Ohio Senator JD Vance reveals Hindu wife's support for his Christian faith

Sen. JD Vance and Usha Chilukuri Vance discuss their lives and faith in an interview with Fox News. (Photo: Screenshot/Fox News)

Ohio Senator JD Vance, a top contender for the US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's Vice-President position, has opened up about his religious journey and the unexpected support he received from his Hindu wife, Usha Chilukuri Vance.

In a recent interview with Fox News, Vance discussed not only his chances of becoming Trump's running mate but also shed light on his personal faith journey. The Republican senator, who was raised as a Protestant, revealed that he had been contemplating conversion to Catholicism since 2016. In 2019, he was baptised and confirmed at St Gertrude Priory in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Vance's wife, Usha Chilukuri, whom he met at Yale Law School, played a pivotal role in his spiritual quest despite coming from a different religious background. "I was never baptised. I was raised Christian but never baptised. I was first baptised in 2018," Vance explained in the interview. "Usha was actually raised non-Christian. She is actually not Christian. But I remember when I started to re-engage with my own faith, Usha was very supportive."

When asked about her support, Usha Chilukuri Vance, who grew up in a Hindu household, offered three reasons. "I did grow up in a religious household. My parents are Hindu. That is one of the reasons why they made such good parents. That made them very good people. And I think I have seen the power of that in my own life," she stated. She added that she recognised JD was searching for something, and his journey towards Christianity "just felt right for him."

The couple, who married in 2014 and now have three children under the age of 6, also emphasised their shared values regarding family life and child-rearing. "And the answer really is, we just talk a lot," Usha concluded.

JD Vance's journey from a challenging upbringing in Ohio to his current position as a US Senator is nothing short of remarkable. Raised in part by his grandparents due to his mother's struggle with addiction, Vance's experiences in an economically depressed area of Ohio deeply influenced his worldview and political stance.

Before entering politics, Vance worked as a venture capitalist but maintained a strong advocacy for working-class Americans in Ohio. His website states, "The US Senate needs someone who knows what it's like to live in a left-behind community, not a career politician who has done nothing for the people of Ohio."

Vance's 2016 memoir, "Hillbilly Elegy,” catapulted him into the national spotlight. The book, which explores the social ills of the white working class in the post-industrial Midwest, became a bestseller and was later adapted into a Netflix film.

Interestingly, the seed for "Hillbilly Elegy" was planted during Vance's time at Yale Law School. In 2013, he and Usha organised a discussion group on "social decline in white America," a subject deeply personal to Vance but an intellectual interest for Usha, who grew up in an ethnically diverse San Diego suburb.

Vance has often credited his wife for helping shape his ambitions and navigate prestigious circles. In "Hillbilly Elegy", he wrote, "Usha was like my Yale spirit guide. She instinctively understood the questions I didn't even know to ask and she always encouraged me to seek opportunities that I didn't know existed."

The couple's background and journey together offer an intriguing contrast. Usha Vance, now 36, was raised in Rancho Peñasquitos, an upwardly mobile suburb of San Diego, by parents who worked as a mechanical engineer and a biologist. She was part of a small, close-knit community of Indian American academics and professionals. From a young age, Usha displayed leadership qualities and a competitive spirit, excelling academically and participating in various extracurricular activities.

Her academic journey took her from Yale, where she majored in history, to the University of Cambridge on a Gates Cambridge Scholarship, and then to Yale Law School. Throughout her education, she maintained a reputation for intelligence, hard work, and ambition.

JD Vance, now 38, has undergone a significant political transformation in recent years. Once known as a Never Trumper who analysed working-class white resentment for the liberal centre, he has since moved to the right, becoming a leader in an ascendant wing of highly nationalistic Republicans. This shift has led to some raised eyebrows, given the couple's background in elite institutions and Usha's continued work in prestigious legal circles.

Usha Vance's professional achievements are notable. She has clerked for Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and works at Munger, Tolles & Olson, a California law firm known for its "radically progressive" corporate culture. Her work has included defending the University of California against Title IX claims and Walt Disney Company against copyright infringement allegations.

As Vance potentially eyes a position as Vice-President, his unique personal story and the support of his wife from a different faith background add an intriguing dimension to his public persona.

The couple's marriage ceremony in 2014 in Kentucky reflected their diverse backgrounds, with wooden benches set outside in the grass for guests and a separate blessing by a Hindu pundit.