Idol Chatter

When the tempest first broke about Elizabeth Hurley’s Hindu wedding to Arun Nayar in Jodhpur, India, the headlines read “Hurley’s Interfaith Marriage Contested by Hindu Traditionalists,” and celebrity watchers and religion geeks scoffed in unison at the closed-mindedness of the Hindu hardliners. Wrote marriage maven Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway, “LOVE is the same, EVERYWHERE. From my perspective and experience, the soul makes no distinction between religion, culture, race.” Case closed.

But when court papers were filed this week, the complainant didn’t cite the marriage for mingling faiths. Instead, according to the Indian news site, the complaint charged that “since Hurley and Nayar had married in Britain in accordance with Christian rituals and started living as husband and wife, there was no reason to perform the marriage again according to Hindu traditions.”

This may not make much sense to Western minds. Christian churches tend to be exclusive about their claims to religious truth and tradition, even when it comes to love (sad but true, Laurie Sue). Because we have firm denominational boundaries, we’re used to tag-teaming with two faiths at our weddings: A reverend and a rabbi meet some couples at the altar.

There’s been more than a few couples who follow a Las Vegas wedding with a Catholic ceremony to make it stick. Despite the hardliner’s wish for racial purity, Hinduism is a little more porous. Imagine if a couple went around getting married in several Christian churches. At some point we’d cry blasphemy. Similarly, the complaint filed against Hurley and Nayar’s Hindu ceremony claimed that the marriage “maligns the spiritual sanctity of the religion and Indian mythology.”

The court case may be a mask for the original intolerance. But there is a little more to the complaint’s spiritual wrinkle than simple prejudice.

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