Rajan Zed Prayer Protest: History
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The Rajan Zed prayer protest were events surrounding the first official offering of a Hindu prayer at the United States Senate. On July 12, 2007, Rajan Zed, a Hindu cleric and a noted leader in Interfaith Relations from the Indian Association of Northern Nevada based in Reno, appeared at the United States Senate as its guest Chaplain.

  • interfaith
  • prayer
  • hindu

1. Prelude to the Protest

1.1. AFA and David Barton

Several days prior to the scheduled prayer the American Family Association (AFA) called on its membership to phone and email their Senators "expressing your disappointment in the Senate decision to invite a Hindu to open the session with prayer." In the Action Alerts to their membership the AFA cited self-styled historian David Barton saying he wonders "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'."[1] They quoted Barton as saying "In Hindu[ism], you have not one God, but many, many, many, many, many gods. 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. This [Hinduism] is not a religion that has produced great things in the world.[1] 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."[2] While admitting the prayer is legal, he stated "One definitely wonders about the pragmatic side of it. 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?"[2]

Critics of Barton take issue with his implication that Hinduism is a polytheistic religion, saying "it is a henotheistic religion, like very early forms worship described in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). Hindus recognize a single deity. They view other gods and goddesses as facets, forms, manifestations, or aspects of that one supreme God."[1] They also took issue with his claim that Hinduism has not produced great things pointing to contributions by Hinduism like "Mahatma Gandhi whose Path of Nonviolence inspired Martin Luther King, Jr. to fight racism and segregation, and formed the basis of Nelson Mandela's fight against Apartheid".[1] and inventions by Hinduism such as Yoga, Kalarippayattu, Ayurveda, The Decimal Number System, Chess and Plastic surgery.

1.2. Faith2Action

Former U.S. Navy Chaplain, Gordon Klingenschmitt (who was court-martialed for disobeying a direct order and protesting non-sectarian prayer while in uniform) protested the Hindu prayer on July 10, 2007 by going to offices in the Senate and requesting "equal time" to pray "in Jesus' name." Harry Reid's office informed him that they wouldn't sponsor him as he was not a constituent of Nevada that the Senator represents. As Klingenschmitt was from New York he requested Hillary Clinton's office give him "equal time". Her staff refused "because Senate Chaplain Barry Black is a Seventh-Day Adventist who regularly prays on the Senate floor" so they held that the question of "equal time" for "praying in Jesus' name" was moot. Klingenschmitt resented this feeling as Black "prays "'non-sectarian' prayers".[3] He was told that Black might be able to schedule him as a guest chaplain. Black's staffers told him his appointment calendar was booked till 2009. As Klingenschmitt was set to appear on her radio show the next day, Janet Folger of Faith2Action declared "Our national motto isn't 'in gods we trust. I believe U.S. Government-sanctioned Hindu prayers are an abomination." She told her audience "Unless you sing 'gods bless America...', use your Freedom of Speech to let your Senators know you are outraged".[4]

1.3. Americans United

Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) remembering the Venkatachalapathi Samuldrala prayer controversy of September, 2000 where a Hindu prayer in the United States House of Representatives sparked controversy and negative comments from the Christian group the Family Research Council (FRC), AU stated "Now the FRC gets a chance to really make amends. We challenge the group to issue a public statement affirming religious diversity in America and welcoming Hindus to our rich tapestry of faiths. If we must have such prayers before Congress, they should respect religious diversity. Surely the FRC has no problem with that?"[1]

1.4. Zed's Comments

Rajan Zed, an Indian immigrant and American citizen, had served as guest Chaplain for the Nevada State Senate and Assembly and delivered the first Hindu prayer there (on March 19 and May 7, 2007).[5] Speaking of his upcoming appearance before the Federal Senate he spoke about the prayer in an email to Cybercast News Service. Zed, apparently aware of the email campaign to prevent the prayer, anticipated the invitation would not be revoked and the prayer would go smoothly. He said "I believe that despite our philosophical differences, we should work together for the common objectives of human improvement, love, and respect for others." He called the event "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". He stated that the prayer would draw on Hindu religious texts including the Rig Veda, the Upanishads, and the Bhagavad-Gita, and likely begin and end with "'OM,' the mystical syllable containing the universe, which in Hinduism is used to introduce and conclude religious work." He stressed it would be "universal in approach."[6]

2. Prayer and Protest

At the Senate chambers on July 12, 2007 Rajan Zed (wearing the traditional sandalpaste tilak on his forehead, a ruddraksh mala, and saffron colored clothing) approached the podium. He was prepared to give the first official Hindu prayer ever offered at the Senate as a guest chaplain upon the request of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.[7] This would also open the day's proceedings (which were largely centered around the Iraq war).

