RENO, Nev. (March 20, 2015) — In a remarkable interfaith gesture, Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise, which comprises the entire state of Idaho, appears to have distanced itself from comments of Idaho Senator from Cottonwood, Sheryl L. “Sherry” Nuxoll.
Nuxoll, reportedly a Catholic, reportedly stated, “Hindu is a false faith with false gods”, on March 3, as a reason why she and two other senators declined to attend the first Hindu invocation of Idaho State Senate by Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, president of the Reno-based Universal Society of Hinduism.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise issued a statement to parishes across Idaho, and to media, saying, “Sen. Nuxoll’s comments reflect her own personal opinions. They do not represent the opinions or teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, Bishop Peter Christensen or even our Holy Father, Pope Francis, who has been an outspoken supporter of ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue.”
Father Charles T. Durante, a senior Roman Catholic pastor in Nevada, also stated publicly that he, “find(s) it sad that some legislators in Idaho could not respect the importance of religious diversity by their presence at a brief prayer.”
Rita K. Sloan, coordinator for the Life Peace & Justice Commission of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Reno, stated, “As 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.’… Showing some responsibility, respect and maturity, and understanding the hurt feelings of the Hindu community, Ms. Nuxoll should apologize.”
Interfaith Equality Coalition, in an open letter to Nuxoll reportedly signed by Idaho’s 34 religious leaders belonging to various religions and denominations, stated that, “As people of varying faith traditions, we believe that mutual respect is essential for the well-being of our community and state. If we are to prosper, both spiritually and economically, we must learn to listen to one another with respect…Ms. Nuxoll should apologize.”
A Seventh-day Adventist Pastor in Nevada, Omar A. Palmer, urged Nuxoll for a formal apology, saying that, “If Ms. Nuxoll explores into Hinduism, the third largest religion of the world with about a billion adherents, she would find it offers rich philosophical thought.”
Condemning Nuxoll’s “derogatory” statements about Hinduism, the Forum For Hindu Awakening, stated, “We ask that she apologizes for these statements that are insulting to the Idaho Hindu community in particular and the 1 billion followers of Hinduism worldwide.”
Zed visited the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise after his invocation at Idaho Senate on March 3, 2015, where the state has about 177,335 Catholics in Idaho. He was warmly welcomed by Vicar General Joseph A. daSilva and Chancellor Marcella M. Wilske. The had a dialogue on various interfaith issues.
On March 3, Zed opened the Idaho Senate, the upper house of the State Legislature, with ancient Hindu mantras. This was said to be the first Hindu prayer in the state legislature since Idaho acquired statehood in 1890.
Zed recited verses from Rig-Veda, the oldest existing scripture of the mankind still in common use, in addition to Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita, both ancient Hindu scriptures. Zed delivered this invocation in Sanskrit and English after sprinkling water drops from river Ganga, considered holy by Hindus.