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August 29th, 2012
11:09 AM ET

My Faith: My Sikh prayer for the Republican National Convention

Editor's note: Ishwar Singh is the president of the Sikh Society of Central Florida and owns a small business called Industrial Scan, Inc.

By Ishwar Singh, Special to CNN

I am honored to be the first Sikh American in U.S. history to deliver the invocation at a national convention. On Wednesday, I will offer a prayer at the Republican National Convention from my Sikh faith.

The prayer calls upon the American public to join with us in recognition that we are one family. As an immigrant, a small-business owner and a father, I am humbled by the opportunity to address the nation. When I came to this country over 40 years ago, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the honor of offering a prayer for the nation. My story is possible only in America.

My prayer will be an opportunity to share the spirit of the Sikh faith with the American people. The tenets of Sikhism - humility, equality, and justice - lie at the heart of the American ethic.

For more than 100 years, Sikhs have lived, worked, and worshipped in America as farmers, doctors, lawyers, engineers, entrepreneurs, artists and more. We see ourselves as part of one America. On Wednesday, I’ll be honored to stand as a proud Sikh with my turban and beard as a fellow American.

Opinion: Is Sikh-led prayer at RNC a hollow gesture?

Unfortunately, the recent mass shooting of Sikhs in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and attacks on mosques across the nation call us to recommit to a vision of unity.

These acts are just the most recent in a history of violence against our community. In the aftermath of the Iran hostage crisis, the first Gulf War, the Oklahoma City bombing, the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, subsequent wars, and the controversy over the so-called “ground zero mosque,” Sikhs have been on the receiving end of hate.

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I hope that my presence Wednesday on the national stage will play a small part in helping Sikhs - and people of all races, faiths and orientations - be seen as part of the great American family. We Sikhs draw strength from the nonpartisan support we have received in response to the terrible tragedy in Oak Creek.

On the Republican side, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Rep. Paul Ryan, and now the Republican National Committee have extended a hand of friendship. On the Democrats’ side, President Obama ordered flags flown at half-staff and Attorney General Eric Holder and first lady Michelle Obama have visited Oak Creek to mourn with us and express their support.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

After Wednesday, I hope that we will see more engagement and inclusion. I hope our elected officials will stand against hateful speech this election season. I hope that the government tracks hate crimes specifically against Sikhs and that Sikhs will be considered eligible to serve this country, as we have served so many others, in the police and armed forces.

I hope that our children and grandchildren will be permitted to be full and equal members of this great American family. As our first teacher, Guru Nanak, and the founders of our faith taught us: I see no stranger.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ishwar Singh.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Sikh

soundoff (444 Responses)
  1. Genuflect

    RNC Publicity Stunt – Nothing More! Hypocrites!!

    August 29, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  2. clubschadenfreude

    Mr. Singh, I find that your giving a prayer at the RNC to be rather hypocritical. This is a party that goes out of its way to condemn any other religion than certain narrow sects of Christianity. They consistently do their best to force Christianity on others, and insist that everyone else is going to some cartoonish "hell". To work with such bigots does nothing for your own faith, but shows that you aren't paying attention.

    August 29, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • sendai

      Republicans have welcomed Mormons with open arms and open legs.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
      • clubschadenfreude

        It's quite amusing to look around the internet and see just how many Republicans are sure that Mormons are the anti-christ. I wonder, what does it take to ignore your own religion to vote for a man who is "evil" in its eyes?

        August 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Jewish Republican

      I have never experienced anything but welcome and friendship from Republicans.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
      • clubschadenfreude

        mmm-hmmm. You know why, right? Because they need a magical Jewish state to make their very Christian "end times" come true. Now, ask them if they think you are going to hell for rejecting their "savior". What will their answer be, jewish republican? How friendly is someone who says you are damned for what you believe?

        August 29, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Brian Hartman

      1) Show me somewhere - anywhere - that a Republican candidate has come out and condemned another religion. Do a lot of them talk about Christianity? Yes, but that's different from condemning other faiths.

      2) The Republican ticket has a Mormon on top this year, and many of the Republicans don't consider Mormons Christians.

      3) I find it *extremely* hypocritical to condemn the Republicans for havnig a Sikh speak, while your type would be the first to condemn them for not being inclusive enough. Which is it?

      August 29, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "1) Show me somewhere – anywhere – that a Republican candidate has come out and condemned another religion. "

      pick anytime a repub has talked about Islam. Remember the whole Cain wouldnt hire anyone who was muslim and require them to take an 'american' test? or Bachmann and the whole loo out for muslims infiltrating the government? etc

      "3) I find it *extremely* hypocritical to condemn the Republicans for havnig a Sikh speak, while your type would be the first to condemn them for not being inclusive enough. Which is it?"

