Vicar keeps job after conversion to Hinduism
They are, however, differences with which the Church of England has increasingly little problem. One priest, the Rev David Hart, a convert to Hinduism, has been allowed to continue to officiate as a cleric. His diocese renewed his licence even though he had moved to India, changed his name to Ananda (Sanskrit for ‘happiness'), and participates daily in pagan fire offerings to the snake god Nagar, and offers prayers to the elephant god Ganesh. He also offers namaaz at Muslim prayer halls. He sees no contradiction between these practices and his duties as an Anglican priest; he said he will officiate in a Christian church and a Hindu temple because ‘My philosophical position is that all religions are cultural constructs… The modern world is no longer dominated by any single form of belief. It is a world of religious pluralism. The Anglican Church firmly believes in engaging itself fully in inter-faith dialogues. God is the same irrespective of whether you pray to him in a temple, church or mosque.’
Unfortunately, Mr Hart does not appear to understand the difference between inter-faith dialogue and inter-faith worship. As an active member of the Sea of Faith Network (need Cranmer say more?), he embraces the ‘spiritual’; there is no dogma, no orthodoxy, no truth; everything is what one wishes to make of it. He is therefore simultaneously a Hindu and a Christian; a Sikh and a Muslim; a Jew and a Buddhist; there is no difference. Quite where one is supposed to start with this absurd affirmation is not known; it requires numerous theses, not a blog entry. Does he actually believe Ganesh to be a real, divine entity? If so, do he and Jesus get along? Or is Ganesh just Jesus in an elephant suit? Or are Jesus and Ganesh actually something else: one disguised as a first century Jew, the other disguised as a large proboscidean?
The Rev Hart has reduced Jesus to simple manhood, rejecting his soteriological claims and the orthodox teaching of the Church of England. He is leading his flock astray in asserting that the laws of karma are synonymous with belief in judgement, heaven and hell, or that reincarnation is the same as resurrection. Hinduism is incompatible with the Christian religion, and the Church of England is wrong to permit this man to remain in holy orders. His acceptance is, however, indicative of the Church's likely approach to the next Coronation, where the promise to be 'Defender of Faith' is the most likely oath that will be presented to the Monarch. Such a development may put many in sympathy with today's Times, which makes a case for disestablishment as the only antidote to the infectious multi-cultural, multi-faith demands:
The CofE may be benign but its establishment encourages other, more extreme, religious groups to demand the same privileges, rights and favours of the state. The only equitable answer, say the secularists, is to turn the way of France and America and cleanse public life of all contact with faith and superstition.
Ahhh... that old chestnut...