Hindu-Americans elected to Congress

Marco Garcia AP Democrat Colleen Hanabusa, right, congratulates candidate Tulsi Gabbard after both women won their Hawaii Congressional district seats … Continued

Marco Garcia


Democrat Colleen Hanabusa, right, congratulates candidate Tulsi Gabbard after both women won their Hawaii Congressional district seats on Nov. 6, 2012.

Democrat Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii was elected Tuesday, succeeding Rep. Mazie K. Hirono, who ran for the U.S. Senate.

The Iraq War veteran, born in American Samoa to a Catholic father and a Hindu mother, served on the Honolulu City Council and in the state Legislature.

Hirono, who is Buddhist, also won her race Tuesday. In 2006, she and Georgia Democrat Hank Johnson were the first Buddhists elected to Congress; in 2010, Colleen Hanabusa, a Democrat from Hawaii who is also Buddhist was also elected. She will be the “first Buddhist senator when the new Congress convenes in January,” Religion News Service reported Wednesday.


U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie and candidate Tulsi Gabbard celebrate their election victories at the Japanese Cultural Center on Nov. 6, 2012.

“Although there are not very many Hindus in Hawaii, I never felt discriminated against. I never really gave it a second thought growing up that any other reality existed, or that it was not the same everywhere,” Tulsi said in a statement Tuesday, the New York Daily News reported.

“Hirono is the first Asian-American woman, and only the second woman of color — after former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, D-Ill. — elected to the Senate,” according to the Hono­lulu Star Advertiser. On the congresswoman’s Web site, she’s described as the ”first immigrant woman of Asian ancestry to be sworn into Congressional office.”

Gabbard’s and Hirono’s victories reflect how Asian Americans are contributing to the increasing diversity within the nation’s religious landscape, according to the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life. Later in November, Pew will release a report on the religious composition in Congress.

In 2006, Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota was the first Muslim to serve in either the House or the Senate; two years later, Democratic Rep. Andre Carson of Indiana because the second Muslim in Congress.

“Other small religious groups started serving in Congress more than a century earlier. The first Jewish member arrived in 1845, when Lewis Charles Levin of the American Party began representing Pennsylvania in the House,” according a press statement from the Pew Forum. “The first Mormon in Congress, John Milton Bernhisel, began serving in 1851, after Utah was officially recognized as a territory. California Democrat Dalip Singh Saund, the first and so far only Sikh to serve in Congress, served three terms starting in 1957.”


    Your headline should read “Hindu American elected to Congress despite concerted efforts from Republican and christian bigots”.

    You’re welcome.

  • uptodate

    Great news for people of all walks of life…the more diversity we have in Congress and all levels of government the BETTER! Our government should reflect the diversity that exists in the United States.

  • KealiaKai

    I am from Hawaii and we are proud of Tulsi and happy she is bringing the spirit of aloha to Congress! A little aloha goes a long way and a lot of aloha is even better. It’s just what we need to help overcome the divisiveness that has hurt our national leadership.

  • Rajiv Mitra


  • cch1

    I love the diversity. This is what America is:a nation of immigrants !! – new and old. The newly arrrived are no less important to the country than the English settlers. So,those who want to “take back our country” would better get ready to see a US president of Pakistani, Arab, Syrian, Iranian etc. descent!!! GO America..

  • GeorgeKS12

    Umm…Pakistani, Iranian.??..Don’t you think it might take a bit longer, like 100 years, considering that their religion fundamentally opposes US Constitution of freedom, justice and liberty….We have barely begun to accept jewish legislators without second guessing, all these buddhists are just a novelty…they may be normal in 20 or 25 years mainly because they are generally pretty tolerant, benign ..but Moslems??.

  • jljec

    Please provide the reference that describes how Christians tried to keep Ms. Gabbard from being elected because she is of the Hindu faith.
    You are right about bigotry in America. For a close-up view, find a mirror.

  • practica1

    I she going to have to listen to invocations by a chaplain, ‘in Jesus name’ ????

  • AgentFoxMulder

    America is a nation of Americans. An immigrant can not be elected president. However, their American born children can be elected to the presidency.

  • Hooville1

    Congress has had alternate religions open sessions for about fifteen years now

  • lynnlm

    Per the Constitution of the United States of America:Article Six: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
    The Second Amendment states: ““Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”.

  • sgawande

    The Bagavad Gita is not about war. Reference to war is allegorical. It is about the daily conflict we feel inside us and the choices we make when it comes to doing the right thing versus the easy things. It is about the conflict of good forces versus evil forces within us. It teaches us the path to Dharma – which means “duty” and how to do the right thing.

  • uptodate

    Thanks for that – maybe they should start making sure all the children in schools know the Bill of Rights rather than just American Idol contestants!

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