Saturday, January 5, 2013

Tulsi Gabbard, First Hindu In Congress, Uses Bhagavad Gita At Swearing-In

The Bible and Torah have long been used at swearing-in ceremonies for members of Congress and have been joined by the Quran in more recent years, but this week marked the first time the Bhagavad Gita was used.

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu to join either chamber of Congress, used the sacred text from her faith in a ceremonial swearing-in conducted by Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio).

"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," said Gabbard, who served in the Iraq War, after the swearing-in. "My Gita has been a tremendous source of inner peace and strength through many tough challenges in life, including being in the midst of death and turmoil while serving our country in the Middle East."

While no religious ceremony is legally required for those elected to Congress and the Senate, many choose to take oaths of office over Christian and Jewish texts, and Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, a Muslim, took his oath over a Quran. But Gabbard's choice of text is symbolic of growing religious diversity of Congress.

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