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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. Bev S.

    It's hard to fathom how so many people are hung up on ancient myths. Can someone prove to me that God exists. There has never been any proof other than people believing the universe was created. We know it evolved from the big bang theory. Other than that we don't have any other clues so far. Religions began when man started fantasizing about some other "being" besides humans. All stories have been man made ever since.

    August 29, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      @Bev

      Christians are on these articles to ensure Jesus Christ's truth is posted. You need to start your walk with Jesus. A tornado hit my trailer park and did $100,000 worth of improvements. This is a test from God. Do you have what it takes to pass?

      Amen.

      August 29, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Brandon

      Why do you get so worked up on what I believe? Am I harming you in some way?

      August 29, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • ChristardMingle.com

      Brandon, you are an embarrasment to the human race. I don't know if you are harming anyone. Are you a Christian evengelical? If so then yes, you are harming many people. Are you a parent? Then you are most likely abusing your children with your lies and fairy tales.

      August 29, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Brandon

      Wow Tard, it must suck to spend all day getting worked up about everyone who does not share your views.

      August 29, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • dp

      @brandon, don't worry he is probably cooped up in mommy and daddy's basement upset that he can't find a job for that sociology degree he has. I can't wait to hear the "Well actually i make this much and work here, and i drive this type of car, and you don't because you are a hillbilly, redneck" speech. It is sad that people hate others beliefs so much that they have to come onto a message board and whine about how others raise their kids.

      August 29, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • ChristardMingle.com

      Brandon and dp,

      Given a choice, a child will choose reality. Once the realize that Santa and the Tooth Fairy are not real, it follows that God is a lie too.

      If you brain wash them (mental abuse by definition) naturally they will live in fear and believe in acient myths.

      Yes, you are a child abuser. The truth must hurt.

      August 29, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • dp

      Yes all religious people are child abusers. All religious children show signs of abuse Especially the 99.9% of them that grow up to be very successful caring parents of their own.

      August 29, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • ChristardMingle.com

      @dp

      "Yes all religious people are child abusers. "

      Correct.

      August 29, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  2. mzh

    @"never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the honor of offering a prayer for the nation"

    To offer a prayer for the nation can't be done without this RNC? whom is he trying to pleased with due respect?

    I can offer my prayer for my country any time I want and I do it all the time as we all are doing for the droughts...

    Peace!!!

    August 29, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      This guy was fooled and he needs to admit it. The RNC is not on his side here.

      August 30, 2012 at 8:22 am |
  3. Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

    If snitches have itches, and bi'tches have nitches,
    can horses at hitches have gitches ot twitches ?
    Or witches have itches or twitches ?

    August 29, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  4. Manofcolor

    Republicans are turds and need to be flushed!

    August 29, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Fiscalconservative

      Don't be a hater, like the liberal who killed the Sikhs .

      August 29, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Gerald

      It wasn't a liberal, it was some dumb redneck bible thumper.

      August 29, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      "the liberal who killed the Sikhs" See, you can't talk to these goofballs. They live in a fantasy world.

      August 30, 2012 at 8:24 am |
  5. ilemona

    Dude! just say the prayer and leave in a hurry, trust me on this one.

    August 29, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  6. Bev S.

    If Romney really wants to rack up some votes then he should invite a representative from all religions to ask for peace and respect. Be fair.

    August 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  7. Left Coast Agnostic

    Not a fan of religion, but I do have to admire the Sikhs – the men"s beards are just sooooo beardy.

    August 29, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  8. Stick It!

    STICK YOUR PRAYER UP YOUR TURBAN – We neither want or need your prayer nor do we need you here in the USA!

