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First Hindu Legislator to Swear Oath on Bhagavad Gita

The state of Hawaii became the first to send a Hindu to Congress last week, electing Tulsi Gabbard to the House. She’s going to swear her oath of office on a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, one of the holy books of Hinduism, instead of the Bible. Cue the inevitable outrage from the wingnuts in 1…2…3…

Comments

  1. says

    I like the idea of wingnut heads-a-popping. So much so that I’d probably swear on Aleister Crowley’s big book of nonsense, if I had the chance.

    The whole idea of “swearing” a politician is seems quaint and frivolous. Why not just give them a big hat or something? We know that no politician has ever broken their oath and that swearing means seriously for uh-huh sure they really mean what they’re saying right at that particular instant.

  2. Alverant says

    Just wait until he asks for equal treament in having the opening prayer be a Hindu prayer just once.

  3. jamessweet says

    We know that no politician has ever broken their oath and that swearing means seriously for uh-huh sure they really mean what they’re saying right at that particular instant.

    FWIW, there’s at least some evidence that making someone affirm that they will play nice makes them more likely to actually follow through on it. Not that this means swearing on a book; that is indeed quaint and frivolous. But there’s probably some value in having politicians publicly affirm their intention to uphold the oaths of office.

  4. says

    Don’t forget that Hawai’i is also sending a female Buddhist senator, too!

    My comment to this on a friend’s page was, “What!? A female Buddhist senator and a female Hindu representative?! What’s Hawai’i coming to? It’s almost like Hawai’i is moving away from what Bill O’Reilly recently called ‘Traditional America.’ Next thing you’ll know, Hawai’i will be sending a Congregationalist Christian, son of a non-American to the White House.

    Oh, wait. :-D”

    Gotta love Hawai’i: shaking up all these stereotypes about gender, race, religion, etc.

    … and Alverant @2: Rep. Gabbard is female.

  5. F says

    Marcus Ranum, jamessweet –

    I’m sort of partial to the idea of chains of office – honking heavy chains to be worn around the neck when acting in any official capacity whatsoever. As a reminder.

  6. eric says

    As much as I’ll probably be amused by the fundie response, I really wish she’d (choose of her own will to) swear on a copy of the Constitution instead. Sure, she has the right to pick whichever book she wants. But lets see some secularists voluntarily choosing to rise above the fray and forego tit-for-tat gestures. We don’t get where we want to go by adding more religious gestures to the mix – even if that confounds and annoys the current batch of anti-secularists.

  7. says

    @F #11 – Not really. The Bhagavad Gita takes place during a battlefield lull, when Arjuna and Krishna discuss how the war was an external manifestation of the internal struggle between good and evil and the importance of focusing on what is important rather than letting emotion and desire interfere with one’s choices. While best known for its discourse on devotional love, that actually makes up only a small part of the work: the main theme is dharma and how to find one’s place in the natural order of the universe.

    If one were to look through all of the world’s religious texts and fine the most appropriate for a politician’s swearing-in, the Bhagavad Gita would be at the top of the stack.

  8. eamick says

    Talk about a non-issue. The real swearing-in for the House is done en masse; if people want to hold the Timbuktu phone book while taking the oath, no one will notice or care. Most likely she’ll be using the Gita for the staged individual photos with the Speaker that are done later.

  9. dogfightwithdogma says

    I’d like to see a letter to her and all other members of the legislature urging them to take their oath on a copy of the U.S. Constitution. Freedom From Religion Foundation recently sent a letter to President Obama urging him to honor the secular nature of our government and the First Amendment by taking his oath on a copy of the document which he is swearing to defend and protect.

  10. busterggi says

    I will continue to dream of being the first congressman to be sworn in with my first edition copy of ‘The Shadow Over innsmouth’.

  11. Big Boppa says

    If I ever have to get sworn in for anything I’ll request Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

    And when thay ask “Do you solemnly swear….” I’ll say “Fuck yeah!”

  12. Alverant says

    #6 My mistake. I’m sorry for misreading Ed’s OP.

    #5 I thought it was a Buddhist prayer in 2009. Could be both happened. These sorts of things aren’t covered well by the conservative media.

  13. says

    I’m sort of partial to the idea of chains of office – honking heavy chains to be worn around the neck when acting in any official capacity whatsoever. As a reminder.

    Me too. I thought that was a cool thing. Although a simple white rope – again, as a reminder – would probably work just as well.

  14. elpayaso says

    i’m sure there are many teapartiers who’d like to see a “simple white rope” around da commander in chief’s neck….i think some of em even tried to do dioramas of that before the election

  15. says

    Marcus Ranum “The whole idea of ‘swearing’ a politician is seems quaint and frivolous. Why not just give them a big hat or something?”
    “All the Republicans are Slytherin house.”
    “Are you surprised?”
    “Not really.”

  16. schweinhundt says

    I suspect the freak out might reach WND levels but not make it onto Fox. A) Because of the temple shooting in August. B) Typically, I have not seen hindus associated with the purported secularist-muslim-pagan Axis of Sharia.

  17. peterh says

    This may also set some fundies’ hair on fire, but the book, document, whatever, is only a theatrical prop for the affirmation before all concerned of a person’s intent. If the inductee stood naked and alone in the middle of an open field and repeated the affirmation it ought to be views as just as binding as waiting for white smoke to issue from a nay-sayer’s arse.

  18. says

    So now Hinduism is okay, because it’s strange and new as well as getting up the noses of the fundie christians? Really? It’s a religion and therefore is not based on facts or reality, so it should be kicked as hard as we would normally kick Islam and Christianity.