      They are condemning what is so transparent an attempt to court votes.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  3. JimBob

    Good man this Sikh is considering the guy who massacred the Sikhs recently in Wisonsin is a hard core Tea Party Republican!

    August 29, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Brian Hartman

      He wasn't a member of the Tea Party. He was a Neo-Nazi. You might want to do a little research on the shooting before you start spouting off about it to a worldwide audience.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  4. true blue

    Smoke screams, only after one of the hate mo-gars tea-pubs shot up the place, this was a payback to let them think they care.

    August 29, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Brian Hartman

      He wasn't a Tea Party member. He was a Neo-Nazi.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  5. Cran

    My story is possible only in America, says the man. I stopped reading after that. What a load of BS. There are plenty of countries in the world where far greater things are possible. People need to get educated. Ironically, America is way behind many countries in the world when it comes to the achievement of the so called 'American Dream'.

    August 29, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Jean Malloy

      That being so WHY AREN'T MORE PEOPLE GOING TO THOSE PLACES. ESPECIALLY ALL OF THE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS OF EVERY NATIIONALITY CURRENTLY IN THE U. S. A. PLEASE TELL ME. WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE?

      August 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      actually Jean a lot of other nations get their fair share of immigrants, in fact there is plenty of talk in Europe right now of immigrants causing issues, as shown by todays story about an essay by a French writer commenting on that very topic.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  6. sedi

    No one to represent Islam or to raise prayers to Allah for the country and the RNC? What gives? There are 3 million Muslims living in the U.S.

    August 29, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Brian Hartman

      Good point. But you can say the same about the DNC next week.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  7. jferg

    And you, heavensent, i hope there is a God just so he can rub your face in the bible before he condemns you. you know, "judge not, yest ye be judged?" jesus would be ashamed and disgusted by you

    August 29, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  8. roger

    He's being used as a puppet by the Republicans and doesn't see it. Sad.

    August 29, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  9. jferg

    Liar. if you were really a muslim you wouldnt be so obviously drunk.

    August 29, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  10. HeavenSent

    Mohammad is burning in hell right now for not following Jesus' truth. I live with pigs. It smells here. Satan is expert at spreading lies to make you follow his lies about God. Read the bible and be saved from hell.

    August 29, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • riteous

      HeavenSent, If that's true, he's looking forward to your company when you get there.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • belieber

      Honey,they ran out of briquetttes last week. It's down to a dull roar until a new shipment of fuel comes in, and the rubber melted on the road from the last fire is cleared away so the truck can get past.the bump on the road, where the tire blew up.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  11. hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

    If Sikh can offer a prayer at the Republican National Convention then why can't we muslims offer a prayer at RNC? Fuk Republicans. Go Barak Hussein Obama in November.

    August 29, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • RightCoastVA

      Keep it classy!

      August 29, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • H. E.

      You are not fooling anyone into thinking that you are Muslim.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • riteous

      Troll!

      August 29, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • hippie power 69

      let me guess. you are an old white male christian republican pretending to be a sikh.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • HorusEye

      Probably the heading for your post would be a good reason to deny you and every muslim sharing your bigotry an opportunity to speak, let alone pray, when you hate anyone who is not muslim.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  12. Jonah

    I applaud the Republican Party for honoring and promoting goodness, decency and virtue and the tenets of the Sihk religion.

    August 29, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  13. The Woof

    I am grateful that Mr. Singh gave the invocation and I just hope that the tenets of his religion, humility, equality, and justice, which by the way mirrors Chriatian tenets, take hold on not just Republicans or Democrats or whomever, but all people everywhere.

    August 29, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • ReligiousPoopShoot.com

      Fuk Mr. Singh, fuk him up his stupid a.s.s.

      HS

      August 29, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      Oh I am a Pakistani Muslim and I have no nice things to say for anyone but Sunni Muslims. I say Fuk Shia, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Gays, Lasbians, and animals too.

      HS

      August 29, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  14. rla

    Seems most of the ugly Americans post here!

    August 29, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • American Youth

      I think you are referring to the republican panty wastes.

      August 29, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  15. Honey Badger Dont Care

    Why would they give an invocation for the GOP? It is a party of white, xtian males. They dont give one shltake mushroom about you, why would you about them?

