A new report published by a Hindu foundation is blasting Christian organizations across the nation, including the Southern Baptists’ missions board, Gospel for Asia and the Minnesota-based Olive Tree Ministries, which aims its ministry at teaching Christians about their beliefs, for having Internet “hate sites.”
“The proliferation of websites promoting religious hatred is an unfortunate consequence of the universality of access to the internet,” said Vinay Vallabh, the lead author of the report by the Hindu American Foundation.
“We must vigorously identify, condemn and counter those who use the Internet to espouse chauvinism and bigotry over the principles of pluralism and tolerance,” he said.
Jan Markell, who has been with the Olive Tree Ministries since 1977, has written eight books and hundreds of articles about Christians and their beliefs, at first wondered why she would be listed among ministries hated by a Hindu organization.
Then she remembered a series of articles warning Christians against participating in yoga, a Hindu form of worship.
“I’m big on it [opposing yoga for Christians],” she told WND. “I talk about it on the radio, and I write about it. And the irony of it all is, like Hindus, we don’t want Christians practicing yoga either.
“Hindus are saying basically, ‘Wait, this is our thing, this is not for you [Christians],'” Markell told WND. “The Hindus get it more right than the Christians on this issue.”
She said her work involves teaching Christians and encouraging their discernment. “There are [many] different issues that Christians are falling for. They have no excuse except they have no discernment,” she said. “[With Christian yoga], they are trying to sanctify divination. There’s no such thing.”
“When Christians invite it [yoga] into their life, they don’t seem to know they’re inviting in Hinduism,” she said. “We alert people to those dangers.”
“Olive Tree Ministries wants you to see how you fit into His grand plan of things as the end of the age draws near,” the ministry says. “We won’t be sensational. We will, however, look to the Bible as our guide. We call on solid, dispensational teachers to speak into this ministry, who minister in a balanced way, just as we strive to do. We find it grievous that the attitude today is that when Jesus and the ‘end-times’ come, they will come, but in the meantime, I have to live my life in the real world. Bible prophecy is for living in the real world right now.”
Her site, along with Bible Study Lessons from Antioch, Ill., The Christian Broadcasting Network, Christian Answers of Gilbert, Ariz., Mission Frontiers of Pasadena, Calif., and many others, however, were identified by the Hindu foundation as Internet “hate” sources.
“This is the first of what the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) hopes will be an annual report on anti-Hindu hatred found on the Internet,” said the report, which was from a group that provides “a voice for the 2 million strong Hindu American community.”
“Hate is an ugly thing, and its ugliness is well illustrated in its various manifestations on the Internet, including those detailed in this report,” wrote Jeffery Long, of Elizabethtown College, in the forward.
“The Internet, this tool of knowledge and communications, is regularly abused, becoming a vehicle for the worst human impulses, as reflected in the pervasiveness of pornographic websites and websites devoted to fomenting hatred and violence against particular religious and ethnic groups,” he wrote. “Many of the websites described in this report claim to speak from religious perspectives. But is the greatness of traditions like Christianity or Islam served by denigrating Hinduism or spreading false information about it? This report is a wake-up call to all Americans to work for a society in which all religions are respected, and in which the practitioners of all religions can feel safe and included.”
The report, called “Hyperlink to Hinduphobia: Online Hatred, Extremism and Bigotry Against Hindus,” describes how “demonic” and “satanic” are the “terms most commonly used today to describe Hinduism by numerous anti-Hindu websites easily accessible on the Internet.”
“As we all know, murderous rampages have been inspired by anti-Semitic and racist websites,” said Long. “And it is not necessary for a website to exhort its readers to actual, physical violence for it to lead to such violence.”
“It is our hope that this report will encourage ISP’s to voluntarily restrict sites that wantonly promote hatred and intolerance towards Hindus and Hinduism or any other religion – a necessary step as we continue our balancing act between free speech and licentious speech that leads to violence in the electronic age,” said Vallabh.
“Attacks on Hindus and their institutions are a daily reality in countries such as Bangladesh,” said the report. “Last year, even within the United States, a newly completed Hindu temple in Minnesota was desecrated by vandals that went on to destroy deities within the inner sanctum. The hate sites reflected in this report inspire and justify such violence.”
It advocated blocking content on the Internet judged to be “hate” speech.
“Effective solutions require … the cooperation of hosting providers … [who] are companies that maintain and run Web servers which rent space for websites. They may be required to check disturbing content and either remove it or make it inaccessible,” the report said.
The report was being distributed to members of Congress, non-governmental organizations, journalists, Hindu leaders and others, and was available for purchase from the organization.
A WND reader said it appeared to be nothing more than an attempt “to blacklist and ban popular Christian sites as ‘hate sites.'”
The Hindu American Foundation earlier sued the California State Board of Education because it viewed its procedures used to adopt school textbooks as unfair. It demanded that experts “have expertise in the specific subject area and be screened for potential conflicts of interest.”
It also last year condemned remarks made by U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Fla., when she told the Florida State Baptist Convention that, “If you’re not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin.”
“America is a pluralistic, tolerant society, one in which Ms. Harris’s remarks clearly are out of the mainstream,” the organization said.
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