Baha’i: “Race Unity” is theme of 1 holiday, 2 conferences

SUNDAY, JUNE 13: Join Baha’is in working for justice today, as devotees honor Race Unity Day. Baha’is view racism as the most vital moral challenge in America—and have since the inception of the Baha’i faith. Working toward unity is central to this worldwide religious tradition. Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i faith, noted to his followers that global peace and prosperity can only result from the oneness of humanity; Baha’u’llah’s son, Abdu’l-Baha, would only speak in places where all races were welcome. To assist with the issue of racism, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States inaugurated Race Unity Day in 1957, to be celebrated annually on the second Sunday of June. (Read the official Baha’i statement on The Vision of Race Unity, created in 1991, here.)

Baha’is have long been working toward overcoming the core issues that fuel racism, and they believe that a full spiritual transformation must take place before behavior can be fully changed. Baha’is also teach that, before an entire community can change its collective perspective, change must begin at the ground level: in the family. Baha’is, therefore, often make it a family affair to promote unity and work toward erasing racism.

Chicago Conference: African-American Religious Leadership

Of course, racial unity is a goal of virtually all of the world’s great religious traditions. Here’s another example this week: For three days, June 11-13, many African-American church leaders and religious educators are meeting in Chicago  to work toward unity, as part of a national conference called “African-American Religious Leadership and the Age of Obama.” (Read all about the conference in this press release, from PR Newswire.) Conference organizers have concluded that, while neighborhoods across the country are becoming more diverse, that diversity is lagging in theological schools.

Dearborn Conference: Religion, Conflict and Peace

“Religion, Conflict and Peace,” another national conference meeting June 11-13 in Dearborn, Michigan, also is addressing these urgent challenges. Here’s one report from that conference, which included Karen Armstrong, Huston Smith and Rabbi David Rosen. In Dearborn, one question kept echoing throughout the conference center: How can individuals help build bridges? What’s your answer? Email us at [email protected] with your thoughts. Care to read more to help fuel your own response? Read the Baha’i view of racial unity from the official website of the Baha’is of the United States.

(By ReadTheSpirit columnist Stephanie Fenton)

(NOTE: To see more short articles about upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries, click the “RTS Magazines” tab at the top of this page and select “Religious Holidays.”)

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