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Nikki Haley - Printable Version
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Nikki Haley - Printable Version

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Nikki Haley - G.Subramaniam - 06-15-2010

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/14/us/politics/14haley.html?ref=us&pagewanted=all

All Her Life, Nikki Haley Was the Different One

By SHAILA DEWAN and ROBBIE BROWN

Published: June 13, 2010



BAMBERG, S.C. — Nikki Haley, the favorite to become the first governor of South Carolina who is neither white nor male, has always challenged established norms with her own brand of moxie.



South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley won 49 percent of the vote in the primary.



As a girl, her parents — the first Indian immigrants this small, working-class town had ever seen — entered Nikki and her sister in the Little Miss Bamberg pageant. The judges of the contest, one that crowned one black queen and one white queen, were so flummoxed that they simply disqualified Nikki and her sister, Simran — but not before Nikki, about 5, sang “This Land Is Your Land.”



Ms. Haley, 38, upended things again last week after a sharp-elbowed primary that included allegations of marital infidelity and pitted her against the lieutenant governor, the attorney general and a congressman. Ms. Haley, a state legislator, received 49 percent of the vote, but faces a June 22 runoff with Representative Gresham Barrett, whom she beat by more than 25 points Tuesday. And this from a campaign that was so underfinanced that it had to sell yard signs at $5 apiece, Ms. Haley said.



Now, she finds herself one of the brightest rising stars in the Republican Party, a Tea Party favorite, a Sarah Palin endorsee and the subject of national attention.



“I love that people think it’s a good story, but I don’t understand how it’s different,” she said in an interview Friday, in a voice with a faint watermark of Southern drawl. “I feel like I’m just an accountant and businessperson who wants to be a part of state government.”



Ms. Haley — born Nimrata Nikki Randhawa and always called Nikki, which means “little one,” by her family — said that growing up in Bamberg was at times tough. Her father wears a turban and, though male Sikhs are not supposed to cut their hair, her brothers’ was trimmed after teasing at school grew vicious. “It’s survival mode,” she said. “You learn to try and show people how you’re more alike than you are different.”



But her political rise has raised questions about her difference, and she has become more careful about how she presents the religious aspect, in particular, of her life.



In 2004, for instance, she was widely hailed, particularly in news outlets like The Hindustan Times and sikhchic.com, as the first Sikh elected to the South Carolina Legislature and the first Republican Indian-American elected to any state legislature.



“I was born and raised with the Sikh faith, my husband and I were married in the Methodist Church, our children” — Nalin, 8, and Rena, 12 — “have been baptized in the Methodist Church, and currently we attend both,” she said.



She did not mention that she and her husband, Michael Haley, wed in two ceremonies, one Sikh and the other at St. Andrew’s by-the-Sea, a Methodist church in Hilton Head, where Mr. Haley’s parents live.



Back then, though, Ms. Haley seemed comfortable publicly embracing both religions. Nowadays, she talks of having “converted to Christianity” before her wedding in 1996, when she was baptized at St. Andrew’s. She has also changed the wording on her Web site under the heading, “Question: Is Nikki a Christian?” from an answer that references “Almighty God” to one that references “Christ.”



“I still find these things to be very private,” she said about the change. “However, when people question you, you do have to answer to them.”



Tim Pearson, her campaign manager, said that the campaign grew more specific in response to questions. “We got a lot of e-mails and whatnot from people saying, ‘She’s talking about God, but what God?’ ” he said.



Even her name became an issue in 2004, when a political opponent, a 30-year incumbent who was at the time the longest serving state legislator, pointed out that she was registered to vote as Nimrata Randhawa and not Nikki Haley. (Campaign literature and e-mail messages calling her a Buddhist and a Muslim also circulated, she recalled.) But such nicknames are not unusual: one of Ms. Haley’s inspirations and a fellow Indian-American politician, Gov. Piyush Jindal of Louisiana, is better known as Bobby.



