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A milestone in the Congress yesterday: a Hindu invocation in the Senate chamber.

But before it began, three protesters, who all belong to the Christian Right anti-abortion group Operation Save America, and who apparently traveled to Washington all the way from North Carolina, interrupted by loudly asking for God’s forgiveness for allowing the false prayer of a Hindu in the Senate chamber.

"Lord Jesus, forgive us father for allowing a prayer of the wicked, which is an abomination in your sight," the first protester began.

"This is an abomination," he continued. "We shall have no other gods before You."  Check out the video:

The Operation Save America newsletter about the protest reads in part:

Ante Pavkovic, Kathy Pavkovic, and Kristen Sugar were all arrested in the chambers of the United States Senate as that chamber was violated by a false Hindu god. The Senate was opened with a Hindu prayer placing the false god of Hinduism on a level playing field with the One True God, Jesus Christ. This would never have been allowed by our Founding Fathers.

Oh, contraire, mon frere.  Many of our Founding Fathers were against the kind of persecution that ya’ll are engaged in:

"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practiced it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England blamed persecution in the Romish Church, but practiced it upon the Puritans. They found it wrong in Bishops, but fell into the practice themselves both here (England) and in New England." – Benjamin Franklin

"The divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity.  Nowhere in the Gospels do we find a precept for Creeds, Confessions, Oaths, Doctrines, and whole cartloads of other foolish trumpery that we find in Christianity." – John Adams

"In every country and every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty.  He is always in alliance with the despot … they have perverted the purest religion ever preached to man into mystery and jargon, unintelligible to all mankind, and therefore the safer engine for their purpose." – Thomas Jefferson

"The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others.  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

"Difference of opinion is advantageous in religion." — Thomas Jefferson

Anyway, the next time you hear the conservative christian right complain about religious intolerance, think of this incident.

The Nation puts the final nail in the coffin:

In his notes on the Virginia statute, Jefferson specifically argued that Hinduism and other faiths would be afforded the full protection and privileges of the act.

Noting the overwhelming rejection by Virginia legislators of an amendment to his statute that proposed to insert a reference to Jesus Christ, Jefferson found "proof that they (the legislators who enacted the measure) meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mohammedan, the Hindoo and the (non-practicing and disbelieving) infidel of every denomination."

Jefferson was a scholar of world religions, and in the various remnants of his library there are a number of Hindu texts. The third president and his predecessor, John Adams, another key player in the founding of the republic, corresponded about their respect for the teachings of the Hindu religion.