New York : The US state of Idaho’s Catholic leadership has declared that a state senator’s anti-Hindu views run counter to the teachings of the Church and Pope Francis’s support for inter-religious dialogue.

 When Universal Society of Hinduism President Rajan Zed recited prayers for the state senate’s March 3 session in Boise, Senator Sheryl Nuxoll boycotted the invocation and said that she believed the US is a Christian nation and “Hindu is a false faith with false gods”.

Her opinions “do not represent the opinions or teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, (Boise) Bishop Peter Christensen or even our Holy Father, Pope Francis, who has been an outspoken supporter of ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue,” a statement from the Boise Diocese said on Friday.  “Nuxoll’s comments reflect her own personal opinions,” the statement said.  Nuxoll, who is a Catholic, was one of three Republican senators to boycott Zed’s prayer, although Republican Senate President Pro-Tem, Brent Hill, had invited Zed to be the guest chaplain.

Zed’s prayer was non-denominational and Hill said, “it refers to deity supreme”.  After the senate prayer, Zed met the Boise Catholic Diocese’s Vicar General for Clergy, Monsignor Joseph A. da Silva, and Chancellor Marcella Wilske.

Zed said they had “a dialogue on various interfaith issues”.  Jewish and other religious leaders have demanded an apology from Nuxoll.

“Being a public official who is expected to represent all citizens, it is highly inappropriate and insensitive for Nuxoll to unnecessarily label a major religion as ‘false,’ as there are about three million Hindus in US, including some in Idaho,” said a letter signed by 28 clergy members and others last week.

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