From early on, Ms. Haley was involved in her family’s clothing business — Exotica International, which sells gowns, suits and jewelry — taking over the bookkeeping at age 13.



Her father, Ajit Randhawa, was a biology professor at Voorhees College in nearby Denmark, S.C.; her mother, Raj, started Exotica as a gift shop.



Before she ran for office, Ms. Haley got an accounting degree at Clemson University, where she met Mr. Haley. She worked for FCR, a waste management and recycling company, and then returned to Exotica as chief financial officer and helped the company grow into a multimillion-dollar business.


Nikki Haley - G.Subramaniam - 06-15-2010

Then, hearing that State Representative Larry Koon would be retiring in 2004, she jumped into the race. But Mr. Koon stayed in. At the time, Lexington County, just outside Columbia, was in the throes of transition from a rural community to a suburban, affluent one with many newcomers. The changing voter base may be one reason that the racial and religious attacks against Ms. Haley backfired.



Still, the attacks were so virulent that the state Republican Party condemned Mr. Koon, said Katon Dawson, who was the party chairman at the time.



Ms. Haley called Mr. Dawson to consult. “She asked, ‘Is it worth it? You’re the chairman of the party. You tell me — is it worth all this?’ ” he said. He arranged for Jenny Sanford, then the state’s first lady, to give her a pep talk. They talked, and Ms. Sanford recalled in an interview that she was impressed. She is now a Haley supporter.



Ms. Haley, dressed for a day of campaigning in a brown silk suit from Exotica, comes across as disciplined and competitive, whether talking about her prowess at video games — “I’m the Wii queen” — or her plans for tax reform, financial disclosure and term limits. She talks as if she already has won.



“I can’t wait until January, where people see that we actually get things done the very first year,” she said.



Ms. Haley became part of a small cadre of small-government advocates who are ideologically aligned with Gov. Mark Sanford and at odds with the rest of the state’s Republican establishment, whom they accuse of abandoning conservative principles. Like Mr. Sanford, she has repeatedly taken her case to the public, sometimes embarrassing legislative leaders and helping her develop a loyal following. And, as with Mr. Sanford, that has led to accusations of grandstanding.



“I’m a fan of the old Nikki Haley,” said Harry F. Cato, a Republican representative from Travelers Rest and the House’s speaker pro tempore. “The new Nikki Haley became more of a P.R. machine.”



But her supporters view her as a fighter. Ms. Haley proved willing to alienate legislative leaders when she went public with a fight to force legislators to conduct roll-call votes, rather than anonymous voice votes, she was removed from a powerful committee of which she was vying to be chairwoman. Both houses of the Legislature eventually passed rules requiring more recorded votes.



Just before the primary for governor, two men came forward saying that they had affairs with her, and a fellow lawmaker called her a “raghead.” But the episodes only played into Ms. Haley’s underdog narrative.



“The more those guys fight her, the more emboldened she gets,” said Ashley Landess, a friend and the president of a policy group that helped push the roll-call issue. “They are making a big mistake in thinking they can threaten her into submission. That won’t work.”


Nikki Haley - G.Subramaniam - 06-15-2010

Born in Bamberg, S.C., the daughter of Indian immigrants, Nikki�s first job was keeping the books for her family�s clothing store � at the age of 13. She went on to graduate from Clemson University with a B.S. degree in accounting and following her graduation worked as Accounting Supervisor for the Charlotte, N.C. based corporation FCR, Inc. and five of its subsidiaries. Nikki then went back to the family business where she helped oversee its growth into a multi-million dollar operation. Since 2008 she has served as the Assistant Executive Director of the Lexington Medical Foundation.



Nikki and her husband Michael, a full time federal technician with the South Carolina National Guard and an officer in the Army National Guard, attend Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church in Lexington. She was previously a board member of both the Orangeburg and Lexington County Chambers of Commerce and a member of the National Association of Women Business Owners. Currently, Nikki sits on the board for Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church, Medmission, and is a proud member of the West Metro Republican Women, Lexington County Republican Party and the NRA.



