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Question of Faith

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 26, 2003

QUESTION OF FAITH: What is a brief explanation of your Baha'i faith?

Answered by L. Naomi McCord of the St. Petersburg Baha'i Center, 676 Second Ave. S, St. Petersburg. (The faith has no clergy.)

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" 'So powerful is the light of unity that it can illumine the whole earth.' These are the words of Baha'u'llah (Glory of God), prophet-founder of the Baha'i faith. He was born in 1817 to a noble family in Iran and was raised in a setting of wealth and privilege. In 1863, he proclaimed that ... he was the latest in a line of divine revelators of the word of God -- but not the last. The central teaching of the Baha'i faith is unity, based on the understanding that there is but one God who created the entire universe; that there is one religion, revealed to mankind in progressive stages by God's chosen messengers. All of the previous bearers of God's message are honored and their teachings acknowledged as being chapters in the Book of God. All of these revelations speak of a time of peace and unity, and none teach that the one who preceded their own revelation was false. A world commonwealth is envisioned by Baha'u'llah in which nations will come together to solve the problems of the world. ... The autonomy of nations will be protected, but our greater loyalty is expanded to include the entire human race. Request for membership in the Baha'i community acknowledges belief in Baha'u'llah and that there are laws to be obeyed. One of these laws has to do with service in the military. If a Baha'i is drafted, he or she is expected to ask for noncombatant status."

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SKETCH: "I grew up in a family active in the Christian Church. I believed in the promises made in the Bible concerning God's kingdom being established on Earth, which I understood to require 'one religion,' with no idea how this would be achieved. When in 1945 I learned of Baha'u'llah's teachings and the concept of religion being one -- that it wasn't something man had to figure out, I began to study the writings of Baha'u'llah and shortly after became a Baha'i. I learned that service to humanity is the highest means of praising God and that we are ever-growing, ever-living spiritual beings created to reflect the attributes of God in our interaction with others, whether in our family, our community or the world. My mother and father, my husband, my sister and my children, individually, chose this path as their own. I have had many opportunities to serve the Baha'i community as an elected representative and as a teacher."

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A TINY TEST OF FAITH: "Baha'u'llah calls on all believers to teach his cause. I felt ill equipped and resisted this for some years until it became clear that I was not excluded. My faith in the promise of assistance when we arise made it possible to overcome this fear and rely on the power of God. In today's world crisis, my challenge is to reflect my confidence that peace is God's plan for the world and share this confidence with others."

©Copyright 2003, St. Petersburg Times (Tampa, FL, USA)

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