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US Senate Interrupted
Hindu prayer angers Christian activists
Ashish Kumar Sen writes from Washington

Angry Christian activists briefly disrupted a historic Hindu prayer in the US Senate on Thursday. Rajan Zed, director of interfaith relations at a Hindu temple in Reno, Nevada, had been invited by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, also of Nevada, to deliver the first Hindu invocation in the chamber of Congress.

As Zed prepared to pray three persons in the visitors' gallery started shouting. "You shall have no other gods before you," they shouted. "This is an abomination." Dressed in bright orange and burgundy, Zed appeared unnerved by the chaos, but continued his prayer.

Bob Casey, Pennsylvania Democrat, who was presiding over the Senate at the time, had to ask the Sergeant at Arms to restore order before Zed could commence his prayer.

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

In his prayer, Zed said: "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." He prayed, additionally, for the Senators to serve wisely and selflessly and concluded with, "Peace, peace, peace be unto all."

Later, Reid defended his decision to invite Zed saying, "If people have any misunderstanding about Indians and Hindus all they have to do is think of Gandhi," a man "who gave his life for peace."

"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," said Reid, a Mormon.

The protesters were identified by Operation Save America/Operation Rescue, which said in a statement Ante Pavkovic, Kathy Pavkovic, and Kristen Sugar were arrested as the Senate "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," the group said.

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