Increased Evangelic Heresies
American evangelicals’ grasp on Christian theology is slipping, according to Christianity Today’s coverage of a 2022 survey by Ligonier Ministries and Lifeway Research. Twenty-six percent of evangelicals now believe the Christian Bible “is not literally true,” up from 15 percent in 2020. “This view makes it easy for individuals to accept [only] biblical teaching that they resonate with,” the researchers wrote. Here we discuss two of the most common unorthodox beliefs evangelicals espoused in this survey.
The first is that “Jesus isn’t the only way to God.” More than half, 56%, of evangelical respondents affirmed that “God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam,” up from 42 percent in 2020. And while the question doesn’t mention every religion, Christianity Today wrote, it indicates a trend toward universalism—believing there are ways to bypass Jesus in our approach to and acceptance by God. This contradicts orthodox theology found in the Bible, in which Jesus affirms that “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
The second unorthodox belief is that “Humans aren’t sinful by nature.” Fifty-seven percent agreed that “Everyone sins a little, but most people are good by nature.” In other words, humans are capable of individual sins, but we do not have sinful natures. This response, that humans are born essentially good, leans toward a Christian heresy known as Pelagianism, Christianity Today explains. This denies the doctrine of “original sin,” which is based on a number of biblical passages, such as Romans 5:12. Other heretical beliefs on the increase include: The Holy Spirit is not a personal being, Jesus is a created being, and Jesus is not God.
Hindus, among others, will welcome this positive trend toward more tolerant, open-minded beliefs.
Indian Descendants Celebrate 170th Arrival Anniversary
May 6, 2023, marked 170 years since the first 313 Indian indentured laborers were brought from South India to the Caribbean island of Martinique after slavery was abolished. They were followed by 25,000 more, mostly Hindu. About 60% remained after their five-year contracts expired. Conditions were oppressive, so they lived discreetly and combined Hinduism with Christianity. Consequently, today they are seldom mentioned during the West Indies annual Indian Arrival Day celebrations, overshadowed by Trinidad and Guyana. No formal documentation exists beyond postcard archives from the colonial perspective.
This year it’s starting to change. Francetvinfo.fr profiled Bruno Alimelie, a Hindu priest for 25 years at his humble temple to Goddess Mariamman. Martinique has seven Hindu temples. Says Bruno, “The Hindu priest is there to help people who need some healing. To be a priest, you have to be in harmony with the spirits, you have to have that little something that speaks to you in your head, in your heart and shows what has to be done.” A crescent and star nailed to a nearby tree trunk are also honored. He explains, “It’s called the Nagoulon, a Muslim flag. On the boat Aurélie, carrying our ancestors, there was a Muslim priest who asked the Gods to save the lives of Tamils and Muslims. If they arrived safely, they were to erect a flag in his honor. The boat arrived safely. At our rituals, those who want to can honor the ‘flag’ or ask for mercy.”
Islander Claire-Ania Virgile, of African and Indian lineage, has documented today’s Tamil Hindu community in her new photobook, Sacred Vision: Indian Diaspora and Rastafari in Martinique. She dives into the heart of a mystical culture, which is largely on the fringes of Caribbean official history.
Royal Scepter Installed in India’s New Parliament Building
The sengol, a historical golden scepter from Tamil Nadu, was accorded its prior glory on May 28, 2023, when the heads of 20 Saivite Aadheenams helped install it in the Lok Sabha chamber amidst the singing of devotional Devaram hymns to Lord Siva. It now stands majestically in a glass and wood case near the chair of the Speaker, while for the past 75 years, following initial fame, the scepter was virtually unnoticed.
Thecommunemag.com reports that on August 14, 1947, drawing on the ancient Chola dynasty custom of enthroning a new king, the same Sengol, newly made, was presented to Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, by the Saivite Thiruvavaduthurai Aadheenam, symbolizing transfer of power from the British. The Nandi (bull) on top represents justice and fairness, which the new ruler vows to uphold in the name of Lord Siva. Photos of the event were widely published in Indian and international media.
In the post-colonial Nehruvian establishment’s determination to secularize India, thecommunemag.com notes, the event was suppressed and the scepter forgotten. For 75 years, it languished in the Anand Bhavan Museum in Allahabad.
Upon learning of its beloved position in history, India’s current central government ceremoniously restored the Sengol to its rightful prominence.
New Temple in Bari City
The first hindu temple in Bari opened in January, 2023, reports quintopotere.it. It is dedicated to Lord Ganesha, who protects prosperity and removes obstacles. Bari, the capital of the Apulia region on the Adriatic Sea, is the second most important economic center of mainland Southern Italy after Naples. Mauritian immigrants, who have lived in Bari for decades, now finally have an official place to worship and celebrate together. The first event after inauguration was to honor the 25th wedding anniversary of the priest, Indy Pauvaday, and his wife, Naveeta. The temple hall will also serve as a hatha yoga center open to all citizens, with courses held by Bari native Dario Bissanti.
