June 15th, 2010
11:18 AM ET

Haley's path to Christianity leaves some evangelicals uneasy

Whispers about Nikki Haley's Sikh heritage burst into public view in the final days of South Carolina's Republican gubernatorial primary when state Sen. Jake Knotts called the Indian-American legislator a "raghead."

Knotts offered a pseudo-apology and was roundly condemned for the remark. Haley went on to win the primary in dominant fashion, capturing nearly 50 percent of the vote in a four-way race. She now faces Rep. Gresham Barrett in the June 22 runoff election.

But while Haley's commanding win last Tuesday proved her electoral viability – she won 42 of the state's 46 counties in the primary, including evangelical-heavy areas like Greenville and Spartanburg – it did not completely erase suspicions about her faith.

Read the full story on the Political Ticker

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Politics • Sikh

soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. scnative

    SInce when did Baptists become radical???? Do you have any idea of the principals on which are nation was founded on? All of the founding fathers would certainly be radicals under your definition. It seems to me YOUR intolerence is radical.

    June 16, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  2. Rob

    The fact that anyone with an imaginary friend holds any kind of political or government office is downright rediculous. If some homeless guy is walking down the street talking to no one in particular he is considered crazy but if someone is telepathically communicating with their imaginary friend in the clouds it's acceptable? Frankly, I don't see the difference.

    June 16, 2010 at 9:20 am |
  3. ybs

    Islam kids: blow yourself up & receive the fruits of 72 virgins
    Christian kids: bend over & receive the fruits of god's love

    a tough choice! ๐Ÿ™‚

    June 16, 2010 at 6:48 am |
    • ybs

      why CNN keeps censoring truthful humor? ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

      June 16, 2010 at 6:48 am |
  4. elreyjones

    I have no use for Sikhs or Hindus and never will. I had a racist anti-white Sikh professor in college. I'll take 1 Baptist over 10 million of those racist foreigners. Keep them out of the USA. They subvert US laws and sell us liqour. I have no use for them nor do millions of Americans. Close the loop holes and keep all those people out of the USA. Respect them in their own countries and leave us the hell alone.

    June 16, 2010 at 12:09 am |
    • Shawn

      What did your Sikh professor in college do to make you feel that he was "racist anti-white"? And what makes him representative of all non-white people?

      June 18, 2010 at 4:47 am |
    • Shawn

      You are right – most foreigners are racist – they come to America thinking that their countrymen are terrible while Americans are Gods!

      June 18, 2010 at 4:51 am |
  5. miller

    This story is ginned-up news by CNN, finding a few fringe evangelicals and implying that they are representative of something significant. When South Carolina conservatives vote on June 22, they will reject the unholy anti-Haley alliance of liberal Democrat reporters, semi-literate preachers, and Old Guard Racist RINO Republicans. I can hardly wait.

    June 15, 2010 at 8:55 pm |
  6. Pockets

    Its frightening to have someone in a political office that believes we came from adam and eve in a garden and a talking snake, with a hankering for apples don't you think?
    I think that those who believe in "any" god are mentally ill.

    June 15, 2010 at 7:36 pm |
  7. Cieje3

    GORK! (God Only Really Knows)

    June 15, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  8. McMicah

    "Christianity" is nothing more than a self-serving tribal vestment for the likes of Knotts. His is just the sort of "faith" that gave rise to the un-neighborly self-righteousness that was roundly denounced by Christ as "hypocrisy." This can happen under the guise of any faith, of course. To his credit Knotts apologized (sort of), but the real litmus test of his authenticity as a "Christian" is, will he repent?

    June 15, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
  9. Reality

    To bring everyone up to speed on Sikhism:

    According to Article I of the "Rehat Maryada" (the Sikh code of conduct and conventions), a Sikh is defined as "any human being who faithfully believes in One Immortal Being; ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak Dev to Sri Guru Gobind Singh; the Sri Guru Granth Sahib; the utterances and teachings of the ten Gurus and the baptism bequeathed by the tenth Guru; and who does not owe allegiance to any other religion".[24] The most common symbol of all Sikhs, because of its simplicity, is uncut hair (including beards for men) and turbans.

