Christian protesters disrupt Hindu prayer in U.S. Senate

August 2, 2007 at 12:01 pm Leave a comment

Jul 31, USA (TUE) —

HinduclericA group of Christian protesters tried to shout down a Hindu clergyman who was invited to give the opening prayer during yesterday’s session of the Senate. Capitol Police say they arrested three people after they stood up and started yelling “this is an abomination” when guest chaplain Rajan Zed invited the Senate to join him in prayer.

Thanks the Congressional Record, we can now share the full text of the prayer that the protesters didn’t want anyone to hear:

Let us pray. 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 the Heaven. May He stimulate and illuminate our minds.

Lead us from the unreal to the 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. May no obstacle arise between us.

May the Senators strive constantly to serve the welfare of the world, performing their duties with the welfare of others always in mind, because by devotion to selfless work one attains the supreme goal of life. May they work carefully and wisely, guided by compassion and without thought for themselves.

United your resolve, united your hearts, may your spirits be as one, that you may long dwell in unity and concord.

Peace, peace, peace be unto all. Lord, we ask You to comfort the family of former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson. Amen.

The protesters’ concerns, according to the website of a Mississippi group that was trying to mobilize opposition to Zed’s appearance, were based on the fact that Hindus worship multiple Gods.

“It was a shocking event for all of us Christians,” the Rev. Flip Benham, head of Dallas-based Operation Rescue/Operation Save America, tells The Hill. “For all of these years we have honored the God of our Founding Fathers. It wasn’t a group of Hindus, Buddhists or Muslims that came here. It was Christians.”

The protesters, two men and a woman, face misdemeanor charges of disrupting Congress, according to the Associated Press. “We are Christians and patriots,” one of the men told a reporter before he was dragged out of the Senate gallery.

Benham issued a press release that criticizes Congress for allowing a Hindu chaplain to join them in prayer. “Not one Senator had the backbone to stand as our Founding Fathers stood. They stood on the Gospel of Jesus Christ!” he says.

Zed, who works on interfaith issues in Nevada, tells our cousins at the Reno Gazette-Journal that the incident points to the need for greater dialogue among religious leaders. “Every American should be honored with this prayer,” he says. “I understand we have seriously different philosophical traditions, but we should work for the common good and benefit of humankind.”

Watch a video of the incident at YouTube.

Rajan Zed is a Reno Hindu chaplain and community activist and a former member of the Gazette-Journal editorial board.

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