Some Republican North Dakota Lawmakers Abstain From Prayer Led by Hindu Cleric

Some Republican North Dakota House members abstained Tuesday from an opening floor session prayer by a Hindu cleric, marking the second time in recent years some GOP representatives have objected to an invocation from a non-Christian.

Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism in Nevada, offered prayer as the guest chaplain in the House, a day after he delivered the invocation in the Senate without incident.

Lutheran pastor and freshman Rep. Jeff Hoverson of Minot sat at the back of the chamber to “protest” the prayer.

“I don’t want to be compelled to pray to a false god,” Hoverson said. A handful of other lawmakers also stood or sat at the back of the chamber during the prayer. The lawmakers returned to their seats on the floor when Tuesday’s prayer was over.

Hoverson said he met with Zed prior to floor session to tell him his protest “was nothing personal.” He said the two hugged, exchanged handshakes and business cards.

The Senate and House convene daily with a prayer by the chamber’s guest chaplains followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

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Source: Religion News Service