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Christian Extremists Act Out In Senate Chambers

Three members of the Christian extremist anti-abortion group Operation Save America (formerly Operation Rescue) disrupted proceedings in the US Senate Chambers yesterday as Hindu priest Rajan Zed from Reno, Nevada stepped up to the podium to give the daily invocation.

The Times of India reports:

"Lord Jesus, forgive us father for allowing a prayer of the wicked, which is an abomination in your sight," the first protester shouted. "This is an abomination. We shall have no other gods before You."

Democratic Senator Bob Casey, who was serving as the presiding officer for the morning, immediately asked the sergeant-at-arms to restore order. But they continued to protest as they were headed out the door by the marshals, shouting, "No Lord but Jesus Christ!" and "There's only one true God!"

Zed, sporting a saffron robe, a rudraksh mala round his neck, and a prominent tilak on his forehead, then nervously went through the invocation chosen from the Rig Veda and Bhagavad Gita.

"Let us pray," he began, "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 heaven. May he stimulate and illuminate our minds.

"Lead us from the unreal to 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."

The sentiments were evidently lost on the fundamentalists.

Here's the 1:38 video.
Click on the 'play' button in the lower left-hand corner to play the video.

TPM Cafe has more:

Well, Election Central has just gotten off the phone with the group's chief, Rev. Flip Benham. And he's hailing the move by the three activists -- while slamming the Hindu's appearance as "gross idolatry."

In the interview, Benham praised the three activists, Ante and Katherine Pavkovic and their daughter Kristen. And he scorned the idea of the Hindu invocation.

"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."

UPDATE: Operation Save America is pushing the following press release (followed by reaction from the Family Research Council):

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.

"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." Rev. Flip Benham, Director, Operation Save America/Operation Rescue

The Family Research Council weighs in:

The chaplain of the Family Research Council says yesterday's historic Hindu prayer to open the U.S. Senate is "just one more step away" from America's Christian heritage. The founders of the United States, says Pierre Bynum, would never have wanted a pantheistic prayer to open that legislative body.[...]

Bynum says Thursday's Hindu prayer was a major departure from the "thoughts and plans" of America's founding fathers. "We sing the song My Country 'tis of Thee, [saying] 'to Thee we sing.' The faith of our fathers, is being left behind," he contends, "and we're opening up to a bunch of religious ideologies and groups that were not part of our founding documents, were not part of our heritage."

Bynum says the farther America gets away from the faith of its founding fathers, the more troubled and confused the country will become. "The big deal is that up until just a few years ago, our Christian heritage has been respected as a nation," he notes. "Our Judeo-Christian documents -- the Old and the New Testaments -- have been the foundation of our law."

No U.S. senators have publicly raised objections to Thursday's Hindu prayer. Several senators who were contacted have declined an interview with OneNewsNow to discuss their thoughts on the Hindu prayer.

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Comments (5)

They were immediately removed from the chambers, arrested, and are in jail now.


There were three in the audience with the courage to stand and proclaim, 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me.'

Courage? Ignorance and mistranslation in my personal opinion.

This sort of thing is embarrassing and thankfully rare.

Lee Ward:

Wouldn't it be great to have a President who could address this nation on religious tolerance -- who could rise to his or her feet and lead this nation at a time like this?

Whew, that mushroom omelet I had for breakfast is making me dizzy...

Fun Fact - The phrase "under God" was added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954, and that addition was inspired by Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

I think I'll take nap now...

Paul Hamilton:

Heralder: If these folks don't want a Hindu speaking in their church, that's their right, but they have no right to impose their personal beliefs on the legislative chamber of ALL the people of the United States. That's where these folks are going wrong.

And then there was this comment from FRC:
>>This would never have been allowed by our Founding Fathers.

I would really love for them to explain the constitutional or historical basis of that comment.


One Christian group acts out one time and you highlight it, but ignore the hundreds of disruptions of Congressional work by Code Pink.

Fair and Balanced you ain't.

Lee Ward:

The ultra-religious right taking their fight to the Senate floor and disrupting an American priest who was invited to give the invocation is "newsworthy". Code Pink being pinkos isn't, imho.

And I actually resent that comment, kim. Look at the post. I played it straight 100%, no spin, and I gave the protestors and their supporters plenty of room to explain why they did what they did, again, without spin.

I say the post above is as fair and balanced as they come here in Blogland. You found a nit to pick, but giving Code Pink space in this story is pointless to me...

but I'll take you up on your challenge that I need to be more fair and balanced - give me a link to one of Code Pink's Senate floor protests that you feel is quoteworthy and representative and I'll update this post to include that aspect.

If what you provide is current (within the last 2 weeks or so) I'll write a new post which includes both this protest and Code Pink's, and contrast the two.

If you want to write the post yourself, keep it under 500 words and be willing to give me permission to edit it (and you know you can trust me to do so fairly) and I'll publish it as a rebuttal.

fair enough?


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