Posts Tagged ‘Hindu’


 

“What unites us is far greater than what divides us,” said JFK, but shared hatreds make for strange bedfellows too.

John Safran says Australia’s far right movement is a ‘melting pot’

 

VIDEO here:-

 

Members of Australia’s far-right movement are not all white-skinned neo-Nazis, but instead from a diverse range of backgrounds, including recent migrants and evangelical Christians, writer and documentary maker John Safran says.

After attending a United Patriots Front rally in Victoria, Safran said he was surprised to see a racially diverse mix of members and he decided to delve more into the movement.

The result is his latest book, Depends What You Mean By Extremist, in which he also socialises with Islamic State sympathisers and anarchists.

“It’s quite a melting pot,” he said.

“The far right in 2017 is different to 20 years ago, when it was the first incarnation of Pauline Hanson.”

One member of the far right whom Safran said he spoke to, was the son of an Italian migrant father, an Aboriginal mother, and was married to a Vietnamese migrant.

Safran said many, including a racially diverse mix of migrants, were drawn to the far right solely because they were against Islam.

“I learnt that these immigrants often have their own backstory and their own relationship to Islam that, in this case, is totally different to the white Australian experience,” he said.

“So if you’re quite a reactionary sort of Hindu or a Sikh from India, and that’s where you came from before you migrated to Australia, you’ve got families of generations going back with their own kind of tensions with Islam back there.

“Then immigrate to Australia where there’s these strange bedfellows where they go, ‘Oh here’s these white people who also are against Islam, so I’ll join up with them’.”

‘On the back of a ute with neo-Nazis’

Safran said many of those people were then side-by-side with white nationalists.

“You get these almost surreal situations where you’ve got someone who’s got a track record of being a white nationalist or a neo-Nazi and they’re on the back of a ute and they’re calling against Islam and against multiculturalism and then joining them on the ute is an immigrant who has their own reason for why they don’t like Islam,” he said.

He said it was often a convenient pairing for the white nationalists in the movement.

“They’re very touchy about the word white nationalists — so how other people see them,” he said.

“They just say, ‘Oh well we’re just nationalists’, and sometimes they’re being sincere and sometimes it’s a cover story and they are actually white nationalists, but they like being able to deflect it a bit and say, ‘Oh but there’s a brown guy in the movement’.”

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Stampede Kills 10 at ‘Largest Gathering in History’
MASSIVE GATHERING ATTRACTS UP TO 30M DEVOTEES TO BATHE
By the Associated Press

(AP) – At least 10 people were killed and a dozen more injured today after a stampede broke out at a train station in the northern Indian town where millions of devout Hindus gathered for a religious festival dubbed the“largest human gathering in history.” As many as 20 people are feared dead, and some 30 others injured. News reports said the large crowds caused a section of a footbridge at the station to collapse leading to the accident.

News reports said tens of thousands of people were at the train station at the time. Television showed large crowds pushing and jostling at the train station as policemen struggled to restore order. “There was complete chaos. There was no doctor or ambulance for at least two hours after the accident,” an eyewitness told NDTV news channel. An estimated 30 million devotees were expected to take a dip at the Sangam, the confluence of three rivers—the Ganges, the Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati—today, one of the holiest bathing days of the Kumbh Mela, which lasts 55 days.

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Hindu devotees take a holy dip at ‘Sangam’, the confluence of Hindu holy rivers Ganges, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati, during the Maha Kumbh festival at Allahabad, India, Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013.
(Rajesh Kumar Singh)

Jared Diamond: It’s irrational to be religious

Supernatural beliefs might not make sense, but they endure because they’re so emotionally satisfying

BY JARED DIAMOND

Jared Diamond: It's irrational to be religious
(Credit: Reuters/Enny Nuraheni)

Virtually all religions hold some supernatural beliefs specific to that religion. That is, a religion’s adherents firmly hold beliefs that conflict with and cannot be confirmed by our experience of the natural world, and that appear implausible to people other than the adherents of that particular religion. For example, Hindus believe there is a monkey god who travels thousands of kilometers at a single somersault. Catholics believe a woman who had not yet been fertilized by a man became pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy, whose body eventually after his death was carried up to a place called heaven, often represented as being located in the sky. The Jewish faith believes that a supernatural being gave a chunk of desert in the Middle East to the being’s favorite people, as their home forever.

