Mazie Hirono is the first Buddhist U.S. senator


Amid all the election excitement of last night, here’s one result that you may have missed: the U.S. has elected its first Buddhist senator. Mazie Hirono, a Democrat, beat Republican challenger Linda Lingle to become a senator for Hawaii. (Another prominent Buddhist, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, congratulated President Barack Obama on his re-election today and urged Obama to take further steps to address the political situation in Tibet. Click here to read more.)

Hirono has represented Hawaii’s 2nd district in Congress since 2007. Along with Hank Johnson of Georgia, she was one of the first two Buddhists to be elected to the House of Representatives. Hirono was born in Japan, immigrating to Hawaii with her family as a child. She served 14 years in the Hawaii state legislature and eight years as the state’s lieutenant governor.

Hirono was raised in the Jodo Shinshu tradition. “I certainly believe in the precepts of Buddhism and that of tolerance of other religions and integrity and honesty,” she said when she was sworn into Congress in 2007.

Along with being the first Buddhist in the Senate, Hirono can claim two other firsts as well: she’s the first Asian-American female senator, and the first to have been born in Japan.


  1. says

    My partner is from the United States, and I am a Canadian. We were discussing Buddhism and politics the other day, and I asked her if it was likely that a Buddhist could be elected. Here is our answer. Congratulations Mazie Hirono!

  2. says

    The "Likes" for this are piling up on our Facebook page. Some sample comments:

    Christina B: "awesome"

    Liz M: "that's awesome!! You go girl!!!"

    Judy EDS: "We need all the equanimity we can get 🙂 "

    Richard R: "And her "neighbor" in hawaii, Representative-elect Tulsi Gabbard is the first Hindu to be elected to Congress!"

    Connect 2 Self: "I didn't know she's Buddhist. Awesome.!"

    Rocki A: "This is truly wonderful!"

    Rob H: "Even better!"

    Stephanie M-J: "Congratz!!!"

    Linda EB: "We need more in Congress – a lot more!"

  3. Lori Pushckor says

    Not just Hawaii but all of the U.S. could use more peaceful, compassionate. less judgmental, and tolerant of all religions. WTG Mazie

  4. Phyllis Conlan says

    This gives me new hope for our country's political future. Mazie, please treasure yourself.

  5. says

    Whatever your religion is, I am still hoping that this country and others as well will have a better government! And I think religion and politics shouldn't actually mix!!