Rainn Wilson: Hollywood Baha'i
The star of 'The Office' talks candidly about his Baha'i faith and his spiritual journey
There's a predisposition to link corruption and Hollywood. Even Shoghi Effendi (Guardian of the Baha'i Faith) wrote about this. The problem is that everything you hear in the news is about the superficiality, immorality and degradation of Hollywood. But that is just not the case. Only a certain percent of the population is like that. It's probably the same percentage as for doctors, lawyers, stockbrokers, any profession. Some of the most morally conscious, kindest, most compassionate people are in the entertainment industry, people who want to affect the world and make it a better place through telling human, heartfelt stories.
Most people in Hollywood haven't heard of the Baha'i Faith, so they ask questions. I've had the opportunity to mention it in several articles and TV interviews, such as on "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson."
For years Holly and I hosted a belief night - a devotional gathering where we invited people of different religious beliefs to our home. We asked them to bring something to share about their spiritual path. Belief in God was not required. We had atheists, Christian Scientists, Buddhist monks... Recently I've been asked to speak a lot more about the Baha'i Faith. And I'll be working as a spokesperson with the Mona Foundation, a Baha'i-inspired not-for-profit organization that tries to provide quality education to all children, raise the status of women and girls, and build community.
How does the Baha'i Faith figure in your life now?
My feeling about the Faith is that it provides a practical guideline for living one's life. So much about religion has to do with rigid, sacrosanct preciousness. I don't live my life that way, and I don't feel that's what Baha'u'llah teaches. He wants us to live rich, full, loving lives in service to God's will and the human family.
I like being a Baha'i who has an out-there sense of humor. God gives us talents and faculties, and making people laugh is one of mine. I don't have to be digging latrines in Honduras to serve humanity. Abdu'l-Baha and Baha'u'llah talk a lot about using the arts to uplift people. When Abdu'l-Baha was with the early believers, nine times out of 10 he would make a joke.
Speaking of delicate sensibility: Have you had to turn down roles because they conflicted with what's taught in the Baha'i Faith?