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

http://www.xdeem.com/2012/05/record-number-of-indian-americans-in.html

About Ambaa

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.

  • Maya Resnikoff

    You voiced this so well. The USA isn’t a Christian country. I see a lot of the “war on Christmas” anxieties as the reactions of people with privilege when people who lack that privilege start to get some of it for themselves. It feels really threatening, and makes it harder to remember that this is justice and equality happening.

    • Ambaa

      Exactly!

    • kdjji

      so y do your presidential candidates try to prove how good a christian they are? America is christian country politically(it advances tilted to wards christian politics/values) but liberals cannot say that becoz it hurts their ego.Amerca probably more christian than current day vatican, politically speaking

      • Ambaa

        I do wish they would stop doing that, but there are a lot of Christians here and they love when politicians talk about being Christian. I think it should be irrelevant. Someday we’ll get there.

  • J N

    War in Christianity ? yes there is in Arabia, look at daily how many churches are destroyed n how many Christians are killed; everyday massacre.. but such things dont happen yet in Usa, why i said :yet: means, Islam is fastest growing religion in USA, not just Usa, all over Europe, as per current trends, by 2050, most of Europe will be Islam dominated lands, at that time, usage of “war of Christianity” is suitable. cause Islam definitely destroy any non-Islamic society, as per their Quran,

    Its not suitable to use word as Christianity, rather its better to use Churchianity (which is based on personality of Jesus Christ). Church started war on Jews, war on Arabia, by that time, Muhammad joined in army n become general then turned himself to be new faith. Muhammad was guide for pilgrimage at that time, at kaaba temple, Indirectly Church is cause n consequence of birth of Islam.

  • http://thinkinggrounds.blogspot.com/ Christian H

    This isn’t really answer to your question about whether there are countries where you can be jailed or killed for being Christian, but it might help: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24864587. This gist is: yes, there are Christians who get killed for being Christian–Egypt seems notable?–but it isn’t systemic and there aren’t nearly as many as some people have been citing.

  • Tandava

    Its interesting that you are giving almost exactly the opposite argument to that given by Maria Wirth in an article Why Not Hindu India? (linked here as published in Hinduism Today but originally an article on her blog). I strongly suggest that you offer Hinduism today this blog post as a counterpoint to the one they have published.

    Certainly reading articles with two different views has made me think. Both seem very reasonable when reading them. I believe that Ultimately governments should be secular. Things are a bit strange in European countries, where governments are nominally religious but in practice secular (in the UK there are a few off exceptions like the Prime Minister appointing bishops for the Church of England, the state religion).

    However should we refer to America, Germany and the UK as Christian countries, and if so, like Maria suggests refer to India as a Hindu country? Certainly many of the traditions and cultural norms reflect this. I’m not sure but on balance I think it is more useful and welcoming to minorities to say that they are states with people of many faiths, but with a certain historical tradition.

    • Ambaa

      Great points! You know, I read that article of Maria’s but I had forgotten it! Must have stuck in my subconscious a bit!

    • kEiThZ

      She clearly has no understanding of India’s history.

      The day India becomes “Hindu” is the day India as we know it ceases to exist. India’s very survival as a multiethnic, multi-faith nation-state is predicated on protection of that diversity.

      Maria Wirth forgets that it was the Mughals who labeled India as Hindustan (land of the Hindus) and considered themselves (as Muslims) to be the enlightened overlords. And India as “Hindu” was the very reason given for the creation of Pakistan. Opening this can of worms after generations have sought to define India beyond religion and race is not just irresponsible. It’s ignorant.

  • Katherine Harms

    I’m sorry you are so offended because the majority of the people in this country express themselves publicly. That is exactly opposite to the attitude that we all think of as religious tolerance.
    As for Christianity and government, no, our government is not an agent of the Christian religion. However, when someone runs for public office, he or she must explain the basis for his or her values. We voters need to know how this person will make ethical and moral decisions, who and what are the primary values in this person’s moral universe. We need to know these things, because this person will make laws that impact the lives of millions and this person will manage the spending of the national treasure. If a person lives by Christian values or Hindu values or Muslim values or Communist values, it matters very, very much. Each of those value systems is unique, and poses unique issues in legislation and administration.
    It’s your blog, so you can complain about the majority of people acting as if they are free to be whoever they are if it makes you feel better, but if you were my neighbor I would become quite busy and go inside till you were tired of fussing about it.
    By the way, there are a lot of countries where it is quite dangerous to be a Christian. In Kazakhstan, a Christian can be imprisoned for possessing an unauthorized version of the Bible, not unauthorized by his church, but rather unauthorized by the government. In Tajikistan, a Christian can be arrested for taking his child to church. In Nigeria, Christian churches are burned down with the people inside. In Egypt, Christian girls are kidnaped and forcibly married to Muslim men, and when challenged, the Muslim men are the only witnesses allowed in court. In Syria, Christians are beheaded in the streets. In China, a pastor can be arrested for preaching in a home where he is an invited guest if that home is not a registered worship location. In Iran, a Christian is considered a threat to national security and can be arrested and tortured as long as the government chooses. I could list more than fifty countries like this if you want the list.

    • HARRY

      Hey katherine, Same things could be said about USA as well, that if you are a Muslim with religious attire and long beard you can be viewed as a terrorist, so yeh, you are right about this, anything is possible anywhere in the world. Every institutions have there demons and I don’t think USA is exempt from this either.

    • Ambaa

      So there are places where Christians are under persecution. They aren’t in America. And when American Christians complain about being persecuted it really takes away from the pain of those suffering actual persecution. The point here is that it’s a good experience to try living somewhere where your religion isn’t given preference at every turn. It’s a valuable perspective to gain.

      I’m all for people speaking up and talking about their religion, I simply want an accknowledgment that we who are not Christians are still Americans and have a voice too.

      It saddens me how prejudiced we are against atheists in this country. I’ve known many atheists far more moral than some Christians I have known. Religion doesn’t create morality in and of itself.

  • bill wald

    ” But government and laws must never be based on any religion.”

    The devil is in the details On what should government and laws be based? Say you were starting to design a government and set of laws from scratch. Where would you (anyone) start? Would any historical documents be consulted? If so, which?

    • Ambaa

      I think examination of previous cultures and governments would be necessary. Hopefully one could see what works well and what doesn’t. Basing laws on a particular religion will always lead to bias towards that religion which is entirely unfair and goes against the noble vision of America to have basic freedom and equality among all people.

      As human beings I believe we have a good moral core. It sometimes gets corrupted, but that happens with religious and non-religious people alike.

      I have many atheist friends and they are all moral and good people who have many times behaved in more moral ways than some Christians I have known.

      • bill wald

        >As human beings I believe we have a good moral core.

        I hope you are correct. I think we all start out with a self-centered core but most have a conscience and fight our nature to become moral and social people. Natural selection has resulted in human affections and societies that cooperate for mutual benefit?

        • Ambaa

          I was just watching an interesting documentary about our earliest ancestors (pre human) and they certainly worked together and took care of one another.

          I’ve always believed that we are good at our core and that gets covered by fear of scarcity and the mistaken belief that we are alone and have to look out for ourselves first.

  • http://learningindia.in Neil Miller

    I like this theme and idea. I’ve been in India for about 4 years now and I appreciate the truths you point out about living as a minority. It has been a good experience on that front!


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