S.C. evangelicals begin to take measure of Nikki Haley’s Sikh heritage

In the midst of a runoff, South Carolina evangelicals are beginning to discuss the Sikh heritage of Republican candidate for governor Nikki Haley. From CNN’s Political Ticker blog:

Nikki Haley, who narrowly missed winning GOP nomination for governor without a runoff/Associated Press

Nikki Haley, who narrowly missed winning GOP nomination for governor without a runoff/Associated Press

Haley was raised Sikh but converted to Christianity at the age of 24 and now attends a Methodist church in Lexington County, her campaign says.

CNN surveyed nearly two dozen faith leaders and conservative activists across the state on Monday to see what their communities are saying about Haley’s religion as she stands on the verge of capturing the GOP nomination.

Few predicted that questions about Haley’s background will hurt her in the runoff against Barrett or in a general election match-up against Democrat Vincent Sheheen. But most said that in the wake of Haley’s swift rise, her religious journey has become an increasingly common topic of discussion in churches, at community gatherings and online.

“The heritage issue is starting to bubble up on emails,” said former Charleston County GOP chairwoman Cyndi Mosteller, who supported Attorney General Henry McMaster in the gubernatorial primary. “I am hearing those questions.”

Haley, born Nimrata Nikki Randhawa, still attends Sikh services occasionally with her parents and extended family. In 2004, after winning her first term in the state legislature, the Charlotte Observer quoted Haley as saying she and her family attend “both” Methodist and Sikh services.

As routine as that may sound to families of mixed faith, her ties to the Sikh tradition have left some evangelicals in the state uneasy.

Ray Popham, pastor of Oasis Church International in Aiken, said Haley’s religion is a “big topic” among his congregants, who have posted notes about her religion on Facebook and have lately approached him for advice about the governor’s race.

“She claims to be a Christian but also attends a Sikh temple and was married in a Sikh ceremony, so a lot of people can’t figure how you can claim both,” Popham told CNN. “I think she needs to be straight up with people, if she is both. If she believes that you can be both, then she should say that up front.”

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116 comments Add your comment

Producer

June 15th, 2010
10:21 am

As long as her faith doesn’t want to kill non-believers or blow up buildings or saw the heads off of hostages, or blow yourself into Paradise to await your 72 virgins or other radicalized requirements of so-called The Religion of Peace, she could be a tree-hugging Druid and as long as she’s a good governor, I couldn’t wouldn’t mind.

Anonymous

June 15th, 2010
10:23 am

Ignorant, conservative xenophobia at its worst!

Road Scholar

June 15th, 2010
10:24 am

What business is it for them? I sometimes buy BP products; does that make me a polluter? I go past the wine rack in grocery store; does that make me an alcoholic?

PS Doesn’t the bible tell us not to judge? What does it make them?

TSingh

June 15th, 2010
10:26 am

Last time I checked the US constitution, it never talked about Christian Faith being must to hold an elected office. This only shows the narrow mindedness of the Evangelical Christians who are acting more like Taliban. In fact India is more large hearted. They have a Christian women (not even born in India) who is the most powerful politician in India. In fact I blame Haley for not emphasize her proud Sikh roots. Sikhism is perhaps the most forward, modern, tolerant and universal religion in the world.

Paddy O

June 15th, 2010
10:30 am

Sikh are generally buddhists, no? My impression was that they were sect of buddha that have decided that violence in the name of defense is OK; this was in response to chronic attacks & oppression from Muslims. Anyone disagree? It seems her Christianity has oriented toward her political ambitions. It would be surprising if she wins in SC. Does she have any support from the TEA party? road scholar – the bible warns you that “as you judge others, so too shall ye be judged”. If you do judge, be sure to render your judgement in a righteous manner. Or, don’t you know what rightousness is?

Paddy O

June 15th, 2010
10:33 am

Unfortunately, tolerance is code for having no absolute standards;also known as moral relativism. It is not something to be exceptionally proud of. A religion should set standards of behavior, and those who concur become worshippers. However, if a worshiper disagrees with the religion, they should leave the religion, not expect the religion to change for them.