--



Her father owns a large business and is likely a millionaire

Yet she has married a technician, a big step down



They have their pictures on their site, she is a good looking punjabi jat

and her husband is bald


Nikki Haley - G.Subramaniam - 06-15-2010

Nikki Haley: Another Desi Who Really Isn�t a Desi

Thursday, May 21, 2009 18:38

Posted in category Desis Who Really Aren't Desis, Politics



Nikki Randhawa Haley - South Carolina Gubernatorial CandidateYesterday, Sepia Mutiny profiled Nikki (Randhawa) Haley, an Indian American and new gubernatorial candidate for South Carolina ®. Interested, we did some further investigation into Ms. Haley, and came away conflicted: on one hand, I very much wanted to support her quest to become the second South Asian governor. On the other hand, I really question whether we can characterize her as �desi� or �south asian�. Just like Miss Indiana, Courtni Shabana Hall, the feeling I get is that she may have been born to Indian parents, but there is nothing about Ms. Haley that would identify with the South Asian community.



Born Nimrata, Ms. Haley changed her name to the more southern friendly �Nikki�. She was raised in a strong Sikh household, but abruptly now talks about her Methodist affiliation and her love for Jesus. This is all well of good if she really feels this way, but a small part of me is upset that here is a South Asian that so easily dispelled two of her most South Asian characteristics: her name and her religion. Add that to a personal image and sensibility that has nothing Indian about it, and the disconnect is wide.



Now there are some that may call this ignorant, using a rationale similar to the often quoted black community mantra: I should be propping by brothers and sisters up, not tearing them down right? To those I ask though: what makes them my brother or sister? Just the fact we had parents that were born in the same country? Or is it that we share a common belief and pride in the culture we have grown up in and the community we are affiliated to?



What do you think? Do you wholeheartedly accept Miss Haley as a fellow desi? Or do you simply embrace her because you are happy to increase the number of so-called �Indian American� politicians?



--



Some comments



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@canadian: It�s not so much her name in and of itself. It�s the complete package. It feels like she has made a very tactical effort to represent herself in a way that is much more palatable to a white, southern population. Now that may be a necessary evil, but it�s a sad commentary nonetheless



----



I am surprised she even mentions her heritage, if she could have conveniently missed that out, then it would be a clean sweep, the tan could have been put down to a sunbed�.. This reminds me of a Ford advert from 10 years ago in the UK where the black and brown engineers were �whited� out.

Does anyone have photos of her family, has she done this to them? Maybe renamed them Alfred and Sarah Randywa?? Another convenient case of escaping your roots in order to make a few more bucks�.. There�s a word for people that do that.



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Completely disagree here. The question is not whether you should assimilate to �U.S. culture�, it is rather questioning the motivation for the name change and religious conversion. I would have no problem if Ms. Haley was born a Christian. Also, if she was in a different profession, would she have taken the same action? Perhaps. But it�s still a question that should be asked. It just seems odd that both of the high profile southern desi politicians out there have both converted to Christianity. How many desis do you know in general that have done the same?



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Jeff � please define �American� Is it being named Nikki vs. Nimrata? Is it being Catholic vs. Hindu?



I would tend to use your argument directly against you. If she is truly being American, she should be comfortable using whatever name/religion/etc. she chooses to without having to pander to what she thinks other �Americans� will like. Again, I have no issue with her changing her name or religion, as long as the motives were true (and not politically incented).



---



Totally don�t see her or �Bobby� as Indian-American in any way other than having brown parents. What�s especially disgusting about Jindal was how he�d pander to Indian-Americans at Indian-American held fundraisers to raise the bucks when based on how he conducts himself it was obvious he could give a rat�s arse about Indian-American concerns or about India.



It would be admirable if this woman or Jindal held to their Indian beliefs and Indian identity and won.


