On July 12, chaplain Rajan Zed of Reno, Nev., became the first Hindu to deliver an opening prayer in the U.S. Senate. Zed is director of public affairs of Hindu Temple of Northern Nevada.
I found the response to this amazing. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, since 9/11, many people have looked askance at Hindus and Muslims. The prayer Chaplin Zed read was as follows (I believe):
“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 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 vigour. May our
study be enlightening.”
Before he could even start, he was interrupted twice by protesters. As he read his prayer, yet another person interrupted. It isn’t the interruptions that bother me, although they are really rude. What would those people say if others interrupted their prayers? I am quite certain they would be completely outraged and indignant. The reactions afterward are what bothered me. Here is a sample of the reactions he found online:
“Hindu prayer in session is American values on faith in practice at their very best.”
“Insult to God.”
“A move which may draw God’s anger.”
“A slap in God’s face.”
“Intolerance from A to Zed.”
“One Nation, Under God (s).”
“With this prayer, USA has officially turned back on God.”
“Congratulations to the Senate for opening our collective mind.”
“Why Didn’t God Stop It?”
Several of those call out for comment. First of all, a pair: “A move which may draw God’s anger” and “Why Didn’t God Stop It?”. I’d really like to know why a Hindu prayer for the country and the Senate would anger God. Wouldn’t you think the murder rate all across this country would anger Him? How about the child abuse that seems rampant in this country and others? Wouldn’t you think He’d be a bit more concerned about those problems? Why would a prayer bother him? I suppose it goes back to the Old Testament (you shall have no other gods before me) but can’t there be different paths to God?
Secondly: “A slap in God’s face” and “an insult to God”. Really? This person knows exactly what offends God? Is he/she God’s spokesperson? I just don’t understand this, unless it goes back to the Old Testament. And on that note, I have to point out that you cannot simply pick and choose which rules to follow. If you are going to go back to the Old Testament, then really go back to the Old Testament. Are you ready for that? I doubt it: slavery is fine, women are completely subservient, and we all need to be offering various and sundry burnt offerings – daily. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am short on turtle doves, lambs, and calves.
Another point: “With this prayer, USA has officially turned back on God.” Why? Did Chaplain Zed suddenly convert all of us with that prayer? What was the Senate expected to do, rise up and slay him right there? I just don’t understand the thinking behind this comment. I don’t know about the person who made the comment, but I am still firmly Christian.
I thought this country was founded on the principle of religious freedom. Where did that go? When did we decide that religious freedom is everyone being Christian? As a Christian, I am bothered by those responses. I am ashamed of my countrymen – not all of them, of course. There was some support and Chaplain Zed goes on to say that many people emailed or called to give their support. That’s something. I particularly like the comment “Congratulations to the Senate for opening our collective mind.”
The God I believe in is a loving God, a merciful God. He isn’t seeking to strike a man down for praying that we meditate on the “transcendental glory of the deity supreme” and that “we work together with great vigor”. I believe that there are many paths to God and many names for Him. I believe that this country is better for its diversity and that hatred is a bad thing, no matter what the cause.
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