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Mar-13-2014 02:16printcomments

Arkansas: John Brown Professor Calls Hindu Gods ''Demonic'' & Hinduism ''Ugly''

"...yoga is the beautiful face that the very ugly religion of Hinduism uses..." - Professor Deborah Raiees-Dana

Deborah Raiees-Dana of John Brown University
Deborah Raiees-Dana of John Brown University

(RENO) - I have a feeling the radical abolitionist John Brown, who brought hell down on the practice of slavery, would not have liked Professor Deborah Raiees-Dana of John Brown University at all. Brown took a violent, unwavering path toward freeing slaves and halting slavery expansion in the United States during the pre-Civil War years.

Raiees-Dana on the other hand, spends time writing articles for the university's student newspaper that drive fear, hatred and disdain for Hinduism. It seems so contrary to Brown's mission for God. OK, before we go any further, John Brown University is not named for the abolitionist John Brown. This school's namesake was a different man, but I know what people think of when they hear that name and I am no exception.

Hindus are upset over an article by Raiees-Dana in Arkansas’s John Brown University (JBU) student newspaper calling Hindu gods "demonic" and Hinduism an "ugly religion".

I write about Genocide and war crimes. Those are demonic. Christians, Buddhists and Muslims are guilty of this crime. The one religion I do not encounter in this regard is Hinduism, and that is a large point. I'm taking about modern history.

Due to years of intense research and writings on the 2009 Genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka, I have become increasingly familiar with Hindu people and history and culture and while nobody is perfect, Hindus are peaceful and admirable. Hindu people believe in killing no living thing. That is a beautiful approach to life.

I know it is Arkansas, and the answer may lie in that simple, regional reality, but I fail to understand what is gained from painting an ugly picture of a bright, colorful and peaceful religion.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada released Wednesday, said that such statements coming out of an educational institution were really shocking.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged JBU President Dr. Charles Pollard to apologize to the Hindu community, immediately withdraw March 13 (Issue 18, Volume 79) print edition of “The Threefold Advocate” from circulation and remove the objectionable article from its online edition.

At the time of this writing, it is still posted on the student paper's Website.

I thought student newspapers were for student writings, perhaps I missed something. If controversy must exist, is it proper for that to come from staff?

So who is Professor Deborah Raiees-Dana and what would possess her to spread demonic fear? Here is an excerpt from the story in question:

"My story is too long and complex to explain fully, but I was saved while in elementary school, experimented with witchcraft in junior high, started drugs in high school and was deeply involved with the New Age—including yoga—during my college years. About 30 years ago I turned back to Jesus. About 20 years ago I began the process of being delivered from numerous demonic spirits."

Wasn't Linda Blair's character in The Exorcist only infected with one spirit? Ms. Raiees-Dana had numerous demonic spirits? How into drugs was this lady?

Rajan Zed pointed out that it was, "highly inappropriate for a publication of an educational institution like JBU, which was listed as one of America’s Best Colleges by Forbes, to belittle Hinduism, which was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought."

The article titled "Rethink yoga" by Raiees-Dana, who is described as “the tutoring coordinator for Student Support Services”, includes lines "...yoga is the beautiful face that the very ugly religion of Hinduism uses..." and "...yoga has its roots in the worship of demonic Hindu gods." It further says: "There is more I have left unsaid than I have said."

Rajan Zed said, "Our gods were highly revered to us and we considered them divine and worship them and our religion was very sacred to us. JBU, which claimed to be an educational leader providing 'academic, spiritual and professional foundation for world-impacting careers' to students from across the globe, should be more sensitive about the feelings of 'others'."

There are about three million Hindus in the USA.

JBU opened in 1919. Its 200-acre main campus is located in Siloam Springs in Northwest Arkansas. The campus serves over 2,500 students from 42 US states and 44 countries. Its Mission includes "...education that prepares people to honor God and serve others by developing their intellectual, spiritual, and professional lives".

President Pollard states under "Greetings" on the website that JBU is dedicated to one thing, educating the whole person - "head, heart and hand." The school, "admits students of any faith". Michael R. Kairis is Chairman of its Board of Trustees and Sidney Van Wyk is the Editor-in-Chief of "The Threefold Advocate".

