(RNS) The Family Research Council has sought to clarify its positionon prayers uttered before Congress after an article in its onlinepublication criticized a recent prayer by a Hindu priest.

"It is the position of the Family Research Council that governmentsmust respect freedom of conscience for all people in religious matters,"said Chuck Donovan, FRC executive vice president, in a statement issuedFriday (Sept. 22).

"We affirm the truth of Christianity, but it is not our positionthat America's Constitution forbids representatives of religions otherthan Christianity from praying before Congress. We recognize thatdecisions on this matter are the prerogative of each house of Congress."

The Sept. 21 edition of "Culture Facts," the online publication ofthe conservative Christian public policy group, included a condemnationof the inclusion of a Hindu priest among guests giving the invocation inthe House of Representatives.

"Alas, in our day, when 'tolerance' and 'diversity' have replacedthe 10 Commandments as the only remaining absolute dictums, it hasbecome necessary to 'celebrate' non-Christian religions--even in thehalls of Congress," the article said. "And while it is true that theUnited States of America was founded on the sacred principle ofreligious freedom for all, this liberty was never intended to exaltother religions to the level that Christianity holds in our country'sheritage."

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a religiousliberty watchdog group, made public the original comments by FRC, sayingthe article represented "religious bigotry" and "an outrageous act ofprejudice.


On Sept. 14, Venkatachalapathi Samuldrala, a Hindu priest from Ohio,became the first Hindu to offer an opening prayer in the House.