indica News Bureau –
The Hindu American Foundation has started a campaign called ‘I Am Hindu American’ to build awareness about the Hindu religion and the community around it among other Americans.
The Washington DC-based non-profit advocacy organization said that Hindus, who make up about 1 percent of the US population, have successfully made inroads into all aspects of American society but most Americans still know very little about it.
“We hope the ‘I Am Hindu American’ campaign will allow the American public to learn more about Hindus – who we are and what inspires us,” Mat McDermott, HAF’s director of communications told indica, “Religious literacy in the United States is quite low, both about majority faiths, let alone Hinduism which makes up a small percentage off the religious landscape of this country.”
“In today’s politically charged and polarized climate, and with hate crimes on the rise, accurately knowing the beliefs and practices of our neighbors is all the more important,” McDermott said.
“The goal of the campaign is to drive online conversation by putting a face on the Hindu-American community,” Suhag Shukla, executive director and co-founder of the foundation, said in a press note. “Our own data shows that one in three Hindu-American students report being bullied for their religious beliefs. Most of this is based on misperceptions about Hindus and we want to change that narrative.”
Founded in 2003, HAF’s work impacts a range of issues — from the portrayal of Hinduism in K-12 textbooks to civil and human rights to addressing contemporary problems, such as environmental protection and inter-religious conflict, by applying Hindu philosophy. The multi-platform initiative includes a social-media campaign, a 30-second PSA (access through the link below), and a companion website to provide valuable resources about Hinduism and Hindu Americans: www.IAmHinduAmerican.org.
According to the press release another goal of the ‘I Am Hindu American’ campaign is to educate about Hinduism during a period where the country has seen a rise in religious intolerance. Hate crime incidents reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigations increased by about 17 percent last year compared to 2016.
This is also an important time for Hindus in America as speculation grows that Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) will declare her presidential bid for 2020. Gabbard will be the first Hindu candidate ever from a major political party to enter the race for the White House.
For the first time in history, Congress has four Hindu members: Gabbard (she was the first Hindu elected to Congress), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Illinois), Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington), and Ro Khanna (D-California). With the swearing-in of Gabbard, Krishnamoorthi, Jayapal, and Khanna, Hinduism is the third-largest faith group represented in Congress.
Additionally, according to ABC News, over 100 Hindus ran for office in the 2018 midterms, over twice the number that ran in 2017.