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Saying "Hinduism is a false religion" is not a lie: Earl

By Ramesh Kallidai
Controversy erupted over the release of a report by the House of Lords Select Committee on Religious Offences from Westminster today. Leaders of the UK Hindu community are deeply upset over a statement made by the Earl of Mar and Kellie, published in the minutes of the oral evidence given by the Hindu community to the Select Committee in November 2002. The report and the minutes were made released today with a statement by the House of Lords that predicted controversy over the attempted amendment to the law governing blasphemy.
At the oral evidence given to the members of the Select Committee, Ramesh Kallidai who spoke on behalf of the Hindu Community pointed out an article by the Christian Medical Fellowship’s Pastor Juge Ram that claimed that Hindus were lost and spiritually blind and that Hinduism was a false religion. Responding to this statement, the Earl of Mar and Kellie said, “They (the Christian Medical Fellowship) were not actually telling any lies about the Hindu religion in the sense that they were not actually putting out any false remarks which were possibly going to distort people or mis-educate them.”
Hindu leaders in the UK are shocked that a person who sits on a panel to enquire about legislation to Religious Offences could be seen to support a sweeping statement of vilification of one billion Hindus in the world.

“To say that all Hindus are spiritually lost and blind and that Hinduism is a false religion is not something that most Hindus would agree to be a truthful statement,” said Ramesh Kallidai, who had given evidence at the House of Lords.
The Earl of Mar and Kellie
Iwas distressed to read this statement by the Earl,” claimed O P Sharma, President of the National Council of Hindu Temples. “This is not conducive to interfaith relations in this country, particularly in light of the government’s community cohesion agenda.”

“The crucial issue here is that the Earl purports to say that the statement, Hindus are lost and spiritually blind, is not a distortion,” pointed out the Chair of HINCOM, Swami Nirliptananda. “It is clear that a person holding or supporting such views may not be in an appropriate position to enquire about the legalities of religious offence.”

Similarly questioning the position of the Earl on the Religious Offence Committee, Mr Venilal Vaghela, Chair of the Hindu Council of Brent said, “An enquiry should be conducted as to why a person who holds supports such shocking vilification of one religion by another can sit on a panel that will enquire about religious offences.”

President of the Hindu Community Centre, Birmingham, Mahendra Dhabi, expressed his shock too. “The Christian Medical Fellowship’s article is a short-sighted view of Hinduism. If the Law Lords themselves support such views, then it must be concluded that the Select Committee itself started from a point of bias. They must be educated and made aware that it is precisely statements like these that encourage people to take a stand against other religions”

The President of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad UK. Dr Giridhar Bhan pointed out that vilification of Hindus and their faith had  been going on for a long time.  “In recent times, efforts have been made to increase interfaith initiatives to rectify this. However, we are appalled by this statement which is deeply offensive to the Hindu ethos, and is a major set-back to the interfaith initiatives. We hope  that people of goodwill will disown it.”

“Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world,” said Ratilal Chohan, General Secretary of the Hindu Council of North. “We have such a rich cultural and religious heritage from the Veda to the Mahabharata. If a person is not aware of our historical heritage, they should not support such vilification of this great religion. It does not represent the progressive thinking of the 21st century.”

Dr J C Sharma Former General Secretary and present Director of the Hindu Council UK claimed that the Earl’s choice of words were those of a person ignorant of the Hindu religion. “They are the words of someone who has a very wrong opinion of 700,000 Hindus in this country and one billion Hindus in the world. They need to be made aware of the damage such statements will do to community relations in this country.”

Historically, the Houses of Parliament have witnessed earlier attempts to vilify Hindus. Lord Macaulay had made a statement in the 19th Century at the House of Commons to say that the all the ancient books of wisdom from India could not compare with the one shelf of books from England. He had wanted to make a race of Indians, “brown in colour, but English in thinking.”

“I am shocked that thinking like Lord Macaulay’s still exists in modern Britain,” concluded Dr J C Sharma.

For the minutes of the Hindu evidence given at the Select Committe on Religious Offences, click here

Extract from the House of Lords Report of the
Select Committee on Religious Offences in England and Wales,
Volume II, Oral Evidence, HL Paper 95-II, (ISBN 010 400226 3)

Page 206

(Mr Kallidai): I recently came upon an article which may not be incitement to religious hatred, but in our opinion is vilification and ridiculing the Hindu belief system. This is an article published in July 2000 by the Christian Medical Fellowship and the article was written by Pastor Juge Ram who is a convert from Hinduism to Christianity and I quote from his article which was published by on their website. The article says as follows, “Hindus are lost and spiritually blind. They are without hope in this world and in the next. Only Christ can release them. Hinduism is a false religion.” So in our humble opinion we think this is definitely vilification and ridiculing of one billion Hindus who are established in a particular religious system.

PAGE 207
Earl of Mar and Kellie
Following on the question about the Christian Medical Fellowship, it struck me from what you read out that they were just making unpleasant statements, to put it mildly, but there not actually telling any lies about the Hindu religion in the sense that they were not actually putting out any false remarks which were possibly going to distort people and mis-educate them. Could tellingt a deliberate lie in order to misinform people be called ---

(Mr Kallidai) I think to say that all Hindus are spiritually lost and blind and that Hinduism is a false religion is not something that most Hindus would agree to be a truthful statement, so to speak….the reason I pointed this out was merely to illustrate this point that one billion Hindus would not agree with the statement that the Christian Medical Fellowship people have made.