Faith

Montgomery Co. Maryland Teachers Attend ‘Official’ Seminar on This Religion

Now that there's a 'Sikhism 101,' should there be a 'Christianity 101' class as well? How would that go over?

A program in Montgomery County, Maryland, allows students of the Sikh religion to educate their teachers about the practice of the Sikh faith.

Sikhism, founded in the Punjab (a state in northern India) during the 15th century, is a monotheistic religion that stresses the importance of doing good actions. Sikhs have a scripture book and believe in treating everyone equally.

The students have been teaching a sort of Sikhism 101 to their teachers at after-school events.

“The students have been teaching a sort of Sikhism 101 to their teachers at after-school events at their gurdwara — a Sikh house of worship — in North Potomac for four years,” noted The Washington Post on April 26. “Last year, according to organizer Harminder Kaur, they won approval from the state of Maryland to get their free class to count as formal teacher training.”

While there are roughly 25 million Sikhs worldwide, a small but growing number live in the United States. “[Sikh] members are often mistakenly identified as Muslim,” according to the Pew Research Center.

“Alarmed by rising hate crimes targeting not only Sikhs but also other Indian Americans and other religious groups including Muslims and Jews, the Sikh community in America recently created a national TV ad in which people of all ages declare to the camera, ‘We are Sikhs. We are Americans,'” The Post reported.

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Related: Teacher, LGBT Partner Are ‘Anti-Christian Bigots’ for Banning Cross Necklaces

The Sikh students in Montgomery County have apparently been informing their teachers about bullying that targets Sikh students — and educating others about a religion that is largely unknown in America. More than 200 teachers have participated.

Teachers even asked students questions about “what holidays Sikhs celebrate, and students complained that they’ve been marked down in class for missing school on holidays that their teachers have never heard of,” noted the Post piece. The students plan to go national with this program.

While this program clearly has some value, think about this for a moment: What would happen if Christian students were to host a similar program?

Would public educators be as tolerant about sitting down and learning firsthand what motivates a Christian student, for instance, to wear a cross necklace as a profession of faith? Or of learning more about Christian holidays and sacraments? Of understanding why some students fast during Lent?

Related: Christian Teacher Banned from Wearing Cross Necklace in Germany

While many in the United States are probably much more aware of the basic teachings and practices of Christianity (in contrast to knowledge of the Sikh faith),  some surprisingly may be unaware of or insensitive to faith-based practices.

Recently, students in Tampa, Florida, were allegedly told by a teacher to remove their cross necklaces while in the classroom. And in Germany, school administrators reportedly banned a teacher from wearing her cross necklace.

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