The Baha’i faith is one of the world’s youngest religions and as of 2004 claims a following of 17,530 in South Carolina, one of the largest concentrations of Baha’is in the United States. The religion was founded by Mírzá Husayn’ ‘Alí (1817–1892), who later became known as “Bahá’u’lláh” (“The Glory of God.”). “Baha’i” is derived from “baha” (“glory and splendor”) and is the designation of the adherents to the faith.
The religion grew out of the Babi faith, founded in 1844 by Siyyid ‘Alí Muhammad, the “Bab” (“Gate”). Leadership of the Baha’i community passed from Bahá’u’lláh to his eldest son, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, and finally to Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, Bahá’u’lláh’s eldest grandson. Shoghi Effendi translated his great-grandfather’s writings into English, which aided in the global growth of the religion. Some of the religion’s principles are the oneness of humankind, the common foundation of all religions, religion and science as integral parts of truth, the equality of men and women, and the elimination of prejudice of all kinds.
Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings were brought to South Carolina by the son of a slave, Louis G. Gregory (1874–1951), a native of Charleston and a 1902 graduate of Howard University Law School. Becoming a confirmed believer in the Baha’i faith in 1909, he made his first teaching trip to Charleston and seven other southern cities the following year. Gregory grew to international prominence in the Baha’i faith; thus the eponym of the Louis G. Gregory Baha’i Institute and radio station WLGI in Hemingway.
Hatcher, William S., and J. Douglas Martin. The Baha’i Faith: The Emerging Global Religion. New ed. Wilmette, Ill.: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 2002.
Morrison, Gayle. To Move the World: Louis G. Gregory and the Advancement of Racial Unity in America. Wilmette, Ill.: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1982.