Bahai News -- Tolerance, love common among major religions

Tolerance, love common among major religions

Friday, July 4, 2003

The Declaration of Independence is a terse statement of principles laying out the reasons the citizens of the colonies were, "and of a right, ought to be free." One major reason: "All men" have the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," something the Declaration writers didn't think they had under British rule.

Today, liberty and the pursuit of happiness face many challenges. Among the challenges is intolerance for anything with which we disagree. As adherents of various religious traditions, we deplore intolerance and hate, both as it is espoused in hate groups and as it creeps into the mainstream of our consciences. Intolerance and hate, if left unchecked, work to deny others their lives and liberty, their pursuit of happiness and realization of their dreams.

Tolerance and love are not the purview of any particular religious tradition. For instance, in all the Abrahamic faiths -- Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Baha'i -- we find many references to love, tolerance and unity. To cite but one example from each faith tradition:

  • Judaism: Genesis 1:27, "God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them."
  • Christianity: I John 3:11, "For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another."
  • Islam: Quran, Sura 15:16, "We created man from sounding clay -- from mud moulded into shape."
  • Baha'i: The Hidden Words, from the Arabic, No. 68, "Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created."
  • Living out our faith, whatever it might be, includes not only working toward the unity of and understanding among humankind, actually loving our neighbors, whomever they might be, or making visible this unity and this love in what we do and say; but also the recognition that all of us are "cut from the same cloth," or molded from the same clay, as religious traditions put it. No one of us is any better or worse than any other.

    From a religious point of view, working for unity and understanding and loving our fellow human beings comprise tolerance. Spewing hate and intolerance, inciting violence against any segment of humankind, packaging hate and intolerance as "religion" all fly in the face of the mainstream messages of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Baha'i, as well as other traditions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism.

    On this Fourth of July, we call for a return not only to our social and civic heritage of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but also to our own religious and philosophical belief systems and traditions, which espouse tolerance, love and understanding and the actions to make them realities. t

    Lyle A Kleman is president and executive director of the Bridge Center for Racial Harmony in Saginaw. He wrote this column with assistance from Associate Imam Naeem Abdullah, Islamic Center of Saginaw; Cantor Dan Gale, Temple Beth-Israel, Bay City; Dr. Roxie Schell, The Baha'i Group of Saginaw; and Rev. Scott Sessler, pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church and chairman of Saginaw Metropolitan Ministries, a ministry of greater-Saginaw congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

    ©Copyright 2003, The Saginaw News (MI, USA)

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