The Sikh Coalition has made incredible advances in building relationships with other religious communities throughout the country.
In my newly funded role over the past year, made possible because of your support, we have been working harder than ever to cultivate relationships through authentic interfaith engagement, and opening up dialogues on a scale and frequency in which we have never witnessed before. We continue to uncover new partners from other faith traditions who are genuinely interested in learning and teaching Sikhi to their denominations in a holistic way. This work needs to continue to grow because building these relationships takes time, but the ongoing investment from you today will continue groundbreaking work that will last for generations to come.
What I have witnessed firsthand is how much other faiths treasure the distinctive features of our religious heritage and I have been awed by the commitment these partners have to help us share and preserve our religion with others.
In the spring of 2014, we piloted a series of five educational programs in New York City in partnership with the Presbyterian Church (USA). While the series brought about numerous teachable moments for all involved, one particularly poignant moment for me occurred during our first dialogue hosted by the Presbytery of New York City in midtown Manhattan. We were sitting in a circle discussing challenges faced by Sikhs in modern America, when an African American preacher raised his hand to speak. He confessed that he had not known much about Sikhism or the current challenges faced by the Sikh community. He told me that the session was eye-opening for him and helped him realize that the two communities share several areas of common ground as minorities in America.
Moments like these are why I do the work that I do at the Sikh Coalition. I wholeheartedly believe that unless we teach other denominations about our faith and learn from theirs, we will never be able to dig below the surface to find our shared humanity. It’s in these moments, when we discover our commonalities, that we develop allies in our work for life. In 2014 and beyond, we need these interfaith partners more than ever to support us in our ongoing fight for religious equality.
Their voices become the validators for our community and the defenders of our rights in communities where our pleas might otherwise fall on deaf ears. Your donation today ensures that thousands more will hear from us in congregations across the country next year.
As I reflect on our developing relationship with the Presbyterian Church (USA), I can’t help but think about how the Gurus modeled similar interactions in their own lives. Finding like-minded people who care deeply about serving those around them and building stronger communities – this is our tradition.
These relationships are in their early stages, but we are already seeing the value of investing in these partners. When the Sikh Coalition was leading the charge to have the FBI track hate crimes against Sikhs, our newly engaged allies at the Presbyterian Church proactively offered to circulate emails and collect signatures for the campaign.
In just one year leading our interfaith work, I have seen how this engagement is not only deeply meaningful and rewarding, but also pivotal to our fight. I have learned how building relationships with other religious communities can help us improve the standing of our own. We are beginning to move opinions through this dialogue, and I am incredibly excited to see us build off the early results we have already demonstrated.