An invitation to a Thanksgiving get-together in the 1980s brought Carol Mansour more than a tasty turkey dinner. “I was struck by the fact that there were people of a variety of races there,” Carol, a Baha’i living in Nashville, Tennessee, says in this short clip from “The Race Unity Project.”
The project is produced by Journalism for Change, Inc, a nonprofit media organization founded by filmmaker and human rights activist Maziar Bahari. The videos in the series tell “the century-long story of the American Baha’i community and its efforts — as well as its tests and challenges — in promoting race unity.”
Indeed, the woman Carol knew was a Baha’i, and the racial and ethnic diversity in her home sparked her curiosity. But it wasn’t only the racially inclusive nature of the gathering that captured Carol’s attention.
“At one point, we heard loud voices in the kitchen, but everyone was laughing,” Carol says. She heard another guest say that “in the Baha’i Faith, we are not supposed to argue religion. And one of the loud voices in the kitchen said, ‘We’re not arguing. We’re discussing.’ And there was more laughter. And I’m thinking, what kind of religion is this that you don’t argue?”
“In brief, O ye believers of God! The text of the Divine Book is this: If two souls quarrel and contend about a question of the Divine questions, differing and disputing, both are wrong. The wisdom of this incontrovertible law of God is this: That between two souls from amongst the believers of God, no contention and dispute might arise; that they may speak with each other with infinite amity and love.”
Carol explains that she was surprised by this because in the church she grew up in, it “was a cornerstone of your proof that you were pious — was that you could argue.”
Watch as Carol shares how she initially thought Baha’is were “dreadfully misguided” and “going to hell,” but she eventually became a Baha'i in 1992.
Radiance Talley is a staff writer at BahaiTeachings.org and a corporate communications associate at One Planet Group. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in communication, a College Park Scholars Arts Citation, and a cognate in journalism. In addition to her writing,...READ MORE