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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, July 23, 2024


March 3, 2002 – Delegate Donna Christian Christensen has received a special thank-you from the Baha'is of the Virgin Islands.
Christensen was presented with a commemorative book by Alan Smith, a member of the St. Thomas-St. John faith community, on Friday during a break in proceedings at a National Medical Association conference at Marriott's Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort.
Smith said it was the group's way of acknowledging the delegate's efforts on behalf of persecuted Bahai's in Iran.
"The delegate has been very supportive of the Baha'i community on the floor of Congress," Smith said. "In appreciation of that support, we wanted to present her with a book describing the new terraces at the Baha'i Faith Center in Haifa, Israel."
Last May, 16 members of the Virgin Islands Baha'i community traveled to Haifa to join their fellow devotees from around the world at the dedication of the terraces. The center was built near the burial site of the central figure of the faith and its leading prophet, Bahá'u'lláh.
According to the official Baha'i website, the religion has some 5 million adherents in 188 nations and territories today. The faith's philosophy centers on the oneness of humankind and the elimination of prejudice through sprituality.
But Baha'is have faced intolerance in some of countries, notably Iran, the land formerly known as Persia, where Bahá'u'lláh was born. As recently as 1996, four devotees were sentenced to death in Iran, charged with betraying Islam, the state religion. Three more were killed in 1997 and 1998. A few months later, the Iranian government ordered the Baha'i educational center there closed.
"At one time, Alan met me," Christensen said as she accepted the token of gratitude from the local faith community. "There was religious persecution of the Baha'is in Iran about three years ago, and I went on the floor [of Congress] and I spoke about it."
In 1998, following the arrest of three Baha'is by Iranian officials, the Clinton White House issued a statement condemning the actions of the Iranian government.

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