"It is the position of the Family Research Council that governments must respect freedom of conscience for all people in religious matters," said Chuck Donovan, FRC executive vice president, in a statement issued Friday (Sept. 22).
"We affirm the truth of Christianity, but it is not our position that America's Constitution forbids representatives of religions other than Christianity from praying before Congress. We recognize that decisions on this matter are the prerogative of each house of Congress."
The Sept. 21 edition of "Culture Facts," the online publication of the conservative Christian public policy group, included a condemnation of the inclusion of a Hindu priest among guests giving the invocation in the House of Representatives.
"Alas, in our day, when 'tolerance' and 'diversity' have replaced the 10 Commandments as the only remaining absolute dictums, it has become necessary to 'celebrate' non-Christian religions--even in the halls of Congress," the article said. "And while it is true that the United States of America was founded on the sacred principle of religious freedom for all, this liberty was never intended to exalt other religions to the level that Christianity holds in our country's heritage."
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a religious liberty watchdog group, made public the original comments by FRC, saying the article represented "religious bigotry" and "an outrageous act of prejudice."
On Sept. 14, Venkatachalapathi Samuldrala, a Hindu priest from Ohio, became the first Hindu to offer an opening prayer in the House.