Letters

On July 12, 2007, the Hindu American Foundation joined all Hindu Americans in celebrating epochal events in their community's history in the United States, as the faith of 2 million American Hindus and nearly 1 billion of the world's population was represented in the chambers of the U.S. Senate for the first time. Shri Rajan Zed's prayer recitation shared with their fellow Americans the Hindu belief in a transcendental, immanent God and the eternal Hindu search for enlightentment and universal peace. The foundation joined all Hindu Americans in congratulating the U.S. Senate for demonstrating its commitment to the American ideal of pluralism, and for respecting the religious diversity of their great country.

While they celebrated the events, they expressed dissappointment at the disruption of a significant and solemn event by a few miscreants, misinformed about the Hindu faith. They noted that Hindu Americans were troubled by the intolerant, exclusivist views of some evangelical groups, such as the American Family Association and Operation Save America, that viciously condemned Hindus and their faith so publicly last week. The foundation sent the following letters to the American Family Association and Operation Save America.
 

July 19, 2007

Mr. Donald E. Wildmon
Chairman
American Family Association
P.O. Drawer 2440
Tulepo, MS 38803

Dear Mr. Wildmon,

On July 12, 2007 Shri Rajan Zed offered a prayer at the start of the Senate session in Washington, DC. Shri Rajan Zed’s prayer recitation marked the first occasion when the faith of two million Hindu Americans and the nearly one billion of the world’s population was represented at the U.S. Senate. The prayer shared with our fellow Americans the Hindu belief in an omnipotent and transcendent God and our dedication to the pursuit of universal peace. Instead of celebrating this historic achievement it was unfortunate that your organization chose to oppose this significant occasion.

To petition your supporters to stand against the prayer session is both distressing and disheartening. This stance is contradictory to all the great principles of civil society that Americans value -- civility, respect of others and of human diversity, religious pluralism, and faith in God.

It is our hope that pioneering events such as these would serve as a catalyst to further dialogue and communication between and across faith groups, rather than intolerance and misinformation. We urge you to collectively strive with us to promote pluralism, understanding and tolerance in our country.

Ishani Chowdhury
Executive Director
Hindu American Foundation
 

July 19, 2007

Operation Save America
P.O. Box 740066
Dallas, TX 75374

Dear Rev. Flip Benham,

On July 12, 2007 Shri Rajan Zed offered a prayer at the start of the Senate session in Washington, DC. Unfortunately, some members of your organization reportedly disrupted the prayer session. This shocking behavior is contradictory to all the great principles of civil society that Americans value -- civility, respect of others and of human diversity, religious pluralism, and faith in God. That your association members disrupted the prayer session and spread blatantly inaccurate information regarding the Hindu faith is both distressing and disheartening.

Shri Rajan Zed’s prayer recitation marked the first occasion when the faith of two million Hindu Americans and the nearly one billion of the world’s population was represented at the U.S. Senate. The prayer shared with our fellow Americans the Hindu belief in an omnipotent and transcendent God and our dedication to the pursuit of universal peace. Instead of celebrating this historic achievement it was unfortunate that your members chose to disrupt this significant occasion.

It is our hope that events such as these would serve as a catalyst to further dialogue and communication between and across faith groups, rather than intolerance and misinformation. We urge you to collectively strive with us to promote pluralism, understanding and tolerance in our country.

Ishani Chowdhury
Executive Director
Hindu American Foundation

The Hindu American Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3), non-partisan organization, promoting the Hindu and American ideals of understanding, tolerance and pluralism.