You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘21st century’ category.
Gordon Brown is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He took office on 27 June 2007, three days after becoming leader of the Labour Party. Prior to this he served as the Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1997-2007, becoming the United Kingdom’s longest serving Chancellor since the early 19th century.
“I would like to express my respect and admiration to the Baha’i community which makes a contribution to British life out of all proportion to its size. The principles of the Baha’i faith are rightly shared and appreciated by many in our different communities. It is therefore all the more tragic that Baha’is around the world face prejudice and discrimination. I very much welcome your increased participation in public life and hope you will build on this in the future.”
21 April 2009
The Bahá’í community has a long, proud and respected tradition and contributes much to today’s Britain. Your faith includes a clear obligation to work towards religious tolerance and respect for other faiths, an aim shared by both myself and a wide range of different communities across Britain.
I commend you for promoting an understanding and exploration of your faith to wider British society. The Bahá’í community can be proud of its success in working to foster cohesive and integrated communities.”
21 April 2008
The Reverend Peter Owen-Jones is an Anglican clergyman, author and TV presenter. He is the writer and presenter of The Battle for Britain’s Soul, Extreme Pilgrim and Around the World in 80 Faiths.
“Out of the biblical traditions of the Middle East, a new religion emerged in 19th century Iran which introduced a whole set of new ideas about our connection with the past. On the coast of Israel at Haifa, the followers of the Bahá’í Faith have built a garden at the Shrine of their Prophet known as The Báb. I wonder if this faith will offer a break from the hidebound views of the past I’ve experienced on my journey so far…
There’s one particular Bahá’í saying that I really do admire and it is the world is one country and we are all its citizens. That implies equal rights and an equal relationship with God – not fractured upon one belief system or another.
Having been here, I see Bahá’í is a religion which welcomes all religious perspectives. And I think – in a land of belligerent tribalism – this is such a wonderful, refreshing tonic. For me connecting with God means transcending the mundane facts of where we were born and in what tribe…
This isn’t dependent on being born into some tribe, born into your religion. This is inclusive, all-embracing monotheism and I hope, I hope that this is the future, I do.”
From Around the World in 80 Faiths, Episode 3 “The Middle East”
“When you grow up with a spiritual foundation that asks you to be conscious of the fact that all races are created equal, that men and women are equal and that all religions worship the same God, it helps you see the world as one family and not get lost in the traps of political, social and economic belief systems that can lead you astray. I always think of myself as a world citizen. It’s a powerful thing…
I was in New York City, going to acting school, and I was going through a rebellious phase. I didn’t want anyone telling me what to do. I was disenchanted with things that were organized. It was a spiritual journey I was on. And this is reflected in and supported by one of the central tenets of the Bahá’í Faith, which obliges every spiritual seeker to undertake an individual investigation of truth.
I started at ground zero. I decided I didn’t know if there was even a God. I read religious books of the world. I asked myself, “If there is a God, how do we know what He wants us to do and what He wants for us? Do we read books? Do we buy crystals? Do we follow certain gurus? Do we sit under a tree? Because surely this omniscient creator has some kind of plan in store for mankind…”
It brought me back to the Bahá’í way of viewing things. I came to realize I did believe in God. I couldn’t conceive of a universe without someone overseeing it in a compassionate way. It just made the most sense to me that God gradually is unfolding a plan for humankind. That there is progressive revelation — the Bahá’í belief that God sends Messengers for each day and age. I re-read books about the Bahá’í Faith. And I came back to believing that Bahá’u’lláh was the Promised One and Messenger for this day and age…
My feeling about the Faith is that it provides a practical guideline for living one’s life. So much about religion has to do with rigid, sacrosanct preciousness. I don’t live my life that way, and I don’t feel that’s what Bahá’u’lláh teaches. He wants us to live rich, full, loving lives in service to God’s will and the human family.
I love how democratic the (Bahá’í) Faith is, that it has no clergy, no people telling us how to interpret the word of God. In this day and age we see how corrupt clergy can lead mankind down so many bad roads.”
