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Focus on Faith: An Introduction to the Bahá’í Faith

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UN Trip Summary
October 20, 2011
By Rachel Spritzer

Focus on Faith: An Introduction to the Bahá’í Faith

Summary:               

Moderator: Ms. María-Luisa Chávez, Chief of the NGO Relations Cluster in the Department of Public Information

Panelists:

  • Dr. Thomas Uthup, Research and Education Manager for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
  • Mr. Kenneth E. Bowers, Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'í’s of the United States.
  • Ms. Bani Dugal, Principal Representative of the Bahá'í International Community to the United Nations
  • Mr. Ming Hwee Chong, Representative of the Bahá'í International Community to the United Nations

This week’s NGO Briefing featured an overview of the Bahá’í Faith. The Briefing was part of the “Focus of Faith” series, a sequence of NGO Briefings held by the United Nations Department of Information (DPI) designed to encourage interreligious and intercultural discussions. Dialogues like the “Focus on Faith” series support the United Nations’ founding principle to promote international peace and security by exploring common values of understanding, tolerance and friendship. By gaining greater knowledge of the lifestyles and spiritual practices of others, like the Bahá’í’s, coexistence becomes more within our reach.
The Bahá’í Faith was founded 177 years ago by a Persian nobleman, Bahá’u’llah, who is believed by Bahá’í’s to be the latest of God’s messengers to humanity. Bahá’u’llah proclaimed that the age of global peace that is promised in all world religions could only be realized with:

  • Full equality between men and women
  • Eradication of racism and prejudice
  • Pursuit of knowledge
  • Universal education
  • Elimination of extremes in poverty and wealth
  • Harmony between the spiritual and material dimensions of society
  • Commitment to serve the wider community
  • Establishment of a world commonwealth, bound by the principle of collective security

Bahá’u’llah taught that there is only one god, from whom all of the world’s religions originate. Religions appear at the times they are needed in order to uplift and educate humanity. The Bahá’í Faith is thus a religion rooted in the reality and challenges of the times.
There are currently over five million followers of this independent world religion, spread across more than 200 countries and territories. Bahá’í’s promote the oneness of mankind. They teach that universal peace is possible with a sustainable, just society.
During the Briefing, the panelists advocated that religious tolerance is key to a more unified world. Three of the four speakers were members of the Bahá’í Faith. They explained how values, like kindness, truthfulness, justice and love, are integral to not only the Bahá’í Faith, but also to all world religions. Understanding these common ideals can lead to greater coexistence, tolerance and mutual appreciation of the lifestyles and spiritual practices of others. Moderator Ms. María-Luisa Chávez and panelist Dr. Thomas Uthup, both non-Bahá’í’s, reiterated these sentiments.

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