    August 29, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Bonk

      Atheists hate everyone.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Sikh Repubilcan

      Really disappointed with your comment. As a Sikh who grew up in America, I never thought we would be the target of such hate. Just so you know, Sikh's are mostly from Northern India, and have a bad history with Muslims since the beginning of time. NOT THAT ALL MUSLIMS ARE BAD. Before you post your ignorant comments, use the internet for some knowledge, instead of posting hate filled comments from behind your computer.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Oy

      Not true, Bonk. I admire the Sikhs and I am an atheist. I think the OP is a poser.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • daveinthebox

      Stick it! You are the reason why there is hatred and intolerance in the USA. Remember, we are a country of immigrants, unless you are an American Indian. Immigrants built this country. Remember that.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Fiscalconservative

      Another liberal hater, leave our country and go somewhere that accepts your ideology

      August 29, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • mark

      Bonk – not true. We don't hate these people. Pity would be a more correct adjective. We hate and have no tolerance for any idea that causes divisiveness, bigotry and all kind of (ir)rationalized evil and heinous behavior – all in the name of 'god'. Want to believe in your fairy tales? Feel free to. Just KEEP THEM TO YOURSELVES. Of course, that NEVER happens, which returns us to our previous sentiment. It's a vicious circle really. You guys keep preaching your BS, we keep ridiculing you. Selective reality is no way to go through life, man.

      August 29, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • I Got My Finger Stuck Up My Muslim Asss

      They look like us but people still call Sikh "a religion of Peace". Being Muslim, it just pis.ses me off!!

      August 29, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Bonk, yer nuts. I don't hate anyone; I'm no christian. Stick, these guys have sworn to God to carry a knife at all times in case they are attacked by Muslims. They are on your side, really.

      August 30, 2012 at 8:36 am |
  9. @GuileOfTheGods

    You're all praying to ancient aliens anyway. Read the bible, the torah, the Koron, or however it's spelled, the Mahabharata or any of those. Who does it feature? Aliens in space crafts! Explain that to your god.

    August 29, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • SSS

      Remarkable that he is a Sikh but you still dont know the Sikh text, the Guru Granth Sahib. Read it, and find the 'aliens'

      August 29, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • J. Singh

      I didn't find any 'aliens' either.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • J. Singh

      Dear SSS,

      I don't think this dude is a SIkh. Maybe an atheist. He's quite a zealous one though. He probably doesn't even know how to spell ri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • @GuileOfTheGods

      No, I was actually making a joke. But more importantly, I was specifically talking about the items I mentioned. But hey, thanks for playing.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • @GuileOfTheGods

      And no, I'm not atheist. I believe in god, just not your god.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  10. you bet cha

    Sam Yaza, you are a hypocrite..supposedly against hate yet you preach hatred toward GOD , Christians and such...You are racist...and the very example of intolerance that shows up in all religions..SHAME ON YOU...

    August 29, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      what they worship they god of hatred,.. i came up with that conclusion regardless of my religion actually not many Shintoist or pagans agree with me on that,.. i just see you all following Orochi, and it was your actions that lead me to that conclusion

      what Christians teach
      Love, prosperity, kindness toward others
      what they do
      hate, destroy, and kill

      its a deception
      a judge based off the fruit that they bare and Christians bare bad fruit {fact} no matter how many virgins we sacrifice to you the sun will not come back. i know who your god is now Yahweh=Demiurge=Allah=Jehovah=Orochi=the Deceiver=Samuel=The Devil just because Moses trusted the first spirit he encounter does not mean i will,.. look what the price was payed for his power and the liberation of his people,.. all the first born in Egypt,.. and even his own life your god is Evil incarnate, jesus was describing himself when he talked about the devil get over it

      August 29, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
  11. Ronald Regonzo

    Word is the Obamas have been seen over at the Piggly Wiggly gathering up packing boxes for their upcoming move. Romney/ Ryan 2012

    August 29, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • ChristardMingle.com

      @Ronald Regonzo

      I am not asking you to like Obama, but why in the world would you want Romney in the White House? Why??

      August 29, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Comment

      Hey Ronald, if there's a secessionist movement in your state you might want to join it. This country, the way we're heading, just isn't for you.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      That's why we need the changes Romney brings to the country, a restoration of moral decency. No more atheism, no more abortion, no more keeping God out of our schools, no more ho mo marriage, no more booze, no more coffee no more libs appointed to the Supreme Court. Just a God fearing God honoring nation like it was in the glory days. I hope Romney rides a white horse down Pennsylvania Avenue on Inauguration Day ! Romney / Ryan 2012

      August 29, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • ChristardMingle.com

      @Ronald Regonzo

      That's why we need the changes Obama brings to the country, a restoration of moral decency. No more evangelical nonsense, no more anti-abortion, no more puting God in our schools, no more Gay bashing, legalization of pot, more libs appointed to the Supreme Court. Just a secular, free nation like it was in the glory days. I hope Obama gets the recognition he deserves in the history books. Obama 2012

