fbpx
61.6 F
Spokane
Sunday, June 23, 2024
HomeNewsLocal leaders speak out against vandalism at Sikh Temple of Spokane

Local leaders speak out against vandalism at Sikh Temple of Spokane

Date:

Related stories

Unitarian Universalists to vote on updated covenant, values at 2024 General Assembly

Unitarian Universalists debate revising their Article II covenant at the 2024 General Assembly, highlighting changes in values and sparking discussions on identity and inclusion.

Veradale UCC Hosts ‘Love Lives Here’ Potluck, Marking Anniversary and Defying Hate Crime

Veradale UCC hosts 'Love Lives Here' potluck, celebrating love over hate after a vandalism incident. Join the community gathering and learn how the church is responding to challenges with unity and compassion.

FāVS Religion News Roundup: June 21

Spokane area news: $3.8M gift for Catholic education, Tolkien lecture at Whitworth, free domestic violence course, and local students win Holocaust writing contest. Community updates and events.

Episcopal Church grapples with ‘transformative role’ in Native American residential schools

The Episcopal Church begins a $2M truth-seeking process to reckon with its role operating 34+ Native American boarding schools aimed at cultural assimilation, overcoming obstacles to expose a traumatic legacy.

Spokane-based director’s new film ‘Sight’ scores 98% on Rotten Tomatoes

Award-winning director Andrew Hyatt's new film 'Sight' tells the inspiring true story of Dr. Ming Wang, who overcame adversity to become a renowned eye surgeon. Hyatt discusses blending faith into his movies like 'Sight' and finding his path in Hollywood.

Our Sponsors

spot_img
spot_img

By Tracy Simmons

Drunk and cold, Jeffrey C. Pittman, 44, allegedly broke into the Sikh Temple of Spokane early Thursday morning, possibly looking for a place to get warm.

When he took in his surroundings — Punjabi text and illustrations of men with beards and turbans — he thought he had entered a place that was associated with the Taliban, or ISIS, he told police, and began damaging things inside the building. In America Sikhs are commonly mistaken for Muslims, the Atlantic reported in 2015.

Pittman allegedly sprayed a fire extinguisher throughout the building, flooding the sacred space with fine, yellow powder. He ripped the pages out of the Sikh sacred text — the Guru Granth Sahib. He poured out the gurdwara’s sacred water imported from India.

Early Thursday morning, when some Sikhs came in the building for prayer, they found the suspect, hiding naked, and detained him, according to a statement from the Spokane Valley Police Department.

Pittman was arrested on burglary and malicious harassment charges.

Sikh Temple of Spokane/Tracy Simmons - SpokaneFAVS
Sikh Temple of Spokane/Tracy Simmons – SpokaneFAVS

Members of the Sikh Temple say damages are estimated between $30,000 and $50,000.

On Thursday afternoon faith and political leaders gathered in the temple’s langar to condemn the vandalism at a press conference organized by the Spokane Interfaith Council.

“We are your classmates, neighbors and colleagues and we would like to take this negative act of vandalism and turn it into an opportunity for the community to learn more about each other,” said Subarna Nagra, member of the Sikh Temple.

She said the temple (also called a gurdwara) would soon be holding an open house for the Spokane community to learn more about the Sikh faith.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said there are too many acts like the one on the Sikh Temple happening throughout the area. Last year the Bosnia and Herzegovina Heritage Association of Spokane, a Muslim prayer space, was vandalized and in 2014 Temple Beth Shalom was also vandalized. Over the weekend two Spokane Valley churches were set fire.

“I think it’s time that we as a community bond together so that these acts no longer occur,” Knezovich said. “Fear, anger and hate are what is happening to our society. No longer is it love one another, respect one another and be kind to one another. These kind of acts are not who we are as an American society.”

He said acts like this would not be tolerated in the Spokane area.

Bishop Jim Waggoner of the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane said the vandalism at the gurdwara is saddening, but also an opportunity.

“I think it’s an opportunity to encourage everyone to get to know your neighbor and get to learn and respect other religions’ traditions, practices and beliefs,” he said. “…Sometimes what we don’t know does cause fear.”

Admir Rasic, a local Muslim, came to the press conference to stand in solidarity with the local Sikh community. He said when bigotry and hate speech go unchallenged, vandalism like today’s is the consequence.

Tracy Simmons
Tracy Simmons
Tracy Simmons is an award-winning journalist specializing in religion reporting and digital entrepreneurship. In her approximate 20 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti. Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas, Connecticut and Washington. She is the executive director of SpokaneFāVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Washington. She also writes for The Spokesman-Review and national publications. She is a Scholarly Assistant Professor of Journalism at Washington State University.

Our Sponsors

spot_img
spot_img
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x