Nikki Haley - G.Subramaniam - 06-15-2010

A WOMAN STOOD outside a polling place last Tuesday holding a Nikki Haley sign. A man who was driving away rolled down his window to shout at her, "I hope your children worship cows!" That confused the lady with the sign. The man was a good way down the road before she decided it was meant as a slur on Hinduism. Nikki Haley, by the way, is not a Hindu.



At another point during the House District 87 runoff against incumbent Rep. Larry Koon, Haley campaign manager B.J. Boling received the following e-mail: "Please remember that she is a Buddhist. One of my friends . . . verified this for me. I can only vote for a Christian, Larry Koon is a deacon and a wonderful Christrian man an does a lot for bring money into Lexington County. Please send this to your friends."



Nikki Haley isn't a Buddhist, either.



A half-page ad in the June 17 edition of the Lexington County Chronicle proclaimed that "there is only one REAL Republican in the run-off," citing as evidence the fact that Mr. Koon had voted in every Republican primary in recent years, whereas "Nimrata N. Randhawa" once voted in a Democratic primary. Below that was an asterisk with the insinuating footnote, "As the opponent's name appears on the voter registration files. A different name appears on the ballot." (Implication: She ain't from around here, and she's trying to hide it.)



Nikki Haley uses a different name now because she's married, and her husband's name is Haley. She voted in a Democratic primary in 1996 when she was living in Orangeburg County, and there was no Republican primary for the state Senate seat vacated by the death of Marshall Williams.





And her religion? Well, as her campaign brochure says, "Nikki was proudly raised with her Indian traditions and her husband, Michael, was brought up in the Methodist faith." She was raised as a Sikh, but was encouraged to visit other churches. She was taught that "There can't be enough God in your life." She was married in the Methodist Church. Her children are baptized Methodists. She and the kids attend both a Methodist church and the local Sikh temple.



"I believe in one God," she explains. "I believe in Jesus. I'm pro-life. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman


Nikki Haley - G.Subramaniam - 06-15-2010

Quote:

During her first State House run, anonymous ads in Lexington County questioned Haley�s faith. Haley was raised a Sikh but is now a Methodist.

Nikki Haley announces run for governor | The Herald - Rock Hill, SC

Quote:

Currently, Nikki sits on the board for Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church, Medmission, and is a proud member of the West Metro Republican Women, Lexington County Republican Party and the NRA.

Nikki Haley for South Carolina Governor

Quote:

She was married in the Methodist Church. Her children are baptized Methodists. She and the kids attend both a Methodist church and the local Sikh temple.



"I believe in one God," she explains. "I believe in Jesus. I'm pro-life. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman."


Nikki Haley - G.Subramaniam - 06-15-2010

Sepiamutiny

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The only reason Jindal and this lady have any support from Republicans is because they're indistinguishable from their white constituents in the south. "American" names and Jesus lovers. If any other brown person who had the exact same beliefs and policy ideas and intellect, but kept their given name and religion (if they're converts), tried to run, Republicans wouldn't give a damn



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What is up with Indian American politicians ditching their religious/spiritual background?



Bobby Jindal converted to Catholicism. Nikki Randhawa-Haley's family is Methodist (as per Wikipedia).



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The Republican Party has a thing for "born-again" desis. Indian immigration in the southern United States has tended to follow a pattern of desis filling the interstices of the black-white divide.



What we see now are the second-order effects....they are sorta like us amongst the "people of color" and they believe in jeezus and the right to bear arms. Wow!



---



However, what I don't like about Jindal is what I don't like about the GOP in general and their insistence that faith and namely their faith, which is basically their brand of theocratic right wing Christianity - be implemented in public policy (with regards to Stem Cell research, prayer in schools, evolution in the class room



---



I agree with you that Jindal's public discussion of how he became Catholic is a bit silly to me. I grew up around Italian and Irish Catholics in NY, and none discussed their faith they way Jindal does.



