posted by: big_oil $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$Big_Oil, I have been for past several months been indicted as Anti-semetic, & Anti-Islamic, Anti-Christian and pro Hindu bigot by a primadonna who mouths eloquence about OT or tanakh. Now you call me Anti-Hindhu thats funny. I am in a way anti-everything superstitious. Before I would credence to any religion I would like to see semblance of possibility of anything super-natural. Mind you not that possibility in any way proves any religious belief.Manu is indeed a very important book, as it is the first book of laws for Hindus. It is purported to be sent by the Brhaman. It is the source of Hindu Creation Myth of Purusha. Hindu caste systems is built into the creation myth. One should read it it is quite grotesque. I could not keep my lunch down. As part of teh creation myth is also the stipulation of the caste system as well. When I was growing up I heard several rationalizations about caste system. Mainly it was rationalized as nothing hereditary but an artifact of vocational associations. I was always unconvinced about that explanation. In-congruency for me came from the episode of Parusrama & Karna. I had questioned my Grand mother & her friends about it was tersely told be mind my manners and not to be impudent. Needless to say that was not very persuading.My objections to Hinduism is not limited to the caste system. Like all other religions Hindhuism is vile in its own way. None of these religions have any moral guidance to the 21st century world. My problems with Hinduism starts with, Mohini Avatharam, Vmana Avathar, to Superstition of ritual such Sthaynarayn Vrath, etc, etc it goes ad nausseum. I have more faith in human zeitgeist than any religion.And please do not lecture me about British caste systems or any other. It is too condescending.

  • Secular

    TO SECULAR:Your admonition to Siyer,reproduced below is amusing for me to read as a Christian.From my modest reading of the world’s major religions, the monotheistic faiths are the least tolerant of other faiths while the non-Abrahamic faiths truly respect other faiths. I grew up in India as a Christian, amidst Muslims, Jews, Zoroastrians, Jains, Buddhists and the overwhelming majority of Hindus, I never felt discriminated in India because of my religion.Posted by: calexo $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$Calexo, thank you for your comments. Please read my response to Big oil below. His claim that Smrithi is not the same Shruthi, etc is really asnine. The fact is the caste system has its genesis in Manu. And it is practiced even today. Then to go on and say that is not central core of the religion is disingenuous.I agree with you that Hinduism is not intolerant of other religions. The fact of the matter is not that Hinduism is tolerant of other religions but it is really mor of not intolerant. This is due to historical reasons given India’s geography. When Hinduism was evolving it was not faced with much of challenge for allegiances from other religions, unlike the Abrahamic faiths. Not that is a justification for them. The fact of the matter is all the religions evolved to explain the nature to the early man. At best they are the first iterations of science and knowledge. Without any condescension, they were all dismal failures.I agree with you the Hindu liturgy lacks the spite against other religions, because it knew of no others. The first religions of any challenge was Buddhism & Jainism, but they were offshoot of it and were later assimilated back. The first real challenge was Islam, which challenged it with its ferocity unseen before. Then cam Chritianity which was a lot less virulent when it came to India in any great significance after about 1500 years. So there is lot more virulent opposition to Islam among the hindus partly borne out a sense of humiliation of 1000+ years and not so much against Christianity. Also there is a belief among Hindus that English are the progenies of Jatayu the bird that fought Ravana, while he was abducting Sita. Rama supposedly gave a boon to Jatyu that his progenies will rule India for a period of 200 years. I know this all unadulterated cow manure. But the notion that Rama can dispose off a whole nations freedom to anyone as sense of thanks, is any kind of moral or ethical guidance is absolutely grotesque. Who the hell is Rama to give away my fore parents freedom?I am curious where in India did you grow up as you claim to be amidst Jews. I am not aware of any place with any significant concentration of Jews in India, since the creation of Israel. There are a few synagogues in Calicut, Cochin, & Calcutta. I myself have only one acquaintance from my college days of an Indian Jew.

  • gurudev16

    This an interesting statement from the Hindu American Foundation and I intend to thoroughly read this report. As an African American, being familiar with Hinduism and having practiced Vaishnavism for much of my adult life, nothing has been more disheartening than to see the importation of Hindu prejudice,racism and colorism to this country by Indian immigrants who consider themselve’s upper-caste or are just plain bigoted. Its maladaptive and symptomatic of a acute inferiority complex to project so much negativity on to others under the guise of ones own alleged cultural superiority. Especially in the context of the US, from those who seem to have a profound ignorance of the culture and history of the American people. Like W.E. B. DuBois, Martin Luther King and many other African Americans, I once had a deep appreciation and admiration for India- to see a people of color- the proud inheritors of a great civilization and spiritual heritage, actively engaged in the matters of the modern world- advocates for cultural, human, civil and political rights. I have been disabused of such romantic notions by the attitudes and behavior of Indian in the US, a visit to the sub-continent and witnessing the caste system seemingly alive and well, was a final denouement. Yet, I retain my faith in the philosophy and practice of genuine Vaishnavism. Would that more “Hindu’s” actually practice what they claim to believe.

