The “infallible” pope declared all non-Catholic Christian churches void or defective if they didn’t accept papal authority. A few days later, Bible-waving fundamentalists screeched “Lord Jesus, protect us from this abomination” when Rajan Zed, a Hindu chaplain from Reno, Nevada offered a serene invocation to open a session of the United States Senate.
On July 10, 2007 Benedict XVI authorized a statement that would be appropriate only in the darkest of the Dark Ages, which is pretty much where the pope intends to take “his Church”:
Pope Benedict XVI has reasserted the universal primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, approving a document released Tuesday that says Orthodox churches were defective and that other Christian denominations were not true churches.
Benedict approved a document from his old offices at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that restates church teaching on relations with other Christians.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was formerly known as The Holy Office of the Inquisition. It’s former head was Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI. As Shakespeare asked, “What’s in a name?”
“Fun-da-mental-ists.” They aren’t much “fun.” They’re a rather dour, fire and brimstone lot. Their echoing of the late Jerry Falwell’s “da” notion that the Bible is “absolutely infallible, without error in all matters … such as geography, science, history” makes their mental faculties somewhat more than suspect. But they do make lists of people and beliefs to revile. The fundamentalists whose inquisitional ranting in the Senate gallery on July 12, 2007 made that crystal clear.
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Hindu to open Senate with prayer
Send an email to your senator now, expressing your disappointment in the Senate decision to invite a Hindu to open the session with prayer.
On Thursday, a Hindu chaplain from Reno, Nevada, by the name of Rajan Zed is scheduled to deliver the opening prayer in the U.S. Senate. …
WallBuilders president David Barton is questioning why the U.S. government is seeking the invocation of a non-monotheistic god. Barton points out 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."
TAKE ACTION – Call your Senators at 202-224-3121
Rajan Zed’s invocation:
“Let us pray,” Zed 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 heaven. May he stimulate and illuminate our minds.
“Lead us from the unreal to real, from darkness to light, and from death to immortality. May we be protected together. May we be nourished together. May we work together with great vigor. May our study be enlightening. May no obstacle arise between us.”
Seeking the blessings of god on behalf of and for the Senators, Zed declared, “May the Senators strive constantly to serve the welfare of the world, performing their duties with the welfare of others always in mind. Because by devotion to selfless work one attains the supreme goal of life. May they work carefully and wisely, guided by compassion, and without though for themselves.”
“United your resolve, united your hearts, may your spirits be at one, that you may long dwell in unity and concord!" he added, and ended with, “Peace, peace, peace be unto all.”
Before stepping away from the podium, Zed also said, “And, Lord, we ask you to comfort the family of former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson,” wife of the former and late President Lyndon Baines Johnson, who died at age 94.
What Mr. Zed said would offend no one except religious bigots like Wildmon and the Pope who think they and they alone are right and that they and they alone know “God.” As Barry W. Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church said, the protest against Zed’s invocation “shows the intolerance of many religious right activists. They say they want more religion in the public square, but it’s clear they mean only their religion.”
Only the ultimate blasphemers – those who pervert spirituality and religion for their own political-financial purposes – could possibly have been offended by Mr. Zed’s invocation. But not surprisingly, Wildmon’s propaganda organ, “One New Now,” featured several.
The “chaplain” of the Family Research Council, another dominionist organization, claimed the “historic Hindu prayer to open the U.S. Senate is ‘just one more step away’ from America’s Christian heritage. The founders of the United States, says Pierre Bynum, would never have wanted a pantheistic prayer to open that legislative body.”
Mr. Bynum claims to know – absolutely – what the founders of this country thought 231 years ago, as well as what they would think and recognize as appropriate now, in the twenty-first century. Mr. Bynum might want to read Jon Meacham’s American Gospel. A pantheistic understanding was very much involved in how “the founders of the United States” saw “God” in pluralistic America. Moreover, as Meacham noted, “In a treaty with the Muslim nation of Tripoli initiated by Washington, completed by John Adams, and ratified by the Senate in 1797, the Founders declared that ‘the government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”
Another One News Now item – “Former Navy chaplain labels Hindu Senate prayer ‘idolatry’” – featured the comments of Gordon James Klingenschmitt. Bigotry and its arrogant condescension appeared early in the article: “Gordon James Klingenschmitt says when he heard that the Hindu man…” [italics added].
“The Hindu man”? A nameless entity somehow less than a human being because he differs from the beliefs of those in power.
As for “idolatry,” Klingenschmitt might want to have a look at all the statues in Catholic churches, the only “true” Christian domination according to the pope.
As the One News Now article noted, “Klingenschmitt was in the Senate gallery earlier today to witness the prayer being given by the Hindu chaplain – a prayer that was interrupted twice by individuals in the gallery. ‘About 50 feet away from me there were these other Christian people [who] stood up like everybody else ...’” [italics added].
Aside from continuing the no-name denigration of Mr. Zed, the phrasing “other Christian people [who] stood up like everybody else” makes it sound like the whole gallery was filled with protesting “Christians.” In reality, there were only two fanatics and Klingenschmitt, who didn’t join them in their Bible-waving ranting. Perhaps he was too embarrassed by the distasteful display of fanatical religious bigotry, preferring another, less visible way to expressing his.
According to the One News Now article, Klingenschmitt “went to the U.S. Senate in hopes of gaining equal access. … he went to the office of Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) office seeking permission to offer a Christian prayer in the Senate at some future date. Not being from Nevada, Klingenschmitt was turned away and directed to the office of one of his senators – Hillary Clinton (D-New York) – whose staff also reportedly declined his request.”
Klingenschmitt wanted “equal time.” How odd, since the Christian Right strongly opposes resurrecting “The Fairness Doctrine” because it would require “equal time.”
Klingenschmitt’s final “thought” reported in the One News Now article is also interesting: “[A]pparently one kind of prayer is permitted and even honored on the floor of the Senate; the other kind of prayer is seen as disruptive.” What’s “disruptive” to twenty-first century America is religious bigots.
But the larger question, as always, is “why?” Why would supposedly spiritual people object to a spiritual leader representing the world’s oldest and third largest religion offering an invocation?
Perhaps they really believe in the anthropocentric, megalomaniacal version of “God” they created in their own image. Or perhaps they’re just using that creation to nurture and exploit people’s fear of others who are different or believe differently. They’re certainly using it to line the coffers of their pro-discrimination organizations and to increase their own political clout.
The brouhaha about Mr. Zed’s invocation highlights, yet again, the bigotry underwriting the Christianist agenda. As for the pope, perhaps he should sell some of his gold miters, luxurious robes, Italian designer shoes and use the money to help feed the hungry and help the poor. That is, after all, what Jesus preached, isn’t it? He could also use some of the money to buy a calendar. It’s 2007, Benedict, not 1007.
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