- America is a strongly evangelistic nation and has never elected a non-Christian president. Yet, it accuses India, where the religion of the prime minister is a non-issue, of religious discrimination.
- Three of India’s ten prime ministers in the past 75 years were non-Hindu. In contrast, in its 250-year history, the US has had 45 presidents– all Christian.
- Tulsi Gabbard’s 2020 presidential campaign, which became the target of the progressive lynch mob, revealed the dark underbelly of American religiosity and the obstacles that American Hindus face in their quest for political representation.
- Vivek Ramaswamy has faced bias from both sides of the political divide. Pastor Hank Kunneman said he would bring “strange gods” into the White House. MSNBC refused to host a podcast with him.
“It is interesting that termites don’t build things, and the great builders of our nation, almost to a man, have been Christians because Christians have the desire to build something. He is motivated by the love of man and God, so he builds. The people who have come into our institutions today are primarily termites. They are into destroying institutions that have been built by Christians, whether it is universities, governments, our own traditions. The termites are in charge now, and that is not the way it ought to be, and the time has arrived for a godly fumigation.” – Pat Robertson, evangelist and former Republican Party mentor, on the need to expel non-Christians. 
America’s obsession with religion in India is like a political version of Groundhog Day. For the fourth year in a row, the United States Commission on Independent Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has asked the State Department to categorize India as a “country of particular concern,” alleging that central, state, and local governments in India had “promoted and enforced” religiously discriminatory policies. The USCIRF has urged the Department to impose sanctions on agencies and officials responsible for “severe violations of religious freedom” and ban their travel to the US. It has also asked the US Congress to take up the issue of religious freedom in India in hearings, briefings, letters, and Congressional delegations. 
The USCIRF labeling India as discriminatory is hypocritical. It is simply a case of Christian America projecting its immorality onto Hindu India. For instance, America institutionalized slavery for over two centuries, and black Americans continue to face rampant racism, but today, the US flogs the caste system to flay Hinduism. Again, America is a strongly evangelistic nation and has never elected a non-Christian president. Yet, it accuses secular India – where the religion of political leaders at all levels is a non-issue – of religious discrimination.
India has treated the USCIRF with the contempt that it deserves. In March 2016, the Indian embassy in Washington refused to issue visas to the organization, saying: “We do not see the locus standi of a foreign entity like USCIRF to pass its judgment and comment on the state of Indian citizens’ constitutionally protected rights.”
The organization was created in 1998 by George W. Bush to get political leverage by meddling in the internal affairs of free-minded countries. It would not be surprising that his unholy organization was created specifically to target India – the last major polytheistic country that stands in the way of Christian domination of the planet.
It’s easy to see which country is truly secular. India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was an atheist who distanced himself from his Hindu roots. His grandson Rajiv Gandhi, the son of a Zoroastrian, was not a Hindu either, yet was elected PM from 1984-89. Again, for ten years, from 2004 to 14, India had a Sikh prime minister, Manmohan Singh. Three out of 10 prime ministers in the past 75 years were non-Hindu. In contrast, America, the self-appointed global watchdog of religious freedom, has had 45 presidents in its 250-year history – and every single one of them has been either Christian or raised Christian.
Although the US Constitution prohibits any religious test or requirement for public office, if you belong to a prominent Protestant denomination, your chances of being president are far higher than if you don’t. According to a February 2020 Pew Research Center survey, 20 percent of US adults believe it is “very important” for the president to have strong religious beliefs, and 14 percent say it is very important to have a president who shares their religious beliefs.
But times change, right? If Americans could elect a black president in 2008, perhaps they are ready to elect a Hindu president in 2023. Given Vivek Ramaswamy’s growing popularity on social media, with the likes of Elon Musk and podcaster Tucker Carlson promoting him as a “promising candidate,” the mercurial billionaire has emerged as one of the front runners in the race for the Republican Party’s presidential candidate.  But popularity doesn’t necessarily translate into mass appeal because the reality is that a Hindu POTUS is far from ready for prime-time.
While Vivek may have rock star status on social media, he may find the going tough going into the business end of the Republican presidential race. This is because, as historian Bruce Schulman puts it, the role of evangelical Protestants is so strong that it shapes the entire presidential selection process. “The rise of the Religious Right has changed the landscape so that” in most of the United States overt religious expression is an expected part of our politics, and overt irreligion or non-religion is something that’s become more or less unacceptable.”
Another key difference between India and the US is that while diversity is a hallmark of Indian politics, voters prefer uniformity in America. In India, the candidate can be a Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, or atheist, and the Hindu majority won’t have a problem with their religion. However, that’s not the case in the US. “If there is a case where religion is a liability, then not being a Judeo-Christian would be it,” says Karthick Ramakrishnan, associate dean of public policy at the University of California.
“There’s a strong push towards assimilation in American society,” adds Ramakrishnan. “If you look across Asian-American groups, Hindus are the least likely to have an Anglo name. If you look at Chinese and Korean names, they will often have a Christian name.”
Tulsi Gabbard: Hinduphobia is real
Tulsi Gabbard’s 2020 presidential campaign, which became the target of the progressive lynch mob, revealed the dark underbelly of American religiosity and the obstacles that American Hindus face in their quest for political representation.
When Tulsi first ran for Congress in 2012 from her home state of Hawaii, her Republican opponent, David “Kawika” Crowley, made a bigoted remark about Tulsi’s Hindu religion, saying it “doesn’t align with the constitutional foundation of the US government.“
Crowley, a Republican, was not reprimanded publicly by the Hawaiian Republican party for his Hinduphobic comments. “This kind of religious bigotry still exists,” said Tulsi. “Being a Hindu in the United States can lead to discrimination in renting a house, opening a business, or doing everyday things.”
