Alabama GOP shocked by RNC Chair candidate Harmeet Dhillon’s letter on Sikh faith

By Howard Koplowitz 

CLEVELAND, OH – JULY 19: Harmeet Dhillon, Vice Chair of the CA Republican Party, speaks on the second day of the Republican National Convention on July 19, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Alabama Republican Party on Thursday said it was shocked that a Sikh candidate for chair of the Republican National Committee sent the organization a letter claiming concerns were raised by some state GOP activists “regarding my faith and how that would impact my ability to champion our nation’s Judeo-Christian values.”

Former California Republican Party Co-Chair Harmeet Dhillon did not explicitly mention her Sikh faith in the mass email to the Alabama Republican Party Steering Committee, NBC News reported, but she said the founding fathers prioritized faith and “considered religious liberty to be so foundational that it is the very first item referenced in the very first amendment of our Bill of Rights.”

Dhillon, who along with MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is challenging current RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, did not say which “Alabama Republican Party activists” had concerns about her faith.

A spokeswoman for the Alabama GOP said the steering committee was blindsided by Dhillon’s email.

“Harmeet Dhillon’s letter came as a surprise to the committee. We had not heard anything about her faith or an issue with it, before or after Saturday’s meeting,” the spokeswoman said.

But Chris Horn, an Alabama Republican and former candidate for secretary of state, told NBC News he spoke with other activists about Dhillon’s religion but said the conversations were not malicious.

“It’s OK to be a big tent party and ask questions,” he told the network. “So she’s a Sikh. What does that mean? How does that impact policy? Maybe she would be an awesome, great and wonderful chair. But I do know Ronna McDaniel has been proven that she’s been investing in the faith-based communities, and communities of color in urban areas and she has worked very hard.”

Backers of Dhillon have claimed her opponents are using her faith to garner support among Christian conservatives.

A supporter of Lindell reportedly sent an email to Politico disparaging Dhillon’s religion.

“She is an Indian Sikh by birth and heritage, Not of Judeo-Christian worldview,” the emailer wrote, according to the website. “None of these core character positions aligns with the Republican Party Platform, planks, or conservatism in general.”

McDaniel denied being behind a whisper campaign against Dhillon and told Politico she “wholeheartedly condemn[s] religious bigotry in any form.”

“We are the party of faith, family and freedom, and these attacks have no place in our party or our politics,” McDaniel said in a statement to the outlet. “As a member of a minority faith myself, I would never condone such attacks. I have vowed to run a positive campaign and will continue to do so.”