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July 13, 2007 4:00 PM   Subscribe

Senate disrupted by jerks. Three members of anti-abortion Operation Save America disrupted the daily opening prayers of the Senate yesterday morning, which were being lead that day Rajan Zed, a Hindu priest. This was the first time a Hindu priest lead the opening prayer. Operation Save America has a small press release. Youtube link.
posted by Snyder (81 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Freedom of religion means freedom of all religions.

Of course, it begs the question, if Congress can't establish a religion at all, why are they starting the session with a prayer?
posted by MythMaker at 4:02 PM on July 13, 2007


We should thank Operation Save America for demonstrating why the Senate should not open with a prayer.
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:05 PM on July 13, 2007 [19 favorites]


Those guys make me want to get an abortion from that teenager in India.
posted by mds35 at 4:06 PM on July 13, 2007 [5 favorites]


This story pissed me off, but seeing it linked to in an Indian newspaper makes me sad and embarrassed.
posted by 2sheets at 4:07 PM on July 13, 2007


1. Unknown group stages unimpressive stunt to increase visibility and membership.
2. Group releases press release to let people who otherwise wouldn't know (read: 99.99999% of the US population) about insignificant stunt.
3. Snyder assists group in spreading information about stunt by posting it to popular group weblog MetaFilter.
4. ???
5. PROFIT.
posted by eyeballkid at 4:07 PM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow. What pricks.

This reminds me of an incident here in Washington State, where a couple of
posted by EatTheWeak at 4:08 PM on July 13, 2007


Although rooted in tradition, the Senate opening with a prayer - ANY prayer - just seems to go against the ideal of separation of church and state. Give credit to Shri Zed for speaking a prayer which was more universal than Hindu.
posted by lonemantis at 4:10 PM on July 13, 2007


(oops. hit post too soon. continued below)

lawmakers walked out on a Muslim Imam's invocation. Condotta, the representative from the part of the state I lived in at the time, "wasn't interested" in beseeching the almighty for global peace.
posted by EatTheWeak at 4:10 PM on July 13, 2007


OUR God is an awesome God, not yours, fucker.
posted by ColdChef at 4:13 PM on July 13, 2007 [15 favorites]


Give credit to Shri Zed for speaking a prayer which was more universal than Hindu.

Seriously. In order to take offense, they'd have to be intentionally not listening to what the man was saying, instead listening only to their own bigotry.

Apparently while most people make do with just one asshole, their "One True God" needs lots of them.
posted by Foosnark at 4:14 PM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I want to thank you for this post. Though not Hindu, I come from a Hindu family and really appreciate the fact that Congress finally allowed a Hindu priest to conduct the invocation. (Leave aside the argument of whether one should be done in the first place.)

What's really sad and disgusting to me, though, is that no mainstream US newspaper picked up on this. I was born and raised in the US, and consider myself more American than Indian, but I am utterly disgusted with this country at this particular moment. I would love to call this an isolated incident, but somehow I feel like I'd be kidding myself if I believed that.

WTF is wrong with the press?
posted by SeizeTheDay at 4:15 PM on July 13, 2007


It did appear in the Washington Post, but you had to dig to find it.
posted by rtha at 4:18 PM on July 13, 2007


Mr Zed, the first Hindu to offer the Senate prayer, began:
"We meditate on the transcendental glory of the deity supreme, who is inside the heart of the Earth, inside the life of the sky and inside the soul of the heaven. May He stimulate and illuminate our minds."


This strikes me as much closer to Judeo-Christian theology in general message than the outburst would suggest. Of course the outburst seems to be in reaction to any non-Christian leading the prayer rather than actual content.

We should thank Operation Save America for demonstrating why the Senate should not open with a prayer.

Agreed.
posted by Tehanu at 4:19 PM on July 13, 2007


eyeballkid -- actually the "mainstream media" (e.g. ABC, CNN, MSNBC, etc.) was airing the video footage throughout the day yesterday -- and many blogs picked it up. I'd say the group's press release had little to do with the spread of the story.
posted by ericb at 4:20 PM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


MSNBC had a little blurb, but you're right, the MSM ignored this mostly. I saw something about it on Huffington Post yesterday...
posted by MythMaker at 4:21 PM on July 13, 2007


Senate disrupted by rogue N.
posted by fire&wings at 4:23 PM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


What's really sad and disgusting to me, though, is that no mainstream US newspaper picked up on this.

