Via TPM Cafe and Think Progress, today for the first time, a Hindu gave the opening invocation in the Senate. Considering that the other hundred-and-few-score days that Congress is in session the invocation will be safely Christian, one might have imagined this to be a harmless gesture toward the religious diversity of the country. But no, Christian activists were in the Senate gallery waiting to shout down the Hindu guest:
“Lord Jesus, forgive us father for allowing a prayer of the wicked, which is an abomination in your sight”
Operation Save America was somewhat involved in this protest and put out a press release (Kleefeld, Eric, “Christian Right Activists Disrupt Hindu Chaplain In The Senate,” TPM Cafe, 12 July 2007). TPM Cafe’s Eric Kleefeld spoke with the head of Operation Save America, Rev. Flip Benham (ibid. “Head Of Christian Right Group Calls Hindu Senate Invocation ‘Gross Idolatry’“):
“Our answer is,” Benham said, “When one stands up in the face of gross idolatry being allowed in the Senate, in the chamber of the United States Senate, it is incumbent on a Christian to stand up and speak the truth. No matter what, we must obey God rather than men.”
“When you stand up and are arrested, and the Hindu is allowed to go free, this country has gone upside-down,” Benham added — though when asked, he later clarified that he does not believe people of other religions should be arrested for their beliefs. “Now, why are Hindus allowed here? Why are Muslims allowed here? Because we are a nation that’s free, built upon the principles of almighty God.”
Typical. Christianists will say something that on the surface seems like advocacy of religious freedom, but then always qualify the performative avowal in a way that voids the phrase of any meaning. Yes, yes, Hindus and Muslims shouldn’t be arrested, but they should remain quiet and stay out of the public sphere. They should acquiesce to a political order in which they have no part — and trust that such an order will treat them justly. And in a portent of how justly they would be treated, if they won’t voluntarily vacate the public sphere, witness how Christian vigilantes will be there to force them out.
To me, the truly chilling part of Mr. Benham’s remarks is his assertion that “No matter what, we must obey God rather than men.” So what, again, is the difference between Christian and Islamic fundamentalists? Oh, yeah, Christians haven’t started routinely bombing places. At least not yet. Remember, god’s will must be obeyed “no matter what.”