Wednesday, October 24, 2007

On Baha'i Religious Culture: Some Answered Questions

Survey time. Several of the Baha'is in our community were invited by a local college student to answer questions as part of her research for a paper she was writing. Here were her questions and my answers. -gw

Some Baha'is of Tacoma

Subject: Questions on Baha'i Faith In Tacoma

Hello, I am doing a research paper on the Baha'i Faith for school. Please answer the following questions and provide any other information or opinions on your religion. I would like to attend a Baha'i meeting in my area. If you know of any meetings in Tacoma (preferably downtown or north tacoma) please share the information with me. Thank you.Rebecca.

a. What makes this culture different from the dominant mainstream religions in the United States?

From the Baha'i point of view, nothing is really outside the box, religiously, as all religions are, in essence, one. Baha'is don't divide the world into a "we" and a "they." There is only an "us." And that is very liberating.

b. What are the basic values of this religious culture?

Oneness. Spiritual evolution. Nothing stays the same. We either grow towards the light or we wither and die.

c. Have you ever heard anyone make a negative comment about people from your culture?

Yes, of course. But many of these comments come from a mistaken understanding of what God wants. The persecutors of Baha'is, as in Iran among the Shia "faithful," really believe in their hearts that they are doing God's work. The persecution is tragic but is not new. The same thing happened to Christians in the early days of the Christian era.

d. Have you ever felt you were discriminated against because of your religion?


e. What are the celebrations, ceremonies, rituals, and/or holidays that are celebrated by this culture?

There is little that can be referred to as ceremony or ritual in the Faith. Rather there is diverse expression of the core activities of the Faith that reflects the diversity of the human family and the local and regional cultures the Baha'is come from. There are nine holy days.

f. Are there any customs (clothing, food, worship, etc.) that you practice that may make life in the mainstream culture more stressful?

No. Being a Baha'i and following the laws and ordinances revealed by Baha'u'llah makes life easier and less stressful, if anything.

g. What is the one value or practice from this culture that you found inviting?

The prevalence of interracial and international marriages and the fact that children from such unions were not at a disadvantage, given the way Baha'i culture values diversity.

h. Is there anything about this culture that concerns or frightens you?


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