Difference Between Proselytizing And Teaching


The above is a 25 minute video of a PBS series called “I Believe” which covers different religions. The host is Dennis Wholey who is interviewing Randolph Dobbs, a Baha’i from the Los Angeles area.

Most of the interview is softball questions about the general principles and serves as a good introduction for someone who doesn’t know anything about the Baha’i Faith.

For me the interesting part is at the 21 minute mark (to which you can jump to by clicking and dragging chiclet) where the host asks,

“How do you attempt to grow the Faith?”

To which Mr. Dobbs responds,

“You know the message of the Baha’i Faith is shared from heart to heart. We talked about your mother and how she recognized the spiritual truth, that it resonated in her heart. We believe that people recognize truth when they hear it. And although we don’t proselytize, we don’t go from door to door teaching the Baha’i Faith, we do invite people to Baha’i meetings. We invite people to children’s classes, to study circles, to devotional meetings.”

The bold is my own emphasis to draw your attention to the excerpt.

It jumped out at me because lately I’ve been thinking about the difference between the two: proselytizing and teaching. I suppose for everyone it depends. We draw the line at different points and the behavior which you may categorize as teaching, another Baha’i may see clearly as proselytizing.

Although in the Baha’i writings we are prohibited from proselytizing, it isn’t really defined nor clearly delineated. The need for such clarity is vital since we are asked to teach the Faith.

In current Baha’i culture teaching and proselytization can be blurry. For example, did you know that in contrast to what Mr. Dobbs says above, Baha’is have started to go from door to door?

That is, actually knocking on doors and starting to speak to people about the Baha’i Faith? They may not “teach” directly or in the same pushy style as Jehovah’s Witnesses but they are going up to strangers with the intention of converting them to the Baha’i Faith.

So although the actual action is to invite you to participate in say, children’s moral education classes organized by the local Baha’i community, or a devotional event, the intention is teaching. So is that then proselytizing?

In talking with Baha’is about this one person told me that for them proselytizing is when you force someone to change their religion. Or promise them some kind of reward. In other words, bribe them. Anything short of that is ok.

However this definition of proselytism is not correct. In actuality proselytism is “the practice of attempting to convert people to another opinion, usually another religion.

The word proselytism is derived ultimately from the Greek language prefix ‘pros’ (towards) and the verb ‘erchomai’ (I come). Historically in the New Testament, the word proselyte denoted a person who had converted to the Jewish religion. Though the word proselytism was originally tied to Christianity, it is also used to refer to other religions’ attempts to convert people to their beliefs or even any attempt to convert people to another point of view, religious or not.”

Clearly, by this definition, what Baha’is are doing is proselytizing, and any assertion to the contrary is really a semantic game, rather than a genuine distinction.

Of course, Baha’is are not the only ones trying to pin down this concept. According to Wikipedia, here are the differences between what some consider to be legitimate versus illegitimate proselytism:

  • No attempt to convert others unless they specifically ask about one’s religion
  • Preaching
  • Providing physical benefits in hopes that recipients will be open to listening
  • Providing physical benefits only to those willing to listen
  • Providing physical benefits only to proselytes
  • Forcing people to become proselytes

What about you? What do you consider to be the the difference between these two? How can they be recognized? How are they defined?

If a friend starts up a conversation with another friend and it leads to religion and they end up talking about the Baha’i Faith is that teaching or proselytizing? What if instead of a friend it is a stranger? What if the Baha’i flat out says, “You know, you should become a Baha’i. Here’s a card.”

What if a Baha’i goes door to door in a neighborhood to invite people to a fireside? to a children’s class? to some other Baha’i inspired and organized meeting or event? Is that proselytizing or teaching?

Where does one begin and the other end? Can you provide specific examples from your own experience or imagination?

  • Ellen

    Thank for this post. I always cringe when I hear Baha’is say that we don’t proselytize because the Baha’i interpretation of the word is not the same as the dictionary definition.

    The manual for local Assemblies, “Developing Distinctive Baha’i Communities” explains:

    It is true that Bah??’u’ll??h lays on every Bah??’? the duty to teach His Faith. At the same time, however, we are forbidden to proselytize, so it is important for all the believers to understand the difference between teaching and proselytizing. It is a significant difference and, in some countries where teaching a religion is permitted, but proselytizing is forbidden, the distinction is made in the law of the land.

    Proselytizing implies bringing undue pressure to bear upon someone to change his Faith. It is also usually understood to imply the making of threats or the offering of material benefits as an inducement to conversion. In some countries mission schools or hospitals, for all the good they do, are regarded with suspicion and even aversion by the local authorities because they are considered to be material inducements to conversion and hence instruments of proselytization.

    Bah??’u’ll??h, in The Hidden Words, says: “O Son of Dust! The wise are they that speak not unless they obtain a hearing, even as the cup-bearer, who proffereth not his cup till he findeth a seeker, and the lover who crieth not out from the depths of his heart until he gazeth upon the beauty of his beloved . . . ,” and on page 55 of The Advent of Divine Justice, a letter which is primarily directed towards exhorting the friends to fulfill their responsibilities in teaching the Faith, Shoghi Effendi writes: “Care, however, should, at all times, be exercised, lest in their eagerness to further the international interests of the Faith they frustrate their purpose, and turn away, through any act that might be misconstrued as an attempt to proselytize and bring undue pressure upon them, those whom they wish to win over to their Cause.” Some Bah??’?s sometimes overstep the proper bounds, but this does not alter the clear principle.

    The responsibility of the Bah??’?s to teach the Faith is very great. The contraction of the world and the onward rush of events require us to seize every chance open to us to touch the hearts and minds

    (Compilations, NSA USA – Developing Distinctive Baha’i Communities)

  • Ellen

    Thank for this post. I always cringe when I hear Baha’is say that we don’t proselytize because the Baha’i interpretation of the word is not the same as the dictionary definition.

    The manual for local Assemblies, “Developing Distinctive Baha’i Communities” explains:

    It is true that Bah??’u’ll??h lays on every Bah??’? the duty to teach His Faith. At the same time, however, we are forbidden to proselytize, so it is important for all the believers to understand the difference between teaching and proselytizing. It is a significant difference and, in some countries where teaching a religion is permitted, but proselytizing is forbidden, the distinction is made in the law of the land.

    Proselytizing implies bringing undue pressure to bear upon someone to change his Faith. It is also usually understood to imply the making of threats or the offering of material benefits as an inducement to conversion. In some countries mission schools or hospitals, for all the good they do, are regarded with suspicion and even aversion by the local authorities because they are considered to be material inducements to conversion and hence instruments of proselytization.

    Bah??’u’ll??h, in The Hidden Words, says: “O Son of Dust! The wise are they that speak not unless they obtain a hearing, even as the cup-bearer, who proffereth not his cup till he findeth a seeker, and the lover who crieth not out from the depths of his heart until he gazeth upon the beauty of his beloved . . . ,” and on page 55 of The Advent of Divine Justice, a letter which is primarily directed towards exhorting the friends to fulfill their responsibilities in teaching the Faith, Shoghi Effendi writes: “Care, however, should, at all times, be exercised, lest in their eagerness to further the international interests of the Faith they frustrate their purpose, and turn away, through any act that might be misconstrued as an attempt to proselytize and bring undue pressure upon them, those whom they wish to win over to their Cause.” Some Bah??’?s sometimes overstep the proper bounds, but this does not alter the clear principle.

    The responsibility of the Bah??’?s to teach the Faith is very great. The contraction of the world and the onward rush of events require us to seize every chance open to us to touch the hearts and minds

    (Compilations, NSA USA – Developing Distinctive Baha’i Communities)

  • concourse_on_low

    Mr. Dobbs needs to brush up on his Iranian history – Iranians have always called their country Iran. They simply asked the rest of the world to call their country by its actual name in the 1930s.

  • concourse_on_low

    Mr. Dobbs needs to brush up on his Iranian history – Iranians have always called their country Iran. They simply asked the rest of the world to call their country by its actual name in the 1930s.

  • The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary definition of proselytize is: “Convert a person or people, esp. from one religious faith to another.” According to that definition, most forms of “teaching the [Baha’i] Faith” are attempts at proselytising, and that’s the definition I go with.

    Often, when the subject of teaching the Baha’i Faith is discussed, it’s presented as an activity that’s carried on separately from other aspect’s of a person’s life. Note that I say, “a person’s life”, not, “a Baha’i’s life”. Some of the more natural and effective teachers of the Baha’i Faith are people who do not consider themselves to be Baha’is, and who are not enrolled as Baha’is, but who know about the Baha’i Faith, or know Baha’is — and who talk with others about what they know, see and feel. They teach in a very natural manner, and perhaps Baha’is could learn from that.

    My way of looking at teaching is that it’s something every person does at every moment. We’re never not teaching something about what we believe or stand for, simply by the way we act. Instead of asking, “At what point do we cross the line into proselytising when we’re out getting converts?”, which is fairly meaningless, we could be asking, “What are we teaching by the way we conduct our lives?”

    I’d prefer to see Baha’is avoid any hint of proselytising, simply because the way they quietly carry out their lives will be enough, eventually, to show the people around them whether their faith has something to offer. When a Baha’i asks me, “Have you done any teaching this month?”, my reply is, “Yes. Have you done any breathing this month?”

  • The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary definition of proselytize is: “Convert a person or people, esp. from one religious faith to another.” According to that definition, most forms of “teaching the [Baha’i] Faith” are attempts at proselytising, and that’s the definition I go with.

    Often, when the subject of teaching the Baha’i Faith is discussed, it’s presented as an activity that’s carried on separately from other aspect’s of a person’s life. Note that I say, “a person’s life”, not, “a Baha’i’s life”. Some of the more natural and effective teachers of the Baha’i Faith are people who do not consider themselves to be Baha’is, and who are not enrolled as Baha’is, but who know about the Baha’i Faith, or know Baha’is — and who talk with others about what they know, see and feel. They teach in a very natural manner, and perhaps Baha’is could learn from that.

    My way of looking at teaching is that it’s something every person does at every moment. We’re never not teaching something about what we believe or stand for, simply by the way we act. Instead of asking, “At what point do we cross the line into proselytising when we’re out getting converts?”, which is fairly meaningless, we could be asking, “What are we teaching by the way we conduct our lives?”

    I’d prefer to see Baha’is avoid any hint of proselytising, simply because the way they quietly carry out their lives will be enough, eventually, to show the people around them whether their faith has something to offer. When a Baha’i asks me, “Have you done any teaching this month?”, my reply is, “Yes. Have you done any breathing this month?”

  • Fritz Gormann

    Times are a changing.
    We went from Teaching, which is different from Proclaiming, to Proselytizing.

    We went from loving all; to the fundamentalist view of we only love you if you believe like we do.

    Florence Mayberry resigned as a counselor because the conservatives in the faith wanted to preach to have a government run by Baha’is only, a theocracy.

    Our faith has been hijacked but the gang on the hill.

    Fritz

  • Fritz Gormann

    Times are a changing.
    We went from Teaching, which is different from Proclaiming, to Proselytizing.

    We went from loving all; to the fundamentalist view of we only love you if you believe like we do.

    Florence Mayberry resigned as a counselor because the conservatives in the faith wanted to preach to have a government run by Baha’is only, a theocracy.

    Our faith has been hijacked but the gang on the hill.

    Fritz

  • Sercxu

    “Thank for this post. I always cringe when I hear Baha’is say that we don’t proselytize because the Baha’i interpretation of the word is not the same as the dictionary definition.”

    Ellen, I love you. Thank you for illustrating one of the things I, a former Baha’i, find most infuriating about the Baha’i Faith–its institutions’ willingness to twist and bend words, redefining them in a way that would make George Orwell proud, and its followers’ willingness to go along with it. Proselytization is not a difficult concept to grasp, nor is it a particularly egregious one–lots of religions proclaim their faith to others, and our Christian friends are very clear about “proclaiming the good news of the Gospel”–but if you’re going to say that your religion doesn’t proselytize, then don’t do it. It really is just that simple.

    As for going door-to-door, JW-style, I knew I was in trouble when I was the only one on my LSA who found the notion to be doubleplusungood — er, bad.

  • Sercxu

    “Thank for this post. I always cringe when I hear Baha’is say that we don’t proselytize because the Baha’i interpretation of the word is not the same as the dictionary definition.”

