Sikhs Stand up to Bullying as They Try to Build Understanding

Prabhdeep Suri speaks about his experiences with bullying at the Guru Nanak Foundation of America. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks.

Throughout elementary, middle, and high school, Prabhdeep Suri has been the only Sikh in his class, and it’s been obvious.

Like all Sikh boys, he wore a patka, a head covering for his uncut hair that’s worn out of respect for his gurus. To his classmates, the patka was a license to stare, taunt, isolate, punch, and kick him. It was a target to knock off his head. It was the reason they called him “Osama bin Laden” and “terrorist.”

“He came home crying three days out of five,” his mother, Harpreet Suri remembered. “They were taking his patka off almost every day.”

Top Brass Say They're Not Aware of Bias Against Military Chaplains

Military experts testify on Wednesday at a House Military Personnel Subcommittee hearing. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks.

Lawmakers peppered Pentagon officials on Wednesday about claims that military chaplains have faced discrimination for their beliefs, and time and again, chaplains and personnel officials said they were unaware of any bias.

Virginia Penrod, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military personnel policy, told the House Subcommittee on Military Personnel that she could not cite specific instances where chaplains had to preach a sermon or oversee a ceremony that conflicted with their beliefs.

“There’s absolutely nothing in policy or code that prohibits a chaplain from praying according to the dictates of their faith,” she said.

Traveling While Sikh? There's an Updated App for Airport Profiling Complaints

FlyRights app image courtesy

The Sikh Coalition is updating a mobile app that allows travelers to report complaints about the Transportation Security Administration from the airport.

The coalition created the FlyRights app in April 2012 because of concerns that TSA officers profiled travelers for their appearance — and Sikhs in particular because of their turbans.

The TSA insists it doesn’t profile travelers. Civil rights complaints are investigated and “immediate action” is taken if substantiated, the agency said.

The original FlyRights app, created in coordination with the TSA, allowed a traveler to submit a complaint at the same time to the coalition and to the TSA for investigation.

On Scripture: The Social Shape of Divine Generosity

Screenshot from "Sikh in America: One Year After Oak Creek" from Odyssey N

Screenshot from "Sikh in America: One Year After Oak Creek" from Odyssey Networks.

It all sounds so… demanding. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. “Be dressed for action." Imagine yourselves as slaves who remain ready for their master’s return — not knowing when it might come.

Luke’s Gospel is big on demanding. In Luke 9:57-62, Jesus encounters three would-be disciples. And each receives a warning that would vanquish enthusiasm like an ice-cold shower.

After Shooting, Sikhs Push for More Legal Protections

U.S. Sikhs are taking heart in a widely publicized Senate hearing on hate crimes and a pledge by the Justice Department to consider tracking hate crimes directed at their community.  

The hearing, on Sept. 19, featured Harpreet Singh Saini,18, whose mother was one of six Sikh worshippers killed Aug. 5 when a gunman opened fire in their Wisconsin gurudwara (house of worship or, literally, "house of the guru").

“Senators, I came here today to ask the government to give my mother the dignity of being a statistic,” he told a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “My mother and those shot that day will not even count on a federal form. We cannot solve a problem we refuse to recognize.”

Sikhism, a monotheistic faith founded in South Asia, is the world’s fifth largest religion with an estimated 200,000 to 500,000 adherents in the U.S. Male Sikhs often keep their uncut hair bound up in a turban.

The Senate hearing, spurred by the Wisconsin shooting, brought more than 400 people to Capitol Hill, most of them Sikhs.

Faith Leaders Urge Americans to Combat Attacks on Religious Minorities

Photo by Rose Marie Berger / Sojourners

Prayer vigil near the White House for the Sikh community. Photo by Rose Marie Berger / Sojourners

A group of faith leaders Thursday exhorted Americans to do more than pray for better times.

Representing seven different faith traditions, many advocated a period of public mourning after a week that saw a shooting rampage at a Sikh temple and a suspicious fire at a Missouri mosque.

"It is my hope that this is more than a time to express personal sorrows," said Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

"Our most concrete rejection of violence occurs when we engage the neighbor, the neighbor who is new in our community, the neighbor who worships differently than we," he said.