Dr. Louis Venters presents lecture on Baha’i faith

Catherine Hyman, Managing Editor

FMU associate professor of history Dr. Louis Venters gave a lecture on the Baha’i faith as part of the quarterly educational program presented by the Florence branch of the Interfaith Partners of South Carolina.

According to the Interfaith Partners website, the program held at the Florence County Library on Feb. 5 was aimed at “educating the public about the history, philosophy and practices of our diverse faith communities and promoting understanding and respect.”

Interfaith partner Reverend Mary Finklea of Cross and Crown Lutheran Church in Florence, S.C., opened the two-hour event with an explanation of the goals of the Interfaith Partner branch in Florence.

“Education is what we can use to combat the misunderstandings that fuel ignorance and mistrust,” Finklea said.

Venters echoed this idea, saying that understanding different people and different beliefs is more than just a nice thing to do.

“Interfaith dialogue is not just something nice anymore,” Venters said. “Religious prejudice kills people. Religious prejudice blights human progress. Everywhere we turn, people are hurting because of religious prejudice.”

For Venters, sharing his faith is not about explaining himself or justifying his beliefs, but rather serves to create an open community in which people of all beliefs and faiths can work and live together in peace.

Venters first learned about the Baha’i faith on Radio Baha’i, located in Hemingway, S.C. Venters has since committed to the faith personally as well as authored the book “No Jim Crow Church,” which traces the origins of the Baha’i faith in the state. Venters said that the Baha’i faith is the second-largest faith in South Carolina, and yet it is largely unknown.

More than 25 members of the community of Florence and the surrounding areas attended the interfaith quarterly meeting. For one of these attendees, Patty Reimold, attending these events is important, and she is always interested in learning about other faiths.

“I believe there is only one God, and we are all children of that God,” Reimold said. “It’s always interesting to learn about the different ways that we can worship that one God.”