City council debate revealed extreme religious intolerance
Newspaper Article - Times of Swaziland SUNDAY
Sunday November 8 1998

Opinion

Headline: "City council debate revealed extreme religious intolerance"

[Attached photo] "YOUNG children.... It is not as if those who go to primary school at the Baha'i school outside Mbabane are taught the Baha'i teachings. The school follows the curriculum as set out by the Ministry of Education."

by Dr Ben DLAMINI

IT is certain that there was no relevance between the debate that actually took place in the Mbabane City Council Chambers and the application to approve the building of a Baha'i High School.

The requirement of the ordinances of the City Council is that they need to approve any new building that is needed to be put up within the city limits.

They need to assess whether the building satisfies the regulations that govern the buildings and sanitary laws of the city.

All they needed was to ensure that the building plans conformed to the building laws to ensure that there is proper ventilation, toilets, drainage and all the matters that relate to the physical requirements of the building.

Since this was a school, there was need to ensure that the sanitary provisions are adequate for the intended number of students and that the school provides enough space for sports and other recreational facilities.

The City Council, led by Councillor Walter Bennett delved into irrelevant matters which in no way concerned the City Council.

The matter of religion was the concern of the Ministry of Education which looked at the curriculum rather than the City Council, which has nothing to do with curriculum, nor does it have the competence to deal with such matters.

While it is true that there are many people who claim to be Christians in Swaziland, it is not surprising that only a few months ago, a BBC broadcast claimed that Swaziland is the most irreligious country in Africa.

This is very likely to be true in the western standards, because the truth is that the majority of the people of Swaziland follow the African Traditional Religion rather than Christianity, which to the western observer, African Traditional Religion is not classified as a religion. Many of those who call themselves Zionists and even in the conservative churches follow the religion of their ancestors in the guise of Christianity.

It is the result of ignorance to claim that Somhlolo foresaw the coming of the Bible. Umculu does not particularly refer to a Bible. It could refer to any book, even education or any of the other Holy Books such as the Quran or the Baha'i Holy writings. Last year I put up an article in which I showed that it is not possible that Somhlolo would have referred to the Bible. I showed that Somhlolo is most likely to have referred to the Baha'i Faith, because it is the religion that came less than ten years after he passed away. His dream was sirnilar to dreams by Ntsikana and Nongqause who were in the Transkei, where Christianity was already being practised, and the Bible was already there.

The Baha'i Faith is a religion for modern man which stresses the need for universal education, universal peace and the unity of the whole human race It is a religion that recognises the existence of only one God for all including the Christians.

It is a religion that has a law against the modern vices such as drugs, alcohol and any types of habit forming drugs. Its followers may be very rich, not because of pushing drugs, but because Baha'u'llah teaches that the first duty of man is to recognise God, and the second duty is to acquire riches.

The riches are not acquired through shady deals, but through open and honest service to humanity. Baha'u'llah has raised the status of service to humanity to the level of worship.

In other words Baha'u'llah considers service to humanity as more important than kneeling down and praying when you are giving shabby service to humanity.

It follows that anyone who renders this kind of service to humanity will become rich because the majority of the people will go to him if they need something to be done for them. This would apply whether you are shopkeeper or an artisan or a medical doctor.

Hence innuendos that were made in the City Council Chambers that Baha'is are rich because of drugs are not only false, but a gross insult to any of the Baha'is who, because of their love for the Swazi child, have donated their hard earned money for building a Baha'i High School.

The Baha'i pre-school and primary schools have been operating at the Baha'i Centre for the last ten years. Many people have sent their children to these schools. No parent has ever complained of Baha'i indoctrination.

It is essential for Councillors to realise that even within a Baha'i family, a child does not automatically become a Baha'i. When a child reaches the age of maturity, the child has a right to choose to join the Baha'i Faith or to follow another religion or to have no religion at all. Baha'u'llah teaches that religion cannot be inherited. Each person must study, satisfy himself that he believes, and choose to become a Baha'i.

