Sikhs join US Religious Leaders demanding gun control At makeshift National Mall graveyard ;

Oak Creek Victims Remembered

Dr. Rajwant Singh reciting a Sikh prayer remembering the victims of Oak Creek Gurdwara Shooting along with faith leaders from Newtown and across US. Nihal Singh, member of Guru Gobind Singh Foundation also in the back.

WASHINGTON, Friday, April 12, 2013 — Sikhs joined 25 Religious leaders from across America gathered on the National Mall in Washington amidst a makeshift graveyard symbolizing victims of gun violence including Sikhs of Oak Creek on Thursday (April 11) as they exhorted Congress to pass legislation to limit access to firearms. Dr. Rajwant Singh, Chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, recited a Sikh prayer calling for end to ‘senseless violence’ and appealed to political leaders to pass common sense gun restriction laws.  Other religious leaders decried as “idolatrous” a society that values guns more than human life.

There were 3,300 grave markers — representing the number of people who have died in gun violence since December’s massacre in Newtown, CT,  to emphasize the crisis of gun related deaths in America.

Jim Wallis is CEO of Sojourners, a faith based Christian group, who put together the gathering along with PICO National Network’s Lifelines to Healing, said, "This is one of the clearest examples of a stark democratic choice: the old politics of guns or the morality of the common good. The clergy are here today for the common good."

Besides wooden crosses, placards printed with the symbols of other religious traditions — Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Sikhism were visible. Each represents a life taken, said Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. “Every one of those religious symbols represents one of God’s children.”

While the interfaith Prayer vigil was in progress, US Senate cleared the legislative hurdle to discuss the bill focusing on background checks during purchasing of guns. This bill is expected to have many amendments including an assault weapons ban and limits on high-capacity magazines before it is up for the final vote after what is seen a contentious debate in the nations capital.

 “The near infatuation with the gun is moving dangerously close to becoming a full-blown worship of a false idol,” continued Crebbin, who in December presided over a nationally televised memorial service for Newtown victims.

Dr. Rajwant Singh recited the prayer from Sikh Scriptures, Guru Granth Sahib ‘ Jagat Jalanda Rakh lay’ asking God to embrace all and said, “ the time has come for the nation to make sure that we raise our children with any fear of senseless violence. What kind of environment have we created where a place of worship like Sikh Gurdwara in Wisconsin and school like Sandy Hook are attacked ?  That means there is no place sacred which is exempt from this kind of senseless killing. This has to stop and the action must come from Washington.”

He pointed out how he attended the funeral of Sikh victims of Oak Creek Sikh temple shooting and those images and of the bullet hole on the door of the sanctuary is etched in his mind. “That reminds us that we must make sure that no innocent life particularly of a child should be taken away. Power of all faiths coming together today will certainly move mountains of hurdles and this moment is different. “ He added.

Nihal Singh, member of Guru Gobind Singh Foundation gurdwara in Rockville, MD, said, " We need to be fully engaged in this important issue and work with all communities to make things happen."

Many leaders laid the blame for inaction in US congress on those lawmakers who take gun-lobby money and ignore the national will. Polls show that most Americans support universal background checks and tighter gun control.

Crosses and symbols of Judaism, Islam and Sikhism and Hinduism symbolizing victims of gun violence in America with the US Capitol Building in the background. Nihal Singh, Rajwant Singh, Sirmukh Singh Manku and Kulvinder Singh can be seen.

“The nation is so far ahead of where our political leaders are,” said the Rev. Jim Wallis, president of Sojourners, a liberal Christian group that organized the grave-markers project and a 24-hour vigil on the National Mall. “Our political leaders need to catch up.”

The Rev. Sam Saylor of Blackwell Memorial AME Zion Church in Hartford, Conn., broke down in wails and fell into the arms of his fellow pastors after he spoke about Newtown and his son, Shane Oliver, who was 20 when he was gunned down last year.

Religious leaders from around the United States, including Reverend Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners (2nd left) walk to the lectern to speak at a vigil on The Mall in Washington, DC, April 11, 2013 to commemorate the 3,300 lives lost to gun violence since the shootings in Newtown, CT and to call upon Congress to pass legislation to curb gun violence. Photo by Chris Kleponis/ Lifelines to Healing, PICO National Network/Sojourners


Please help SCORE in its mission by donating generously. Your support is greatly appreciated.