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The Baha’i Faith in America

18 Aug

For Immediate Release

Note to Editor: Local Baha'i Story Ideas
We welcome Baha'i Faith news coverage and can provide you with local contacts, interesting local people and newsworthy events in your own market. Topics might include:
  • Local Baha'is embody Pew Foundation findings that 70% of Americans feel there are multiple paths to salvation.
  • Baha'i is one of America's fastest-growing religions, widely embracing people from all religions, ethnic groups and nationalities.
  • Local residents make pilgrimage to Baha'i holy sites in Israel - why, what they saw, what they gained.
  • Your town may shelter Iranians taking refuge from Baha'i persecutions there.
  • The most important Baha'i holidays span March 2 through May 23 with 19-day fasting, commemorations and events in your community.


Baha'i Faith Overview

The Baha'i Faith is the youngest of the world's independent monotheistic religions. Founded in Persia in 1844, it has more than five million adherents in 236 countries and territories. Baha'is come from nearly every national, ethnic and religious background, and Baha'i literature has been translated into 802 languages. The international headquarters of the faith is in Haifa, Israel, near the graves and shrines of the founders, the Bab and Baha'u'llah, which were designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites in July 2008.

In the United States, there are 160,000 Baha'is and 1,100 elected local spiritual assemblies. The Baha'i Faith is one of America's fastest-growing religions. The architecturally stunning Baha'i House of Worship in suburban Chicago (Wilmette, Ill.) is one of seven Baha'i Houses of Worship in the world. The domed temple is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and its nine sides reflect the Baha'i belief in the unity of world religions.

Baha'is view the world's major religions as part of a single, progressive process through which God reveals His will to humanity. Baha'u'llah (1817-1892), the founder of the Baha'i Faith, is recognized as the most recent in a line of divine messengers that stretches back beyond recorded time and includes Abraham, Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus and Muhammad. Together, the world's great religions are expressions of a single, unfolding divine plan. Baha'is recognize Baha'u'llah as the most recent of these divine messengers and the one who brought the word of God for today.

The Baha'i Faith is not a sect or denomination of another religion, nor a cult or a social movement. Rather, it is a globally recognized independent world religion founded on books of scripture revealed by Baha'u'llah. It has its own sacred scriptures, laws, calendar and holy days.

U.S. Baha'i specifics

There are 160,000 Baha'is in America, with numbers doubling every 10 to 20 years. Baha'is live in more than 10,000 American towns and cities, with the largest concentrations in California, Georgia, Illinois, South Carolina and Texas. There are Baha'i Centers in more than 170 cities.

For U.S. Baha'i information, visit www.bahai.us.
For international Baha'i information, visit www.bahai.org.
U.S. Baha'i National Center, 1233 Central St., Evanston, IL 60201, 847-733-3559.

Basic Baha'i principles and teachings

  • One loving creator
  • All world religions share a common source and aim
  • The oneness of all humankind
  • The equality of women and men
  • Harmony between science and religion
  • The personal and independent investigation of religious truth
  • A spiritual approach to economic problems
  • The eradication of all forms of prejudice
  • Universal education
  • The assurance of world peace

The Baha'i principle of progressive revelation

  • Divine revelation is a continuous and progressive process.
  • All the great religions of the world are divine in origin.
  • The basic principles of these religions are in complete harmony.
  • The missions of these religions represent successive stages in the spiritual evolution of humanity.

Baha'i communities

There is no clergy in the Baha'i Faith. Rather, its affairs are administered by a network of democratically elected councils at the international, national and local levels.

Baha'is gather together to establish loving, supportive and vibrant communities. Their events, celebrations and projects are open to all who wish to participate. Major activities include:

  • Adult study circles to explore the scriptures and engage in practical acts of service
  • Devotional gatherings where people pray together in a loving atmosphere
  • Children's classes to provide moral and spiritual education
  • Youth programs to empower teens through study, service, friendship and the arts.

Major Baha'i holy days

March 2 - 20
Baha'i month of fasting. Most Baha'is between 15 and 70 do not eat or drink from sunrise to sunset for 19 days, setting aside time for prayer and meditation.

March 21
Naw-Ruz. The Baha'i New Year's Day.

April 21 - May 2
Festival of Ridvan. Commemorates 12 days when the prophet-founder of the Baha'i Faith proclaimed His mission as God's messenger for this age. Elections for some 1,100 local spiritual assemblies, which administer the Faith in the absence of a clergy, take place during this period.

May 23
Declaration of the Bab. Commemorates the day when the prophet-herald of the Baha'i Faith foretold the coming a new messenger of God.

Baha'i House of Worship in Wilmette, Ill. (near Chicago)

Contact Richard Brill
847-251-5522
rbrill@bahai.us

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The organizations and/or individuals who submit materials for distribution by Religion News Service are solely responsible for the facts in and accuracy of their materials. Religion News Service will correct any errors brought to its attention.

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