The president could take his pick: The Association of Religion Data Archives found in its 2010 study of U.S. congregations that there are 246 gurdwaras in the United States.
The members of Congress who wrote the letter said that a presidential visit would mean recognition for this religion, which is little understood by most Americans. Sikhism is a monotheistic faith that originated in India. Although Sikhism is unrelated to Islam, Sikh men, who often wear turbans, have been mistaken for Muslims in America and have been victims of hate crimes since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
“Recognition by the President would raise the profile of Sikh-American identity and help replace hatred with respect and understanding,” Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) said in an email, noting that a Sikh man was attacked in his state just this week. The most notable violence against Sikhs was the massacre of six worshipers in a temple in Oak Creek, Wis., in 2012.
Rep. Judy Chu, another California Democrat who signed the letter, said in an email, “I believe that a visit by President Obama to a Sikh temple will serve multiple purposes. It will serve as a powerful statement that Sikhs — like all groups — are a part of our country, and it will demonstrate the openness that exemplifies Sikh houses of worship. Education and awareness are our most powerful tools against bigotry and violence. The President has an unparalleled ability to wield those tools — and I encourage him to do so by visiting a Sikh temple.”
Six Republicans and 14 Democrats signed the letter.
The White House confirmed that the letter was received, but did not say whether Obama would consider putting a gurdwara on his schedule during his final months in office.
And although a president has not been to a Sikh temple, other White House officials have visited. And Sikhs have been to the White House: