Prem Rawat has always been avid for any public "honours", no matter how dubious they may be. But none have been more unlikely than his invitation to speak at a bi-centenary luncheon at the Mayflower Hotel of the Citizens' Congress led by Rabbi Baruch Korff, another controversial religious leader, who was also the founder of the National Citizens Committee for Fairness to the Presidency, a lobby group supporting President Nixon before, and after, his resignation in disgrace.
Speakers at the luncheon included U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz who was convicted of tax-evasion in 1981 and who resigned in disgrace after making his most famous speech: "I'll tell you what the coloreds want. It's three things: first, a tight pussy; second, loose shoes; and third, a warm place to shit." and Senator Strom Thurmond the infamous segregationist candidate for US President and the man who conducted the longest filibuster ever by a United States Senator in opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Rennie Davis and Michael Donner would have been rolling over in their graves had they been dead.
from The Golden Age
Guru Maharaj Ji speaks at Bicentenary Luncheon
On February 22, in Washington D.C., Guru Maharaj Ji gave an address at a luncheon hosted by the United States Citizens Congress, a political group. This is the first time Maharaj Ji has accepted an invitation to speak at such a gathering. His speech before the 500 guests was very well received.
The United States Citizens Congress is a conservative political group organised by Rabbi Korff, who was widely publicised last year for his support of former President Nixon. The United States is celebrating its bicentenary this year - two hundred years ago the East Coast colonies declared their independence from England - and this anniversary provided the theme for the gathering.
Each speaker at the luncheon was honoured for his role as a leader in some field. Guru Maharaj Ji, first on a bill of speakers which included various American political figures, such as Secretary of the Treasury William Simon, Senator Curtis and Senator Strom Thurmond, was invited in recognition of his role as a spiritual leader, and for his contributions to the spiritual well-being of the nation. The invitation was Rabbi Korff's idea and came as a complete surprise to the Washington DUO staff. Apparently Rabbi Korff, impressed with the positive influence Maharaj Ji has had on a premie he knows, asked the Citizens Congress to honour Maharaj ii with an invitation to speak.
As Maharaj Ji came up to the podium he received warm applause. He spoke from a prepared text, something he had never done previously before an audience, and he used the style and format to which this audience was accustomed. His speech was clear and succinct, lasting about three minutes, and he received an even warmer ovation at the close of his address.
In his message, Maharaj Ji emphasised the interdependence of struggle and destiny - factors more familiar to us as effort and grace. He evoked the pioneering spirit which characterised the U.S. in its first two centuries of growth, and pointed out that it is just that sort of spirit which must be used to lead civilisation into a new age. The full text of his speech appears below.
In the closing address of the afternoon, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz quoted President Eisenhower, saying that he didn't foresee any problem in the military or economic strength of the U.S. but he did have a great deal of concern for our diminishing spiritual strength.
As if in response to this remark, quite a few of the guests at the head table stayed to thank Maharaj Ji for coming and to comment on his address. As Bob Mishler - who attended the luncheon along with thirty Washington-area premies - put it, "It's obvious people in all walks of life understand that there is something of value in life - you call it religious or patriotic or whatever - which, when it is missing, their lives seem less worthwhile. Because of this, people understand there is a great need for spiritual strength in our lives."
Maharaj Ji's Address
"Rabbi Korff, Admiral Strauss, Members of the Cabinet, Members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives, and distinguished guests:
It gives me great pleasure to be with you on this occasion commemorating America's Bicentennial. This nation was conceived and born by the dedication of individuals seeking the freedom to pursue life's goal. America has grown for two centuries. But let us not forget that freedom and peace did not come without effort. In the beginning there were great difficulties for the young nation struggling for independence, and growth over the years has not always been tranquil and harmonious. Yet always the Grace of the Almighty Lord has guided the destiny of this nation along its path to greatness.
As George Washington noted in his first message to Congress. "No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States." Certainly the Almighty has bountifully blessed this land upon which generations of Americans have strived to realise the ideals which inspired the nation's founding fathers.
As America enters its third century, many of the frontiers of land and space, science and technology, have already been crossed. Yet with endless frontiers of human experience ahead, let us pray that the pioneering spirit which has allowed this nation to excel will not falter, and that, as you go forward, you will continue to be blessed with the broad vision, temperence and wisdom to allow America to lead civilization to a new age as the befitting sequel for this first nation of the new world."