(CHAKRA) Hindu Americans are appalled by the recent comments made by Republican presidential candidate and former Senator of Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum, on the eve of last Saturday’s South Carolina primary, according to the Hindu American Foundation (HAF). While speaking to a town hall audience, Santorum said that the concept of equality did not come from Islam or “Eastern religions,” but rather from the “God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
Leaders of HAF that had previously worked with Santorum when he served as Senator and even recognized his past work on human rights, were outraged by Santorum’s remarks.
“Sen. Santorum’s presidential campaign is now playing to the lowest common denominator of religious bigotry and prejudice by attacking Eastern religions and Islam,” said Aseem Shukla, M.D., Co-Founder and Board Member of HAF. “His comments not only demonstrate a disregard for America’s great history of pluralism and religious diversity, but also show a profound ignorance of the teachings of Dharma spiritual traditions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism.”
Santorum, who addressed a crowd of over 200 people at the Clock Restaurant in the small town of Boiling Springs, further declared that Americans should live “responsibly in conforming with God’s laws,” since their rights and equality come from God.
“For Mr. Santorum to present himself as a ‘true conservative’ is to defame the conservative movement that should never allow itself to be conflated with his intolerant message,” added Shukla.
Despite his last-minute appeals to South Carolina voters, the former Pennsylvania Senator finished in third place with 17% of the vote, behind both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, who received 27.8% and 40.4% respectively.
“Hinduism, the world’s oldest spiritual tradition, has long advanced the concept of equality that transcends humanity and is inclusive of the entire creation that is a manifestation of an immanent and omnipotent God,” said Jay Kansara, HAF’s DC-based Associate Director. “Mr. Santorum would do well in joining the millions of Americans who have actually read and drawn inspiration from the Bhagavad Gita and other Dharmic, or Eastern, scripture before making such divisive and ill-informed statements.”