Dan Rather is an acclaimed US journalist and former news anchor for the CBS Evening News. He is now managing editor and anchor of the television news magazine, Dan Rather Reports, on the cable channel HDNet. His 2001 book, The American Dream: Stories from the Heart of Our Nation contained stories of people pursuing their version of the American dream. One of his interviewees was an Iranian Bahá’í who went to the United States in search of freedom of religion.
“The Bahá’í have been persecuted from their beginnings. In 1844, a Persian merchant now known to the faithful as the Báb proclaimed that God had told him to prepare the world for a divine messenger. When the Báb and his message began to attract a following, they were set upon by extremist followers of the Muslim clergy. In 1850, they killed the Bab. Thirteen years later, a surviving disciple, Bahá’u’lláh, revealed that he was the one of whom the Bab had foretold.
Bahá’u’lláh taught, to put it in simple terms, that God is too great for any one religion to fully contain. Each, however, has contributed to humankind’s understanding and progress. To the Bahá’í, the teachings of Abraham, Moses, the Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus, Krishna, and Mohammed are all pieces of a vast universal puzzle. All have made equal contributions to morality and civilization, and all are studied closely by Bahá’í…
Their faith asks them to work toward eliminating prejudice of all kinds. Women and men are equals in Bahá’í families … Bahá’í are encouraged to promote their religion but to avoid proselytizing in any way that would infringe on the privacy or rights of others. Each Bahá’í is expected to obey the laws of the country in which he or she lives and to serve the needs of his or her community. They are instructed to avoid partisan politics and do not accept political appointments.
Essentially, Bahá’í do not pose a threat to any religion or to any of the more than 250 nations and territories in which they live. They are not revolutionaries. They are, however, committed to changing the world through faith and education. Because they are peaceful and unobtrusive, it can be difficult to understand why they have been singled out for persecution in Iran… it’s hard to see it as boiling down to anything more than hatred. And that’s something that’s tough for fair-minded people to fully grasp.”