Bahai News - Fresnans publish belief book
Fresnans publish belief book
Multifaith group developed the book of 8 religions to
By John G. Taylor
The Fresno Bee
(Published September 30, 2000)
Except for the phone book, Fresno doesn't have an all-encompassing
directory of houses of worship. But it now has a to-the-point guide for
eight major religions.
A Fresno group has just published "A Multifaith Handbook," a tool
developed by and principally targeted for those "rejoicing in the rich
diversity of our religious and spiritual traditions."
That's drawn from the mission statement of the Fresno Multifaith
Exchange, which was founded in 1997.
The book discusses the origins, sacred texts, beliefs and practices of
the Bahai, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh and
Unitarian Universalist traditions.
"We wanted factual, historical information without conversion as a
goal," said Anidelle Flint. She and Linda Mack coordinated the effort
with help from more than 20 other people.
It's available to the public for a donation through Fresno Metro
Ministry, the social justice ministry that's the home base for the
However, the 50-page book is principally intended to assist the 35 to 50
curious people who meet once a month for nine months to learn about the
Valley's pluralistic culture.
Previously, individuals brought in pamphlets or made documents available
at their own expense for the meetings, which include a one-hour
presentation followed by another hour of small-group discussions and
"It was a financial burden for some. We often got information that was
uneven," Flint said.
So, thanks to $2,000 in donations and four months of hard work, there is
now a Reader's Digest-like condensation. Among the contents:
Unitarian Universalists honor all religious traditions while objecting
to any one faith imposing its creed on another.
Sikhs are expected to rise before dawn to bathe and to meditate on the
name of God.
Apart from the Koran, Muslims look for guidance in the sunnah, the record
of the prophet Muhammad's life.
"It's more than just a study group," Flint said. "The essence of pluralism
is encounter and dialogue. å
"There is a core commonality that allows them to see into one another's
hearts. This is a very moving experience."
Now in its fourth year, the exchange asks participants to commit to
attend for nine months. Apart from the discussion, there is a tour each
month of a site particular to one faith. In October, that will occur at
a Hindu temple in Clovis.
A successor group has formed from some who have gone through the
orientation. "They discuss particular issues from the viewpoints of
different faiths," said Bette Noblett, who has supported the exchange
and its precursor, the Fresno Lay Institute of Theology.
"I've always wanted to see this kind of cooperation," she said.
"The Eastern religions to me have always been an epiphany," she said,
"and the building of friendships."
Noblett said participants have become so attuned to various religious
dietary requirements that during the annual get-acquainted potlucks,
without any advance instructions, only vegetarian foods are brought.
©Copyright 2000, The Fresno Bee
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