¶51. Racial Diversity and Race Relations
Because of its stress on the oneness of humanity, the Bahá'í Faith has a long history of advocating integration of the races, to the extent that 'Abdu'l-Bahá praised interracial marriage as an example of the love between the races. The Bahá'í contribution to the struggle for racial equality is perhaps the Bahá'í Faith's most significant contribution to American society to date, though it is a contribution that is as yet little recognized.
'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, 112-14. Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, 28-34. Lights of Guidance, 523-35, is on race, racism, and aboriginal peoples. Behold Me: Bahá'í Writings on Unity is a full compilation of Bahá'í texts focusing on race and social unity. A compilation of Bahá'í scriptures on race unity, titled The Power of Unity, is available and is an excellent source to use in studying the Bahá'í position; a study guide for the work has also been prepared. Another complete compilation of primary-source documents is The Pupil of the Eye: African Americans in the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, edited by Bonnie J. Taylor. In 1991 the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States issued a statement titled The Vision of Race Unity, which describes the official Bahá'í position on race unity and states the importance of eliminating racial strife to the future development of American society.
Ferraby, 72, 75-76 Momen, 35-7, 62, 81 Hatcher and Martin, 75-6, 78-9, 106, 199 Smith 1987, 75-6, 108, 150-2 Huddleston, 73-76 Smith 1996, 82, 86-7, 125
There is a growing literature on the Bahá'í approach to race relations. The classic work is a biography of the most prominent African-American Bahá'í and the story of his efforts to promote racial equality, both in the Bahá'í community and in American society: Gayle Morrison's To Move the World: Louis G. Gregory and the Advancement of Racial Unity in America. A more recent and more personal contribution is Nathan Rutstein's To Be One, a description of his struggle against his own racism and his reflections about overcoming racism in society. Rutstein has followed the book with another titled Healing Racism in America: A Prescription for the Disease. A work that attempts to place the Bahá'í struggle within the context of the history of race relations in the United States is Richard W. Thomas' Racial Unity: An Imperative for Social Progress. His follow-up book Understanding Racial Unity: A Study of U.S. Race Relations describes the history of race relations in the United States and offers suggestions for present and future solutions. Mark Perry's "Pioneering Racial Unity: The Chicago Bahá'ís, 1919-39," in World Order, 20.2 (Winter 1985-86), is an excellent study of the struggle to bring about racial integration in a single local Bahá'í community. Alexander Garvin's "We Can Solve Urban Problems," published in World Order, 17.2 (Winter 1982-83), discusses many urban problems closely related to the race issue, as does June Manning Thomas' "Race Unity: Implications for the Metropolis," in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 6.4 (Dec. 1994-Mar. 1995). A refutation of one modern psychological theory purporting to demonstrate that the differences in intelligence between blacks and whites are real may be found in Hossain B. Danesh and William S. Hatcher's "Errors in Jensen's Analysis," in World Order, 11.1 (Fall 1976). Mike McMullen presents a case study in his "The Atlanta Bahá'í Community and Race Unity: 1909-1950," in World Order, 26.4 (Summer 1995). Circle of Unity: Bahá'í Approaches to Current Social Issues, a volume of essays by Bahá'ís on social issues edited by Anthony Lee, also includes articles on or related to race relations. Dialogue has also published a few articles and fora on race relations, though the articles, which concentrated heavily on South African apartheid, may now be of less use; chief among these are issues 1:1 (Winter 1986) and 1:3 (Summer/Fall 1986). "The Journey Out of the Racial Divide," in World Order 28:2 (Winter 1996-97), by Michael Penn, extends some social experiments done to understand racial contention and amity to tie them in with Bahá'í solutions.
¶52. Religion: Definition of
Scholars debate the proper way to define the word religion and have not settled on a definition. The Bahá'í Faith defines religion in terms of divine revelation, sent to humanity through Manifestations. The human response to the revelation is also important but often represents a source of ideas that lead to misunderstanding or misapplication of the revelation; therefore a Bahá'í theological definition of religion might not include the human response.
Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, 481-82 (Gleanings, CX); 420, bottom (Gleanings, XXXIV, near end); 233 (First Ishráq in Tablets 125).
Esslemont, 133-34 Hatcher and Martin, 81-2 Ferraby, 38-43 Huddleston, 20-7
Seena Fazel has examined the definitions of "religion" and "world religion" in relation to the Bahá'í Faith in "Is the Bahá'í Faith a World Religion?" in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 6.1 (Mar.-June 1994). Moojan Momen discusses a variety of methodologies in a brief but useful note, "The Study of Religion: Some Comments on the Methodology of Studying Religion," in Bahá'í Studies Review, 1.1 (1991). Much of Dann May's master's thesis The Bahá'í Principle of Religious Unity and the Challenge of Radical Pluralism examines the definition of religion.