Education is Not a Crime – Painting the Change

What if you couldn’t go to college because of your faith?

What if no college would accept you because you are Christian? Or Muslim, Jewish, or Buddhist?

In Iran, Baha’is are not accepted to universities because of their faith. Education is Not a Crime is a global art campaign to bring awareness to this religious discrimination, as well as to the systemic intimidation, imprisonment, and torturing of journalists in Iran. As an Artist who is Baha’i, I’m excited to participate in the campaign!

Persecution of Baha’is in Iran

Baha’is have been persecuted, jailed, tortured, and murdered in Iran since the middle of the 19th century. Iran is the birthplace of Baha’u’llah (Arabic for “Glory of God”), who during the 19th century, brought the newest revelation of God to the world. This was not welcome in Iran, and he was jailed, tortured, and exiled. But He continued to spread His message, and Baha’is are now in nearly every country in the world!

Some of the many Baha’i teachings include:

  • the unity of the races and elimination of prejudice,
  • the equality of women and men,
  • universal education,
  • the elimination of extremes of wealth and poverty,
  • a spiritual solution to economic problems,
  • establishment of a universal auxiliary language,
  • the harmony of science and religion,
  • the independent investigation of truth,
  • the creation of a world commonwealth of nations that will keep the peace through collective security.

I myself decided to join the Baha’i Faith in 2012. I grew up as a Methodist Christian and was baptized and confirmed in the church. As I grew older though, I stopped going to church very often and, while still believing that God exists, I sort of became a Christian in name only. Not until my mid 20’s did I hear about the Baha’i Faith, and not until a few years later did I begin to learn more. But when I did, the Faith spoke to my mind and especially to my heart.

The Education is Not a Crime art campaign aims to bring awareness to this denial of higher education for Baha’is, as well as the systemic government intimidation, arrests, imprisonment and torture of journalists in Iran.

So I painted a piece as part of a gallery showing for the campaign at the Northern Virginia Baha’i Center in October, which will be open to the public and shown with other artist’s paintings:

"Education is Not a Crime", "paint the change", "bahai", "bahai art"
Education is Not a Crime Painting

To artistically portray the concept of the campaign, I thought of the idea of a book-bag reaching up to a 9 pointed star (a prominent symbol of the Baha’i Faith), while also being dragged down by a pair of handcuffs.

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