By Bruce Walker
There are few ways a Republican opponent can attack Nikki Haley, likely Republican nominee for Governor in South Carolina. A couple of men alleged, and proudly promised, proof that Nikki has had sexual liaisons with them. The promised proof of these affairs was never presented. The only reason these sorts of rumors have any traction is because Nikki, like Sarah, is a woman pretty enough to tempt men.
What are Haley's conservative credentials? Nikki has a background in the real world of business, unlike so many other politicians in America. She has been deeply involved in the chamber of commerce and the National Association of Business Women Owners. Her public policy positions, which she describes as Libertarian, reflect the viewpoint of someone who has seen what government can do to business. Nikki has been recognized, during her term in the South Carolina Legislature, as someone who is a friend of taxpayers and of business.
Nikki is a pro-Life social conservative. Sarah Palin, as well as Mark Sanford's estranged wife, Jenny, have endorsed Nikki. She is the child of legal immigrants and her stand on illegal immigration is much tougher than one of South Carolina's senators, Lindsey Graham. Nikki, like Bobby Jindal, is the child of parents who came to America from India and who followed the immigration laws of America.
What, then, are her political opponents saying about Nikki Haley? Sadly, some appear to have dipped into poison of true racism, calling her a "raghead." Bobby Jindal was attacked in a similar fashion by Louisiana Democrats when he ran for office. We can only hope that no Americans take a bite of this noxious fruit. Surely this slime will cost her no Republican votes.
Now attacks on Haley are settling around a more subtle line of bigotry: Nikki Haley, these attacks say, is not a "true" Christian. The proof? Nikki, out of respect for her parents, who are Sikh, attends Sikh religious services with them. (All that proves, of course, is that she loves and respects her parents, which is what we should fondly hope.)
The evidence of Haley's genuine faith seems clear. Nikki says: '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.' She has attended Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church for fourteen years.
Those suspicions which swirl around her respectful attendance in Sikh holidays with her parents must be rejected emphatically by conservatives. If Nikki had been a Jewish convert to Christianity, who would it trouble if she attended a relative's Bar Mitzvah? Who would be aghast if she celebrated Passover with members of her family? No true conservative: Christ celebrated Passover with his family.
Do some folks assume that all religions besides Christianity and Judaism have the same unpleasant calls to jihad that we have come to see in Islam? If so, they are wrong: Sikhs like Baha'i and Zoroastrians, embrace tolerant ethical monotheism. These religions have traditionally produced authentically good citizens, which in politics is what should matter to us. There is nothing wrong with considering a person's belief system before voting for them – if a member of the Assassin sect of Islam or a thug who worshipped Kali ran for office that should trouble us just like if the person was a Communist or a Nazi.
But we are obliged to actually look at the particular belief system and grasp the impact of that belief on civic fitness. We should know that Eric Cantor, a religiously serious Orthodox Jew, is more conservative than, say, someone who attended services with Jeremiah Wright. Devout Baptists, Catholics, and Jews disagree on theology but converge powerfully on what is good in government or in society – in their company are Sikhs, Baha'i, and Zoroastrians.
If Nikki's parents ran for public office, their faith should not trouble us. We ought, instead to review their political beliefs and the conduct of their lives. All evidence suggests that Nikki's parents have led honorable and productive lives and that they have helped make South Carolina a better place to live.
America is great precisely because of its tolerant acceptance of those who do not worship God exactly like us: Lord Baltimore established in Maryland a colony in which Catholics were welcome, William Penn created in Pennsylvania a place in which Quakers could live unmolested, and all the Founding Fathers, led very explicitly by George Washington, welcomed with open arms Jew who wished to live here.
Nikki's parents came to America because it was a nation that welcomed Sikhs and gave them a chance to succeed, though they were Indians and Sikhs. This is an America which is still overwhelming Christian, a faith which embraces the Parable of the Good Samaritan – which could just as easily have been the Parable of the Good Sikh – and a faith enjoined in the words of St Paul to view each other thus: "There is not Jew or Greek…you are all one in Christ" which could have been "There is not Jew or Sikh." Those who would question the sincerity of Nikki Haley's faith because of her love for her parents or her race or the faith into which she was born betray the very faith they pretend to embrace. It is not only a wrong-headed and bad-hearted attitude. It is a profoundly un-Christian attitude.
Bruce Walker is the author of two books: Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie and The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.