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Navigating Identity and Belief: Challenges Faced by Hindu Candidates in American Politics

The United States is one of the world’s earliest democracies. The US has been an active advocate of secularism and democratic principles. Recently, Vivek Ramaswamy, the Republican candidate for the upcoming Presidential elections in the US, has faced Hinduphobia.

His campaign capitalized on his belief that the United States is facing a “national identity crisis,” attributing it to the rise of “new secular religions” including “woke-ism,” “climate-ism,” “covid-ism,” and “gender ideology.” Given his qualifications and perspective, it would seem he would have been accepted by American society as the Republican Candidate. However, the reality proved to be different.

Ramaswamy, a practising Hindu, has tried to bridge the gap between people of different faiths by stating that God resides in every person irrespective of his/her religion.

An American pastor and televangelist named Hank Kunneman went on an anti-Hindu tirade against Ramaswamy, an Indian American. He said that people must not vote for someone who's not serving Jesus Christ and must not entertain anyone who’s going to put his hand on something other than the Bible.

Ramaswamy’s experiences highlight the twin challenges faced by Hindu candidates in American politics – the susceptibility to religious bias on one hand, and the distortion and extreme characterization of their political proposals on the other.

Is this the America that great leaders like Barack Obama, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, or Roosevelt wanted to build? Is America not ready to accept a Hindu as its President? Is this the nation that has an Ambassador for International Religious Freedom?

Secularism and healthy integration of minorities are vital parts of the mutual growth and harmony of any nation. The US Government must try to endorse secularism and must try to build communal harmony for the betterment of America. The aim should be to create a multicultural, multireligious, pluralistic society.




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