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Scores apologise to Hindu chaplain

Last updated on: July 19, 2007 15:36 IST

Rajan Zed, the Hindu chaplain of the Indian Association of Northern Nevada, who created history on July 12 by opening the US Senate with a Hindu prayer, has said he received scores of e-mails from Christians apologising for this protest while congratulating him for his prayer.

Zed told rediff.com from his home in Reno, Nevada, "I've received nearly 100 e-mails -- and most of them from total strangers and I don't know how they got my e-mail address -- apologising for the disruption of my prayer by some of these Christian fundamentalists."

He said many of these e-mails had said, "I am also a Christian but I don't appreciate what happened with those people protesting, and I apologise for their misguided actions."

"They also congratulated me for my prayer and for being the first Hindu chaplain to open a US Senate session," he said.

He said that he had also received some e-mails from some Congressional aides who had also apologised for the disruption by these persons purporting to be from a group calling themselves Operation Save America, a Christian right-wing organisation.

The protestors shouted from the gallery, among other things, 'Lord Jesus, forgive us father for allowing a prayer of the wicked, which is an abomination in your sight.'

Zed said he had not received a single hate mail "or any kind of nasty mail at all. I have not got any negative mail or correspondence."

Meanwhile, the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, DC, wrote letters to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, who facilitated Zed's prayer in the Senate, and to the Senate Chaplain Barry C Black congratulating them for facilitating the first Hindu prayer in the Senate and bemoaning the unfortunate incident of the protest by the members of the Christian right-wing outfit.

The IFC missive, signed by chairperson Simeon M Kreisberg, executive director Rev Dr Clark Lobenstine, and chair of the Interfaith Center for Advancing Justice, said, "We are writing to express how much we deeply appreciate your efforts to insure that the tradition of opening Senate sessions with prayer remains a process that not only accurately reflects the diversity of our great country, but which celebrates that religious diversity as one of our greatest strengths."

While thanking Reid and Black for inviting Zed "to be the first Hindu to give the opening prayer in the US Senate," they said, "We are deeply saddened that a few Christians demonstrated their opposition to his giving the prayer and your invitation to him to do so."

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC