Back in the 1980s, the Rev. Donald Wildmon’s American Family Association was a force to be reckoned now. These days, it’s essentially slide into irrelevance. For some reason, I still get a periodic “Action Alert” from AFA, generally having to do with the trivia that has kept many conservative Christians from focusing on what’s really important in the public square. The one I got yesterday is especially silly:

On Thursday, a Hindu chaplain from Reno, Nevada, by the name of Rajan Zed is scheduled to deliver the opening prayer in the U.S. Senate. Zed tells the Las Vegas Sun that in his prayer he will likely include references to ancient Hindu scriptures, including Rig Veda, Upanishards, and Bhagavard-Gita. Historians believe it will be the first Hindu prayer ever read at the Senate since it was formed in 1789.

WallBuilders president David Barton is questioning why the U.S. government is seeking the invocation of a non-monotheistic god. Barton points out that since Hindus worship multiple gods, the prayer will be completely outside the American paradigm, flying in the face of the American motto “One Nation Under God.”

Wildmon and Barton seem to have missed the memo.The United States, whether for good or ill, is a pluralistic nation, with millions of Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and yes, even Hindus. That being the case, it seems to me that only two options are available to the Senate: abolish the prayer, or open it up to clergy from a variety of faith backgrounds. Senators with theological scruples about listening to (much less participating in) Hindu prayers should plan to come a bit late that day, or stay in the cloakroom until it’s over.

Alternatively, they could write to Majority Leader Harry Reid and ask him to restrict the opening prayer to evangelical Christians. Yeah, that’ll get it done.

(Insert your favorite joke about the Senate here….)

UPDATE: Rajan Zed’s foray into Capitol Hill spirituality was today at noon. Fortunately, this pagan invasion of the hallowed halls of Congress was not unopposed, according to ABC:

ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf: It was hard to tell what exactly the protesters were shouting at Thursday morning in the normally austere U.S. Senate Chamber, but it was beyond doubt where their ire was directed.

They were not shouting about the war in Iraq or taxes or some other measure on the Senate floor, but at the Hindu man delivering this morning’s morning prayer. The Guest Chaplain was Rajan Zed of the Indian Association of Northern Nevada and he was dressed in a bright orange robe with a detailed orange scarf and a red dot on his forehead as he tried to lead the Senate in a prayer — the first Hindu ever to lead the Senate in prayer.

But two women and a man in the public gallery above the Senate floor started screaming. The C-SPAN cameras never got a look at the protesters, but they could be heard saying, “You shall put no other God before God!”

Nothing like an effective witness for the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.