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Mick Dublin April 9, 2014 1:07 am (Pacific time)

http://www.hinduism.co.za/jesus.htm


jo blo March 30, 2014 7:07 pm (Pacific time)

Sure would be nice if we saw the same kind of outrage from our mind-molester 'journalists' whenever Christianity is demonized, daily, in universities across the country.


David March 19, 2014 9:40 pm (Pacific time)

The author of the "opinion" piece in the student newspaper is not a professor and doesn't speak for the university. Bigots and misinformed people can be found at any university, even at schools outside the so-called Bible Belt.


Anonymous March 14, 2014 4:20 pm (Pacific time)

John Brown University isn't named after the abolitionist John Brown. It is named after the John Brown that believed people could work to get an education. May want to do your research better next time.

OK that is just plain stupid.  In the second paragraph I explained why I made the point I made, you need to learn how to read before you comment.


Dana: different decade, same story March 14, 2014 3:59 pm (Pacific time)

http://www.sullivan-county.com/news/pat_quotes/hindus.htm 1995>"By accusing Hinduism of being demonic, Robertson is merely reinforcing the age-old stereotype that has been placed on the Indian culture by the West. "That's been standard operating procedure missionaries have used ever since they invaded India in the 19th century," explains Dr. Gordon Melton, Director of the Institute for the Study of American Religions.

"In approaching Eastern religions and African religions, it has been the stance of most conservative Christians that the deities of those religions are, in fact, personified demons. And that perspective goes back to the Jewish encounter with the Caananite culture a millennia ago as described in the Bible."


Anonymous March 14, 2014 3:41 pm (Pacific time)

http://advocate.jbu.edu/?q=node/1134 original opinion by Dana, and comment by student-editor of student paper, to criticisms of college employee-Dana's opinion that there are demonic Hindu gods: http://advocate.jbu.edu/?q=node/1137


Jay March 14, 2014 7:53 am (Pacific time)

You may want to do a bit more research before you write an article. John Brown University wasn't established or affiliated with the abolitionist John Brown. It is associated with the less well known evangelist of the same name.

I clarified that in the second paragraph Jay, but the average American only knows of the abolitionist JB, I'm just saying...


Nicholas March 14, 2014 7:29 am (Pacific time)

Wait a second, what's the problem here? A Christian professor expressed her beliefs at a Christian school. Who are you to say she is wrong for saying that? I believe that JBU should leave the article up, anyone that takes offense does so because they freely choose to. Why is this a big deal at all, I feel like someone just wants to make an argument against Christianity. Tell me, how exactly did Ms. Raiees-Dana's comment hurt anyone? This is just another example of extremely biased media trying to make problems out of nothing.


Evan Mac March 14, 2014 7:27 am (Pacific time)

Such poor reporting... You obviously didn't read this article for yourself. The direct quote you use is the writer paraphrasing a speaker at their campus. "I spoke to one of our chapel speakers years ago about this. He was a Dalit “untouchable” from India who had become a Christian. His view is that yoga is the beautiful face that the very ugly religion of Hinduism uses to sell itself to Americans." Here is the article for anyone who wants to know what it actually says: http://advocate.jbu.edu/?q=node/1134


Mallory Douglas March 14, 2014 7:10 am (Pacific time)

I think the journalist who wrote this didn't fact check. The Kohn Brown that founded John Brown University wasn't the one he spoke of.


Joe Navarro March 13, 2014 10:59 am (Pacific time)

To vilify the Bible Belt smacks of the same intolerance as shown by Ms. Raines-Dana. Though stereotypes abound about Arkansas, there are diverse peoples here and not everyone has the same viewpoint as the article in question. In fact, there are yoga classes offered at John Brown University, so clearly her viewpoint is in a tiny minority at the school. Moreover, the university is named after its founder, John E. Brown, a Methodist evangelist from the early 20th century.


Dan'l Johnson March 13, 2014 10:05 am (Pacific time)

I'm not the one to write it, but another necessary book is "What's wrong with Arkansas"--Actually, it's the entire Bible Belt. Deboah Raines-Dana needs to go no further than the Old Testament to find an even more hateful demonic deity.

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