    Ellen, I love you. Thank you for illustrating one of the things I, a former Baha’i, find most infuriating about the Baha’i Faith–its institutions’ willingness to twist and bend words, redefining them in a way that would make George Orwell proud, and its followers’ willingness to go along with it. Proselytization is not a difficult concept to grasp, nor is it a particularly egregious one–lots of religions proclaim their faith to others, and our Christian friends are very clear about “proclaiming the good news of the Gospel”–but if you’re going to say that your religion doesn’t proselytize, then don’t do it. It really is just that simple.

    As for going door-to-door, JW-style, I knew I was in trouble when I was the only one on my LSA who found the notion to be doubleplusungood — er, bad.

  • Mike Armour

    I guess in my opinion the difference between ‘teaching’ and ‘proselytizing’ is the ‘clincher’ if you like. if someone asks me what i do on a sunday night i say that i go to the local bahai fireside, if they ask what its all about i’ll explain and if they sound interested i’d invite them along with me. however if they said ‘thanks but no thanks’ i’d just leave it at that. i wouldn’t finish the conversation off by telling them how what they believe is wrong and that they will burn in hell or some such endearing remark that i have had spoken to me from various faiths who have come to my front door!

    Its a murky and unclear difference at times i know, but i really think the difference between explaining what bahais (or any faith) believe and actively trying to get someone to change their religious beliefs by guile, cajoling or threats of damnation is an important distinction, regardless of dictionary definitions.

  • Mike Armour

    I guess in my opinion the difference between ‘teaching’ and ‘proselytizing’ is the ‘clincher’ if you like. if someone asks me what i do on a sunday night i say that i go to the local bahai fireside, if they ask what its all about i’ll explain and if they sound interested i’d invite them along with me. however if they said ‘thanks but no thanks’ i’d just leave it at that. i wouldn’t finish the conversation off by telling them how what they believe is wrong and that they will burn in hell or some such endearing remark that i have had spoken to me from various faiths who have come to my front door!

    Its a murky and unclear difference at times i know, but i really think the difference between explaining what bahais (or any faith) believe and actively trying to get someone to change their religious beliefs by guile, cajoling or threats of damnation is an important distinction, regardless of dictionary definitions.

  • Fritz Gormann

    Mike, that’s how we became Bahais. We asked, were invited, listened, searched the truth for our selves and became.

    If someone came at me with a Ruhi book I’d still be searching.

    Finding the truth for our selves isn’t allowed in the faith anymore, we have Ruhi.
    Finding the beauty of the words isn’t allowed anymore we have Ruhi.

    I feel like a person that is hiding their feelings in hope the Truth Squad (ABM/ABMA) doesn’t find out what he really thinks.

    The characters in ?1984? felt, that sense of shadow all around them.

    I would love to say to these Ruhiest, wake-up your killing the Sunlight.
    Someday, maybe, but then the calling of disunity and being not firm,

    We need an outlet to speak to the members of the ITC/Ruhi Faith.

    Fritz

  • Fritz Gormann

    Mike, that’s how we became Bahais. We asked, were invited, listened, searched the truth for our selves and became.

    If someone came at me with a Ruhi book I’d still be searching.

    Finding the truth for our selves isn’t allowed in the faith anymore, we have Ruhi.
    Finding the beauty of the words isn’t allowed anymore we have Ruhi.

    I feel like a person that is hiding their feelings in hope the Truth Squad (ABM/ABMA) doesn’t find out what he really thinks.

    The characters in ?1984? felt, that sense of shadow all around them.

    I would love to say to these Ruhiest, wake-up your killing the Sunlight.
    Someday, maybe, but then the calling of disunity and being not firm,

    We need an outlet to speak to the members of the ITC/Ruhi Faith.

    Fritz

  • Mike Armour

    Fritz,

    I totally see your point as well. I suppose i should add a disclaimer that i’m not yet a bahai, though i do intend on declaring. I have done Ruhi book one and feel that it was useful, if for nothing more than a basic primer so that all Bahai’s have a good grounding in ‘Bahai belief’ if you want to call it that.

    however, for me personally i have read most if not all of the major texts by myself and i have many questions which are naturally not answered by the Ruhi books 😉 I believe this is one of the blessing/curse dichotomies with not having clergy in the Baha’i faith, for where do i turn now ? The Baha’is i know are all intelligent, sincere and kind people but i am not sure who to turn to for some of the more tricky intellectual problems…

  • Mike Armour

    Fritz,

    I totally see your point as well. I suppose i should add a disclaimer that i’m not yet a bahai, though i do intend on declaring. I have done Ruhi book one and feel that it was useful, if for nothing more than a basic primer so that all Bahai’s have a good grounding in ‘Bahai belief’ if you want to call it that.

    however, for me personally i have read most if not all of the major texts by myself and i have many questions which are naturally not answered by the Ruhi books 😉 I believe this is one of the blessing/curse dichotomies with not having clergy in the Baha’i faith, for where do i turn now ? The Baha’is i know are all intelligent, sincere and kind people but i am not sure who to turn to for some of the more tricky intellectual problems…

  • non

    You can send an email to the Center for the Study of the Sacred Texts. They often have resources that are not available elsewhere, comments on things, etc.

  • non

    You can send an email to the Center for the Study of the Sacred Texts. They often have resources that are not available elsewhere, comments on things, etc.

  • Ed

    Fritz,

    I understand your viewpoints about the Ruhi program – a number of people feel as you do – but there is another perspective you might want to consider. Try to view the needs of the Baha’i world from the perspective of the Universal House of Justice. What do the members of that Body see as they survey the condition of the Baha’i world and consider the mission of the Faith in the world? I do not propose that we try to be telepathic here, rather we just need to look at the letters the Supreme Body has written to the Baha’i world in the last three to four decades.

    Briefly, this is what I think they see. They know that the Message of Baha’u’llah needs to get out into the world. They know that so far the Baha’is have not been effective in expanding the Faith and consolidating it at the same time. They know that most of the adherents of the Faith are not well schooled in it. In addition, they also know that world is desperately in need of Baha’u’llah’s healing Message and that the answers found in the Writings of the Faith are the only real solution for humanity’s seemingly endless suffering. Consider for instance this quote from the Guardian: “Nothing short of the full message of Baha’u’llah can end the sufferings that are befalling humanity.” (Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 429, 7 November 1931) And consider this quote from the House itself in a November 1974 letter in which they addressed the problem of humanity’s suffering:

    ?…we must not forget the continuing, appalling burden of suffering under which millions of human beings are always groaning – a burden which they have borne for century upon century and which it is the mission of Baha’u’llah to lift at last. The principal cause of this suffering, which one can witness wherever one turns, is the corruption of human morals and the prevalence of prejudice, suspicion, hatred, untrustworthiness, selfishness and tyranny among men. It is not merely material well-being that people need. What they desperately need is to know how to live their lives – they need to know who they are, to what purpose they exist, and how they should act towards one another; and once they know the answers to these questions they need to be helped to gradually apply these answers to everyday behavior. It is to the solution of this basic problem of mankind that the greater part of all our energy and resources should be directed. … [A]lone among men we have the divinely given remedy for the real ills of mankind; no one else is doing or can do this most important work, and if we divert our energy and our funds … we shall be delaying the diffusion of the Divine Message which is the most important task of all.?

    So, if you were the Universal House of Justice, what would you need to do? Since the mid-1990’s we have had our answer – the House has said that the followers of the Baha’i Faith need training on a global scale. In addition, there needs to be a framework into which we can invite a seeking humanity that enables them too to acquire core knowledge about the Faith and which, hopefully, will be welcoming and encouraging the participants to embark on a path of service. This is what the Ruhi process and all of the other core activities are intended to provide.

    Now, no one, absolutely no one, thinks the current training process is ideal or perfect. But in 1996 (approximately) the Universal House of Justice made a very pragmatic decision. Back then we were all told that, due to the fact that humanity’s needs for spiritual education are so extreme, there is no time to wait for us to design and develop the perfect training program. The House said we should all work with what we have – which at the time happened to be Ruhi – and then make further improvements based on further lessons learned over time (most people who remember the earliest study circles would agree that the whole study circle process has gone through numerous improvements since the institute process was launched). In recent times, one Universal House of Justice member was heard to say, “Let us not think the Kingdom of God on earth can be built based on only seven Ruhi books!” In short, Ruhi was good enough to get us started and that is about it.

    Whatever the flaws of the current Ruhi program might be, it also has many virtues and these virtues of the program are sufficient to make significant strides on educating the Baha’is concerning the fundamental verities of the Faith, enabling the Baha’is to arise on necessary paths of service, and providing a welcoming learning environment for seekers world-wide. The shortcomings of the program will also be corrected more effectively and more quickly through experience and action rather than waiting for some ideal system to be developed by somebody. This is, in my view, the strategy I see being expressed in the many letters that have been coming out of the World Center for a number of years.

    Whatever will become of the institute process that was launched with Ruhi, I don’t think anyone can say specifically. What we see today is but the earliest steps of the Baha’i world of a massive undertaking – the first global program of spiritual education. We can be quite sure that the institute process will be with us for decades, if not centuries, to come. The system as a whole will go though many stages of development. It must, necessarily, continue to evolve, through the action and participation of the world-wide Baha’i community, over many years to come, into a system capable of effectively providing systematic spiritual education to the vast yearning masses of our world.

    I hope this discussion was useful for you.
    Ed

  • Ed

    Fritz,

    I understand your viewpoints about the Ruhi program – a number of people feel as you do – but there is another perspective you might want to consider. Try to view the needs of the Baha’i world from the perspective of the Universal House of Justice. What do the members of that Body see as they survey the condition of the Baha’i world and consider the mission of the Faith in the world? I do not propose that we try to be telepathic here, rather we just need to look at the letters the Supreme Body has written to the Baha’i world in the last three to four decades.

    Briefly, this is what I think they see. They know that the Message of Baha’u’llah needs to get out into the world. They know that so far the Baha’is have not been effective in expanding the Faith and consolidating it at the same time. They know that most of the adherents of the Faith are not well schooled in it. In addition, they also know that world is desperately in need of Baha’u’llah’s healing Message and that the answers found in the Writings of the Faith are the only real solution for humanity’s seemingly endless suffering. Consider for instance this quote from the Guardian: “Nothing short of the full message of Baha’u’llah can end the sufferings that are befalling humanity.” (Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 429, 7 November 1931) And consider this quote from the House itself in a November 1974 letter in which they addressed the problem of humanity’s suffering:

    ?…we must not forget the continuing, appalling burden of suffering under which millions of human beings are always groaning – a burden which they have borne for century upon century and which it is the mission of Baha’u’llah to lift at last. The principal cause of this suffering, which one can witness wherever one turns, is the corruption of human morals and the prevalence of prejudice, suspicion, hatred, untrustworthiness, selfishness and tyranny among men. It is not merely material well-being that people need. What they desperately need is to know how to live their lives – they need to know who they are, to what purpose they exist, and how they should act towards one another; and once they know the answers to these questions they need to be helped to gradually apply these answers to everyday behavior. It is to the solution of this basic problem of mankind that the greater part of all our energy and resources should be directed. … [A]lone among men we have the divinely given remedy for the real ills of mankind; no one else is doing or can do this most important work, and if we divert our energy and our funds … we shall be delaying the diffusion of the Divine Message which is the most important task of all.?

    So, if you were the Universal House of Justice, what would you need to do? Since the mid-1990’s we have had our answer – the House has said that the followers of the Baha’i Faith need training on a global scale. In addition, there needs to be a framework into which we can invite a seeking humanity that enables them too to acquire core knowledge about the Faith and which, hopefully, will be welcoming and encouraging the participants to embark on a path of service. This is what the Ruhi process and all of the other core activities are intended to provide.

    Now, no one, absolutely no one, thinks the current training process is ideal or perfect. But in 1996 (approximately) the Universal House of Justice made a very pragmatic decision. Back then we were all told that, due to the fact that humanity’s needs for spiritual education are so extreme, there is no time to wait for us to design and develop the perfect training program. The House said we should all work with what we have – which at the time happened to be Ruhi – and then make further improvements based on further lessons learned over time (most people who remember the earliest study circles would agree that the whole study circle process has gone through numerous improvements since the institute process was launched). In recent times, one Universal House of Justice member was heard to say, “Let us not think the Kingdom of God on earth can be built based on only seven Ruhi books!” In short, Ruhi was good enough to get us started and that is about it.

