Bahai temple in Haifa reopens following renovation

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    Apr 12, 2011 5:09 PM GMT
    A non-political topic about Israel and one of its lesser known religious centers:

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/bahai-temple-in-haifa-reopens-after-6-million-renovation-1.355562

    Bahai temple in Haifa reopens after $6 million renovation
    Work on the UN World Heritage site lasted two-and-a-half-years and included covering the temple's dome with 11,790 new gold-glazed porcelain tiles.

    By The Associated Press

    Followers of the Bahai faith unveiled their newly renovated holy site on the coast of Israel on Tuesday, drawing attention to one of the Holy Land's lesser-known religions.

    The renovation of the Shrine of the Bab, a UN-designated World Heritage site, lasted two-and-a-half-years and cost $6 million dollars, according to the Bahai leadership.

    The structure has been refitted and strengthened to withstand an earthquake, and the building's dome - the most distinctive feature of the landscape in the Mediterranean port city of Haifa - has been covered with 11,790 new gold-glazed porcelain tiles.

    The Bahai religion has roots in 19th century Iran. The man known to believers as the Bab, or "gate," and venerated as a prophet was executed for heresy in 1850 and later buried in Haifa. Today, the faith claims between 5 and 6 million adherents worldwide.

    In Haifa, the domed Bahai shrine is positioned on a densely populated hillside, at the midpoint of a striking green strip of manicured gardens that cuts up the slope from top to bottom.

    A Bahai engineer from California, Saeid Samadi, oversaw the project. Samadi was born in Iran, where Bahais have long suffered persecution for their beliefs and where the Bahai faith was declared illegal after the 1979 Islamic revolution.

    Samadi said much of the renovation work was carried out free of charge by Bahai volunteers. "The spirit of it was more important than the actual work," he said.

    While the three world religions that have historically vied for control of the Holy Land - Islam, Christianity and Judaism - venerate Jerusalem, the Bahais are alone in centering their faith in Haifa, which is known more for its factories and busy port than for religious sentiment. Around 750,000 people visited the Haifa shrine last year, the Bahais say.

    They maintain a second site, the faith's holiest, a short drive to the north in the Israeli coastal city of Acre. The Acre site marks the tomb of the religion's founder, Baha'u'llah, who was imprisoned in the city by the Ottoman Turks and died there in 1892.
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    Apr 12, 2011 5:13 PM GMT
    Yet another religion that is not LGBT friendly.
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    Apr 12, 2011 5:13 PM GMT
    To add the gay component:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_and_the_Bahai_Faith
    The Bahá'í Faith teaches that the only acceptable form of sexual expression is within marriage, and Bahá'í marriage is defined in the religion's texts as exclusively between one man and one woman.[1][2] Bahá'ís stress the importance of absolute chastity for any unmarried person,[3] and focus on personal restraint.

    While in authoritative teachings homosexuality is described as a condition that an individual should control and overcome,[4] Bahá'ís are left to apply the teachings at their own discretion, and are discouraged from singling out homosexuality over other transgressions, such as the consumption of alcohol, or heterosexual promiscuity.[5] Membership in the Bahá'í community is therefore open to lesbian and gay adherents,[6] who are to be "advised and sympathized with".[7][8][9]


    For more, see:
    http://www.gaybahai.net
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    Apr 12, 2011 5:15 PM GMT
    Caesarea4 saidTo add the gay component:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_and_the_Bahai_Faith
    The Bahá'í Faith teaches that the only acceptable form of sexual expression is within marriage, and Bahá'í marriage is defined in the religion's texts as exclusively between one man and one woman.[1][2] Bahá'ís stress the importance of absolute chastity for any unmarried person,[3] and focus on personal restraint.