In addition, allegations surfaced of potential online suppression of Tulsi’s visibility. A report by www.louderwithcrowder.com suggested that YouTube was ‘shadow banning’ her views. This claim was supported by discrepancies in search results for “Tulsi Gabbard” when using a VPN set to the US compared to other countries, further stoking accusations of Hinduphobia.
Throughout her campaign, Tulsi faced attacks from some quarters of the media, who labeled her a Hindu fundamentalist with ties to foreign leaders such as Narendra Modi, Vladimir Putin, and Egyptian President Fatah Al Sisi. The anti-Hindu bias was so overt that she openly confronted CNN for their despicable coverage of the world’s third-largest religion. In a Facebook post, she decried CNN’s attempts to sensationalize coverage to show Hinduism in poor light, such as showing a group of Hindus under the caption “Cannibals.“ Tulsi blasted CNN for their blatantly false coverage, which led to ethnic slurs and hate crimes.
Following the campaign, Tulsi publicly expressed disillusionment with the Democratic party, accusing it of being controlled by an elitist group, stoking anti-white racism, showing contempt toward religion and police, and leading the country towards nuclear war.
In the elections, Tulsi became the first Hindu ever elected to Congress. According to Tanya Basu of The Atlantic magazine, her election illustrates the complicated tightrope Hindus – and consequently, Indian Americans – walk in establishing a political identity. “After all, in a country where two million Americans identify as being Hindu and many more count themselves as ethnically South Asian, why haven’t there been more people of Indian origin walking the halls of Congress? And why is it only now that a Hindu has been elected to Congress?”
Vivek is the first Hindu candidate with a real shot at the presidency. It’s a long shot, considering that Donald Trump remains the Republican Party’s rank-and-file favorite, but hypothetically, if Trump drops out, Vivek could wrap this up. As a successful entrepreneur who’s articulate, sophisticated, and embraces values that appeal to the American Right, he should be a shoo-in as the Republican Party’s presidential candidate.
And yet, his candidacy has faced opposition from conservative religious circles. Pastor Hank Kunneman criticized Vivek for his Hindu faith, implying that he would bring “strange gods” into the White House and thereby violate Judeo-Christian principles. The congregation’s applause in response to these comments underscored the obstacles confronting Hindu candidates within the GOP.
Vivek has also faced media bias from both sides of the political divide. While MSNBC refused to host a podcast with him, the right-leaning Newsmax told him that he needed to buy television ads if he wanted coverage about him to appear in prime time.
Vivek had called Newsmax’s Chris Ruddy to complain that the network was relegating him to little-watched midday slots or ignoring him outright. Ruddy reportedly suggested that the candidate buying more ads on Newsmax could pay dividends.
Vivek’s experiences highlight the twin challenges faced by Hindu candidates in American politics – the susceptibility to religious bias on the one hand and the distortion and extreme characterization of their political proposals on the other.
Christian America likes Coolies
While Hindu Americans find it hard to gain traction in politics, the situation is different when you flip your religion. Two Indian-origin politicians, Nikki Hailey and Bobby Jindal, joined fundamentalist churches to get elected in deeply Christian states. Not only that, after conversion, they ditched their Indian names – Namrata Randhawa and Piyush. That did the trick – Nikki was elected Governor of South Carolina, and Bobby was the Governor of Louisiana from 2008-2016.
Jindal’s case is particularly interesting. He squirmed his way into the heart of Bible Belt America by becoming a born-again Christian and embracing even more radical views than the Republican Party. However, as a brown convert in the lily white party, Jindal feels he must constantly reaffirm his hard-won status. This he does by bad-mouthing black and brown people, which no doubt reassures his Bible Belt voters and party bosses they made the right choice in picking him.
Culture critic and opinion writer Jimi Izrael feels Jindal isn’t an Indian American who wants to be seen as an American; Jindal is an Indian American who wants to be white. “Embracing difference makes white folks nervous: any brown person who aspires to assimilate will get high marks. He channels a certain brand of sincere self-loathing previously only seen in golf caddies and Larry Elder,” he says. (Larry Elder is a black guy who trashes black guys and thinks he’s white. He is the author of the book Stupid Black Men.) 
The deeply Christianized America we see today results from two factors:
- The Protestant backlash against waves of Catholic immigrants that poured into the country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries resulting in a Protestant coalition and a hardening of religious attitudes towards other denominations. 
- The devious role played by the deranged Pat Robertson in driving evangelical Christians into the Republican Party, thereby creating a hardcore Christian base that changed the face of American electoral politics. 
The good news is that the White Christian Right is on an irreversible decline – both demographically and in terms of its hold on the minds of Americans. Says Robert Jones, the author of the 2016 book The End of White Christian America: “Even if we rewind just back to the early 2000s, White evangelicals made up about a quarter of the country. That number in our latest data is down to 13.6%. So they’re shrinking.”
America was never a deeply Christian nation because the Founding Fathers of America were only nominally Christian. Two of the most famous presidents in American history had no formal religious affiliation. The first, Thomas Jefferson, lost his faith in traditional Christianity at an early age but continued to believe in an impersonal God as the creator of the universe. Jefferson didn’t believe in the divinity of Jesus, and he advocated a strong separation of church and state. He also famously edited the New Testament by removing references to miracles.
The second, Abraham Lincoln, was raised in a religious household and spoke frequently about God (particularly as president), but he never joined a church. Scholars have long debated Lincoln’s beliefs, including whether he was a Christian.
In this backdrop, Hindu candidates may have better prospects in a post-Christian America.