No other feature of religion creates a bigger divide between religious believers and modern secular people, to whom it staggers the imagination that anyone could entertain such beliefs. No other feature creates a bigger divide between believers in two different religions, each of whom firmly believes its own beliefs but considers it absurd that the other religion’s believers believe those other beliefs. Why, nevertheless, are supernatural beliefs such universal features of religions?

One suggested answer is that supernatural religious beliefs are just ignorant superstitions similar to supernatural non-religious beliefs, illustrating only that the human brain is capable of deceiving itself into believing anything. We can all think of supernatural non-religious beliefs whose implausibility should be obvious. Many Europeans believe that the sight of a black cat heralds misfortune, but black cats are actually rather common. By repeatedly tallying whether or not a one-hour period following or not following your observation of a black cat in an area with high cat density did or did not bring you some specified level of misfortune, and by applying the statistician’s chi-square test, you can quickly convince yourself that the black-cat hypothesis has a probability of less than 1 out of 1,000 of being true. Some groups of New Guinea lowlanders believe that hearing the beautiful whistled song of the little bird known as the Lowland Mouse-Babbler warns us that someone has recently died, but this bird is among the most common species and most frequent singers in New Guinea lowland forests. If the belief about it were true, the local human population would be dead within a few days, yet my New Guinea friends are as convinced of the babbler’s ill omens as Europeans are afraid of black cats.

A more striking non-religious superstition, because people today still invest money in their mistaken belief, is water-witching, also variously known as dowsing, divining, or rhabdomancy. Already established in Europe over 400 years ago and possibly also reported before the time of Christ, this belief maintains that rotation of a forked twig carried by a practitioner called a dowser, walking over terrain whose owner wants to know where to dig a well, indicates the location and sometimes the depth of an invisible underground water supply. Control tests show that dowsers’ success at locating underground water is no better than random, but many land-owners in areas where geologists also have difficulty at predicting the location of underground water nevertheless pay dowsers for their search, then spend even more money to dig a well unlikely to yield water. The psychology behind such beliefs is that we remember the hits and forget the misses, so that whatever superstitious beliefs we hold become confirmed by even the flimsiest of evidence through the remembered hits. Such anecdotal thinking comes naturally; controlled experiments and scientific methods to distinguish between random and non-random phenomena are counterintuitive and unnatural, and thus not found in traditional societies.

Perhaps, then, religious superstitions are just further evidence of human fallibility, like belief in black cats and other non-religious superstitions. But it’s suspicious that costly commitments to belief in implausible-to-others religious superstitions are such a consistent feature of religions. The investments that many religious adherents make to their beliefs are far more burdensome, time-consuming, and heavy in consequences to them than are the actions of black-cat-phobics in occasionally avoiding black cats. This suggests that religious superstitions aren’t just an accidental by-product of human reasoning powers but possess some deeper meaning. What might that be?

A recent interpretation among some scholars of religion is that belief in religious superstitions serves to display one’s commitment to one’s religion. All long-lasting human groups — Boston Red Sox fans (like me), devoted Catholics, patriotic Japanese, and others — face the same basic problem of identifying who can be trusted to remain as a group member. The more of one’s life is wrapped up with one’s group, the more crucial it is to be able to identify group members correctly and not to be deceived by someone who seeks temporary advantage by claiming to share your ideals but who really doesn’t. If that man carrying a Boston Red Sox banner, whom you had accepted as a fellow Red Sox fan, suddenly cheers when the New York Yankees hit a home run, you’ll find it humiliating but not life-threatening. But if he’s a soldier next to you in the front line and he drops his gun (or turns it on you) when the enemy attacks, your misreading of him may cost you your life.

That’s why religious affiliation involves so many overt displays to demonstrate the sincerity of your commitment: sacrifices of time and resources, enduring of hardships, and other costly displays that I’ll discuss later. One such display might be to espouse some irrational belief that contradicts the evidence of our senses, and that people outside our religion would never believe. If you claim that the founder of your church had been conceived by normal sexual intercourse between his mother and father, anyone else would believe that too, and you’ve done nothing to demonstrate your commitment to your church. But if you insist, despite all evidence to the contrary, that he was born of a virgin birth, and nobody has been able to shake you of that irrational belief after many decades of your life, then your fellow believers will feel much more confident that you’ll persist in your belief and can be trusted not to abandon your group.

