World Religion: Diversity of Faith

The New Crisis, November/December 1999 | Go to article overview

World Religion: Diversity of Faith


"True North" on humanity's moral compass is often a set of religious beliefs. The felt morality that guides us toward such ends as the abolition of slavery, notions of individual liberties and social justice, an equitable split between labor and capital, or preserving our elders, arises from core beliefs about our relationship to the cosmos and our purposes for being.

The world's major belief systems predate the European hegemony of the past two millenia. Most of the world's people are and bave been people of color. Even in the Christian era, such early church fathers as Tertullian and Augustin were black men of Africa, This needs to be recalled more often here in the United States, where The contributions of people of color to the world frequently get the Hollywood whitewash, and many of the more rabid religious racists actually imagine That somewhere, sometime there has been an all-white world.

The need to understand and respect the differing (yet fundamentally similar) religious belief systems of Earth's peoples increases as the world shrinks due to technological, economic, and political globalization. We in the United States are known worldwide for being especially parochial and chauvinistic in our views and operations-to wit, most of us speak only one language, and may have trouble with that.

It is appropriate, therefore, to acquaint or remind ourselves of the many ways humanity travels to the Divine, at this time of the year in which many people focus on their spiritual origins and intentions. Perhaps we will come to feel The ecumenical spirit claimed by Mahatma Ghandi: "I have realized that every religion contains both truth and untruth. The root of all religions is one and it is pure and all of them have sprung from the same source, hence all are equal. "

BAHA'I

"We spend our lives trying to unlock the mystery of the universe, but there is a prisoner Baha 'u'llah, in Akka, Palestine, wbo bas the key. " -Leo Tolstoy "The well-being of mankind, its peace and security are unattainable unless and until its unity firmly established. "

-Baha'u'llah

The Baha'i teachings focus on the principle of unity in diversity.

Baha'is believe that world peace will be realized as a tangible expression of the principle of the oneness of humankind, and look forward to the next millennium with confidence and assurance.

Baha'i was founded by Mirza Husayn 'Ali Nuri, who took the name Baha'u'llah (Glory of God) while in exile in Baghdad. Baha'u'llah's coming had been foretold by Mirza Ali Mohammad, known as al-Bab, who founded Babism in 1844, from which the Baha'i faith grew. The central tenets of the Baha'i faith are the oneness of God, the oneness of humanity, and the common foundation of all religion. Baha'ists also believe in the equality of men and women, universal education, world peace, and the creation of a world federal system of government.

Inevitably, the movement leading to world unity must encounter opposing tendencies rooted in stubborn habits of chauvinism and partisanship that refuse to yield to the expectations of a new age. The torturous suffering imposed by such conditions as poverty, war, violence, fanaticism, disease, and degradation of the environment, to which masses of people are subjected, is a consequence of this opposition. Hence, before the peace of nations matures into a comprehensive reality, it must pass through difficult stages, not unlike those experienced by individual nations until their internal consolidation was achieved. Baha'i has more than 5 million followers (as of 1996).

BUDDHISM

"Buddha's full teachings dispel the pain of worldly existence and self-oriented peace; may they flourish, spreading prosperity and happiness through-out this spacious world,

O holders of tbe Dharma: scholars and realized practitioners;

May your ten fold virtuous Practice prevail."--Dalai Larna, Tibetan spiritual leader

Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama, known as the Buddha (Enlightened One), in southern Nepal in the sixth and fifth centuries B. …

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