Okay, not a real beat farmer -- but Rainn Wilson, the actor who plays the wonderful Dwight Schrute on "The Office," had an interesting op-ed on CNN.com. It begins with Wilson explaining that he's not joking, and then he provides an introduction to Baha'i. He says that Baha'i began in Iran in the mid-19th century and that Baha'is believe there is only one God and one religion. All the world's divine teachers bring the same message and Baha'u'llah refreshed it for the current day and age, he says. He talks about the historic persecution of Baha'is by Muslim authorities in Iran. And then he gets to the newsier part:
Why write about all this now? Well, I'm glad you asked. You see there's a 'trial' going on very soon for seven Baha'i national leaders in Iran.
They've been accused of all manner of things including being "spies for Israel," "insulting religious sanctities" and "propaganda against the Islamic Republic."
They've been held for a year in Evin Prison in Tehran without any access to their lawyer (the Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi) and with zero evidence of any of these charges.
When a similar thing happened in 1980, the national leadership of the Iranian Baha'i community disappeared. And this was repeated again in 1981.
In fact, since 1979, more than 200 Baha'is have been killed, holy places and cemeteries desecrated, homes burned, civil rights taken away and secret lists compiled of Baha'is (and even Muslims who associate with them) by government agencies.
It's bad right now for all the peace-loving Baha'is in Iran who want only to practice their religion and follow their beliefs. It's especially bad for these seven. Here's a link to their bios. They're teachers, and engineers, and optometrists and social workers just like us.
He asks readers to keep in mind how Americans are free to worship as they please. There's a Congressional resolution he asks readers to lobby for before telling readers to get back to beets.
It's not that this story has received no coverage -- it's just that it appears to be mostly foreign press that's interested. So congrats to CNN for bringing this story to light -- and perhaps that outlet and others could show some interest on the news pages as well.