by Scoobie Davis
Was Gandhi a Moral Relativist?
Some people have asked me why I used the term “sectarian right” instead of “religious right” or “Christian conservatives” in yesterday’s post. “Sectarian right” to me, is the most apt term because the principal aspect of the movement is not its religiosity but its sectarianism. Let me give one recent example. Yesterday on Bill O’Reilly’s radio show, self-appointed Virtue Czar Bill Bennett was on to talk about the flap over the Pledge of Allegiance. Bennett spoke about the uniquely Judeo-Christian nature of America and then pointed out that it isn’t “one nation under Vishnu” (Vishnu is a Hindu deity). Bennett went on and said that secularists opposed Christianity but not “exotic” religions like Hinduism. The reasons, according to Bennett:
I think [the supposed exotic religions] get a much easier ride. Notice some of the religions that I’m talking about are a little vaguer on some of this stuff—the ones that [secularists] don’t oppose. But, no, the heart and soul of the Judeo-Christian tradition is personal responsibility, guilt for your sins—and, I guess, maybe even the word “sin”--I think that’s probably the one word in the vocabulary some people would like to see out of existence more than any other, don’t you think?
Bennett is under the impression that Hinduism is vague on issues like sin and personal responsibility. This is very poor theology. Central to Hinduism is the concept of karma. The essence of karma is that one must account for one’s transgressions and that physical death does not free a person from his or her moral obligations.
I suspect that lack of Puritanism in Hinduism is what partially fuels Bennett’s words. According to the Hindu Catechism, “the purpose of sexual union is to express and foster love’s beautiful intimacy and to draw husband and wife together for procreation. While offering community guidance, Hinduism does not legislate sexual matters. Aum.” (Sloka 74).