    Whatever the flaws of the current Ruhi program might be, it also has many virtues and these virtues of the program are sufficient to make significant strides on educating the Baha’is concerning the fundamental verities of the Faith, enabling the Baha’is to arise on necessary paths of service, and providing a welcoming learning environment for seekers world-wide. The shortcomings of the program will also be corrected more effectively and more quickly through experience and action rather than waiting for some ideal system to be developed by somebody. This is, in my view, the strategy I see being expressed in the many letters that have been coming out of the World Center for a number of years.

    Whatever will become of the institute process that was launched with Ruhi, I don’t think anyone can say specifically. What we see today is but the earliest steps of the Baha’i world of a massive undertaking – the first global program of spiritual education. We can be quite sure that the institute process will be with us for decades, if not centuries, to come. The system as a whole will go though many stages of development. It must, necessarily, continue to evolve, through the action and participation of the world-wide Baha’i community, over many years to come, into a system capable of effectively providing systematic spiritual education to the vast yearning masses of our world.

    I hope this discussion was useful for you.
    Ed

  • Ed

    Mike,

    No one, not even the Universal House of Justice, takes the position that all of the Ruhi books provide a complete Bahai education. They provide a minimal grounding in the Faith, and hopefully, some skills that a sincere seeker can use to help him or her on an independent path of further study of the Faith. I have been in the Faith for over 30 years and I can tell you honestly that the learning never stops.

    You asked where you should turn now. Let me offer some ideas.

    First, I would respectfully like to differ with you about your view concerning the fact that the Faith has no clergy. When you view the history of the Faith it becomes manifestly clear that the Faith benefits tremendously by having no clergy. This is probably the hardest working Faith you’ll ever love. By that I mean Baha’u’llah has given each follower of the Faith tremendous opportunities to grow and be of service that, candidly, would be lacking if the Faith continues as in the past and ket the clergy. But in exchange for these opportunities, each soul must seek, find, embrace and follow the truth by exerting a terrific effort to serve His Cause and to grow spiritually.

    Please consider this marevelous quote from Shoghi Effendi: “The believers must be encouraged to teach individually in their own homes. Baha’u’llah has enjoined upon the Baha’is the sacred obligation of teaching. We have no priests, therefore the service once rendered by priests to their religions is the service every single Baha’i is expected to render individually to his religion. He must be the one who enlightens new souls, confirms them, heals the wounded and the weary upon the road of life, gives them to quaff from the chalice of everlasting life – the knowledge of the Manifestation of God in His Day.” (Shoghi Effendi, July 1957)

    Second, the institute process is not the end of training, rather it is just the beginning Therefore, find other Baha’is who are willing to study the Writings of the Faith with you and embark on a shared journey of learning with your spiritual brothers and sisters. Don’t wait for others to invite you. Instead, you can take the initiative and invite them.

    Third, even if no one steps forward to join you in deeper study of the Faith, don’t let any obstacles get in your way. Do it all by yourself if you have to.

    “Be not grieved if thou performest it thyself alone. Let God be all-sufficient for thee. Commune intimately with His Spirit, and be thou of the thankful. Proclaim the Cause of thy Lord unto all who are in the heavens and on the earth.” (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 279)

    Third, I personally get a great deal out of reading Shoghi Effendi and the letters of the Universal Houe of Justice. Most of these are readily availalbe. I especially benefitted from Shoghi Effendi’s World Order of Baha’u’llah, The Advent of Divine Justice, and Citadel of Faith.

    Finally, as I’ve emphasized, don’t let any obstacles get in your way. Your path of growth and of service is ultimately up to you. When you succeed at it, the rewards will be yours as well.

    All the best,
    Ed

  • Ed

    Mike,

    No one, not even the Universal House of Justice, takes the position that all of the Ruhi books provide a complete Bahai education. They provide a minimal grounding in the Faith, and hopefully, some skills that a sincere seeker can use to help him or her on an independent path of further study of the Faith. I have been in the Faith for over 30 years and I can tell you honestly that the learning never stops.

    You asked where you should turn now. Let me offer some ideas.

    First, I would respectfully like to differ with you about your view concerning the fact that the Faith has no clergy. When you view the history of the Faith it becomes manifestly clear that the Faith benefits tremendously by having no clergy. This is probably the hardest working Faith you’ll ever love. By that I mean Baha’u’llah has given each follower of the Faith tremendous opportunities to grow and be of service that, candidly, would be lacking if the Faith continues as in the past and ket the clergy. But in exchange for these opportunities, each soul must seek, find, embrace and follow the truth by exerting a terrific effort to serve His Cause and to grow spiritually.

    Please consider this marevelous quote from Shoghi Effendi: “The believers must be encouraged to teach individually in their own homes. Baha’u’llah has enjoined upon the Baha’is the sacred obligation of teaching. We have no priests, therefore the service once rendered by priests to their religions is the service every single Baha’i is expected to render individually to his religion. He must be the one who enlightens new souls, confirms them, heals the wounded and the weary upon the road of life, gives them to quaff from the chalice of everlasting life – the knowledge of the Manifestation of God in His Day.” (Shoghi Effendi, July 1957)

    Second, the institute process is not the end of training, rather it is just the beginning Therefore, find other Baha’is who are willing to study the Writings of the Faith with you and embark on a shared journey of learning with your spiritual brothers and sisters. Don’t wait for others to invite you. Instead, you can take the initiative and invite them.

    Third, even if no one steps forward to join you in deeper study of the Faith, don’t let any obstacles get in your way. Do it all by yourself if you have to.

    “Be not grieved if thou performest it thyself alone. Let God be all-sufficient for thee. Commune intimately with His Spirit, and be thou of the thankful. Proclaim the Cause of thy Lord unto all who are in the heavens and on the earth.” (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 279)

    Third, I personally get a great deal out of reading Shoghi Effendi and the letters of the Universal Houe of Justice. Most of these are readily availalbe. I especially benefitted from Shoghi Effendi’s World Order of Baha’u’llah, The Advent of Divine Justice, and Citadel of Faith.

    Finally, as I’ve emphasized, don’t let any obstacles get in your way. Your path of growth and of service is ultimately up to you. When you succeed at it, the rewards will be yours as well.

    All the best,
    Ed

  • Mike Armour

    Thanks for taking the time to outline all that, Ed! I will definitely try and ask some Bahai’s to study with me outside the usual curriculum of Ruhi 🙂

    Kind Regards,
    Mike

  • Mike Armour

    Thanks for taking the time to outline all that, Ed! I will definitely try and ask some Bahai’s to study with me outside the usual curriculum of Ruhi 🙂

    Kind Regards,
    Mike

  • peyamb

    Ed said: They (the UHJ) know that so far the Baha’is have not been effective in expanding the Faith and consolidating it at the same time.
    —————————-
    As an individual Bahai I’m constantly asked to teach the Faith, and constantly reminded that I’m not doing enough or doing it right. My question is how effective has the Universal House of Justice been in converting the world’s leaders? Since putting out their letter on World Peace (was it in the 80’s I think)- how has it changed anything or anyone? What is the record of those who lead the Faith in changing the hearts and minds of those on top that they have the privelege to be in contact with? I feel it is as dismal if not more so than your average Bahai.
    So I have a better idea than Ruhi- how about just grass roots spiritual movements that allow as much of humanity to partake in it, without putting up any barriers. Sort of like what Abdul-Baha encountered when he came to North America.

  • peyamb

    Ed said: They (the UHJ) know that so far the Baha’is have not been effective in expanding the Faith and consolidating it at the same time.
    —————————-
    As an individual Bahai I’m constantly asked to teach the Faith, and constantly reminded that I’m not doing enough or doing it right. My question is how effective has the Universal House of Justice been in converting the world’s leaders? Since putting out their letter on World Peace (was it in the 80’s I think)- how has it changed anything or anyone? What is the record of those who lead the Faith in changing the hearts and minds of those on top that they have the privelege to be in contact with? I feel it is as dismal if not more so than your average Bahai.
    So I have a better idea than Ruhi- how about just grass roots spiritual movements that allow as much of humanity to partake in it, without putting up any barriers. Sort of like what Abdul-Baha encountered when he came to North America.

  • Ed, I hate it when people throw quotes at me, so forgive these two underhand lobs. I offer them because Shoghi Effendi says it so eloquently when it comes to teaching (or proselytizing, as you prefer):

    Not until the dynamic love we cherish for Him is sufficiently reflected in its power and purity in all our dealings with our fellowmen, however remotely connected and humble in origin, can we hope to exalt in the eyes of a self-seeking world the genuineness of the all-conquering love of God. Not until we live ourselves the life of a true Bah??’? can we hope to demonstrate the creative and transforming potency of the Faith we profess. Nothing but the abundance of our actions, nothing but the purity of our lives and the integrity of our characters, can in the last resort establish our claim that the Bah??’? spirit is in this day the sole agency that can translate a long-cherished ideal into an enduring achievement.

    Humanity, through suffering and turmoil, is swiftly moving on towards its destiny; if we be loiterers, if we fail to play our part, surely others will be called upon to take up our task as ministers to the crying needs of this afflicted world.

    Not by the force of numbers, not by the mere exposition of a set of new and noble principles, not by an organized campaign of teaching — no matter how world-wide and elaborate in its character — not even by the staunchness of our faith or the exaltation of our enthusiasm, can we ultimately hope to vindicate in the eyes of a critical and skeptical age the supreme claim of the Abha Revelation. One thing, and only one thing, will unfailingly and alone secure the undoubted triumph of this sacred Cause, namely, the extent to which our own inner life and private character mirror forth in their manifold aspects the splendor of those eternal principles proclaimed by Bah??’u’ll??h.

    My thoughts on Ruhi are all over the blog, so I won’t repeat them, except to say that as a means of “spiritual education” they are completely lacking and inadequate. They are in direct opposition to Baha’u’llah’s injunction against taqlid, and as anything that goes contrary to God’s Will, impotent.

  • Ed, I hate it when people throw quotes at me, so forgive these two underhand lobs. I offer them because Shoghi Effendi says it so eloquently when it comes to teaching (or proselytizing, as you prefer):

    Not until the dynamic love we cherish for Him is sufficiently reflected in its power and purity in all our dealings with our fellowmen, however remotely connected and humble in origin, can we hope to exalt in the eyes of a self-seeking world the genuineness of the all-conquering love of God. Not until we live ourselves the life of a true Bah??’? can we hope to demonstrate the creative and transforming potency of the Faith we profess. Nothing but the abundance of our actions, nothing but the purity of our lives and the integrity of our characters, can in the last resort establish our claim that the Bah??’? spirit is in this day the sole agency that can translate a long-cherished ideal into an enduring achievement.

    Humanity, through suffering and turmoil, is swiftly moving on towards its destiny; if we be loiterers, if we fail to play our part, surely others will be called upon to take up our task as ministers to the crying needs of this afflicted world.

    Not by the force of numbers, not by the mere exposition of a set of new and noble principles, not by an organized campaign of teaching — no matter how world-wide and elaborate in its character — not even by the staunchness of our faith or the exaltation of our enthusiasm, can we ultimately hope to vindicate in the eyes of a critical and skeptical age the supreme claim of the Abha Revelation. One thing, and only one thing, will unfailingly and alone secure the undoubted triumph of this sacred Cause, namely, the extent to which our own inner life and private character mirror forth in their manifold aspects the splendor of those eternal principles proclaimed by Bah??’u’ll??h.

    My thoughts on Ruhi are all over the blog, so I won’t repeat them, except to say that as a means of “spiritual education” they are completely lacking and inadequate. They are in direct opposition to Baha’u’llah’s injunction against taqlid, and as anything that goes contrary to God’s Will, impotent.

  • Ed

    Dear Baquia,

    I love it when people share quotes with me so long as they are relevant to the discussion and advance thoughts that move the specific discussion forward. So I hope you didn’t mind that I shared some quotes in my responses to Fritz and Mike above.

