Bahai News - Baha'i Faith lets its member pursue truth independently
Published Friday, July 13, 2001
Baha'i Faith lets its member pursue truth independently
NAME: Baha'i Faith of Antioch.
LOCATION: Worship Service is held Sunday mornings at Veterans
Memorial Building, 3591 Mt. Diablo Blvd. at First Street, Lafayette.
Family Baha'i School is held Sunday afternoons at Peace Lutheran Church,
3201 Camino Tassajara, Danville.
TIMES: Sunday services: 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Baha'i school: 3
INFORMATION: Local: 756-2940. National: 1-800-22UNITE.
By John Lovejoy
ANTIOCH -- In the Baha'i faith, there is no single person who is pastor.
"Everybody in the faith is a minister," says Art Hatley, chairman of the
spiritual assembly of Baha'i Faith of Antioch. "No member has any
authority or clout or power over any other individual member.
"The institution itself, or the assembly, has the authority of power. All
the power lies in administrative bodies."
Nor does the faith dictate what any member should think, Hatley says.
The key phrase is "independent investigation of the truth."
"We (humans) have this power of mind or reason that separates us from
other life forms," he says. "And we should all exercise it and have the
right and privilege of investigating the truth for ourselves."
Baha'i members who are children have the right to make up their minds
when they reach the age of 15 as to whether they want to formally
declare their belief in the faith. If they decide they do, they sign a
The Baha'i religion began in 1844 in Persia, today called Iran, by a man
named Baha'u'llah, whose name means "the glory of God" in Persian.
And, as with nearly all new religions, Baha'i members were persecuted,
imprisoned and killed. The persecution continues today in modern Iran.
Baha'u'llah spent 40 years in various prisons in Teheran, Iran;
Adrianople, Turkey; Constantinople (now Istanbul), Turkey; and the
prison of Akka near Mount Carmel, just outside Israel.
Baha'u'llah wrote 100 volumes of his teachings, much of it while imprisoned.
There are three basic tenets of the Baha'i faith, Hatley explains:
The oneness of God. There is one source of infinite
wisdom and one creator.
The oneness of religion. Mankind collectively goes through
the same kind of maturation process as a single human being, and as it
matures and grows, God sends a new manifestation of himself to Earth who
has all the attributes and knowledge of God, but in human form.
Examples are Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad. The
latest was Baha'u'llah.
This process is called "progressive revelation," and it happens about
once every 1,000 years. "And then there's a big upsurge of civilization,
arts and sciences and so forth as a result," Hatley says.
The oneness of mankind. All humans were created by God,
and each human's soul will return to God. People are all members of one
From these tenets come the principles of Baha'i, which include the
elimination of prejudice, the equality of women and men, and basic
education for all, Hatley says.
The Antioch congregation was founded in the 1920s. Unlike some other
communities, Antioch does not have a Baha'i center. For large meetings, the
congregation rents halls; for smaller meetings, members' homes are used.
The nearest large Baha'i centers are in San Francisco, Oakland and San
Jose, and there's a Baha'i school in San Jose, Hatley says.
The local assembly has 15 adults, and six or seven children, Hatley says.
There are 300 Baha'i members countywide, and about 6 million worldwide.
In Antioch, the spiritual assembly has nine members, who must each be at
least 21 years old. The national assembly for America is in Willamette, Ill.
The world headquarters is called the Universal House of Justice and is
in Haifa, Israel.
©Copyright 2001, Contra Costa Times
Page last updated/revised 071301
Return to the Bahá'í Association's Main Web Page