Allowing One’s Heart to Embrace a Diversity of Faiths

Dianne Small, of Cary, Ohio, gained new insights into religious pluralism, the meaning of a “family” of religious belief, and multiple religious identities.

One of the most important insights I gained was an understanding the idea of a “family” of religions.  This understanding came during the week when we discussed the paper on “Religious Pluralism in the Chinese Religion and Baha’i Faith.”  When I understood what the family of Chinese religion consisted of, then I could think of all the world’s religions as part of one family.  This family of religions is one, and each religion (each member of the family) has their own distinct individuality.

Another insight I had was about multiple religious identities.  I now think the day is coming when people will understand when I say, “I’m a Jew, I’m a Christian, I’m a Muslim, I’m a Hindu . . .  I’m a Baha’i.”

When I became a Baha’i about forty years ago, I had a vision of maintaining my Christian identity and adding a Baha’i identity as a new layer on top of it.  But I was told by my Baha’i friends that I couldn’t be both a Christian and a Baha’i and I needed to make a choice between the two.  Of course I chose to be a Baha’i.  But I’m coming full circle now.  I see now that my original idea so many years ago was really the most accurate.  One does not need to be one thing or another.  One can be both, or all.  Baha’u’llah came to reconcile these kinds of issues relating to the oneness of religion.

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