Mehtab-Ud-Din

June 15th, 2010
10:36 am

I think, the discussion about Nikki Haley’s religion is needless. If she is convert, then we all Christians should provide her due regard. She goes to Sikh services only as a public figure, nothing else. I am an Indian and have very much regard for Americans and their culture and their beliefs. I think the needless discussion about Nikki Haley’s religion mars America’s rich culture. I don’t expect such opportunist disccussion from the Americans. Every American should participate in the election process democratically and neatly. Such allegations ‘ll not provide victory to anyone.
– Managing Editor, Hamdard Weekly, Canada

Paddy O

June 15th, 2010
10:36 am

anonymous – of the people, by the people, for the people. This generally indicates that your leader reflects your values. Of course, those who seek power and influence will frequently “fake” similar values to garner your vote. A skeptic would be wise to question claims if facts indicate a disconnect from the honest character. Ms. Haley seems a possibel candidate for the bait & switch tactic. Who is she really?

Paddy O

June 15th, 2010
10:39 am

Mehtad- this is why there are 50 states. Each state has its distinct personality and demands for elected office. For most evangelical voters, your religious affiliation is exceptionally important. Unfortunately, your comments reflect a novices (and very shallow) notion of American culture. Politicians are NEVER given “due regard”, as temptation, saturated with power and ambition, frequently leads those seeking an office to misrepresent themselves.

bubble

June 15th, 2010
10:41 am

The bible is pro slavery and anti women and condemn non believers to deaths.

while sikhism believe in total equality among men and women and freedom of faith…

Sikhs are known as seeker of truth….i am turning sikh soon

2. If you see a pretty woman among your captives and would like her for a wife, then bring her home and “go in unto her.” Later, if you decide you don’t like her, you can simply “let her go.” (Deuteronomy)

3. If a betrothed virgin is raped in the city and doesn’t cry out loud enough, then “the men of the city shall stone her to death.” (Deuteronomy)

4. In the book of Esther the king apparently decrees a sex contest among young virgin women to see who can best please him. (There is debate on how.) He eventually chooses Esther. However, since women are viewed as inherently dirty, Esther must be “purified” for twelve months before she can be made queen. (Esther)

5. Paul points out in New Testament Romans that “the natural use” of women is to provide men with sex. (Romans)

6. Heaven is to be inhabited by 144,000 virgin men who have not been “defiled” by women. (RE 14:1-4) [One wonders how this squares with God's command to, "Be fruitful and multiply...(Genesis )]

GaBlue

June 15th, 2010
10:41 am

Paddy O,

Your pastor just called. He needs your help setting up the Holy Bonfire for tonight’s book-burning ceremony. Oh, and he said be sure to remind your wife that it wouldn’t be a book burning without her delicious nanner puddin.

Bob

June 15th, 2010
10:42 am

I think this was a well written follow up to your column “U.S. Christians begin to take measure of Barak Obama’s Muslim heritage.” (/s)

RoundPeak Rambler

June 15th, 2010
10:42 am

An incredibly beautiful and intelligent woman with a Sikh heritage that is equally beautiful and intelligent. Anyone who has spent a minute understanding Sikhism or interacting with these kind, tolerant, smart and gentle people would understand. South Carolina’s so-called Christian fundamentalists don’t deserve such a class act. Go Nikki!

Paddy O

June 15th, 2010
10:43 am

Tsing-when was the last time an evangelical flew a 747 into a building? Don’t be a fool moron.

Just a Humble Sikh

June 15th, 2010
10:45 am

I am surprised at the ignorance about Sikh religion and the so called concern of the Evangelical Christians. Since when is religion a test of some one’s ability? We had an evangelical Christian in the White House for the last eight years and literally brought the world to extinction.

Most religions consider that it is their way or highway. They talk about hell for those who are not of their faith. Many talk of killing of non believers (outside their faith) . They have very outdated views about women in their holy books. It is only in Sikh religion that their is absolute equality irrespective of caste creed, race religion, sex or nationality. While it is fashionable and politically correct to talk about human rights, multiculturalism and women’s rights. Sikh scriptures Guru Granth Sahib 400 years ago emphasize this aspect of universality of mankind . Here is the English translation from a hymn from GGS page 1299.

Wherever I look, God is all I see.

