"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with
power to endanger the public liberty." - - - - John Adams

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Congresswoman takes oath on the Hindu Bhagavad-Gita.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii took the
oath of office using the Hindu Bhagavad-Gita.

Taking the Congressional oath of office shows changes in American society

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.

“I chose to take the oath of office with my personal copy of the Bhagavad-Gita because its teachings have inspired me to strive to be a servant-leader, dedicating my life in the service of others and to my country,” she said.

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:
  • Catholic
  • Protestant 
  • Eastern Orthodox Bibles
  • Torah
  • Koran
  • Book of Mormon
  • Hindu Vedas
  • Buddhist Sutras
  • U.S. Constitution.
The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life said the religious shift has been dramatic over the past five decades, with Protestants dropping from nearly 400 in the House and Senate combined in the 1961-1962 Congress to about 300 now — still a majority, but far less dominant.

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.

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