Belleville Baha'i Community is Small But Strong

July 15, 2006

Source: Belleville News-Democrat

On July 15, 2006 Belleville News-Democrat reported, "Watching the aftermath of New York City's terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, was traumatic for Alice Langston. 'How could humanity be so evil?' the 47-year-old Highland accountant asked. 'Why did God allow this to happen?' Langston began a spiritual journey that led her to become a Baha'i, embracing an independent faith that emphasizes unity among people of all races and ethnic, social and religious backgrounds. 'I grew up Southern Baptist, which is dramatically different,' Langston said. 'They believe that there's only one path to God (acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior), whereas the Baha'i faith teaches there are many paths. There's one God. All religions come from that God and turn to that God.' Langston is one of about 25 members of the metro-east Baha'i community, based in Edwardsville. They meet in homes and at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville's Religious Center. 'We do not have a church,' said Patty Lutley, 60, a retired nurse from Edwardsville. 'We do not have a priest or any clergy. Every Baha'i really is a teacher of the faith'... The Baha'i faith holds individuals responsible for independently investigating and finding their own spiritual truths. But there are guidelines. Alcohol, drugs, premarital sex and gambling are forbidden. 'We don't judge other people for doing those things,' said Jamal McLaughlin, 25, a graphic artist from Edwardsville, who grew up Baha'i. 'These are just the laws that we follow.'"