On Thursday July 12th, 2007, a Hindu religious leader prayed the Morning Prayer in the U.S. Senate for the first time in history. The response of this man’s prayer was an alarming surprise to those in the room. Three people in the audience began to shout aloud as this man attempted to pray to his god. One news article puts it this way:
WASHINGTON – A Hindu clergyman made history Thursday by offering the Senate’s morning prayer, but only after police officers removed three shouting protesters from the visitors’ gallery.
Rajan Zed, director of interfaith relations at a Hindu temple in Reno, Nev., gave the brief prayer that opens each day’s Senate session. As he stood at the chamber’s podium in a bright orange and burgundy robe, two women and a man began shouting “this is an abomination” and other complaints from the gallery.
Police officers quickly arrested them and charged them disrupting Congress, a misdemeanor. The male protester told an AP reporter, “we are Christians and patriots” before police handcuffed them and led them away.
As a Christian, I feel as though the actions of these three individuals were completely out of line. We are called to be salt-and-light to the world through our actions and our love for others, despite other personal beliefs or lifestyles. However, that does not mean that we condone the actions of individuals that are either in sin or lead such lifestyles. This is best lived out through Jesus as our perfect example: As Jesus ate with sinners, tax collectors and prostitutes, Jesus still believed they were sick and in need of a physician. Jesus was an open door for anyone who was either an outcast or a ‘common’ person. Jesus made no distinction between anyone and showed forth His love to others.
I am not Indian, nor am I a Hindu. I am a Christian. Make no mistake about that. I was taken back a little when I found out today that a Hindu religious leader opened the Senate’s morning prayer. I am more surprised I had just heard about this today than I was that someone of a different belief led a morning prayer in Congress.
I look at this situation as I do my starbucks discussion # 247 found here. I do not believe we live in a Christian nation anymore. Perhaps when the United States was founded several hundred years ago, there were directives and foundational points that were put in place by men who believed in the YHWH God. Unfortunately (and I do mean unfortunately), we no longer live in that manner. We live in a ‘toss salad’ of people who make up a culture of individuals who are as different as Baskin Robbins ice cream flavors. That being said, we need to realize that much of what will occur in the future will not be in line with our Judeo-Christian past.
When people (like these three individuals who shouted during this man’s prayer) act in this manner, it sends out a foul aroma and pollutes our witness to others. It frustrates me when it seems we, as the body of Christ, begin to make some headway with others, other (perhaps well-meaning) Christians have to go and create a situation that puts a bad taste into other’s mouths. It seems when we are about to take two steps forward; we end up taking two steps backwards.
Was I in agreement with the man’s prayer? No. I do not believe that the religious view of Hinduism is the correct belief of faith. But this man does. He believes with his whole heart that who or what he is praying to, be his god. And, no matter how much I disagree with this man’s belief, it makes no difference to him. If I act in such a way like these individuals, nothing is gained for the sake of the Gospel. It is a waste of hot air that rises and dissipates into the atmosphere.
What would I have done if I were in the room? I cannot be sure in all honesty. I can only hope that I would have respect for this individual and pray for him that he might know Jesus. I hope that I would be more concerned with this Hindu religious leader than shouting ‘abomination statements’ while this man attempts to pray to his god. Perhaps, if I were fortunate enough to meet with him after the day’s work, I would get his contact information and build a relationship with him and share with him Jesus. Through respect and digity, I hope I would convey the truth of God’s love for him and for his family and friends. When we love God and we love others, we fulfill the Law of God. I think we would do well to act in this manner. Here is the video courtesy of Youtube.com. Instead of shouting aloud with the others in this video, why don’t we pray for him? Why don’t we instead pray that God would chasten after this individual and the love of God would overwhelm him in a powerful way? That’s the kind of prayer I hope I would be praying as he prays. Let us be the body of Christ who prays. God bless