This morning, we saw horrible violence at a Sikh Gurdwara. Several have died and all the details are not clear at this point. However, we know a terrible act of violence has been perpetrated against the Sikh community.
Christians stand with and pray for the Sikh community today. As Christians, we stand up for freedom of religion and against violence-- against the evil present in such horrible acts.
I've written about defending freedom of religion and how to relate to people of other faiths-- you can read more here.
Today, we should all be grieved and we stand with the Sikhs.
You may not know about Sikhism, so let me share a bit.
Though it is the youngest world religion, dating back only about five hundred years, there are now over 23 million Sikhs worldwide. This makes it the fifth largest world religion. Twenty-two million Sikhs are found throughout South Asia, the largest portion of them residing in the Punjab area of India.
Foundation of Sikhism:
The word 'sikh' means 'disciple' or 'learner.' Guru Nanak Dev Ji founded Sikhism around the fifteenth century. During one of his daily meditations, Nanak disappeared. Three days later he returned, saying God had charged him to spread the message of equality and truth.
Nine gurus followed Guru Nanak, all offering enlightenment and wisdom to followers of Sikhism. Sikhs believe that these ten gurus all shared a divine spirit that was passed from one to another beginning with Guru Nanak. The final guru, Gobind Singh, compiled a book of writings from the gurus, called Guru Granth Sahib, which he declared the "living guru." Sikhs consider the Guru Granth Sahib to be the final guru.
Sikhs believe in a cycle of reincarnation that can only be broken through following the teachings of the gurus, leading lives full of integrity, and meditation. These practices are said to free them from the ensnarement of human weakness and conflict. When they are completely free, they are able to merge with god.
Male Sikhs can be identified by the turbans they wear. To a Sikh, the turban symbolizes commitment to discipline, integrity, humility and spirituality.
I was recently in a Sikh Gurdwara in London (the largest Gurdwara in the world outside India). I was there with The Upstream Collective and talked to me friend Daniel Montgomery while we were there with our group. You can see more about what such a Sikh Gurdwara looks like here:
Please pray for the families of the dead, the wounded, and the hurting. And, stand with the Sikhs and against violence.