We in California are used to being first in many ways, but this week we followed the state of Nevada and the US Senate in having Hindu Chaplain Rajan Zed lead the opening prayers in the California State Senate on Monday, August 27. Zed, who was heckled during his appearance in Washington but honored by his interfaith colleagues in Nevada, encouraged the California senators in Sanskrit to “Fulfill all your duties; action is better than inaction.”
Despite vocal opposition from some conservative Christians like Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association, other traditionalists in California seemed more welcoming. Rev. Louis Sheldon, founder of the Traditional Values Coalition which lobbies for conservative issues remarked, “I don’t see any problem with it at all. I would have no problems with a Hindu praying, just as I wouldn’t an evangelical Christian.
And Mike Spence of the California Republican Assembly, a Republican volunteer association, suggested rather wryly, “The problem isn’t who is saying the prayers in the Legislature. The problem is that the Legislature isn’t listening to the prayers.”
Whether or not the senators listened to the prayers, the fact of a Hindu offering prayers to this official body was noted in news outlets throughout the world– Asian, Malaysian, Punjabi, and Indian news reported the event widely. The world is truly watching to see how inclusive the religious sector in the US truly is.
- Hindu chaplain Rajan Zed leads state Senate in opening prayer
San Francisco Chronicle
- California Senate Opened with Hindu Prayer
- California Senate opened with Hindu prayer for first time
- California Senate opened with Hindu prayer for the first time
- ‘Gayatri mantra’ echoes in California Senate
Indian Tribune, Jalandhar