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Prof receives Peace Award from Nashville Baha'i Spiritual Assembly

September 23, 2003

An Austin Peay professor received a great honor during a recent service held in Nashville to reflect on the tragedy of 9/11 and celebrate the various spiritual paths that lead to tolerance and unity.

Dr. Bert Randall, professor of philosophy and religion, received the Peace Award from the Nashville Bahai Spiritual Assembly, the local arm of the Universal House of Justice based in Haifi, Israel.

The Peace Award recognizes those who promote unity, toleration, diversity and compassion and promote respect among differing religions.
September 23, 2003

An Austin Peay professor received a great honor during a recent service held in Nashville to reflect on the tragedy of 9/11 and celebrate the various spiritual paths that lead to tolerance and unity.

Dr. Bert Randall, professor of philosophy and religion, received the Peace Award from the Nashville Baha'i Spiritual Assembly, the local arm of the Universal House of Justice based in Haifi, Israel.

The Peace Award recognizes those who promote unity, toleration, diversity and compassion and promote respect among differing religions.

Randall says, “How does one deserve a Peace Award? In some ways, I was embarrassed to receive something so undeserved, yet it means more to me than receiving the Hawkins Award. Perhaps the things we are given that we don't deserve are more precious for that reason.”

As a renowned scholar of world religions, throughout his 32 years at APSU, Randall has met with groups throughout the region, presenting about 40 talks on the differences and similarities among the world's three primary monotheismsMuslim, Christian and Baha'i.

During sabbaticals from APSU, Randall lived in and studied the cultures of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Kuwait, Yemen and Israel. Although he's never been to Iraq or Iran, he has done extensive research on Shi'ite Islam, which is predominant in both countries.

Randall's travels and studies have given birth to countless scholarly articles, presentations and books, including his second book, titled “Theologies of War and Peace Among Jews, Christians and Muslims.”

Of the three major belief systems worldwide, Randall says that Baha'iwhose origins are in 19th century Iranis the only monotheism in the history of the western world that never used religion to justify a holy war. “They are one of the most diverse, tolerant, compassionate and peaceful religious groups in the world,” Randall says. “Further, they are the only monotheism that has consistently treated women and men as equals.”

According to Randall, the number of Baha'is is in the millions, and they are found in more than 40 countries, with major centers in Israel, Australia, India, the United Kingdom and the United States. The major doctrine of Baha'i is Progressive Revelationthe belief that God reveals His will to different cultures at different times in ways they understand.

“In this sense, they are the most tolerant, enlightened monotheistic group in the world,” Randall says. “Although I still consider myself a Presbyterian, I have been a Baha'i in my heart for the last two decades.”
Dennie Burke