  • big_oil

    “I have more faith in human zeitgeist than any religion.”You can come up with perfectly secular racial theories to do harm, for example from the country where the term Zeitgeist comes from. This assumes humans are driven to commit harm due to religion only. In reality ethnicity, race and tribalism have driven humanity since the beginning. “And please do not lecture me about British caste systems or any other. It is too condescending.”Why is it condescending? I am constantly lectured that only Hindus have an evil “caste” system, yet I am supposed to overlook the obvious that caste or casta is a foreign word. It’s first use in India was by the British referring to the half-caste’s: Anglo-Indians. The British wished to turn India into a South American casta system, with pure Europeans as the rulers on top and descending below with less White blood.The skin color based caste system was brought to India by the TAP’s (Turko-Arab-Persian). The fair skinned middle easterners considered themselves superior to the Natives and so created a ruling caste. Certain High caste Muslims (Ashraf etc..) come from this blood. Anyone with middle eastern blood is still considered “superior” caste among South Asian Muslims. Evil Manusmriti must have done that.Then perhaps you can explain to us why caste which is casta has a racial hierarchy in South America. Is the South American Caste system rooted in Hinduism? Also explain to us how Hindus are responsible for the Qom (Caste) system in Pakistan. How is the Burakamin untouchable caste in Japan rooted in Hinduism? Lastly how do you equate the Jati’s of today in India with the one’s in Manu Smriti. So ethnicity and tribal identities are somehow caste now.

  • DwightCollins

    W.E. B. DuBois would not consider obama a black man…

  • mikki3

    Yes, I know we, humans, think we are smart- especially those of us with MD, PhD, JD etc.. (having power over the other…). So, let us ask- do the MDs or JDs etc… behave like a Caste? Also, look at poor-Black v. rich-Black or poor-White v. rich-White (by the way Black v. White is another Caste? I mean, Caste in the sense if we are talking discrimination….). Now, look at Bees or Ants or Tigers or for that matter any living-entity: what about the Apes- I am told Darwin saw Man coming out of Ape. Do these creatures have Caste? Like Q-Bee, S-Bee or worker-Bee? Why? What if all Bees must be made equal to Q-Bee.. Can they survive? Guess..

  • udayshanker1

    It is wrong to dissociate Caste system from Hinduism & being apologetic about it is no more than disinformation. We can not change the contents of Vedas our sacred books for our convenience to suit human rights issues of modern times. History if rewritten according to modern trends & opinions will become as irrelevant as our sacred mythology. I think it is high time that every religion on this planet accept its inconsistencies & irrelevant passages in their respective Scriptures to make progress towards establishment of one human society & one global village with One God as the guiding force behind all human endeavours. Religious Scriptures are the main reason why there is so much dissension,discrimination & disagreement about This One God in the world. Polytheism is the backbone of Hinduism whereas It is a cardinal sin in Abrahamic religions. If Idolatry is essential for Hindu ritualism it is condemned by Non-Hindus. There is no way in the world these ancient Sriptures of the world can be rewritten to make them politically correct. We may rewrite our History books distorting the truth but nobody can dare touch the actual letters or contents of Holy Scriptures in order to erase the evidence therein. All these claims that Vedas do not support caste system is no more than disingenuous at the least. Human intelligence & Human Faith are constantly at odds with each other. There is no rest for the human mind except to swing in this pendulum between Faith & Rationalism. These are the two wings of the human mind & we need both to fly in this world. We have to agree to disagree with each other & live together inspite of our Scriptures which by their very nature sow seeds of dissension instead of union. Atheism & Secularism are not popular in the world & there is no way we can get rid of any religion in the world today inspite of the havoc they cause. Free Modern education is the only way to promote independent free thinking unconstrained by Fear of God & His Religions. Terrorism is a global phenomenon & constantly vigilant security is the only option available to counter it.

  • Kingofkings1

    Nice article and surprisingly nice responses/comments without the venom and hate usually seen in faith columns. Again, nice article. Action is anticipated.

  • big_oil

    “You are like an Ostrich with its head buried in sand.”And you are just plain anti-Hindu, just looking for any excuse to spread your hate. If you what you say is true, Hinduism wouldn’t have survived for 5000 years. As far as “racism” by Indians. What a joke, I have seen racism by EVERY race in the world, I would rank Indians on the lower end of that. Just look at the ethnic cleaning that happened in North and South America, or tribal warfare in Africa or how the Arabs treat Africans.

  • tatachar

    Caste is alive and thriving in India and will continue to do so primarily because of caste based quotas and politics. In the most recent national census in India, our law-makers overwhelmingly supported caste based census. Now it is no more a Hindu thing in India. We have Dalit-muslims, Dalit-Christian, Dalit-Buddhists, Dalit-Sikhs, and Dalit-Dalits apart from Dalit-Hindus. Brahmins are fighting to get Dalit status. This is ironic, when we don’t even have Hindu-Dalits in Pakistan or Bangladesh! Historically caste existed because of misinterpretation of varna and that misunderstanding prevailed in the name of “preserving tradition”. Now it survives because most of our law-makers are beneficiaries of caste preservation, in one way or the other. Majority of the former beneficiaries (upper caste Hindus) would wish that caste be done away with. But they are helpless, as they are in minority and not a “vote bank”. Caste is no more a Hindu thing in India. It has been fully integrated with the Indian society. Unless, Indians wake up and make reference to caste and especially caste based quotas illegal, it will prevail and grow stronger by the minute. Even if the missionaries dream will come through and India becomes a Christian majority state, it will still be caste in caste!