As Zed moved to start the prayer he was loudly interrupted by Ante Pavkovic who stood up in the gallery holding a Bible aloft and shouting "Lord Jesus, forgive us father for allowing a prayer of the wicked, which is an abomination in your sight. This is an abomination. We shall have no other gods before You. Lord Jesus, have mercy on our nation for allowing this abomination, this idolatry, for violating the First Commandment 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me.' God forgive our nation, in Jesus name, Amen."[3][8][9][10] The presiding officer for the Senate that morning was Senator Bob Casey, Jr. he immediately ordered the Sergeant-at-Arms to restore order in the Senate Chamber and the Capitol police restrained Ante who continued to shout first quoting Psalm 33:12 "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord" and then one of the Christian Scripture's Ten Commandments "Thou shalt have no other gods before me", closing with "You are the One true living God."[10]

With Ante in custody, Zed began his prayer but was interrupted by Kathy Pavkovic who shouted a quote from John 14:6 "Jesus is the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." Again Casey ordered the Sergeant-at-Arms to restore order and the Capitol Police moved to arrest Kathy Pavkovic.[8][9][11] As she was restrained by the Sergeant-at-Arms, the Pavkovics' daughter Christan Renee Sugar yelled "Father, forgive us for betraying your Son Jesus!" and was also restrained.[9][10] As they were escorted out they continued to direct their shouts at Zed, saying "No Lord but Jesus Christ!" and "There's only one true God!"[9]

The three protesters belonged to Operation Save America/Operation Rescue and had traveled to D.C. from North Carolina "to lobby against a hate-crimes bill that would extend certain protections to gay people".[8][11] They were arrested by the Capitol police and charged with a misdemeanor for disrupting Congress.[7] While being handcuffed Mr. Pavkovic told reporters that they were motivated to act because they were "Christians and patriots".[7][9]

After a period of visible discomfort Zed was able to proceed with his prayer (which also made mention of the recent death of Lady Bird Johnson):

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.

After the prayer Reid (himself of a minority faith - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) rose to defend the choice of Zed especially during debates about war. Reid went over all of Zed's involvement in causes around Reno and Nevada, and spoke of his own encounters with students from India while he was attending Utah State. He remembered giving car rides to these students and being invited with his young wife to a traditional Indian feast when it was near his time to graduate which he recalled fondly. During this feast the Indian students gave him gifts including a hand carved statue of Gandhi which Reid said "I have protected and saved that all these years. It is in my office. I have always had it there. The reason I mention that is that if people have any misunderstanding about Indians and Hindus, all they have to do is think of Gandhi. Here is a man who changed the world, a man who believed in peace. We heard the prayer: Peace, peace, peace. If there was ever a time, with this international war on terror that we are fighting now, where people have to understand how important peace is, think of Gandhi, a man who gave his life for peace, a tiny little man in physical stature but a giant in morality. Gandhi is the man that Martin Luther King, Jr., followed. ...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. I am grateful he is here. I am thankful he was able to offer this prayer of peace in the Capitol. I say to everyone concerned, think of Gandhi. If you have a problem in the world, think what this great man has done to bring peace and nonviolence to a troubled world."[12]

Ante Pavkovic in a statement made to Gordon Klingenschmitt after being released from jail, said "The Senate was already being disturbed before we arrived. The sin of Hindu idolatry was greatly disrupting the sanctity of the Senate. We only prayed to preserve the covenant our nation has with the most-high God, who established our Republic, in Jesus name."[3]

Tim Wildmon, president of the AFA that had been calling for its members to contact Senators to try and prevent the prayer, distanced his group from the act of civil disobedience, "We would not ever encourage shouting in the gallery like that, we asked people to contact their Senators to show their disapproval."[13]

