Beware the Trojan Horse ... and the Vultures Hovering Over ItSANDEEP SINGH BRAR
The Trojan Horse is a tale from the ancient Trojan War about the stratagem that allowed the Greeks finally to enter the city of Troy and end the conflict. After a fruitless 10-year siege, the Greeks constructed a huge wooden horse, and hid a select force of men inside. The Greeks pretended to sail away, and the Trojans pulled the horse into their city as a victory trophy. That night the Greek force crept out of the horse and opened the gates for the rest of the Greek army, which had sailed back under cover of night. The Greeks entered and destroyed the city of Troy, decisively ending the war.
Ever since, the "trojan horse" has been a metaphor for subterfuge.
In the aftermath of the Wisconsin shooting, there has been a tremendous amount of support from the American public: from candle-light vigils to emails and a great interest in the media and general public to learn more about Sikhs and their religion.
Our spokespersons have been doing yeoman service in inviting non-Sikh Americans to learn more about Sikhs in the wake of this terrible tragedy.
I expect that there will be an unprecedented number of non-Sikh visitors to gurdwaras across the nation over the next few weeks. Not only will it be an opportunity to educate many Americans about their Sikh neighbours and the Sikh religion, it will also be an opportunity for all Sikhs and non-Sikhs to come together as a nation mourns and remembers the victims.
While most non-Sikh visitors this weekend visiting gurdwaras will have come out of a genuine sense of curiosity to learn more about Sikhs and their religion, or to express sympathy and solidarity with Sikhs, there will ufortunately also be another type of visitor to our gurdwaras with an entirely different agenda.
This particular group of visitors is not coming to our gurdwaras out of interest in learning about Sikhs or sympathy, but with their own agenda. That agenda is to use this as an opportunity to try to start the process of converting Sikhs to Christianity through a first outreach to Sikhs. A Christian website states the following:
“In the wake of one of the greatest tragedies to hit the Sikh community in North America, Southern Baptists have an unprecedented opportunity to reach out to their Sikh neighbors with the Gospel of Jesus Christ … We have an opportunity now to turn this very sad situation into a life-changing encounter with the Gospel for Sikhs throughout North America.”
And how do they plan on doing this?
Apparently the website mentions that they have ‘church planters’ who coordinate and work with partner churches. The website gives an example of how an opportunity arose this week when their ‘planter’ worked with a local church to contact a gurdwara, first expressing sympathy and then using this as an opportunity for an entirely different purpose as a stepping stone for their real agenda.
In their own words:
“Masih said he has already seen ministry opportunities emerge this week. He mentioned one Sikh temple next door to an SBC church in Baltimore. On Monday, Masih talked with the pastor, who told him about his struggles to build a relationship with the neighboring temple. Masih then, with the pastor still on the phone, called the temple's priest and, in his own Punjabi language, expressed his sorrow over Sunday's tragedy. He asked for the opportunity to bring local Southern Baptists -- including members of the neighboring church -- to visit the temple and to give the Sikh community a tour of an SBC church. He said the temple leadership enthusiastically agreed -- and even volunteered to bring the food. Both sides will have an opportunity to share what they believe and Masih plans to share his own testimony. He also plans to leave them with a film on Jesus in their Punjabi language. Masih noted that believers who feel led to reach out to Sikhs in their community should start by building bridges -- much like what happened in Baltimore. “When we start with us and what we believe, they're not going to listen," Masih said. "When you talk about them, they'll listen. That's how you build a bridge. Show an interest in their lives, and you'll build a relational bridge."
It’s so sad and disturbing to think that there are people and religious organizations out there that would exploit this tragedy for their own ulterior motives. To take advantage of Sikh gurdwara hospitality in the wake of the Wisconsin tragedy and betray our trust for their own arrogant agenda is truly disturbing.
“Masih encourages Christians not to argue theology with Sikhs. Ask a lot of questions. Find out what they believe. Greet them with their own traditional greeting (pronounced "Sat Sri Akal"), if you'd like. If you choose to visit their temple, follow their instructions and be good guests. Instead of focusing on the differences between Christianity and Sikhism, be prepared to share your testimony and show them in your attitudes and actions how much God loves them.”
In Sikhi we use the beautiful metaphor of the world being like a garden and each flower in that garden under the Divine Gardner, Waheguru’s care. We regard other religions as flowers in that garden. Our path is one of those flowers that we follow and love, but we recognize the diversity of flowers and religions in God's garden.
How disappointing to see the appearance of weeds in this garden: of the arrogance of some that cannot respect other people’s beliefs or religions and would betray opportunities for genuine interfaith dialogue and trust for their own cheap agendas.
In the coming weeks be hospitable and welcoming to new visitors to our Gurdwaras, but also beware of the Trojan Horse and the vultures that hover over it..
Sandeep Singh Brar is the Curator of SikhMuseum.com and the creator of the world’s first Sikh website, Sikhs.org.