    You seem to be quite upset with the Ruhi sequence of courses, so my advice to you is that you should not participate in them so long as you feel as you do. There is a letter from the Universal House of Justice that makes it clear that individual believers have complete freedom of choice over whether they shall or shall not participate in them. The Universal House of Justice makes one simple request of those who don’t wish to participate – they ask all of us to be supportive generally of the institute process whether or not we individually choose to participate in the Ruhi-based study circles.

    With respect to your citation of the “one thing and only one thing” quote from Shoghi Effendi, I would merely ask, could it not be interpreted differently? You take it to mean that we should not proselytize the Faith, I do not. You apparently also take it to mean that teaching should be by example only, I do not.

    To begin with, I think we must all avoid th temptation to seize on one quote and ignore many others that are equally pertinent to the subject of our discussion. (I apologize for using quites now, but there really isn’t any other way for me to make this next point.) Consider these quotes which, I think, make it manifestly clear that we are supposed to teach the Faith with the aim of convincing others of the truth of Baha’u’llah’s revelation.

    “Heroes are they, O my Lord, lead them to the field of battle. Guides are they, make them to speak out with arguments and proofs.” (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 224)

    “‘Verily God loveth those who, as though they were a solid wall, do battle for His Cause in serried lines!'[1] Note that He saith ‘in serried lines’ — meaning crowded and pressed together, one locked to the next, each supporting his fellows. To do battle, as stated in the sacred verse, doth not, in this greatest of all dispensations, mean to go forth with sword and spear, with lance and piercing arrow — but rather weaponed with pure intent, with righteous motives, with counsels helpful and effective, with godly attributes, with deeds pleasing to the Almighty, with the qualities of heaven. It signifieth education for all mankind, guidance for all men, the spreading far and wide of the sweet savours of the spirit, the promulgation of God’s proofs, the setting forth of arguments conclusive and divine, the doing of charitable deeds.” (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 259)

    “Set ye forth His arguments and proofs.” (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 124)

    “It is at such times that the friends of God avail themselves of the occasion, seize the opportunity, rush forth and win the prize. If their task is to be confined to good conduct and advice, nothing will be accomplished. They must speak out, expound the proofs, set forth clear arguments, draw irrefutable conclusions establishing the truth of the manifestation of the Sun of Reality.” (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 267)

    “…apply thyself to rational and authoritative arguments. For arguments are a guide to the path and by this the heart will be turned unto the Sun of Truth…” (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 383-384)

    “We must … set forth reasoned or inspired proofs as to the existence of the Divine Being, that is, proofs commensurate with the understanding of man.” (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 46)

    Now, in case there is any uncertainty remaining in the minds of our readers, please consider these two quotes which specifically use the word “to pursuade” in order to show the nature of our teaching activity in the world (note, emphasis added):

    “If the friends learn to rely upon the power of Divine Assistance, they will be enabled to persuade others to throw in their lot with those who have already embraced the Teachings.” (International Teaching Centre, letter dated 1992 May 09, re Inviting Seekers to Embrace the Cause)

    “Let him consider the degree of his hearer’s receptivity, and decide for himself the suitability of either the direct or indirect method of teaching, whereby he can impress upon the seeker the vital importance of the Divine Message, and persuade him to throw in his lot with those who have already embraced it.” (Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 51)

    As one surveys these quotes (and there are many others as well), it is clear that the followers of Baha’u’llah are expected to strive to convince others of the truth of His Revelation. This is because the world needs the Baha’i Faith desperately if its well-being, peace and security are to be attained.

    Briefly, here are a some quotes that confirm that this is in fact the Baha’i position:

    “Nothing short of the full message of Baha’u’llah can end the sufferings that are befalling humanity.” (Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 429, 7 November 1931)

    “The world is in great distress and its only salvation is in the spirit and teachings of the Blessed Beauty.” (Shoghi Effendi, Arohanui – Letters to New Zealand, p. 30)

    “We all know that the Cause of Bah??’u’ll??h is the world’s only salvation, and that our duty is to actively teach receptive souls, and to do our utmost to help in the consolidation of the institutions of the Faith.” (The Universal House of Justice, Messages of the Universal House of Justice: 1963 to 1986, p. 451, letter to an individual dated 13 May 1980)

    “The Faith of God is the sole source of salvation for mankind today.” (The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 163, from a letter dated 8 February 1970)

    We should pause for a moment and consider the nature of that pursuasion which the Baha’is are asked to provide to the world. Certainly it is not that crass form of pursuasion that would sell a refigerator to an Eskimo!

    A close reading of all of the preceding quotes make it clear that the most elevated kind of persasion is intended and not that crass form of persuasion that disrespects, shames or coerces other people. We are not asked to attract the hearts and persuade the minds through inducements, threats, or transient bursts of emotion. The style of persuasiveness advocated by ‘Abdu’l-Baha removes estrangement, makes extensive use of logic and reason, and transforms the hearts through loving-kindness, truthfulness, reverence, dignity of presentation, a genuinely loving and upright character, the spirit of service, good deeds, and the dynamic force of example.

    ‘Abdu’l-Baha makes clear in the above quotes that our idea of going into battle for God is to provide infinite love, marvelous deeds, and excellent reasoning. We do not wish to compromise anyone’s freedom of choice, in fact, to do so would be a direct violation of Baha’u’llah’s teachings. On the other hand, spirited but friendly dialogue, listening carefully and making logical points, being of service to others, and so much more, are all ways to bring the knowledge of Baha’u’llah to other people. We do instend to pursuade others, but only with such methods and means as are approved by Baha’u’llah.

    So the problem ends up by being one of language. If we look at the strictly dictionary definition of proselytizing, absolutely, I would say the Baha’i teachings tell us to do it. And that means we should not say to others we do not believe in proselytizing and leave it at that. On the other hand, when most people hear the word “proselytize” the connotations that are brought up are usually quite negative, and justifiably so in my view. This is because many other groups have have used methods and approaches that are directly contrary to the spirit of the Faith of Baha’u’llah. Such approaches are often divisive, use shaming tactics, apply intimidation, disrespect the individual’s freedom to choose, and so on. I think we can agree that the Baha’i Faith should have nothing to do with such harmful approaches.

    In the end, I think we have to say more than a four or five word sound-bite about proselytizing. We have to be clear what the stand of the Faith actually is on the subject and then be able to communicate it to others effectively. In my view, that means we must first go to the Source, the Writings, in order to know what Baha’u’llah expects of us.

    And this brings me to the wonderful quote from Shoghi Efffendi which you cited. You can be sure that the beloved Guardian was fully aware of the other quotes about teaching when he wrote that passage which you cited. Ask yourself what might he have been thinking when he wrote that the individual must mirror forth both inwardly and outwardly the manifold splendors of the Revelation of Baha’u’llah. Think about what mirroring forth might mean. Certainly there is an inner light? But where does it go? It doesn’t stay in private, it morrors forth into the world! It teaches, by example, by deeds, and by words.

    Let me submit to your consideration the idea that the Guardian knew full well that teaching the Faith was a lawful duty placed upon every beleiver by Baha’u’llah. He knew full well that the aim was persuasion of others. He knew full well that the Master wanted us to set forth arguments and convincing proofs of the Faith. He knew full well also that the methods to be used could only be those which are indicative of the great glory of Baha’u’llah’s Revelation.

    I doubt very much that the Guardian would be pleased with an interpretation of this passage which said you don’t need to teach, you don’t need to try your best to convince others of the truth of Baha’u’llah’s revelation, just live a good life. I doubt very much that he would be pleased with an interpretation that said there should be no organized teaching campaigns (after all, what were all those mult-year plans he launched all about anyway?). No, I think, he’s saying that no teaching campaign would be effective without the transformation of the inner heart of the beleiver. Everything we might try to do in the world would surely fail if our inner light was not reflecting the light of Baha’u’llah. So we need the inner light of the Revelation in order to sustain anything we might try to do in the world. This is what I think he was talking about.

    So I submit to you, that the mirroring forth mentioned in the quote you cited is not merely living a good example, as important as that is, it also includes speaking forth, advancing convincing arguments concerning the truth of His Cause, and deliberately trying to help others in all honorable ways possible to embrace Baha’u’llah’s Revelation. In other words it consists of doing everything that Baha’u’llah has called upon us to do, including teaching the Faith in such a ways as “to persuade others to throw in their lot with those who have already embraced the Teachings.”

    Finally, as to the quality of Ruhi as it currently exists, there is simply no need to debate the matter. You are welcome to your opinion and I dare say many might agree with you.

    Let me just offer this: You would not judge the worth of a person by the way he performs when he is a child, so I don’t think you should be so hasty to pronounce the final word on Ruhi either. Ruhi has a long way to go before it is capable of truly functioning as a global spiritual education system. Nonetheless, it is a start. No one else is trying to accomplish the mission the Universal House of Justice has embarked upon. So if the methods and the means are currently less than perfect, then logic suggests that if one has ideas about how to improve the system, one should offer them with a loving and humble heart to the Faith. You never know, your idea might be the one the Universal House of Justice has been waiting for in order to figure out what the next steps should be.

    All the best,
    Ed

  • Ed

    Dear Baquia,

    I love it when people share quotes with me so long as they are relevant to the discussion and advance thoughts that move the specific discussion forward. So I hope you didn’t mind that I shared some quotes in my responses to Fritz and Mike above.

    You seem to be quite upset with the Ruhi sequence of courses, so my advice to you is that you should not participate in them so long as you feel as you do. There is a letter from the Universal House of Justice that makes it clear that individual believers have complete freedom of choice over whether they shall or shall not participate in them. The Universal House of Justice makes one simple request of those who don’t wish to participate – they ask all of us to be supportive generally of the institute process whether or not we individually choose to participate in the Ruhi-based study circles.

    With respect to your citation of the “one thing and only one thing” quote from Shoghi Effendi, I would merely ask, could it not be interpreted differently? You take it to mean that we should not proselytize the Faith, I do not. You apparently also take it to mean that teaching should be by example only, I do not.

    To begin with, I think we must all avoid th temptation to seize on one quote and ignore many others that are equally pertinent to the subject of our discussion. (I apologize for using quites now, but there really isn’t any other way for me to make this next point.) Consider these quotes which, I think, make it manifestly clear that we are supposed to teach the Faith with the aim of convincing others of the truth of Baha’u’llah’s revelation.

    “Heroes are they, O my Lord, lead them to the field of battle. Guides are they, make them to speak out with arguments and proofs.” (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 224)

    “‘Verily God loveth those who, as though they were a solid wall, do battle for His Cause in serried lines!'[1] Note that He saith ‘in serried lines’ — meaning crowded and pressed together, one locked to the next, each supporting his fellows. To do battle, as stated in the sacred verse, doth not, in this greatest of all dispensations, mean to go forth with sword and spear, with lance and piercing arrow — but rather weaponed with pure intent, with righteous motives, with counsels helpful and effective, with godly attributes, with deeds pleasing to the Almighty, with the qualities of heaven. It signifieth education for all mankind, guidance for all men, the spreading far and wide of the sweet savours of the spirit, the promulgation of God’s proofs, the setting forth of arguments conclusive and divine, the doing of charitable deeds.” (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 259)

    “Set ye forth His arguments and proofs.” (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 124)

    “It is at such times that the friends of God avail themselves of the occasion, seize the opportunity, rush forth and win the prize. If their task is to be confined to good conduct and advice, nothing will be accomplished. They must speak out, expound the proofs, set forth clear arguments, draw irrefutable conclusions establishing the truth of the manifestation of the Sun of Reality.” (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 267)

    “…apply thyself to rational and authoritative arguments. For arguments are a guide to the path and by this the heart will be turned unto the Sun of Truth…” (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 383-384)

    “We must … set forth reasoned or inspired proofs as to the existence of the Divine Being, that is, proofs commensurate with the understanding of man.” (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 46)

    Now, in case there is any uncertainty remaining in the minds of our readers, please consider these two quotes which specifically use the word “to pursuade” in order to show the nature of our teaching activity in the world (note, emphasis added):

    “If the friends learn to rely upon the power of Divine Assistance, they will be enabled to persuade others to throw in their lot with those who have already embraced the Teachings.” (International Teaching Centre, letter dated 1992 May 09, re Inviting Seekers to Embrace the Cause)

    “Let him consider the degree of his hearer’s receptivity, and decide for himself the suitability of either the direct or indirect method of teaching, whereby he can impress upon the seeker the vital importance of the Divine Message, and persuade him to throw in his lot with those who have already embraced it.” (Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 51)

    As one surveys these quotes (and there are many others as well), it is clear that the followers of Baha’u’llah are expected to strive to convince others of the truth of His Revelation. This is because the world needs the Baha’i Faith desperately if its well-being, peace and security are to be attained.