      August 29, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • marine5484

      Please beat yourself to death with your bible and go meet Jesus and let the rest of us carry on with our lives.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      I hope Obama gets a one way ticket back to Chicago, Kenya. America works best when America works for God, Always has Always will. Romney / Ryan 2012 – Change that will be REAL change

      August 29, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      @marine5484
      Best read up on your own Bible, the info will be very useful after November. Romney / Ryan 2012

      August 29, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Oy

      Gee, Regonzo, "your" country sounds like a barrel of laughs. You do know we are not and will NEVER be a Theocracy, right? If you want that sort of gov't, I suggest trying Iran.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Oy

      Btw, what does COFFEE have to do with anything? hahahahaha
      Do you think god cares if people drink COFFEE?

      Moral decency...Mitt lies like it's his JOB.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • sam

      Regonzo is an idiot troll that wanders in here sometimes. Ignore this fool. School starts again soon and he'll be too busy failing classes and working part time at his McJob.

      August 29, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      ", a restoration of moral decency. No more atheism," Right, because he will be forcing us all to become Mormons? Come on, Mitt would be the least effective president since Dubya, controlled by his VP and unable to get anything done. He'd be a waste of our time.

      August 30, 2012 at 9:23 am |
  12. @GuileOfTheGods

    Jesus SAVES!

    Weiss hits the rebound and scores!

    Panthers win in OT!

    August 29, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    August 29, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • @GuileOfTheGods

      So does snorting a kilo of coke. What's your point?

      August 29, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • truth be told

      Little slow on the comprehension there guile...

      August 29, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • TROLL ALERT

      Please don't encourage him.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • @GuileOfTheGods

      There's 3 words. Not a lot to comprehend. But I think I can manage. Thanks pal.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • truth be told

      @guile...
      So you actually got the point? Then why did you ask?

      August 29, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Hi prayerbot.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Bev S.

      If prayer changes things and religion is so good then why does religion separate people and create more problems than good. There has been more killing and hatred involved with religions since religion evolved. Look at the middle east ,,,, the city of Jeruselam is divided and the people of Israel are always under attack. If there were a God then he would surely not want people to act this way. Man made God ,,, not the other way around.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • truth be told

      More people have been brutally tortured and murdered by atheists in the last 100 years than were killed in all previous centuries

      August 29, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • @GuileOfTheGods

      Comprehending something and finding a point in something are two entirely different tasks. But keep praying, and I'm going to read my book and advance my education.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Oy

      Guys. This person is a troll who posts the same exact nonsense in every religion thread. Ignore it and maybe it will go away.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • jawalla

      Re: Prayer changes things

      Two boxers getting ready for a 12 rounds bout. They both prayed thier best prayers. Who do you think will win?.......for sure the stronger and more skillful one!!

      August 29, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Has it changed your diaper yet?

      August 30, 2012 at 9:24 am |
  14. JD

    The RNC is just trying to look tolerant and open minded. I hope this latest scheme backfires on you.

    August 29, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Ronald Regonzo

      Hey jd kiss the r ag head vote good bye Romney / Ryan 2012

      August 29, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Oy

      Wow, Regonzo. Do you consider yourself to be a Christian? Your comment is anything but Christ like.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  15. ChristardMingle.com

    Religion is done.

    If you are holding onto your myths, fine, but the world necessarily must move forward without your childish dogma.

    Humans are not long for this world and atheists would like to live out our lives in reality rather than fantasy.

    Unfortunately, religious people feel the need to impose their idiocy on everyone which makes it difficult to live freely where laws and politics are concerned.

    Give it a rest please. Worship as you will but keep us out of it please. Secular nation, separation of church and state. That is all we ask.

    We consider this an urgent matter which is why we will continue to fight your foolishness tooth and nail, every day, every way.

