Three protestors calling themselves "patriots" disrupted a Hindu prayer that was set to open up the Senate this past Thursday.
The invocation – which made history as the first Hindu-led prayer – was led by Rajan Zed, a Hindu chaplain from Nevada, but was interrupted by two women and one man from the group Operation Save America/Operation Rescue.
The three protestors, later identified as Ante and Katherine Pavkovic and their daughter Kristen, felt that the prayer was against the wishes of the fore founders of America since the prayer would be addressed to a non-monotheistic god.
"Lord Jesus, forgive us, Father, for allowing the prayer of the wicked, which is an abomination in your sight," shouted Ante Pavkovic at the morning start. "You shall have no other gods before you. … "
Soon after they began speaking out loud, each of the protestors were escorted out of the hall and later charged with disrupting a Senate meeting – a misdemeanor.
Since 1789, the Senate has opened its workday with prayer, a rare relic in the government. It is normally opened up by the Senate Chaplain, currently Barry Black, a Seventh Day Adventist, but it is not uncommon for guest chaplains to be recommended by senators.
Prayers in the past have been almost exclusively along Judeo-Christian tradition, and when Christian groups found out that a Hindu would be leading the invocation, a few – such as the Mississippi-based American Family Association – called on senators and other religious leaders to fight the event.
Other Christians, on the other hand, including Christian senators, expressed their approval of the event. They say even though the content may not be agreeable, it reflects the right to free speech in the government body. Christian supporters, therefore, were unhappy with the reactions of the three protestors, and concerned that their actions against the meeting could discourage the government from wanting to retain its long tradition of prayer.
In continuing his prayer, after the interruption and the removal of the protestors, Zed asked for enlightenment and peace.
"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," expressed the Nevada chaplain. "May he stimulate and illuminate our minds."
"Peace, peace, peace be unto all," he closed.
Although Thursday marked the first time a Hindu opened the Senate workday, it was not the first time a chaplain outside the Judeo-Christian sphere was invited. Wallace Mohammed became the first Muslim to recite a prayer in 1992.