Children's Classes focus on virtues


goin' with the flow...
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Baha'i's around the world are beginning to offer virtues classes in their own neighborhoods. NPR (National Public Radio) had a feature story this morning on one such class.


"It sounds like the start of a bad joke: A Jew, a Baptist and a Baha'i get together every Sunday morning ...

But it's a new kind of Sunday school, where families from a range of religions gather to teach virtues to their young children. On a recent Sunday in Falls Church, Va., Layli and Gil Miller-Muro invited parents and children — aged 14 months to 6 years old — to their home to learn about helpfulness.

"Parents of my generation feel incredible pressure to make our kids read earlier, to know math sooner and better, to get into the top preschools and then the best schools," Layli explains. "But what many of us forget is the other side of the character of our children, not just the academic side, but the spiritual side and their character side."

And so last September, the Miller-Muros, who are Baha'i, approached their religious community and asked them to sponsor a virtues class — where the children learn virtues such as obedience, service and friendliness.

In the past decade, the Baha'i faith has sponsored about 900 such classes nationwide. They're based on the central Baha'i tenet that all religions are different but come from the same source, God. Gil says the couple then asked their friends if they'd be interested.

"When we proposed this idea to them, they said that was something they'd like to do to," Gil says. "So we realized we had a critical mass and it was time to get started."

The parents come from Muslim, Jewish, Protestant, Unitarian Universalist, Greek Orthodox and Baha'i backgrounds. Rachel Galoob-Ortega, who is Jewish, says she wants her son Luka to learn about and accept all religions."

full transcript

You may be interested to know that Layli Miller-Muro who was featured in the piece is the founder and executive director of the Tahirih Justice Center ( She was the law student who helped Fauziya Kassindja from Togo secure asylum in the US because of fear of female genital mutilation back home. Layli went on to found the TJC - they do great work!

(Winner of the 2007 Washington Post Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management

Through direct legal services and public policy advocacy, the Tahirih Justice Center works to protect immigrant women and girls seeking justice in the United States from gender-based violence.)
Thanks Harmonia for the news article... Yep.. My wife and I have been conducting some of these classes.. My wife more than I do...

- Art:)
The kids glue symbols of various religions onto the shades — a Christian cross, a Buddhist wheel, a star and crescent for Islam. Then Layli calls out, "Come to the light!" And the children, one by one, place their decorated lamp shades on a light bulb.
Layli then turns to the core of the program: virtues.

After reading the article, I thought of Abdul-Baha's strong emphasis on how training in morals and good character in childhood is more important than book learning. It looks like a fun idea. Interesting that this particular class was done at home rather than at a church, but that was because Layli and Gil invited the parents of their religious community to do it there. I bet my youth pastor would not mind doing this in the youth center behind our church.
It's an interesting approach - I like the new avatar, too, Art. :)