I don’t think of Us and Them,

No one do I hate or condemn,

I see God’s image – each one a friend.

Of any religion, caste or race,

All I see is God’s shining face -

His smiling face, His gracious face.

Accept as beautiful all His design,

I learnt this truth in sangat divine.

One Word resounds in me and you -

Waheguru … Waheguru … ( O Wondrous Lord, O Wondrous Lord)

In him, in her, in me and you -

Waheguru … Waheguru …

Beholding in every being His light,

I bloom like a flower in joy and delight.

The Snark

June 15th, 2010
10:47 am

PADDY – O:

Go to Wikipedia and look up “Sikh.” Wilful ignorance is not a badge of faith.

GaBlue

June 15th, 2010
10:49 am

Paddy O,

You remind me of Jesus Christ himself! Well, not so much Christ himself as that urine stain under the higway overpass where the homeless people sleep that sort of looks like that image of Christ that appeared on a slice of cheese toast. Hallelujah!

John K

June 15th, 2010
10:52 am

Ah yes, the good old Bible Belt. Let’s not worry about jobs, education or infrastructure, but rather that someone has a Sikh heritage and sometimes attends services with family.

And since 9/11 was mentioned, let’s not forget that after 9/11 there were assaults (and some murders) against Sikhs by ignorant fools who had no concept of the world outside of their little foolish bubble.

SIncere

June 15th, 2010
11:05 am

The newspaper is trying to make an issue where there isn’t one. Not surprising at all.

People curious to know more about her, whether they are Evangelicals or atheist, is hardly surprising, since she is likely to become governor.

Disavantaged Insider

June 15th, 2010
11:09 am

Paddy O — and when was the last time that a Sikh flew a 747 into a building. The Sikh’s are NOT Muslims. What was that line from Ben Franklin? Better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. Yes… much better.

Disavantaged Insider

June 15th, 2010
11:11 am

Sincere, the newspaper isn’t making this an issue, it’s just reporting on how some evangelicals in SC ARE making it an issue. Of course, you are free to believe whatever you want.

John K

June 15th, 2010
11:16 am

DI, yeah, it is funny how radical Muslims were mentioned right off the bat, when this has absolutely, positively, nothing to do with Islam, radical or not.

But then again, for some, ignorance is bliss.

Paddy O

June 15th, 2010
11:19 am

Gablue – you are a butthole. Wilful ignorance – is asking if my impression of sikhs is correct ignorance or the seeking of information? In the country as a whole there are so few sikhs, not much information is known about them. You yourself offer nothing other than a reference – lazy or you yourself do not know?

Paddy O

June 15th, 2010
11:21 am

I believe my statement was that sikhs are BUDDHIST! No? Buddhist & muslim are not the same. Buddhist are peaceful people, which left them vulnerable to violent Islam. Thus, the sikh faith, which permitted violence for defense, was established. Is this not accurate?

Paddy O

June 15th, 2010
11:22 am

The Indian Army is composed of a lot of sikhs.

Paddy O

June 15th, 2010
11:23 am

Gablue- you think the homeless a commodity to make fun of? Is that where your character has lead you?

bart

June 15th, 2010
11:25 am

I am a Christian but this is just another example of how the Christian conservatives are a bunch of bigoted, ignorant, hateful, racist idiots.

The Church of the Latter Day Dude

June 15th, 2010
11:30 am

The Dude minds. This agression will not stand.

This agression will not stand, man.

I want a lawyer, man.

Jackie Treehorn treats objects like women, man.

I can’t stand the f’ing Eagles man.

Just a Humble Sikh

June 15th, 2010
11:32 am

PaddyO

Sikhs are peaceful people and believe in taking up arms in self defense or for the defense of the underdogs ( no matter to which race or religion they belong) and only when all other peaceful means of obtain justice have failed. Sikhs have a glorious history of fighting against hated, bigotry and oppression.

GaBlue

June 15th, 2010
11:36 am

Dude, got any Half & half?

Red

June 15th, 2010
11:38 am

What about Christians who still observe Jewish practices? Are they Jewish? Or Christian?

deegee

June 15th, 2010
11:39 am

Nikki Haley should call Mitt Romney and trade war stories.

