North Carolina Church Demands Sikh Remove Turban Before Donating to the Poor

180px-sikh_wearing_turbanGary Khera, went with his wife to the Union Mission in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina to give money to charity. The church, however, told him to take off his religious turban while inside the mission — Sir, you have to take your turban off. This is the United States. The Church stands by the demand that religious headwear have the same status as a baseball cap. A typical turban, or dastar, (as shown left) should not be removed by a religious Sikh.

Khera is a U.S. citizen. He is also a religious Sikh and wanted to give to the poor.

Florence Williams, the mission’s in-take director, stopped him upon entering and Rev. Ron Weeks, executive director of the mission, supports her, insisting that, since the mission has a chapel inside, the entire building “the Lord’s house.” A sign in the lobby states the policy against hats or other headwear inside.

Weeks insists “We have policy, and he didn’t want to abide by it . . . This was nothing to do with the turban, nothing to do with his faith.” Hmmm, it seems like it might have a little to do with his faith.

Weeks says that Khera (who he claimed became upset and made a scene) is not without options. They would still like the money but suggest that he mail it in or have his wife bring it in. I would not wait too long by the mailbox for this particular check.

For the full story, click here.

12 thoughts on “North Carolina Church Demands Sikh Remove Turban Before Donating to the Poor”

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  2. Was your sister, as I and my sister were, ever forced to wear a Kleenex on her head – affixed with a bobby pin?

    Call her up right now and ask her.. 😉

  3. PattyC,
    You are right about the veil that Catholic women wore in church if they did not have a hat on. They were supposed to wear something on their head and men were not supposed to wear hats. I can remember my Mom and my oldest sister having an argument when my sister decided to buck the system and go to church without a head covering. That was in the late 50’s or early 60’s. Eventually the church relaxed the headwear requirements for women.

  4. Could it be that Mr. Khera has an ax to grind with Roanoke Rapids, particularly the Christian community? After winning a legal battle to open a topless bar over the objections of the community, including the town leaders, his business failed. see “Topless Bar Takes it Off in Roanoke Rapids” June 30, 1998,

  5. ‘Though I have quite a bit of contempt for bigots, the cowardly ones hold special revulsion for me.’

    You and me both, mespo. Especially, the ones who revile success
    next to their own lot in life-because of their own ignorance.

    MAsckeptic, I remember wearing a veil in the RCC when I was growing up. It was mandatory for for ceremonies like First Communion and Confirmation, in fact.

  6. This argument is the exact same on every blog I have visited. Yours is no different. You left out one important point. Khera was asked to step outside the church building while his head was covered and he refused choosing rather to escalate this into a public display about what faith had the most authority and whos rights were being violated. Except Khera and apparently most of you do not understand he (Khera)was in a privately owned church that clearly had the head covering rules displayed outside the building. Regardless of your understanding/interpretation of the Bible…. these people chose to interpret their religion to include not wearing their head covered inside their privately owned building and that is their right. Khera keeps referring to the Union Mission as a community center while the owners refer to it as a church/sanctuary. I think the owners have more rights in their privately owned church building than a visitor looking for a law suit or publicity.

  7. I don’t recall any mosque in the United States of America requiring a woman to wear a burqa or veil. This insult is equivalent to asking an orthodox jew to rmove his yarmulke. When was the last time you heard of that?

    These are the people that give Christianity and faith in general a bad name.

  8. While I do feel in this case the people involved were less than sincere I am interested to note the dismissal that the Christian traditions should not also be awarded similar respect. Wearing a head covering in church is seen as disrespectful.

    What we have here is a culture clash. I don’t think either party is /clearly/ in the right or in the wrong.

    What if a Christian couple was attempting to enter a mosque to make a donation and the woman refused to cover herself in a burqa and veil? I feel that situation would proceed along the same lines. No, it’s not a direct parallel but we should be considering the dynamics of the situation from both sides.

  9. I won’t assume — even though maybe I should — that the action was motivated by bigotry but we can be sure it is motivated by a bizarre interpretation of Christianity. In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul writes that men should not cover their heads when “praying or prophesying” (but nothing about when donating or entering a holy site), but that women should always cover theirs when praying “or prophesying.” Which leaves me wondering: do the women attend Union Mission cover their heads when praying? Are they forbidden from wearing their hair short (which is also condemned in 1 Corinthians 11)?

  10. “Weeks insists “We have policy, and he didn’t want to abide by it . . . This was nothing to do with the turban, nothing to do with his faith.” Hmmm, it seems like it might have a little to do with his faith.”

    Though I have quite a bit of contempt for bigots, the cowardly ones hold special revulsion for me.

  11. Wow. They want his money, as long as it’s not him. He should mail them a picture of him, in his religious headdress, making a huge donation to another charity with him holding a giant check!

    This is the United States, and you can wear whatever you want. Geez.

  12. If I was that Sikh, I would send them an autographed picture of him with the turban on and tell them to go scratch. What kind of nonsense is this? These religious stories are getting kind of crazy.

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