Bahá'í Faith's governing council calls on world's religious leaders to put out the fires of religious prejudice and fanaticism

May 15, 2002

NEW YORK — Decrying the persistence of religious prejudice as a barrier to global peace and prosperity, the international governing council of the Bahá'í Faith has addressed a message to the world's religious leaders. Bahá'í communities around the world are conveying it to religious leaders in all their countries, thus transmitting its appeal that they act decisively on the need to eradicate religious intolerance and fanaticism.

"With every day that passes, danger grows that the rising fires of religious prejudice will ignite a worldwide conflagration the consequences of which are unthinkable," writes the Universal House of Justice in the message addressed simply "to the World's Religious Leaders." (Full text available at:

"Tragically, organized religion, whose very reason for being entails service to the cause of brotherhood and peace, behaves all too frequently as one of the most formidable obstacles in the path; to cite a particularly painful fact, it has long lent its credibility to fanaticism," the appeal states. "We feel a responsibility, as the governing council of one of the world religions, to urge earnest consideration of the challenge this poses for religious leadership."

The theme of the message of the Universal House of Justice, the internationally elected council that guides the worldwide, five-million member Bahá'í community, points to the striking developments in the past century whereby prejudices based on gender, race or nationality have been recognized as unacceptable by all thinking people. Although they continue to exist in practice, there is a strong groundswell towards their abolition. Religious prejudice persists, however, triggering a crisis, the message states, that should compel religious leaders to make a "break with the past as decisive as those that opened the way for society to address equally corrosive prejudices of race, gender and nation."

The statement offers the assistance of the Bahá'í community in working for religious unity to which the interfaith movement has been aspiring and, in closing, asserts: "We owe it to our partners in this common effort, however, to state clearly our conviction that interfaith discourse, if it is to contribute meaningfully to healing the ills that afflict a desperate humanity, must now address honestly and without further evasion the implications of the over-arching truth that called the movement into being: that God is one and that, beyond all diversity of cultural expression and human interpretation, religion is likewise one."