We were disheartened to learn that the Southern Baptists had
published a pamphlet recently regarding prayer for Hindus that uses
overly aggressive and insensitive language. We are particularly alarmed at
the level of insensitivity displayed towards members of one of the oldest
religions in the world.
We do not take issue with your right to pray for whom and whatever you
choose. However, we believe that the manner in which you have chosen
to do this, in regards to Hinduism, goes beyond the bounds of decorum, tact,
respect and understanding.
In your recent pamphlet, you say that "Mumbai is a city of spiritual
darkness...(Hindus are) slaves bound by fear...to false gods." We
cannot understand how men and women, raised and educated in the world's
bastion of religious freedom and tolerance, can characterize another
religion as spiritually dark and false. The lack of respect that this statement
shows for the basic rights of an individual to believe in whatever
faith they choose is perhaps the most disturbing.
India has been one of the great bulwarks in her commitment to secularism and the belief that all men and women have a right to believe in their own faith. To be sure, India has had secularist problems; however, there has never been a question of India backing down from that commitment. Hinduism has lasted for
thousands of years and espouses a fundamental respect for all creeds
and ways of life.
Your pamphlet has demonstrated a lack of understanding of these facts
and a lack of understanding of the right of every individual to pursue their
religious beliefs. We would respectfully request that you end the use
of this pamphlet. Please understand that we do not oppose your
organization's efforts to educate non-Baptists to your views, however, we would hope that in the future you adopt a more tolerant and enlightened method.
India, as Hinduism's birthplace, is a wonderful, diverse land that
prides itself on a long tradition of freedom for all faiths and worldviews,
including Christianity (in fact, the oldest Christian mission worldwide is in
We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and to discuss the
great contributions of India and Indian culture to our global
Jim McDermott, Member of Congress
Gary Ackerman, Member of Congress
Frank Pallone Jr, Member of Congress
Henry Waxman, Member of Congress
Merrill Cook, Member of Congress
Alcee Hastings, Member of Congress