  • big_oil

    “What difference does it if the word caste is a misnomer or whatever it is the caste system as is known in Hinduism”

  • big_oil

    “To put it mildly all religion is vile and decrypt.”

  • Secular

    Big_oil, at the root of the caste system (i don’t want to get into semantic gymnastics. Lets use it as a proxy) has its roots in Manu and several other Hindu Mythologies. Mahabharata has several references to it in Eklavya, & Karna to mention a few. The fact that other cultures and religions had it does not absolve the bane from Hindu scripture. I may concede that caste system in India in present day may not be 100% religious and part of it is definitely economic but that was always there too. Perhaps now a days it is acceptable to take a spouse of lower caste and one may not face stiff opposition within the family if the new member of the family hails from a rich parentage, I agree. I have seen several within and without my own family that has been the case from both sides. The fact is that religious texts are really not source of morality and ethics for today’s society. These texts perhaps were apt for the times in which they were written. The human thought of fairness, justice, ethics, and morality have progressed and evolved. The sense of oneness and universality is magnificent and personally causes goosebumps on me when I think of the advances made compared to the bronze age notions. My notion of ethics was challenged to the core when I heard the story of Mohini Avatharam. The deceit and the cunning that was used to rob the Rakshasas of the nectar, without paying any heed to the adage “ends do not justify all means”. That the deity resorts to it was the first blow. You know that is not the only instance in hindhu mythology. It is the same with Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Roman or Greek.Big_oil, you also mentioned about the atrocities soviet and I would add the Mao, Polpot. Your accusation are indeed correct. But I did not say all the social ills of the world as we know would be gone if religion does not exist. I would say there is lot more evil done in name of religion, than for any other reason. The atrocities of Soviet, Mao, & Pol Pot were not done in name of atheism, but in the name of the megalomaniacs that they were.

  • big_oil

    “The human thought of fairness, justice, ethics, and morality have progressed and evolved.”"My notion of ethics was challenged to the core when I heard the story of Mohini Avatharam. The deceit and the cunning that was used to rob the Rakshasas of the nectar, without paying any heed to the adage “ends do not justify all means”Strange, my interpretation of that is, the nectar of immortality is the unification with Brahman, the supreme all inclusive force. The churning of the ocean is the churning of the mind that occurs during meditation as the kundalini shakti rises. Mohini represents lust and attachment to the material world that distracts and pulls the mind back to the material world before it can merge with Brahman. The Atman is already immortal as it was never created in the first place. Only if something is created can it be destroyed.

  • Secular

    Strange, my interpretation of that is, the nectar of immortality is the unification with Brahman, the supreme all inclusive force. The churning of the ocean is the churning of the mind that occurs during meditation as the kundalini shakti rises. Mohini represents lust and attachment to the material world that distracts and pulls the mind back to the material world before it can merge with Brahman. The Atman is already immortal as it was never created in the first place. Only if something is created can it be destroyed.%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%Big_oil, the allegorical rationalizations, are just that rationalizations. The latter day revisionisms. If the author meant that the author should have at the outset said that in as many words. Instead, it is introduced as an avathar of Vishnu to do justice on the earth. That very avathar embarks on deceit and cunning. If the devathas & vishnu had no intention of sharing fairly and squarely then they should not have entered into a contract with rakshasaas in the first place for the nectar. I had when Chinmayananda was still alive asked him the same question, and he gave a mealy mouthed reply. Not that i really expected any more than that. In contrast in today’s zeitgeist there is no doubt given teh same circumstances even you would hold Mohini guilty of malfeasance. That is what I am talking about the immorality and unethics that pervades all scripture.

  • NonPseudoSecularist

    This is an excellent report which serves as both constructive criticism and path to positive action. This is sharp contrast to many other so called social science reports, churned out by Maoist, Nehruvian Socialist, Pseudo Secular, and colonialist forces, whose solitary aim is to generate divisive hatred, propagate class/caste war, push ideological agenda, seek conversion, attack Hinduism, and rule.Many commentators here selectively give example from Mahabharata to prove that Caste is Cast in Hinduism. To them I provide following facts:Secondly, Neither the 5 brothers nor their 100 cousins are 100% pure blooded upper caste.Thirdly, Eklavya example extensively quoted everywhere is wrong simply because Eklavya was rejected by Dhrona. Dhrona did not fight for Dharma. He fought against Dharma and against Shri Krishna.

