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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. Steve

    It is a wonderful jesture. Unfortunately it will only be seen as a political ploy unless the platform of the GOP convention actually changes to be more inclusive. There is a reason that 90% of the people that vote for the GOP are white.

    August 29, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • athiestbob

      no...NAACP...LaRAza and Dem party beat the drums of racism and fear...like the dark age religions bred ignorance amonst their sheep

      August 29, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • HoneyBrownMyself

      What's with the white remarks?

      August 29, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  2. Jim

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

    I'm proud to say I share those opinions, too.

    August 29, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  3. athiestbob

    odd concept....going to the people that democrats say hate you...and finding out that it isn't true.... and to actually be allowed to address the audience in prayer....yes prayer.... wow... so the dems were wrong....

    I think the Dems banned prayer from their conventions anyway.... they now just show a picture of naked Michael moore and a dog

    August 29, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  4. HeavenSent

    Tommie Tom, *cough* Scotty, stay on the wrong side of the gulf until you are blotted out for eternity. My camel-toe swallowed the remote and my truck keys. The minions of satan still believe in the man-made lies of the talmud.

    Amen.

    August 29, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  5. DIANA

    They're the ones who fired up the nutcase who shot his people.

    August 29, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  6. Jeetu

    You are folling yourself in thinking that you are helping your cause. You are just being exploited for political purposes. To make yoru religion political is the worse thing you can do. The killings had no effect - and your appearing at the republican convenion may actually lead to more such killings – as to how republicans feel about your religion, beliefs or any other fact of your life.

    If you wanted 15 minutes of fame, your got those in the worse possible way.

    August 29, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Chris

      It's sad how our education system has failed us.

      August 29, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • dike

      You are right here, it is a pity, Its sad to see you exploited, even more foolish of republicans to do this... so they dont have to say a negative word about NRA. It is a loosing proposition for all.

      August 29, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  7. cbr

    Let us all welcome this opportunity to listen and learn. The United States of America should be the one place on earth where every person is shown respect and understanding. We need to make sure that we are the country of the Four Freedoms.

    I wish that this opportunity had come during a national event for all of us but this is a good beginning to open the way.

    August 29, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  8. Corkpuller

    What a Christian thing to do.

    August 29, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  9. True Patriot

    F'n towel head.

    August 29, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • mrzor

      ONLY A LYING ATHEIST WOULD POST THIS.

      August 29, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • J. Singh

      You have no idea...do you?

      August 31, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • J. Singh

      From Ben Johnson..."Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."

      Similarly, from Thoreau, "Patriotism is a maggot in their heads."

      George Bernard Shaw has said..."You'll never have a quiet world till you knock the patriotism out of the
      human race."

      Oscar Wilde said "Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious."

      Leo Tolstoy described patriotism as "the principle that will justify the training of wholesale murderers".

      You need to research and learn about dignity!!!

      August 31, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • J. Singh

      Dear 'True Patriot"

      First...go and get an education. Pass something, ok?

      Second...get a job or open up a business.

      Third...contribute to society instead of leeching off it and blaming others.

      Then come back..and be more qualified for this forum.

      August 31, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • J. Singh

      Dear 'True PatIDIOT"
      You represent everything bad about America and its downfall...sad!

      August 31, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  10. JohnRJohnson

    You are either being highly paid or you are just allowing yourself to be exploited for political purposes.

    August 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  11. tony

    I'd agree with all the sentiment, provided the author was asked BEFORE the Oak Creek event. Otherwise it's just an example of the GOP worst type of insincere opportunism.

    August 29, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • Kelly51

      Kind of like how Obama chose to be sworn into office using Abraham Lincolns bible, huh? Oportunity knocks for both sides of the party line and Obama has a bunch of money to pay people off, too. Let's not go there should we?

      August 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • sam

      Kelly, aren't you trying a little too hard?

      August 29, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  12. Hillcrester

    Boy, are you sitting in the wrong pew! Th GOP is the party if the "if you don't look like us, you aren't one of us."

    August 29, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  13. fsjunkie

    "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." Yeah...we know that's what you hope. We also know that you're a tad bit delusional. You've got about as much of a shot at that as I have at winning the next Powerball.

    August 29, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  14. Hugh Jarce

    The Sikhs are an honorable people, and fierce, loyal warriors when required, so it's such a pity that this guy has been suckered into being the Jew who speaks at the Nazi convention.

    August 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Atul Chaudhary

      You're absolutely wrong, Republicans believe in hardwork, entrepreneurial spirit, and reward for the hard work unlike handout party. They have been the ones who have always encouraged legal immigration so you're delusional. Hats off to republicans to give national platform to Sikh community. Hope community can truly understand who is really on their side when they work hard and produce income and employment, should they be punished or rewarded?

      August 29, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • scorpio

      @Atul, Bush was a Republican in case you are not aware. Have you read what crap you have written here?
      I understand ur frustration with visa restrictions Obama govt has put, but you forget that's in favor for the country, the country he is president of and obliged to care for.

      August 29, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • sam

      @Atul – 30 years ago, sure. Where the hell have you been the last decade, though?

      August 29, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Atul

      Allow me to clarify your statements:

      1) Hardwork (As long as they're not the ones doing it and can pay the least amount possible)
      2) Entrepenual spirit (Once you get to be a certain size of business, before that they don't care)
      3) reward for hardwork (Yup, they reward themselves for the hardwork of others)
      4) unlike the handout party (Oh you mean that party that gave the massive tax cuts and loopholes to the richest and the biggest corporations? I thought that was the republicans not the democrats)

      Your welcome.

