Dilemmas of secularism in India and America

Meera Nanda in Axess, via One Good Move:

MeeraThis essay tells the tale of two religious nationalisms: Christian nationalism in America, that has found a welcome home in the Republican Party and George W Bush’s two administrations, and Hindu nationalism in India which always had a welcome home in the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), the party that ruled the country, off and on, through the 1990s until 2004. Christian nationalists declare the United States of America to be a Christian nation, its land God’s New Jerusalem, and its destiny to spread liberty around the world. Hindu nationalists, for their part, proclaim India to be a Hindu nation, its land the body of the mother goddess, and its destiny to spread spiritual enlightenment around the world.

Despite vast differences—even rivalries—in their theologies and global ambitions, the two seek very similar goals for their own societies: to replace the secular underpinnings of laws with religious values of their “God Lands.”1 They may or may not have lists of “fundamentals” to defend, but they share the religious maximalist mindset of any card-carrying fundamentalist, that is, they insist that religion ought to permeate all aspects of social and political life, indeed, of all human existence….What makes religious nationalists exceptionally powerful—and dangerous—is their ability to transfer people’s unconditional reverence for God to the nation, and to use people’s religiosity to sanctify the nation’s policies, even including those condoning violence against presumed enemies of the nation and God.

More here.