    The greater Punjab region is the historic homeland of Sikhism. Most Sikhs are Punjabis and come from the Punjab region, although significant communities exist around the world. Punjabis and the Punjab region's history has been tremendously important in the formation of Sikhism as a religion. One of the most important and very often forgotten beliefs of Sikhism is the non-belief in any caste, group, distinction of any sort within all the human race, which their Gurus (teachers) had left behind. The Punjabi influence is the main reason why Sikhs have, sometimes, been described as an ethnoreligious group outside of India.

    June 15, 2010 at 4:11 pm |
  10. mike

    I dont even think most people ever heard of sikhs in the us. Most ppl in america think sikhs are muslims. The only reason they might have seen a sikh person is when the Indian prime minister visited. And he only got famous becoz of the 2 party crashers .
    That clip got repeated coverage. But there r 750,000 sikhs in the uk and 600,000 in canada

    June 15, 2010 at 3:03 pm |
  11. mattyfresh697400


    June 15, 2010 at 3:02 pm |
  12. Gil T

    I will not presume to speak to Ms Haleyโ€™s conversion or devotion. The lesson from first century Christians is that obedience to Jesus as Lord and Savior is not to be equated or mixed with Moses and the law, anything or anyone else. It is sufficient for me to wonder about the name-calling by a professed Christian political leader and the role of pastors to advice congregants _ on Ms Haleyโ€™s faith? Once again, my brothers and sisters of the faith that is in Christ Jesus are made painfully aware of their own lack of understanding of their professed faith.

    June 15, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
  13. Joe

    Bed hopping towel head.

    June 15, 2010 at 2:52 pm |
  14. john g

    When you walk and you pass by someone and look in there eyes and see enlightment you are also enlightened ,lose the jugdement and hate! I see you!

    June 15, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
  15. Mark

    I'm a Christian and in politics, I could care less about someone's "faith" (which normally is just another thing that they profess to get them elected). I would elect a staunch atheist if they were fair and had a brain in their head. Just because someone has the same faith as me does not automatically make them a viable candidate for any office. I think this is a BIG problem in America and the main reason why things in government are so screwed up. We elect members of our "tribe" instead of people that are truly qualified to hold office.


    June 15, 2010 at 2:26 pm |
    • Linda

      Amen to that. I was reared in the Christian faith, but when told by wing-nut missionary types that no one could go to heaven who didn't believe in Jesus, I was horrified. And at the ripe old age of 14, refused to any longer attend any religious services. I cannot believe the damage that has been and is being done in the name of Christianity. As they say – "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." Unfortunately, I do not believe that most American christians have any good intentions towards any one who believes differently than they do. And their ignorance about other religions is absolutely criminal.

      June 15, 2010 at 7:09 pm |
    • Pockets

      I am an atheist and you remark is quite refreshing, about voting for an atheist. But as we both know that will not happen in the US for a long long time. In order to be elected you have to believe in the supernatural. To me that is the scariest of all things, frightening actually. Makes me wonder how many really do believe in all that nonsense. I think alot of them, and the ones that proclaim they are religious are usually hypocrites. "Trangressions" come to mind. LOL. May Zeus bless the USA>

      June 15, 2010 at 7:39 pm |
  16. kapechi

    With a Muslim in the White House, who cares about the rest of them?

    June 15, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
    • Luke


      June 15, 2010 at 2:55 pm |
    • Leah (TXanimal)

      Why don't you stop wasting your time trolling here spouting nonsense and put your interwebz to good use. Educate yourself. And no, Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter don't count as "educational resources".

      June 15, 2010 at 4:46 pm |
  17. LevelHeaded

    What kind of Christian would refer to someone else as a "raghead" to begin with? I question Sen Knotts' faith. There are people just like him in my church. God sees all, folks, and knows what is in our hearts – even if we never admit it to ourselves. If you follow every single other precept of our faith but live with hate in your heart, you will be judged and found unworthy to enter the kingdom of Heaven.

