On 12 July 2007, Rajan Zed, a Hindu resident* of Nevada, delivered a mantra for the traditional daily opening prayer in the US Senate. Few Americans know his name, and fewer know what he said. What many Americans know, however, is that he was interrupted.
Objectively, three people were removed from the Senate chamber during Zed’s chant. Depending on the news source cited, the “activists,” “protesters,” “Christian patriots,” or “heroes” were arrested for “praying in Jesus’ name” or “disrupting” the Senate proceedings.
The three people openly said they were Christians, and they knew they could be arrested for what they were going to do. They also said they were “not heckling,” but hoping their prayer would be a “shield” from God’s wrath over the Hindu “idolatry” in the nation’s Capitol. James Klingenschmitt, the former Navy Chaplain, was in the Senate chamber and noted the irony of a government that would apparently suppress Christian prayer but allow that of a Hindu.
When the Hindu invitation was announced, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU)–which ordinarily vociferously opposes government-endorsed chaplains–welcomed the incident as a step toward “diversity,” not because they agreed with the concept of government-backed prayer, but because it would make “the Religious Right…go insane.” Read more
An interesting split-decision [pdf] found that an anonymous plaintiff, represented by the ACLU, lacked standing to sue a school board for their opening invocations.
While the ADF called this a “blow” to the ACLU’s practice of suing with “offended observers,” it is worth noting that the court did not rule on the merits of the case.
[The “offended observer” refers loosely to accusations of “planting” people in public meetings who are suddenly offended. Those who accused groups of using that tactic claimed they were unable to find a “real” offended person and thus had to create their own. This supposedly led to lawsuits where plaintiffs were virtually unknown to the community that was in support of the challenged activity.]
A concurring opinion noted: Read more
CNN will air a special in late August entitled “God’s Warriors.” Each of three nights will cover “Jewish,” “Muslim,” and “Christian” warriors.
One News Now published a report indicating that some are concerned that CNN may attempt to equate elements of radical Islam with “the Christian Right.” This concern is based in part on the fact that the CNN news release announcing the upcoming special indicates the following lineup:
1. “Jewish fundamentalist” assassination (Rabin)
2. “Islamic jihadist” assassination (Sadat)
3. “Cultural legacy of the Moral Majority movement in America,” with interviews of Jimmy Carter and the late Jerry Falwell.
It remains to be seen whether CNN will emphasize the difference between conservative Christianity and other religions, or if it attempts to equate Falwell et al with the violent extremism of the other religions.
A Jewish Chaplain is being charged with desertion after moving to Canada after his resignation was denied.The Chaplain has enlisted the services of Mr. Michael Weinstein, who says he will sue the Army for “violating [the Chaplain’s] civil rights.”
The article has two interesting quotes. One includes a “disparaging term” for non-Jews, though no one in the article takes issue with the prejudicial term. The second is as follows:
The whole reason I volunteered to become a chaplain is because I was eager to help Jewish kids who chose the military and needed spiritual guidance while being far away from home serving in the Army.
Oddly, when Christians say the same thing, Weinstein accuses them of staging an “evangelical coup” in the military.
As reported on a variety of local news sources, a 2004 USMA grad is suing the Army for conscientious objector status after his application was twice denied. The Captain is claiming a conversion to a pacifist interpretation of the Bible.
Former Navy Chaplain Klingenschmitt has filed an appeal to the court martial which ultimately resulted in his discharge from the Navy. He continues to assert that he was convicted of praying “in Jesus’ name,” while the Navy says he was found guilty of violating an order not to attend a protest in uniform.
In an age where Chaplains are increasingly told to make their prayers non-sectarian (or simply not to pray at all), a Hindu “made history” by becoming the first Hindu to open the Senate with prayer. Three protesters were removed from the chamber for interrupting the proceedings.
Within the past year, an emerging trend has gathered significant momentum in the greater Christian community. More frequently, Christian leaders are emphasizing living to a Christian “worldview.” The concept of this worldview—and its application to Christian living—is particularly applicable to military Christians. While it is possibly one of the most basic tenets of the Christian faith, encouraging Christians to strengthen their worldview is viewed by many—Christian and not—as a radical suggestion. Read more