Faith in the Ballot Box: First Hindu, Buddhist Elected to Congress

Faith in the Ballot Box: First Hindu, Buddhist Elected to Congress
enlarge/view slideshow

Tuesday’s election ushered a few firsts across the country. Hawaii’s Democrat Mazie Hirono was the first Buddhist elected to the Senate and Democrat Tulsi Gabbard was the first Hindu elected to Congress.

“It’s a great milestone for us,” said Anju Bhargava, founder of Hindu American Seva Charities. “They are carrying the torch and paving the way for others. There’s a level of excitement that people who have eastern orientation are accepted.”

In the South, Roy Moore, known by many as Alabama's Ten Commandments judge, was re-elected chief justice. He was elected in 2000, but was ousted by a state judicial panel after he refused to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the judicial building.

Same-sex marriage won on the ballot for the first time with Maine, Washington and Maryland voting to approve gay unions. Minnesota struck down a measure that would outlaw gay marriage.

Carrying the electoral vote, President Obama noted thecountry’s hallmarks of "love, charity, duty and patriotism" in his speech Tuesday night.

"Together, with your help and God's grace we will continue our journey forward and remind the world just why it is that we live in the greatest nation on Earth," he said.

In the presidential race, the exit poll breakdown showed that 70 percent of voters with no religious affiliation voted for Obama while just 26 percent voted for Romney. In contrast, 42 percent of Protestants voted for Obama while 57 percent voted for Romney. Meanwhile, Catholic voters were nearly split, with 50 percent supporting Obama and 48 percent supporting Romney.

In widely watched Ohio, 30 percent of evangelicals supported Obama, up from 27 percent in 2008.

In Mitt Romney’s concession speech, he said Americans will "look to our pastors and priest and rabbis and counselors of all kinds" in the coming days.

California’s Proposition 35, expanding punishments for human trafficking, passed. The initiative’s proponent Daphne Phung has said she was motivated by her Christian faith. Voters in the state rejected a referendum that would have ended the death penalty.

In other states, Washington State, Massachusetts and Colorado approved marijuana legislation. Florida voters defeated an amendment to repeal the state's ban on public funding for religious organizations. Massachusetts did not approve physician-assisted suicide.

Post new comment