On September 11, 2007 the three protestors appeared before Superior Court Judge Robert Rigsby, in Washington, D.C.. While Operation Save America had declared that Roy Moore (sometimes referred to as Alabama's "Ten Commandments judge") would personally defend the three, he did not but his "Foundation for Moral Law" sent Ben DuPre to represent them.[8] The protestors were told the charges would be dropped if they did not return to the Capitol grounds for a year.[8]

3. Benham's Statements

Operation Save America released a statement for the press entitled "Theology Moved to the Senate and was Arrested" by their director Rev. Flip Benham. The statement took Senators to task for not joining the protest. It stated that the Congressional "chamber was violated by a false Hindu god. The Senate was opened with a Hindu prayer placing the false god of Hinduism on a level playing field with the One True God, Jesus Christ. This would never have been allowed by our Founding Fathers. Not one Senator had the backbone to stand as our Founding Fathers stood. They stood on the Gospel of Jesus Christ! There were three in the audience with the courage to stand and proclaim, 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me.' They were immediately removed from the chambers, arrested, and are in jail now. God bless those who stand for Jesus as we know that He stands for them."

Benham also published an essay about the protest on the Operation Save America website "A Hindu opening prayer in the United States Senate? How the Mighty have fallen! Have our elected officials forgotten so quickly the God of our Pilgrim Forefathers, the God of our Founding Fathers, and the God who has blessed America and made her the mightiest nation in the world? Has Jesus, who made this nation free, been prostrated to the same level as every other religion? The events that took place in the Senate chambers yesterday would indicate that the answer is, "Yes!" Well then, what happens when United States senators fail to stand for truth, and bow their knee to the false god of political correctness? Simple Christian moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, sons and daughters, must stand up for Jesus!"[14] He praised the three for giving a "rebuke to a nation that has forsaken the God of our fathers. They rose to their feet to rightly proclaim the one true God—Jesus Christ—the One before Whom every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess."[10] He called the protest a "simple act of biblical obedience" which "has inspired and encouraged the hearts of hundreds of thousands of Christians across this nation."[14] He warned politicians in the upcoming general election of 2008 that "The Christian vote is not for sale. Republicans you cannot depend upon us. If you can't find it in yourself to stand for Christ—we can't find it in ourselves to vote for you." He concluded saying "The falsehood of Hinduism was eloquently challenged yesterday by those who know the truth that sets people free—Jesus. We pray that their lives will inspire many to do the same and call our nation to repentance and to return to the God of our fathers. May the hallowed halls and chambers of the Congress of the United States of America never again entertain the false religions of this age."[14]

Later when speaking to a reporter, Benham said of the protest "What we have here is just a wonderful example of Christian theology becoming biography in the sacred chamber of the United States Senate, as a Hindu was offering up a prayer to open up the session this morning. And the folks that were there [the Pavkovics]...waited for the Senate, or a Senator with a backbone, to remind the Hindu that there is one God who made this country great, and his name is Jesus. ...They thought they needed to go and represent the Lord who made this nation great. ...other religions [are] being held on a par with Christianity. Of course, we have said that is not true, that indeed Christianity is one way." Responding to the AFA's criticism that the protestors should have petitioned their Senators rather than break the law, Benham said "Our answer is, when one stands up in the face of gross idolatry being allowed in the Senate, in the chamber of the United States Senate, it is incumbent on a Christian to stand up and speak the truth. No matter what, we must obey God rather than men. When you stand up and are arrested, and the Hindu is allowed to go free, this country has gone upside-down." "Our answer is," Benham said, "When one stands up in the face of gross idolatry being allowed in the Senate, in the chamber of the United States Senate, it is incumbent on a Christian to stand up and speak the truth. No matter what, we must obey God rather than men." When pressed by a reporter, he clarified that he did not think non-Christians should be arrested, but asked "Now, why are Hindus allowed here? Why are Muslims allowed here? Because we are a nation that's free, built upon the principles of almighty God."[13]

