Let us pray. 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.
Lead us from the unreal to the 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.
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 thought for themselves.
United your resolve, united your hearts, may your spirits be as one, that you may long dwell in unity and concord.
Peace, peace, peace be unto all. Lord, we ask You to comfort the family of former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson. Amen.
-- Chaplain Rajan Zed, courtesy of USA Today's On Deadline
Shocking, huh? Zed delivered this prayer -- a meditation, really -- to the Senate Friday and was shouted down by three zealots who proved that the religious right doesn't really get this whole religious freedom thing. "Ante Pavkovic, Katherine Pavkovic and their daughter Christan Sugar were removed from the Senate observation gallery Thursday morning when they began praying loudly during the Senate's routine opening prayer," reads a report on the incident. "For the first time in recorded history, the morning invocation was being delivered by a Hindu chaplain."
The Pavkovics were members of Operation Save America -- formerly named Operation Rescue. These people are deliberately offensive and narrowminded -- think Rev. Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist without all the balls. Readers of this blog may remember them as the good folks who destroyed a Q'uran and a gay pride flag during an abortion protest in Jackson, Mississippi. Apparently, they don't really get this whole gay thing. Otherwise, they'd realize that gays don't really get many abortions. But, then again, logic isn't really the religious fanatic's strong suit.
Proving that was Rev. Flip Benham, who put out a press release for OSA in which he quoted himself in the third person. "'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"' They were immediately removed from the chambers, arrested, and are in jail now. God bless those who stand for Jesus as we know that He stands for them.' Rev. Flip Benham, Director, Operation Save America/Operation Rescue," it reads.
The bigotry and stupidity of these guys is readily apparent, but all of this is based on a much broader lie -- that the United States was founded as a strictly christian country. In fact, the historical revisionism is breathtaking. In another press release from the American Family Association, Christian nutjob Donald Wildmon quotes fellow nutjob David Barton -- a 'Christian historian':
"In Hindu, you have not one God, but many, many, many, many, many gods," the Christian historian explains. "And certainly that was never in the minds of those who did the Constitution, did the Declaration [of Independence] when they talked about Creator -- that's not one that fits here because we don't know which creator we're talking about within the Hindu religion."
This 'historian' is a BS artist. That or he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about. Either way, he's easily proven wrong and not much of a historian.
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, author of the Declaration of Independence, 1782
So much for that then...
And it's also important to bring up two points here. One, the Declaration of Independence is not law -- given the opportunity to write God and/or Jesus into actual law (i.e., the Constitution), they founders didn't. Not even as some vague 'creator.'
Two, the Declaration doesn't refer to 'our creator' or 'a creator' or 'the creator.' It says that people are endowed with unalienable rights by 'their creator.' Far from suggesting a single creator, it would seem to suggest more than one, with the possibility that each person has a different creator.
Of course, I'm not suggesting that the founders were Hindu or even pantheist. What I'm saying is that they were inclusive. That which I call my creator (as an atheist, I suppose it'd be the universe) isn't what my neighbor calls his creator or my mail carrier calls her creator. We all have different beliefs and, far from excluding other beliefs, the language of the Declaration recognizes this.
This revisionist view of history is a lie -- no question about it. The surest sign of a bad argument is that it's propped up with fiction. Invading Iraq comes to mind. If you can't come up with a real argument, then you just plain don't have one.
In the end, the Don Wildmons and Flip Benhams and Operation Save America cultists are intolerant, lying bigots. That's not an attack, that's a declaration of fact. They do this 'Christian nation' crap because their beliefs are profoundly unamerican; they're unwilling to change their beliefs, so they want to change history to agree with their beliefs. The very people who scream about freedom of religion when the Ten Commandments isn't plastered over every square inch of blank space in the US have no use for that freedom. Their idea of religious freedom is like Saddam Hussein's idea of democracy -- you get to vote for anyone you want, as long as it's Saddam Hussein. For them, religious liberty means you have the right to worship gay-hating, intolerant, right wing Jesus. It's the freedom to choose between A and A.
Luckily for us, they're more than willing to demonstrate just how hateful and crazy they really are. In interrupting Rajan Zed, they served his and our cause much more than their own by showing just how cruel and stupid and bigoted their America would be.
May their Creator stimulate and illuminate their minds.
Technorati tags: politics; religious right; Hindu; Senate; religion; Operation Save America isn't so much about 'saving' anyone -- it's about hate and bigotry