On Thursday, a Hindu Chaplain from Nevada will deliver the opening prayer for the U.S. Senate.
“I believe that despite our philosophical differences, we should work together for the common objectives of human improvement, love, and respect for others.”
[The prayer will be] “universal in approach.”
“July 12 will be an illustrious day for all Americans and a memorable day for Indian Americans when prayers from ancient Hindu scriptures will be read in the great hall of democracy.”
Yes, we can argue about the prayer being read in the Senate in the first place, but while it’s there, it should be open to everyone. Including polytheists and atheists.
Now, let’s read the Christian Right‘s reaction…:
On Thursday, a Hindu chaplain from Reno, Nevada, by the name of Rajan Zed is scheduled to deliver the opening prayer in the U.S. Senate. Zed tells the Las Vegas Sun that in his prayer he will likely include references to ancient Hindu scriptures, including Rig Veda, Upanishards, and Bhagavard-Gita. Historians believe it will be the first Hindu prayer ever read at the Senate since it was formed in 1789.
WallBuilders president David Barton is questioning why the U.S. government is seeking the invocation of a non-monotheistic god. Barton points out that since Hindus worship multiple gods, the prayer will be completely outside the American paradigm, flying in the face of the American motto “One Nation Under God.”
“In Hindu, you have not one God, but many, many, many, many, many gods,” the Christian historian explains. “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.”
Barton says given the fact that Hindus are a tiny constituency of the American public, he questions the motivation of Senate leaders. “This is not a religion that has produced great things in the world,” he observes. “You look at India, you look at Nepal — there’s persecution going in both of those countries that is gendered by the religious belief that is present there, and Hindu dominates in both of those countries.”
And while Barton acknowledges there is not constitutional problem with a Hindu prayer in the Senate, he wonders about the political side of it. “One definitely wonders about the pragmatic side of it,” he says. “What is the message, and why is the message needed? And will it actually communicate anything other than engender with folks like me a lot of questions?”
Barton says he knows of at least seven cases where Christians have lost their bid to express their own faith in a public prayer.
Zed is reportedly the first Hindu to deliver opening prayers in an American state legislature, having done so in both the Nevada State Assembly and Nevada State Senate earlier this year. He has stated that Thursday’s prayer will be “universal in approach,” despite being drawn from Hindu religious texts.
The American Family Association sent out a press release urging people to:
Send an email to your senator now, expressing your disappointment in the Senate decision to invite a Hindu to open the session with prayer.
There’s a war going on, an administration that covers up its own crimes, global warming, a healthcare crisis… but dammit, a Hindu saying a universal prayer?! That’s a travesty!
And that bold-faced emphasis is not mine. They wrote it that way in the action alert.
Right under the red writing that said:
Please help us get this information into the hands of as many people as possible by forwarding it to your entire email list of family and friends.
*sigh* This must be where spam comes from.
(Thanks to Maria for the story)
[tags]atheist, atheism, Hinduism, Hindu, Rajan Zed, Indian Americans, Senate, WallBuilders, David Barton, American Family Association[/tags]