4. Other Responses

4.1. Family Research Council

Having made no response to Americans United call to come out in support of religious diversity before the prayer took place, Tony Perkins an official for the Christian group the Family Research Council issued a statement on the day of the protest saying "No one can legitimately challenge the fact that the God America refers to in the pledge, our national motto, and other places is the monotheistic God of the Jewish and Christian faith. ...There is no historic connection between America and the polytheistic creed of the Hindu faith. I seriously doubt that Americans want to change the motto, 'In God we Trust,' which Congress adopted in 1955, to, 'In gods we Trust.' That is essentially what the United States Senate did today."[14]

4.2. AFA

Having called on its members to act to prevent it from ever happening and distancing the group from the methods of the protestors, the American Family Association's Tim Wildmon stated his group's disgust that the prayer had gone ahead in the first place, "This goes against all history and tradition of our country. This fella does not even believe in one God as the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence speak of.... So we object to this kind of prayer before the United States Senate. The god of popular culture today is tolerance and multi-culturalism, and so I guess the Senate wants to see how far they can go with this idea that all religion and faiths are equal and the same. Hopefully, it won't happen again."[15]

4.3. Klingenschmitt

Gordon James Klingenschmitt, who was sitting in the galleries when the protest was made, wrote "No senators seemed to notice, nor did any object, while Zed committed the sin of idolatry, right there in public, violating the first of God's Ten Commandments with full government permission. Sure, a Hindu prayer (to millions of false gods) may be 'legal' by American law, but it still violates God's law: 'I am the Lord Thy God. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.' Imagine the surprise of idolaters on judgment day, arguing to the most-high God that He shouldn't be angry, 'because idolatry was perfectly legal according to American law.' Perhaps that day God will remind them of Paul's warning to the Corinthians, 'Idolaters ... will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.' ...Had the Pavkovic family simply said 'Amen' to the Hindu prayer, or prayed a Hindu 'ohm' meditation, they'd have been viewed as supportive, not disruptive, and wouldn't have been arrested. But since the content of their prayer voiced opposition to Hinduism, so they were arrested and jailed as 'disrupters,' arrested for the content of their prayer, nothing else. I applaud their spiritual courage, perhaps the only people present who feared God's law more than man's law."[3]

4.4. Renew America

Bonnie Alba, writing for Alan Keyes' "Renew America", responded to the protest by writing an article entitled "One nation under God? Whose God?" where she asked "has America rejected the biblical Creator-God of the Bible, the God of our founding fathers?" She stated that "Millions of Americans profess to be Christians. But most could not say they read and study God's Word or live out God's commands and principles. Another way to discern signs that we are no longer a 'nation under God' is noting the events of recent years at all levels of society and government. Our society and government shows an increasing acceptance of multiple gods. What used to be a minority has grown to a majority." She cited Zed's prayer and Reid's defense and asked "What god was Rajan Zed appealing to out of the pantheon of thousands of deities the Hindu religion pays homage to? ...How do we know what God? This just exhibits the total ignorance of Sen. Reid, his acceptance of the 'extreme tolerance for the intolerable' we are now experiencing and his own rejection of God's admonitions against worshipping any god but the 'I AM' of the Bible. Do you think we are still a 'nation under God' when our elected officials allow someone who does not believe in the God of the Bible to say a prayer in the Congress of the United States?" Alba also cited Representative Keith Ellison swearing on the Qur'an claiming that Americans could not "trust anything this man says" because he was a Muslim. "Just these two signs are ominous ones for America's future. Need I say the words which have transformed our nation: Pluralism and Multiculturalism? We are no longer a 'melting pot' under the foundational, once-dominant religion of Christianity. More and more, we are resembling the Tower of Babel."[16]

4.5. Roy Moore

In addition to sending someone from his foundation to legally represent the protestors in court, Judge Roy Moore wrote an essay saying "Hindus believe not just in a god that is one with the universe and with nature but in many gods, beliefs that are completely inconsistent with a belief in the Creator God of the Holy Scriptures and the Christian faith upon which our nation is founded. Our Founding Fathers knew better – and so should our senators. ...[Benjamin] Franklin knew what some of our senators have forgotten: that it was the God of the Bible and not Allah, Buddha or one of the many gods of the Hindu faith who provided and sustained us during our formative years. ...It is particularly troubling to see the U.S. Senate disregard a long history of Christian prayers in favor of modern, pluralistic prayers to gods that have no relationship to this country or the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that we cherish. Mr. Zed certainly has the freedom to exercise his Hindu beliefs, but only because that is an unalienable right given by the God of creation and protected in this land. Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, etc., have freedom of conscience in this country that is not extended to Christians in other nations under other 'gods.' Our government should and indeed must affirm that Almighty God is the source of that right for it to continue."[17]

