Opinion

Simran Jeet Singh: Sikh political leaders emerge around the world

RNS asked some of the country’s top faith leaders, scholars and activists to consider what changes the religion landscape will see in 2018. Find all their predictions here.

(RNS) — In 2018, Sikhs will continue their rise into public representation and political prominence.

At the end of 2017, four Sikhs were elected into public office –  Preet Didbal, the first-ever female Sikh mayor in Yuba City, California; Ravi Singh Bhalla as one of the first-ever turbaned Sikh mayors in Hoboken, New Jersey; Manka Dhingra, a newly elected senator in Washington; and Satwinder Kaur, who now serves on the Kent City Council.

The emergence of Sikh political leadership is not just an American development – it’s a global one. In 2017, we saw Jagmeet Singh become the first-ever Sikh leader of a national political party in Canada, Tan Singh Dhesi become the first-ever turbaned Sikh MP in the U.K, and Preet Kaur Gill become the first-ever Sikh woman MP in the U.K.

The very first day of this year, January 1, 2018, will be marked by Bhalla’s mayoral inauguration in Hoboken. And it will set the stage for a noticeable increase in the representation of Sikhs in various spheres, from television and film to music and literature. Sikhs make up the fifth-largest major world religion, yet they remain largely unknown in the American context.

The tides are starting to turn though, and after more than a century in North America, Sikhs are starting to tell their own stories. In this sense, 2018 will be an empowering and ground breaking year for a community that has long felt invisible in America, despite their markedly visible identity.

(Simran Jeet Singh is a professor of religion at Trinity University and a senior religion fellow for the Sikh Coalition, a civil rights organization in New York. The views expressed in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)

About the author

Simran Jeet Singh

Simran Jeet Singh is a visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary and senior religion fellow for the Sikh Coalition. He is also the host for "Spirited," a new interview-based podcast on faith, spirituality, and activism.

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  • Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    “The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother’s womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. “

  • I don’t care how many ways one finds to EXPRESS their relationship to SPIRIT or God or the UNIVERSE or Christ or YHVH or Allah, the truth must BE ONE or NONE of them are true: So what we have to realize is that the languages were truly CONFUSED (Babel means confusion) by the gods (those who ruled over mankind back then) but in the Bible it says “COME OUT OF BABYLON” or confusion and understand that all the languages just tell of ONE STORY, the story of God and HOW he saves our soul out of our EGO: There is no other story and no other is needed: We all prefer our language because it is near to our ego and our soul hopes in it but if we don’t really GRASP it with our heart and have an INNER TRANSFORMATION from that story, it remains a mere story from history and we remain egoists who want to push our ideas on the world that is already FULL OF IDEA to the brim of the cup: I love traditions and I love story telling and I love to see the TRUTH in everything I see, instead of making my truth try to fit into everything I see: Yet I have experienced BOTH the ego and the soul for the past 25 years and I know they are TWO different states within us: I am sure of it: Yet the goal of creation is to MAKE US ALL ONE in understanding the UNIVERSAL LAW that is truly a LAW OF LOVE: Till we find this law within we won’t see it out there: We see out there what is within us so we all need to be sure to change one person this year: OUR OWN self by releasing the soul from the ego’s stranglehold and seeing the TRUE LAW OF LOVE that will eventually rule over all: BE BLESSED IN ALL YOU DO FOR OTHERS!

  • Sikhs should be fully part of our national fabric and that includes politics. Testing themselves in the electoral process is what individuals of every faith, tradition, and perspective should do.

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