|Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii took the|
oath of office using the Hindu Bhagavad-Gita.
The Bible and Torah, for years the standard religious texts used to swear in members of Congress, have been joined by the Constitution, the Koran — and, Thursday, for the first time ever, the Hindu Bhagavad-Gita.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a newly elected congresswoman from Hawaii, and the first Hindu to serve, brought her own book with her as she took part in a ceremonial swearing-in with House Speaker John A. Boehner.
Gabbard is currently a Company Commander with the Hawaii Army National Guard, and has served on two deployments to the Middle East.
The Democrat, who joined Rep. Tammy Duckworth as the first female combat veterans to be in Congress, used the Hindu holy book that she had with her while serving in Iraq reports the Washington Times.
|New US Senator Mazie Hirono (D - Hawaii)|
is not only the first Buddhist to serve in the chamber,
but she was born in Japan.
Her election underscores the growing religious diversity in Congress, where the first Muslim was sworn in six years ago on a Koran, and the first Buddhist Senator took office Thursday.
As religions have expanded, so have the options for swearing-in ceremonies.
The Library of Congress even provides books to House members who don’t bring their own, and lawmakers can pick them off a table when they enter the ornate room for a one-on-one ceremonial oath with Boehner.
They had nine options:
- Eastern Orthodox Bibles
- Book of Mormon
- Hindu Vedas
- Buddhist Sutras
- U.S. Constitution.
Catholics have risen from 100 to more than 160, Mormons have more than doubled from 7 to 15, and there are now three Buddhists, two Muslims, one Hindu and one unaffiliated.
Neither the House historian, nor the chaplain’s office keeps track of which texts are used for ceremonies, but an informal survey on Thursday showed that Bibles still dominate. A number of lawmakers, though, opted for the Constitution or to forgo any text, and instead shook hands with Boehner.