Written by James Howard Russell, Susan Gammage's Web Site
Wednesday, 17 September 2014
Allah’u’abha! I am a 41 year-old third-generation Baha’i. I’m also gay. On the six-point Kinsey scale I eventually nailed myself as 4.5, which is at about the 75 percent mark across the scale (0 totally straight, 3 bisexual, and 6 totally homosexual). Sadly, this means to me that 75 percent or so of my sexual interest is devoted towards men. Woops, I am one, and people have a problem with that.
I met a Baha’i recently who told me he had — living in Seattle — never even met a gay Baha’i, and so after some thought, I’ve decided to share a little of my journey from a man that has had homosexual feelings since before puberty, hated himself for them fiercely, and come out alive on the other side to write this.
Just a little background about me: like others in this country who went to school in the 1980s or prior, I was taught by American society that a man being attracted to men was considered morally wrong before I even knew to associate that concept with myself. When later I finally had accept in myself an innate attraction to other men, you can imagine the impact on my self-worth as I had to accept that my brand-new sex drive as a young man, such a part of any young man’s excitement when embarking towards manhood, was broken.
The latest story in Iran’s government-approved media is that Bahais are up to no good in an extensive park on the Western outskirts of Tehran, on the road to Kharaj, known as the Vardavard gardens. A google search at 17.30 GMT today found 408 media sites expressing their concern at Bahai activities in the area, in identical words. The stories have two different titles: “The Vardavard gardens are a safe place for immoral Bahai activities” [example] and “A place for having sex with girls, on condition of becoming a Bahai.” [example]. With respect to the latter: if Iranian society is full of young men and women who want to have sex with strangers, wouldn’t they simply find one other without needing to become Bahais? And find a nice mullah who will make sex with strangers all right an proper, by giving them a sigheh marriage for an hour or two?
According to the story, the Bahais attract converts through allowing immoral acts with Bahai women and girls, and therefore they are always on the lookout for safe places. In fact they are even attracting homosexuals! They have a big property in the area of the park, with lots of rooms and a pool and sound-proofing, where they have cocktail parties for boys and girls together. One of the sites even has a photograph. The camera doesn’t lie. Not only are there Bahais drinking beer and cocktails, there are women without hejab, the doors to the street are wide open, and there are no crowds of basij and hezbollah on motorcycles. Tehran is not what it used to be.
The SIA Formula 1 Grand Prix is set to start in Singapore next week and organisers have again invited 9 religious leaders to pray for and bless the track before the event.
A ceremony was held at the track yesterday (Sept 10) where the religious leaders prayed for good weather and the safety of all those involved in the race including drivers, teams, officials and spectators.
The nine different faith groups that were represented were Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Sikhism, Judaism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and the Baha’i faith.
Organisers explained that they didn't want to leave anything to chance and that's why they continued the tradition of bringing in religious leaders to bless the track and pray.
Black, gay and short, Locke hardly fit the stereotype of the strapping Rhodes scholar...
Joellen ElBashir is standing, smiling, in front of filing cabinets with two long, low drawers agape. On a counter, she has laid out her finds: typewritten documents and a stained brown paper bag bearing a few faint lines of handwriting. It’s not the first time ElBashir, curator of Howard University’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, has seen the bag. But every time she sees it, she’s struck.
“If Alain Locke had known, he ... ”
ElBashir chuckles and shakes her head, but it’s clear what she means: If Locke had known his cremated remains had been inside that grubby paper bag, he’d be rolling in his grave.
Written by Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Religious News Service
Tuesday, 19 August 2014
He will occasionally edit pages on other religions, such as Islam or Baha’i, or general articles on Christianity.
When he was a student at Brigham Young University three years ago, Anthony Willey came across a Wikipedia page on Mormons. What he read filled him with frustration.
The article focused on polygamy, which seemed odd since Mormons officially outlawed the practice in 1890. “It didn’t say what Mormons believe or what made them unique,” Willey said. “I had the thought, ‘Who’s editing this stuff?’ and that got me hooked.”
Since editing that page and adding 50 percent to the content, Willey has made more than 8,000 edits to the editable online encyclopedia, mostly on articles related to Mormonism. His top edited pages include entries on Joseph Smith, Mormons, Mormonism, and Black people and Mormonism.
