Which Religion Is “Winning”?

Based on a post from a Christian collegue of mine, I’m going to say something that might sound crazy:

It’s great if a young Hindu in India starts believing in Jesus and converts to Christianity.

Good for her! I’m so glad she’s found a path that makes her happy and inspires her to do good in this world.

It’s great if a white American finds Islam to be the perfect path for her. It’s great if someone from Switzerland decides to become a Buddhist. It’s great if someone who grew up Muslim decides to become a Hindu.

The only thing that bothers me about these stories is that they are used as weapons against other religions.

You know what I mean, don’t you?

“Oh look, someone who was a Hindu has become a Christian. Clearly Christianity is the TRUTH.”

“Look at this person who has discovered Hinduism and rejected Islam. Clearly Hinduism is the TRUTH.”

“So many people are converting to Islam. Clearly it is the TRUTH.”

Why does one person’s choice of which path is best for him become representative of everyone, everywhere, across all time?

I very much believe that there are different “paths up the mountain” as the saying goes. Different paths, different religions, work for different people depending on their history,personality, experiences, etc.

Hinduism is so clearly the perfect path for me.

But I am never going to think that it is the best path for everyone. This attitude is what makes the prosthelitizying religions such a problem. They rub in our faces every time someone goes from Hinduism to their religion. And then we feel like we have to do the same thing back just to keep up.

Sometimes people born Hindu are going to decide it’s not the right path for them. Maybe someday they’ll be back, maybe in another lifetime, maybe they won’t. That’s their choice.

Sometimes people are born another religion and come to Hinduism because they see God and Truth most clearly here.

None of this means that one religon or another is “winning.” 

People, individual people, are finding their path. It doesn’t extrapolate to all people from all time!

This isn’t a competition for bigger numbers. The only competition is within our own hearts. How can we more fully live a dharmic life? Stop looking at other people’s test papers! Let them worry about their own exam and you worry about yours. You get the best answers you can!

If you’re always obsessing over the other person’s paper, how will you have any time or energy to focus on your own?

People are going to keep moving from one religion to another. Some will leave your religion and others will join it. An example of one single person coming to your religion is not representative of the overall number of followers there are.

Why can’t we just be happy for people rather than trying to use them and manipulate their story to try to take over the world?

I know I hate when that’s done to me. You can’t just take my image and not take me with it: my ideas and my thoughts. I’m a person, not a weapon for your arsenal. “Look at this white girl who is a Hindu, clearly Hinduism is the TRUTH.” I’m not a tool for you to use to prove your religion is better than others. My image comes with my perspective.

My new glasses do look cute though, don’t they?

So someone has a dream vision of Jesus Christ. That doesn’t make Jesus more real than Ganesha. It’s selection bias. You shout this story of a vision of Christ all over the place, but you convieniently neglect to mention any of the stories of people having visions of Ganesha and leaving the church for Hinduism or for Paganism.

This is our LIVES. Not a popularity contest.

If you’re worried about people leaving your religion, then focus on being kind, being welcoming, being the best example your religion has to offer. Be the good example that makes people want to join you. And when they do, don’t gloat. Because I’ll just point out all the people who left.

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Diwali 2015 [Hindu Holiday]
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.