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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Religious Liberty and Living as a Sikh in America

It has been almost three years since Wade Page shot six people and wounded four others at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Many people assumed (probably correctly) that Page mistook Sikhs for Muslims because members of both groups wear similar attire (e.g., turbans). Indeed, although Sikhs have historically experienced discrimination as a minority religious group in America, since 9/11 there has been an increase in the incidents of discrimination against group members (e.g., the number of hate crimes, bullying in schools).

This and other issues related to living as a Sikh in America is the subject of the most recent Research on Religion podcast ("Rajdeep Singh on American Sikhs and Religious Liberty"), which features Rajdeep Singh, who is the Director of Law and Policy at the Sikh Coalition. Here is a brief description of the podcast:
What is the Sikh religion and how have Sikhs fit into American society? Rajdeep Singh of the Sikh Coalition explains the history, tenets, rituals, and practices of his faith, as well as the challenges this religious minority has faced in the United States. We discuss how Sikhs have been instrumental in championing religious liberty with cases about religious garb in Oregon and issues of occupational safety.
The podcast is an interesting discussion of the history of the Sikh religion and some of its core tenets, such as ”five k’s” of the faith: kesh (uncut hair), kanga (wooden comb), kara (steel bracelet), kachera (cotton underwear), and kirpan (holy sword). You can listen to the podcast at the Research on Religion website or download it from iTunes (although I had to download it manually).

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