Friday, May 16, 2008

Bad Religion?

A delegate from Gabon at the Baha'i International Convention

This recent story from the Baha'i World News Service about the International Convention held by the Baha'is in Haifa last week offers a striking contrast to the actions of the Iranian authorities towards this religion.

HAIFA, Israel — Experiencing the diversity of the human family can be humbling, as Bahá’ís attending their recent international convention learned.

One can meet an industrialist from Italy, a civil engineer from Barbados, and a presidential advisor from South Africa – but realize that a 25-year-old student from South America is equally impressive with her knowledge of how to organize classes for children and youth.

Or discover that the Ph.D. who works with the international research agency speaks two languages, but the woman who owns a small business in Cameroon speaks five.

A thousand delegates from more than 150 countries came to Haifa for the 10th International Bahá’í Convention, and at least some participants say the diversity was unprecedented.

Gregory C. Dahl, who formerly worked at the International Monetary Fund and has attended many U.N.-related meetings, had never seen anything like it.

“This is easily the most diverse gathering of people on the planet,” he said of the convention. He compared it to a U.N. meeting but said the diversity at the Baha’i gathering came not just from the different nationalities but from the backgrounds of the participants.

“At the United Nations, there are representatives from many countries, but not from so many different social, economic, and professional classes,” said Mr. Dahl, who attended the Baha’i convention as a delegate from Bulgaria. He noted that the others from Bulgaria included someone who works for a coal-mining company, another employed by an insurance company, a musician, and a secretary." Read the whole thing here.

I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me how a religion that brings people from all backgrounds together to work for a better world could be a bad thing. What possible threat can it pose to anyone? Why do its followers deserve harassment, destruction of their holy places, expulsion from schools and jobs, imprisonment and even death? What is so scary about the Baha'i Faith?

Two of my favorite bloggers, Barnabus and Bilo also have info on the round-up of Baha'i leadership in Iran.

I'll keep you posted on developments.