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.

March 31, 2017

Hate crime targets a Bahai in Oregon, USA.


Portland Tribune, March 29, 2017.

The Sheriff’s Office in Multnomah County, Oregon (USA) is investigating a hate crime reported on Tuesday, March 28, in Troutdale.

Hasel Afshar, 33, who was born in Iran but has lived in America since 2010, returned from a three-day vacation in Canada to find his two-story home on Southeast 26th Court ransacked, the walls coated in racist epithets. The graffiti calls Afshar a “terrorist” and orders the “Muslim” to “get out.” The vandals left a note on Afshar’s coffee table, weighed down with seven .45 caliber bullets arranged in the shape of a cross. ‘”If I see you here next month, I will shoot you and burn your house,'” the note reads, according to Afshar.

Afshar isn’t Muslim. He’s Baha’i. He doesn’t know how long it will take to clean up his home. Walls are covered in red paint, couch cushions deliberately torn and his belongings scattered.

In a week or two, once he finishes cleaning up, Afshar says he will sell his home and leave the United States. He has friends in Australia and Canada who he says never experience discrimination like this.

“I’m not going to be a hero and stay here and fight about it.” Afshar says. “I’m not going to sit here and wait for someone to shoot me.”

This isn’t the immigrant’s first experience with prejudice. In Iran, a Muslim-majority country, Afshar says police entered his family home, stole their books and arbitrarily arrested members of the Baha’i faith community. Later, after his arrival in the United States, Afshar says he was punched in the face while living in California, in what he describes as a racially motivated incident. He goes on to describe conflicts with a former supervisor at the Portland-based company where Afshar works as a machine operator, cutting out mailers and business cards.

More recently, Afshar says he was parking outside a Plaid Pantry when a man in a baseball cap pulled up in a white construction van. Get the (expletive) out of America! We don’t want you here,” the man shouted. That was on Tuesday morning, March 7. Afshar now wonders if the man followed him home.

The attack on his home has been widely reported in the media, and discussed on the social media. The Portland Tribune’s facebook page has received many messages of support for Afshar, and condemnation for the attack. On Thursday, Troutdale Mayor Casey Ryan issued a statement calling the incident “a horrible attack.”

February 26, 2017

Letter from the NSA of the USA focusses on race unity

Editorial, February 26, 2017.

A general letter released by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of the United States on February 25 focusses on the theme of race unity. An earlier letter on this theme, entitled ‘eradicating racial prejudice in the nation’, was timed to coincide with the Feast of Izzat, on September 8, 2014.

American Bahais, it says, “have a twofold mission: to develop within our own community a pattern of life that increasingly reflects the spirit of the Baha’i teachings, and to engage with others in a deliberate and collaborative effort to eradicate the ills afflicting our nation.” (paragraph 6). In the context of involvement in the national discourse on race, the letter speaks of “a national race unity conference under the sponsorship of this Assembly, details of which will be announced in due course.” (Paragraph 11).

The full text of the letter is in the documents archive of my Bahai studies blog.

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

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

June 11, 2014

Firearms incident at the Bahai Institute in S. Carolina resolved peacefully

Filed under: Bahai community — Sen @ 12:29
Tags: ,

South Strand News, June 10, 2014

On June 8, about 5 p.m., Sheriff’s Deputies in Georgetown, South Carolina, responded to gunshots at the Bahai Institute. Two male victims claimed that a young man had become verbally abusive during a basketball game and was trying to start a fight. He left the scene and returned with a handgun and fired several shots, into the air and at the tires on the complainants’ vehicle before attempting to run over one complainant on the basketball court. He left, but returned later, but fled in a vehicle when he observed sheriff’s deputies there. A pursuit ensued, during which he drove into a ditch and fled on foot. He gave himself up the following day. The Louis G. Gregory Institute in Hemingway, South Carolina, was the first full-time Bahai institute established in the US, in 1972. It also hosts Radio Bahai (WLGI) and serves as a venue for community and Bahai events.

Short link: http://wp.me/pNMoJ-218

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


February 13, 2014

Bahai candidate for Columbia City Council breaks new ground

Filed under: Bahai community — Sen @ 09:08
Tags: , , , , ,


Colombia Faith and Values (blog), January 28, 2014

Tyree Byndom, a young black Bahai and talk show host in Columbia, Missouri, USA, has put his name forward for election to the City Council, with the approval of the Bahai administration in the United States. “My running for political office is teaching members of my faith about what it means to be Bahai,” Byndom says. “I had to show leaders there is nothing that restricts me from running.” If elected, Byndom would be Columbia’s third African American to serve on the City Council. He was mentored by Almeta Crayton, a three-term Columbia City Councilwoman, who represented the First Ward. Her death on October 21, 2013, has stirred Byndom’s memories of conversations with Crayton. “I remember one weekend, when we were done doing our radio show on KOPN 89.5 FM, called Straight Talk, Almeta and Wynna Faye (Albert) were joking with me and they said ‘Well, Tyree, I guess we have to pass the baton to you, because ain’t nobody else around,’” Byndom says. “My response to them was ‘I don’t want it!’”

O thou servant of Baha’! Thou hast asked regarding the political affairs. In the United States it is necessary that the citizens shall take part in elections. This is a necessary matter and no excuse from it is possible. My object in telling the believers that they should not interfere in the affairs of government is this: That they should not make any trouble and that they should not move against the opinion of the government, but obedience to the laws and the administration of the commonwealth is necessary. Now, as the government of America is a republican form of government, it is necessary that all the citizens shall take part in the elections of officers and take part in the affairs of the republic.
(Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v2, p. 342)


“The truth is that I didn’t feel worthy. When we lost Almeta Crayton this past year, it did something to me,” Byndom says. “Her words, the things she fought for, the people that she cared about, her lamentation at the challenges facing her son, this community that she loved, all echoed in my thoughts and the phrase ‘Be worthy’, was the reply.”

Straight Talk, Byndom’s weekly radio show on KOPN, offers Columbia’s black community a place to voice opinions. Listeners talk about increasing gun violence, substance abuse, unemployment for youth and minorities, underemployment for professionals with skills, high cost of living, fast cash stores, growing poverty and a loss of middle class jobs.

Full story

Short link: http://wp.me/pNMoJ-1WR

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

July 16, 2012

Hoda Mahmoudi takes up the Baha’i Chair for World Peace at Maryland U.

US Bahai News site, July 16

Hoda Mahmoudi is the new holder of the Baha’i Chair for World Peace, at the University of Maryland. The Baha’i Chair — founded in 1993 — is an endowed academic program dedicated to advancing interdisciplinary study of, and discourse on, major issues of global peace. The first two Baha’i Chair incumbents were Suheil Bushrui (1993-2006) and John Grayzel (2006-2011). Following a period of deliberation and reflection, Mahmoudi will announce a new program of research as well as at least one new undergraduate course offering. Prior to assuming the professorship in July 2012, Mahmoudi was head of the Research Department at the Bahá’í World Centre in Haifa, Israel, where she served since 2001.

Full story

Short link: http://wp.me/PNMoJ-3w

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


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