Newspapers: Philadelphia Inquirer, United Press International, USA Today, Washington Post, etc.
posted by ericb at 4:26 PM on July 13, 2007


Since it's impossible for me to be any more ashamed of my country's chronic hater-infection, I actually am glad this happened. The more OSA is revealed to be the Phelps-lite bullshit it really is, the more people get turned off of it.

I do feel sorry that Zed had to be the target though. He seems like a nice guy.
posted by emjaybee at 4:27 PM on July 13, 2007


Metafilter: intentionally not listening to what the man was saying
posted by Riki tiki at 4:28 PM on July 13, 2007


I'm sorry, what did you say? I wasn't listening.
posted by miss lynnster at 4:33 PM on July 13, 2007


Although rooted in tradition, the Senate opening with a prayer - ANY prayer - just seems to go against the ideal of separation of church and state.

I just checked, and it turns out that this "separation of church and state" still isn't in the constitution. It does have this, however:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof
; or abridging the freedom of speech, or
of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition
the Government for a redress of grievances.
(emphasis added)

If the senators want to have prayers, they can have prayers. Christian prayers, Hindu prayers, whatever makes them happy, as long as they're not forcing it on anybody.

FWIW, I'm a Christian, and I'm content with a secular government. (And I am descended from apes.)
posted by neuron at 4:35 PM on July 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


We should thank Operation Save America for demonstrating why the Senate should not open with a prayer.

Amen.

wait...what?
posted by eriko at 4:35 PM on July 13, 2007


Senante disrupted by jerks.

Do they drink Tecate® in the Senante?
posted by ericb at 4:38 PM on July 13, 2007


I knew that there was an upcoming prayer led by a Hindu in the Senate because my wife made the mistake of giving her uncle her e-mail address.

So now we get batshitinsane right-wing chain letters all the damn time. His last forward concerned this paryer: "Hinduism is a polytheistic religion and therefore is inappropriate for 'One Nation Under God.' "

The separation of polytheistic churches and state must be maintained at all costs.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 4:38 PM on July 13, 2007


When I originally saw this link, it was incorrectly attributed to the actual senators shouting him down, and then "corrected" to congressional staffers before being corrected correctly. If either of those had been the case, this would have deservedly been big news.

As it is, it was just a bunch of run-of-the-mill asshats saying run-of-the-mill asshat things and interrupting a notable event that would have received limited news coverage anyway.

Also, while I don't want to besmirch the rare example of religious tolerance inherent in having a Hindu give the invocation, I've got to echo the sentiment that our congresscritters should learn to pray for themselves.
posted by Riki tiki at 4:38 PM on July 13, 2007


I just checked, and it turns out that this "separation of church and state" still isn't in the constitution.
Interesting. And I just checked, and it turns out that the phrase is still a direct quote of Thomas Jefferson describing what's in the Constitution.

I also checked something else: It still turns out that nobody claims that the phrase itself is word-for-word in the Constitution. It still turns out that people are still using it to describe what's in the Constitution. Just like, it turns out, Jefferson still did.
posted by Flunkie at 4:41 PM on July 13, 2007 [5 favorites]


Wow, this is rich:
Reverend Flip Benham, the leader of the group, said: "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'."
I bet he really hates the Treaty of Tripoli, especially this part:
"As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion;
posted by mullingitover at 4:41 PM on July 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


I bet he is not aware of the Treaty of Tripoli.
posted by Flunkie at 4:43 PM on July 13, 2007


Foosnark : Seriously. In order to take offense, they'd have to be intentionally not listening to what the man was saying, instead listening only to their own bigotry.

Why would this come as a surprise to anyone? They have been doing the same thing with Jesus' teachings for years.
posted by quin at 4:45 PM on July 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


the christian God is conspicuously absent from the constitution. why? because our "founding fathers" were not creating a theocracy, but a society that adhered to the philosophy of the Enlightenment, in which a government based on implicit contracts between individuals is inherently tainted by religious influence. Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and others seem to have held personal religious views closer to those of Hume and Blake than this bullshit.
posted by whahappen?! at 4:47 PM on July 13, 2007


TFA mentions this quote from the Senate website, but I had to look it up myself before I believed it. Sure enough, from the "Chaplain's Office" web page:

"During the past two hundred and seven years, all sessions of the Senate have been opened with prayer, strongly affirming the Senate's faith in God as Sovereign Lord of our Nation."


