S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley has lied, obfuscated and evaded on any number of issues since she burst on the statewide scene in South Carolina two years ago.
One area where Haley is generally presumed to be telling the truth, however, relates to questions about her faith. Sure, there have been a few challenges to Haley’s “conversion story,” but by and large most people accept the Gospel according to Nikki.
Having said that, will an investigation into ongoing financial irregularities at the Sikh temple where Haley’s family worships change that perception? Particularly as it invites additional scrutiny of Haley’s alleged role as the temple’s former bookkeeper?
The fact that you’re reading this article would seem to indicate that the answer to that question is “yes.” And while we’re obviously much more concerned with Haley’s alleged proximity to the temple’s financial dealings, it’s worth taking a quick look at how Haley’s public comments regarding her faith have evolved over the years.
According to Haley, she grew up as a practicing Sikh but converted to the Christian faith when she married her husband Michael in 1996. She only occasionally visits the Sikh Temple – and that’s purely out of respect for her parents.
(Here are some pictures of Haley attending a wedding at the temple last year).
In April 2010, Haley’s website addressed her faith as follows:
Question: Is Nikki a Christian?
Truth: Nikki is a Christian. In her words: ‘I believe in the power and grace of Almighty God. I know, and have truly experienced, that with Him all things are possible. I have looked to Him for leadership throughout my career and will continue to do so as governor.”
In June 2010, however, the wording on the website was changed to reflect a much stronger pro-Christian position.
Question: Is Nikki a Christian?
Truth: In Nikki’s words: “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.”
Why the edit?
“We are constantly changing our website,” Haley’s then-campaign manager (now chief of staff) Tim Pearson told a Christian news service seeking an explanation.
Pearson added the line about Haley attended Sikh services “once or twice a year in respect for her family.”
In 2004, however, Haley and her family were attending both churches regularly.
“I was born and raised with the Sikh faith, my husband and I were married in the Methodist Church, our children have been baptized in the Methodist Church, and currently we attend both,” Haley said at the time, neglecting to mention that she and her husband were also married in a Sikh ceremony.
A 2004 mailing also dances around the issue of Haley’s faith.
“Nikki was proudly raised with her Indian traditions and her husband, Michael, was brought up in the Methodist faith,” the mailing states. “Together they lovingly raise both of their children the way they were raised, appreciating the blessings of God, the values of family and respect for all people.”
Take a look …
(Click to enlarge)
“Haley and the Sikh faith were an important part of her storyline … back in 2004,” CBN’s David Brody observed in 2010. “But today there are no Sikh references are on her website or campaign literature. And that website language has become more overtly Christian. When asked to specifically address why Sikh references were more overt in 2004 than in 2010, Pearson didn’t provide us with an answer to that question.”
Sikh or not, Haley’s gubernatorial victory was celebrated in India – with many Punjabis urging her to come to her parents’ homeland as soon as possible in order to “pay obeisance” at the holy Sikh temple of Harmandar Sahib.
For Sikhs, paying obeisance involves making a pilgrimage to the sanctum sanctorum of the “Golden Temple.” Before paying obeisance in the temple, however, devotees must take a holy dip in the water pond of Temple at the marbled periphery – with the understanding that this holy dip washes away “all their bad deeds of previous births.”
Is lying about her faith one of those “bad deeds?”
Based on the evidence currently available, it would appear as though the jury is out.
Of course as the Sikh Temple investigation expands- and as Haley keeps getting busted telling lie after lie after lie (after lie after lie after lie after lie after lie after lie) – expect the Gospel according to Nikki to come under more scrutiny.
Personally, we don’t care if Haley’s a Sikh or a Christian. She could worship the devil and howl at the moon for all we care. The question – as it always seems to be with Haley – is whether she’s been honest about what she believes.