Video of Hindu Invocation

I wrote about a Hindu man who was delivering the opening prayer in the US Senate this morning– and the Christian Right’s reaction to it.

Here’s video of the event (via Talking Points Memo):

Man… I feel bad for Rajan Zed. He looked so flustered! :(

Those protesters were “three activists from the Christian Right anti-abortion group Operation Save America.” The activists were Ante and Katherine Pavkovic and Kristen Sugar. They were all arrested. Some background on them can be found here.

They’re part of an anti-abortion group? Maybe I missed the part of the video when Zed performed a D & E… but I’ll watch it again.

The group’s leader, Rev. Flip Benham, said this about the disruption:

“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.”

After no Senator tried to stop Zed from speaking, the disruptions began.

Here’s one more bit of inspiration from Benham:

“When you stand up and are arrested, and the Hindu is allowed to go free, this country has gone upside-down,” Benham added — though when asked, he later clarified that he does not believe people of other religions should be arrested for their beliefs. “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.”

For what it’s worth: The angry press release urging people to call their Senators in disgust was put out by the American Family Association and its leader Tim Wildmon.

Wildmon had this to say to CNN: “We would not ever encourage shouting in the gallery like that; we asked people to contact their Senators to show their disapproval.”

(Thanks to Siamang for the video link!)


[tags]atheist, atheism, Hindu, Rajan Zed, Senate, Talking Points Memo, Christian, fundamentalist, anti-abortion, Operation Save America, Ante Pavkovic, Katherine Pavkovic, Kristen Sugar, Flip Benham, Jesus, God, Muslim, American Family Association, Tim Wildmon, CNN[/tags]

  • Maria

    disgusting. and they wonder why people get mad at christians. these groups claim to speak for them all and just give everyone a bad name. I thought the guy’s prayer was nice. actually I don’t mind prayers like that. he seemed nice. why couldn’t they just leave him alone? and what does abortion have to do with any of this?

  • Gadren

    Sickening… here’s what should have happened:
    “The Sargent-at-Arms will lay the smack down on those fundie bitches, yo.”
    *BLAM BLAM*

  • cso

    Does anyone have an email address for Rajan Zed? I would like to offer an apology from a North Carolinian who is embarrassed by that display of ignorance and bigotry.

  • John

    Gotta love it when religions collide! At least nobody got killed.

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    I wrote this in the other thread, and I’m gonna bring it up here as well, because it bears repeating.

    Why is it, if we’re such a diverse and tolerant country, that this is the FIRST HINDU invocation in the senate’s history?

    Don’t they do an invocation every single day they’re in session?

    You’re telling me that since we “discovered” multiculturalism, diversity, ecumenicalism, etc… (Probably around 1980 or so)… hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of invocations have occurred in the senate… and we’re just now getting to “HINDU”?!?!?!

    Doesn’t that put the lie to this idea of “It’s a free country for all worshippers” better than any 3 protestors can do?

    Also, this guy makes me sick:

    “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.”

    Oh, thank you, kind and loving theocrats who own the world, for ALLOWING people other than you to have rights.

  • Susan

    I have to agree with Maria–I liked his prayer a lot. I think the Hindu religion is a very interesting one, with some beautiful imagery. Can’t the protesters just listen and whine later instead of being obnoxious?

  • http://theplainestguygmail.com theplainestguy

    and what does abortion have to do with any of this?

    This issue, like abortion, is deeply rooted in religion and is such that a logical, sincere secular argument cannot be advanced.

  • Maria

    I have to agree with Siamang. what the radical right doesn’t realize is that if they were more tolerant of others, more people, including non-religious, would probably be more tolerant of them. I actually wouldn’t mind being in the senate and hearing the different kinds of prayers from around the world, whether I took them seriously or not. It would be fascinating to see the different inputs from all over the world. we should have had many many diverse prayers by now. if it goes go anywhere, it all goes to the same place, IMHO, so it really doesn’t matter how you say it.

  • Karen

    That’s hideous to have the man embarrassed and shouted at on such an auspicious occasion. What an utter lack of basic human respect. I shouldn’t expect anything else from Flip Benham and Operation Rescue, or whatever this group is. They want respect for the unborn, but won’t give it for grown up people who at least deserve a modicum of dignity. :-(

    And Siamang’s absolutely right that it is embarrassing in general to have this be the first Hindu prayer. I seem to remember Jefferson talking about how the U.S. would welcome even “the Mohammadans and the Hindoo” or something like that. His vision has certainly fallen short.

  • Tammy

    It’s shameful, and offensive, as others have said here, that this was the first Hindu prayer said before the Senate. I sent an email to my Senators asking them not to humiliate us by walking out of the chamber during the prayer, as those “kind and loving theocrats who own the world” were urging them to do, and stating that chaplans of all religions should have the oppurtunity to do the honors. The prayer was beautiful, and I was glad to see Bob Casey Jr. calling for order in the chamber(at least I’m pretty sure that was him, though probably not because he got my email). He’s the guy we here in PA voted for to replace that embarrassment Rick Santorum.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Maybe they need to give him a second go since this one was interrupted. They should get one of everything to give an invocation. And that means everything.

  • Jonas G

    In case anyone didn’t know, “Operation Save America” is the new “Operation Rescue” the old fundamentalist Anti-Abortion group started by Randell Terry. I had no idea they were still in business till recently.

