October 2, 2023 (Washington, DC) — Through both advocacy work and our direct efforts to help sangats, the Sikh Coalition continues to push for policies and resources that will help gurdwaras secure themselves against potential threats.
Last Thursday, the Sikh Coalition joined partners and allies at the White House for a convening focused on strengthening security for all houses of worship. The roundtable, hosted by the White House, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Department of Justice, gathered faith and community leaders from across the nation to participate in a “facilitated tabletop exercise discussion” that featured a hypothetical attack on a house of worship so that attendees could discuss both response strategies and best practices for prevention.
In addition, on Saturday, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships released “Allied Against Hate: A Toolkit for Faith Communities.” This document, which is intended to provide resources and guidance to a wide variety of faith communities to help them stand in solidarity with one another in the face of hate violence and rhetoric, was prepared as part of the Biden Administration’s first-of-its-kind National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism. The Sikh Coalition was proud to provide policy guidance and the Sikh perspective on both the toolkit and the broader strategy.
These conversations build on longstanding Sikh Coalition advocacy around security for our institutions—specifically houses of worship. Last year, as one of many efforts to mark the 20th anniversary of the 2012 attack on the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, the Sikh Coalition and our partners facilitated hundreds of emails from sangat members to their elected officials in Congress in support of the Nonprofit Security Grant Program Improvement Act (NSGPIA), which provided more funding and easier access to grant money that could be used by religious entities like gurdwaras. We also gathered signatures from more than 90 gurdwaras on a letter to President Biden in support of the NSGPIA and other related measures. Ultimately, thanks to these Sikh voices and those of other advocates, the NSGPIA became law in December of last year.
The Sikh Coalition’s work to protect gurdwaras, however, goes beyond federal advocacy. Since 2017, the Sikh Coalition has been sharing free security preparedness resources with sangats across the nation and facilitating security assessments by third parties; to date, we have helped more than 100 gurdwaras secure these assessments, resulting in enhancements in physical security (e.g. locks and the storage of valuables), surveillance, emergency preparedness, and several other areas. In recent months, we have also increased our efforts to connect gurdwaras directly with organizations that can assist them in the actual grant writing process so that they can more effectively apply for NSGP resources.
If you are a gurdwara official who has not yet taken concrete steps to make your sangat safer, please review our free Gurdwara Security Toolkit and call 212-655-3095 or email email@example.com to request a free security consultation in English or Punjabi.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.