What’s your reaction to President Obama’s recent statements to the Muslim world that “the United States is not, and never will be, at war with Islam” and that “we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation”?
I believe that President Obama is bringing the United States back to its truly secular state. A country that is open to all people of the world cannot be a Christian nation. It is, and always must be, a nation where everyone’s right to worship is not only guaranteed but respected.
There can be no respect with those who are pompous enough to believe that theirs is the only religion in the world. It brings into question: What do we mean by religion? Is it a set of texts written thousands of years ago to be enshrined in a book that is to be worshipped but not emulated? Does it mean that going to church, or temple, or synagogue or mosque several times a day makes one pious?
I would like to quote here a poem written by the Indian Nobel Laureate Poet Rabindranath Tagore:
Go not to the Temple to put flowers on the feet of God
First fill your house with the fragrance of love ….
Go not to the Temple to light candles before the alter of God
First remove the darkness of sin from your heart …..
Go not to the Temple to bow down your head in prayer,
First learn to bow in humility before your fellow [humans]….
Go not to the Temple to pray on bended knees,
First bend down to lift someone who is down-trodden….
Go not to the Temple to ask for forgiveness for your sins,
First forgive from your heart those who have sinned against you.