In most churches if you marry someone who belongs to a different church, it is expected that the wife automatically acquires the religion of the husband. It is not so in the Baha'i Faith. The wife can keep her religion. She can only become a Baha'i when she has independently studied and convinced herself that she would like to join the Baha'i Faith. You cannot marry into the Baha'i Faith. It is a religion that you must study, satisfy yourself that you believe in its truth, and then join it if you wish. God wants you to have conscious choice of your belief.

It is for this reason that there can be no indoctrination in the Baha'i schools. After all the Baha'i schools follow entirely the curriculum set by the Ministry of Education. It even follows the religious knowledge syllabus set up by the Ministry of Education. There is presently no Baha'i religious studies.

We have to conform to the requirements of the Ministry of Education, even though we would have preferred to teach the Baha'i Faith during the religious studies. Some of the objections that were raised in the City Council meeting were a sign of absolute ignorance of not only the Baha'i Faith, but also of Christianity.

What the Councillors demonstrated was certainly not the love which is a characteristic of Christ but hatred and evil which denotes that those who accused the Baha'is of devil worship were themselves the manifestations of satanic thinking and behaviour.

The Councillors claimed that they would not grant permission for the school because they did not know the purpose of the Baha'i Faith. They did not explain what they meant by this. However, the following statement by Abdu'l-Baha may suffice: "Baha'u'llah, the Sun of Truth, has dawned from the horizon of the orient, flooding all regions with the light and life which will never pass away. His teachings, which embody the divine spirit of the age and are applicable to this period of maturity in the life of the human world are:

The oneness of the world of humanity
The protection and guidance of the Holy Spirit
The foundation of all religion is one
Religion must be the cause of unity
Religion must accord with science and reason
Independent investigation of truth
Equality between men and women
The abandoning of all prejudices among mankind
Universal peace
Universal education
A universal language
The solution of the economic problem
An international tribunal

"Everyone who truly seeks and justly reflects will admit that the teachings of the present day emanating from mere human sources and authority are the cause of difficulty and disagreement amongst mankind, the very destroyer of humanity, whereas the teachings of Baha'u'llah are the very healing of the sick world, the remedy for every- need and condition.

"In them may be found the realisation of every desire and aspiration, the cause of the happiness of the world of humanity, the stimulus and illumination of mentality, the impulse for the advancement and uplift, the basis of unity for all nations, the fountain source of love amongst mankind, the center of agreement, the means of peace and harmony, the one bond which will unite the East and the West...

"...Therefore, we supplicate the Lord our God with sincere and contrite hearts, asking aid and assistance in the accomplishment of this mighty end: that the nations shall be unified in the Word of God, that war, enmity and hatred between races, religions, native lands and denominations shall disappear and be forever unknown, and that the peoples and nations shall spiritually embrace each other in the indissoluble bond and power of love of God.

"Then will the world of humanity become radiant and the human race enjoy in the fullest capacity the graces of divine bestowal. So long as religious discord and enmity continue among mankind, the world of humanity will find neither happiness, rest nor composure."

It should be clear that any religion that pursues these principles, should be given the highest priority to set up an educational institutions so that it can produce students who subscribe to these most desirable traits which have died in every land.

These principles depict the Christian spirit for which Christ died on the cross.

It is very difficult to understand how anyone can claim to be a Christian or a believer in God, yet demonstrate absolute hatred instead of love, contrary to the teachings of Christ to which Claxon, Mndvoti, and others claim to subscribe. I am glad that Swaziland is not really a Christian country, because if it were, and those gentlemen in the City Council represented Christianity, Swaziland would be a miserable country to live in.

Christ said by their fruits ye shall know them. The children of God exude love, while the children of Satan, cannot contain their hatred.

Jesus Christ even asked for His followers to love their enemies. What follower of Christ would even hate strangers he has never met, just because they belong to a different religion?


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