Dalai Lama to give Senate opening prayer Thursday

The Dalai Lama will give the opening prayer in the U.S. Senate Thursday morning, the first time the Tibetan spiritual leader has ever done so.


The Dalai Lama greets a crowd during a visit to the American Enterprise Institute last month. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

Senior Senate aides confirmed that the Dalai Lama will give the opening prayer when the Senate opens Thursday morning, stepping in for Senate Chaplain Barry Black, who often invites visiting religious leaders to give the opening prayer in his absence.

President Obama met with the Dalai Lama in the Map Room of the White House two weeks ago for their third such discussion in recent years. (Obama last met the Dalai Lama in July 2011.) China responded angrily and demanded that Obama cancel the most recent meeting, but it went ahead as scheduled.

Dalai Lama has appeared on Capitol Hill before for meetings with congressional leaders and he was awarded Congress's highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, during a 2007 ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda attended by George W. Bush.

Although his prayers over the Senate appear to be a first, the Dalai Lama is no stranger to American legislative chambers. In 2009, he offered an opening prayer over the New York State Senate focused on compassion.

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.

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