Everyone Should Be a Minority

I got asked the other day why, since I get grumpy in December in America, I just move to a country where Hinduism is in the majority. Like it’s that simple! I get frustrated about one thing during one time of the year and therefore I should give up my home and everything that I love about America? Uh, no.

But it got me thinking.

For many of you coming here, you may not have ever experienced what it’s like to be the minority religion where you live.

People reading in India are having trouble understanding what irritates me about Christmas. Christians in America have been grouchy over a perceived “war on Christmas” and interpreting separation of “church” and state to be some kind of persecution of Christianity, which is absurd.

It’s a really valuable experience to live somewhere where almost no one around you practices the same religion you do. It gives you a very different perspective.

Christians who feel persecuted here could at least visit and spend time someplace where being Christian could result in jail or death. Live somewhere where your friends and family would be upset or shocked if you were Christian. At the very least, live somewhere where the Christian population is less than 25%.

It’s very eye-opening. Suddenly you have a constant awareness of your difference. The assumptions all around you are different from what you are. The art, the street signs, the things sold in shops would all look very different to you. Struggle to find a rosary, drive thirty miles to get an Easter card for your family, have people stare at you blankly when you ask for directions to the nearest church.

It really makes you aware of how nice it is to live where your religion is the default! (I never have, but it seems like that would be pretty cushy).

If I lived somewhere where almost everyone was Hindu, it might be easy for me to think that a Hindu government makes lots of sense. What a great idea! A moral government and one that lines up with my ideals. What could go wrong?

But because I live somewhere that has less than 4% Hindu population, I can see how upsetting it would be for my government to decide to just go with the majority and be a Christian government. I advocate for no mixing of religion and government and I think I can clearly see how important that is because I’ve had this experience of being a minority.

I respect and defend the religious freedom rights of others because I know that their freedom is my freedom too. As long as the government and laws don’t become explicitly Hindu they also won’t become explicitly Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or any other religion. Individuals within government can, of course, be religious in whatever way they choose. But the law system itself must NEVER be set up based on religion.

Why don’t I move to a Hindu-majority country?

One– Because America is a nation built on the idea of freedom of religion and I love America for its freedoms

Two– Because all my friends, family, work, and life are here

Three– Because the awareness of being in the minority keeps me vigilant and prevents me from becoming complacent


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About Ambaa Choate

Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.