First Birthday Bash in Bavaria
The sri lankan tamil community in southern Bavaria celebrated the one-year anniversary of their Sellapillaiyar Ganesha Temple on June 4, 2023, in the German town of Fürstenfeldbruck. Journalist Birgit Ratsch of br.de covered the festival and parade. She noted that though the temple is located on S-Bahn rail tracks in an industrial park, when you enter it, “you are in a different world.” Ierai Dharmakulasingham, who came from Munich to attend, noted that Ganesha plays a major role in the life of nearly every Hindu: “No matter what we start, whether it’s a test, whether it’s building a house, we pray first to God Ganesha and that’s why He is our most important God.” The colorful chariot caught the eye of passersby. “I’m totally amazed now, at first I thought I’d been transported to India,” said a woman who had just wanted to pick someone up from the S-Bahn.
Historic Apology Made to
In an emotionally charged “Reconciliation and Thanksgiving” service organized in an indoor stadium by Fiji’s Methodist Church on May 16, 2023, the church’s president, Reverend Ili Vunisuwai, and Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka formally apologized to the Indo-Fijian community for the suffering and insults they have endured post independence, signaling what the islands’ leaders call “building a new era” of peace and prosperity.
As reported at eurasiareview.com, the Indian community, already traumatized from being unfairly brought here by the British as indentured laborers in the late 1800s, suffered greatly after Fiji’s independence, despite working hard and dominating business and professional fields. In 1987 and 2000, military coups—strongly supported by the Methodist Church—ousted elected governments with mostly Indian Cabinet members, including the first Indo-Fijian Prime Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry. Indian businesses were burned down and thousands emigrated, reducing Indo-Fijians from half the population to about 35% today.
Rabuka—who led the first coup—told a stunned audience that what he did in 1987 was wrong. “We confess our wrongdoings, we confess that we have hurt so many of our people in Fiji, particularly those of Indo-Fijian community of the time and among them sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters of those that were indentured as laborers from India between 1879 and 1916.” Rabuka’s wife, seated in the front row, wiped away tears as he spoke. He also acknowledged that many in the Indo-Fijian community have left since then.
Addressing those who have stayed on, he said they have every right to feel angry about what was done to them. He thanked the Indo-Fijian community leaders for helping to bring “some restoration in our relationships over the past few years.” “As you forgive, you release us and you are released. You are released from hatred and from your anger, and we begin to feel the peace of God coming to our beings and our lives,” added Rabuka. He was immediately followed by Mahendra Chaudhry who, in an equally emotional speech, recalled the hurt and bitterness they experienced during the coup. He said, “I am deeply honored by the Prime Minister’s gesture. I also accept your apology…. Thank you very much for your magnanimity.”
Reverend Vunisuwai then stated, “The only way forward for a better and prosperous Fiji is to confess our wrongdoings, repent from committing sin and live together in peace and harmony. On that foundation I hereby stand in the holy presence of God and also in the honorable presence of our brothers, your families and friends in Fiji and abroad to seek your forgiveness for all that had taken place in the past in our beloved country.” At the end of the service, Fiji’s leaders signed the Forward Fiji Declaration, vowing that “there will be no more coups and divisions,” and promising mutual understanding and respect to build the new Fiji.
canada’s northernmost hindu temple opened on May 25, 2023. Fort McMurray Today reports that the $8 million Sanatan Mandir Cultural Center is the culmination of 13 years of fundraising and volunteer work. Fort McMurray is in the middle of Alberta’s huge Athabasca oil sands. Many Indian families have moved there for work.
as of june 2, 2023, bali has abruptly banned tourism on all 22 of its mountains and volcanoes in response to foreigners misbehaving, and numerous accidents, including deaths. The Bali Sun reports that even locals are prohibited “unless there are religious ceremonies or disaster management and special activities that are not for tourism,” said Governor Wayan Koster. The ban is a victory for conservationists, but a huge blow to tourism, impacting all the small businesses that depend on it for their income.
the eighth hindu dharma Acharya Sabha convention on April 4, 2023, in Ahmedabad, India, among other demands, requested governments to “exit temple management.” Pipa News quoted a press release, “Many ancient temples have been encroached upon by state governments, and the funds are mostly misused. The Acharya Sabha asks the government to step out of the temples and allow the communities to manage them as has been done for many centuries,” and which minority religions already have the freedom to do.
The California Civil Rights Department voluntarily dismissed its case in April, 2023 against two Cisco Systems engineers who faced allegations of caste-based discrimination, according to a press release by the Hindu American Foundation. Filed nearly three years ago, the case made global headlines, with false claims about the Hindu religion and xenophobic depictions of people of Indian origin, eliciting widespread outrage in the Indian and Hindu American communities.
Pakistan’s higher education Council has banned the celebration of Holi and other Hindu holidays in all universities. News 9 Live reports that the move is to preserve the “Islamic character of Pakistan.” The directive was issued just after Quaid-i-Azam University students celebrated Holi on campus on June 12, 2023 and footage of the occasion went viral.