Bahai News - Bahai call Americans, world to unite
Sunday, January 6, 2002
Bahai call Americans, world to unite
Small, global religious sect seeks to spread message locally of one
By GARY J. REMALStaff Writer,
AUGUSTA - At a time when most Americans feel their nation is more at
war than at peace, a small religious sect sees the present world
situation as an opportunity to bring people together despite their
Members of the Bahai faith nationally sent out a call in the New York
Times for the United States to take what Bahai believe to be its
rightful place as the world's unifier, even at a time when Americans
are looking for vengence for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
And Bahai from Maine gathered in the modest home of Dennis and Claire
Cline on Saturday to pick up the theme laid out in the Dec. 23 full-page
New York Times advertisement to break bread and look for ways to share
their spirtuality with their neighbors and fellow Americans.
Staff photo by JOE PHELAN
|Parivash Rohan, left, and Carol
Feurtado chat before lunch during a Bahai meeting at a private home in
Augusta on Saturday. Bahai believe they can help humanity to realize its
Bahai carry an unfettered sense of optimism as part of their spirtuality,
Dennis Cline explained Saturday. Despite the rise in world tensions since
the Sept. 11 attacks, he said, members of his faith believe the current
conflicts offer an even greater opportunity for peace and their vision of
a united world in which racial and gender differences melt away.
We think there are twin processes going on at once," said Cline, a
member of the Augusta Bahai Local Spritual Assembly, a sort of religious
board of directors set up in any community with nine or more Bahai. "An
old world order is being rolled up and a new one is being rolled out,
and there is a lot of turmoil to that. We think there is an adolescence
to mankind as a whole when mankind does crazy things."
Cline said that Bahai all over the United States are responding to the
step their national leaders took in placing the high-profile ad in the
New York Times by hosting local discussions in their own communities.
Bahai hope to involve their members as well as their neighbors in looking
for the best in their nation. They also hope that Americans will lead the
way into a new age of peace and human understanding, he said.
That's a tall order, particularly for a religion with fewer than 1,000
followers in Maine and only about 140,000 across the nation. But, Cline
said, Bahai followers are confident that the tenets that formed the
United States will become the foundation on which world peace will be
"The American nation, Bahai believe, will evolve through tests and
trials to become a land of spiritual distinction and leadership, a
champion of justice and unity among all peoples and nations, and a
powerful servant of the cause of everlasting peace," the text of the
Times ad said.
The current world conflicts, Cline said, are a wake-up call to find the
way to world peace.
"This is a time for the unification of the planet," Cline said. "This is
the time that we need to be involved with the rest of the planet and our
own race, the human race, to work for the equality of women and men, and
eliminate the extremes of wealth and poverty."
The Bahai faith was founded in 1844 by Persian merchant Sayed Ali-Muhammad,
who came to be known as the "Bab," in what is now Iran. He was followed by
Mizra Husayn-Ali, who is called "Bahaullah" fulfilling the Bab's prophecy.
The founders of the religion were Muslims. Cline said they founded the
new faith in much the same way that Christianity was founded by Jews.
"We have been praying for peace for a long, long time," Cline said.
More than a dozen Bahai gathered at his home Saturday, sharing a potluck
meal as well as their spiritual thoughts with each other. Practioners of
the faith came from much of the state.
Carol Feurtado, a longtime Bahai, traveled from Dexter to attend because
there are too few Bahai in her hometown to support a local assembly.
Feurtado says the values upheld by her religion have provided her with
support in her own life, and she believes they have benefited mankind in
general, even at times when the Bahai faith and its teachings are not
"They made a difference, not just to identified Bahai, but for the whole
world, whether the world realized it or not," she said. "We try to be
very happy, positive and upbeat. ... Personally, I have no idea where in
the world I'd be if I was not a Bahai, but it certainly wouldn't be good."
Cline said the terrorist attacks on Americans in September have brought
home to the citizens of this country what people around the world have
lived with for many years. And rather than hardening Americans to the
rigors of war, he said, proponents of his religion hope it will instead
help their neighbors better understand their neighbors around the world.
"Now we've felt some of the pain, and in that way we can be more
empathetic," he said. "In that cloud of dust and debris is a silver
lining, and that is alerting people to realize some of this."
Gary Remal - 623-3811, Ext. 518
©Copyright 2002, Morning Sentinel
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