August 10, 2012
Conversation about this article
1: Jespal Brar (Lodi, California, U.S.A.), August 10, 2012, 12:16 PM.
The Christians are very active. However, I have not had a Christian who has been able to debate me about my religion because I always checked them with more knowledge about their religion. Many said they will check with their pastor or higher authority and get back to me but none ever did. My point is that we need to educate Sikhs about their own religion so that we do not fail when the non-Sikhs try to proselytize us.
2: Amardeep (USA), August 10, 2012, 12:35 PM.
In one of our largest Sikh parades in Yuba city, one comes across Asian looking people and whites distributing Christian literature. They do this in disguise and their literature is also surreptitious.
3: Brijinder Kaur (Pittsburgh, USA), August 10, 2012, 12:37 PM.
Jespal ji: I don't think we should engage these people in argument. They are not there to win arguments. They are there to prey on soft targets: our children, or the less sophisticated ones in the community. We must make sure we do not let them get access to our "weaker" segments, not give them free access or allow them to distribute literature or even visiting cards. This is serious stuff. Their front line will consist of Punjabi speaking vultures ... like Masih. Ideologically we have nothing to worry ... they have no substance to sell. It's the mischief that we need to prevent.
4: Harpreet (Tucson, Arizona, USA), August 10, 2012, 1:31 PM.
I had first hand experience with this behavior in yje Milwaukee gurdwara right after 9/11. They showed up at the Calhoun Road Gurdwara and said they wanted to learn about Sikhs. After my presentation they did not ask any follow up questions but said since they listened to our view, now we have to listen about their faith. I thought that was very rude and was flabbergasted at their behavior.
5: Tony Wood (Lynchburg, Virginia, USA), August 10, 2012, 1:46 PM.
As a person who tries to live by Jesus' teachings, I am heart-broken. What is called Christianity today has little to do with Jesus. I am Caucasian and I reject the idea this murderer represented my race. Yours is a faith of Truth and Love. You have proven that with your response to violence. God bless us all.
6: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), August 10, 2012, 1:46 PM.
Christianity at its core is an intolerant religion. Any religion which divides humanity into binaries, believers and non-believers cannot claim to be peaceful nor tolerant. These are people you are talking about are so disgusting that they are using a massacre of innocent individuals to push their religion! But what are we to do? We are so disorganized that we cannot even create a simple email list of all the gurdwaras in North America to warn them about these bigots. I have no problem with the evangelism of their faith, it may work on second and third generation Hindus, but not Sikhs. I have a problem with these people coming into gurdwaras around the country with such insincere intentions.
7: G.C. Singh (USA), August 10, 2012, 3:52 PM.
I am disturbed by the audacity of these minions who in the name of their faith, operate like corporate raiders trying to influence and ultimately takeover soft targets. Last year, when I was enjoying a cup of coffee at a restaurant, I was approached by a normal looking white man who informed me that he knew that my origin was from Punjab and that he regularly flies there as part of many church groups who want to convert as many as possible. In fact if news reports are to be believed, these "God's missionaries" are using the concept of Church without walls. Backed by money power and using local recruits, they are infiltrating the most vulnerable sections of the populace, copying the pattern of multilevel marketing organizations.
8: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), August 10, 2012, 4:59 PM.
Just wondering if it would be possible to locate the specific gurdwara referred to in Masih's missive and warn them of these people's horrid intentions?
9: Morrissey (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), August 10, 2012, 7:27 PM.
That's nothing, folks. I've just seen a picture of a group of Muslim girls in full hijabs wearing "WE ARE ALL SIKHS" t-shirts. I know a lot of you will want to sit around the camp fire singing "koombaya" but this is our time and we don't need other groups hijacking the moment.
10: Parmjit Singh (Canada), August 10, 2012, 7:27 PM.
So they use the guise of tolerance to push their intolerance. Sounds a tad lower on the intolerant idiot chain than an openly racist person. Their actions are an attack on basic human dignity and should be treated as such.
11: Harpreet Singh (Delhi. India), August 10, 2012, 9:55 PM.
After reading the above article, I am reminded of the novel BABA NAUDH SINGH by Bhai Vir Singh, which I read a few years ago but will read again now. Very interesting story about many people from different communities coming to a Sikh village to convert Sikhs to their own religion but after meeting Naudh Singh, they went back from the village having themselves become Sikh. While respecting every one, we must be proud of dhur ki bani" as our great heritage. We must ourselves know and also tell our children and friends about our history and philosophy. We must invest time and money in it because it is more useful than other worldly education.
12: Ranjit (San Francisco, California, U.S.A.), August 12, 2012, 3:32 AM.
i saw these two pamphlets from their sites, the first mentions how to "pray" for Sikhs - http://southasianpeoples.imb.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Prayer4_SouthAsians_Sikhs.pdf - and the second is instructions about how to use the Wisconsin incidents to spur Sikhs to go to the gospel -- this one is interesting as it mentions 'former Sikhs' who then joined the church ... http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=38453