A Christian convert, Jindal aims to convert America next

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A Christian convert, Jindal aims to convert America next
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks at the Road to Majority 2015 convention in Washington, Friday, June 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks during the Road to Majority 2015 convention in Washington, Friday, June 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La., speaks at the Republican Leadership Summit Saturday, April 18, 2015, in Nashua, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
DES MOINES, IA - MAY 16: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal speaks to guests gathered for the Republican Party of Iowa's Lincoln Dinner at the Iowa Events Center on May 16, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. The event sponsored by the Republican Party of Iowa gave several Republican presidential hopefuls an opportunity to strengthen their support among Iowa Republicans ahead of the 2016 Iowa caucus. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 02: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (L) and possible Republican presidential candidate prepares to walk off the stage with Florida Governor Rick Scott after he spoke during the Rick Scott's Economic Growth Summit held at the Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Convention Center on June 2, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. Many of the leading Republican presidential candidates are scheduled to speak during the event. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 19: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal leads a prayer for victims of the Charleston shooting during the 'Road to Majority' conference June 19, 2015 in Washington, DC. Conservatives gathered at the annual event held by the Faith & Freedom Coalition and Concerned Women for America to discuss politics and address current events. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WAUKEE, IA - APRIL 25: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal speaks to guests gathered at the Point of Grace Church for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition 2015 Spring Kickoff on April 25, 2015 in Waukee, Iowa. The Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, a conservative Christian organization, hosted 9 potential contenders for the 2016 Republican presidential nominations at the event. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
AMES, IA - MAY 16: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks to guests at the Story County GOP breakfast at Oakwood Church May 16, 2015 in Ames, Iowa. Jindal and several other Republican presidential hopefuls are attending events in the state this weekend. Hillary Clinton, who hopes to become the Democrat's choice, is expected in Iowa for events on Monday and Tuesday. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 02: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and possible Republican presidential candidate speaks during the Rick Scott's Economic Growth Summit held at the Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Convention Center on June 2, 2015 in Orlando, Florida. Many of the leading Republican presidential candidates are scheduled to speak during the event. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - MAY 16: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal greets guests gathered for the Republican Party of Iowa's Lincoln Dinner at the Iowa Events Center on May 16, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. The event sponsored by the Republican Party of Iowa gave several Republican presidential hopefuls an opportunity to strengthen their support among Iowa Republicans ahead of the 2016 Iowa caucus. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 25: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal speaks during the National Rifle Association Annual Meeting Leadership Forum on April 25, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The NRA annual meeting runs from April 25-27. (Photo by John Gress/Getty Images)
GREENVILLE, SC - MAY 09: Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal speaks at the Freedom Summit on May 9, 2015 in Greenville, South Carolina. Jindal joined eleven other potential candidates in addressing the event hosted by conservative group Citizens United. (Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)
GREENVILLE, SC - MAY 09: Exploratory Republican presidential candidate Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks to reporters at the Freedom Summit on May 9, 2015 in Greenville, South Carolina. Jindal joined eleven other potential candidates in addressing the event hosted by conservative group Citizens United. (Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - MARCH 15: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal delivers remarks during the second day of the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) March 15, 2013 in National Harbor, Maryland. The American conservative Union held its annual conference in the suburb of Washington, DC, to rally conservatives and generate ideas. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal walks off stage after speaking at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, outside Washington, DC on February 26, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, arrives to speak during the Leadership Forum at the 144th National Rifle Association (NRA) Annual Meetings and Exhibits at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S., on Friday, April 10, 2015. Top Republican contenders for their party's 2016 presidential nomination are lining up to speak at the annual NRA event, except New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul who were snubbed by the country's largest and most powerful gun lobby. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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By ISABELLE CHAPMAN

On paper, Bobby Jindal has the tools to be a serious contender in the 2016 election. He's a minority, and a Republican. He has the potential to appeal to Indian-Americans who typically vote Democrat, and still garner votes from the GOP base. But the once the rising star is tied for last in the polls in a crowded Republican field. It seems that Jindal is fighting an uphill battle as he tries to convince Americans to make him their next president, but he's personally familiar with unlikely conversions.


Today Jindal is a proud Christian, who calls himself an "evangelical Catholic," but he didn't begin life in the church. Before he was a Rhodes Scholar and a Brown University graduate at 20, he was the child of Hindu, Indian immigrants, born in Baton Rouge just a few months after his parents arrived. As a child, Jindal requested to go by "Bobby" instead of his given name "Piyush" -- and as a teenager, he also began studying the Bible.

Jindal's story of conversion is almost unheard of. Few Hindus leave their religion, and fewer leave for Catholicism. According to a Pew study, 80 percent of Americans raised as Hindus identify as Hindus in adulthood -- the highest retention rate of any major religion. In fact, in out of the more than 35,000 Americans who participated in that particular survey, none converted from Hinduism to Catholicism.

That's not Jindal's only unique quality. He's also the first Indian-American to become a governor. But as an evangelical Catholic he's in good company, as a whopping 45 percent of Americans call themselves "evangelical" or "Catholic," according to another Pew study.

Jindal often talks about his adopted faith, but he has gone out of his way to avoid acknowledging his old one -- and his status as a minority. He rejects the idea of what he calls "hyphenated Americans," like "Indian-American" and "African-Americans."

He has shown in Louisiana that being a South Asian former Hindu is no barrier to support among conservative white Republicans, but he doesn't poll as well with other racial minorities. Some experts worry that may hurt his chances in the general election.

"The Indian-American community may be dispensable, but I don't think he can really write off all minorities. He can't write off blacks and Hispanics," Shikha Dalmia, a senior analyst at Reason Foundation said. "[His behavior] signals to minorities that what it takes to be a part of the GOP is giving up who you are."

Bobby Jindal Presidential Candidate Profile | InsideGov
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