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US state senate opens with Hindu prayer, 3 lawmakers protest

March 3, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Three lawmakers in the western state of Idaho refused to attend the state Senate’s daily invocation after objecting to the offering of a Hindu prayer.

Rajan Zed, guest chaplain, gave a lengthy prayer in both English and Sanskrit on Tuesday that focused on selflessness and peace. State senators from both sides of the aisle shook his hand and thanked him for coming.

“Fulfill all your duties, action is better than inaction,” Zed said. “Even to maintain your body, you are obligated to act. Selfish action imprisons the world. Act selflessly, without any throughout of personal profit.”

However three lawmakers, all Republican, only came back onto the floor once the prayer was over.

Prayer is a common event in Idaho’s Republican-controlled Statehouse. The Idaho Senate and House convene each day with a prayer by the chamber’s chaplain followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. And most lawmakers cite their religion in the heir bios for the state’s legislative directory.

Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll says she declined to attend because she believes the United States is a Christian nation.

“Hindu is a false faith with false gods,” she said. “I think it’s great that Hindu people can practice their religion but since we’re the Senate, we’re setting an example of what we, Idaho, believe.”

Nuxoll added that she wished the Senate had conducted a Christian prayer along with the Hindu invocation.

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