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Commentary: Sikhs, like all of us, share Constitutional protection

Published On: Aug 06 2012 02:18:42 PM CDT

By Ellen Foley
Special to Channel 3000

We often forget that the First Amendment to the Constitution mandates freedom to practice religion.

Sunday's killings at a Sikh temple near my hometown of Milwaukee are horrendous on its face, but even more despicable because the shooter chose a place of worship for his heinous act.

While killings in other nations at funerals, weddings, religious services and gatherings may be common, in the United States, many of our ancestors made lifelong sacrifices to escape religious harassment in their home counties. Our Constitution reflects the sanctity our culture has for places of worship.

This tragedy was the fifth mass shooting in Wisconsin. One was in a hunting area, two were in homes and now two in places of worship.

We should be safe everywhere. Yet our laws specifically underscore from the very beginning of our country that we should be safe in our homes and in our church, temple or mosque. When homes and places of worship are targeted for mass murders, our values are shifting.

Authorities are deciding whether this crime is an act of domestic terrorism or a hate crime. Both phrases sound like the families devastated by this violence are "other" than the rest of Americans. They are part of us. Our acceptance and protection of them is written into the DNA of our country.

It's time to stop these hateful attacks and get back to the values that we all pledge allegiance to before flags in schools and public places. Let's put the Constitution to work.  

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