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Christian Right Up in Arms Over Hindu Chaplain's Prayer in U.S. Senate

Operation Rescue activists disrupt historic prayer

Background by, July 18, 2007

You'll find links to relevant articles and documents at the end of the report. Look for the icon for links added after July 18th..

In an unabashed show of bigotry, religious right organizations disrupted the first Hindu ever to offer the opening prayer in the U.S. Senate. The American Family Association (of Ford Boycott fame) organized its supporters to lobby the Senate to stop the participation of Chaplain Rajan Zed.

Operation Rescue activists disrupted Zed and were arrested. Their shouts are audible at the beginning of the video (below).

Even after the event, the Christian right piled on, with an outpouring of vituperative writing. There is a sampling of it below.

Former Navy Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt, a new fixture on the religious right since his firing for a religiously motivated rebellion, reports that he was in the Senate for the prayer and terms the Hindu deities "false gods." He also writes that Zed "committed the sin of idolatry" with the "permission" of the government.

Christian activists disrupt Hindu prayer in US Senate

Chidanand Rajghatta,TNN, The Times of India, July 13, 2007

WASHINGTON: Christian activists briefly disrupted a Hindu invocation in the U.S Senate on Thursday, marring a historic first for the chamber and showing that fundamentalism is present and shouting in the U.S too.

Invited by the Senate to offer Hindu prayers in place of the usual Christian invocation, Rajan Zed, a Hindu priest from Reno, Nevada, had just stepped up to the podium for the landmark occasion when three protesters, said to belong to the Christian Right anti-abortion group Operation Save America, interrupted him by loudly asking for God's forgiveness for allowing the ''false prayer'' of a Hindu in the Senate chamber. Continue.

Hindu Groups Ask '08 Hopefuls to Criticize Protest

Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, July 27, 2007

Ante Nedlko Pavkovic, Katherine Lynn Pavkovic and Christan Renee Sugar -- identified in the Christian media as a couple and their daughter -- were removed from the Senate floor and arrested by Capitol Police on July 12 after they began shouting, "This is an abomination," and asking for forgiveness from God.

The three, from Davidson, N.C., were arrested and charged with disrupting Congress, a misdemeanor.

U.S. Hindu organizations are urging presidential candidates to denounce the protesters who disrupted the Senate as the first-ever Hindu opening prayer was being delivered this month. Continue.

Christian protesters disrupt Hindu prayer in U.S. Senate

USA Today, "OnDeadline" blog, July 13, 2007

This report has the text of Chaplain Rajan Zed's prayer. It identifies some of the religious right groups involved in opposing his participation in the Senate session, including Operation Rescue, with which the disrupters are reportedly affiliated. Click here.

Protest hits US senate Hindu prayer
The opening prayer was the first read by a Hindu in the US senate

Al Jazeera, July 12, 2007

US police have arrested three people for staging a noisy protest from the public gallery of the US senate as a Hindu clergyman stood at the chamber's podium to offer the day's opening prayer.

The two women and a man began shouting "this is an abomination" as Rajan Zed, director of interfaith relations at a Hindu temple, read the prayer.

The male protester told an Associated Press reporter "we are Christians and patriots" before police handcuffed them and led them away.

Police identified the three as Ante Nedlko Pavkovic, Katherine Lynn Pavkovic and Christan Renee Sugar. Their ages and hometowns were not available.

They were charged with unlawful disruption of congress.

As Zed started to recite his prayer, one protestor was heard chanting "Lord Jesus forgive us Father for allowing a prayer which is an abomination in your sight. You are the one, true living God". Continue.

Theology has moved from the church house onto the floor of the United States Senate, and has been arrested.

News Release, Operation Save America (Operation Rescue) July 12, 2007

WASHINGTON, July 12 /Christian Newswire/ -- Ante Pavkovic, Kathy Pavkovic, and Kristen Sugar were all arrested in the chambers of the United States Senate as that 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. Continue.

Hindu to open Senate with prayer

American Family Association Action Alert, seen July 12, 2007

Send an email to your senator now, expressing your disappointment in the Senate decision to invite a Hindu to open the session with prayer. Click here to see a PDF archive of the action alert.

Hindu shouted down while offering opening prayer for Senate session

by Jim Brown, One News Now, July 12, 2007

History was made in the Senate today. "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."

Those were the words of a chaplain with the Indian Association of Northern Nevada, Rajan Zed, who delivered the first Hindu prayer ever on the floor of the U.S. Senate. However, that prayer did not go off without a hitch. (Photo at right accompanied this report.) Continue.

Prayer to Whom?

by Tony Perkins, Family Research Council, July 13, 2007

Perkins, who heads the FRC, writes: "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." Click here.

One nation under Hindu gods?

Roy Moore,, July 18, 2007

For the first time in history, the United States Senate welcomed a Hindu to give its opening prayer last Thursday. After Rajan Zed sprinkled ritual water from the Ganges River around the Senate rostrum, he proclaimed, "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." 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. Continue.

Former Navy chaplain labels Hindu Senate prayer 'idolatry'

Chad Groening,, July 12, 2007

A former Navy chaplain says he was in the Senate gallery this morning when two Christians were escorted out of the chamber for disrupting the opening prayer given by a Hindu chaplain.

Gordon James Klingenschmitt says when he heard that the Hindu man, who is affiliated with the Indian Association of Northern Nevada, was invited to give the opening prayer for July 12, he went to the U.S. Senate in hopes of gaining equal access. On Tuesday, he went to the office of Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) office seeking permission to offer a Christian prayer in the Senate at some future date. Not being from Nevada, Klingenschmitt was turned away and directed to the office of one of his senators -- Hillary Clinton (D-New York) -- whose staff also reportedly declined his request.

The former chaplain says he then attempted to get an audience with Senate Chaplain Barry Black. "I went to Chaplain Black's office, and they must have known I was coming because they had already informed security not to let me in," he says. "And so they wouldn't give me an appointment with Chaplain Black. They said his personal calendar is booked until 2009." Continue.

Hindu chaplain prays, Christian chaplain told 'go away'

Gordon James Klingenschmitt,, July 16, 2007

I personally sat in the Senate gallery, witnessing history when a Hindu chaplain prayed to "earth" and "sky" and "spirits" on the floor of the U.S. Senate Thursday. Rajan Zed's prayer was hailed by sponsoring Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., as "free speech" allowed by the First Amendment. 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."] Continue.

Nevada man to give first Hindu prayer at U.S. Senate

By Scott Sonner, Associated Press, San Diego Union Tribune, June 28, 2007

RENO, Nev. – A northern Nevada chaplain plans to travel to Washington D.C. next month to give what is believed to be the first Hindu prayer ever read at the U.S. Senate since it was formed in 1789.

Rajan Zed, a Hindu chaplain in Reno, applied to the Senate chaplain's office earlier this year for permission to give the morning prayer that opens Senate business each day. He received word this week he's been approved for the job July 12.

“It is an honor for me and for Nevada and for Hindus everywhere,” Zed said in an interview. Continue.