“There is no doubt that your faith’s belief in the breaking down of barriers that separate people is a lesson to us all, as we face the national and international challenges of our day.
The importance you place on principles such as social justice, and the need to tackle prejudice, has stood the test of time. These principles are as vital today as they were a century and a half ago.
May I commend also your belief in the value of individual human initiative, the importance of family life, and the need to strengthen communities and to review and advance society as a whole.”
“The principles which the Bahá’í community hold dear – in particular unity and also the promotion of social justice, a belief in the importance of family life, and a concern for the environment – are of central importance to our society today.
The fact that so much work has been carried out to put these values into practice, through development projects around the world does great credit to your faith.
I know also that you will have in your thoughts at this time those communities elsewhere who face persecution because of their faith. Freedom to worship and to hold religious belief is a fundamental right which we must always cherish.”
“Not only is Ridván an important time for communal prayers and celebration, and for electing local governing councils, but it can also be a time for reflection on the principles which the Bahá’í community holds dear. These principles include unity, the promotion of social justice, a belief in the importance of family life, and a concern for the environment. I know that you will also be thinking of your co-religionists elsewhere who may be facing persecution because of their beliefs.”
Tony Blair was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997-2007. He was the Labour Party’s longest-serving Prime Minister and the only leader to have taken the party to three consecutive general election victories. On a number of occasions, Mr Blair sent the UK Baháí community messages for the celebration of Naw-Rúz.
On 30 May 2008, Tony Blair launched the Tony Blair Faith Foundation as a vehicle for encouraging different faiths to join together in promoting respect and understanding, as well as working to tackle poverty. Reflecting Blair’s own faith, but not dedicated to any particular religion, the Foundation aims to “show how faith is a powerful force for good in the modern world.”
“I have a clear vision of a multi-cultural Britain – one which values the contribution made by each of our ethnic, cultural and faith communities. I am determined to see a truly dynamic society, in which people from different ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds can live and work together, whilst retaining their distinctive identities, in an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding.
British Baha’is make a significant contribution towards achieving this vision and we are a stronger, better country because of it. It is particularly important that we celebrate the contribution of the Baha’i faith to the stability and prosperity of British Society as a whole.
I am very much encouraged by the vision the Baha’i community demonstrates in recognising the power of interfaith dialogue and the importance of all citizens fulfilling their potential. Your community has a vibrancy which is well demonstrated by the recent opening of the Baha’i Gardens on Mount Carmel in Israel. It is an outstanding monument to your faith.”
21 March 2002
“In many ways, Bahá’ís embody the spirit of community cohesion that is so important to our society. The Bahá’í community, in its outlook on life and in its proactive work in the inter-faith, cohesion and anti-discrimination fields, show how much faith-based bodies can contribute to wider society, and the Government looks forward to continuing our good relationship.”
21 March, 2005
“I warmly commend all that the Baha’i community does for social cohesion and better inter-faith relations, which makes such a valuable contribution to our society. Your commitment to tackling discrimination and promoting our shared humanity is particularly important. I hope that this work will become increasingly well-known.”
21 March 2006
“The United Kingdom deeply values the presence of the Baha’i community and the unique contribution you make. The words of your founder, that “the earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens”, have perhaps an even greater resonance in 2007 than ever before. The universal challenges of climate change, and its potentially disastrous impact on millions of people across the globe, remind us forcefully that we are all fellow citizens of the world, all sharing in its destiny. As we confront these challenges I have no doubt that you, and your fellow Baha’is in other countries, have much to contribute to the debate and the pursuit of possible solutions, drawing on the tradition of working for social justice of which Baha’is can rightly be so proud.”
21 March 2007
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.”
“The respect you pay to other world religions, your openness for people who have different opinions, your message of peace for the world we live in, makes you a greatly appreciated partner for us. Stuttgart highly values the activities of the Bahá’í community, because it participates in the social life of our city in an exemplary manner.”