The Pope’s Caritas: Evocative of a Hindu’s Karuna

Editors' Note: This article is part of the Patheos Public Square on the Pope in America: Implications, Collaborations, Challenges. Read other perspectives here.A child of immigrants, I grew up with a Catholic “uncle” - a foreign student from Southern India like my parents. He and my father were colleagues in the English department at a university in New York.  “Uncle Ralph,” my father would always say, “is a ‘small c’ catholic” - and to this day, I have not seen otherwise: he is as the defini … [Read more...]

Practicing Pluralism & Protecting Religious Freedom

Both Rev. Dana Trent, author of Saffron Cross, and Alicia Chandler, co-founder  of AJC Access Detroit, recently posted pieces exemplifying pluralism, through respective discussions on interfaith marriage and raising multi-faith children.Their practice of pluralism is possible because they are in settings where there is mutual respect  for another’s religious path. Pluralism and religious freedom can go hand in hand when conditions promote an open and fair exchange of ideas: there really is a choi … [Read more...]

Freedom to Choose: Conversion to Hinduism

At a recent HAF Awareness Event, a group of people came to learn about the work of the Foundation, and I was asked a seemingly simple question, with an underlying challenge to prove my point: Do you think that conversion to Hinduism is allowed?  Since I usually am vocal about the challenges caused by conversion away from Hinduism, answering the question was an ideal way to explain the difference between conversion to Hinduism and conversion to Christianity (or also to another faith which seeks … [Read more...]

Farce or Dialogue: Who should be discussing Proselytism & Pluralism?

I  recently received an email about an event at Georgetown University’s Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, where Rick Warren and Ruth Messinger will be the keynote speakers on Sharing the Message? Proselytism and Development in Pluralistic Societies: A Public Dialogue. On perusing the site, it appears that no one from the Indian or Hindu community will be on a panel during the day-long dialogue. India is home to one of the most pluralistic societies I know, and in need of de … [Read more...]

Asymmetry of Power: Proselytization, Poverty, and Race

As long as evangelism is complicated by contexts of imbalance, we will continue to have concern, hostility, and even conflict.In the few weeks since I went to the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, I have been considering the topic of conversion from the "other side"—not of Hindus converting to other religions, but of other religionists, particularly Christians, converting to Hinduism. Obviously, since I am so concerned about conversion of Hindus to Christianity, I should also h … [Read more...]