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Protesters Disrupt First U.S. Senate Prayer By A Hindu

WASHINGTON – A Hindu clergyman made history Thursday by offering the U.S. Senate’s morning prayer, but only after police officers removed three shouting protesters from the visitors’ gallery.
Rajan Zed, director of interfaith relations at a Hindu temple, gave the brief prayer that opens each day’s Senate session. As he stood at the chamber’s podium in a bright orange and burgundy robe, two women and a man began shouting “this is an abomination” and other complaints from the gallery.
Police officers quickly arrested them and charged them with disrupting Congress, a misdemeanor. The male protester told an Associated Press reporter, “we are Christians and patriots” before police handcuffed them and led them away.
For several days, the Mississippi-based American Family Association has urged its members to object to the prayer because Zed would be “seeking the invocation of a non-monotheistic god.”
Zed, the first Hindu to offer the Senate prayer, 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 the heaven. May He stimulate and illuminate our minds.”
As the Senate prepared for another day of debate over the Iraq war, Zed closed with, “Peace, peace, peace be unto all.”
Zed, who was born in India, was invited by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat. Speaking in the chamber shortly after the prayer, Reid defended the choice and linked it to the war debate.
“If people have any misunderstanding about Indians and Hindus,” Reid said, “all they have to do is think of Gandhi,” a man “who gave his life for peace.”
“I think it speaks well of our country that someone representing the faith of about a billion people comes here and can speak in communication with our heavenly Father regarding peace,” said Reid, a Mormon and sharp critic of President Bush’s Iraq policies.
Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the protest “shows 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.”
Police identified the protesters as Ante Nedlko Pavkovic, Katherine Lynn Pavkovic and Christan Renee Sugar. Their ages and hometowns were not available.

Associated Press

  • pagansister

    Personally I don’t think prayer is necessary to start the day in the U.S. Senate,(or anywhere except religious activities etc.)but since it seems to be the custom, I’m glad that the people chosen to give the prayers are from different denominations. The protesters seem to think that only Christians should talk to their divine being, under the, IMO, false notion that this is a Christian nation. This is a nation of many diverse religions, all of which deserve respect and the freedom to practice.
    Zed gave a beautiful invocation,calling on a Deity Supreme and closing with “…peace be unto all”. AND the folks from the American Family Association, an organization based in “fundy land”, Mississippi, would object to PEACE! Guess those “Christians and Patriots” thought that our freedom of religion in this country only applies to people like them…so called Christians. They are the abomination.
    I have a feeling the 3 protesters never heard of Gandi!

  • pagansister

    spelling correction”…never heard of Gandhi!

  • jestrfyl

    May Shiva fly up their pajamas and deliver them a true momnent of elephantine divine judgement!
    May they get slapped sensible and get the Stoodes finger-in-the-eye tratment by the multi-handed Kali.

  • Jestrfyl

    I just read a piece on Yahoo news about a former navy Chaplain all in a fuss about the eviction of these disruptive, rude, annoyances. His remarks only deepen the divide between religious grousp and enhances the sense of arrogance that American Christians work hard to evoke. The military chaplains I have known have all had an excellent sense of the wider importance of their rile, and the many ways they influence people different than themselves. They certainly appreciate the importance of sharing. This former chaplain and the others removed from the Congressional gallery could stand to learn from the class and style of these chaplains.

  • curiouser and curiouser

    It figures the American “Family” Association would object to prayers that don’t match a ‘majority’ religion. Such arrogance. I’m sure Jesus would weep.
    Maybe it’s time to take prayer out of Congress. They did it with schools. Like, ya hafta pray for good governance these days, huh? Any W onder why???

  • pagansister

    curiouser and curiouser,
    Like your idea…take prayer out of Congress.

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