By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN – While researching my prior post about Nikki Haley coming under attack by her fellow South Carolina Republicans for her Sikh heritage, I came across a local activist, Oran Smith of the Palmetto Family Council, who told CNN, "Most people can't even pronounce Sikh,' even the ones that are criticizing her."

For the record, the word Sikh rhymes with click. But knowing how to pronounce Sikhism won't take you very far toward understanding whether this religious tradition is something that voters in South Carolina should fear and candidates in South Carolina should flee. So what are Sikhs and Sikhism all about? To answer that question, I contacted Gurinder Singh Mann, who occupies an endowed chair in Sikh Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Mann, one of the world's foremost authorities on Sikhism (and himself a Sikh), took time out from a conference he was attending at Lund University, Sweden, to tell me this:

"Belonging to a five-century-old monotheistic tradition, the Sikhs lay emphasis on a life of hard work, social commitment, and ethical living. A complex set of doctrinal, historical and sociological reasons made them a very political people and they have kept up that heritage in both the Punjab, the land of their origin, and wherever they have migrated to in the past century. Nikki Haley may well be the latest episode in this saga: you carry on your politics and change the religion if need be."

READ THE FULL ARTICLE: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/06/22/nikki-haley-provokes-question-whats-sikhism/


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