Idaho Senate Invocation Protested By Lawmakers Because Of Hindu Prayer

03/03/2015 03:45 pm ET | Updated May 03, 2015
Rajan Zed / Facebook

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Three lawmakers refused to attend the Idaho 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. 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: Sens. Steve Vick of Dalton Garden, Sheryl Nuxoll of Cottonwood and Lori Den Hartog of Meridian.

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 Alleg iance. And most lawmakers cite their religion in the heir bios for the state's legislative directory.

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.

Vick had announced his objections the day before, saying that he would ask his colleagues to join him.

Den Hartog said it would've been disingenuous to her Christian faith to attend.

"It was a personal decision, I didn't want to announce it prior to the event," Den Hartog said.

While nine lawmakers were absent in total for the prayer, five were caught up in meetings -not protesting the event - and one was excused.

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