--



The Republican party is a mess and it's sad that the likes of Bobby Jindal is the best they can bring to the table. Also, I realize he is Indian by heritage and birth but the fact he converted to Catholicism while in college (at the age of 18 I think) shows that he knew very well that that was the only way, as an Indian-American Hindu, he could achieve his political ambitions.


Nikki Haley - G.Subramaniam - 06-15-2010

There�s a �funny� joke going around about S.C. Rep. Nikki Haley � have you heard it yet?



It presumes that the recently-announced Republican gubernatorial candidate will be well-received by evangelical voters in certain parts of South Carolina because she is, well, a �repeat convert.�



�They won�t be able to get enough of (Haley) in the Upstate,� goes the version of the joke that we heard. �Those Bible-beaters love someone who�s been born again � and again � and again � and again ��



Yeah � ba-doom-ching.



This attempt at �reincarnation humor� is obviously based on Haley�s Indian-American roots and the Sikh background of her parents, which Haley � a Methodist � reportedly respects but does not share.


Nikki Haley - G.Subramaniam - 06-15-2010

Nikki Haley Reflects More Christian Tone





Nikki Haley, the front runner to become the Republican nominee for Governor of South Carolina has recently changed the language on her website to reflect a more Christian tone. The Brody File is NOT questioning her Christian beliefs at all but rather how the emphasis of her religious language seems to have evolved throughout her political career.







Haley was raised with the Sikh faith and just like President Obama has gone out of her way to make sure people know she is a Christian. Just like Obama in 2008, Haley has a “truth” section on her website to address the question, “Is Nikki Haley a Christian”? In April 2010, this is what the website said:



April 2010:



“Question: Is Nikki a Christian?



Truth: Nikki is a Christian. In her words: ‘I believe in the power and grace of Almighty God. I know, and have truly experienced, that with Him all things are possible. I have looked to Him for leadership throughout my career and will continue to do so as governor.



This is what it says now:



June 2010



Question: Is Nikki a Christian?



Truth: In Nikki’s words: “My faith in Christ has a profound impact on my daily life and I look to Him for guidance with every decision I make. God has blessed my family in so many ways and my faith in the Lord gives me great strength on a daily basis. Being a Christian is not about words, but about living for Christ every day.”



We contacted the Haley campaign and asked them why the website language was changed. Spokesman Tim Pearson told The Brody File the following:



“We are constantly changing our website.”



“Nikki is a proud Christian woman. Like millions of others she found Christ early in her adult life and she has been dedicated to her Christian faith since the age of 24. She, her husband, and their two children worship at one church - Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church in Lexington, South Carolina. “



Nikki Haley’s had a whirlwind experience the last month or so. She is locked in a four-way battle for the Republican nomination for Governor of South Carolina. After being endorsed by Sarah Palin last month, her poll numbers skyrocketed but then came recent reports of alleged affairs. She has denied they ever happened and is blaming her opponents for peddling the stories and playing dirty politics. It has put Haley squarely in the national spotlight.



The fact that the Haley campaigned changed the wording on the website led The Brody File to do some digging. The Brody File has uncovered documents and details that show an emphasis on her Sikh faith and traditions in 2004 when she was running for the State Legislature (even though she became a Christian 7 years earlier). Now that she’s running for Governor of the state, mentions of her Sikh faith are virtually non-existent. A legitimate question must be asked: After seeing how the faith issue hurt Mitt Romney and damaged Barack Obama to some extent as well, is Haley making a political decision by playing up her Christian faith (just like Obama did) and LOSING the Sikh emphasis?



Haley was born in South Carolina as “Nikki Randhawa, the daughter of Indian Punjabi immigrants and was raised with the Sikh faith. (Read more about Sikhism here) Her conversion story begins in 1997. (You can listen to her discuss that here.



