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Harvey woman looks for world harmony

Thursday March 13, 2003

By Robert Maurice

It has been 35 years since Joy Freeman had what could be called a mystical vision. Her description of the experience was that of seeing "an angelic choir" as she gazed upon her bedroom ceiling on a hot, muggy night.

The choir kept calling the name of "Bahaullah," Freeman said, referring to the 19th century founder of the Baha'i faith. Earlier that evening, she heard her sister, Gwendolyn Ferguson, talk about the faith and was thinking, "It was the most demonic thing I had ever heard in my life."

Up until that time, Freeman had been a practicing Christian in the Baptist Church. She thought her sister, remarking as she did, had "lost it" and that she was out of touch with reality. "I went to bed crying," she recalled, but hours later she said her visionary experience caused her to find out what this religion was all about.

Today, like so many other people with diverse interests, this Harvey resident is a grandmother who enjoys bowling and likes to dance and sing just for fun. Reading about new ideas in science also has a special appeal. She holds a degree from Southern University and has been a state health inspector since 1981.

As for her spiritual quest, Freeman also has been pursuing her faith, the Baha'i religion, for more than three decades. "My investigation (of the faith) brought me to the point of realizing that Bahaullah was who he claimed to be, a manifestation for this modern day."

Regarding her present thinking about Christianity, Freeman said, "I love Jesus Christ even more, because all religions are one and the same as far as the Baha'i faith is concerned. If I love God, then I would have to love all the ones that God sent (to humanity)."

Unity and equality are described as keys to the Baha'i religion, which got its start about 150 years ago. Its worldwide adherents number about 4 million who believe in the inevitable unification of humankind and the harmony of "all people." Equal opportunity had been practiced among men and women long before it became an official buzzword in our country.

Historical sources indicate that according to the religion's founder, Bahaullah, individuals are encouraged to seek religious truth for themselves. There are no initiation rituals, ministers or sacraments, although certain practices are required of followers. These include daily prayer, avoiding the use of drugs and alcohol, and refraining from gossip and the moral judgment of others.

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Robert Maurice is a Harvey resident who writes about people and events of community interest. He can be reached at or 368-9770.

©Copyright 2003, The Time-Picayune (LA, USA)

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