Here is a recent article about Tulsi's religious affiliations.
I can see where the spin is going. Her handlers are poised to pounce on any one critical of, or questioning her family's connections with Chris Butler. If you do, you will be considered a racist or a religious bigot. You will be accused of being anti-Hindu.
Hindus Are Thriving in America, but There's Only One in Congress The comments are filled with the usual devotee apologists along with the rest of interested citizens.
But this article is just throwing out a red herring to distract people from the real question. Every time a relevant question is asked about the Gabbard-Butler connection, it either is ignored or the questioner gets attacked for being politically motivated or for having a nefarious intention.
Mike Gabbard and his wife are both long standing followers of Chris Butler. Butler's teachings claim to have a non-sectarian view of spirituality. His followers declare no group, build no temples, and deny their guru's influence. They teach that it doesn't matter what religion you are, you can still believe in the science of identity and become Krishna conscious. This is a convenient way to deny any connection to a dangerous cult. Mike claims to be a Catholic. His wife claims to be a Hindu convert. Tulsi says she grew up a Hindu. Who can argue? That's not the point.
Mike Gabbard and his wife and children have spent a lifetime at the feet of Chris Butler, leading kirtans, preaching about the bliss of chanting, advising other cult followers on marriage, donating their life efforts for their guru's pleasure. They have taken direction and advice concerning every aspect of their lives from Butler. They started a school for him, they ran for political office and the school board for him, they sent their children to his Haribol schools, they conducted business for him, they were part of Down to Earth for him.
Tulsi Gabbard grew up in this cult. It was never a mainstream Hindu nor a purely Gaudiya Vaishnava group. Over time, Butler alienated himself so much from the mainstream after AC Bhaktivedanta died, that he was compelled to join forces with the World Vaishnava Association to retain his credibility (a service done by Tusta Krishna before he died.) Otherwise he would have lost all capacity to increase his income and power base. And all the followers got in line. Like Butler, the Gabbards have hooked into mainstream Hinduism to gain legitimacy.
One can see, from the Gabbard's point of view that they are not actually telling lies. They are just omitting certain facts. The karmi's out there are so immersed in Maya (delusion) that they could not understand the whole truth. Upon “He Who is Good As God’s” instructions, it is their devotional service and spiritual duty to hide and cover up their connection to Butler.
The question is not about what religion they follow or not. It is not about religious freedom or religious bigotry. It is about honesty, intentions, and influence. It is known that the Gabbards are totally entrenched in Butler's cult and world view. Why do they keep avoiding this specific point?
Tulsi says rightfully, “When you look at the national issues that our country is facing, people are not qualified or disqualified because of their spiritual practice. People are looking for someone they can trust.” But until the Gabbards honestly own up to their real background and deep connections with Chris Butler, I personally do not trust their leadership. Nor should anyone else in my opinion. How can you trust an elected official who has left out a major aspect of their life? I may admire what Tulsi is doing as a woman in congress, but I am uncertain of her end game. The question of Butler's undue influence on the politics in Hawaii is a relevant and sincere one. It is not based in either anti-Hinduism or religious bigotry.
Those of us posting on this forum, ex followers, family members of followers, and people who have been harmed by this cult want to know why the Gabbards cover up their affiliation with Butler. The answer is obvious.
Tulsi is currently questioning the President's policy of ignoring or not naming the enemy as Islamic extremism, even risking her political career by doing so. In the same way, I question Tulsi's ignoring some of the dangerous aspects of Butler's group and teachings, to the point that she lies by omission about her background. For example, she claims to have gone to a "Missionary school" when in fact, it was Butler's indoctrination school that taught exclusively Butler's brand of a Neo-Vaishnavism.
People respect honesty. If Tulsi would just own up that she grew up in a cult that worshipped Butler on an altar, bowed to him and offered flower garlands to him as a child, all the while taking his instructions as if he was as good as God; that would be better than this phony Hindu narrative. If Butler has been such a great inspiration as your guru, then why keep him hidden? If you did that, you would have to expose Butler to real scrutiny.
On the other hand, if Tulsi has outgrown the cult of her parents, or no longer believes in everything that they do, that would be natural and honest. If she has truly embraced Hinduism, it distances herself from the more controversial aspects of Butler's cult. But she can't publicly deny Butler because one word from him would cut her off from a decades old political machine that generates enormous funds to her campaigns. Disavowing Butler would create a huge rift between family, friends, staff, and handlers in the cult. So she is really stuck in a conflicted situation.
Another cynical possibility is that you and your parents have just used Butler as any clever opportunist would. In exchange for feigning devotional service you get elitism, favoritism, monetary gain, and political power.
The cult is highly secretive. Butler has ordered all of his followers to not speak about him. His pictures are no longer placed on altars in homes, yoga studios, or public chanting places. They claim all of his teachings are on the internet, but they are not. You only see the most inane and innocuous parts of the philosophy. Even his biography on the World Vaishnava Association (WVA) website has been deleted (but he is still listed as an Acharya of the Present).
So Tulsi, you want to be trusted? Own or disavow your guru. Stop dancing around the truth. You claim to be an honest servant/leader, then fully disclose.
Somehow I think we shall just get more of the Hindu narrative . . . yada yada yada. I'm not holding my breath waiting for Tulsi to sort this all out and tell the truth.
Personally, I don't care if Tulsi privately worships a dung beetle. I don't care if Obama is a Christian or a Muslim. I do care about if they represent me as a citizen and benefit the people of our country or not. I want to know if your religion or your guru or your advisors or your supporters are wielding undue influence on your votes. I do care if you are a bought and sold politician for whatever ideology you hold that is against the values of the Constitution and the will of the people.
Butler influenced Mike Gabbard horribly with his anti-gay initiatives. It cost Gabbard business and almost killed his political career. Anyone who knew Gabbard early on knows that he was not the bigot he later became due to Butler's influence. An exer recently recalled a meeting at a lesbian couple’s home with Mr. and Mrs. Gabbard talking about school curriculum with a group of parents. There was no indication of prejudice from either Mike or Carol. That was a flame fanned by Butler a few years later.
So the question remains, Tulsi, are you willing to go off the deep end with your guru as your father did?