In addition to criticizing the Hindu prayer, he criticized the Courts for permitting only "'ceremonial deism'—that is, a historical tradition that, the courts say, through repetition has lost its 'religious significance' and does not really address or recognize the sovereign God. Thus, public prayers in state and local legislatures and in the military are approved if they are 'nonsectarian' in nature and do not address or name a particular God."[17]

4.6. Southern Baptists

Two months after the protests a Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) publication issued a story entitled "Hinduism influence on the rise" quoting N.S.R.K. Ravi, the director of the SBC's North American Mission Board's Evangelism Response Center. Ravi (a convert from Hinduism) stated "The god Rajan Zed represented is a different god. The prayers he offered are not to the God of the Bible. The god Rajan Zed represented is powerless. He cannot forgive sin, therefore he leaves the sinner to the fate of karma and reincarnation and endless human suffering." Pointing out that Zed had, before the prayer, sprinkled some water from the Ganges River (held as sacred by Hindus) Ravi said "The holy water he sprinkled on the Senate floor was from the land of India, which means the god is limited to a specific region of the universe. He is not the God of the universe. What is next? Prayers to Satan? Pagans? Dead spirits? Prayers to atheists?"[8]

Rev. Wiley Drake, former Vice President of the SBC commented on the protests on his radio show, saying "When not one of the 100 members of the U.S. Senate would object on the record, and in proper order, the opening of the U.S. Senate July 12, 2007, Christian observers had no choice but to speak from the gallery of the Senate. Had I been present I too would have stood and objected since none of the Senators would. I believe this was led of The Holy Spirit of God, and I also believe He is pleased with the action of His children and Ambassadors from The Kingdom of Heaven....What a shame that not one of our Christian Senators would object to this ungodly action. What about 'One Nation Under God????' The real God our Nation was founded upon. We have freedom of religion in America but not the freedom to invoke a false god to visit our U.S. Senate."[18]

4.7. Americans United

Barry W. Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State held that "This 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. America is a land of extraordinary religious diversity, and the Religious Right just can't seem to accept that fact. I don't think the Senate should open with prayers, but if it's going to happen, the invocations ought to reflect the diversity of the American people. The Religious Right promotes a deeply skewed version of American history. Our founders wanted separation of church and state and full religious liberty for all faith traditions. The episode today shows we still have a ways to go to achieve that goal."[14]

4.8. Rep. Sali

United States Representative for Idaho Bill Sali viewed Zed's prayer and the election of U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (a Muslim from Minnesota) as changes which "are not what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers". He held that the US was made on principles derived from Christian scriptures, and that the only way the nation had been allowed to continue in a world hostile to such principles was because of "the protective hand of God." Saying that when a Hindu prays "that's a different god" and that act may remove the protective hand and thereby "creates problems for the longevity of this country".[19]

5. Rajan Zed's Reaction

Speaking to a reporter Zed said "I thought that it will be a simple, roughly 90-second prayer, and it will go very smoothly (as the prayers are a time for reflection), like the ones I delivered in the Nevada State Assembly and Nevada State Senate a few months back. And everybody will go back to the normal routine. ...This was reportedly the first Senate prayer since its formation in 1789, which was protested."[15] Reflecting on the reaction to the protest, he said "Although the blogs it generated were mixed, the emails and letters I received about the prayer and protest were all inspiring, most of these apologetic [about the interruption] and thankful. Although we have much more conscious awareness of religious pluralism today than in the past, the religious as well as non-religious people need to have deeper, broader and more inclusive understanding of religion, which still wields huge power."[15] Thinking of those who opposed the prayer he said "Despite our philosophical differences, we have similar objectives. We all believe in a superior being and we simply differ on how each of us perceives/embodies/responds to Ultimate/Divine Reality. Differences begin when we start claiming to be the sole guardians of 'truth.' We should share our quest for truth. Dialogue will make us spiritually richer. We need to overcome the prejudices handed down to us by the previous generations."[15]

