The U.S. Senate prepares to say "Om"

Faith-based diversity: A Hindu prayer before haggling over immigration reform.

By Andrew Leonard

Published June 26, 2007 4:10PM (EDT)

A Hindu prayer will kick off the U.S. Senate session on July 12, reports the Cybercast News Service. This is believed to be a first, and perhaps, from a multicultural perspective, it should be applauded. There are around 2 million Indian-Americans in the United States -- why not bring a little more diversity to the Senate's morning prayer?

The ultraconservative Cybercast News Service is a media outlet that specializes in regular updates on "the war against Christmas," the various sins committed by Planned Parenthood and important questions like "Was Gorbachev a Closet Christian?" but reporter Nathan Burchfiel plays this one straight. Rajan Zed, a Hindu chaplain from Nevada, comes across as a reasonable man.

"I believe that despite our philosophical differences, we should work together for the common objectives of human improvement, love, and respect for others," Zed said in an e-mail to Cybercast News Service.

Zed, a U.S. citizen originally from India, said he has not finalized the prayer but that it will likely quote Hindu scriptures including the Rig Veda, the Upanishads, and the Bhagavad-Gita.

He said he plans to start and end the prayers with "'OM,' the mystical syllable containing the universe, which in Hinduism is used to introduce and conclude religious work."

While the prayer will draw from Hindu religious texts, Zed said it will be "universal in approach."

But whereas Burchfiel and CNS are careful not to express horror at the infidel "om," some of the Christian-focused blogs that are busily retransmitting the CNS news item through the infosphere are considerably less sanguine. My favorite: Hal Paxton's comment at the Great Separation that the news was "not all that unexpected from a group of men and women who stand for their wish-washy selves and not upon the absolutes of Christ and the Father in heaven."

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Globalization How The World Works India U.s. Senate