An image from a recent New York Magazine profile of Tulsi Gabbard.
Gabbard — who identifies as Hindu — has shied away from talking about her and her family’s ties to the Science of Identify Foundation as well as her relationship with its leader, Chris Butler. At home and on the campaign trail, she and her supporters often claim such questions constitute thinly veiled religious bigotry.
It’s not the first time a national publication has asked questions about Gabbard’s past. The New Yorker also wrote about the congresswoman’s relationship with Butler and his Science of Identify Foundation in 2017 in a piece headlined, “What Does Tulsi Gabbard Believe?”
In the latest profile, author Kerry Howley notes one of Gabbard’s advisors on the campaign trail is a longtime Butler associate, Sunil Khemaney, someone who Civil Beat pointed out in 2015 was one of several key figures playing a role in the congresswoman’s political life.
Others in Gabbard’s orbit who have had strong ties to Butler and the Science of Identity Foundation, include her father, state Sen. Mike Gabbard, her chief of staff, Kainoa Penaroza, and her husband, Abraham Williams, who also serves as her cinematographer.
Another feature of the piece is how close Howley was able to get to Gabbard — who’s typically wary of the press — and then the sudden cold shoulder she received once she began asking questions about Butler and the Science of Identity Foundation.
Here’s an excerpt:
I knew nearly nothing of Tulsi’s backstory when I found myself in her car back in February, and so in April, when she returned to Iowa City, I arranged for a follow-up conversation at a vegan restaurant. On the day before the interview, a staffer texted me to ask about the gist of my questions. The morning of, I was told that the interview was canceled. I then reached out to another staffer, who eventually said Tulsi would take questions on religious matters via email, at which point I sent a series of questions regarding Chris Butler, the Science of Identity, the beach gatherings to which Greg Martin had referred, her time in the Philippines, and when, precisely, Tulsi began to identify as Hindu. Tulsi replied with an email that declined to mention Hinduism, Butler, the Science of Identity, the gatherings, or the Philippines. “My ‘religion,’ ” she wrote, “is my loving relationship with God, and the motivation that springs from that relationship to try my best to use my life in the service of humanity and the planet.”
Sign up for our FREE morning newsletter and face each day more informed.
This news can't wait.
Every day, journalists in nonprofit newsrooms like Civil Beat dig deeper into the raw news of the day to deliver in-depth and investigative reporting that engages communities, advances solutions, and demands accountability. This news can’t wait. So why would you?
Give today and NewsMatch will double the impact of your donation. We’ll even throw in a limited-editionCivil Beat t-shirt!