NCC leaders express heartache at shootings in Sikh temple

Posted Aug 6, 2012

[National Council of Churches] Leaders of the National Council of Churches expressed shock Sunday at the “tragedy of violence” in Oak Creek, Wis., where a gunman opened fire in a Sikh temple, killing at least seven worshipers and injuring three others.

Local police, who described the incident as “an act of domestic terrorism,” shot and killed the alleged gunman in the temple parking lot.

National Council of Churches President Kathryn Lohre expressed heart ache for the Sikh community in Wisconsin and across the country.

“As children of God, we mourn the tragedy of violence wherever it occurs, whether in a movie theater or a house of prayer,” Lohre said Sunday night.

“We pray for healing and wholeness for all effected by today’s events and stand in solidarity with our Sikh brothers and sisters in this frightening time,” Lohre said.

Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, NCC associate general secretary, Faith & Order and Interfaith Relations, said, “While it is difficult to know what was in the mind of the attacker, it would seem that it was the same mix of fear, ignorance, and bigotry that fuels all violence against individuals or communities of faith. It is our prayer that such acts of terrorism – for they are in fact terrorist acts – become less and less frequent, and indeed come to an end, as our society becomes more and more vigilant in educating one another on what it truly means to live as neighbors of one another.

“We can never stop such acts,” Kireopoulos said. “We can always do more to foster understanding and respect.”

Sikhs originated in the Punjab region of India in the 15th century. Nearly 20 million Sikhs live in India and members of the religion live all over the world. There are about 1.3 million Sikhs in the United States and Canada.

Male Sikhs are recognizable by the turban they wear to cover their hair. Women may wear a turban or cover their head with a scarf. Sikhs are known for their devotion to peace, their belief that all persons are equal, and their belief in one God.