Friday, May 26, 2006

Pope peddles his soap water

BBC NEWS | South Asia | India protests over Pope comments  

It was back when I was in college I heard a good friend of mine refer to prosthelitizing as marketing. I still remember what he said – “I hate these guys. Why do they feel the need to market their religion?” Then I read an article written by the famous Germaine Greer, where she lashed out at Mother Theresa. Her message was simple – if you can only save a dying person by forcing them to part with their faith then shame on you. I still remember having a big argument with my mother on that. She defended Mother Theresa and I defended Germaine Greer.

Ever since that I have followed the whole issue of prosthelitizing and religious conversions with great interest. My approach to religion is bit like what Rajeev Srinivasan once said – “religion is like soap-powder. In essence all soap-powders are the same, but through clever marketing pitches, we consumers begin to feel that our particular soap-powder is somehow superior to that used by others.”  That said, I have not seen any religion market itself so hard and often as Christianity. It is often blatant and in your face. In India they employ the story of saving the downtrodden from the ills of Hindu caste system. But, the reality is caste system exists in all religions, especially in India -  Dalit Christians is an example.

Ultimately, prosthelitizing I think is the highest form of religious intolerance. It is after an effort to impose your beliefs on others because you feel that it is the best – switch and be saved, remain and you are doomed.

Anyway, I am glad that the Indian government finally showed some courage and protested over Pope’s comments.

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