Written by Mataura Ensign , Issue 1569, 23 November 1905, Page 4. Papers Past
Monday, 11 August 2014
Having brought the Bible up-to-date, America has "unearth a Messiah," or "Prophet," and his cult, under the name of Bahai Revelation," is spreading from New York and Boston to Chicago, and thence to the Pacific slope.
The whole of this strange new religion is wrapped in mystery, writes a New York correspondent.
The temple in 58th street, to which I gained admittance, was like a little concert hall, with daylight blocked out and electric lights most cunningly arranged. The mystic password was Allah-U-Abha!" Crowds entered, chiefiv ladies. Everybody was introduced to everybody else—"Sister True, of Chicago," to "Miss Blossom, of Boston" and then "Brother" Hoare caused a lectern to revolve and rise, and gave out what sounded like a Surah of the Koran. We responded devoutly, "Allah-U-Abha!" whereupon it was announced that Brother McNutt would address the meeting. This gentleman, an American—keen, welldressed, and alert—discoursed on his travels in Syria to find the "Prophet," who has his headquarters there, and told us of his arguments by starlight with Hindu Swamis and Moslem pillars of Islam from Morocco to Baghdad.
There was no collection, and no one was amazed to find that the basic religion simply rested on the formula of Mahommedanism: "There is no god but God, and Bahai'Ullah is his prophet."
Briefly, the idea is that all the religions on earth are, as it were, so many trees of divergent kind and many species while the "Bahai Revelation" is the parent soil from which they all spring. The cult aims at uniting Jews and Moslems, Christians and Buddhists, Taoists and Hindus and Confucians, all in one fold, wherein all faiths will "consort in love and fragrance."
A tiny, misunderstood, and often-persecuted community is facing a serious crisis in Iraq. The Yezidi, who practice an ancient monotheistic religion, face genocide as militants of the “Islamic State” (IS) have overrun Sinjar, the main hub for this minority, and proceeded to slaughter and torment them, sending tens of thousands of them up into the mountains with no food or water.
When Mohamed Morsi was ousted last year, many celebrated it and often cited the Muslim Brotherhood’s conservative religious doctrine and its effects on the state as to why the group had to go. We were lectured about the dangers of radical Islam and how its presence threatens the existence of the country’s non-Sunni minorities. The Brotherhood did not help itself, often resorting to sectarian rhetoric and incitement.
So how are we doing now more than one year after Morsi?
In a recent poll of religious association by state, the news was that an obscure religion was number 2 in South Carolina. Having lived in North Carolina for many years, I was surprised to find a name that I didn't recognize. The second largest religious affiliation in South Carolina is Baha'i. For most of us, this is not at all familiar and for a valid reason; it's 'messenger of god' didn't declare himself as such until 1866. The leader, Bahá'u'lláh, followed the unconventional teaching of a Shi'a man, Báb. These teachings led him to 3 keys beliefs, which are the basis of the religious faith of his followers today. (1) The unity of god- god is omni this and that, the creator, the force of universal consciousness, which isn't anything terribly different from most major religions. (2) The Unity of religion- all religions are from the same god and are essentially all the same once you remove cultural and time-specific regulations. (3) The unity of humanity- all are created equally and diversity is valuable.
This tablet by Abdu’l-Baha, dated around 1899, responds to detailed questions, “concerning the wisdom of referring some important laws to the House of Justice.” Abdu’l-Baha replies that, in principle, the Baha’i Faith is similar to Christianity, whose scriptures also specify only a few laws.
The Bahai Faith, he says, has little connection to worldly concerns. Religion’s primary function is to refine characters and bring light in darkness. However the Bahai scriptures do specify some foundations of our religious law, leaving subsidiary matters to the divinely-inspired House of Justice, which can make ‘cultural laws,’ (ahkaam madaniyyih) in accordance with time and circumstance. In Islam, this power was in the hands of diverse divines, resulting in conflicting rules. In the Bahai Faith, only the rulings of the Houses of Justice are binding, and the Houses of Justice change their rulings from time to time. This principle applies to a local, national or international House of Justice.
As for the matter of marriage, this falls entirely within the ‘cultural laws.’
Abdu’l-Baha gives two examples of the advantage of flexibility in religious law: the forbidden degrees of marriage and the punishments for breaches of the religious law. The first should be decided by the House of Justice according to social customs and medical requirements, wisdom, and suitability for human nature (the first three of which are specific to a time and place). Punishments likewise cannot remain the same forever, as can be seen in Judaism and Islam, where the punishments specified in scripture are no longer socially acceptable.