    Briefly, here are a some quotes that confirm that this is in fact the Baha’i position:

    “Nothing short of the full message of Baha’u’llah can end the sufferings that are befalling humanity.” (Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 429, 7 November 1931)

    “The world is in great distress and its only salvation is in the spirit and teachings of the Blessed Beauty.” (Shoghi Effendi, Arohanui – Letters to New Zealand, p. 30)

    “We all know that the Cause of Bah??’u’ll??h is the world’s only salvation, and that our duty is to actively teach receptive souls, and to do our utmost to help in the consolidation of the institutions of the Faith.” (The Universal House of Justice, Messages of the Universal House of Justice: 1963 to 1986, p. 451, letter to an individual dated 13 May 1980)

    “The Faith of God is the sole source of salvation for mankind today.” (The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 163, from a letter dated 8 February 1970)

    We should pause for a moment and consider the nature of that pursuasion which the Baha’is are asked to provide to the world. Certainly it is not that crass form of pursuasion that would sell a refigerator to an Eskimo!

    A close reading of all of the preceding quotes make it clear that the most elevated kind of persasion is intended and not that crass form of persuasion that disrespects, shames or coerces other people. We are not asked to attract the hearts and persuade the minds through inducements, threats, or transient bursts of emotion. The style of persuasiveness advocated by ‘Abdu’l-Baha removes estrangement, makes extensive use of logic and reason, and transforms the hearts through loving-kindness, truthfulness, reverence, dignity of presentation, a genuinely loving and upright character, the spirit of service, good deeds, and the dynamic force of example.

    ‘Abdu’l-Baha makes clear in the above quotes that our idea of going into battle for God is to provide infinite love, marvelous deeds, and excellent reasoning. We do not wish to compromise anyone’s freedom of choice, in fact, to do so would be a direct violation of Baha’u’llah’s teachings. On the other hand, spirited but friendly dialogue, listening carefully and making logical points, being of service to others, and so much more, are all ways to bring the knowledge of Baha’u’llah to other people. We do instend to pursuade others, but only with such methods and means as are approved by Baha’u’llah.

    So the problem ends up by being one of language. If we look at the strictly dictionary definition of proselytizing, absolutely, I would say the Baha’i teachings tell us to do it. And that means we should not say to others we do not believe in proselytizing and leave it at that. On the other hand, when most people hear the word “proselytize” the connotations that are brought up are usually quite negative, and justifiably so in my view. This is because many other groups have have used methods and approaches that are directly contrary to the spirit of the Faith of Baha’u’llah. Such approaches are often divisive, use shaming tactics, apply intimidation, disrespect the individual’s freedom to choose, and so on. I think we can agree that the Baha’i Faith should have nothing to do with such harmful approaches.

    In the end, I think we have to say more than a four or five word sound-bite about proselytizing. We have to be clear what the stand of the Faith actually is on the subject and then be able to communicate it to others effectively. In my view, that means we must first go to the Source, the Writings, in order to know what Baha’u’llah expects of us.

    And this brings me to the wonderful quote from Shoghi Efffendi which you cited. You can be sure that the beloved Guardian was fully aware of the other quotes about teaching when he wrote that passage which you cited. Ask yourself what might he have been thinking when he wrote that the individual must mirror forth both inwardly and outwardly the manifold splendors of the Revelation of Baha’u’llah. Think about what mirroring forth might mean. Certainly there is an inner light? But where does it go? It doesn’t stay in private, it morrors forth into the world! It teaches, by example, by deeds, and by words.

    Let me submit to your consideration the idea that the Guardian knew full well that teaching the Faith was a lawful duty placed upon every beleiver by Baha’u’llah. He knew full well that the aim was persuasion of others. He knew full well that the Master wanted us to set forth arguments and convincing proofs of the Faith. He knew full well also that the methods to be used could only be those which are indicative of the great glory of Baha’u’llah’s Revelation.

    I doubt very much that the Guardian would be pleased with an interpretation of this passage which said you don’t need to teach, you don’t need to try your best to convince others of the truth of Baha’u’llah’s revelation, just live a good life. I doubt very much that he would be pleased with an interpretation that said there should be no organized teaching campaigns (after all, what were all those mult-year plans he launched all about anyway?). No, I think, he’s saying that no teaching campaign would be effective without the transformation of the inner heart of the beleiver. Everything we might try to do in the world would surely fail if our inner light was not reflecting the light of Baha’u’llah. So we need the inner light of the Revelation in order to sustain anything we might try to do in the world. This is what I think he was talking about.

    So I submit to you, that the mirroring forth mentioned in the quote you cited is not merely living a good example, as important as that is, it also includes speaking forth, advancing convincing arguments concerning the truth of His Cause, and deliberately trying to help others in all honorable ways possible to embrace Baha’u’llah’s Revelation. In other words it consists of doing everything that Baha’u’llah has called upon us to do, including teaching the Faith in such a ways as “to persuade others to throw in their lot with those who have already embraced the Teachings.”

    Finally, as to the quality of Ruhi as it currently exists, there is simply no need to debate the matter. You are welcome to your opinion and I dare say many might agree with you.

    Let me just offer this: You would not judge the worth of a person by the way he performs when he is a child, so I don’t think you should be so hasty to pronounce the final word on Ruhi either. Ruhi has a long way to go before it is capable of truly functioning as a global spiritual education system. Nonetheless, it is a start. No one else is trying to accomplish the mission the Universal House of Justice has embarked upon. So if the methods and the means are currently less than perfect, then logic suggests that if one has ideas about how to improve the system, one should offer them with a loving and humble heart to the Faith. You never know, your idea might be the one the Universal House of Justice has been waiting for in order to figure out what the next steps should be.

    All the best,
    Ed

  • Craig Parke

    I agree. There are many grass roots spiritual groups in the world now teaching the consciousness of the Spirit of the World Age (the “Maid of Heaven”) far better than the incredibly talentless, mind boggelingly uncreative, and generally brain dead groupthink Baha’is. just look at all the really insightful spiritual books on Amazon from many different traditions and systems of thought.

    Here is a small group doing the work that the Baha’is should have been doing for many, many, many years now if we had remained spiritual instead of some kind of new planetary Politburo wannabe organization.

    http://www.Abwoon.com

    The Ruhi “full sequence of courses” is an insult to a person’s intelligence and is a hundred year mistake that will now take the Faith to a grave and dire financial crisis. People are leaving in droves and no one will address anything because the religion is now an organization of spineless bullied cowards. It is as simple as that. Taking Ruhi Book One was one of the worst experiences of my life. Just horrible. No thinking person will ever join a “religion” presented in this way. It is completely un-spiritual and is, therefore, completely out of sync with the very empowerment forces unleased by the Revelation of Baha’u’llah in the individual soul.

    I have been a Baha’i for 36 years. I have taught the Faith to thousands of people. I would never bring a human soul created in the image and likeness of God into this system of merciless top down mind control coercion now.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coercion

    “Never give your respect to people who do not respect you.” This is a good motto in life from the film “Boys n’ the Hood” (1991). I wish I would have learned this insight much earlier in life. Even well before I was a Baha’i.

    The Institutions of the Faith now do NOT respect anyone in the rank and file. The Institutions of the Faith are ONLY concerned with the completely selfish psychological needs of a very tiny handful of lifetime incumbent cadre at the top. These people and their families are going to be taken to terrible Divine Judgment in the next word. This was all foretold by Baha’u’llah in the Tablet of the Holy Mariner. It is not going to be pretty.

    We, as an organization, are being taken to terrible Cosmic Divine Judgment. It is just amazing. But the true Power of the World Age will go on carried by the efforts of other much more spiritual and insightful people who will inherit the Kingdom of God.

    Deeds NOT words.

  • Craig Parke

    I agree. There are many grass roots spiritual groups in the world now teaching the consciousness of the Spirit of the World Age (the “Maid of Heaven”) far better than the incredibly talentless, mind boggelingly uncreative, and generally brain dead groupthink Baha’is. just look at all the really insightful spiritual books on Amazon from many different traditions and systems of thought.

    Here is a small group doing the work that the Baha’is should have been doing for many, many, many years now if we had remained spiritual instead of some kind of new planetary Politburo wannabe organization.

    http://www.Abwoon.com

    The Ruhi “full sequence of courses” is an insult to a person’s intelligence and is a hundred year mistake that will now take the Faith to a grave and dire financial crisis. People are leaving in droves and no one will address anything because the religion is now an organization of spineless bullied cowards. It is as simple as that. Taking Ruhi Book One was one of the worst experiences of my life. Just horrible. No thinking person will ever join a “religion” presented in this way. It is completely un-spiritual and is, therefore, completely out of sync with the very empowerment forces unleased by the Revelation of Baha’u’llah in the individual soul.

    I have been a Baha’i for 36 years. I have taught the Faith to thousands of people. I would never bring a human soul created in the image and likeness of God into this system of merciless top down mind control coercion now.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coercion

    “Never give your respect to people who do not respect you.” This is a good motto in life from the film “Boys n’ the Hood” (1991). I wish I would have learned this insight much earlier in life. Even well before I was a Baha’i.

    The Institutions of the Faith now do NOT respect anyone in the rank and file. The Institutions of the Faith are ONLY concerned with the completely selfish psychological needs of a very tiny handful of lifetime incumbent cadre at the top. These people and their families are going to be taken to terrible Divine Judgment in the next word. This was all foretold by Baha’u’llah in the Tablet of the Holy Mariner. It is not going to be pretty.

    We, as an organization, are being taken to terrible Cosmic Divine Judgment. It is just amazing. But the true Power of the World Age will go on carried by the efforts of other much more spiritual and insightful people who will inherit the Kingdom of God.

    Deeds NOT words.

  • Ed

    Dear Craig,

    By the reasoning you offer, Baha’u’llah Himself should be criticized for not having converted the leaders of the world. After all, He wrote to them and none of them converted as a result. So, according to your reasoning, Baha’u’llah’s record is “as dismal if not more so than your average Bahai.” Since ‘Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi didn’t convert any of the world’s leaders either despite their voluminous writings, your line of reasoning would apply to them as well. Is this really the direction you want to go with your thinking?

    What this reflection should reveal to you is that the usefulness and effectiveness of the House’s 1985 letter on world peace or its more recent letter to the religious leaders are not to be judged by the standard you proposed.

    Instead, both of the documents you mentioned presented important insights that have had significant impact on the understandings of the Baha’is, have helped the Faith to emerge from obscurity, and have contributed important elements in the Faith’s participation in public discourse on world-shaping issues. The 1985 Peace Statement was presented by the Baha’is to nearly all national Heads of State, to thousands of regional leaders, and to even greater numbers of local and municipal leaders. This created opportunities for dialogue between the Baha’is and leaders of thought all over the world. The letter to the religious leaders was similarly distributed. For instance, in the community where I lived at the time, more than 400 copies were shared with church leaders in our area. And that is just what we did in one very small locality!

    So, I hope you see that these initiatives from the Supreme Body reach deeply into the public discourse and gradually begin to influence the tenor of our times.

    All the best,
    Ed

  • Ed

    Dear Craig,

    By the reasoning you offer, Baha’u’llah Himself should be criticized for not having converted the leaders of the world. After all, He wrote to them and none of them converted as a result. So, according to your reasoning, Baha’u’llah’s record is “as dismal if not more so than your average Bahai.” Since ‘Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi didn’t convert any of the world’s leaders either despite their voluminous writings, your line of reasoning would apply to them as well. Is this really the direction you want to go with your thinking?

    What this reflection should reveal to you is that the usefulness and effectiveness of the House’s 1985 letter on world peace or its more recent letter to the religious leaders are not to be judged by the standard you proposed.

