Interfaith event held at the Esperanza Academy Charter School in Philadelphia on Feb 3, 2020

S.Kavneet Singh of the American Sikh Council (ASC) participated in an interfaith event held by the ‘Interfaith Council of Greater Philadelphia’ (ICGP also known as Interfaith Philadelphia) hosted by the representatives of the Esperanza Christian Academy in Philadelphia on February 3, 2020.

Sister Maria Hornung a Catholic nun who is a pharmacologist, spoke about the opioid crisis and its impact on various communities across the nation. She stressed the need for everyone of faith to get together in order to combat this nationwide epidemic. More than 399,000 people have died from overdoses involving all kinds of opioid, including prescription and illicit opioids from 1999-2017. The timeline has been as follows:

  1. The first wave began with increased prescribing of opioids in the 1990s, with overdose deaths involving prescription opioids (natural and semi-synthetic opioids and methadone) increasing since at least 1999.
  2. The second wave began in 2010, with rapid increases in overdose deaths involving heroin.
  3. The third wave began in 2013, with significant increases in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids, particularly those involving illicitly-manufactured fentanyl (IMF). The IMF market continues to change, and IMF can be found in combination with heroin, counterfeit pills, and cocaine.

The major drugs involved in this rampant nationwide scourge are the following four:

  • Natural opioids (including morphine and codeine) and semi-synthetic opioids (drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone)
  • Methadone, a synthetic opioid
  • Synthetic opioids other than methadone (drugs like tramadol and fentanyl)
  • Heroin, an illicit (illegally made) opioid synthesized from morphine that can be a white or brown powder, or a black sticky substance.

The sensitivities involved in handling the addicted was discussed and laid out for all to consider within the various faith groups present. It is important that the Sikh community is also aware that these issues do impact us too! Just because it is not talked about openly that does not mean that this issue does not exist!

The Jewish representative Rabbi Batya Glazer reminded everyone about the Federal Security Grant is available for securing all houses of prayer from the state of Pennsylvania. The deadline for the application is Feb 14, 2020. Others

Gurdwaras are vulnerable and should take advantage of any grant that is available to secure themselves. Additionally, follow the procedures recommended by the American Sikh Council (ASC).

ICGP has a very active group of interfaith participants who meet regularly for meetings but also informally. It is also one of the larger interfaith organizations in the country which is active not only in the City of Philadelphia but also in the tristate area (NJ-PA-DE). Over thirty-two representatives from the Sikh, Jewish, Muslim, Baha’i, and various Christian denominations participated in the meeting.

Representatives from the American Sikh Council have been participating in the Interfaith Philadelphia meetings and many outreach events since 2004.

Sikhs across the nation are to requested to take the time and proactively engage with local interfaith councils and be involved in various community activities so that our neighbors and co-citizens understand us better.


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