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National Hindu Group Pushes For Bhagavad Gita at Manchester VA

Manchester VA Medical Center

The leader of a national Hindu organization is calling on the Manchester VA to include a copy of its sacred text alongside a Christian Bible already on display in the medical center's lobby.

Rajan Zed is president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, based in Nevada. He asks the Manchester VA in an open letter Thursday to add the Bhagavad Gita to the display.

Zed says doing so would provide veterans "comfort and strength," which is in line with the VA's mission.

"We live in a diverse society now," says Zed, "and people believe in different things. So the best thing to do is get along and work together. Because we're all looking for the truth."

The Christian Bible on display now is part of the Missing Man table, which honors missing veterans and prisoners of war. The Bible had beentemporarily removed earlier this year following a lawsuit challenging its presence, but was subsequently returned.

Vice President Mike Pence weighed in on the dispute last week, saying under the current administration, "VA hospitals will not be religion-free zones."

The Manchester VA says it had not received an official request from this group to host a display, but VA policy "does not allow interference with and/or alteration of approved displays."

Peter Biello is the host of All Things Considered and Writers on a New England Stage at New Hampshire Public Radio. He has served as a producer/announcer/host of Weekend Edition Saturday at Vermont Public Radio and as a reporter/host of Morning Edition at WHQR in Wilmington, North Carolina.

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