WASHINGTON (CNN) – Three people were arrested in the Senate visitor’s gallery Thursday for disrupting the chamber’s morning prayer, led for the first time by a Hindu clergyman.
As Rajan Zed, director of interfaith relations at a Hindu temple in Nevada, began to lead the brief prayer, two women and one man shouted, “This is an abomination,” according to the Associated Press.
Capitol Police Sergeant Kimberly Schneider tells CNN that the three were arrested in the Senate visitors’ gallery for “disruption of Congress.”
While their religion is not clear, one of the protesters told the Associated Press they were “Christians and patriots.”
On their Web site this week, the American Family Association criticized allowing a Hindu clergyman to deliver the prayer and urged supporters to call senators to ask the event be canceled.
But Tim Wildmon, the president of the American Family Association, told CNN he did not know the names of the people arrested, and said, “We didn’t organize or encourage anything like that."
"We would not ever encourage shouting in the gallery like that, we asked people to contact their senators to show their disapproval," he added.
Shortly after the incident, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on the floor, “If people have any misunderstanding about Indians and Hindus, all they have to do is think of Gandhi… who gave his life for peace."
– CNN's Evan Glass and Abbi Tatton contributed to this report