Washington, DC - Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) became the first presidential candidate to formally defend Hindu chaplain Rajan Zed's prayer opening a recent United States Senate session. In a July 20, 2007 statement, Senator Dodd affirmed:

"Our nation was founded on the importance of religious freedom. The United States Senate has a responsibility to continue this legacy by honoring religious diversity and embracing the many faiths to which our citizens subscribe. I was honored to have Rajan Zed deliver his blessing last week and introduce his faith on the Senate floor. The protests that interrupted him were a shameful representation of a few close-minded individuals. I condemn their demonstration, but am reassured by my strong belief that their actions did nothing to lessen the spiritual significance and true holiness of Mr. Zed's prayer."

On July 12, 2007, Rajan Zed became the first Hindu chaplain to open a Senate session with a prayer. His prayer was met with protests from the Senate gallery that twice interrupted the proceedings. United States India Political Action Committee (USINPAC), representing over 2 million Indian Americans, has been at the forefront denouncing groups that have attacked chaplain Zed's prayer.

USINPAC commends Senator Dodd for being the first presidential candidate to publicly state his stance on this issue of religious freedom and diversity that is so important to the Indian American community.



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