In 2004, (seven years after becoming a Christian) she and her family were still attending Sikh Temples as well as their Methodist Church. In 2004, she was running for the State Legislature and she was quoted back then as saying, “I was born and raised with the Sikh faith, my husband and I were married in the Methodist Church, our children have been baptized in the Methodist Church, and currently we attend both.”



Her 2004 campaign played up her Sikh upbringing and faith saying that “Nikki was proudly raised with her Indian traditions” No mention that she’s a Christian. See below. (And click on the picture for a larger view)







As a matter of fact, newspapers at the time trumpeted the fact that Haley was “The First Member Of The Sikh Religion To Join A State Legislature In The United States.” One India newspaper wrote that, “She Did Not Hide The Fact That She Was Not A Christian And Regularly Attended Sikh Religious Services.” A project at Harvard University in 2006 refers to her as a, “Sikh woman.”



When asked if Haley currently attends Sikh services, Haley's spokesman Tim Pearson tells The Brody File:



“She attends Sikh services once or twice a year in respect for her family.”



“Like millions of others, she honors her mother and her father and has great respect for their faith and the way that she was raised. Her faith in Christ guides her throughout her personal, professional, and public life, just as it has for many years.”



The bottom line: Haley and the Sikh faith were an important part of her storyline…back in 2004. But today there are no Sikh references are on her website or campaign literature. And that website language has become more overtly Christian.

When asked to specifically address why Sikh references were more overt in 2004 than in 2010, Pearson didn't provide us with an answer to that question.


Nikki Haley - G.Subramaniam - 06-15-2010

Left by RightKlik on Jun 03, 2010 8:12 PM

# RE: Nikki Haley Reflects More Christian Tone

Yes it is very obvious that she is using Christianity to gain political success. She had realized long ago that it was easier to be a Christian politician in SC. But unfortunately South Carolina people are easily fooled.

Left by JREFF on Jun 04, 2010 2:37 AM

# RE: Nikki Haley Reflects More Christian Tone

Actually she started planning 13 years ago when she married a Christian man to get a Christian last name. She has been going to church for the last 15 years even though she did not have Christian faith inwardly.

Left by JREFF on Jun 04, 2010 7:53 AM


Nikki Haley - G.Subramaniam - 06-15-2010

Front-runner Haley, an attractive "pro-family" candidate who has the backing of the tea party movement and Sarah Palin, has been the target of not one but two claims of infidelity to her husband — both lodged by conservative political operatives who claim to have slept with her. And on Thursday a state senator who is supporting one of Haley's opponents casually referred to her as a "raghead" and claimed that she is a Manchurian candidate launched by a "network of Sikhs" to take over the governorship.



During a visit Thursday to "Pub Politics," an online political chat show hosted from a bar in Columbia, S.C., state senator Jake Knotts said: "We already got one raghead in the White House; we don't need a raghead in the governor's mansion." Haley's parents are Sikhs of Indian descent; she has converted to Christianity but still attends Sikh religious ceremonies on occasion out of deference to her parents. etc. (Exorcist-at-large BJ must be scandalised. Quick, where's the holy water? Not that Ganges water you fool, you have a dirty mind!)



.....Even in his apology, Knotts managed to get another underhanded dig in at Haley, whom he says "is pretending to be someone she is not." Bauer used identical language in his statement challenging her to a lie-detector test. The implication that she is, as Knotts put it, "hiding her true religion." Meanwhile, the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody published a story Thursday saying her emphasis on her Christian faith has evolved over the years.


Nikki Haley - G.Subramaniam - 06-15-2010

In 2004, (seven years after becoming a Christian) she and her family were still attending Sikh Temples as well as their Methodist Church. In 2004, she was running for the State Legislature and she was quoted back then as saying, “I was born and raised with the Sikh faith, my husband and I were married in the Methodist Church, our children have been baptized in the Methodist Church, and currently we attend both.”