Nevertheless, it’s not the case that there are no limits to what can be accepted as a religious supernatural belief. Scott Atran and Pascal Boyer have independently pointed out that actual religious superstitions over the whole world constitute a narrow subset of all the arbitrary random superstitions that one could theoretically invent. To quote Pascal Boyer, there is no religion proclaiming anything like the following tenet: “There is only one God! He is omnipotent. But he exists only on Wednesdays.” Instead, the religious supernatural beings in which we believe are surprisingly similar to humans, animals, or other natural objects, except for having superior powers. They are more far-sighted, longer-lived, and stronger, travel faster, can predict the future, can change shape, can pass through walls, and so on. In other respects, gods and ghosts behave like people. The god of the Old Testament got angry, while Greek gods and goddesses became jealous, ate, drank, and had sex. Their powers surpassing human powers are projections of our own personal power fantasies; they can do what we wish we could do ourselves. I do have fantasies of hurling thunderbolts that destroy evil people, and probably many other people share those fantasies of mine, but I have never fantasized about existing only on Wednesdays. Hence it doesn’t surprise me that gods in many religions are pictured as smiting evil-doers, but that no religion holds out the dream of existing just on Wednesdays. Thus, religious supernatural beliefs are irrational, but emotionally plausible and satisfying. That’s why they’re so believable, despite at the same time being rationally implausible.

Printed by arrangement with Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. from “The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?”by Jared Diamond. Copyright © Jared Diamond, 2012.


By Alex Kane           

20 Percent of Americans Don’t Believe in God–So Why is Our Congress So Religious?

The new Congress includes a Hindu, a Buddhist and someone who doesn’t identify with any religion, but the majority of members remain Christian.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

The new, 113th Congress that was sworn in last week may be more religiously diverse than any other session, but the body as a whole is more committed to religion than the U.S. population. New data analysis  released by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life bears this out.

When the new Congress gathered last week in Washington, D.C., a Hindu and a Buddhist were sworn in–a first in U.S. history. Rounding out the religious diversity in the new Congress is Kyrsten Sinema, a representative from Arizona, who is not religious at all (she d oesn’t identify with the terms “non-theist, atheist or nonbeliever”).

But Congress remains more religious than Americans are. As  the Pew Forum states, “perhaps the greatest disparity, however, is between the percentage of U.S. adults and the percentage of members of Congress who do not identify with any particular religion. About one-in-five U.S. adults describe themselves as atheist, agnostic or ‘nothing in particular’– a group sometimes collectively called the ‘nones.’”

Those numbers are a striking contrast to the religious beliefs of Congress. The majority of Congress remains Protestant–56 percent, to be exact. 30 percent identify as Catholic, with Mormons, Jews and other religious minorities rounding out the list. Still, the Pew Forum notes that “the proportion of Protestants in Congress has been in gradual decline for decades, and the number in the 113th Congress is lower than the number in the previous Congress (307), even if the difference in percentage terms is slight.”


New Congress Underrepresents Nonreligious And ‘Nones’, But Gains In Diversity With Hindu, Buddhist

New Congress Religion

Members of the 113th US House of Representatives recite the Pledge of Allegience during the opening session at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., on January 3, 2013.

Nearly one-in-five Americans have no religion, but only one member of the 533 people in the new 113th Congress that was sworn in Thursday would fall into one of the largest and fastest growing American demographics when it comes to religion or lack thereof.

A new analysis from the Pew Forum shows that while the new Congress is more diverse than ever before — it includes the the nation’s first Buddhist Senator and the first Hindu in either chamber of Congress, for example — it’s still far less diverse than the nation it represents.

Like the one before it, the new Congress is majority Protestant, but its changing membership is part of a “gradual increase in religious diversity that mirrors trends in the country as a whole,” according to the Pew analysis. Congress is “far less” Protestant today than it was 50 years ago, when almost three-quarters of its membership was Protestant, according to the analysis.

“Protestants, Catholics, Jews and Mormons each make up a greater percentage of the members of Congress than of all U.S. adults. The same is true for some subgroups of Protestants, such as Episcopalians and Presbyterians. By contrast, Pentecostals are a much smaller percentage of Congress than of the general public,” the analysis says. “Due in part to electoral gains in recent years, Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus now are represented in Congress in closer proportion to their numbers in the U.S. adult population. But some small religious groups, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, are not represented at all in Congress.”

