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

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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

http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2009/05/texas-faith-when-is-it-okay-to.html

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Comments

Sat, 05/30/2009 - 05:43 — tekisui

Clarity

I think the questions they ask there are loaded! Very difficult to answer without stepping on someone's secular democratic toes.

Other than that -

One thing I would have liked to see is that the answers would be more aligned to the question, for example:

In our secular democracy, it is appropriate to advance public policy with God's words when ...

It crosses the line when ...

That would certainly help to prevent any ambiguities in reading and interpretation of the answers.

I've read the responses there, but often found it difficult to figure out how exactly they have answered the questions.

The responses seem like decent enough pieces on their own - but why shun clarity?

Or is there some reason why answers should not be directly formulated to questions?

Wed, 05/27/2009 - 16:38 — NityānandaChandra

props to Santosh Bhai,

props to Santosh Bhai,

Thu, 05/28/2009 - 01:31 — Ѕantosh

Hare Krsna

All Props to Srila Prabhupada.

Thu, 05/28/2009 - 06:01 — abrennan

: )

________________________________________

Visit the Food Channel @ Krishna.com

Wed, 05/27/2009 - 17:24 — abrennan

Props?

________________________________________

Visit the Food Channel @ Krishna.com

Wed, 05/27/2009 - 22:15 — NityānandaChandra

american lingo for, credits.

american lingo for, credits. The last quote of the paragraph is the quote that he gave for my previous blog.

Thu, 05/28/2009 - 00:35 — abrennan

I just looked it up

I thought it was a spelling mistake at first : )

Proper Respects

What a funny thing

Props to you Prabhuji

________________________________________

Visit the Food Channel @ Krishna.com

Mon, 06/01/2009 - 11:55 — Karnamrita.das

Proping up

Hey Mate, I could use some propping up!

Also, upon looking at the page where Nityananda and others posted their opinions, the most striking thing to me was the often wacho comments. In general, not the saner section of society who one could speak philosophy to. Scary actually, though fanaticism is there in any path.

I would agree with Tekisui that basically the question was not directly answered. Everyone has to be so on guard not to offend someone.

It would be nice if there were comments to the individual writers. In this climate I am sure--at least the comments--most likely didn't appreciate NC's piece about how affiliation is secondary to conscious, and how God is ordinarily neutral but recognizes devotion.

Your friend in Krishna,

Karnamrita

Mon, 06/01/2009 - 18:12 — abrennan

Roll up Roll up

Roll up Roll up

get your props here

every player wins a prop

________________________________________

Visit the Food Channel @ Krishna.com

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.

So far last Tuesdays post has already 59 comments. Because my post just was just inserted today, due to being a new contributor, there has not been any comment yet regarding it. But I am sure some interesting dialogue will ensue in due course.

So here is the question for this week:

What don't most people understand about religious faith?

What don't most people understand about your faith tradition?

and here was the response:

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

One item I believe that is misconceived is that many people think faith is an anomaly that only happens in religion. Often people do not see that their every day life involves faith. One can board a bus or train because they have faith that it will not fall apart. Or one will enter a building with the faith that the roof will not collapse on them. Another item is that an atheist may think a theist does not value life and therefore the theist thinks about death and other seemingly unimportant inevitable matters. But actually, if someone values something then it is certain they would also value maintaining it. For example, if someone loves their girlfriend, then it would be quite unlikely that person would say, "I love you very much but if we break up I would be fine." Rather, if someone values something, then rational conclusion is that they would want to maintain it. Thus,those who value life are those who sincerely endeavor to understand the after life. The single most common misconception about Hinduism is that it is a religion, rather than a family of different religions and that Hindus are polytheistic or henotheistic (all gods together represent God). Historically and in modern times, the largest religion in Hinduism is Vaishnavism, which comprises about 80% of Hindus. Vaishnavas maintain that there is one Supreme Lord, Sri Krishna, also known by many names such as Vishnu. This Supreme Lord has His own cabinet of employees, devas (demigods). Just as there is only one Bill Gates but many employees who work for Microsoft, similarly there is one God, Krishna, and many demigods, Shiva, Ganesh, Indra etc. who work for God under His authority.

Hare Krishna :)

Your humble servant,

Nityananda Chandra Das

http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2009/05/texas-faith-misunderstanding-m.html

Comments

Sat, 05/23/2009 - 01:36 — Ѕantosh

Hare Krsna!

Srila Prabhupada stated in the purport to BG3.3 that "Religion without philosophy is sentiment, or sometimes fanaticism, while philosophy without religion is mental speculation."

Albert Einstein wrote: "Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind."

Faith can only be cultivated when these two aforementioned factors are homogeneously combined. Then everything falls into place. One's faith becomes strengthened by Guru, sadhu and shastra. The perfection of one's existence can thereafter be realized.

your servant,

Santosh