Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

Baha’i: unity for the greater good of humanity

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Bahá’i one of the world’s youngest religions. There are 6 million Bahá’is in the world spread over 235 countries. The faith was born out of the Shi’ite branch of the Muslim faith.

bahafaceIt was founded by Bahá’u’lláh in 1863. Bahá’u’lláh is translated to the glory of God in Arabic. He was born in Mirza Husayn Ali, Iran in 1817 and he claims he is a messenger of God. His message to the people was that a final messenger of God would soon arrive and that this messenger would be the last in the line of God’s prophets.

Bahá’í religion believes that God intervenes in human life in order to communicate with his messengers. He is known to his people through the prophets. Bahá’is believe that there is only one God and that he is the same God of every religion only with a different name. God is perfect, all-knowing, and too complex for humans to understand.

Bahá’i includes some interesting teachings. Bahá’is believe that all souls live forever and that we are all form the same race. They believe that on day we will all be united. Although we are all different, Bahá’is believe that we are all equal. Bahá’ís believe that the final stage of evolution for humans is to recognize that we are one.

At the time of this religion, Iran was mainly Muslim. Bahá’í is open to all religions nineReligioussymbolsand believes that all religions have valid origins. All religion has the same foundation. They believe that God’s prophets bring humanity God’s message as fully as possible. They call these people the Manifestations of God. These people include:

  • Adam
  • Abraham
  • Moses
  • Krishna
  • Zoroaster
  • Buddha
  • Jesus Christ
  • Muhammad
  • The Báb
  • Bahá’u’ll’áh

Bahá’ís believe that all human souls are infinite. They believe that the soul does not live in the body. There is a connection between body and soul that cannot be explained in words and this connection begins at conception. Bahá’ís practice fasting for the soul. The practice of self-restraint brings them closer to God. Bahá’u’lláh created a 19-day period of fasting that happens before the Bahá’i New Year. Those who are elderly, very young or pregnant do not need to participate in the fasting.

A central idea that lies behind the religion is unity. Bahá’is believe that all people should work together for the greater good and benefit of others.

Pray

Prayer is very important to the Bahá’í life. They believe that prayer is a conversation with God and the inner spirit. They believe prayers should be short and happy. The aim of prayer is to become closer with God. Bahá’ís believe that that prayers should be said three times a day, in the morning, at noon and at night. Bahá’í also stresses the need for meditation. Bahá’ís should meditate at least once a day to think about life and about their actions for that day. They believe meditation can lead to deeper knowledge and spirituality. Bahá’ís believe that service to others if a form of worship. There are no rituals in Bahá’í. In fact, they believe that ritual leads to meaningless service.

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Marriage is viewed as a a marriage of both body and spirit. Arranged marriages are not allowed in the Bahá’í faith. Marriage must happen between two people who have spent time getting to know each other. Although divorce is not banned, they are strongly against it. The Bahá’í community is very child-centered. The parents and the community are both involved in the up bringing of children. Bahá’ís believe that the most important task in life is to have children and raise them. Bahá’ís give their children a sense of self-worth. Children are involved in all parts of family life, including family decision making. Bahá’ís are not allowed to discipline children physically or hurt them verbally.

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Anyone can become Bahá’í so long as they believe in Bahá’u’lláh and his teachings. Converts do not need to convert. They must only accept that their previous faith need reformation.

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Mormonism: church centered around Christ, distorted by media

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Just months ago, Mormonism was everywhere; the presidential campaign with Mitt Romney, the TLC show Sister Wives and the center of many YouTube parody videos.

The Mormon church, usually called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or The Church of Jesus Christ, was founded in the 19th century. The Mormon church is centered around Christ, but brings together beliefs from other religions, such as the Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Christian churches. Mormonism has 13.5 million members world-wide.

