The Daily Oklahoman from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on April 11, 1976 · 170
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The Daily Oklahoman from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma · 170

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Issue Date:
Sunday, April 11, 1976
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Baha'i The Universal Bond More and more Sooners responding to religion's themes of unity Photos by Roger Klock ly Gary Hearn A Baptist woman who was always inquisitive about religion, a 7-year-old Methodist choir singer ind a Jew who doesn't look Jewish iow share a common religious bond. They are among some 800 Okla-toma followers of Baha'u'llah, Junder of the Baha'i faith.- They lave no clergy, no meeting hall or emple in the state. They believe in traversal brotherhood and peace fith a world government and a sole .rorld language. Baha'i claim more than 80,000 ollowers in the United States and everal million worldwide. The aith originated slightly more than century ago in Persia. Followers i Oklahoma first organized around 938. Arabelle Haywood, a retired urse and former Baptist and Cath-lic, became a Baha'i believer in 939. "There were three ministers i my family, including my grahd-ather. As a small child, I always rondered why God was going to urn this earth after he built it," he said. Mrs. Haywood and her family 'ere living in Chicago when she rst heard of the faith and became iterested. Wilmette, 111., near Chi-ago, is the location of the only aha'i House of Worship in the Inited States, and Chicago was the cation of the first U.S. Baha'i roup in 1894. Mrs. Haywood heard about aha'u'llah through a relative and isited the temple at Wilmette ieking more information. "I was Iways inquisitive about religion; r some reason, I just kept looking, fter I began to study, I was so nraptured my husband became iscinated, too," she said. The cou-le moved to Oklahoma City in J59 and continued the practice of leir faith with the small local spir-ual assembly already organized. David Oixon, now a 19-year-old-entral State University student, as 17 and singing in a Methodist hurch choir when he first contact-1 the faith. 'The Baha'is had a youth confer-lce at the State Fairgrounds in )73, and at the time I was working i the fairgrounds maintenance ew," he said. Featured at the conference were sals and Crofts, rock singers who nbraced the religion in the late )60s and have since included the aha'i message with their musical jrformances. "I attended the concert. Seals and Pj JpMJ jcM Discussing Baha'i written works are, left to City area. Crofts talked about the faith and what it meant to them. From there, I just started reading, asking and investigating," Dixon said. Alex Resnick, an Oklahoma City businessman, came from a Jewish family in- California. Resnick said he was uncomfortable in the faith, though, because, "I don't really look Jewish. Every time I went to temple, people would make comments. "And I was really turned off to the clergy at least in the Jewish faith," Resnick said. He graduated from UCLA, completed a tour of duty with the Army and went to Chicago where he, also, became acquainted with Baha'i. "A friend and I stumbled into the Baha'i building by mistake. I thought it was a library. "I remember that it was a very peaceful place, but I didn't really know what it was even when I left. About a year later, I read some Baha'i material and found things there in the principles that I liked," Resnick said. "The Baha'i teaching of accepting everybody interested me," he said. Resnick said that probably the hardest part of accepting the Baha'i faith for him "was accepting Christ first." Baha'is believe that God, in essence, is unknowable, but that his word is made known through chosen messengers or "Manifestations of God." Among those are Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Christ, Muhammad and Baha'u'llah, whom Baha'is call "the Manifestation of right, Jane Hogue, Arabelle Haywood, Alex Resnick and Bob Powers, all of the Oklahoma God for this Age." Baha'u'llah was born Mirza Hu-sayn 'Ali on Nov. 12, 1817. He was the eldest son of a Persian minister of state. At age 27, Baha'u'llah heard of the teachings of another young man, Mirza Ali Muhammad, called the Bab by Baha'i followers. The Bab proclaimed that he had appeared to prepare the way for the coming of a great man who would be the Promised One of all religions and who would found a universal religion. The Bab was executed by the Mohammedans in 1850, and Baha'u'llah, who had become an exponent of the Bab, was imprisoned during several different periods in the balance of his life. During one imprisonment, Baha'u'llah said he had received a message from God that he was to fulfill the Bab's prophecy as the Promised One. Baha'u'llah died in 1892 after writing more than 100 books and letters with his principles for the new age. Some basic principles of Baha'u'llah's teachings include: elimination of all prejudice, equality" of men and women, establishment of a world government, a world court and an international police force, world unity and peace, use of a single world language and universal education. Mrs. Haywood said, "We believe religion is one it all comes from God, and all mankind are brothers and sisters. We believe in the basic teachings of all religions,, but cannot be members of another church. Our belief is universal, and denominations segregate people. "What happens to religions is that mankind comes in and inflicts his own ideas," she said. The Bab's role in the Baha'i faith, she said, was similar to that of John the Baptist in Christian belief. She explained that Baha'is gather to worship every 19 days in what they call a "feast." However, it is not a "feast" in terms of eating, but in spiritual terms, she said. The service includes three parts: a spiritual session with prayer and education, a consultation or discussion of financial and community affairs and a social period. These meetings were formerly held at the downtown YMCA or in homes, but now have been moved to various rental facilities around Oklahoma City such as motel banquet rooms. "We don't confine ourselves to one location," she said; "we once had a center which was a small residence given us by one of the believers, but we outgrew that," Baha'is also meet in small groups in their homes for what they call "firesides." These are informal gatherings for discussion and learning and for talks with people interested in the faith. "All of us are commanded to teach, so we have these firesides. If we don't have seekers, we studv." Mrs. Havwood

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