West Warwick couple keeping the Baha'i faith
RYAN BURR, Daily Times Staff Reporter||
October 07, 2002|
NATICK -- People of the Baha'i faith embrace the existence and importance of theirmessenger Baha'u'llah, as well as all
divine messengers, including Buddha, Mohammed and Jesus Christ.
Baha'u'llah happens to be the latest "messenger," says Robert and Flora Salmon, members of the Baha'i faith who live in
"The unique thing about our faith is that you don't have to deny anything to become a Baha'i," said
Robert Salmon, who taught Baha'i in Portugal for years. Baha'u'llah declared himself the messenger in 1863, having endured
years of persecution for his Baha'i teachings.
Though their religion, which originated in Iran in 1844, is not
often the focus of media coverage, Robert Salmon said Baha'i is actually the second-most geographically widespread religion
in the world, next to Christianity. In Rhode Island, there are just 60 to 70 active members, according to the
There is no clergy within their faith, only local assemblies which are designated in areas where there are
nine or more members who are older than 21. The only Rhode Island assembly is currently in Providence. There were two
others in Cranston and Warwick until last year when their membership dipped too low.
The 158-year-old Baha'i
religion pursues this agenda:World peace and the unity of mankind. The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the
United States, in Chicago, states that racism and gender inequality are the main hindrances to achieving world
Worship, devotion and informational meetings are always held at a person's house. There is no church per say.
The Salmons' home at 10 Intervale Road is routinely open for such gatherings, drawing on average 15 to 20 people. On
Saturday, they are hosting an informational meeting which will feature a guitarist who will also speak on "Knowing Yourself
"Many of the members of Baha'i open their homes to meetings," said Salmon, who discovered the religion in
his late 20s after a girl his age introduced the idea to him.
One of the commandments Salmon said he had trouble
adjusting to was abstention from alcohol.
"That was a tough one for me because I'm from an Irish background," Salmon
Flora Salmon was born into the faith in Iran. Three generations of her family are steeped in
She is happy to be in America practicing her beliefs because of the religious persecution that still exists
in her native Iran.
"It wasn't until recently that they finally let kids come over here to attend college," she
said. During and before Baha'u'llah's existence, more than 20,000 people were persecuted for their Baha'i
On the calendar, Baha'is celebrate the same holidays but at very different times. New Year's, for instance,
arrives on March 21, while the 19th of every month actually begins the start of a new month. This is one of the times when
members meet officially with administrative assembly leaders to relay their feelings on the condition of the Baha'is and
suggest change if so desired.
The Salmon's agree that Baha'i is especially successful when it comes to attracting
youth, a goal many churches struggle to achieve.
"The Baha'i youth seem more involved than the youths I saw as a
Catholic," Robert Salmon said.
©Copyright 2002, Kent County Daily Times