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The church was founded by Joseph Smith in 1830 and developed by Brigham Young who arrived in Salt Lake City in 1847 after coming to the United States. Mormons believe that Joseph Smith received a revelation from God through an angel in the 1820s. Smith was persecuted for his beliefs and was put into jail more 30 times and was tarred and feathered. Smith died at 38 years old in 1844 after being mobbed by about 150 men while in an Illinois jail. Although Smith died at a young age, he had much success during his lifetime because the Mormon church grew from six to 26,000 members.Mormon-book

During the early nineteenth century the church was having financial problems and decided to use a new custom of tithing – giving one-tenth of the member’s income to the church. Tithing resulted in double the usual income and it helped to bring the Church out of debt by 1907.

The Mormons make Jesus central to their religion because they believe other religions have strayed too far from the vision of religion Jesus brought to us. The Mormon church is led by bishops, but Sunday worship is led by the people of the church and does not involve priests. The Mormon sacred texts include both the Bible and the Book of the Mormon – a book that tells the story of how God dealt with the ancient inhabitants of the American continent.

Mormons have a different view on God than Christians would. Mormons believe that God has a physical body and a perfected man. They believe that there is more than one God and that human beings have the potential to become like God after death. Douglas Davies, a professor of theology and religion at Durham University says,”Mormons believe God and human beings are of the same basic stuff but at different levels of progressive development. Everything that is, has always existed. There was no initial ‘creation’.” Mormons believe that three beings make up the Godhead and that these things are separate but work in a united way. These beings include:

  1. God the Father9a94c6e149724680d42e94c8c7c82862
  2. Jesus Christ
  3. The Holy Ghost

Mormons reject the idea of original sin and do not believe that humans are inherently evil. When humans sin they push themselves farther away from God. Mormons believe that humans are accountable for the sins they commit after the age of eight. Like most other religions, Mormonism opposes abortion, homosexuality, sex outside of marriage, pornography and gambling. Mormons also avoid tobacco, consuming alcohol, tea, coffee, and the use of drugs. Mormons believe that salvation is possible through their actions on earth and the grace of God. A portion of the work of salvation has already been completed by Jesus who atoned for our sins.

Mormons believe that human beings have three stages in life:

  1. Pre-existence as spirit children
  2. A time of probation on earth
  3. Eternal life with God the Father

Mormons believe that baptism is a necessary part of the religious life. A person must be baptized to receive salvation and one day return to live with God. Children are baptized at age eight. Mormon baptism includes total immersion into water to be cleansed of all sin and the recitation of prayers. The child or adult being baptized and the person leading the ceremony dress completely in plain white clothing.

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Missionary work is central to the Mormon life. In fact, about 40% of young men do missionary work. This missionary trips last two years for men and 18 months for women. After their trips are over the men receive the title of “Elder” and women receive the title of “Sister.”

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Marriage is central to Mormon life because they believe that God has ordered them to have children. Mormons also believe that God performed the first marriage. It is central to Mormon life because they believe that the family unit continues after death and that it is essential to salvation. Marriages are performed in a Mormon temple with a ceremony that lasts about 20 minutes called “sealing.”

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One major misconception about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that it accepts polygamy. We’ve all joked about it TLC’s hit show Sister Wives, but Mormons discontinued polygamy more than a century ago. The church actually excommunicates those who practice it.

Although polygamy has been discontinued BBC reports that there are about “30,000 people practicing polygamy in Utah, Montana and Arizona, who either regard themselves as preserving the original Mormon beliefs and customs, or have merely adopted polygamy as a desired way of life and not as part of the teachings of any church.” Although some legal action has been taken against these people, there has been little success because they maintain that polygamy is part of their First Amendment rights. One famous case was Tom Green who was sentenced to five years in prison after he claimed that he had three wives due to his religious beliefs. He had previously been excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1980.

Mormons prefer to burials over cremation. Family members recite prayers and dedicate the grave. Because Mormons believe that families are reunited after death there is usually less grief than normal at their funerals; their goodbye is more like a “see you later” and the funeral is a celebration of their time spent on Earth.

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