Bahai News - Bahais teach inclusiveness
TOLERANCE ALWAYS EMPHASIZED
Ryan Palmer (right) of Monmouth leads the Polk County Bahai Faith Group
in prayer in the home of Justin and Nicole Weathers (left, center). The
group, which is open to the public, meets Wednesday nights to discuss
such topics as prayer and meditation. The subject this night was
KOBBI R. BLAIR / Statesman Journal
Bahais teach inclusiveness
Polk County members of their faith meet weekly in Monmouth.
BY HANK ARENDS, Statesman Journal
The gentle folks of the Bahai faith abhor prejudice but are the target
of it, especially in the Middle East.
Members of the group that meets weekly in Monmouth also have their
stories to tell of being slighted, but they prefer to dwell on the
positive aspects of their religion.
“We believe that the spiritual teaching of all the major religions
are the same,” Rachel Greco of Dallas said. “God is the same
regardless of what you choose to call him, whether it is Yahweh, Allah
The inclusiveness of wanting to learn from all religions is one of the
things that sets the Bahais apart. They also point to Bahaullah, who
lived from 1817 to 1892, as the last of a line of prophets that included
Moses, Buddha, Jesus and Mohammed.
Bahais distill the teaching down to the importance of abandoning all
prejudice, the equality of women, recognizing the unity and importance
of all religious truth, eliminating the extremes of poverty and wealth,
seeking universal education, the responsibility of each individual to
search for truth, developing a global commonwealth of nations and
accepting that true religion harmonizes with reason and the pursuit of
Local communities are coordinated by nine-member spiritual assemblies.
Nicole Weathers, 24, is a member of the Monmouth Bahai Spiritual
Assembly and a lifelong practitioner of the faith.
Although the faith has no clergy and members are cautious of
head-swelling titles, Weathers said, when the nine-member panel makes a
decision it is binding on the local assembly. The panel is charged with
operating the business of the assembly, whether it is locating a meeting
site, selecting a service project or resolving issues, she said.
“Any religion and faith should not just be a part of your life, what
you do once a week,” Weathers said. “It should shape every
decision you make and how you view life. Because I am of the Bahai
faith, I was a ‘good girl,’ never did drugs, didn’t drink, and
hold family values as very important to me.”
As the follower of a “new religion” based in the Middle East,
Weathers said, she recalled times as a girl when parents did not want
their children playing with her, “because I was going to hell.”
As her peer group has grown up, it is more accepting and interested in
learning what her faith is all about, she said.
Greco said she was introduced by a neighbor to the Bahai faith while she
was living in Naples, Italy, when her ex-husband was in the Navy 27
years ago. One of her early teachers of the practices and tenets of the
faith was Barbara Hale, the actress who portrayed Della Street on
TV’s “Perry Mason.”
“I try to live up to those teachings on a daily basis and to follow
those precepts of the oneness of God, the oneness of religion and the
oneness of mankind,” Greco said.
She owns a Dallas quilt shop and believes she is furthering the equality
of women by teaching that the art of quilting is a story of the
empowerment of women.
“In no way are we saying we are superior,” Greco said of members
of the Bahai faith. “The very fact of being a Bahai is to serve
mankind. The highest station a Bahai can obtain is for someone to say
they have truly served mankind.”
Hank Arends can be reached at (503) 399-6736 or
©Copyright Statesman Journal, Salem, Oregon
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