  • Secular

    Many commentators here selectively give example from Mahabharata to prove that Caste is Cast in Hinduism. To them I provide following facts:Secondly, Neither the 5 brothers nor their 100 cousins are 100% pure blooded upper caste.Thirdly, Eklavya example extensively quoted everywhere is wrong simply because Eklavya was rejected by Dhrona. Dhrona did not fight for Dharma. He fought against Dharma and against Shri Krishna.Posted by: NonPseudoSecularist &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&This is astounding the claim that Krishna was from a lowly caste. He was a nephew of Kamsa, who was the king, who had imprisoned his own sister. He was raised Nanda’s house and was surrounded by cattle people that does not mean he was a from lowly caste at all. His sister Subhadhra was married to Arjuna. SO this notion just doesn’t hold any water.Coming to the pandavas & Kauravas, they were indeed Kshatriyas. In fact they purported to be the progenies of King Bharta, the nation is named after him. Again you are wet behind your ear all over again.Regarding the Eklavya, Drona purportedly rejects taking him as his disciple precisely for the reason that Eklavya was a low caste person. Nonetheless he learns archery on his own, with the figure of Drona as his guide. So when Arjuna finds him to be far superior to him, he goes and cries to Drona, who after investigating demands Eklavya to pay Guru Dakshina, asks for his thumb as the dakshina. How disgusting is that? Besides Drona when he was fighting in the war was actually following the right path.How come you had no response for my mentioning of the episode between Parusrama ^ Karna. Isn’t that disgustingly grotesque use of casteism. I have been seeing this all my life this hypocrisy on part of Hindus, like every other religious people. their exegesis of other religions is always 100% on the mark but their own religion is given the benefit of every rationalization that can be found. This is because the basic premise that the ignorants of bronze age were, for whatever dumb reason were the most wise that ever walked this earth. Hence whatever grotesque nonsense they penned is wisdom of the ages. The fact of the matter is that they were ignorant and very poorly developed sense of ethics and morality. At best they were severely affected with in-group nepotism and out-group hostility.In closing to claim that caste system is not the core of Hinduism is like claiming earth is flat.

  • big_oil

    “That is what I am talking about the immorality and unethics that pervades all scripture. “

  • jyeshta

    Good luck Aseem in changing the habits of hundreds of millions of villagers who have believed in the caste system for thousands of years.

  • Secular

    Big_oil, claiming that other cultures and religions do the same is a lame rationalization. It matters little the etymology of the word “caste”. What difference does it if the word caste is a misnomer or whatever it is the caste system as is known in Hinduism is one of the biggest banes of humanity. There is no two ways about it. And it is the very foundation of Hinduism. Of course if casteism is the bane of Hinduism then there are equally shameful banes of other religions, as well. To put it mildly all religion is vile and decrypt.

  • Gurush

    It is important to understand the distinction between what the authentic scriptures of the Dharmic faith say and what is being done by the practitioners. Casteism is a reality in the Hindu society.While attempts to rid the practise are ongoing, the transformation is slow. But casteism cannot be a criterion to deride and trash the faith of Dharma. The primary scriptures donot advocate caste based discrimination.If anything, the varnas (the Vedic name for vocation based classification of scoiety)are all held at par by the Vedas. I’d be more than willing to discuss specific Vedic hymns to substantiate my point.Using Manu Smrirti (part of the secondary canon of Hindu scriptures) to point out that the edifice of Hinduism is caste based just doesnot cut it.If I have to draw an analogy, one cannot point out to OT espisode involving Lot & his daughters & claim that Xtianity propagates incest and Xtians practise incest. There is much more to the Bible than the episode involving Lot. The same way, Vedic scriptures are not about casteism.

  • Gurush

    It is important to understand the distinction between what the authentic scriptures of the Dharmic faith say and what is being done by the practitioners. Casteism is a reality in the Hindu society.While attempts to rid the practise are ongoing, the transformation is slow. But casteism cannot be a criterion to deride and trash the faith of Dharma. The primary scriptures donot advocate caste based discrimination.If anything, the varnas (the Vedic name for vocation based classification of scoiety)are all held at par by the Vedas. I’d be more than willing to discuss specific Vedic hymns to substantiate my point.Using Manu Smrirti (part of the secondary canon of Hindu scriptures) to point out that the edifice of Hinduism is caste based just doesnot cut it.If I have to draw an analogy, one cannot point out to OT espisode involving Lot & his daughters & claim that Xtianity propagates incest and Xtians practise incest. There is much more to the Bible than the episode involving Lot. The same way, Vedic scriptures are not about casteism.

  • Secular

    Using Manu Smrirti (part of the secondary canon of Hindu scriptures) to point out that the edifice of Hinduism is caste based just doesnot cut it.If I have to draw an analogy, one cannot point out to OT espisode involving Lot & his daughters & claim that Xtianity propagates incest and Xtians practise incest. There is much more to the Bible than the episode involving Lot. The same way, Vedic scriptures are not about casteism.