    August 29, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • scranton

      More racist bigoted hate from the left........but the DNC is a hate group.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • sam

      Keep that tin foil hat shiny, scranton.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  16. Sheepdog

    I hope religion never goes away. I find the idea that the educated person standing next to me still believes in miracles and an "imaginary father figure" guiding the outcome of his/her life, completely hilarious. It's like some child's explanation of the universe: When something bad happens, it's the boogey man... when something good happens, it's "my daddy in the sky" looking out for me". Someone once said: "Truth and happiness seldom walk hand-in-hand"... I think it's this simple truth that guarantees religion/faith will be with us for some time to come. It's much easier to hand over responsibility for our lives to God, and blame to the Devil... than to look in the mirror, and take responsiblity ourselves.

    August 29, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Steve

      When my daughter was young, I asked her if she knew why the sky was blue. She looked at me and rolled her eyes and said, "Cuz, if the sky was purple we would all be naked."

      How she came to this conclusion is still a mystery to this day, to both her and myself. It is however the same kind of illogical thought that leads to the same type of preposterous conclusion.

      August 29, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  17. Naveen

    The Republican party is wonderfully diverse and open to people of all faiths and creeds.As a young American who happens to be a Hindu and a Republican, I am glad to see that the dishonest stereotype of an old, white party is being smashed by the truth. The GOP's small government and free market policies benefit people of every background, unlike the Democrat plan to give the poor a handout instead of a hand up, keeping them trapped in poverty but continuously voting for them.

    August 29, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      You are saying that the republicans want to give the poor a hand up?

      August 29, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • freedomman27

      Naveen, you are 100% correct but the liberal trolls on this site will just continue to post their hate speech and call anyone that is not white and calls themself a republican an Uncle Tom or a traitor. It is disgusting.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • sam

      What is this, opposite day?

      August 29, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      funny naveen how you moan about dishonest stereotpyes then spout one of your own about dems.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • hippie power 69

      free market policies?? ha, until we have to save their cheating a–. we don't have a free market. we have las vegas day until they lose the farm. then its, "please sir, may i have more"? we have to bail them out or our whole world comes crashing down around our heads. that is not free market economy.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  18. Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

    Interesting.
    Proof that human ideas of god and prayer are evolving. Not one mention in the article of divine beings, or supernatural anything. "Prayer" is obviously an anthropological verbal, (either self talk or group speak), group forming and affirmation device, as evidenced here. 100 years age the idea that there would be a prayer which did not mention the ancient angry deity would be impossible to image. Today, in the post modern, post Hollywood culture, "god" has morphed to "god is love".

    August 29, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Simran

      Well,
      I would like to add that the more modern religions like Buddhism and Sikhism have moved away from the angry diety/ pleased diety thing. Though I myself do not believe in god, I can say that for the religion I was born into (Sikhism) – God is a concept, not a thing. God is in the name, you connect with god through meditation.
      And Buddha outrightly states that whole question of creation and god is meaningless.

      August 29, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • belieber

      I connect to god through medication, not meditation.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  19. Jake-413451

    So long as you have multiple religions claiming to know the one true path to god, that all others are misguided at best, or simple killing time before eternal perfectly righteous judgment casts them into eternal torture then the divisiveness will continue.

    So I'm sorry, but his dreams are short lived. Christians, let alone anyone else, believe he will burn forever for his transgressions of not believing as they do. Don't be too surprised if some of his fellow theists are willing to make it happen sooner than might otherwise happen.

    August 29, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  20. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    August 29, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • TROLL ALERT

      Please don't feed it.

      August 29, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • truth be told

      Translation of troll alert
      i am terrified at the thought of Truth being spread and will make every effort to stop these Truths.

      August 29, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • Jake-413451

      I have seen the error of my ways. Was staring me in the face and just did not see it.

      There is no period to their post. It isn't a sentence, it is a prompt. Complete their thought for them. So looking at what we know, and not just what some people believe...

      "Prayer changes thing..."
      not at all.
      or
      for the worse.

      For the truth be told we have centuries of history of prayer directly preceding some of the most horrific atrocities committed.

      August 29, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • HeavenSense

      Hi prayerbot.

      August 29, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      "i am terrified at the thought of Truth being spread and will make every effort to stop these Truths."

      LOL wow....believing something is true does not make it so.

      August 29, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      even sikh prayer?

      August 29, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      'truth be told

      Translation of troll alert
      i am terrified at the thought of Truth being spread and will make every effort to stop these Truths."

      no the translation is.....the poster is a troll, dont encourage him.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.