On Thursday morning, history was made when the first Hindu prayer was offered at the opening of the US Senate. Rajan Zed’s prayer, which should have been an important milestone for religious freedom, turned into a display of religious intolerance by the Christian right. The prayer was disrupted by screams of
“Lord Jesus, forgive us father for allowing a prayer of the wicked, which is an abomination in your sight,” the first protester began.
“This is an abomination,” he continued. “We shall have no other gods before You.”
You would think that this sort of blatantly dishonest bigotry would be repudiated by all but the most extreme nuts. So when Tony Perkins of the (relatively mainstream) Family Research Council comes out in support of these bigots, it tells you what sort of an extremist theocratic organisation the FRC is. Perkins wrote:
There is no question that under the first amendment Zed enjoys freedom in this country that Christians do not enjoy in his home country. But does that mean it is appropriate for him to open the nation’s highest elected body in prayer? I think not.
Under the first amendment Hinduism is no different from any other religion in the eyes of the government. Of course, the Indian constitution declares that country to be secular, and the government can neither favour nor discriminate against any religion. So in theory Christians in India have the same rights as Hindus in the US. But more importantly, the assertion that it isn’t appropriate to for a Hindu to open the Senate in prayer is an outright attack on the US constitution.
What Perkins seems to be saying is that non-Christians are second-class citizens in the US. That assertion places him clearly within the dominionist camp, as is an increasing proportion of the religious right.