      August 29, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • dike

      "Jew who speaks at the Nazi convention" this is so right... the republicans are the ones who are hand in glove with the NRA who I hold as one of the parties responsible for the shootings...

      August 29, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Q

      Yes, because the RNC has now opened concentration camps and gas chambers for American Sikhs.
      You're such a drama queen.

      August 29, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • @GuileOfTheGods

      @Atul

      Yes, the handouts that the Republican states gladly take as to keep them alive. If your party hates handouts so much, then simply stop taking them 🙂

      August 29, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  15. J Dan

    It is a shame these people are being used for political purposes by a party that fosters hatred of anyone who is not white and rich. It is more shameful that the Sikh's would allow themselves to be used in this fashion, I used to respect them but now can see they would sell their souls for a little piece of the right wing pie, shame on you and your sell out of your values.

    August 29, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • V

      Wow, you are SERIOUSLY an idiot! What the hell kind of comment is that? You sound stupid and ignorant because now you are saying that all Sikhs are like this guy and selling out their souls. Do you really, when you hit enter, think that that was an intellectual comment? You sound like a Republican now and need to run into a wall and get knocked the hell out.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Hillcrester

      I can't fault him for taking this opportunity for visibility. Clearly it isn't an endorsement of the GOP.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • V

      Not one bit! And even if it was...we are all people and can vote for whomever we so choose. But if you even the article...JDAN, which I bet you didnt, it was about informing people of Sikhs. I may sound like child with my comments and calling you an idiot...but man, you really deserve it after your dumba** statement.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Rainy

      Christians come in every color.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • SSampson

      Some types of Christians come in any color Rainy.... But fundamentalist Christians only come in White... And they don't make up the GOP, but all are members of the GOP...

      August 29, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • J. Singh

      I think Dan is angry at the fact that it is a Republican Stage....this is understood.

      However, Dan, please understand our Sikh reasoning. We've just had out community mistakenly attacked. At this time the Republican stage is the largest stage to TEACH that Sikhs are different from Muslims. Ideally we are protecting lives. Knowledge can save lives. Any stage will do to teach that!!! Thanks for your heartfelt comments though 🙂

      August 29, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  16. tony

    The person who killed the sikhs is a republican racist dumb and ill informed.

    August 29, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    August 29, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Kelly51

      Nye the Science guy is just tooting his own horn. Every knee will bend and every head will bow.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Akira

      Sorry, but the RNC is only doing this to give the illusion of diversity, just like how they have delegates from places like the Virgin Islands sitting in the front rows at the convention. The GOP is still very much the party of privileged Evangelical whites, and still openly panders to such interests.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • iTexan

      Really, what does it change exactly? Telling kids about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, flying reindeer, and fairy princesses also makes them feel better, even if they know it's not true.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • tony

      You are THE poster child for "not healthy"

      August 29, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Pragmatist

      Criticize prayer all you want, it's whatever gets you through the day...I thought the DNC encouraged diversity and inclusivity, guess it only applies if your Muslim.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "Criticize prayer all you want, it's whatever gets you through the day...I thought the DNC encouraged diversity and inclusivity, guess it only applies if your Muslim."

      whereas with your muslim comment, you are obviously all for freedom of religion except where it comes to islam.
      and rhe poster made a definite statement about the effect of prayer, what has responding contrary to that got to with diversity and inclusivity exactly?

      August 29, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      "Nye the Science guy is just tooting his own horn. Every knee will bend and every head will bow."

      People like you have said this for thousands of years. I think now its time for you to prove your statement. Oh wait...you can't?

      August 29, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      "Criticize prayer all you want, it's whatever gets you through the day"

      Kinda like a stiff drink, or a 5 hour energy??

      August 29, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  18. Nigostoros

    I agree with Jim Bob – smart observation.

    August 29, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  19. Kelly51

    I think this is stellar. I hope and pray that one day this country can except each and every persons color, beliefs and individualisim. This is a country of immigrants and I think anyone wanting to live in this country (legally) should be accepted by all and respected by all. In every nation there are those that will spoil what is good and that is exactly why we have a justice system in place. I feel sorry for those of you that think of this Sikh American immigrants honorable prayer as something as a ploy or gain for the Republican party. Where were you when the Mosque was being built mere blocks away from the Twin Towers? If you want respect and diversity, then you must show respect and accept diversity.

    August 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Kelly51

      @ Anya- "a less extreme manner than the United States". Who is making this simple honor to pray, extreme besides CNN nd the far Left? When you say humble? I say this man seems quite humble and I don't see where his arm was twisted. I like what "Pragmatist" below your comment posted. He makes sense.

      August 29, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  20. JimBob

    Everytime I hear someone starts a sentence by saying 'only in America.. ' I kinda lose interest.. as if to imply outside of America nobody living in any other country on this Earth is ever successful. LOL

    August 29, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • sam

      It's mostly just pandering.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Kelly51

      There are many countries that don't enjoy the freedoms that America offers. Why can't you just be proud of that?

      August 29, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Anya

      But – Kelly51 – there are many countries that do enjoy the same freedoms, and some of them actually do it in a less extreme manner than the United States, balancing social welfare and other important considerations. It is the highest form of patriotism to be proud of our accomplishments but humble about where we can improve – and fight to make improvements using other examples to help us.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Pragmatist

      That's a reasonable generalization JimBob. If you're trying to cheapen this man's story you're utterly wrong to do so. It was his experience, perspective and story that to him was possible only in America. I'm sure people have success in North Korea as well...it's all relative I suppose.

      August 29, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • Ram

      Wow exactly my thought...

      August 29, 2012 at 1:45 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.