Q:A Sikh-Americans and Religious Liberty
Source Organization: Pew Research Center
Speaker: Robert W. Tuttle
David R. and Sherry Kirschner Berz Research Professor of Law and Religion, The George Washington University Law School
Venue: Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life
12/03/2009 - With their distinctive appearance and religious practices, Sikh-Americans often find themselves at the center of workplace discrimination cases and other controversies involving their religious rights. And while Sikh groups have worked to carve out legal protections for the community's religious practices, their efforts have not always met with success. In California, for example, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently vetoed a bill that would have required police in the state to receive training about the Sikh religion – including the faith's requirement that believers carry a small sword known as a kirpan. The bill, which Schwarzenegger called unnecessary, will likely be reintroduced in the state's next legislative session.
Meanwhile, national Sikh organizations have joined other religious groups to lobby the U.S. Congress to pass legislation guaranteeing the right of individuals to wear religious head coverings when being photographed for driver's licenses and other official forms of identification.
To better understand religious liberty and accommodation issues involving Sikh-Americans, the Pew Forum turns to church-state scholar Robert W. Tuttle.
Robert W. Tuttle, David R. and Sherry Kirschner Berz Research Professor of Law and Religion, The George Washington University Law School
Jesse Merriam, Research Associate, Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life
Read the full Q&A Sikh-Americans and Religious Liberty on the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life's Web site.