Three Removed From Senate During Hindu Prayer

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:06 PM EDT

Washington ( -- Three Christian protestors were removed from the U.S. Senate chamber's observation gallery Thursday when they disrupted the morning prayer -- being delivered for the first time in history by a Hindu chaplain.

The three unidentified protestors began praying loudly when Rajan Zed, a Hindu chaplain from Nevada, started praying. The demonstrators prayed for forgiveness from Jesus Christ for "betraying" the Christian tradition.

Senate security officers quickly removed the demonstrators, and Zed continued with his prayer for peace. "May our study be enlightening," he said, noting that "by devotion to selfless work we gain the supreme goal of life."

Zed addressed his prayer to "the supreme one" and requested that "he stimulate and illuminate our minds."

"May yours spirits be as one," Zed said. "Peace, peace, peace be unto all." He added a prayer of comfort for the family of Lady Bird Johnson, the former First Lady who died Wednesday at 94.

Zed addressed a mainly empty Senate chamber. Among other staff, only Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) were present for the opening invocation and Pledge of Allegiance. Reid's office sponsored Zed's request to serve as a guest chaplain. Inhofe was there to deliver a speech moments later on the Fairness Doctrine.

After the prayer, Reid took to the floor to thank Zed for opening the Senate. He spoke of a statue of Gandhi he keeps in his office, and encouraged his colleagues to "think of Gandhi."

As Cybercast News Service previously reported, Zed is believed by Senate historians to be the first Hindu chaplain to deliver the opening prayer on the Senate floor. The Senate Chaplain, Rev. Barry Black, usually delivers the invocation, but it is common for guest chaplains to appear.

While he appears to be the first Hindu to open the Senate, Zed is not the first outside the Judeo-Christian tradition. A Muslim prayer was delivered in 1993.

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