Ted Cruz, in the Iowa victory speech, said his country was built on “Judeo-Christian values” and mentioned the 150 pastors who in the course of the campaign “energised faith”!
I thought USA was salad bowl of separate and coexisting cultures not an assimilative homogenous one like a melting pot and was built upon a civil religion around secular symbols to celebrate a non sectarian creed. The Presidential hopeful, however, feels differently and I am sure he knows his country better than I do. And what is more significant still is that those voting for him share his views.
It is interesting in this context to refer to Trump’s introduction by Rev Jerry Falwell during a visit to Liberty University, Virginia: “In my opinion Donald Trump lives a life of loving and helping others as Jesus taught in the great commandment.”
I wonder how this preference for one set of values for another stands with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the American Constitution which not only builds a wall of separation between the church and the State but bars preferring one religion to another. It seems however that the candidates feel they have to pass a kind of religious test to be considered qualified to hold the post of President.
Trump wanted banning of all Muslims into the USA and Cruz showed his policy would have a religious orientation by saying Syrian Muslim refugees should not be permitted into the USA.
I mention this because the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Report 2015 made an adverse mention of “religiously divisive campaigning in advance of the 2014 elections” urging the Indian government to “rebuke government officials and religious leaders who make derogatory statements about religious communities.” And President Obama had also famously advised India on his visit to the country “against splintering on the lines of religious faith”.
It is apparent what is being preached is not being practiced.
A narrow and sequestered thinking is a blow to multiculturalism – the recognition and preservation of cultural diversity and if multiculturalism is going to be a casualty there will be a consequential absence of an intercultural competence that is not only the knowledge of the beliefs, customs and habits of non Judeo-Christian people but more importantly an understanding of them.
Both Cruz and Trump will be closely aligned to Operation Save America, a fundamentalist organization opposed to abortion, homosexuality and non-Christian religions. I remember the same attitude was responsible for describing Hindu prayers as Abomination which in Biblical terms means forbidden and unclean. Hindus would be false worshipers indulging in superstition and satanism!
World leaders are meant to have cross cultural competence. Only then they can be effective in intercultural interaction. The moral absolutism deriving from the divine commands of one’s religion will impair a reasoned interaction with a contrary point of view because of the a-priori attitude of their dogmatic position. It is an age of interdependence and common rules not insularity or personal preferences.
Cruz and Trump symbolize a form of cultural imperialism which will only enhance not address or resolve international conflict. Limited by their perceptions they will fail to realise the value in cultural variety to be in a position to correctly identify the moral absolutes amongst the diversities around which moral absolutes alone any effective, rational and ethical policy can be structured. Lets hope this election is not of a rabble roused.