1. Why does the Senate have a Chaplain?
2. If he's operating in an official Senate capacity, how (constitutionally) can he make a statement like the one above on the official senate website? That would seem to be an establishment of religion, right there.
posted by gurple at 4:47 PM on July 13, 2007


Neuron: they're more than welcome to pray for themselves, or pray in church, or organize prayer meetings on their own time. But when congresspeople are statutorily reminded of a duty to God before each session, and that reminder is delivered by a taxpayer-funded clergyman, I feel that they're pretty clearly respecting the establishment of religion.

By the way, the chaplains for both chambers make more than six figures (source). Whatever happened to taking a vow of poverty? </snark>
posted by Riki tiki at 4:50 PM on July 13, 2007


the christian God is conspicuously absent from the constitution. why?
Alexander Hamilton was actually explicitly asked why:
The omission was too obvious to have been anything but deliberate, in spite of Alexander Hamilton's flippant responses when asked about it: According to one account, he said that the new nation was not in need of "foreign aid"; according to another, he simply said "we forgot." But as Hamilton's biographer Ron Chernow points out, Hamilton never forgot anything important.
posted by Flunkie at 4:55 PM on July 13, 2007 [6 favorites]


mullingitover: Thanks for that link to the Treaty of Tripoli. In light of current "clash of civilizations" rhetoric, it's a very interesting little document. I think we need some updated version of it right now.

Speaking of which, whatever happened to "treaties" in general? They don't seem to happen much anymore, do they?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:56 PM on July 13, 2007


That's right - make Ganesh angry.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:59 PM on July 13, 2007


Another Hindu man once said, "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

Indeed.
posted by brain cloud at 5:01 PM on July 13, 2007 [12 favorites]


Speaking of which, whatever happened to "treaties" in general?

They're called 'trade embargoes', 'coalitions' or any one of a dozen things now. A treaty is just an agreement between two governments that happens to be on paper.
posted by IronLizard at 5:03 PM on July 13, 2007


They happen a lot in Europe: Rome, Lisbon, Maastricht, Amsterdam. You could have a pretty good holiday treaty-hopping.

Well, maybe not Maastricht.
posted by athenian at 5:05 PM on July 13, 2007


India should invade the US to topple it's tyrant and bring peace and democracy to America ...
posted by homodigitalis at 5:06 PM on July 13, 2007 [5 favorites]


Does the Reverend Flip anywhere explain what this standing "on the gospel of Jesus Christ" is all about? Are we supposed to step onto the New Testament, or what?


Thanks, Flunkie.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:08 PM on July 13, 2007


"Whatever happened to taking a vow of poverty?"

The formal "vow" of poverty, at least as far as I understand it and the (admittedly quick) research I did online supports, is a Catholic thing. Also, it's mostly nuns who take this vow (although some priests or brothers take it too, depending on their order). When I was in Catholic school, we used to joke that the priests drove new cars and ldrank the best scotch while the nuns had to live packed together in the convent, with seemingly not even enough money for a decent haircut or the rotgut whiskey that might have helped them to be more pleasant with their students! (But I was taught by Sisters of Mercy, who are notoriously cranky.) Also, I have numerous great-uncles and great-aunts who were Jesuits or SSJ nuns and I can tell you that my great-uncles lived much cushier lives than their sisters.

Any way to get in on this federal chaplaincy deal, though? Six figures for a morning prayer once in a while sounds good to me...
posted by chihiro at 5:15 PM on July 13, 2007


Clearly, no one here has read the treaty of Westphalia.
posted by found missing at 5:16 PM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


"1. Why does the Senate have a Chaplain?
2. If he's operating in an official Senate capacity, how (constitutionally) can he make a statement like the one above on the official senate website? That would seem to be an establishment of religion, right there.


I imagine the Senate has a chaplain because they felt like they wanted one. I don't think that the Senate having a chaplain is that much different from the military having chaplains.

Seriously, though, I don't think there's much harm to the Senate having opening prayers, and I don't know that anyone could make a case that the conservative religious tilt of Congress can be blamed on the existence of a chaplain, since it's such a long standing practice.

That said, these people are assholes.
posted by dismas at 5:21 PM on July 13, 2007


chihiro: yes, yes, so I was using a bit of rhetoric to emphasize my point. That's no reason to pee in my punch with your "facts" and other secular humanist rubbish. /grin
posted by Riki tiki at 5:23 PM on July 13, 2007


dismas: I'll agree with you that the practical harm of the practice is probably insignificant, just like "under God" in the pledge or "in God we trust" on our money. But the point remains that it's pretty clearly unconstitutional, so when these situations arise we're obligated to say so.

