As we learn to apply spiritual principles to our personal, family and community lives, we gain capacity to contribute constructively to ongoing conversations at all levels of society: in neighborhoods, through a diverse array of personal and professional friendships, and in education, advocacy and government settings.
"While eschewing partisan political activity, Bahá’ís are to vigorously engage in constructive public discourse and in a wide range of social endeavours aimed at the betterment of the world and the progress of their respective nations. They undertake such activities with humility, discernment and respect for prevailing laws and social conditions, in a spirit of learning and in collaboration with like-minded groups and individuals, fully confident in the power inherent in the principle of unity in diversity and in the efficacy of mutual aid and cooperation." (read full text)
What does faith freedom mean for minority religions in America?
P.J. Andrews, the race discourse officer at Baha'is of the United States, joins BJC Director of Education Charles Watson Jr. for a conversation about religious freedom and what that means to people who are part of a minority faith in the United States.
Creative Community Response
Local Spiritual Assembly of King County North in western Washington to create a video as an accompaniment to the letter written by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the U.S. on June 19th 2020.
Community members created a 3-hour workshop called The Oneness of Humanity Workshop. Includes pre-workshop videos about the history of racism and slavery in this country, discussion of videos, study of selected quotes on oneness of humanity, and the development of an individual plan for helping promote oneness. link: https://youtu.be/KONPpMco3NE
Hosting Spaces for Difficult Conversations
As the polarization and tensions of the country boil to a head the LSA of Claremont organized a virtual forum in which black residents of our city speak about their experiences in various sectors of life and work in our community.
Round-table on the subject of racial justice.
A group of 14 participants gathered on Zoom to discuss the role of religion in promoting racial justice in the greater Chattanooga community.
Interfaith Zoom: Uprooting Racism
Two years ago a couple from St. Paul, MN decided to focus their monthly devotional on the theme "uprooting racism." Before COVID-19 they started with a potluck dinners. Since then they have continued on Zoom, sharing prayers, scripture, and other writings from a variety of religions and secular sources, all related to racial harmony and justice.
The first Race Unity Picnic was started on June of 2016 at Thomas Daley Community Park in LaPlace, Louisiana and continued via Zoom in June of 2020 due to Covid-19. Several parish officials attended the Picnics which included Sheriff Mike Tregre, and The CAO of St. John Parish, and Baha'i's from the New Orleans community along with family and friends. The publication of Forging a Path to Racial Justice was printed in the local newspaper from June 24th - July 4th to include e-edition and Facebook. Additionally an ad in the local TV ran from June 1st - July 4th. A tradition of 'Prayers in the Park' are held every Saturday mornings beginning at 10:30. However, special prayers were dedicated based on racial unity during the months of June and July 2020. Over a period of several weeks we studied the Updated 1996 - 2020 Compilation - Achieving Race Unity.
Community on a path of change
The community of Huntsville, Alabama has stated, "at a recent Feast the community recommended that the Assembly disseminate the NSA message, “Forging A Path To Racial Justice” to as wide an audience as possible. ...embark[ing] on an outreach campaign to more than 30 individuals, service organizations and educational institutions. The Assembly sent the NSA message along with an introductory letter from the LSA.
The outreach, consisting of both regular mail and email, reached a potential audience of hundreds. The initial outreach recipients included: two interfaith groups; the Huntsville Mayor and Mayor’s Office of Multicultural Affairs; the Huntsville City Council; three local newspapers; four local television stations, five radio stations; four civic organizations, three of which service the Black community; four colleges and universities; and the local offices of Alabama’s congressional representatives." (see responses here)
The Assembly is moving forward with replies and other actions in response to the interest generated by the NSAs message. The LSA is expanding the campaign to send the NSA message to additional service organizations, civic groups, and elected officials.
Promoting discussions on change
Publication of ads and articles in the local paper as well as regular devotional gatherings on Zoom dedicated to Race Unity and discussion of racism.
Conversing the gap
Discussion group and study guide on institutional racism
For several years, Baha'is in Davis, CA have hosted a weekly discussion group called Baha’i Café. Since the death of George Floyd, they have been looking at Writings related to racism and have developed a study guide to help Baha'is appreciate the concepts of institutional racism and implicit bias.
For 5 years a New Jersey Baha'i participated in a monthly series, "Let's Talk About Race." Each program features a speaker, panel or video followed by Q&A and audience participation. We always try to incorporate "action items", ways people can make a difference in their circles of influence. It is explicitly apolitical and largely focused on racial justice. In 2018, the program won the NJ State Library Association's MultiCultural Award; in 2019 we were invited to present at the Monmouth University annual Interdisciplinary Conference on Race.
H.E.R.O.S. organized outside New Trier High School, Winnetka IL discussing societal injustice and how to take action.
H.E.R.O.S. (Healing Everyday Racism in Our Schools)
Baha'i community members in Evanston and Wilmette work in side-by-side with students, parents, teachers, and neighbors to empowering each other into action: listening to one another, and taking bold, courageous action that centers the lives of those who experience racism on a daily basis.
Concern for the rights and progress of indigenous peoples, African Americans and recent immigrants was integral to the 2019 Association for Baha’i Studies – North America conference.
Baha'i invited to serve on Austin Racial Equality Task Force
The iACT Racial Equality Task Force has put together a road map and resource collection to get their board and community on the same page around clear and concrete steps that can and should be taken to address structural inequities and promote anti-racism.