By: Erica Stewart
Lee Fair, head of the ELS program at Dominican, was born Christian as a child, but as a young adult he embraced the Baha’i Faith after returning from the Peace Corps in Afghanistan in 1973.
Fair shared his Baha’i faith on Jan. 20 at Dominican’s Interfaith Youth Core program.
Fair says although he grew up Christian, he grew up with the principles of one of the Baha’i faith. The beliefs are familiar to many- the desire for universal peace, treating others well, embracing diversity and a sense of unity with all.
People of the Baha’i faith are followers of Bahaullah, meaning “Glory of God” in Arabic. Bahaullah believes religion should be the cause of love and unity, and he believes in the idea of one; there’s one God, one religion and one human race.
“I have the perfect profession,” Fair said. “I get to help people from all different cultures and send them back into the world with values of the Baha’i without having to even mention my faith.”
People of the Baha’i faith believe that Jesus was not the last. They believe Bahaullah is the prophet of this time.
“His messages add to those messages from the past that help us live a life that honors our humanity and each other,” Fair said.
There are over 60 Baha’is in the Oak Park area and over 500 million worldwide with as many as 169 thousand in the United States.
“It is one of the faster growing faiths, probably right after Islam,” Fair said.
Gloria Khoshnood, a River Forest resident born Baha’i, teaches her children about many other faiths.
“We encourage and seek out fellowship with other faiths,” Khoshnood said. “We do not isolate ourselves with other’s spiritual beliefs.”
Khoshnood said people of the Baha’i faith do not believe in a heaven or hell but believe in the afterlife to continue to make progress towards knowing God and coming closer to him.
“Our soul never dies, but moves to another level. We take lessons from here on Earth with us and continue to grow in our afterlife,” Khoshnood said. “The good we acquire here on Earth becomes fuller as our soul departs the world.”
Like most religions, the Baha’i’s are subjected to certain beliefs, principles, obligations and laws. The members of the faith avoid excessive materialism, try not to make judgments, eliminate prejudices and spread peace throughout the world.
Members of the Baha’i religion also restrict themselves from what many feel are pleasures. They will not vote, join a political party, drink alcohol, do drugs (not medical) and they won’t gamble.
Fair said that these restrictions are in anyway a burden. His ultimate goal is to live life in a peaceful manner.
“After traveling to different places, I realized there’s no difference in the core teachings for most religions,” Fair said. “Do good to each other, make the world a better place for you and the future, bring peace and love each other.”