    Gurush, I tire this constant moving of the goal posts by all the theists, regarding their scripture. IT is a constant exercise of rationalization, downgrading one text over the other so on and so forth. One time it is Vedas the other time it is the incarnate’s doings. For instance Muslims claim MO is the perfect man, but when you point out the child brides, 11 wives, taking his Daughter in law into his harem, they immediately rationalize it as prevalent mores of the time. Likewise I pointed the Parusram’s adherence to the caste system to prove my point that it is the inherrent of Hinduism. Then I hear a earful about how Manu is a secondary or tertiary text. Why is there any need for the secondary text shouldn’t there be one set of texts. If it is not meant to be followed why is it there? You either float with the entire edifice of your scripture or you sink with it.Speaking of Lot, indeed it is the one of the innumerable cinches in the Armour of the Abrahmic faiths. An omnipotent and omniscient deity cannot foresee the scumbag Lot will prove to be but he spared him and his wife was turned into a pillar of salt looking backwards. I just wonder how can curiosity ever be considered a terrible infraction as opposed to drunkenness, & incest. This is all beyond me. Also to claim that incest was not endorsed, is a hypocritical in light of the fact that the deity is swift in punishment of the curious wife but totally unconcerned of Lot’s transgressions, is at the least condoning the vile behavior of his favorite folks. These are the rationalization theists make all the time yet claim the omniscience & omnipotence of the deity. Notwithstanding the comments of another blogger OT is the bane of all three of them. But of course NT is the additional bane of Christianity and Islam (whatever of NT was plagiarized into Koran). And of course Koran itself is the additional bane of Islam.Sir you cannot pick and choose parts of the scriptures. Given the omniscience of the deity that is claimed to have created or inspired the texts. There is no room for the deity to be only correct most of the time, it has to be correct 100% of the time.I do not want to hear these rationalizations, just expound on why Parusaram was not following the caste hierarchy when he first purportedly rejected Karna, and then purportedly cursed him. Next we can talk about Vamana avathar.

  • Secular

    Within what society? You are stating it as though there is a global consensus on this. What defines society, the globe or is it regional. In many parts of the world today, a healthy majority of the population believes Adulterers should be stoned to death. So is that rule correct for that society, and therefore cannot be considered immoral.
    *******************************************Big_oil, healthy majority of the populations are beholden to yet another decrypt scripture, on of the newer ones. It is not the secular minds of the people that hold such grotesque punishment as correct. It is their degenerated minds polluted by their scripture and the mortal fear of being branded a blasphemer that prompts them to placidly go with such horrendous atrocities. I am not here to claim that the societies will always progress. But I have more faith in evolution of human intellect over binding ourselves to some decrypt bronze age texts written by the ignoramuses by today’s standards. The great yweh purportedly banned pork and shell fish, for what reason or wisdom. None except the prevailing wisdom of the day was that pig may be unhealthy. That was due to the ignorance of the day. Right now a large majorities of world population consumes with relish, including your truly with extra relish. It does no harm, yet there are a significant minority that does not. Same goes for beef is supposed prohibited to you Hindus. Yet most of the world consumes it including yours truly with great relish. Nothing untowards happens to us pork eater and beef eaters. All scripture does is freeze the society into the ethics driven by the bronze age mental framework and cast away all the knowledge gained in past 5 millinia. You all amuse your self at the Amish for their rejection technology of Flywheel, to everything of modern nature. But are blithely blind to the fact that you are indeed rejecting the knowledge and wisdom gained in the intervening period. That is indeed a shame. Running around with 21st century technology and saddled by bronze age ethics.

  • big_oil

    “Running around with 21st century technology and saddled by bronze age ethic”But you are not answering a question. Was Bronze age ethics moral during the Bronze age? Because if the answer is yes, then your 21st century ethics will expire at some point also (sooner than the 22nd century).As I have pointed out to you, plenty of secular people have come with ethics which you may find objectionable today. For example that certain races are inferior and had to be wiped out, that was not based on a scripture.You keep talking about scripture, actually we already know what is ethically correct by our instincts. It’s based on empathy and being able to treat others like you would want to be treated.I don’t know a single Hindu who looks at Manusmriti for guidance or wants a “Hindu” law to be state law. Also are to ignore the obvious things like Hindus thousands of years ago being aware of concepts like the relativity of time?Most importantly as I stated below, the Yoga/Meditation/Kundalini theory is completely testable. In fact, we are slowly seeing studies on the effects on the physical body, brain etc during meditation. Unlike “scripture” based only religions, everything in Hinduism can be experienced personally through a well defined process for the disciplined mind.

  • Secular

    Tomorrow, your actions of today might be considered morally wrong, such as using fossil fuels. What does that say about morality and ethics? Since you say that morality and ethics keep changing by the time, can we reason the zeitgeist of thousands of years ago was right and appropriate for it’s time? By calling it wrong you are only saying it’s wrong for this time?
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++But of course the morality and ethics are continuously evolving. Despite the so called scripture the secular ethics have been progressing the entire human history. However, the scripture being considered some kind of gift from the sky-daddy or sky-mommy from the non-existing skies is only drag on the march towards ethical progress.Finally the ethics and morality must be a consensual agreement within the society, rather than make it some static edifice – a benefaction from eternal dictator, the divinity. As I said I am willing to take chances with the society than rely on blatantly immoral scripture.

