Monday, June 27, 2022

Baha’is embrace diversity in religion, thought

| June 16, 2022 1:00 AM

Last week kicked off a renewed series on minority religions with descriptions of Hinduism, Buddhism and a smattering of religious oddities. Today, a glimpse at the Baha’i faith, a very peaceful and locally represented faith with adherents in Coeur d’Alene.

Founded by Baha’ullah in 19th century Persia, the Baha’i faith spans 235 countries, 2,100 ethnic groups, and an estimated 7 million followers worldwide. Like the world's largest religions, Baha’is believe in one god who sent his teachings through a series of divine messengers (who inspired their own religions), including Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad, Zoroaster, and of course, Baha’ullah (just pause for the apostrophe).

The Baha’i central message is brotherhood, uniting against prejudice. Baha’ullah (1817-1892) wrote of a unified, harmonious civilization,

“The world is but one country and mankind its citizens.”

Ironically, his pro-tolerance followers have long been persecuted for their faith. Its principal tenets are:

Rejection of prejudice: Baha’is value diversity of culture, background, and thought. That includes religion; Baha’is are respectful of other faiths and believe they contribute to a whole of spiritual wisdom.

Equality: Baha’is believe that humans have feminine and masculine sides and that imbalance between the sexes negatively affects not only the family and individual, but also politics and the economy.

Unity of religious truths: Baha’is say each messenger-prophet (Jesus, Abraham, Buddha, Mohammad, etc.) revealed pieces which combined in collective wisdom, and together make up the whole of god’s truth.

Elimination of extreme poverty and wealth: While Baha’is respect private property and economic initiative, they believe in limits in income and assets to achieve spiritual health, world prosperity and social harmony.

Education: Advancement of society depends upon it.

Thinking for yourself: Baha’ism teaches that truth should be acquired with an individual’s own eyes and not through the eyes of others; it is a mistake to blindly and uncritically follow a tradition, movement or opinion. They say god has given each human being a mind and the capacity to differentiate truth from falsehood. This reminds me of a saying in Scientology I hear repeated: “If it isn’t true for you, it isn’t true.”

A globally cooperative society: The goal is a cooperative government structure across the globe, yet maintaining national autonomy and individual freedoms.

Science and religion together: Both lead to truth: That god gave man his intelligence and that he should use it in his spiritual path.

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Sholeh Patrick is an attorney and a columnist for the Hagadone News Network. Email

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