Interfaith, Only If You Ignore The Rest
Yesterday, the presidential inaugural ceremonies finished up with one of the final events, the National Prayer Service, held at the Washington National Cathedral. The service is billed as an interfaith gathering meant to “celebrate the values and diversity” that make our country strong. The Washington Post noted that the service “included national clergy from the Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Sikh traditions.” What’s also notable is who is missing: namely, representatives from the Hindu and Buddhist communities. Yes, we acknowledge the importance of including a Sikh American, who also serves as a representative of the Dharmic faiths. Still, it is stunning to believe that in a year where the Senate has its first Buddhist member, and Congress has its first Hindu member altogether, that the Presidential Inaugural Committee could not find a representative from each tradition to offer an invocation at the program. They could, however, include 16 clergy from different Christian denominations, 3 Jewish rabbis, and 3 Muslim imams.
Is it too much to ask for an event headlined as the National Prayer Service to include a truly diverse gathering of faiths? The administration has an obligation to ensure that a national interfaith gathering attended by both the President and Vice President involves all of the major faiths. Instead, it shut out the voices of nearly 4 million Hindu and Buddhist Americans yesterday. It needs to do better.