Christian activists disrupt
Hindu prayer in US Senate

(Top Posts - Social/Legal - 071307)


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Key excerpt:

"They say they want more religion in the public
square, but it's clear they mean only their religion."
Americans United Executive Director Rev. Barry
W. Lynn, said.

"America is a land of extraordinary religious diver-
sity, and the Religious Right just can't seem to
accept that fact," Lynn said. "I don't think the
Senate should open with prayers, but if it's going
to happen, the invocations ought to reflect the
diversity of the American people."

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13 Jul 2007

Times of India
  http://tinyurl.com/2gr463
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Complete article:

WASHINGTON: Christian activists briefly dis-
rupted a Hindu invocation in the U.S  Senate
on Thursday, marring a historic first for the
chamber and showing that fundamentalism is
present and shouting in the U.S too.

Invited by the Senate to offer Hindu prayers
in place of the usual Christian invocation,
Rajan Zed, a Hindu priest from Reno, Nevada,
had just stepped up to the podium for the
landmark occasion when three protesters,
said to belong to the Christian Right anti-
abortion group Operation Save America,
interrupted him by loudly asking for God's
forgiveness for allowing the ''false prayer''
of a Hindu in the Senate chamber.

"Lord Jesus, forgive us father for allowing
a prayer of the wicked, which is an abomin-
ation in your sight," the first protester shouted.
"This is an abomination. We shall have no
other gods before You."

Democratic Senator Bob Casey, who was
serving as the presiding officer for the morn-
ing, immediately asked the sergeant-at-arms
to restore order. But they continued to pro-
test as they were headed out the door by the
marshals, shouting, "No Lord but Jesus Christ!"
and "There's only one true God!"

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Zed, sporting a saffron robe, a rudraksh mala
round his neck, and a prominent tilak on his
forehead, then nervously went through the
invocation chosen from the Rig Veda and
Bhagavad Gita.

"Let us pray," he began, "We meditate on the
transcendental glory of the deity supreme, who
is inside the heart of the earth, inside the life
of the sky and inside the soul of heaven. May
he stimulate and illuminate our minds.

"Lead us from the unreal to real, from darkness
to light, and from death to immortality. May we
be protected together. May we be nourished
together. May we work together with great vigor.
May our study be enlightening."

The sentiments were evidently lost on the funda-
mentalists.

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The organization Operation Save America later
issued a statement confirming that Ante Pavko-
vic, Kathy Pavkovic, and Kristen Sugar were all
arrested in the chambers of the United States
Senate "as that chamber was violated by a false
Hindu god."

"The Senate was opened with a Hindu prayer
placing the false god of Hinduism on a level
playing field with the One True God, Jesus
Christ," the statement said, adding, "This would
never have been allowed by our Founding Fathers."

The Hindu prayer was also questioned by a Chris-
tian historian who maintained that since Hindus
worship multiple gods, the prayer will be com-
pletely outside the American paradigm, flying in
the face of the American motto "One Nation
Under God."

According to a Senate Chaplain Office communi-
qué, the purpose of the opening prayer is to seek
God on behalf of, and for the Senators and the
prayer should affirm our rich heritage as a Nation
"under God."

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"In Hindu (sic), you have not one God, but many,
many, many, many, many gods," the Christian
historian David Barton maintained. "And certainly
that was never in the minds of those who did the
Constitution, did the Declaration [of Independence]
when they talked about Creator -- that's not one
that fits here because we don't know which creator
we're talking about within the Hindu religion."

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But the disruption was deplored by the organiza-
tion Americans United for Separation of Church
and State, which said the incident showed the
intolerance of many Religious Right activists.

"They say they want more religion in the public
square, but it's clear they mean only their religion."
Americans United Executive Director Rev. Barry
W. Lynn, said.

"America is a land of extraordinary religious diver-
sity, and the Religious Right just can't seem to
accept that fact," Lynn said. "I don't think the
Senate should open with prayers, but if it's going
to happen, the invocations ought to reflect the
diversity of the American people."

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According to US Senate website, "...Throughout
the years, the United States Senate has honored
the historic separation of Church and State, but
not the separation of God and State...all sessions
of the Senate have been opened with prayer,
strongly affirming the Senate’s faith in God as
Sovereign Lord of our Nation..."

Typically, the Senate Chaplain delivers the open-
ing invocation, but sometimes guest chaplains
are invited from all over the country to read the
prayer.

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Although priests from other faiths such as Islam
and Judaism have delivered prayers in the Con-
gress, this is the first time Hindu invocations were
delivered on the Senate floor since its formation
in 1789.

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Zed said he wanted to recite the mantras in San-
skrit, but the Senate Chaplain’s Office communi-
qué clearly stated, "It must be given exclusively
and entirely in the English language."

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