    Instead, both of the documents you mentioned presented important insights that have had significant impact on the understandings of the Baha’is, have helped the Faith to emerge from obscurity, and have contributed important elements in the Faith’s participation in public discourse on world-shaping issues. The 1985 Peace Statement was presented by the Baha’is to nearly all national Heads of State, to thousands of regional leaders, and to even greater numbers of local and municipal leaders. This created opportunities for dialogue between the Baha’is and leaders of thought all over the world. The letter to the religious leaders was similarly distributed. For instance, in the community where I lived at the time, more than 400 copies were shared with church leaders in our area. And that is just what we did in one very small locality!

    So, I hope you see that these initiatives from the Supreme Body reach deeply into the public discourse and gradually begin to influence the tenor of our times.

    All the best,
    Ed

  • Ed

    Oops. I clicked on the wrong link. I meant this comment for Peyamb above. Please pardon my error.

  • Ed

    Oops. I clicked on the wrong link. I meant this comment for Peyamb above. Please pardon my error.

  • Ed

    Dear Peyamb,

    I entered a comment on your post, but I accidentally clicked on the link for Craig. Please see my comment for you in his section below. I’m sorry for the confusion.

    All the best,
    Ed

  • Ed

    Dear Peyamb,

    I entered a comment on your post, but I accidentally clicked on the link for Craig. Please see my comment for you in his section below. I’m sorry for the confusion.

    All the best,
    Ed

  • Craig Parke

    No problem.

    Best regards,

    Craig

  • Craig Parke

    No problem.

    Best regards,

    Craig

  • peyamb

    Yeah Ed. But you have no problem with accepting that your everyday Bahai isn’t doing enough or doing it correctly. You said “They (the UHJ) know that so far the Baha’is have not been effective in expanding the Faith and consolidating it at the same time.” You have obviously accepted the barrage of criticism from the Administrative Order that everyday Bahais have to hear- “you don’t give enough to the fund”, “you aren’t teaching enough”, etc. etc. Why you so easily choose to accept blame is very interesting. I like to look at the whole picture. Maybe the leaders aren’t leading correctly (Ruhi as an example). But of course, if you have a blind-eyed fundamentalist view that everything they say or choose to do is divinly guided, then you really would not understand where I’m coming from.

  • peyamb

    Yeah Ed. But you have no problem with accepting that your everyday Bahai isn’t doing enough or doing it correctly. You said “They (the UHJ) know that so far the Baha’is have not been effective in expanding the Faith and consolidating it at the same time.” You have obviously accepted the barrage of criticism from the Administrative Order that everyday Bahais have to hear- “you don’t give enough to the fund”, “you aren’t teaching enough”, etc. etc. Why you so easily choose to accept blame is very interesting. I like to look at the whole picture. Maybe the leaders aren’t leading correctly (Ruhi as an example). But of course, if you have a blind-eyed fundamentalist view that everything they say or choose to do is divinly guided, then you really would not understand where I’m coming from.

  • NEw adherent

    Hmmm….

    been following this blog and the prequel for a little while now, and errr huh I recently declared anyway.

    I like the top nine points that I ran across on my first visit to a local center…

    ~the abandonment of all forms of prejudice
    ~assurance to women of full equality of opportunity with men
    ~recognition of the unity and relativity of religious truth
    ~the elimination of extremes of poverty and wealth
    ~the realization of universal education
    ~the responsibility of each person to independently search for truth
    ~the establishment of a global commonwealth of nations
    ~recognition that true religion is in harmony with reason and the ~pursuit of scientific knowledge

    So after nearly a year of INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION, plus RUHI 1 and 3 I threw my “lot in”. Why?

    Why not?

    My reality is that just living by these nine points alone would make a perfect Mission statement for anyone regardless of their choice of relifgion or decision not to have a religion.

    Don’t no how long I’ll stay on this path, but I’m enjoyed the fluidity of it for now, learning a lot and developing spiritually. Not because of the BAHAI FAITH but because everyday I am reconcilling what I believe with how I live, and reaching higher in the process.

    I love the verbage and how easily it has esteemed me as a seeker, collaborator and now future tutor/teacher.

    The 70’s singalongs are a little wacked for my taste but the content is meritorious.

    The plight/ persecution of Bahai Iranians is horrific but not unlike anything any other race/religion/ or culture of folks have experienced. So I’m really needing for folks to acknowledge everyone’s plight or let this one go.

    The persian rice on the other hand is delicious. So much so that I’ve gained 14lbs. during this investigational period….hmmmm. Surely there are some HIDDEN WORDS to help me out in this area.

    Ready for the Bahai’s to get on board with the vegetarian diet, woo hooo now that’s definately gonna be one that seperates the wheat from the tares. LOL If you can’t get on board with RUHI what’s gonna happen when the infailable UHJ says NO MORE MEAT OR ANIMAL BY PRODUCTS, and backs it up with a compliation of 42 citations to prove their point.

    Better that that what about that Huququllah, yeah buddy, mess with a man’s meat and his money and them be’s fighin’ words. Yeah can’t wait to see the blogsphere then when these two hot buttons become “in season and obligatory”.

    My guess is that I’ll hang in the faith for as long as they keep me. There’s a call in my life to do some really great stuff in the areas of health and wellness, some of which will involve some self publishing. If at some point in my journey the truths I have to share are censored or make me a covenant breaker then I’ll know it’s time form me to take my progressive posterior to another station.

    Until then I’m a drop in the bucket,Ii mean in the ocean and loving it!!!

    Kumbaya my lord, kumbaya

    Lighten up folks, being a card carrying member is OPTIONAL you know.

    PEACE!!!

    Love, light and laughter,
    Brand Nubian

  • NEw adherent

    Hmmm….

    been following this blog and the prequel for a little while now, and errr huh I recently declared anyway.

    I like the top nine points that I ran across on my first visit to a local center…

    ~the abandonment of all forms of prejudice
    ~assurance to women of full equality of opportunity with men
    ~recognition of the unity and relativity of religious truth
    ~the elimination of extremes of poverty and wealth
    ~the realization of universal education
    ~the responsibility of each person to independently search for truth
    ~the establishment of a global commonwealth of nations
    ~recognition that true religion is in harmony with reason and the ~pursuit of scientific knowledge

    So after nearly a year of INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION, plus RUHI 1 and 3 I threw my “lot in”. Why?

    Why not?

    My reality is that just living by these nine points alone would make a perfect Mission statement for anyone regardless of their choice of relifgion or decision not to have a religion.

    Don’t no how long I’ll stay on this path, but I’m enjoyed the fluidity of it for now, learning a lot and developing spiritually. Not because of the BAHAI FAITH but because everyday I am reconcilling what I believe with how I live, and reaching higher in the process.

    I love the verbage and how easily it has esteemed me as a seeker, collaborator and now future tutor/teacher.

    The 70’s singalongs are a little wacked for my taste but the content is meritorious.

    The plight/ persecution of Bahai Iranians is horrific but not unlike anything any other race/religion/ or culture of folks have experienced. So I’m really needing for folks to acknowledge everyone’s plight or let this one go.

    The persian rice on the other hand is delicious. So much so that I’ve gained 14lbs. during this investigational period….hmmmm. Surely there are some HIDDEN WORDS to help me out in this area.

    Ready for the Bahai’s to get on board with the vegetarian diet, woo hooo now that’s definately gonna be one that seperates the wheat from the tares. LOL If you can’t get on board with RUHI what’s gonna happen when the infailable UHJ says NO MORE MEAT OR ANIMAL BY PRODUCTS, and backs it up with a compliation of 42 citations to prove their point.

    Better that that what about that Huququllah, yeah buddy, mess with a man’s meat and his money and them be’s fighin’ words. Yeah can’t wait to see the blogsphere then when these two hot buttons become “in season and obligatory”.

    My guess is that I’ll hang in the faith for as long as they keep me. There’s a call in my life to do some really great stuff in the areas of health and wellness, some of which will involve some self publishing. If at some point in my journey the truths I have to share are censored or make me a covenant breaker then I’ll know it’s time form me to take my progressive posterior to another station.

    Until then I’m a drop in the bucket,Ii mean in the ocean and loving it!!!

    Kumbaya my lord, kumbaya

    Lighten up folks, being a card carrying member is OPTIONAL you know.

    PEACE!!!

    Love, light and laughter,
    Brand Nubian

  • Sincere Friend

    Remember when you run into difficutly, and you will, to love them for Gods sake and not their own. Thats what Abdul Baha said we must do.

  • Sincere Friend

    Remember when you run into difficutly, and you will, to love them for Gods sake and not their own. Thats what Abdul Baha said we must do.

  • Lighten up folks, being a card carrying member is OPTIONAL you know.

    Continuing to be a card carrying member, may not be up to you. As a growing list of Baha’is are discovering, one day you wake up and discover that you aren’t fit to be a member.

  • Lighten up folks, being a card carrying member is OPTIONAL you know.

    Continuing to be a card carrying member, may not be up to you. As a growing list of Baha’is are discovering, one day you wake up and discover that you aren’t fit to be a member.

  • paul saunders-priem

    Dear Everyone .
    I am a Bahai and I let other people who aren’t know about the Bahai Faith and the overlap between Bahai ideas and those in other religions and secular beliefs. pretty much anything can be spoken about . Its nice to talk.

    What people do about that whether they come into the Bahai Faith , stay out , just think about it or whatever is entirely up to them. I could not care less.

    There are several parts of the Bahai Writings that state that you can call youeself a Bahai but not be one really ie not be of Baha’u’llah so at the end of the day it is God that judges or if you don’t believe in God life decides whatever happens to you, for you .

    I personally believe that a fair few of the Bahai’s that I know as well as many in other religions , party political folk and those of free thinking pagan beliefs ( far less so) try to “tell” people what they think they should hear rather than engaging in open and honest conversation accepting what is said whether it agrees or not .

    The ideas of the Bahai Faith are winning hands down these days but as I often tease Bahai’s with there will be a world parliament in the next 100 years and the resources of the world will be organised through this democratically elected body as well as the world wide implementation of many of the Bahai ideas , which are not unique to the Bahai Faith by the way, many people believe in them , but all this will happen without most people in the world becoming Bahai.

    Warmest regards ,
    Paul Saunders-Priem
    UK

  • paul saunders-priem

    Dear Everyone .
    I am a Bahai and I let other people who aren’t know about the Bahai Faith and the overlap between Bahai ideas and those in other religions and secular beliefs. pretty much anything can be spoken about . Its nice to talk.

    What people do about that whether they come into the Bahai Faith , stay out , just think about it or whatever is entirely up to them. I could not care less.

    There are several parts of the Bahai Writings that state that you can call youeself a Bahai but not be one really ie not be of Baha’u’llah so at the end of the day it is God that judges or if you don’t believe in God life decides whatever happens to you, for you .

    I personally believe that a fair few of the Bahai’s that I know as well as many in other religions , party political folk and those of free thinking pagan beliefs ( far less so) try to “tell” people what they think they should hear rather than engaging in open and honest conversation accepting what is said whether it agrees or not .

    The ideas of the Bahai Faith are winning hands down these days but as I often tease Bahai’s with there will be a world parliament in the next 100 years and the resources of the world will be organised through this democratically elected body as well as the world wide implementation of many of the Bahai ideas , which are not unique to the Bahai Faith by the way, many people believe in them , but all this will happen without most people in the world becoming Bahai.

    Warmest regards ,
    Paul Saunders-Priem
    UK

  • Thanks for your message Paul. I hope you don’t mind that I removed some personal information that you provided about yourself. The inter-tubes are not a safe place to go about scattering such things.

  • Thanks for your message Paul. I hope you don’t mind that I removed some personal information that you provided about yourself. The inter-tubes are not a safe place to go about scattering such things.

  • X- NEw adherant

    Funny how things happen.

    I’ve attempt on 3 occassions to divest myself from the faith. Before the Bahai New Year, and low and behold I still get mail voting ballots etc…

    The locals that were once rgrinning in my gface no longer even call. My favorite Persian family no longer hold devotionals but says they’ll restart if I return.

    Hmmm

    I sure mis the rice.

    Anyway my journey take me down another path.

    Enjoyed my brief season/ interlude with the BAhai and have no regrets.

    Still love the lingo and even kept a few books.

    Just can get with worshipping Bahaualla. Oh and the othere figures that folsk hang pics of just don;t work for me. Eyes to beady and their history in relationship and writing with Africans/ African American is enough to make me wanna take a pass.

    Thanks all for you insight!

