WASHINGTON (JTA) — An Idaho state senator’s description of Hinduism as “a false faith with false Gods” drew calls from Jewish clergy for an apology.
Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll joined two other Republican senators in refusing to attend the daily invocation on March 3 because a Hindu chaplain, Rajan Zed, led it.
Nuxoll was quoted by The Associated Press as saying that she refused to attend because she sees the United States as a Christian nation.
“Hindu is a false faith with false gods,” she said. “I think it’s great that Hindu people can practice their religion but since we’re the Senate, we’re setting an example of what we, Idaho, believe.”
Her statement led Rabbi Daniel Fink of Boise’s Congregation Ahavatah Beth Israel to recruit a slate of local clergy to sign on to a letter he wrote calling for an apology.
“Being a public official who is expected to represent all citizens, it is highly inappropriate and insensitive for Ms. Nuxoll to unnecessarily label a major religion as ‘false,’ as there are about 3 million Hindus in U.S.A., including some in Idaho,” said the March 14 letter, organized through the state’s Interfaith Equality Coalition. It was signed by 28 clergy and a number of other people.
Also asking for an apology was Rabbi ElizaBeth Beyer of congregations in Reno, Nev. and Tahoe Vista, Calif., who has served with Zed on interfaith panels.
“If Nuxoll had a clue, she would know that Hinduism is the third largest religion of the world and it offers rich philosophical thought,” Beyer said in a statement circulated by Zed and which she confirmed to JTA.
Nuxoll drew attention in 2013 when she compared health insurance exchanges to the trains that transported Jews to death camps.