Baha'i Faith Celebrates 100 Years in Milwaukee

November 11, 2000

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

On November 11, 2000, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that "in 1863, a Persian nobleman known as Baha'u'llah declared he was God's newest messenger, the fulfillment of prophecies from past religions and the bearer of new laws for modern society. His message spread quickly, and far beyond the Middle East. By 1900, some of his followers, now known as Baha'is, arrived in Milwaukee after helping establish a Baha'i community in Kenosha a few years earlier...A century later, there are more than 100 Baha'is living in Milwaukee, and between 500 and 600 in the Milwaukee metropolitan area. On Sunday, local Baha'is will celebrate the birth of Baha'u'llah, who was born in Iran in 1817, along with the 100th anniversary of the faith in the city...Wisconsin residents may be familiar with the 135-foot-tall, gleaming white temple of the Baha'is in Wilmette, Ill., which is one of seven Baha'i temples in the world and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Baha'is don't have clergy and don't emphasize rituals. Instead, they usually worship on a quiet level, meeting in centers and homes once every 19 days to pray, discuss business and socialize...The Baha'is believe in such things as equality between men and women and among all races. They say world peace is inevitable, although the path to it may not be an easy one. The Baha'i writings stress chastity and prohibit alcohol consumption. Other principles include promoting one language -- though not at the exclusion of other languages -- to help communication worldwide, as well as working toward the establishment of a world government...Baha'is are not allowed to belong to political parties but are encouraged to vote. The concept of unity is an underlying theme in Baha'i writings, local followers said...Today, the international headquarters of the Baha'i faith is in Haifa, where the faith's top institution, the Universal House of Justice, an elected body, meets. Baha'i leaders say the faith is the second most widespread in the world, numbering some 5 million believers in more than 190 countries. About 142,000 live in the United States...Although the community's growth has been gradual in the last 15 years, Milwaukee Baha'is say they are working hard to spread awareness of the religion, using everything from face-to-face teaching to the Internet. Next summer, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States plans to host a national conference in Milwaukee."