Sikh temple shooting leads to unity in San Antonio

Interfaith memorial service brings faiths together

SAN ANTONIO - Members of several different faiths came together Wednesday night to stand in unity with the city's Sikh community three days after a gunmen opened fire and killed 6 people inside a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.

San Antonio's Temple Beth-El hosted the interfaith memorial service for the victims and survivors of the shooting.

The service was attended by city leaders, including Mayor Julian Castro.

"It is indeed very encouraging but not surprising we would see people of different faiths, of different walks of life and perspectives gather here in San Antonio," Castro told the gathering. "Tonight we gather in the spirit of humanity, understanding that we are all part of the human family. That all of us, which ever God we worship, have the same values, have the same worth as human beings."

There are an estimated 700,000 Sikhs living in the U.S. with only about 300 families in San Antonio. The tight knit community has experienced an outpouring of support in the wake of the shooting. They were pleased to be joined by members of other faiths as they mourn the deaths of the shooting victims.

"No matter what happens, they are standing right behind you they are never going to let you fall. If something happens we are here for everybody," said Gurvinder Kochar a local Sikh. "It's like a family. Everyone has their own expertise and when you put them all together it's like a proper meal."

The deadly shooting followed another mass shooting in a movie theater in Colorado leading many people to wonder if any place is safe. San Antonio Police Chief William McManus told the gathering not to give into the fear.

"We cannot stop living our lives. We cannot stop being free and open because of these incidents," McManus said. "If we do then they win. The supremacists, the bullies, the hate mongers, they beat us and we can't let that happen."

Leaders of the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh faiths spoke about the need to unite in the face of hatred and intolerance.

"San Antonio in my opinion is known for its diversity and cooperation across racial lines, ethnic lines and religious lines," said Imam Omar Shakir who represented local Muslims. "It's just a reassurance of what we already knew we had here and that's just a faith community and just a human community that cares about all human beings."

The religious leaders tried to remind the faithful that we have more in common than we have differences.

"The commonality that religions have today is the sanctity of life and so really an attack on one religion, one faith is an attack on all faiths," said Rabbi Darryl Crystal of Temple Beth-El. "By standing together it sends a message of support and at the same time when these incidents of hate occur that we want to work together in honor of those who have passed away to make the world a better place."

For a list of recent stories Tim Gerber has done, click here.


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