Originally printed January 12. 2006 in the South Bend Tribune
Bahai Faith supports unity, peace, justice
Tribune Staff Writer
The simple poster hangs in Jaleh Dashti-Gibson's office amid the usual
trappings of a busy college administrator. The art shows children in
prayer along with sayings from many of the world's major religions:
Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful. -- Buddhism
What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. That is the entire law; all the rest is commentary. -- Judaism
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. -- Christianity
No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself. -- Islam
Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself. -- Baha'i Faith
variations on the Golden Rule highlight the common belief that
different faiths share. Sunday's annual World Religion Day, sponsored
by the Bahai Faith, stresses such similarities to foster interfaith
Dashti-Gibson, director of academic programs at the
Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the
University of Notre Dame, serves as chairwoman of the Spiritual
Assembly of the Bahais of South Bend.
The Bahais will sponsor a
devotional program celebrating World Religion Day at noon Sunday at the
Bahai Center, 1608 Mishawaka Ave., across from Adams High School.
a natural thing for Bahais to promote interreligious dialogue and unity
within communities, Dashti-Gibson says, because Bahais believe that
religions are divinely inspired by one source.
Bahais also believe that people must find their own
truth, she says, so programs like World Religion Day focus on global
unity, peace and justice, not on converting people to the faith.
think there's value in promoting those principles even if people have
no interest in the faith per se. The idea is just to encourage
reflection and action on those principles."
South Bend has an active tradition of religions cooperating through outreach and community involvement, she notes.
have been in Michiana for about 60 years, Dashti-Gibson says. About 60
to 70 followers now live in the St. Joseph County, Elkhart County and
The Bahai faith has about 5 million members
worldwide. They believe that Baha'u'llah, a Persian nobleman, is the
most recent in a line of divine messengers sent from God including
Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Christ and Mohammad.
Each divine messenger brought core spiritual teachings that are strikingly similar, she says.
you really look beyond the doctrine and the dogma and the practice, the
belief about what our purpose in life is, how we should treat other
people, the vision of a more spiritually enlightened society, these
things are very similar."
What varies from age to age, she says,
are the material, practical teachings each divine messenger brought to
guide humanity at that particular point in its development.
we keep denying this reality, that we're highly interconnected and
children of one God, we believe we bring a lot of suffering onto
ourselves," she says.
The causes of disunity include economic
disparity, gender inequality, prejudice based on faith, nationality or
race or "all the 'isms' that we use to think that we are set apart,
we're different, we're better, that what happens there doesn't affect
"I'm seeing a lot of -- especially with recent
world events -- people understanding that there is a need to deeply
understand people of other faiths and to look for the things that we
share in common," she says. "I think that's the spirit in which (World
Religion Day) was founded many years before the current world
World Religion Day waas celebrated Sunday, January 15th, 2006, with interfaith devotional programs in South Bend and Elkhart.
Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of South Bend who hosted a noon
gathering featuring prayers, readings and music at the Bahai Center,
1608 Mishawaka Ave.
the First Unitarian Church, 101 E. North Shore Drive, South Bend, the
Bahais attended the 10:30 a.m. service at the church before the
program at the Bahai Center, said Jaleh Dashti-Gibson, chairwoman of
the South Bend assembly. In turn, the Unitarian congregation was invited
to the Bahai Center. Representatives of other faiths were invited to the
program at the center as well. The event was open to the public.
For more information, call (574) 234-4940.
Bahais of Elkhart County will host a 3 p.m. Sunday interfaith
devotional program in the Elkhart home of Ann and Bob Kronemyer.
Attendees may share their own devotions, including music, Kronemyer
For more information about the Elkhart activities, contact the Kronemyers at (574) 522-0044.