I missed the official Chaplaincy lunch this Christmas, but to make up for it, Bulletin, the University’s Staff Magazine, treated me to lunch with one of my chaplaincy colleagues, Irene Cotugno, who is the Baha’i Belief Contact.
The Baha’i faith originated in Persia at the end of the 19th century, and it has three core beliefs: the unity of God, the unity of religion, and the unity of humanity. Ever since it began, it’s been persecuted, and today being a Baha’i in Iran is likely to land you in prison.
Despite that, as the BBC will tell you, Baha’i is the most widespread world faith after Christianity. Perhaps more surprisingly, the Baha’i faith first came to Scotland at the invitation of Mrs. Jane Whyte, who was the wife of the then Moderator of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland.
Mrs. Whyte actually became the first Scottish Bahá’í – quite how that was viewed by her husband and his co-religionists history does not record, but it should be a lesson in tolerance of diversity to us all.