  19. says

    Balstrome “So now Hinduism is okay, because it’s strange and new as well as getting up the noses of the fundie christians? Really?”
    They got us with the name. It’s Hindu, not Hindon’t*. Plus, now we get to wear orange saffron*, and we can rock out on the sitar*.

    “It’s a religion and therefore is not based on facts or reality, so it should be kicked as hard as we would normally kick Islam and Christianity.”
    If you include inoffensive religious liberties (the point, I thought, is not that she is swearing on the Baguva Cooty*, it’s that she can) you’re guaranteed to run out of fists long before you run out of faces to punch.
    You’re also going to be mighty lonely.

    * Angry letters can be sent to: Modusoperandi, 4 Humblington Court, Escherigglyton on the Piggly, England (enclose SASE for signed photo).

  20. says

    So now Hinduism is okay, because it’s strange and new as well as getting up the noses of the fundie christians? Really? It’s a religion and therefore is not based on facts or reality, so it should be kicked as hard as we would normally kick Islam and Christianity.

    /)_-

    Hinduism, like Islam, is not a major problem for Meriken, so neither needs to be kicked particularly hard by Meriken. More to the point, we can damn well affirm that Indians have as much right to their religion as white people do to their’s, while also holding that that same religion is false, just like Christianity and Islam are.

  21. paul says

    Talk about a non-issue. The real swearing-in for the House is done en masse; if people want to hold the Timbuktu phone book while taking the oath, no one will notice or care. Most likely she’ll be using the Gita for the staged individual photos with the Speaker that are done later.

    No congresscritter is sworn in on a bible or any other holy book. If you see what looks like that, it’s a staged photo op and not the actual legal ceremony. This came up the last time a muslim got elected to the house.

    The presidential inaugeration is another matter entirely.

  22. says

    My point is that if you allow, even in American, one religion, that is not a problem to American, to gain any sort of status, you will create a precedence that will be used by other religions.

    Who would you trust more, a fundie theist who refuses to take an oath of office on their holy books and instead makes a promise to preform to the best of their ability or a mild theist who takes the oath on a religious book. I would be more inclined to trust the fundie theist.

    I am happy with the ideas of Matt 6:6, keep that type of thing to yourself.

  23. StevoR says

    @21.elpayaso says:

    i’m sure there are many teapartiers who’d like to see a “simple white rope” around da commander in chief’s neck….i think some of em even tried to do dioramas of that before the election

    From what I recall the actual story on one that was on a Pharyngula thread suggesting that “This election is going to be interesting” turnes out to be highly misleading. Obama was hanged ineffigy by one individual with an unrelated issue – Obama not taking action on his particular case – possibly suffering a n injustice and the protest included about seven or eight hanged white officials and had nothing really to do with Obama or the election at all.

    Pharyngula’s cropped and cherry-picked caption on that particular thread and instance was highly misleading giving a totally false impression of a much more complex story.

    OTOH, it wouldn’t surprise me if some *other* effigies of a hanged Obama have been produced and if having Obama hung for whatever imagined demonic sins they consider him guilty of isn’t something that the occassional Tea Party extremist fantasies about.

    Real Tea party racism exists. The one incident posted pre-election wasn’t what it seems.

  24. eamick says

    @24:

    I suspect the freak out might reach WND levels but not make it onto Fox. A) Because of the temple shooting in August.

    Ignoring for the moment that it was a Sikh temple, are you honestly expecting sensitivity and tact from Fox?

  25. DaveL says

    My point is that if you allow, even in American, one religion, that is not a problem to American, to gain any sort of status, you will create a precedence that will be used by other religions.

    The precedent established in allowing individual public officials to make an oath or affirmation in keeping with their own individual religious traditions is that of freedom of religion, a precedent that I’m keen on establishing and reinforcing at every opportunity. I think it’s widely understood that the choice of object on which the oath is sworn, as well as the choice between an oath and an affirmation, are individual choices of the official and not an endorsement of that choice by any organ of government.

  26. kermit. says

    balstrome: [Hinduism is] a religion and therefore is not based on facts or reality, so it should be kicked as hard as we would normally kick Islam and Christianity.

    We should welcome diversity. Getting the intolerant Fundamentalists to accept different religions in their neighbors is a necessary first step to seeing possible errors in themselves , or not disowning their own children who may come to different conclusions. If they can tolerate Hindus, they will be a big step closer to tolerating atheists.

    Who would you trust more, a fundie theist who refuses to take an oath of office on their holy books and instead makes a promise to preform to the best of their ability or a mild theist who takes the oath on a religious book. I would be more inclined to trust the fundie theist.

    You’re reading an awful lot into the private decisions of an individual. It could have been at the request of a family member, a private joke, a personal ritual, a childhood promise, a personal affirmation, or any number of other motives which we are not privy to. On the whole I much prefer liberal Christians who are tolerant of differences and are not hostile to science.

    Please do not reject progress simply because it is not the final, desirable, goal.

  27. says

    My point is that if you allow, even in American, one religion, that is not a problem to American, to gain any sort of status, you will create a precedence that will be used by other religions.

    You’re about 500 years too late for that, skippy. Unless you’ve confused us with the original colonies, in which case why are you posting this on the internet?

    Who would you trust more, a fundie theist who refuses to take an oath of office on their holy books and instead makes a promise to preform to the best of their ability or a mild theist who takes the oath on a religious book. I would be more inclined to trust the fundie theist.

    Then you’re a schmuck, because that fundie theist is still going to enact law that is more fundamentalist than the mild theist.

  28. schweinhundt says

    eamick,

    While the two religions are related, valid point on the denomination of the temple.

    Regarding Fox, I think they will be much more freaked out about a lesbian being sworn in than a hindu–there’s only so much air time available to each genre of “controversy.”

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