The Limits of Christian Tolerance

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Yesterday in the Senate chambers, three Christian protesters shouted down a Hindu chaplain before being forcibly removed by the Capitol police. This was the first time the daily prayer that opens Senate proceedings was said by a Hindu (the House of Representatives had a Hindu chaplain open their session in 2000).

“…two women and one man were arrested and charged with causing a disruption in the public gallery of the Senate. The three started shouting when guest Chaplain Rajan Zed, a Hindu from Nevada, began his prayer. They shouted ‘No Lord but Jesus Christ’ and ‘There’s only one true God,’ and used the term ‘abomination.'”

The protesters, who are members of Operation Save America (apparently there were no fetal Americans in peril at that particular moment), have the full backing of their organizations director the Rev. Flip Benham who chastised the Senators for not imitating Christ by acting like rude jerks.

“Not one Senator had the backbone to stand as our Founding Fathers stood. They stood on the Gospel of Jesus Christ! There were three in the audience with the courage to stand and proclaim, ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me.’ They were immediately removed from the chambers, arrested, and are in jail now. God bless those who stand for Jesus as we know that He stands for them.”

One can only wonder which Founding Fathers he means, the Deists? The Freemasons? Thomas Jefferson certainly stood by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but only after he edited out all the supernatural elements and “errors”. But that doesn’t stop certain conservative Christian “historians” from putting forth anti-polytheist interpretations of religious freedom in America.

“The Hindu prayer was also questioned by a Christian historian who maintained that since Hindus worship multiple gods, the prayer will be completely outside the American paradigm, flying in the face of the American motto ‘One Nation Under God.’ … ‘In Hindu (sic), you have not one God, but many, many, many, many, many gods,’ the Christian historian David Barton maintained. ‘And certainly that was never in the minds of those who did the Constitution, did the Declaration [of Independence] when they talked about Creator – that’s not one that fits here because we don’t know which creator we’re talking about within the Hindu religion.'”

Sadly, instead of stepping up and blasting these religious bigots, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (who had invited Chaplain Rajan Zed) gave some flat platitudes about Hinduism and peace.

“I think it speaks well of our country that someone representing the faith of about a billion people comes here and can speak in communication with our heavenly father regarding peace,”

Which I think proves a point that politicians today are more concerned with not alienating Christian voters (even Christians voters who would never vote Democratic), than they are with standing up for the principles our country was founded on. You can be sure that any of our Presidential candidates running for office now will be more than willing to throw non-Christian faiths under the bus the minute they risk losing a bit of popularity in the polls. Sadly it looks like we aren’t ready to fully welcome non-monotheist expressions of faith into our political system.