Pew says that “perhaps greatest disparity, however, is between the percentage of U.S. adults and the percentage of members of Congress who do not identify with any particular religion.” One-in-five U.S. adults are atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” a group that’s altogether often called the “nones.” But only one person in the 113th Congress, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), does not affiliate with any particular religion, though Sinema has also said through a spokesman that “the terms non-theist, atheist or non-believer are not befitting of her life’s work or personal character.”

In addition to Sinema, ten other members of the new Congress (about two percent) don’t specify their religion, an increase from six members (about one percent) in the previous Congress. According to Pew, that two percent figure is the same as the share of U.S. adults who have said in surveys that they don’t know or will not specify their religion.

The religious group to have the biggest increase in Congressional membership is Catholics, who have gained seven seats for a total of 163, making just above 30 percent of Congress Catholic. The biggest declines in numbers are among Jews and Protestants. Jews now have 33 seats in Congress (six percent), which is six fewer than before. Protestants lost eight seats, but they the current Congress has nearly the same percentage of Protestants (56 percent) as the previous one (57 percent).

The share of Protestants in each party remains nearly the same, too, as the 112th Congress. About seven-in-ten Republicans are Protestants, while less than half of Democrats are. But members of Congress who were sworn in for the first time on Thursday are significantly less Protestant than the Congressional freshmen class of 2011. Forty-eight percent of this year’s freshmen class are Protestant, compared to 59 percent of the freshmen class two years ago.

Mormons have 15 seats (about three percent) in the new Congress, the same number as in the previous Congress.

From Pew:

Hawaii Democrat Tulsi Gabbard is the first Hindu in either the House of Representatives or the Senate. Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran who has served on the Honolulu City Council and in the Hawaii state legislature, represents Hawaii’s 2nd congressional district. Gabbard takes over the seat held in the 112th Congress by Rep. Mazie K. Hirono (D), who on Nov. 6, 2012, became the first Buddhist elected to the Senate.In 2006, Hirono and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) became the first Buddhists to be elected to the House. Four years later, they were joined by a third Buddhist member, Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii). Johnson and Hanabusa were re-elected to serve in the 113th Congress.

The first Muslim to serve in either the House or the Senate, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), was elected in 2006. Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.) became the second Muslim in Congress when he won a special election in 2008. In 2012, Michigan Democrat Syed Taj lost his bid to become the third Muslim member of Congress. Ellison and Carson were re-elected.

Members of other small religious groups started serving in Congress more than a century ago. The first Jewish member arrived in 1845, when Lewis Charles Levin of the American Party began representing Pennsylvania in the House. The first Mormon in Congress, John Milton Bernhisel, began serving in 1851, after Utah was officially recognized as a territory. California Democrat Dalip Singh Saund, the first and so far only Sikh to serve in Congress, served three terms starting in 1957.

Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), a Unitarian who joined Congress in 1973, became the first member of Congress to publicly declare, in 2007, that he does not believe in a Supreme Being. He lost his re-election bid in 2012.

Of the 533 members of the new Congress, 299 are Protestant, which is about the same percentage (56 percent) as in the 112th Congress (57 percent) and higher than the share of Protestants in the U.S. adult population (48 percent). But the proportion of Protestants in Congress has been in gradual decline for decades, and the number in the 113th Congress is lower than the number in the previous Congress (307), even if the difference in percentage terms is slight.

From Pew:

In many ways, the changes in the religious makeup of Congress during the last half-century mirror broader changes in American society. Congress, like the nation as a whole, has become much less Protestant and more religiously diverse. The number of Protestants in Congress has dropped from three-quarters (75 percent) in 1961 to 56 percent today, which roughly tracks with broader religious demographic trends during this period. As recently as the 1980s, General Social Surveys found that about six-in-ten Americans identified themselves as Protestants. In aggregated surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2012 and reported in the Pew Forum’s October 2012 report “‘Nones’ on the Rise,” the share of self-identified Protestants has dipped to just under half (48 percent).Likewise, many of the major Protestant denominational families have lost ground in Congress in the past 50 years. Methodists, who made up nearly one-in-five members (18 percent) of the 87th Congress, which was seated in 1961, make up nine percent of the 113th Congress. Some other Protestant denominational families also have seen a decline in their numerical representation in Congress. For example, Episcopalians have gone from 12 percent to seven percent and Congregationalists from five percent to less than one percent during this period.