    While in authoritative teachings homosexuality is described as a condition that an individual should control and overcome,[4] Bahá'ís are left to apply the teachings at their own discretion, and are discouraged from singling out homosexuality over other transgressions, such as the consumption of alcohol, or heterosexual promiscuity.[5] Membership in the Bahá'í community is therefore open to lesbian and gay adherents,[6] who are to be "advised and sympathized with".[7][8][9]


    For more, see:
    http://www.gaybahai.net


    This position is no different from that of Islam. It is unjustifiable and morally contemptible.
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    Apr 12, 2011 5:20 PM GMT
    Pictures:

    israel120.jpg

    U2tc.jpg

    bahai-gardens-haifa-israel.jpg

    bahaii-universal_house_of_justice.jpg
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    Apr 12, 2011 5:30 PM GMT
    TigerTim> This position is no different from that of Islam. It is unjustifiable and morally contemptible.

    You might want to reread the 2nd paragraph:
    Bahá'ís are left to apply the teachings at their own discretion, and are discouraged from singling out homosexuality over other transgressions, such as the consumption of alcohol, or heterosexual promiscuity. Membership in the Bahá'í community is therefore open to lesbian and gay adherents, who are to be "advised and sympathized with".

    I'd say it's closer to the liberal side of Orthodox Judaism, which says that homosexuality is but one of 613 commandments and no one is perfect, so focus on the other 612....

    There may be some liberal Islamic sects that show such tolerance, but (outside of gay/college groups in the West) I'm not aware of them.

    To the contrary, I'd say the position provided by Wikipedia is one step ahead of many Christian denominations which focus on homosexuality as if it's the worst possible sin (while ignoring others).
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    Apr 12, 2011 6:12 PM GMT
    My experience with Bahaii is that they're really not very tolerant at all of lgbt people; certainly not as tolerant as you suggest Liberal Orthodox Jews might be (I can't honestly say I've met many Orthodox Jews)

    The reality is that all of these religions are equally invalid when it comes to claiming to be an authority on morality. Why give them time of day? Why give them a shred of publicity?

    Opiate of the masses.
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    Apr 12, 2011 6:17 PM GMT
    A cousin of Bill's converted to the Bahai faith. Given his faith hopping history, I didn't think it would last (another of his fads). I remarked quietly to Bill as we waved from the car, "Bahai for now."
    Bill cracked up. Sure enough, it didn't last.



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    Apr 12, 2011 7:41 PM GMT
    TigerTim saidMy experience with Bahaii is that they're really not very tolerant at all of lgbt people

    The one I know here in Ann Arbor is very gay-friendly, but this is Ann Arbor (when a then-closeted gay friend came up here from Kentucky, he found the local fundamentalist Church of Christ to be too liberal for him and drove a half hour out of town to find one to his liking.)

    If there are any Bahai RJers, maybe we'll learn more.


    TigerTim saidThe reality is that all of these religions are equally invalid when it comes to claiming to be an authority on morality. Why give them time of day? Why give them a shred of publicity? Opiate of the masses.

    True, but some people need a crutch to get around. icon_twisted.gif

    Look at the bright side: they build beautiful temples and make great gardeners.
  • shutoman

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    Apr 14, 2011 4:37 PM GMT
    The ex-partner of a friend of mine was outed in Jordan. His family and community are all Bahai. He has been excommunicated and his family have disowned him. Moreover his Bahai cousins spread news of his sexuality and he had to seek asylum in the UK in fear of his life (including from them), where he now lives.

    I acknowledge that the opening of a Bahai temple in Israel is a testament to Israel's claim to be a secular democracy - but Bahai is not gay friendly in the experience of my friend, and others.
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    Apr 15, 2011 3:19 AM GMT
    Shutoman> I acknowledge that the opening of a Bahai temple in Israel is a testament to Israel's claim to be a secular democracy

    "acknowlege"? "claim"?! I wasn't aware this was in doubt (other than by propaganda hacks) nor is this relevant to the thread.

    Note that this isn't an "opening" but a renovation of an early 20th century building that is the focal point of the Bahai World Centre (not just "a Bahai temple" but their Salt Lake City). Other buildings on the campus (calling it a "compound" sounds dire) were completed in recent decades.


    Back to the gay element, the story you relate may tell us more about Jordanian/Arab (even Muslim) culture than the Bahai religion per se (Jordan is not a Bahai country).
  • shutoman

    Posts: 505

    Apr 15, 2011 8:36 PM GMT
    @Caesarea4

    I am confused - with which part of my post do you disagree?