6. State Legislatures

Soon after the protest at the U.S. Senate Rajan Zed served as guest chaplain offering a Hindu prayer before the California State Senate. Zed delivered the prayer without incident on August 27, 2007 with the appreciation of State Sen. Elaine Alquist and the official State Senate Chaplain Rev. James Richardson, an Episcopal priest. There was no complaints over the prayer from California's Conservative Christian Community, and the Rev. Louis Sheldon, who founded the state's "Traditional Values Coalition" declared "I don't see any problem with it at all. I would have no problems with a Hindu praying, just as I wouldn't an evangelical Christian." National groups continued in their opposition to Hindu Legislative prayers with Wildmon speaking for the AFA stating "We're not opposed to the ability of people to worship their own gods or god, but when it comes to our civil government...it's always been the recognition of the God of the Bible. Every religion is not equal. That's my belief. That's logic."[5] California's Chief Sergeant-at-Arms for the state Senate admitted that they had taken extra security precautions in case of protests against the Zed's prayer.[5]

Seeking to promote understanding of Hinduism and "emphasizes the multicultural and religious freedom aspect of this country" throughout the end of 2007 and into 2008 Zed made requests and was granted a guest chaplaincy to recite Hindu prayers at State Legislatures in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Washington, Oregon, and Arizona.[20]

7. Calls for Candidates to Denounce

As the 2008 Presidential elections approached American Hindu organizations urged presidential candidates to denounce the protestors. The executive director of the Hindu American Foundation, Ishani Chowdhury, stated "if you look at it as a reflection of a larger number of people...we need people to condemn what happened and highlight the need for dialogue".[21]

8. Zed's Later Legislative Invocations and the 2015 Idaho Prayer Boycott

Since the 2007 protest Rajan Zed offered Hindu opening prayers in various State Senates and State Assemblies/Houses-of-Representatives and at various County Commissions/Boards and City Councils across the United States. On June 19, 2014 he offered the opening prayer as a guest chaplain at the United States House of Representatives.[22] These events occurred without any notable public controversy.

In March 2015 Rajan Zed was the focus of another protest of legislators over his leading a legislative invocation at the Idaho State Senate.[23] Sen. Steve Vick, with reported support from his constituents, tried to prevent Zed from offering the prayer. Failing to prevent the prayer Vick and two other Republican state senators refused to enter the chamber until Zed had finished.[24] Vick held that having a Hindu invocation would "send a message we're not happy with the way America is" and held that people under Hinduism "have a caste system. They worship cows."[24] Joining in the boycott of the prayer was Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll who stated "Hindu is a false faith with false gods. I think it's great that Hindu people can practice their religion, but since we're the Senate, we're setting an example of what we, Idaho, believe."[23][24] Sen. Lori Den Hartog joined the boycott holding it would be disingenuous to her Christian faith to attend and "It was a personal decision, I didn't want to announce it prior to the event."[23] Zed's prayer as guest chaplain was in English and Sanskrit focusing on selflessness and peace.[23]

The content is sourced from: https://handwiki.org/wiki/Philosophy:Rajan_Zed_prayer_protest


