Opinion

Entries arguing a particular point of view

A 1963 article: "We Love All Religions"


According to the 19-month calendar followed by the worldwide religion known as Bahai, the first day of this week was the 13th of Jalal, in the year 120. It was a red-letter day in the lives of Bahai's 2,000,000 followers. In Haifa, Israel, 504 leaders of the sect gathered to elect by secret ballot nine of their members who will form a Universal House of Justice. After the results are announced to the first world congress of Bahai in London next week, the House will have infallible powers to legislate for the faithful.

The House has plenty of sacred scripture to guide its decisions. Each of Bahai's chief prophets, the 19th century Islamic heretics known as Bab and Baha'u'llah, wrote his own five-foot shelf of divine revelations. In addition, Bahai (Persian for "follower of Baha'u'llah") broad-mindedly welcomes the wisdom of all the great religious teachers, from Moses to Christ to Mohammed to Buddha. "We love all religions," says Canadian-born Ruhiyyih Rabbani, widow of Baha'u'llah's great-grandson.

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Baha'ism: nudging toward becoming America's religion

EVANSTON, Ill. (BP)--One of the best-known Christmas movies, "Home Alone," features Trinity United Methodist Church in Wilmette, Ill. It's there that young "Kevin McCallister" hides in the Nativity scene and later, at a Christmas Eve service, meets and commiserates with the scary old man from next door. The look is traditional, Judeo-Christian Americana, so what is a 150-foot-tall Persian temple doing less than a mile down the street?

{josquote}Hell is remoteness from God (not a very scary prospect for folks who've worked hard all their lives at staying remote from God).{/josquote}

I'm talking about the Baha'i House of Worship, the North American center for this Middle-Eastern faith. Rising above Lake Michigan, the ornate dome is a genuine curiosity in the North Shore suburbs that produced the likes of Donald Rumsfeld and Charleton Heston. This seems a bad fit for the Baha'is, but I'm not so sure. I'm starting to think that Baha'ism is becoming America's religion after all.

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November 30 holiday

Points of view - Your letters

Dennis Canavan, MSP, The Scottish Parliament writes:

YOUR leader of September 12 complained about inadequate public consultation on my proposal to make St Andrew's Day a national holiday. You also question whether the different faiths of the people of Scotland will be comfortable about lining up behind an annual celebration founded on the life of a Christian saint.

The public consultation on my proposal began more than two years ago with an open invitation to respond to my consultation document. The enterprise and culture committee of the Scottish Parliament issued a similar invitation well over a year ago. I am unable to trace any response from The Herald but there was a very positive response to my document from the Scottish Inter-Faith Council on behalf of leaders of Christian churches, the Muslim community, the Jewish community, the Buddhist community, the Sikh community and the Baha'i Council for Scotland. They expressed support for my proposal, which they see as "an opportunity to celebrate the multi-faith and multicultural nature of Scottish society as well as Scottish culture and history".

The First Minister expressed similar sentiments on Monday and I welcome such broad support for my proposal to give all the people of Scotland the opportunity to celebrate our national identity, our cultural diversity and our membership of the international community.

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Faith Matters: Our common thread: God didn't build us to hate

"Now this triple world - all is my domain; The Living Beings in it - all are my children But now this place abounds with illness and calamity; And I alone am able to save and protect them."- from the Lotus Sutra, Chapter 3 "A Parable"

The signatures on the homepage of the Web site are impressive: His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bishop Dimitrios Couchell, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed.

{josquote}It doesn't matter if you're Bahai'i or Sikh, Christian or Zoroastrian, Muslim or Jew: seasonofprayer.org has prayers for you, as well as offerings from Hindu, Buddhist and non-sectarian traditions.{/josquote}

While politicians and the nations they lead wage war through both word and deed, this Who's Who of religious leaders has joined with dozens of others to collectively thumb their noses at this hubris and wage peace through prayer. Representing some of the VIPS of Buddhism, Anglicanism, Orthodox Christianity, Judaism and Islam, these believers have banded together across theological divides to consciously pray for peace in the Middle East at www.seasonofprayer.org.

Twenty years ago, this idea would have been limited by time, space and doctrinal creeds. But, thanks to the Internet and a growing belief that finding religious common ground is paramount to humanity's survival, everyone's invited to this prayer meeting.

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Theocracy: Don't hate Iranians

Shortly after I moved to the United States, a mob of Iranian students overran the U.S. embassy in Tehran taking American diplomats hostage. The hostages in Iran became a national obsession, and revolutionary Iran morphed into America's image of evil. At the time, my best friend in college was another recent immigrant, a wonderful Iranian woman, Nazli, whose life had been turned upside-down by the events back home. Her mother, who rushed home to try to save some of the family belongings from the revolutionary throngs, became trapped in the chaos of post-shah Iran. Once her mother was finally able to leave, the family became refugees in the United States. They were Iranian victims of the emerging theocratic revolution.

When Nazli and I met other students on campus, and they asked where we came from, I could see her grow tense and visibly nervous. Back then, as now, saying you were from Iran felt risky in an atmosphere where bitterness and hatred started to mushroom like fungus in a dirty cup.

Now that tensions between Iran and the West, particularly between the Iranian government and Washington, are once more in a frightening ferment, I am again hearing Iranians and Iranian Americans in this country speaking of that fear. After more than 20 years here, Nazli can produce the best Southern accent I know. Her friends could never think of her as an Islamic radical. And yet, she tells me, the feeling is returning that, "everyone's mixing up the government and the people."

Another exceptional Iranian-American woman, living in America since she was a child, says she keeps thinking about the Japanese Americans -- sent to camps by the U.S. government during World War II -- and worries it could happen again to people like her.

{josquote}Victims include religious and ethnic minorities, such as the Baha'i, Kurds and Azeris...{/josquote}

It should go without saying but, sadly, it doesn't. So we must say it clearly: The actions and views of Iran's government do not represent those of every Iranian. In fact, the Iranian people, especially women and minorities, are the principal victims of a regime driven by radical political Islam, determined to keep control and enforce the ultra-conservative social views of clerics over the daily lives of its people.

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