Bahai News - Bahais thrive on world diversity
Published Sunday, February 4, 2001, in the
Bahais thrive on world diversity
BY JERRY BERRIOS
A CELEBRATION OF
DIFFERENCES: Dance instructor Nyonuvi Cesar shares a dance step
with Isabel Riviera, 5, and brother, Gabriel, 3, during a Broward Bahai
Bahais interact with
others using love, compassion, courtesy, charity, faithfulness, honesty,
trustworthiness and humility.
Here are some of the Bahais' principles:
Eliminating all forms of prejudice.
Ensuring the equality of men and women.
Eliminating extremes of poverty and wealth.
Stressing the importance of education.
The group's U.S. headquarters are in Wilmette, Ill. The international
headquarters are in Haifa, Israel.
For more on the Bahais, call 954-563-5422 in Broward or 305-412-9622
For national information, call 800-22-UNITE or check their website at
Diele Davis says she is lucky to have her Bahai faith.
It exposes her two daughters to diversity. It encourages interracial
marriage, an idea that she and her husband, Rob, exemplify.
She is black; he is white.
"If you are interracially married, you won't want to go to war with a
person from another race," Diele Davis said. "... You try to find common
Finding that common ground is what the Bahai faith is all about.
Bahais believe mankind is one people and racial differences should be
celebrated. Followers of the faith say man-made racial barriers are
dividing people instead of uniting them.
The faith's founder, Baha'u'llah, started the independent religion in
Persia, now Iran, in the mid-1800s.
Bahais accept the teachings of the world's religions, including
Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism. They believe each of the prophets
had their respective time and Baha'u'llah is the most recent
Today, more than 5 million people worldwide follow the faith. Locally,
there are approximately 400 Bahais in Miami-Dade and about the same
number in Broward. Nationwide, there are some 142,000 Bahais.
The Bahai faith is the second most widespread religion in the world,
said Ellen Wheeler, spokeswoman for the Bahai organization. Followers of
the Bahai faith hope it's a haven for interracial couples, she said.
Rob Davis met his future wife, Diele, in Cameroon in 1986. They were
married five years later.
"If I wasn't a Bahai, I don't think I would have been prone to date
outside my race," said Davis, 34, of Sunrise.
It is unique for an organized religion to accept the teachings of other
religions and science and not try to put their own philosophies first,
said Chris Burnett, a professor at Nova Southeastern University.
"There are always some percentage of people who are more interested in
drawing distinctions than in finding commonalities," said Burnett, who
teaches on human relationships.
Racism is the most challenging issue confronting America, according to
In dealing with prejudice, Bahais say they practice what they preach.
Their faith makes them think before reacting.
The faith's teachings promote being patient, thinking differently and
taking action, said Gil Grasselly, a federal translator who works in
"It makes you go out of your way," he said.
Grasselly, 63, of Hallandale Beach, is a white American married to an
Diele Davis, 31, said she and her husband try to teach their children
the Bahai faith every day.
"When children are educated that mankind is equal, we won't have all the
problems we have now," she said.
©Copyright 2001, Miami Herald
Page last updated/revised 031101
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