The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Anglican priest defends himself on conversion to Hinduism

T`PURAM: Anglican priest David A Hart, whose open espousal of Hinduism has sparked a debate in British religious circles, says he will continue his exploration of the “oneness” of religions and remained unfazed by the consequences it could have on his priesthood.

“Some people say my licence as a priest is under review. I am not doing anything wrong here. I am a convert to the Hinduism here because that is the local religion. And practising Hinduism is in no way incompatible with my faith in Christ,” Hart, now staying at Karumam near here, told PTI.

After coming to know about his “conversion”, ‘Church Times’ of the Church of England (C of E) has launched a debate and online poll on the feasibility of allowing hart to officiate as a priest.

Attached to the diocese of ELY in England, 52-year-old hart had taught theology at the university of derby for several years. Though he had visited India several times since 1987, he came here for an extended stay last year teaching English and theology in a local seminary.

Dressed in a saffron ‘dhoti’ and pristine white shirt, hart the other day enthusiastically mingled with local crowd in celebrating Shri Krishna Jayanthi and, a few days back, was seen worshiping lord Ganesh.

Hart said he had not received any official communication from the bishop of ELY about his priesthood being reconsidered.

Hart’s ‘pooja room’ at his house here has pictures of Christ and Krishna, virgin Mary and Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of art and learning.

There is even a plastic ‘nagar,’ the serpent revered and worshipped by the Hindus. Also, on the wall of the drawing room was displayed a poster depicting the holy places of Islam.

Author of several books on religion with the latest being ‘trading faith’, hart said celebrating god in non-human forms need not be considered as ‘un-Christian’ as Jesus was represented as a lamb in the Book of Revelation in the Bible.

“After all, god is not a human being. God is the god of creation. What is important is that we have to have a symbol. Worshipping god in the form of human being had come to be practised by religions in a later period in history.”

Hart, also secretary of World Congress of Faiths, said his understanding of the Hinduism had helped him learn Christianity better. He noted that there was much similarity between Christ and Krishna.

“You saw in my ‘pooja’ room, pictures of Krishna with his mother and also infant Jesus on the lap of the mother. How could then we say that Hindu beliefs are incompatible with those of the Christians,” he asked.
(Courtesy: New Indian Express)

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