Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Texas Faith 2: When is it okay to use God to advance public policy?

Here is another new series,
Recently I was invited to participate in the Texas Faith Panel. This new column in the Dallas Morning News, William McKenzie/Editorial Columnist describes as follows ,
Each week we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.
This weeks question.
The Pentagon's top secret wartime memos that mixed Scripture and battle photos sparked a lively debate -- rich, heated and very diverse -- among our Texas Faith panel this week.

Over a photo of a U.S. tank entering Baghdad was a verse from Isaiah, "Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps the faith." Above another photo of a tank roaring through the desert was a quote from Ephesians, "Therefore put on the full armor of God ..." Some in the Bush administration worried that if the cover sheets got out, they could cast the Iraq invasion as a holy Christian crusade. Others saw no problem.

Religion is about absolutes; public policy is about subjective judgments. And yet, our currency invokes our trust in God, our leaders pray for divine guidance and, apparently, the Pentagon annotates briefing memos with Bible verses.

So here's the question: When, if ever in our secular democracy, is it appropriate advance public policy with God's words? When it is okay?

And more the point, when does it cross the line?and here was the response:

NITYANANDA CHANDRA DAS, minister of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Dallas

It is always appropriate invoke the words of the Lord. But the Lord's agenda must follow. Religion, according to the Vedic tradition, means developing one's love for God. Lord's states in the Bhagavad Gita 9.29 "I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him."

The Lord does not concern Himself with religious affiliation but rather quality of consciousness. That is Lord's agenda, to unite people of the world though loving service to Him. The problem is not that God is in the picture, for Truth is the Truth, in all circumstances. The problem is that people, 97% to 99.9% of the time, are trying to advance their own agendas, with the exploitation of God words. We should understand it is as the evidence presents itself. A crusade. If our religious fervor in going to Iraq was to teach Muslims to become better lovers and devoted servants of Allah, then surely we would be acting according to God's agenda. The truth is that the political figures want to give a color of righteousness. To use the power of religion under the sway of their agendas. Religion, like any powerful thing, can be misused.

One example of such misuse is that of the great Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi took use of the Bhagavad Gita to advance his noble political cause. But the truth is, rather than using God to promote his political cause, he should of used his political cause to promote consciousness of God. For a faithful and realized man will know that such consciousness of God, seeing all beings as God's loving servants, is the cure all for all social ills.

Another important point is that religious teachings are incomplete without logic. When we delve in that realm where religious thought is free from logical analysis we may find many fanatics and even terrorist reside there. Srila Prabhupada, our founding spiritual master, has stated his purport to Bhagavad Gita 3.3 that "Religion without philosophy is sentiment, or sometimes fanaticism, while philosophy without religion is mental speculation." Similarly Albert Einstein wrote: "Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind."

So our agendas should be clear and our religious thought logical.

Hare Krishna :)
Your humble servant,
Nityananda Chandra Das

1 comment:

florence said...

This is a wonderful article, well thought out. However the English is really bad. You need to have all your work edited by a good English speaker. This is not meant to criticize or hurt, but there are so many grammatical errors in this article, that it would not get posted on most news papers. If they are cleared up, it will look great. Again I think the article is great and you are doing a wonderful job.