A few Protestant groups have fared somewhat better, however. From 1961 to today, the proportion of Baptists in Congress has increased slightly from 12 percent to 14 percent, and the Lutheran share has stayed roughly the same (around four percent).

Meanwhile, other religious groups have seen their share of congressional seats grow, in some cases dramatically. Catholics, for instance, have gone from 19 percent of the congressional membership in 1961 to 31 percent today. The percentage of Jewish members of Congress has risen from two percent in 1961 to six percent today.

Top 10 Most and Least Religious States
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  • #1: Mississippi (59 percent)

  • #2 Utah (57 percent)

  • #3 Alabama (56 percent)

  • #4 Louisiana (54 percent)

  • #5 Arkansas (54 percent)

  • #6 South Carolina (54 percent)

  • #7 Tennessee (52 percent)

  • #8 North Carolina (50 percent)

  • #9 Georgia (48 percent)

  • #10 Oklahoma (48 percent)

  • #51 Vermont (23 percent)

  • #50 New Hampshire (23 percent)

  • #49 Maine (25 percent)

  • #48 Massachusetts (28 percent)

  • #47 Alaska (28 percent)

  • #46 Oregon (30 percent)

  • #45 Nevada (30 percent)

  • #44 Washington (30 percent)

  • #43 Connecticut (31 percent)

  • #42 District of Columbia (32 percent)

  • #42 New York (32 percent)

  • #42 Rhode Island (32 percent)


Muslim Hater Erika Menendez Charged With Murder And Hate Crime In NY Subway Shove Pamela Geller Put Up Anti-Muslim Posters In NY Subways.

Thanks to BILL WARNER

December 30th, 2012 NEW YORK…. A woman who told police she shoved a man to his death off a subway platform into the path of a train because she has hated Muslims since Sept. 11 and thought he was one was charged Saturday with murder as a hate crime, prosecutors said. Erika Menendez was charged in the death of Sunando Sen, who was crushed by a 7 train in Queens on Thursday night, the second time this month a commuter has died in such a nightmarish fashion.

Erika Menendez, 31, her photo above, was awaiting arraignment on the charge Saturday evening, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said. She could face 25 years to life in prison if convicted. She was in custody and couldn’t be reached for comment, and it was unclear if she had an attorney. Menendez, who was arrested after a tip by a passer-by who saw her on a street and thought she looked like the woman in a surveillance video released by police, admitted shoving Sen, who was pushed from behind, authorities said.

“I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I’ve been beating them up,” Menendez told police, according to the district attorney’s office. READ MORE CLICK HERE.

December 12th, 2012….Anti-Islam Subway Ads By Pamela Geller Feature Exploding World Trade Center, Quote From The Quran.  New York City’s resident Islamophobe is back with yet another anti-Islam subway ad. Pamela Geller’s latest features a photo of the World Trade Center exploding in flames next to a quote from the Quran that reads, “Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers.”

When Geller last bought ad space in the NYC underground, New Yorkers didn’t react too kindly. Nearly all of the signs– which read “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad”– were vandalized.  As a result, The Observer reports Geller doubled her ad buy this time, and that “the new ads will be plastered across at least 50 different locations.”  “I refuse to abridge my free speech so as to appease savages,” she said.

Photo above Pamela Geller with racist EDL thugs from the UK.

Southern Poverty Law Center lists anti-Islamic NYC blogger Pamela Geller, followers a hate group. Manhattan blogger Pamela Geller and her posse of anti-Islamic protesters were branded a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center in Feb. 2011. Stop the Islamization of America was included in the civil rights organization’s annual roundup of extremist groups – a rogue’s gallery that includes everything from the Ku Klux Klan to white supremacists and Nazis. Pamela Geller’s group was one of the most vocal opponents of the proposed Islamic Center near Ground Zero. The group was also behind ads that were placed on city buses urging Muslims to leave “the falsity of Islam.” Pamela Geller runs a blog called Atlas Shrugs.


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