News Release

Latter-day Saint Scholars Find Inspiration in the Words of Guru Nanak


Two professors of Church History and Doctrine from Brigham Young University (BYU), which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, were among 21 scholars invited to participate in an international conference on the teaching of Guru Nanak, founder of the Sikh religion, held in Amritsar, India. 

Born over 550 years ago in modern Pakistan, Guru Nanak was a revolutionary thinker and religious reformer whose message of the oneness of God and equality across creed, cast and gender has inspired millions since that time. 

Alonzo Gaskill and Taunalyn Rutherford, who both teach World Religions at the Latter-day Saint university, shared insights and inspiration gained from words of the great Guru. 

Speaking to over 900 people, Professor Gaskill observed, “ Guru Nanak’s vison of God is a model for Christian ecumenism.  The idea that there is only one God; that how one lives is more important than his conception of God; the need to see the good in the religious beliefs and practices of others -if Christians were to apply these principles of Nanak, it would certainly unite the faith a heal many of Christianity’s rifts.”

Professor Rutherford, Nanak’s messages of equality, pluralism, community and the oneness of God are especially helpful. Her goal in teaching world religions at BYU is to make her students comfortable with pluralism. 

She explains, “I want my students to leave my class with a love and openness to all religions we study. The teachings of Guru Nanak support this” 

Jeanette Schiwek Kleijweg, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a student of ancient Hebrew also spoke at the conference, addressing the parallels between Guru Nanak and the Prophet Joseph Smith.

The similarities are striking she says. “Both searched for the truth, both had a revelatory experience in God’s presence and were called to preach His divine nature and share the message. The religions they founded treat scripture with great respect and emphasize service and the worth and equality of all individuals.”

Dr. Pushpinder Walia, President of the BBK DAV College for Woman and organizer of the event expressed her appreciation for the contributions of the Latter-day Saint scholars.  “We love having you here,” she said.  “You are God’s people.  You have inspired us to think about our path to God.”

“Reflections on the Life and Legacy of Guru Nanak Devji in the Contemporary Context” was sponsored by Indian Council of Social  Science Research and held at the BBK DAV College for Women on 29 and 30 January, 2020.

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