Paddy O

June 15th, 2010
11:42 am

Sikhism & buddhism are both great religions – they treasure life, of all types – the general movement of life from simple through to the heightened existence of humanity, ultimately meeting the Lord G-d. I have no problems with sikhs – have always admired their religion. However, when I did wiki the sikhs, it concurred with the militarization of sikhs to fight the ruling Mugahls of INdia who were killing sikh leaders. Mughals are Muslim. This was between 1550 and 1707. Muslims throughout time have trended toward violence.

Paddy O

June 15th, 2010
11:44 am

I call Christians enhanced jews. The question is: did Haley try to hide her Sikhism, and if so, why? Political necessity? Political benefit? There is nothing to be shamed of being a sikh. There are just very few of them in the US.

Paddy O

June 15th, 2010
11:45 am

John K – Sikhs militarized to fight oppression at the hands of Muslims – do you not know that?

GaBlue

June 15th, 2010
11:48 am

Oh, well there ya go. Wiki-ing the Sikhs to find out what they were doing three hundred years ago is totally relevant to the South Carolina gubernatorial election, thus providing justification for calling Ms. Hayley out on the issue of her character. It’s what Jesus would do if he were into the Wiki thing.

My apologies, good sir.

Paddy O

June 15th, 2010
11:49 am

Snark – where are you? My statements are fairly accurate regarding sikhs & islam? Snark? Any other moron comments, dude?

Red

June 15th, 2010
11:50 am

Paddy – John K is not up on his current events in India. He’s just an apologist for the “oppressed who turn violent”.

Paddy O

June 15th, 2010
11:51 am

Gablue – you have a serious case of fuzzy thinking. The question is – was she hiding her heritage? If so, why? For what purpose? The other, SEPARATE, discussion of sikhism is in no way NEGATIVE against sikhs. Do you understand the separate discussions, or do you need more spoon feeding?

Just a Humble Sikh

June 15th, 2010
11:51 am

PaddyO

I some what agree with you that Nikki Haley should be proud of great Sikh religious heritage and should have been very open about it.. Sikhs respect all faiths and believe there is only ONE FORMLESS GOD and all truthful ways lead to him.

kitty

June 15th, 2010
11:52 am

I suspect that to the folks in SC, all those “people” are just towel heads to them.

Paddy O

June 15th, 2010
11:53 am

Buddhism is very peace oriented. A orthodox buddhist does not even desire to accidentally kill insects. It makes them vulnerable – but a stable & generally prosperous society. The Mughals took advantage of this and conquered/oppressed them. The sikhs disrupted this equation.

[...] S.C. evangelicals begin to take measure of Nikki Haley’s Sikh heritage | Political Insider. [...]

Paddy O

June 15th, 2010
11:55 am

It is possible. A typical aspect of sikhs is the turban, due to the general rule they don’t cut their hair.

John K

June 15th, 2010
11:55 am

Yes Paddy, I know that. I see the typical right wing smokescreen here. Fundies are as usual uncomfortable with someone who holds a religion different then theirs, so insert the big time boogeyman; Muslims.

What Muslims did, have done, have not done, etc. is irrelevant to the concerns of SC’s Fundamentalists about Haley’s Sikh heritage. But I know that’s not going to stop you from mentioning them.

Mark

June 15th, 2010
12:02 pm

How is it that these people can claim to be patriotic Americans when this country was founded on the priciple of religious freedom? I am constantly amazed at how some conservatives can wave the flag, and claim to “love America” while simultaneously being ignorant of our Constitution and history.

There is a sickness in GA

June 15th, 2010
12:06 pm

You know…I hate of GA a lot, but at least we’re not SC.

This is Norman Maine

June 15th, 2010
12:11 pm

@Just a humble Sikh: you’re surprised by the ignorance of the Sikh religion and the concern of evangelical Christians? Really? You’re surprised. You must be new here.

DJ Sniper

June 15th, 2010
12:14 pm

Stories like this are why I have no love for evangelicals. They are way too focused on her religious beliefs instead of her stance on jobs, the economy, crime, etc etc. And they wonder why the rest of the country thinks we are stuck in the dark ages.

Shaking My Head

June 15th, 2010
12:15 pm

Bart said it all!!!!