Nikki Haley - G.Subramaniam - 06-15-2010

http://www.cbn.com//CBNNews_Files/images10/blogs/HaleyonChristianity-WORD_BobMcLain3510.mp3



She discusses her conversion


Nikki Haley - Guest - 06-15-2010

She is 38yrs now, and she converted 13 yrs ago. So she was 25 when "it" happened. Did she have political aspirations or real "change of mind" that caused it? Political :-)


Nikki Haley - agnivayu - 06-15-2010

[quote name='Swamy G' date='15 June 2010 - 07:09 AM' timestamp='1276565468' post='106935']

She is 38yrs now, and she converted 13 yrs ago. So she was 25 when "it" happened. Did she have political aspirations or real "change of mind" that caused it? Political :-)

[/quote]



Probably political. A cunning politician like Bobby Jindal. Unless you talk like a Jesus Jihadi, you can't get elected in these southern hillbilly states. Note, that these converted heathens arn't present in the non-bible belt states where their tactics don't hold the same political capital.


Nikki Haley - G.Subramaniam - 06-15-2010

Her father is a jat sikh, Normally when a jat sikh parent will strongly oppose the marriage

of his daughter to a xtian and a poor xtian at that


Nikki Haley - agnivayu - 06-15-2010

[quote name='G.Subramaniam' date='15 June 2010 - 05:46 PM' timestamp='1276603715' post='106944']

Her father is a jat sikh, Normally when a jat sikh parent will strongly oppose the marriage

of his daughter to a xtian and a poor xtian at that

[/quote]



That's true, for all the propaganda about "Hindu" caste system, I find Sikhs, Muslims to be violently castist. They are quick to draw out their swords and start hacking when inter-caste marriages occur (very common among Jat Sikhs, Pakistani's etc.). I think Hindus are way advanced than them, therefore it's not shocking the criminal points his finger elsewhere lest the world see who the castist criminals truly are.


Nikki Haley - G.Subramaniam - 06-16-2010

David Brody has noticed a change in how Nikki Haley’s campaign materials talk about her religious background:



The fact that the Haley campaigned changed the wording on the website led The Brody File to do some digging. The Brody File has uncovered documents and details that show an emphasis on her Sikh faith and traditions in 2004 when she was running for the State Legislature (even though she became a Christian 7 years earlier). Now that she’s running for Governor of the state, mentions of her Sikh faith are virtually non-existent. A legitimate question must be asked: After seeing how the faith issue hurt Mitt Romney and damaged Barack Obama to some extent as well, is Haley making a political decision by playing up her Christian faith (just like Obama did) and LOSING the Sikh emphasis?



Haley was born in South Carolina as “Nikki Randhawa, the daughter of Indian Punjabi immigrants and was raised with the Sikh faith. (Read more about Sikhism here) Her conversion story begins in 1997. (You can listen to her discuss that here.



In 2004, (seven years after becoming a Christian) she and her family were still attending Sikh Temples as well as their Methodist Church. In 2004, she was running for the State Legislature and she was quoted back then as saying, “I was born and raised with the Sikh faith, my husband and I were married in the Methodist Church, our children have been baptized in the Methodist Church, and currently we attend both.”



Her 2004 campaign played up her Sikh upbringing and faith saying that “Nikki was proudly raised with her Indian traditions” No mention that she’s a Christian.



As a matter of fact, newspapers at the time trumpeted the fact that Haley was “The First Member Of The Sikh Religion To Join A State Legislature In The United States.” One India newspaper wrote that, “She Did Not Hide The Fact That She Was Not A Christian And Regularly Attended Sikh Religious Services.” A project at Harvard University in 2006 refers to her as a, “Sikh woman.”


Nikki Haley - G.Subramaniam - 06-16-2010

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



10:09 am June 15, 2010, by Jim Galloway



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



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.”


Nikki Haley - G.Subramaniam - 06-16-2010

If there's a hurdle, it's Haley's decision to keep attending the occasional Sikh service -- the only problem raised by Hamby's sources.

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."