Washington: Over two dozen US lawmakers have joined the bipartisan Congressional Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Jain American Caucus, its founder and Indian American Congressman Shri Thanedar has said.
Thanedar Friday formally launched in the US Congress the caucus that aims to combat religious discrimination and promote religious freedom for Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains.
A congressional caucus is a group of members of the United States Congress that meet to pursue common legislative objectives.
“We are not merely congregating to initiate another caucus; we’re assembling to pioneer a movement—one that strives for understanding, inclusion, and affirmative policy actions,” Thanedar told reporters at a news conference here.
“A movement that says every faith, every culture, and every community has a place in America— the land of the free and the home of the brave. My name is Shri Thanedar. I am proof of America’s diversity in Congress,” he said.
He was flanked by a group of eminent Indian Americans who had gathered at the steps of the US Capitol from across the country.
“Today is significant for numerous reasons. To many of you, the launch of the Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and Jain (HBSJ) American Congressional Caucus may seem like a formal procedure, but let me assure you, it is so much more,” he said.
It is a statement of commitment. A commitment to stand against religious discrimination, to propel the wheels of inclusion, and to cultivate a nation where diversity is not just tolerated but celebrated, Thanedar said.
“This caucus will create a platform to have the discourse, engage in action, dispel the misinformation and disinformation of our culture and society, to express religious freedom, protect our existence, and speak the truth about who we are by pushing back on hate and bigotry,” he said.
Thanedar noted that as many as 27 Congressmen from both the Republican and the Democratic parties have joined the latest caucuses of the US Congress.
“To illustrate the urgent need for this caucus, it’s important to put some numbers into context. We are not talking about abstract communities or conceptual problems. These are real issues affecting real people—our friends, our neighbours, and our constituents,” he said.
Approximately 3 million Hindus, 1.2 million Buddhists, 500,000 Sikhs, and 200,000 Jains enrich our nation’s cultural and spiritual life, he said.
About 1,000 Hindu temples, 1,000 Buddhist temples, 800 Sikh gurdwaras, and 100 Jain temples are spread across America, acting as centers for community development, philanthropy, and spiritual well-being, Thanedar said.
“So, when we speak about these communities, we are speaking about a substantial portion of our nation’s populace—a segment that contributes significantly to the American fabric yet often remains underrepresented or misunderstood,” he said.
Thanedar said HBSJ American Congressional Caucus aims to fulfill four fundamental objectives; combating religious discrimination, accurate representation and inclusion, addressing cultural misunderstandings and empowerment and well-being.
Romesh Japra, founder and chairman of Americans for Hindus described it as a momentous occasion.
There was a long felt need of the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains in the country. The new caucus would help in raising the causes and protecting the interests of these minority communities in the US, Japra said.