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Bahais look for spiritual nucleus in all religions


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 16, 1998

PORT RICHEY -- As a member of the Bahai faith, Jay Miller believes that mankind is one family and that prejudice of all types should be eliminated.

Miller also believes there is one God, who periodically sends messengers to teach about God's purpose for humanity. Those messengers have included Abraham, Moses, Christ, Krishna, Buddha, Zoroaster, Mohammed and, most recently, Baha'u'llah.

Baha'u'llah delivered his message of peace in 1863 in Persia, now Iran, and followers of his message are known as Bahais. They include Miller, his wife, Sharon, their two teenagers and 5-million others around the world.

Bahais also believe that people are equal in the sight of God, that each child is entitled to a sound education and that science and religion harmonize -- science without religion is materialism, and religion without science is superstition.

The Bahai faith has no clergy, but an assembly is elected wherever nine or more adult Bahais meet. In west Pasco, members meet in homes on the second and fourth Saturday evenings, with prayer services scheduled at a local beach at 8 a.m. each Sunday. Miller says that despite the meetings, members' spiritual life is their own responsibility, and that one of the tougher things is for each person to take on the responsibility of working out those principles.

"We are encouraged to read the word of God -- the Bible, the Koran or Bahai scriptures. You are encouraged to do a personal accounting of how can you improve yourself, on what shortcomings you have," Miller says. "There is no confession of sins -- you do that in private. It is pretty much in line with principle. Individuals investigate the truth for ourselves."

Each day, the 41-year-old chiropractor takes time to pray and read.

"You are supposed to recite one of three prayers, attend Bahai services, participate in Bahai activities and feast events, and then apply Bahai principles in your life," he says.

"Bahais are taught that there is a basic spiritual core that you can find in every major religion. If you put a Christian who is a Christian by a Muslim who is a Muslim, beside a Jew who is a Jew, along with a Bahai, you would see the same God-centeredness. You would see the quality of God in their life. Not a physical outward appearance, but in the spiritual qualities we bring out in our life. We have to choose to bring out these qualities. The key to doing that is exposing yourself to what Bahais believe -- the word of God, along with love, compassion and tolerance," Miller says.

"The truth is the truth. It has the truth to it. For me, it also gives me a sense of order to the universe. I know where I came from, I know where I am going and what I should be doing along the way. It provides me with a great sense of peace in a seemingly crazy world. It is not exclusive at all -- everyone can be part of this spiritual family."

Miller says that, as a Bahai, he is encouraged to associate with people of all religions and to see the common ground shared by all. Members are also encouraged to share the Bahai message with those who are interested, but they do not try to force their religious beliefs on others. If you ask, they will share.

Miller says TCI Cablevision Channel 5 in west Pasco is running a series on the Bahai faith at 4 p.m. each Tuesday. Also, local public libraries carry a book titled The Bahai Faith: The Emerging Global Religion by William Hatcher and Douglas Martin. Their Web site is

For information about the Bahai faith, call (813) 943-9790 and request a mailing or inquire about attending a fireside gathering.

©Copyright 1998, St. Petersburg Times

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