Politicans casting off an inconvenient faith

If three instances make a trend, I'm waiting for the third Indian-American politician who converts to Christianity so that he can run for electoral office.

Bobby Jindal, born a Hindu ("Piyush Jindal"), converted to Catholicism on his way to being elected governor of Louisiana.

Nikki Haley, born a Sikh ("Nikki Randhawa"), became a Methodist enroute to becoming a State legislator in South Carolina and running for the Republican nomination for governor. The Christianity conversion doesn't seem to have helped her much though -- a couple of political operatives have emerged out of the woodwork claiming to have had extramarital affairs with her ... and now, her opponent's strategy seems to be to brand her a faithless (in the other sense) woman.

The really sad thing is that these are not the first American politicians of Indian descent. That would be Dalip Singh Saund (who didn't change his name or change his religion). He immigrated to the United States in the 1920s and campaigned to let Asian Indians become American citizens (something limited to just people of European descent at the time). It took till 1949 before the law was finally changed and he could become an American citizen. Six years later, he was a Congressman representing a California district; he went on to be re-elected twice.


  1. Lak, I agree.

    And in a very similar vein, I am always wary of those who after months or years of never attending any place of worship suddenly become "every time the door is open" attenders - immediately before or shortly after announcing for public office.

    Those folks have always struck me as shallow.

    Thanks for the information about Dalip Singh Saund. I did not know that.


  2. According to a 2007 biographical sketch on Bobby Jindal in the Washington Post:

    "In high school, he gave up Hinduism and became a Christian; and during his first year at Brown University, he was baptized as a Roman Catholic."

    Given that early timing, it's a stretch (at most) to claim he "converts to Christianity so that he can run for electoral office."

    Some people indeed do engage in a religion because they believe in it. So, instead of the most cynical possible view that seems unsupported, consider instead the possibility that he converted to Christianty as a teen because of much less insidious reasons than elected politics.

    Here is the link to the full 2007 article:

    I enjoy reading your BLOG, by the way...

  3. Dalip Singh Saund was from a different era. Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal are contemporaries. What is interesting is that all three of them are ethnic Punjabi.

    Bobby Jindal faith is one of expediency. When he got to Brown, he knew full well that he wanted to run for political office and Hindus are not acceptable. Jindal is very smart and shrewd. He was Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, an agency that represented about 40 percent of the state budget at age 25. Interestingly enough his parents and siblings did not convert.