    Basically, pull your @#$% out of your @#$ and maybe reread the Bible, fools.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:39 pm |
  18. TheRadicalLiberal

    I would think there are a great many politicians who have been faking faith their entire careers because they pretty much have to. A self confessed atheist would stand 0 chance of being elected to anything including dog catcher. In some jurisdictions he would even be prevented from running.

    Quote George Bush Senior in 1987: "I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God."

    When American Atheists tried to get congress to pass a resolution condemning that statement they couldn't get a single congressman to even reply to their letter or return their phone calls.

    I doubt anything has changed now.

    It is defacto the law of the land that atheists cannot hold public office.

    June 15, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      This is bigotry if it is true that an athiest cannot run for office. My god. In no other free nation would this be acceptable to the citizens. Only in America. What about an agnostic? Or a Deist or Theist? Or a Buddhist who does not believe in god but is a card carrying member of that faith? Tis a slippery slope that only exists in America and Fundamentalist Muslim counties. I guess it is still a truism that you hate in the other what you hate in yourself. Christianity as spewed in the US and Islam are tied together at the heart: both want to drive the other out and both refuse to behave decently towards anyone who disagrees. And historically, Christianity has to take the gold medal being far more violent and hateful than the Muslims over time, even cosidering how young Islam is.

      These 3 are masculine religious, created by Semitie tribal hunter-gathers. Those values do not work well in the modern world and they do not provide happiness as the point is not this world but the next. It is all about avoiding Hell. Life with these types running things would be Hell. Other religious include the Female aspect of a godhead. Mary is not a god though she fills in for the goddess' that got thrown out with the bloody invasion of Christians.

      That statue was awful. It is a pity it was not totally shattered so they don't stand it up again. If I lived in that town I would be vandalizing it with a bunch of friends on a regular basis. It ain't art. It isn't the Pieta made by any great artist or ingrate. It is just the typical ponderous man-crap.

      June 15, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
    • steve88

      eh, there is one congressman who is openly atheist. Peter Stark in California. The only one out there to be a known atheist... Though I too have also heard that some states do have blue laws against an atheist taking office. Which brings up another question; if one day in the (far far distant) future, a president was elected who happened to be an open atheist, what would he swear upon for his inauguration oath??? O.o

      June 16, 2010 at 2:51 am |
  19. MrHanson

    Way to go Jake Knotts. As a Christian, I wish people to think before they open their mouths.

    June 15, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
    • jonathan

      Why???? It is written for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks...

      June 18, 2010 at 4:06 pm |
  20. MYTHYX

    Who gives a CRAP about her faith. Does she have a brain and can she govern properly?????

    June 15, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      Amen. Unless the politico is of a radical bent: I.e. Baptists and their ilk, it should not matter. It should only matter where the person has to try to force their values on the whole of society. I.e. have to because the holy books says they have to. This is the source of all the interference in our schools, research facilities and science. This is the Fishing of Men and they can't stop as their salvation is tied to constantly hounding people and forcing them to live the way the Baptist does. Free will means nothing to these people and, thus, they do not actually support Democracy. They certainly support exclusionary Capitalism.

      We have lots of Sikhs in Canada and have for years. They have their wingnuts on the fringe but on the whole they have a strong sense of honour and live ethically. They were wicked on the battlefields of WWII on our side. I believe some served in Korea. They are heros in the Commonwealth. They have integrated into Canadian society to a large extent including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Only a nimrod thinks that they are Muslim as they come out of Hinduism and are South Asians not Arabs or any other semitiic people.

      How many years before Americans learn the difference between the people of South Asia and the Middle East. There are several languages and religions native to the whole area but the cultures are unique and it is an insult to call a South Asian an Arab and probably the reverse is true. What if everyone started to call Americans "Inuit" because they are on the same continent? ๐Ÿ™‚

      June 15, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
    • Wesley

      Calgary you sound prejudiced and intolerant. How did you decide that Baptists were extremists? Does it have something to do with the fact that they believe the Bible?

      June 16, 2010 at 10:37 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.