    They should get one of everything to give an invocation. And that means everything.

    Just make sure you start with Jehovah. The bible doesn’t say anything about Gods AFTER HIM. (No other gods BEFORE me :-) ) .

  • Darryl

    WHEN CREEDS COLLIDE! . . . Coming to a neighborhood near you.

  • http://www.am-3.org Dave

    What these three folks failed to realise is that their actions were likely viewed as totally tasteless for one simple reason. They were rude. Most Americans would find their actions disgusting because the three were so rude.

  • http://www.agnosticatheism.wordpress.com HeIsSailing

    Yeah, that makes me want to be a Christian.

  • Daniel

    How many of the above comments are actually atheist, and which ones are anti-christian? I’m surprised that some people commenting are upset that this is the first hindu prayer in the senate. It does not bother me to have a hindu prayer any more than a christian prayer, but the ideal would be no prayer.

  • LilJase

    extremists suck big time… there is never room for reason for them, as they think they are right…

    thought i’d offer the other side of the coin.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sla6aSVk8Mc

    the problem is not hindus, the problem is not christians, the problem is intolerance and extremism.

  • http://bijanc.wordpress.com Bijan C. Bayne

    Uh, what happened to the “free exercise” clause in the First Amendment to the Constitution?

    “…Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

    Has a rabbi (or imam) ever given the benediction before a Senate or House session? If they have, The Capitol was not struck by lightning.

  • stogoe

    Sure, I’d rather have no prayer. But if we have to have it, then it’s a bloomin’ shame that only now have we gotten around to allowing a Hindu prayer.

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    I’m surprised that some people commenting are upset that this is the first hindu prayer in the senate. It does not bother me to have a hindu prayer any more than a christian prayer, but the ideal would be no prayer.

    The ideal would be no politicians! But one step at a time!

    (Kidding. I’m not a libertarian.)

  • Mriana

    OK so tell me again what the problem is? It really makes no sense that X-ians demand being heard and all, yet won’t let anyone else be heard. What? Is Satan going to pop out of the woodworks like some halarious supernatural horror movie involving the Catholic Church? They really need to grow up and let the man say his little prayer, esp if they are going to demand their prayer be heard. :roll:

  • http://theplainestguygmail.com theplainestguy

    I’m all for giving every religion this opportunity. In the future, they should consider inviting a Wiccan priest to do the honors.

  • Karen

    In the future, they should consider inviting a Wiccan priest to do the honors.

    Oh my gosh! Can you even BEGIN to imagine the uproar that one would cause?!

    Wow. I hope I live long enough to see that day, I really do.

  • Polly

    I think they’d draw the line at Satanists, though. (assuming there is such a group).

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    He’s over there.

    SPLITTER!!!!

    I honestly think they should allow a wiccan. Heck, wiccans have died in the war, but we mustn’t listen to them pray!!! OMYGOSH… they might pray backwards!

    This country is so fucked up, I can’t even believe it.

  • Maria

    OK so tell me again what the problem is? It really makes no sense that X-ians demand being heard and all, yet won’t let anyone else be heard. What? Is Satan going to pop out of the woodworks like some halarious supernatural horror movie involving the Catholic Church? They really need to grow up and let the man say his little prayer, esp if they are going to demand their prayer be heard.

    I agree!

    In the future, they should consider inviting a Wiccan priest to do the honors.

    Oh my gosh! Can you even BEGIN to imagine the uproar that one would cause?!

    Wow. I hope I live long enough to see that day, I really do.

    I second that

    extremists suck big time… there is never room for reason for them, as they think they are right…

    thought i’d offer the other side of the coin.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sla6aSVk8Mc

    the problem is not hindus, the problem is not christians, the problem is intolerance and extremism.

    agreed. that video sickened me. there is no rational reason this should be happening to anyone. If they’re going to have prayer, I would have no problem with Christian prayers as long as other prayers were allowed equally

  • Richard Wade

    Does anybody know how, and by what little sub-committee each guest holy man is selected? That would be interesting to learn. We ought to be able to know how it’s done since we’re paying for it. I’d give good money to be a fly on the wall at one of those meetings especially after this fiasco.

  • Maria

    Does anybody know how, and by what little sub-committee each guest holy man is selected? That would be interesting to learn. We ought to be able to know how it’s done since we’re paying for it. I’d give good money to be a fly on the wall at one of those meetings especially after this fiasco.

    I agree

  • Tammy

    Richard, I read someplace that Rajan Zed was recommended by one of his state’s senators. I can’t remember now if he’s from Wyoming or Colorado.
    It’s good to see Christians behaving so badly- it gets our point across without any effort on our part:)

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  • http://www.corbettreeves.com Corbett

    Rudeness is never the answer. The man was not in a synagogue, temple or church so why did those people feel the need to interrupt him and embarrass themselves. I can admire their gumption, as should anyone who supported the protests in the 60′s or even since, but I feel they are very misguided.

    The problem is that many religious extremists feel that our govt should be supportive of their theology. I do not believe this can be nor should be the case.

    I am a “X-tian” but as long as the govt. is protecting my free exercise of my faith, they are fulfilling their charter. And when they stop protecting by ability to follow my faith, when being a follower of Christ makes me persona non grata (an ironic use of the expression), I’ll still follow my beliefs and accept the consequences that come.


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