Military chaplains are arguably just as unconstitutional, but (as with prison chaplains) we're sending these people to places where they wouldn't have access to their religious institutions, so I'm willing to give it some slack.

Senators and representatives have no such inconvenience. All the churches they need are right outside the door but they nevertheless feel compelled to bring the practice into the halls of Congress, which has a distinctly less pleasant ideological odor.
posted by Riki tiki at 5:33 PM on July 13, 2007


On non-preview (and slightly off the subject):
Also, it's mostly nuns who take this vow (although some priests or brothers take it too, depending on their order).

The vow of poverty comes from Saint Benedict, so priests and brothers (and sisters) who adopt these rules (or are in orders that borrow from Benedictine practices) are the only ones who have to take the vow of poverty. Ordinary priests don't.
Only one Catholic has ever been the chaplain to the US Senate, a Jesuit priest who (presumably) had taken a vow of poverty (assuming that the vows haven't changed significantly in the past hundred thirty years).
posted by dismas at 5:35 PM on July 13, 2007


I mean Catholic priests/brothers, etc. I have no idea about non-Catholic monks/nuns/what have you.

Also, my math sucks.

posted by dismas at 5:37 PM on July 13, 2007


Ironically, considering abortion is illegal in india, there guys were only hurting one of their own.
posted by damn dirty ape at 5:40 PM on July 13, 2007


whahappen?!: More likely there is nothing about the Christian God (or Jesus) in the Constitution because many of our founding fathers were not Christians at all. Apparently, back then, we really meant that bit about religious tolerance. Either that or the people didn't know that their leaders were of assorted religions.

I like to think that they really were just tolerant.
posted by wierdo at 5:49 PM on July 13, 2007


Wait, sorry, but you really don't think there is any harm in the lawmakers of America asking an imaginary friend for guidance?
posted by Brocktoon at 6:18 PM on July 13, 2007


Oddly enough, I happened to have my local conservative AM talk radio station on this morning (I like to check in on the other side every once in a while) and heard the DJ reading the press clipping about this. He read the invocation:

"We meditate on the transcendental glory of the deity supreme, who is inside the heart of the Earth, inside the life of the sky and inside the soul of the heaven. May He stimulate and illuminate our minds."

And then, much to my surprise, said something to the effect of "You know, I don't have a problem with that. It sounds like we pretty much agree."

I almost drove off the road.
posted by EarBucket at 6:29 PM on July 13, 2007


Abortion is illegal in India? That's fucking insane. A poor county, with barely enough food to feed itself, already one of the most overpopulated nations on earth, with an already unsustainable use of groundwater, spends time and money enforcing a ban on abortion. I hope it all works out for them.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 6:30 PM on July 13, 2007


FYI, y'all, Operation Save America is just Operation Rescue with a new name. Same organization.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 6:33 PM on July 13, 2007


what, Christ assholes.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 6:36 PM on July 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


MythMaker: Psst, "begs the question" is not a synonym for "suggests the question." Some people are fairly strident about this.
posted by JHarris at 6:36 PM on July 13, 2007


Abortion is illegal in India?

Equally important is that the Hindu priest is an American. From India, originally, but not responsible for what happens back home.
But yeah, abortion is illegal in India? Holy cow.
Wait, I mean, wow.
posted by etaoin at 6:45 PM on July 13, 2007


By the way, the chaplains for both chambers make more than six figures (source). Whatever happened to taking a vow of poverty?

Hey, give the poor man a break. Can you even begin to imagine the workload a man who's trying to save souls would face when given a caseload that includes the House or Senate?

Why, I'm surprised there isn't a dedicated gross lot of vestal virgins praying forgiveness; it's take all that and more to save some of those bastards.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:53 PM on July 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


Clearly, no one here has read the treaty of Westphalia.

