USA, July 12, 2007: (HPI note: electioncentral.tpmcafe.com is a wide-ranging blog site which posted the following item by Eric Kleefeld.) As we reported earlier today, a religious and political milestone of sorts took place early today when a Hindu delivered the morning invocation in the Senate chamber -- only to find the ceremony disrupted by three activists from the Christian Right anti-abortion group Operation Save America.
Well, Election Central has just gotten off the phone with the group's chief, Rev. Flip Benham. And he's hailing the move by the three activists -- while slamming the Hindu's appearance as "gross idolatry."
In the interview, Benham praised the three activists, Ante and Katherine Pavkovic and their daughter Kristen. And he scorned the idea of the Hindu invocation.
"What we have here is just a wonderful example of Christian theology becoming biography in the sacred chamber of the United States Senate, as a Hindu was offering up a prayer to open up the session this morning. And the folks that were there [the Pavkovics] ... waited for the Senate, or a Senator with a backbone, to remind the Hindu that there is one God who made this country great, and his name is Jesus."
The Pavkovics disrupted the ceremony after seeing that no Senator would emerge to challenge the Hindu clergyman's beliefs.
The idea to protest the Hindu's invocation originated in a very organic way, Benham said in the interview. The Pavkovics had come to Washington to protest the proposed hate crimes bill with other activists. When everyone else was headed home, the family found out about the upcoming Hindu presence in the Senate, and realized they could not simply stay silent.
"They thought they needed to go and represent the Lord who made this nation great," Benham said. The event, he said, is emblematic of the modern tendency of "other religions being held on a par with Christianity. Of course, we have said that is not true, that indeed Christianity is one way."
Election Central asked Benham what he thought of Tim Wildmon, president of the far-right American Family Association, who was quoted by CNN condemning the Pavkovic family's behavior. Wildmon told CNN: "We would not ever encourage shouting in the gallery like that, we asked people to contact their Senators to show their disapproval."
Benham said he respects Wildmon as a friend and ally, but he thinks his friend is simply wrong on this matter. "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."