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Baha'i Faith Unity Center aims prayers at racial discrimination

Source: Advocate - Baton Rouge
Publication date: 2001-03-17
Arrival time: 2001-03-18

A banner above the door to the Baha'i Faith Unity Center on Perkins Road announces nightly prayer services with the aim of eliminating racial discrimination. A small group immersed in prayers is inside. They resemble a United Nations sampling from the U.S., Iraq and Brazil.

They have been meeting each weekday night since March 2 and will continue together until Wednesday to pray, chant, and sing.

They will take part in the International Day for the elimination of Racial Discrimination, a holiday sanctioned by the United Nations and celebrated for the first time in 2000.

J. Steven Wyandt, a member of the local spiritual assembly, said, "Baha'is have as one of its central principles the realization of oneness of mankind. We regard racism as a disease afflicting the body of mankind. "It is very important for all of us to strive to understand the cause and effects of this disease and to do the serious work to heal it so that mankind can collectively achieve the peace and justice it so critically needs."The Baha'i faith is an independent world religion with over 5 million members worldwide. They believe racism retards potentialities of its victims, corrupts its perpetrators, and blights human progress.

"As an African American, I have seen and experienced the demoralizing nature of racial discrimination for more than 50 years, said Moses E. Edwards, who has been a member of the Baha'i Faith for more than 30 years ...""The elimination of racial discrimination seems central to the advancement of civilization. Therefore, we pray for the spiritualization of the masses of people," Edwards said.

Another member of the Baha'i Center, Joanna Badkoobeh, an American raised in Brazil by missionary parents, said, "My prayer is that humanity may realize that we all came from the same original parents, therefore we are all related ...""A humanity divided against itself cannot stand. Unity among blacks and whites must prevail before it is too late," Badkoobeh said.

The special prayer services are open to the public and held at 7:30 p.m. at 4270 Perkins Road. For more information, call 387-5726.

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