Bahai News - BAHA’IS PARTICIPATE IN INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE ON FAITH AND ECOLOGY
BAHA’IS PARTICIPATE IN INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE ON FAITH AND
CINCINNATI, United States, 6 September 2001 (BWNS) -- Reflecting the
increasing Baha’i involvement in interfaith dialogue and consultation
about major social issues, the Baha’i view on the environment was
presented at an interreligious conference on religion and ecology at Xavier
University in September.
Held 5-6 September 2001, the Symposium on Religion and Ecology was the first
major program of the Brueggeman Center for Interreligious Dialogue, which
was inaugurated last year.
The program included the presentation of Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish
and Native American perspectives on the environment and its relationship
to religious faith.
The Baha’i presentation was made by Dr. Roxanne Lalonde, faculty lecturer
in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of
Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and Mr. Peter Adriance, liaison with
non-governmental organizations for the National Spiritual Assembly in its
Office of External Affairs in Washington.
In a joint presentation, Dr. Lalonde spoke on the spiritual principles
underlying the Baha’i approach to the environment, while Mr. Adriance
spoke about Baha’i efforts internationally to advance those principles.
In her presentation, Dr. Lalonde noted that the Baha’i Writings speak
of nature as a reflection of the Divine and see all life as interconnected
and interdependent. The Baha’i teachings uphold principles of moderation,
humility and respect for ecological balance.
“The Baha’i vision of a civilization that extends thousands of years
into the future implies that human beings have a profound responsibility
for stewardship of God’s creation,” Dr. Lalonde said, adding that a
global vision is essential to carry out such stewardship.
She noted that the Baha’i teachings clearly make humanity’s acceptance
of the principle of the oneness of the human family a prerequisite for
achieving sustainable development, citing Baha’u’llah’s injunction:
“The well-being of mankind, its peace and security are unattainable,
unless and until its unity is firmly established.”
Mr. Adriance’s presentation focused on three examples of Baha’i efforts
internationally to advance such spiritual principles: Baha’i involvement
in the ’92 Earth Summit; Baha’i contributions toward the development
of the Earth Charter; and the application of conservation measures in the
Baha’i gardens and terraces on Mt. Carmel.
“During preparations for the Earth Summit, the Baha’i International
Community issued numerous official statements advancing spiritual principles,
and it initiated projects that conveyed those principles in different
ways," said Mr. Adriance, referring to the 1992 UN Conference on Environment
and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro.
The projects sponsored by the Baha’i International Community at the
Earth Summit included a symposium on leadership qualities for a sustainable
civilization, a book of children’s art and essays on the future, a Peace
Monument and a series of unifying cultural events at the ’92 Global
Forum, a gathering of non-governmental organizations held during the summit.
Mr. Adriance also said that the Baha'i representatives contributed to
the development of the Earth Charter – a statement of ethics for living
sustainably on Earth, and an expected product of the ’92 Summit.
“Determining the content of the Earth Charter evolved into a decade-long
consultative process,” Mr. Adriance said. “During that process, the
principles of consultation often helped foster a sense of unity among the
diverse participants. When the final Earth Charter was released in early
2000, many principles important to the Baha’is were reflected in the
Mr. Adriance also clarified the Baha’i position on the Charter. "While
not officially endorsing the Earth Charter, the Baha’i International
Community considers the effort toward drafting it and activities in support
of its essential objectives to be highly commendable, and it will continue
to participate in related activities, such as conferences, forums and the
like," he noted.
The last section of Mr. Adriance’s talk focused on the newly completed
Baha’i gardens and terraces in Haifa, Israel. In addition to addressing
the practical measures associated with the development of the gardens and
terraces – such as water conservation, organic planting methods,
reduction of pesticide and herbicide use and related educational components
– Mr. Adriance emphasized the spiritual purpose of the gardens in
preparing pilgrims and visitors to approach one of the holiest sites to
His presentation included a series of images of the widely praised results
of the project. The audience expressed great enthusiasm with the way the
gardens reflected a dynamic balance between the practical and the spiritual.
At the end of his talk, on behalf of the National Spiritual Assembly Mr.
Adriance presented a coffeetable book of photographs of the new garden
terraces, published by the Haifa Tourist Board, to Father Joseph Bracken,
Director of the Brueggeman Center.
Baha’i participation in the symposium was facilitated by the efforts of
Faramarz Samadany, a member of the Cincinnati Baha’i community and a
Trustee of the Brueggeman Center. One of the Center’s inaugural events
was a 1999 millennium peace gathering that drew an audience of more than
8,000. A Baha’i Youth Workshop performed a dance on the unity of
religions at that event.
The Brueggeman center is named after a Xavier faculty member known for
promoting understanding among Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and Jews. "By
bringing together diverse faith groups the Center is able to benefit from a
range of views in seeking solutions to the human and environmental challenges
facing humanity,” noted Father Bracken.
In recent years, the Baha'i International Community has participated in a
number of major interfaith events on social issues, ranging from the Summit
on Religions and Conservation, held in 1995 at Windsor Castle, UK, to the
World Faiths Development Dialogue, sponsored by the World Bank.
©Copyright 2001, Baha'i World News Service
Page last updated/revised 111801
Return to the Bahá'í Association's Main Web Page