First Buddhists Elected to U.S. Congress
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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.
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Race/Ethnicity and Religion
Religious Minorities (Non-Christian)
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Race/Ethnicity and Religion in American History
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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)
The Huffington Post, "Buddhist, Hindu Make History With Elections to Congress" (Nov. 7, 2012)
U.S. House of Representatives, Hank Johnson biography
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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