The recent murder of six worshipers at a Sikh temple in Milwaukee is seen as an attack on humanity, not just religious bigotry.

By Jeff Brumley

American Sikhs are appealing to other faiths for solidarity after Sunday’s bloody massacre near Milwaukee.

Six worshipers at a Sikh temple were killed by a white supremacist gunman who was then shot dead by police.

“The majority of people have been standing behind us,” one Illinois Sikh leader told the Chicago Tribune. “It’s not an attack against the Sikhs. It is an attack against humanity.”

Moderate Baptist voices are already shouting ‘amen’ to that claim.

“It is especially important for majority religious communities, locally and nationally, to say we stand with the Sikhs and we stand with whoever is vulnerable,” said David Gushee, distinguished professor of Christian ethics and director of the Center for Theology and Public Life at Mercer University.

That can be accomplished by outward expressions such as public prayer and financial contributions for victims, said Walter Lanier, pastor of Progressive Baptist Church in Milwaukee.

Lanier, whose American Baptist Churches USA congregation is located about 15 minutes from the Sikh temple where the shootings occurred, said Christians must take the attack personally.

“This is a tragic crime against all human kind and we need to support them,” he said. But he added that it doesn’t stop there. Christians must see such tragedies as times to examine their own lives, individually and corporately.

Lanier said he preached a sermon on conflict resolution following the theater massacre in Aurora, Colo., and will address the subject again this coming Sunday.

“Let us also look at ourselves and our churches and families and examine how we work through conflict,” he said.

Gushee noted there are other lessons churches can glean from the tragedy. One is to reach out to people who seem to be lonely and isolated, as many recent gunmen have been.

“Be aware of every person who we have an opportunity to enter into community with,” Gushee said.

Another is consider hiring professional security and having an emergency plan in place because some criminals see religious groups as easy targets.

And it’s a good idea to become involved in interfaith movements, Gushee said, because they can lay a groundwork of relationships to speed healing if tragedy does strike.

“That also says to anyone flirting with ideological hatred that you are on your own on this, you are going against your own faith,” he said.