Sikhs Celebrate at White House

The White House blog details the Sikh celebration of the “540th anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak Dev Ji” that took place on November 13th.  President Obama did not attend (he was on the first leg of his Asia trip), and it does not appear he made a statement on the celebration.

The White House notes that this is the first Sikh celebration to occur in the White House.  It is not, however, the first time this event has been recognized by the White House.  While President George W. Bush did not celebrate Dev Ji’s birthday, he did issue a statement acknowledging it more than once.  For example, in 2003, then-President Bush said

As Americans, we cherish our freedom to worship freely, and we remain committed to welcoming individuals of all religions. By working together, we help advance peace and mutual understanding around the world and build a future of promise and compassion for all.

Within the US Army, a Sikh was recently granted an exemption to wear the articles of his faith, including a turban, while he served in uniform.  Because Sikhs generally consider those articles of faith a matter for which compromise is not an option, the Sikh Coalition has said that Sikhs are essentially prohibited from serving by regulations that prohibit them from adhering to the tenets of their faith.

As noted at the Religion Clause.