    PS How do I get my name off the list. I got some international travels coming up and I’m not down for beign a martyr just because I use to be a card carrying memeber for all of 5 months???????

  • X- NEw adherant

    Funny how things happen.

    I’ve attempt on 3 occassions to divest myself from the faith. Before the Bahai New Year, and low and behold I still get mail voting ballots etc…

    The locals that were once rgrinning in my gface no longer even call. My favorite Persian family no longer hold devotionals but says they’ll restart if I return.

    Hmmm

    I sure mis the rice.

    Anyway my journey take me down another path.

    Enjoyed my brief season/ interlude with the BAhai and have no regrets.

    Still love the lingo and even kept a few books.

    Just can get with worshipping Bahaualla. Oh and the othere figures that folsk hang pics of just don;t work for me. Eyes to beady and their history in relationship and writing with Africans/ African American is enough to make me wanna take a pass.

    Thanks all for you insight!

    PS How do I get my name off the list. I got some international travels coming up and I’m not down for beign a martyr just because I use to be a card carrying memeber for all of 5 months???????

  • David

    I don’t keep up with all the Baha’i books and goodies for sale so I’m not sure if this is new or not, but on the front page of a catalog from the Special Ideas company there are ‘Door Knob Invitations’ for sale. Yikes! I think this means the Baha’is are officially “one of those people.”

    Here’s the item description:

    Just because no one is home when you make a home visit or walk through a neighborhood doesn’t mean that your legwork has to go to waste! Leave these beautiful invitations hanging on their door knob, and if the spirit of the Faith touches their hearts, then they will give you a call. If it doesn’t – well, no harm, no foul*. These door hangers are carefully phrased to spread the teachings of the Faith without actually saying the word “Baha’i.” This way, people who like what they read will be inspired to call, but those who aren’t won’t hold it against us**. Your Assembly can consult on whether to add the name Baha’i or just a phone number in the space at the bottom. Priced less than a first-class stamp, they are an elegant*** and economical way to reach an entire neighborhood. Make sure you actually have (or are willing to start) the activities described on the invitation (introductory meetings, children’s classes, devotions & study classes) before using them****. Also check for local ordinances*****. Front says: If You Believe…there is only One Loving Creator, Who is beyond our capacity to imagine, yet Who is known by many names and is spoken of in every religion…And If You See…His Divine Spirit reflected in the wondrous virtues that He placed within every human heart…Then You May Be…as sorry to have missed us as we are to have missed you! The back has a space for your phone number.

    * HA
    ** HA HA
    *** HA HA HA
    **** HA HA HA HA
    ***** HA HA HA HA HA

  • David

    I don’t keep up with all the Baha’i books and goodies for sale so I’m not sure if this is new or not, but on the front page of a catalog from the Special Ideas company there are ‘Door Knob Invitations’ for sale. Yikes! I think this means the Baha’is are officially “one of those people.”

    Here’s the item description:

    Just because no one is home when you make a home visit or walk through a neighborhood doesn’t mean that your legwork has to go to waste! Leave these beautiful invitations hanging on their door knob, and if the spirit of the Faith touches their hearts, then they will give you a call. If it doesn’t – well, no harm, no foul*. These door hangers are carefully phrased to spread the teachings of the Faith without actually saying the word “Baha’i.” This way, people who like what they read will be inspired to call, but those who aren’t won’t hold it against us**. Your Assembly can consult on whether to add the name Baha’i or just a phone number in the space at the bottom. Priced less than a first-class stamp, they are an elegant*** and economical way to reach an entire neighborhood. Make sure you actually have (or are willing to start) the activities described on the invitation (introductory meetings, children’s classes, devotions & study classes) before using them****. Also check for local ordinances*****. Front says: If You Believe…there is only One Loving Creator, Who is beyond our capacity to imagine, yet Who is known by many names and is spoken of in every religion…And If You See…His Divine Spirit reflected in the wondrous virtues that He placed within every human heart…Then You May Be…as sorry to have missed us as we are to have missed you! The back has a space for your phone number.

    * HA
    ** HA HA
    *** HA HA HA
    **** HA HA HA HA
    ***** HA HA HA HA HA

  • [quote comment=””]I don’t keep up with all the Baha’i books and goodies for sale so I’m not sure if this is new or not, but on the front page of a catalog from the Special Ideas company there are ‘Door Knob Invitations’ for sale. Yikes! I think this means the Baha’is are officially “one of those people.”[/quote]

    I don’t understand. Knob Invitations sound like a wonderful resource for breaking the ice at parties, and I’m already promoting them.

    As advertised on Bahais Online

    So come on David, I’ve got one on my knob, how about you?

    ka kite
    Steve
    (…Ever ready for a devotional meeting and always proud to be “one of those people”)

  • [quote comment=””]I don’t keep up with all the Baha’i books and goodies for sale so I’m not sure if this is new or not, but on the front page of a catalog from the Special Ideas company there are ‘Door Knob Invitations’ for sale. Yikes! I think this means the Baha’is are officially “one of those people.”[/quote]

    I don’t understand. Knob Invitations sound like a wonderful resource for breaking the ice at parties, and I’m already promoting them.

    As advertised on Bahais Online

    So come on David, I’ve got one on my knob, how about you?

    ka kite
    Steve
    (…Ever ready for a devotional meeting and always proud to be “one of those people”)

  • Grover

    Good lord! Home invasion by religious zealots takes a whole new turn. You know, several years back we wouldn’t have approved leaving knob invitations with Baha’i writings on them. Why? Disrespect for Baha’i writings and teaching is supposed to be like offering a priceless gift to a king. Back many years ago, one Baha’i I knew got pinged by the LSA for having a license plate saying Baha’i. Nowadays he would be regarded as a revolutionary and creative teacher.

  • Grover

    Good lord! Home invasion by religious zealots takes a whole new turn. You know, several years back we wouldn’t have approved leaving knob invitations with Baha’i writings on them. Why? Disrespect for Baha’i writings and teaching is supposed to be like offering a priceless gift to a king. Back many years ago, one Baha’i I knew got pinged by the LSA for having a license plate saying Baha’i. Nowadays he would be regarded as a revolutionary and creative teacher.

  • Bird

    I knew a child molester that lived on the LSA for years with the words ?Bah?’? Faith? in bold gold italic font on the back of his corvette. He was regarded as a revolutionary and creative teacher until he was called out for his extra “teaching activities” with the youth groups young women. Too ironic.

  • Bird

    I knew a child molester that lived on the LSA for years with the words ?Bah?’? Faith? in bold gold italic font on the back of his corvette. He was regarded as a revolutionary and creative teacher until he was called out for his extra “teaching activities” with the youth groups young women. Too ironic.

  • Grover

    Yikes! I hope you weren’t one of his “students”.

  • Grover

    Yikes! I hope you weren’t one of his “students”.

  • Bird

    Grover-

    No he didn’t dare come after a savvy woman like myself. I summed him up the first 10 seconds I met him and he knew it. He took way too much time on his looks for a hetro guy, obviously a total player, he gave out body grinding hugs to women, and presented himself as an ?expert? on the BF which never made sense to a growing and unfolding religion with less then 10% of its works translated. Yep that person was/is a real character. Russia is unfortunately stuck with him after the exposure of his behavior to his second wife, (who was for the record found in bed with him after a ?teaching initiative? brought her to their home by his first wife). After a young lady confided why she became inactive to me, a chance meeting indeed, she cried as she shared she left because of how ashamed she was about something that happened after a youth group study. She went on to tell me about a sexual intercourse encounter with him on his couch, while his wife was away at work and she was 17… He was asked to step down from the LSA but kept his voting rights. It so much courage for the young woman to come foward and tell the truth. She stood to gain nothing but her dignity and the assurance that at a minimun the LSA would learn about this guys real self and how ashamed and hurt she felt from it all. She joined a new religion, the Ecankars and it had been a few years since the incident. Damn shame is that guy left the community with his BIGS in tact, so you know he must be having a blast in ?teaching? the BF. I feel empathy for his past and present victims and for those Bahai’s that don’t share his motives in “teaching” the BF.

  • Bird

    Grover-

    No he didn’t dare come after a savvy woman like myself. I summed him up the first 10 seconds I met him and he knew it. He took way too much time on his looks for a hetro guy, obviously a total player, he gave out body grinding hugs to women, and presented himself as an ?expert? on the BF which never made sense to a growing and unfolding religion with less then 10% of its works translated. Yep that person was/is a real character. Russia is unfortunately stuck with him after the exposure of his behavior to his second wife, (who was for the record found in bed with him after a ?teaching initiative? brought her to their home by his first wife). After a young lady confided why she became inactive to me, a chance meeting indeed, she cried as she shared she left because of how ashamed she was about something that happened after a youth group study. She went on to tell me about a sexual intercourse encounter with him on his couch, while his wife was away at work and she was 17… He was asked to step down from the LSA but kept his voting rights. It so much courage for the young woman to come foward and tell the truth. She stood to gain nothing but her dignity and the assurance that at a minimun the LSA would learn about this guys real self and how ashamed and hurt she felt from it all. She joined a new religion, the Ecankars and it had been a few years since the incident. Damn shame is that guy left the community with his BIGS in tact, so you know he must be having a blast in ?teaching? the BF. I feel empathy for his past and present victims and for those Bahai’s that don’t share his motives in “teaching” the BF.

  • Grover

    Yeah, its real unfortunate how a lot of this is kept “inhouse”. I remember at a summer school we were at a workshop on these kinds of issues, fraud and other misdemeanors, and they asked us if we were the LSA what we’d do with regards to dealing with them. A friend and I both argued that the LSA doesn’t have the expertise to deal with these issues and that the people involved should be refered to the local courts or police. We got told we were wrong, we had to keep it inhouse to “preserve the dignity and unity” of the Faith. To me it was more like using expensive purfume to hide the stink instead of having a wash with soap and water (aka sorting it out at the courts and dealing with the matter). Its like the catholic church and their pedophile priests that get rotated around the various parishes because the priesthood just didn’t want to front up and deal with it.

  • Grover

    Yeah, its real unfortunate how a lot of this is kept “inhouse”. I remember at a summer school we were at a workshop on these kinds of issues, fraud and other misdemeanors, and they asked us if we were the LSA what we’d do with regards to dealing with them. A friend and I both argued that the LSA doesn’t have the expertise to deal with these issues and that the people involved should be refered to the local courts or police. We got told we were wrong, we had to keep it inhouse to “preserve the dignity and unity” of the Faith. To me it was more like using expensive purfume to hide the stink instead of having a wash with soap and water (aka sorting it out at the courts and dealing with the matter). Its like the catholic church and their pedophile priests that get rotated around the various parishes because the priesthood just didn’t want to front up and deal with it.

  • farhan

    Baquia, there is a precise reply to the question about the difference between teaching and proselytizing at following address:

    http://bahai-library.com/uhj/proselytizing.covenant.html

    We read the following:

    “Proselytizing implies bringing undue pressure to bear upon someone to change his Faith. It is also usually understood to imply the making of threats or the offering of material benefits as an inducement to conversion.”

    As to the door to door visits and invitations to Baha’i activities now available to all, again each teacher is to evaluate his or her own behaviour to make sure that what is supposed to be an act of service or an invitation is not becoming harassment.

  • Farhan Yazdani

    Baquia, there is a precise reply to the question about the difference between teaching and proselytizing at following address:

    http://bahai-library.com/uhj/proselytizing.covenant.html

    We read the following:

    “Proselytizing implies bringing undue pressure to bear upon someone to change his Faith. It is also usually understood to imply the making of threats or the offering of material benefits as an inducement to conversion.”

    As to the door to door visits and invitations to Baha’i activities now available to all, again each teacher is to evaluate his or her own behaviour to make sure that what is supposed to be an act of service or an invitation is not becoming harassment.

  • Grover

    What religious zealots, telemarketers and door to door salesmen don’t understand is home is our place of zen and peace and harmony away from the big stress that is the big world.

    How would you like it if you got harassed everyday by door knockers, telemarketers, etc etc etc, particularly when you’ve usually just gotten home and settled down to a cup of tea and dinner?

  • Grover

    What religious zealots, telemarketers and door to door salesmen don’t understand is home is our place of zen and peace and harmony away from the big stress that is the big world.

