American Hinduism

Jason at the Wild Hunt calls attention to this post on the CNN belief blog, which discusses the efforts of American Hindus to “Americanize” their religion in a drive to become more accepted in American society.

A lot of Indian immigrants who came to America in the ’60s and ’70s worked to establish enclaves of their culture, and it appears that their children are breaking out into the rest of society. It will still obviously be an uphill battle, but I suspect that the Neo-Advaitist pseudo-monotheism will help make Hinduism more palatable to a Christian mainstream. That, and many Hindu (and pseudo-Hindu) ideas have already been appropriated by newage and more liberal Christian sects.

Jason points out that this is relevant because Hinduism has certain aspects of belief and practice with neo-paganism, and a significant amount of outreach has occurred between the two communities. There is a big difference, though, and I’m curious to see how that difference is handled: These young Hindus are seeking to fully integrate into American mainstream culture, and most neopagans — especially Wiccans — are seeking to distance themselves from it.

I suspect that the mainstreaming and Americanizing of neopaganism will have to wait for second- and third- generation pagans to decide that they wish to be integrated into, and not segregated from, American culture. Given the tendency of many to become pagan out of (usually left-wing and counter-cultural) political motivations rather than religious ones, it may take even longer.


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