  • big_oil

    “Same goes for beef is supposed prohibited to you Hindus. Yet most of the world consumes it including yours truly with great relish. “So if someone doesn’t want to eat a puppy because it’s cute its ok, but not if there any kind of “religious” connection.I don’t care what you do as long you it doesn’t trample on me, which in today’s world sames a rarity, where everyone seems interested in making everyone the same (through force if necessary). This brings an interesting ethical question. There are many secular Vegans (PETA types etc..) who don’t consume any meat because to them it’s ethically wrong to eat animals when there is an alternative, so how do you resolve that? They have come up with a secular non-religious reason to not do something, which you do. Are they wrong because in 2010, 51% of the population disagree with them? Where do we draw the line then, in the West people will be up in arms if Dog or Cat meat (or even horse meat except France etc..) is eaten, yet it’s consumed with tasty spices in many parts of East Asia. It’s looks like your “spirit of our times” has great variance geographically, so essentially you have to pick a culture.

  • Secular

    It is important to understand the distinction between what the authentic scriptures of the Dharmic faith say and what is being done by the practitioners. Casteism is a reality in the Hindu society.While attempts to rid the practise are ongoing, the transformation is slow.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++The whole rationalization of primary texts and secondary texts is a difference without distinction. There isn’t a single instance of historical or mythological figures that had propounded that the caste system is not core of the so called dharmic religion – Hindhuism. I cited the issue of Parusrama & Karna. When we have Parusram, purportedly one of the incarnates of the deity himself spurns the supposedly low caste Karna – though he really was a kshatriya and supposedly entitled to the coaching he was seeking. That shows that caste system was very much the core, whether it was in primary or secondary texts – especially when it is found inviolable even by the divinity.Or take the case of Vishwamitra, the so called RajaRishi. Because he was born a Kshatriya, he was told to do inordinate levels of penance and whatever other crap. Still he does not get the title of Brhama Rishi but only Raja Rishi.The truth is all religion, be it be Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc, etc promote superstition and immorality. They perhaps were at the forefront of the morality at the time of their inception in the surrounding society. I cannot bring myself to give anything more to the religion, whatever flavor they may come in. Each and every religion when it ventured into the real world natural phenomenon had gotten it all wrong as we found out as human knowledge of nature evolved. So why should anyone be impressed with these religions about any of their pronouncements on any subject? Why should we not hold them in same derision as we hold AL Chemistry today?

  • FarnazMansouri2

    ContinuesHERE IS POST OF MINE TAKEN FROM ANOTHER THREAD, IN WHICH BIGOTS AND HOMOPHOBES ALSO MANGLED LOT (THOUGH YOUR TYPE OF MANGLING IS A FIRST.)ON LOTSodom was a den of iniquity and the men who wanted the two angels were gay rapists.That said, Lot was never intended to be read as exemplary (LOL) as is made clear from the beginning through the end.But here we will deal with him from the time in Sodom. Although an “alien” there the simple fact that he was there would be an indication to any moron that all is not well morally with said Lot.Nevertheless, the angels came, the Lord’s answering to Abraham. Offering his daughters to gay male rapists however was not among Lot’s worst acts. As the commentaries show it may not have been the smartest ploy, but it wasn’t the stupidest either.Lot and family, however, were Lot and family and so he clearly was in no hurry to leave Sodom and the angels had to hassle him. HIs wife had stronger ties.As for his daughters, they live with their father in a cave after the destruction of Sodom, Gomorrah, and the other cities in the area. Fearing that no men are available to father their children, they make Lot drink wine on two consecutive nights and, while he is drunk, have sexual relations with him. In this manner the daughters bear sons, one of which becomes the ancestor of the Moabites and the other of which becomes the ancestor of the Ammonites.OF COURSE, PETER (NEW TESTAMENT) praises Lot, but, again, Tanakh was written for the people who had entered the Covenant, who had committed themselves to justness, wisdom, etc.It was not meant for hetero perv literalist bigots anymore than it was meant for gay bigot “Bishops.”AS A CHRISTIAN BLOGGER ON ANOTHER THREAD POINTS OUT, JOHN CAPUTO IS THE MAN WHEN IN COMES TO THE CHRISTIANS’ SEIZING OF LOT TO JUSTIFY HOMOPHOBIA.ON THE ENDORSEMENT OF INCEST (LOL), YOURS IS A FIRST IN MY LIFE. HAVE NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    “OT espisode involving Lot & his daughters & claim that Xtianity propagates incest and Xtians practise incest. There is much more to the Bible than the episode involving Lot.”Some Christians, due variously to bigotry and racism, have attempted to blame the stolen “OT” for the vile acts which continue to be performed in the name of Christianity. In fact, that is not the case. Essentialism is the gift of the Christians to the West. It derives from Plato, who knew not Joseph.It is common for Christians who wish to divorce their central doctrine as outlined in their NT from the horrors perpetrated by Christianity to somehow incriminate the “OT” which they have only begun to read, and which they have always read out of context–as you are doing now. I will not have Judaism thrown into the fire that blazes in the battle of Hindus to stop the Christian conversionists. I WILL NOT HAVE IT. Jews are not attempting to convert the Dalit. If Hindus have a problem with the Christians and their book, then Hindus should refer to the New Testament, not the “OT.”Ironically, if you wanted to take up the battle against the Christians, using LOT, it is the NT you should refer. There in the Christian Testament, you will find that PETER TWICE calls Lot a “just man.” Tanakh does not endorse LOT (LOL!); rather the reverse.Further, every story involving incest in Tanakh is an attempt to END it, NOT the case in the Vedas, etc., by a LONG SHOT.There is another on this thread, an open antisemite, who has made common ground with another blogger, identified (not by me) as a member of StormFront (nazi party).The world has changed, Garush, NB.Continues below