    August 29, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      some religious folk,.. i can care less what you believe,.. we pagans a re cool like that

      August 29, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • you bet cha

      To be pagan, is not a "Cool" factor..it is just a factor..and just because you believe in demons doesn't mean you do not preach hatred, separation –

      August 29, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • dp

      hypocrite. Most religious people prefer to practice their faith without people like you spewing hate at them for what they believe in. Obviously you do not believe in a higher power, clearly no one has forced it on you. Stop trying to force your beliefs on others.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • ChristardMingle.com

      @dp

      Wow, clueless.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • dp

      Oh please do explain...

      August 29, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • ChristardMingle.com

      @dp

      hypocrite. – WHY?

      Most religious people prefer to practice their faith without people like you spewing hate at them for what they believe in. – ARE YOU REFERRING TO THIS BLOG? GO PRACTICE YOUR FAITH, I DON'T CARE. DID YOU EVEN READ MY POST?

      Obviously you do not believe in a higher power, clearly no one has forced it on you. Stop trying to force your beliefs on others.-HOW AM I FORCING MY BELIEFS ON OTHERS? DID YOU EVEN READ MY POST?

      August 29, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • dp

      You care enough to write things such as "holding onto your myths", "your childish dogma", "reality rather than fantasy". Those words themselves are hateful. Believe what you want, I don't care and frankly 99% of other people don't either. Just as you said you don't care what others believe in. But what religious people believe is in no way any of the things you called it, especially to those that believe in it. You are in no way better than those that believe in a God, so don't act as such by using words to belittle their beliefs.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • ChristardMingle.com

      @dp

      Depends on how you define "better". If you mean more intelligent, then I am most definately better. And if you define my true statements as "hate" then I am most definately a hater.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • dp

      Thank you for kindly proving what I was trying to prove all on your own. I can tell you are a very smart person.

      August 29, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • sam

      dp, how much prep time does it take you to be that clueless?

      August 29, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  16. QS

    "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."

    Well, if there's a portion of the American population that desperately needs to be reminded of things like humility, equality and justice....it's conservatives.

    August 29, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  17. JD

    When asking the question, "Why am I writing this for the RNC" truly the answer is that you're trying to appeal to voters you think are on the fence. You don't have to have speeches by the NRA or Right to Life because that's preaching to the choir. You want to give the impression you're knowledgable and tolerant so you give the stage to someone who you think is on that fringe and is topical for news coverage. That's all.

    August 29, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Why are you trying to justify it afterwards as something good for other Sikhs? Your temple was just shot up by a Republican who hated your for your differences. Getting them elected is not safe.

      August 30, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  18. PeterD

    Sikhism, Budhism and Jainism are part of a Hinduism. They all are born from Hinduism.

    August 29, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • @GuileOfTheGods

      I guess in the same way that Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all the same.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Huebert

      That is like saying baptist are Catholics because they were born from the catholic church. Sikhism is a splinter group similar, but distinct from the original faith.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • SSS

      Sikhi is a completely independent religion, free and separate from the philosophy of Hinduism and Islam. Get your facts right. Do you have any doctrinal evidence for this ludicrous statement?

      August 29, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • southernwonder

      my hindu friend says the original band of sikhs were raised from among hindus to specifically fight to defend hindu civilization from invading muslim huns.

      August 29, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      Sikhs are anti-Muslim. Look it up.

      August 30, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • Kaur

      According to your logic then Christianity is part of Judaism. May I suggest you think before you post this nonesense. I understand that hindus, for some reason, want to claim Sikhism as their own but please find pride in yourselves and leave Sikhs alone. Really, do you mind doing that?

      August 30, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  19. God

    Bless me

    August 29, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Mary

      Fine but if you get it in my hair again I'm going to be p!ssed...OH you said bless.

      August 29, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Paul 'n

      @God,

      Antihistamines are often helpful for those pesky sneezes.

      August 29, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  20. Sam Yaza

    peace brother Sikhs, blessed be,... but for the rest of these christian duchbags, our persecutes,.. i wish i can be as forgiving as you but they are monsters and deserve only the greatest hell possible, it is my job to root out hate(Orochi) in this world. and they worship him. as long as they worship the god of hatred, deception and destruction, they are guilty. if we want a world were we protect creation and respect one another we must get rid of them, they serve the enemy,. they are a cancer to the world, there are killing her

    August 29, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sst7DmVsqkw&w=640&h=360]

      August 29, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Timothy

      bow wow wolf

      August 29, 2012 at 4:32 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.