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Archive for Friday, September 29, 2000

Congressman accuses organization of intolerance

September 29, 2000

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— An Ohio congressman has accused the Family Research Council of intolerance because its online newsletter described a Hindu priest's prayer before Congress as "one more indication that our nation is drifting from its Judeo-Christian roots."

On Sept. 14, Venkatachalapathi Salmudrala from Shiva Vishnu Hindu Temple in Parma, Ohio, became the first Hindu priest to deliver the opening daily prayer in the House of Representatives.

An item in the Sept. 21 Family Research newsletter "Culture Facts" discussed that prayer, noting that the nation's founding principle of religious liberty "was never intended to exalt other religions to the level that Christianity holds in our country's heritage."

"This is bigotry, plain and simple," said Rep. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who had asked House leaders to invite the Hindu priest to serve as guest chaplain.

"Religious intolerance has no place in this country," Brown said. "It is unfortunate the FRC interprets the Constitution to say that religious freedom means religious supremacy."

The council eventually pulled the article from its Web site and issued a statement clarifying its position.

"We affirm the truth of Christianity, but it is not our position that America's Constitution forbids representatives of religions other than Christianity from praying before Congress," said Chuck Donovan, the organization's executive vice president.

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