  • Secular

    But you are not answering a question. Was Bronze age ethics moral during the Bronze age? Because if the answer is yes, then your 21st century ethics will expire at some point also (sooner than the 22nd century).
    But of course that is true absolutely, no argument from me.
    I don’t know a single Hindu who looks at Manusmriti for guidance or wants a “Hindu” law to be state law. Also are to ignore the obvious things like Hindus thousands of years ago being aware of concepts like the relativity of time?
    Thye may not say it but every time they apply the caste test they are indeed following Manu.
    Most importantly as I stated below, the Yoga/Meditation/Kundalini theory is completely testable. In fact, we are slowly seeing studies on the effects on the physical body, brain etc during meditation. Unlike “scripture” based only religions, everything in Hinduism can be experienced personally through a well defined process for the disciplined mind.

  • Secular

    This brings an interesting ethical question. There are many secular Vegans (PETA types etc..) who don’t consume any meat because to them it’s ethically wrong to eat animals when there is an alternative, so how do you resolve that? They have come up with a secular non-religious reason to not do something, which you do. Are they wrong because in 2010, 51% of the population disagree with them?

    We have evolved to be omnivores. So our body needs both animal protein along with vegetables. However, if someone wants to forgo meat they are welcome, to as long as the do not impose on me. Another point of consideration is a species feeds on other species that is the natural law of biology. Even when you are being a vegan you are still taking life to live. I have only two criteria to eating. 1) is the stuff edible (or good for my health_? 2) Do I like it? If the answer to the two is yes then I eat, else not.BTW on the lighter side, I had an argument with friend about ethics of eating meat. I told him I butcher I perhaps can eat that for 6 months – result one life taken. Where as a vegetarian would be killing by the thousands for each meal. To that my friend rejoined saying what about all the grass the cow eat in its lifetime, To that I responded, that is cow’s moral dilemma not mine.As a matter of fact when I was in Seoul few years ago I was indeed looking for dog, but was told no more since Olympics. I also had the pleasure if eating Camel too in Dubai. Yum, Yum.

  • big_oil

    “However, the scripture being considered some kind of gift from the sky-daddy or sky-mommy from the non-existing skies is only drag”That’s a very poor understading of Hinduism. We don’t rely on a sky-daddy/mommy. Gender being a reproductive role. Brahman is a formless all encompassing force. Also very importantly, you are using the classic Western Atheist arguments against religion. These actually don’t work against Hinduism, because in Hinduism everything is actually testable and can be experienced. The process is through Yoga/meditation. There is a clear well defined process to experience clarity in everything. There are also many things mentioned which are clearly remarkable especially considering when they were written. For example, it’s stated one Brahma day is equal to 4.32 billion human years. You could say this number is hocus-pocus, but what’s indisputable is that the relatively of time was known way back then. These and many more like them give me confidence there is lot more to it than teaching bad ethics as you put it. Remember ultimately there is no good or evil, just actions and consequences, you are getting fixated on what defines good and bad, but in reality actions and consequences don’t change.Contrary to the propaganda Manu-Smriti has never been “Hindu” law unlike Sharia or Biblical law. This is one of main reasons issues like separation of church and state etc never come up in Hindu society. Some have argued I believe correctly that the steam engine has brought more freedom to the world than anything else. Economics have driven much of the change we see recently. In a pre-industrial economy it’s a fact that for one person to be rich and live well, 100 had to be poor as everything required manual labor. The American Civil War is a great example of how a part of America (South) which industrialized much later than the North continued to practice slavery.

  • big_oil

    “Finally the ethics and morality must be a consensual agreement within the society”Within what society? You are stating it as though there is a global consensus on this. What defines society, the globe or is it regional. In many parts of the world today, a healthy majority of the population believes Adulterers should be stoned to death. So is that rule correct for that society, and therefore cannot be considered immoral.

  • big_oil

    “My granny used to claim that India had thriving aeronautics industry during Rama’s time because of the mention of Pushpak Viman too.”I can’t speak for your granny or your family, but it is remarkable that a flying machine was conceived that far back.Who is narrow minded now? Surprised that you are not even aware of the scientific studies done on meditation and it’s effects on the brain. Google it.