  1. "Previous Hindu prayer in the House; Opposition prior to the Senate prayer". ReligiousTolerance.Org. http://www.religioustolerance.org/senprayer07a.htm. 
  2. "Historian Barton says Hindu prayer before Senate raises concerns". One News Now. July 11, 2007. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2007/07/11/prayer-in-senate-sure-hindu-prayer-blasphemy/. 
  3. Gordon James Klingenschmitt (2007-07-16). "Hindu chaplain prays, Christian chaplain told 'go away'". http://www.wnd.com/2007/07/42585/. 
  4. "Senators Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid Both Refuse to Allow Chaplain Who Prays 'in Jesus Name,' but Welcome Hinduism to the Floor of the U.S. Senate". Christian Newswire. http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/322633629.html. 
  5. Haley Davies (August 28, 2007). "Hindu chaplain Rajan Zed leads state Senate in opening prayer". San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/08/27/BALVRQDFR.DTL#ixzz1PMf9lT8l. 
  6. Nathan Burchfiel (July 7, 2008). "Hindu Prayer Will Open Senate Session in July". http://cnsnews.com/node/7489. 
  7. "Hindu prayer in Senate disrupted". Associated Press. 7/12/2007. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19729245/ns/politics/t/hindu-prayer-senate-disrupted/. 
  8. "Senate Prayer Protesters Barred From Returning to Capitol Grounds". Church & State. October 2007. http://www.au.org/church-state/october-2007-church-state/people-events/senate-prayer-protesters-barred-from-returning. 
  9. Eric Kleefeld (July 12, 2007). "Christian Right Activists Disrupt First Hindu Prayer In Senate: "This Is An Abomination"". TPMCafe. http://intellibriefs.blogspot.com/2007/07/christian-right-activists-disrupt-hindu.html. 
  10. Rev. Flip Benham. "What happens when Senators won't stand? Gentle Christians must!". http://www.nriinternet.com/NRIhindu/Rajan_Zed/Prayer_in_Senate_Disrupted.htm. 
  11. "Three Christians disrupt Hindu prayer in Senate". ReligiousTolerance.Org. http://www.religioustolerance.org/senprayer07b.htm. 
  12. Congressional Record, Proceedings and Debates of the 110th Congress First Session. 153. United States Congress. p. S9069. http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CREC-2007-07-12/pdf/CREC-2007-07-12-pt1-PgS9069-8.pdf#page=1. 
  13. Eric Kleefeld (July 14, 2007). "Head Of Christian Right Group Calls Hindu Senate Invocation "Gross Idolatry"". Hindu Press International. http://www.hinduismtoday.com/blogs-news/hindu-press-international/head-of-christian-right-group-calls-hindu-senate-invocation--gross-idolatry-/6928.html. 
  14. "Three Christians disrupt Hindu prayer in Senate - Reactions to the protest". ReligiousTolerance.Org. http://www.religioustolerance.org/senprayer07c.htm. 
  15. Joseph L. Conn (September 2007). "Holy War On The Hill: Hindu-Led Prayer In Senate Sparks Religious Right Crusade Against American Pluralism". http://www.au.org/church-state/september-2007-church-state/featured/holy-war-on-the-hill. 
  16. Bonnie Alba (July 20, 2007). "One nation under God? Whose God?". http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/alba/070720. 
  17. Judge Roy Moore (2007-07-18). "One nation under Hindu gods?". http://www.wnd.com/2007/07/42613/. 
  18. "Former 2nd Vice President of The Southern Baptist Convention Objects to the U.S. Senate Being Opened in the Name of Transcendental Meditation". Christian Newswire. July 13, 2007. http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/671753646.html. 
  19. Jim Brown (August 8, 2007). "Idaho congressman disturbed by Hindu prayer in Senate, election of Muslim to House". OneNewsNow.com. http://forums.christiansunite.com/index.php?topic=18754.0. 
  20. John Iwasak (February 22, 2008). "Senate opens with its first Hindu prayer: Traveling chaplain on a mission in legislatures". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Senate-opens-with-its-first-Hindu-prayer-1265290.php#ixzz1PNMzDzgv. 
  21. Michelle Boorstein (July 27, 2007). "Hindu Groups Ask '08 Hopefuls to Criticize Protest". Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/27/AR2007072700206.html. 
  22. Rajan Zed (June 17, 2014). "US House of Representatives to open with Hindu prayer". http://www.worldreligionnews.com/religion-news/hinduism/us-house-representatives-open-hindu-prayer. 
  23. "Idaho Senate Opens With Hindu Prayer, 3 Lawmakers Protest". Associated Press. March 3, 2015. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/idaho-senate-opens-hindu-prayer-lawmakers-protest-29361944. 
  24. Rob Quinn (March 4, 2015). "Idaho Lawmakers Refuse to Hear Hindu Prayer". Newser. http://www.newser.com/story/203515/idaho-lawmakers-refuse-to-hear-hindu-prayer.html. 
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