June 24, 2015

Jindal followed a rare path, from Hinduism to Catholicism

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal leads guests in prayer last month at the Story County GOP breakfast at Oakwood Church in Ames, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal leads guests in prayer last month at the Story County GOP breakfast at Oakwood Church in Ames, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a newly declared Republican candidate for president, is hoping to attract support from conservative evangelical Christian voters. Jindal himself is a Catholic, and, as the son of immigrants from Hindu-majority India, was raised in the Hindu faith.

Jindal’s personal religious journey is a relatively rare one in the United States. In fact, four-in-five Americans raised as Hindus continue to identify as Hindus as adults (80%); no other major religious group has a higher retention rate, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. And none of the more than 35,000 Americans in the survey converted from Hinduism to Catholicism as Jindal did.

A 2012 Pew Research survey of Asian Americans found that, among Indian Americans, 18% are Christian, including 5% who are Catholics. Half (51%) of Indian Americans are Hindus. Overall, Hindus remain less than 1% of the U.S. adult population, although their ranks have grown somewhat in recent years.

Jindal and fellow GOP candidate Jeb Bush are Catholic converts in America at a time when there are more than six times as many Catholic adults who have left the faith as there are people who have converted to Catholicism. Nearly 13% of Americans have left Catholicism after being raised Catholic, while just 2% have become Catholics after being raised in another faith (or no faith).

Topics: Religion and U.S. Politics, Election News, Elections and Campaigns, Religious Affiliation, Catholics and Catholicism, Hindus and Hinduism, 2016 Election

  1. Photo of Michael Lipka

    is a senior editor focusing on religion at Pew Research Center.


  1. Prabin2 years ago

    This survey is misleading. Language of PEW towards Hinduism has always been mildly alarmist, and it is the continuation of that trend.

    For example it lists Historically Black Protestant, 14% changing to protestant. They are still protestant. So they are not really switching. So to highlight Hinduism in this non nonsensical way is mildly alarmist.

    Within Hinduism we respect all sects within Hinduism, and there is no concept of this switch.

    Jindal is indeed an outlier, because he is an opportunist, and his idea of be as much like a White Christian, as a requirement of being American, is twisted, and disrespects the foundation of democracy, where diversity is to be respected, and one’s identity should not be be a disadvantage in equal opportunity.

  2. jay152 years ago

    The table should also have a a row for “Christians” in the aggregate (and perhaps also a column but that can be backed out from the information already provided). It would be interesting to know what fraction of Christians stay in Christianity. We can get a sense of this by adding up the “All other faiths” and “Unaffiliated” columns for each Christian group (e.g. 26%+6% = 32% of Mainline Protestants leave Christianity), but this only works for each group separately and not for Christians as a whole.

  3. Sam2 years ago

    There is nothing to be specific in belief about being Hindu. So there is nothing to be deserted from. There are many conversion from Hindus to Christianity in India though.

  4. saurav2 years ago

    Hinduism is a word like christianity. Its followers follow vedic teachings and you can be polytheistic, monotheistic or atheist. We take jain, buddist, sai baba, sikh as brother faiths. Enjoy same festivals. Jindal is just vote collector.

  5. Albert Humphrey2 years ago

    @DaveR, the Indian Constitution defines Sikhs, Jains, and Buddhists as Hindu for the application of personal law. Not a large variety of faiths but faiths that originated from a common one. Furthermore, in the case of the article, it is clear that the author does not mean Jindal is a Sikh, Jain, or Buddhist, but a Hindu.

  6. DaveR2 years ago

    Hinduism is not a “religion”. It is a word used to group a large variety of faiths. This article would be more interesting to know what faith Bobby Jindal once practiced. Thank you.