First Buddhists Elected to U.S. Congress
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Time Period
11/7/2006
Description
With the election of Mazie Hirono to represent Hawaii's second congressional district and Hank Johnson to represent Georgia’s fourth congressional district, the 2007 House of Representatives saw the installation of its first two Buddhists. Both are Democrats.

Hirono was born in Japan and moved with her mother to Hawaii as a young girl. She is a follower of the Jodo Shinshu tradition of Buddhism. An attorney, Hirono previously served in Hawaii’s state legislature and as lieutenant governor.

In 2012, Hirono made history again, when she became the first Buddhist elected to the U.S. Senate.

Johnson, who converted to Buddhism as a young man, is affiliated with Soka Gakkai International-USA, an American lay Buddhist group. A former defense attorney and magistrate, Johnson also served as a county commissioner before being elected to Congress.

In 2016, Johnson was elected to his sixth term in Congress.
Interactive Timeline(s)
Race/Ethnicity and Religion
Religious Minorities (Non-Christian)
Browse Related Timeline Entries
Race/Ethnicity and Religion in American History
Religious Minorities (Non-Christian) in American History
Religious Groups
Timeline Entries for the same religious group Buddhist

Photographs

Rep Mazie K Hirono- Flickr- photo by House Committee on Education and the Workforce Democrats (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Hank Johnson portrait- Wikimedia Commons- US Congress photo

Mazie Hirono portrait- Wikimedia Commons- US Congress photo
Book/Journal Source(s)
Tilove, Jonathan, 2007. With Two Buddhists and A Muslim Taking House Seats, The New Congress is More Religiously Diverse Than Ever. Church & State journal.
Web Source(s)
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/07/buddhist-hindu-congress-mazie-hirono-tulsi-gabbard_n_2088939.html
The Huffington Post, "Buddhist, Hindu Make History With Elections to Congress" (Nov. 7, 2012)
https://hankjohnson.house.gov/about/full-biography
U.S. House of Representatives, Hank Johnson biography
https://www.hirono.senate.gov/about
U.S. Senate, Mazie Hirono biography
Web Page Contributor
Sandi Dolbee
Affliated with: Former Religion and Ethics Editor, The San Diego Union-Tribune

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