In this article, we compare the treatment of different religions in Encarta. We find that there are significant differences in the treatment of Hinduism vs. the treatment of Islam or Christianity in both the selection of content and the attitude displayed in the writing -- resulting in a distinctly negative portrayal of Hinduism vs. the other religions. We conjecture that the reason for this difference is related largely to the difference choices in the selection of authors -- whether they are emic or etic and their area of interest or specialization in the religion they study. We also find that Prof. Doniger, the author of the Encarta article on Hinduism is controversial within the Hindu community.

The authors of the article on "Islam" and "Christianity" have a mature and balanced viewpoint and they represent their religions in a way that the vast majority of adherents will find appropriate and positive. We commend Encarta for their choice of authors in portraying these religions in a sympathetic way. Unfortunately, the same balance and sympathy is not visible in the article on Hinduism. While Prof. Doniger is certainly free to pursue her specific areas of interest and scholarship in Hinduism, we do not believe that her article represents the mainstream of Hindu thought in both the selection of content and its interpretation, which would be appropriate for a widely read source such as Encarta. Given that Prof. Doniger's specific interests and attitudes strongly influence the article, it would be insufficient to simply remove a few of the most glaring examples of negativism, while leaving the rest of the article unchanged. We recommend instead that an article written by someone "emic" to the community, who can represent Hinduism in a positive, mainstream viewpoint, promptly replace the article on Hinduism in Encarta. We also recommend that further research be done to study the instances, causes, effects and resolutions for the prejudice in the study of Hinduism in America. Note: Unless otherwise stated, all quotes are from Microsoftr Encartar Reference Library 2002. c 1993-2001 Microsoft Corporation.

* Starred material indicates hypothetical quotations for the purpose of illustration, not actual quotations from Encarta. These quotations are also not the views of the author who neither supports these quotations nor suggests that they be used to depict that religion in question.

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