Sen's daily

May 6, 2017

House of Justice letter on political involvement


Editorial, May 6, 2017.

The National Spiritual Assembly of the United States has distributed a letter written on behalf of the House of Justice to an individual believer regarding political involvement. The file name (which may be given by the NSA) is “Guidance on social action and public discourse” which reflects the broad scope of the letter. The letter will be of especial interest not only to the Bahais in the United States, but to the Bahais in every country where the fever cycle of partisanship is peaking at the moment. While emphasizing the limits of political involvement for Bahais, the letter it is not silent on the recent resurgence of nationalisms in western countries, stating that “prejudice, factionalism, and virulent nationalism are the very negation of Baha’u’llah’s message of peace and oneness.” (paragraph 8)

I have placed a plain text copy of the letter, with paragraph numbers and links to the sources, in the documents archive of my Bahai studies blog.
https://senmcglinn.wordpress.com/documents-archive/guidance-on-social-action-and-public-discourse/

Among the notable points are the expected admonition to Baha’is not to vilify specific individuals, organizations, or governments (paragraph 2) in whatever we may have to say, and not to judge governments as “just or unjust – for each believer would be sure to hold a different viewpoint, and within our own Baha’i fold a hotbed of dissension would spring up and destroy our unity.” (paragraph 3) Yet Bahais “must also guard against the other extreme of never taking part … in conferences or committees designed to promote some activity in entire accord with our teachings.” (Paragraph 5)

The new letter refers to the 2 March 2013 message of the House of Justice to the Baha’is of Iran as setting out how Baha’is seek to effect social change. This letter is also online in my documents archive. This approach includes active involvement in the life of society as well as the possibility of influencing and contributing to the social policies of government by all lawful means. (Paragraph 4) In certain circumstances this can include taking part in demonstrations. (Paragraph 5), but demonstrations are not the only, or even the most effective, means available (paragraph 10). The fundamental partisanship in contemporary political life means policies are often implemented without building consensus (paragraph 7). Bahais are called to three overlapping areas of action: community-building. projects and activities for social action, and involvement in the discourses of society, (paragraph 12)

There is a distinction between activities that can be supported explicitly by Baha’i institutions and those where Baha’i institutions should not participate but individuals can make a personal decision to take part, without implying that they are representing the Bahai Faith (paragraph 6).

The letter is also interesting for containing the first explicit acknowledgement that I know of, that the unity of nations – like the Lesser Peace – was not achieved in the twentieth century, describing this an uncompleted project that has left dangerous gaps in international relations (paragraph 8).

Short link: http://wp.me/pNMoJ-2T9

Older items can be found in the archive, here. Even older news is here.

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