Why would we read that drivel when we have the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo?
posted by mds35 at 7:12 PM on July 13, 2007


Abortion is illegal in India?
Actually abortions are legal India since 1971 although there are restrictions on what kind of abortions can be preformed( Check out this site for more info)
posted by roguewraith at 7:17 PM on July 13, 2007


Brocktoon: it's pretty clear that most members of congress believe some variant of theism anyway. Having a chaplain and an opening prayer isn't doing much to change that fact.
posted by Riki tiki at 7:33 PM on July 13, 2007


maybe now a faith check can be part of the immigration process?
posted by infini at 8:41 PM on July 13, 2007


Theology Moved to the Senate and was Arrested

a classic case of underachievers underachieving ... maybe if they'd tried something a little more challenging than "vacation bible school" ...

jerks
posted by pyramid termite at 9:42 PM on July 13, 2007


Is the faith check the one where they use latex gloves and vaseline?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:17 PM on July 13, 2007


Thanks to whichever mod fixed my spelling and spacing.
posted by Snyder at 11:28 PM on July 13, 2007


It's Hindu, not Hindon't.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:45 PM on July 13, 2007


Three very quick points:-

a) On-demand abortion is NOT illegal in India (except in the last trimester or something like that). It is mostly a non-debate; even by religious (as opposed to the secular Indian Penal Code) law, it is permissible for most communities to have an abortion. The reason abortions arent permissible in the last trimester is, I think, history; we've just inherited a huge swath of British common law that nobody has bothered to change in a long time. (The reason I say this is because Singapore also mostly has the same restrictions as India.)

b) As a non-American Advaitist who has dabbled with these slokas, can I just say it is LAME to translate Hindu prayers from Sanskrit into English?! Transcendental glory indeed; what does it even mean?!

c) Not so with using future tense as an order ("The sergeant WILL restore order..."). Gotta use it from now in daily life.
posted by the cydonian at 12:09 AM on July 14, 2007


Abortion is legal, and it's often coupled with an ultrasound. Girls get evicted from the uterus early. There's even combo packages, affordably priced at $80-230.

I can't see how this could possibly lead to problems down the road...
posted by mullingitover at 1:53 AM on July 14, 2007


I think the Senate should have a good old happy clappy hymn sing. Let's start with #101 in your Hymnals, Nearer My God To Thee.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:25 AM on July 14, 2007


*will put the lotion on the cydonian's skin*
posted by fleacircus at 2:53 AM on July 14, 2007


can I just say it is LAME to translate Hindu prayers from Sanskrit into English?! Transcendental glory indeed; what does it even mean?!

I don't know. What did it mean in Sanskrit?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:30 AM on July 14, 2007


What did it mean in Sanskrit?

That's probably something you'd want to discuss with your guru, Kirth.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:37 AM on July 14, 2007


"Hinduism is a polytheistic religion and therefore is inappropriate for 'One Nation Under God.' " - unpatriotic right wing wacko chain email.

cf.

But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. -- Thomas Jefferson
posted by spitbull at 5:59 AM on July 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


"Senate disrupted by jerks."

What, they let the senators in ? Despicable !
posted by elpapacito at 6:27 AM on July 14, 2007


Why weren't these people confined to a fenced-in "Free Speech Zone" 12 miles away? Somebody is slipping up.

Sarcasm aside, I believe these folks have a right to their beliefs, as long as the rest of us don't have to be subjected to them. Where does it stop being freedom of speech and start being assholery? And why are so many intent on crossing that line?

I remember seeing several accounts of guests at universities being unable to speak because they were shouted down by the audience. Freedom of expression means listening to what the other guy has to say. Then you can counter it, hopefully with logic and reason. Instead, we get situations like this FPP - "whoever can scream the loudest, wins" monkey behavior as the norm rather than the exception.

If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.-Noam Chomsky
posted by Enron Hubbard at 6:53 AM on July 14, 2007


fleacircus: Lotion? :-D

Kirth Gerson: I don't know! That's exactly what I was trying to figure out; something's lost in translation somewhere.
posted by the cydonian at 7:24 AM on July 14, 2007


Is the faith check the one where they use latex gloves and vaseline?

I think it's more like a saving throw?
posted by anvilcity at 8:22 AM on July 14, 2007


Kneel before Zed.
posted by yhbc at 8:36 AM on July 14, 2007


The Senate prays every morning? Good grief - so much for the church and state separation.
posted by holycola at 9:12 AM on July 14, 2007


Where does it stop being freedom of speech and start being assholery? And why are so many intent on crossing that line?
There is no line between the two. Assholes are free to speak. And they do.
posted by Flunkie at 9:50 AM on July 14, 2007




Nearer my God than thee.
posted by pointilist at 10:19 AM on July 14, 2007


Riki tiki writes "By the way, the chaplains for both chambers make more than six figures (source). Whatever happened to taking a vow of poverty? </snark>"

I know a priest living under a vow of poverty, when he gets paid for his services he just sends it in to head office.
posted by Mitheral at 7:04 PM on July 14, 2007


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