  • big_oil

    “BTW on the lighter side, I had an argument with friend about ethics of eating meat. I told him I butcher I perhaps can eat that for 6 months”Actually a cow consumes 30 calories for 1 calorie of energy. Fish and Chicken are closer to 2 to 1 ratio. However, you can eat and believe what you want, as will I. “However, if someone wants to forgo meat they are welcome, to as long as the do not impose on me.”This is the fundamental flaw in your argument. You are no different than those who want a one-world religion. Otherwise why are you bothered if someone is Hindu or does something different than you. However my point has been made. According to you, it’s religion that’s interfering in creating ethics. Yet, here is a perfect example of a secular reasoning used to not eat meat (also environmental reasons). It proves your allegedly superior way of thinking won’t create the utopia you are imagining.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    Speaking of Lot, indeed it is the one of the innumerable cinches in the Armour of the Abrahmic faiths. An omnipotent and omniscient deity cannot foresee the scumbag Lot will prove to be but he spared him and his wife was turned into a pillar of salt looking backwards. I just wonder how can curiosity ever be considered a terrible infraction as opposed to drunkenness, & incest. This is all beyond me. Also to claim that incest was not endorsed, is a hypocritical in light of the fact that the deity is swift in punishment of the curious wife but totally unconcerned of Lot’s transgressions, is at the least condoning the vile behavior of his favorite folks. These are the rationalization theists make all the time yet claim the omniscience & omnipotence of the deity. Notwithstanding the comments of another blogger OT is the bane of all three of them. But of course NT is the additional bane of Christianity and Islam (whatever of NT was plagiarized into Koran). And of course Koran itself is the additional bane of Islam.This piece of excrement was told repeatedly that he knew not whereof he spoke. I offered him books by esteemed secular scholars, links, etc., but the putzy racist wasn’t interested.The putzy racist “opines.” And while said putz is opining actually reaches out to a blogger posting vile antisemitic trash, said blogger having been identified by other bloggers as a member of Storm Front, the nazi party. This putzy secular is advised that the angels were a test for Lot. He is the prototype of the weak, but not thoroughly evil man. He constrasts with Lot.LOT’s WIFE WAS NOT CURIOUS, YOU STUPID, ARROGANT, PRESUMPTUOUS BOOR. SHE WAS ATTACHED, COMMITTED, YOU MORON.THE INCEST OF LOT’S DAUGHTER’S RESULTED IN WHAT, DWEEB?REALLY, I THINK THE VAUNTED FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN HINDUS AND JEWS MUST BE REVISITED–ONE CANNOT KNOW HOW MANY “SECULARIST NAIZS” ABOUND.AT ANY RATE, THE DALIT WILL BE CHRISTIANIZED–NOT MY PROBLEM–AND DWEEBIE SECULAR CAN SUCH HIS THUMB OR WHATEVER AND OPINE.

  • Secular

    This putzy secular is advised that the angels were a test for Lot. He is the prototype of the weak, but not thoroughly evil man. He constrasts (sic) with Lot.
    Professor of Al Chemistry & Fertile Imagination (PACFI) you must have your own secret sources. Of course how can I forget the secret source is your fertile imagination. I guess he passed the test with flying colors following Gen-19:18Gen-19:8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let
    LOT’s WIFE WAS NOT CURIOUS, YOU STUPID, ARROGANT, PRESUMPTUOUS BOOR. SHE WAS ATTACHED, COMMITTED, YOU MORON.
    So the just punishment for arrogance is being turned into pillar of salt, of course – why didn’t anyone except PACFI thought of it. By that standard how many time did your tetra-whatever has turned you into pillar of salt.
    THE INCEST OF LOT’S DAUGHTER’S RESULTED IN WHAT, DWEEB?
    What else two tykes must have come out of the old drunken coot was still virile. May be something else, PACFI why don’t you enlighten us all with your fertile imagination.
    REALLY, I THINK THE VAUNTED FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN HINDUS AND JEWS MUST BE REVISITED–ONE CANNOT KNOW HOW MANY “SECULARIST NAIZS” ABOUND.
    WoW. Since the PACFI has spoken, it will be a different day both in Kathmandu, & Tel Aviv for sure, the capital of the only Hindu country and Jewish country. Can’t wait read the morning papers.
    AT ANY RATE, THE DALIT WILL BE CHRISTIANIZED–NOT MY PROBLEM–AND DWEEBIE SECULAR CAN SUCH HIS THUMB OR WHATEVER AND OPINE.
    Another WoW, did every one know that the great PACFI had taken upon herself to keep Dalits from converting to Christianity. What a relief for those Dalts, that the badgering PACFI is off their backs.Lastly, PACFI I do understand you are ignoring me. Please keep it up, I just can’t stand your attention.

  • big_oil

    “AT ANY RATE, THE DALIT WILL BE CHRISTIANIZED–NOT MY PROBLEM–AND DWEEBIE SECULAR CAN SUCH HIS THUMB OR WHATEVER AND OPINE.”We know it’s not your problem. As far as will the Dalit be Christianized, those who were going to convert basically have. Remember Christian extremists have been trying to convert Hindus for atleast 500 years and largely failed. In many cases like Goa, they tried to using the inquisition and coercion, but still failed. People are realizing that Christians are very castist. The “oppresion” of Dalits is largely done by other Dalits or so called other “backward” castes who are actually largely in power and not that backward. The “evil” Brahmin tribes are actually also like Dalits or even worse off by overall poverty indicators and in cases like Uttar Pradesh actually are allied politically with Dalits. As you can see it’s largely an ethnic, tribal, and political issue which is 100% secular.

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