In "Building Bridges," a Tapestry of Faith program
Youth consider the success of the Baha'i Faith in creating multicultural, multiracial communities. They explore what Unitarian Universalism can learn from them.
Share the following:
We must face the fact that in America, the church is still the most segregated hour in this nation. At 11:00 on Sunday morning when we stand and sing and Christ has no east or west, we stand at the most segregated hour in this nation. This is tragic. Nobody of honesty can overlook this. — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dec. 18, 1963
While Dr. King said this decades ago, it is still true. Although multicultural gains have been made in other areas of society, as of 2008, fewer than 10 percent of America's churches were multiracial (defined as no more than 80 percent of the congregation being of one racial/ethnic group).
The Baha'i Faith, with its seven million members, is the second most geographically widespread religion in the world, second in reach only to Christianity, which is 300 times larger. Why their wide appeal?
1. They believe that all people are one in spiritual purpose.
2. They consider no group complete without diversity.
3. All aspects of their worship are intentionally diverse.
Ask the youth if they consider these tenets valuable. Diversity is a stated goal of the Unitarian Universalist Association and many of its member congregations.
Read the following Baha'i quote:
If the flowers of a garden were all of one color, the effect would be monotonous to the eye; but if the colors are variegated, it is most pleasing and wonderful. The difference in adornment of color and capacity of reflection among the flowers gives the garden its beauty and charm. Therefore, although we are of different individualities, different in ideas and of various fragrances, let us strive like flowers of the same divine garden to live together in harmony. Even though each soul has its own individual perfume and color, all are reflecting the same light, all contributing fragrance to the same breeze which blows through the garden, all continuing to grow in complete harmony and accord. Become as waves of one sea, trees of one forest, growing in the utmost love, agreement and unity.
('Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 24)
Because they believe no group is complete without diversity, some Baha'i communities require that all church business be conducted by a diverse group; in fact, no matter how many people are present, there is no quorum without ethnic diversity. Business is postponed until there are multiple ethnicities present.
Sociologist Brad Christerson wrote based on his research:
We found that multiethnic faith communities that integrated culturally diverse ways of worshiping, preaching, and doing ministry were much more able to manage conflict and retain a diverse constituency. — Brad Christerson, co-author, "Against All Odds: The Struggle for Racial Integration in Religious Organizations" (NY: NYU Press, 2005)
The Baha’i faith, like many other religious communities, ranges all over the world. One consequence of this is a wide selection of Baha’i inspired music. As part of their commitment to multiculturalism, some Baha’i use music from many different cultures in worship, incorporating different styles, including Latin, American jazz, traditional Christian hymnody, folk music, and many more. Consequently, visitors will likely hear music from their ethnic background and faith tradition.
Play the songs you downloaded. If you can visit DivineNotes.com, peruse their catalog, noting the music styles and the countries represented. Ask:
Distribute Handout 2, Excerpts from Community Cohesion – a Baha'i Perspective for youth to read later.
For more information contact web @ uua.org.
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Last updated on Friday, December 9, 2011.
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