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

  1. Photo of Michael Lipka

    is an editorial manager of religion research at Pew Research Center.