    How would you like it if you got harassed everyday by door knockers, telemarketers, etc etc etc, particularly when you’ve usually just gotten home and settled down to a cup of tea and dinner?

  • farhan

    Grover wrote:
    How would you like it if you got harassed everyday by door knockers, telemarketers, etc etc etc, particularly when you’ve usually just gotten home and settled down to a cup of tea and dinner?

    Grover, I agree with your point, at least as far as France and the US are concerned. I wouldn’t like disturbing people, nor would I be disturbed if i were disturbed with tact and consideration.

    The UHJ repeatedly states that they wish to consider Baha’is as adults capable of tact and measure in their undertakings; at the time being, some Baha’is are still immature and need guidance.

  • Farhan Yazdani

    Grover wrote:
    How would you like it if you got harassed everyday by door knockers, telemarketers, etc etc etc, particularly when you’ve usually just gotten home and settled down to a cup of tea and dinner?

    Grover, I agree with your point, at least as far as France and the US are concerned. I wouldn’t like disturbing people, nor would I be disturbed if i were disturbed with tact and consideration.

    The UHJ repeatedly states that they wish to consider Baha’is as adults capable of tact and measure in their undertakings; at the time being, some Baha’is are still immature and need guidance.

  • Craig Parke

    [quote comment=””] Farhan wrote:
    The UHJ repeatedly states that they wish to consider Baha’is as adults capable of tact and measure in their undertakings; at the time being, some Baha’is are still immature and need guidance.[/quote]

    I think everyone in the Baha’i Faith worldwide is immature from the newest convert to the UHJ. I think it is one of the most impaired communities of human beings on Earth right now. That could most certainly change by some unforeseen chain of events and circumstances. But at the present I see no other way out but mind bending catastrophe.

    You have to get people capable of critical thought into this who also have actual spiritual experience in life. I don’t see that happening any time soon. In fact, it is all going 100% in the wrong direction now. The Comintern Faith just cannot liberate spiritual energies. Only the individual human soul can swim in the infinite. Not nine men in Haifa who tell every person on Earth exactly what to do in very situation.

    But I do think that from the coming worldwide total financial collapse of the Faith, something better and much more interesting will develop out of the compost of the wreckage in perhaps the next 500-1000 years as people compare notes all across the Wasteland in the land of broken dreams and breathtaking failed lifetime incumbencies.

    Every one have a nice evening and we’ll see you tomorrow for another day on the planet!

  • Craig Parke

    [quote comment=””] Farhan wrote:
    The UHJ repeatedly states that they wish to consider Baha’is as adults capable of tact and measure in their undertakings; at the time being, some Baha’is are still immature and need guidance.[/quote]

    I think everyone in the Baha’i Faith worldwide is immature from the newest convert to the UHJ. I think it is one of the most impaired communities of human beings on Earth right now. That could most certainly change by some unforeseen chain of events and circumstances. But at the present I see no other way out but mind bending catastrophe.

    You have to get people capable of critical thought into this who also have actual spiritual experience in life. I don’t see that happening any time soon. In fact, it is all going 100% in the wrong direction now. The Comintern Faith just cannot liberate spiritual energies. Only the individual human soul can swim in the infinite. Not nine men in Haifa who tell every person on Earth exactly what to do in very situation.

    But I do think that from the coming worldwide total financial collapse of the Faith, something better and much more interesting will develop out of the compost of the wreckage in perhaps the next 500-1000 years as people compare notes all across the Wasteland in the land of broken dreams and breathtaking failed lifetime incumbencies.

    Every one have a nice evening and we’ll see you tomorrow for another day on the planet!

  • Farhan Yazdani

    Craig wrote:
    I think everyone in the Baha’i Faith worldwide is immature from the newest convert to the UHJ.

    Well Craig, I love your straightforwardness and I would tend to agree with you, but I would word it otherwise: I would say that every one in this world, including those enrolled as Baha’is, are capable of acquiring more maturity, IOW, growing spiritually. The worst type of immaturity is the one where people believe that no one can ever improve, which in fact impairs their own capacity for growth. Since the world advances, those who are not growing, are in fact regressing.

    Craig wrote:
    I think it is one of the most impaired communities of human beings on Earth right now.

    Craig, I wish all Baha’is would accept the idea that they are impaired and immature, and immediately set out improving themselves. Those who believe they have attained the pinnacle of human achievement will not grow any more. So the community that considers itself impaired and immature is in fact the one actually growing fastest.

  • farhan

    Craig wrote:
    I think everyone in the Baha’i Faith worldwide is immature from the newest convert to the UHJ.

    Well Craig, I love your straightforwardness and I would tend to agree with you, but I would word it otherwise: I would say that every one in this world, including those enrolled as Baha’is, are capable of acquiring more maturity, IOW, growing spiritually. The worst type of immaturity is the one where people believe that no one can ever improve, which in fact impairs their own capacity for growth. Since the world advances, those who are not growing, are in fact regressing.

    Craig wrote:
    I think it is one of the most impaired communities of human beings on Earth right now.

    Craig, I wish all Baha’is would accept the idea that they are impaired and immature, and immediately set out improving themselves. Those who believe they have attained the pinnacle of human achievement will not grow any more. So the community that considers itself impaired and immature is in fact the one actually growing fastest.

  • farhan

    Craig wrote:
    Only the individual human soul can swim in the infinite. Not nine men in Haifa who tell every person on Earth exactly what to do in very situation.

    Craig, the following quote might reassure you about the place left by the UHJ for individual discernment.

    In most areas of human behaviour there are acts which are clearly contrary to the Law of God and others which are clearly approved or permissible; between these there is often a grey area where it is not immediately apparent what should be done. It has been a human tendency to wish to eliminate these grey areas so that every aspect of life is clearly prescribed. A result of this tendency has been the tremendous accretion of interpretation and subsidiary legislation which has smothered the spirit of certain of the older religions. In the Baha’i Faith moderation, which is so strongly upheld by Baha’u’llah, is applied here also.
    Provision is made for supplementary legislation by the Universal House of Justice — legislation which it can itself abrogate and amend as conditions change. There is also a clear pattern already established in the Sacred Scriptures, in the interpretations made by `Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi, and in the decisions so far made by the Universal House of Justice, whereby an area of the application of the laws is intentionally left to the conscience of each individual believer. This is the age in which mankind must attain maturity, and one aspect of this is the assumption by individuals of the responsibility for deciding, with the assistance of consultation, their own course of action in areas which are left open by the Law of God. (UHJ,14 November 1986 to an individual believer)

  • Farhan Yazdani

    Craig wrote:
    Only the individual human soul can swim in the infinite. Not nine men in Haifa who tell every person on Earth exactly what to do in very situation.

    Craig, the following quote might reassure you about the place left by the UHJ for individual discernment.

    In most areas of human behaviour there are acts which are clearly contrary to the Law of God and others which are clearly approved or permissible; between these there is often a grey area where it is not immediately apparent what should be done. It has been a human tendency to wish to eliminate these grey areas so that every aspect of life is clearly prescribed. A result of this tendency has been the tremendous accretion of interpretation and subsidiary legislation which has smothered the spirit of certain of the older religions. In the Baha’i Faith moderation, which is so strongly upheld by Baha’u’llah, is applied here also.
    Provision is made for supplementary legislation by the Universal House of Justice — legislation which it can itself abrogate and amend as conditions change. There is also a clear pattern already established in the Sacred Scriptures, in the interpretations made by `Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi, and in the decisions so far made by the Universal House of Justice, whereby an area of the application of the laws is intentionally left to the conscience of each individual believer. This is the age in which mankind must attain maturity, and one aspect of this is the assumption by individuals of the responsibility for deciding, with the assistance of consultation, their own course of action in areas which are left open by the Law of God. (UHJ,14 November 1986 to an individual believer)

  • Bird

    The Bah?’?’s are coming!

    The Bah?’?’s are resulting to door to door in my area, directive is to ?get the word out? however it is not residential but commercial territory their headed in so far. A Bah?’? came to my place of business and told my staff that Bahai’s are going door to door because they know ?people are suffering? ?more then ever is a time for unity? ?all nations and religions are ready to be under one God? ?Baha’u’llah is the answer people are searching for? Although my staff were not given a flyer they were approached never-the-less to ?finally unite under ?one God??. Hmmm pretty aggressive advertising. Knowing I used to be a Bah?’? and that I am no longer consider myself one in any form, this person felt that it was important to keep my staff informed of a recent directive to ?get the word out? from some letter from the UHJ.

    I must have missed that one. My staff told the person at the door I was not there but instead of leaving a message walked in to ?unite? them, LOL. That time cost me and shifted their direction from their work. I was informed that no one wanted to be rude and felt they had to listen to the person out of respect. Now that is another aggressive tactic, hold someone captive by their virtues. Are the auto enrollments next?

  • Bird

    The Bah?’?’s are coming!

    The Bah?’?’s are resulting to door to door in my area, directive is to ?get the word out? however it is not residential but commercial territory their headed in so far. A Bah?’? came to my place of business and told my staff that Bahai’s are going door to door because they know ?people are suffering? ?more then ever is a time for unity? ?all nations and religions are ready to be under one God? ?Baha’u’llah is the answer people are searching for? Although my staff were not given a flyer they were approached never-the-less to ?finally unite under ?one God??. Hmmm pretty aggressive advertising. Knowing I used to be a Bah?’? and that I am no longer consider myself one in any form, this person felt that it was important to keep my staff informed of a recent directive to ?get the word out? from some letter from the UHJ.

    I must have missed that one. My staff told the person at the door I was not there but instead of leaving a message walked in to ?unite? them, LOL. That time cost me and shifted their direction from their work. I was informed that no one wanted to be rude and felt they had to listen to the person out of respect. Now that is another aggressive tactic, hold someone captive by their virtues. Are the auto enrollments next?

  • [quote comment=””]Are the auto enrollments next?[/quote]

    They’ve already been tried:

    Declaration Day
    Declaration Day follow-up

  • [quote comment=””]Are the auto enrollments next?[/quote]

    They’ve already been tried:

    Declaration Day

    Declaration Day follow-up

  • Bird

    That is a joke isn’t it Steve, the Baha’i’s didn’t actually declare people Bahai really?

  • Bird

    That is a joke isn’t it Steve, the Baha’i’s didn’t actually declare people Bahai really?

  • Grover

    Hahaha Steve, thats really good.

    Hey Bird, some people I know were stayed in a flat in an apartment block owned by a Baha’i family. First night they were there, they got invited to the Baha’i family’s house for dinner. There were all these strange people there. It turned out to be a fireside and they had to sit through the whole thing. As you might expect they were really pissed off. Great way to win friends for the Faith. Thank God it wasn’t a musical fireside.

  • Grover

    Hahaha Steve, thats really good.

    Hey Bird, some people I know were stayed in a flat in an apartment block owned by a Baha’i family. First night they were there, they got invited to the Baha’i family’s house for dinner. There were all these strange people there. It turned out to be a fireside and they had to sit through the whole thing. As you might expect they were really pissed off. Great way to win friends for the Faith. Thank God it wasn’t a musical fireside.

  • [quote comment=””]That is a joke isn’t it Steve, the Baha’i’s didn’t actually declare people Bahai really?[/quote]

    Hi Bird,

    I gave up satirising the Baha’is long ago. Perhaps I lost my edge when my anger subsided, or perhaps the AO simply managed to come out with stuff that was sillier than what I was able to dream up.

    But in this case there’s nothing silly about the concept at all. I really have to defend the Baha’i administration for its bold and principled move to grow the Baha’i Faith. Arbitrarily declaring people to be Baha’is is just as sensible as declaring people not to be Baha’is. More sensible, in fact. Certainly more efficient. Energy no longer needs to be wasted on the institute process. The power to grow the faith has been put right back where it belongs — with the House.

    The Baha’i World Centre’s new spokesperson, Faith C. Lensing is the most honest, sincere, dedicated and selfless person you could ever hope to meet. I forsee great things for her. A spot on the ITC, maybe even a sex-change.

    I do hope she finds God one day.

    ka kite
    Steve

  • [quote comment=””]That is a joke isn’t it Steve, the Baha’i’s didn’t actually declare people Bahai really?[/quote]

    Hi Bird,

    I gave up satirising the Baha’is long ago. Perhaps I lost my edge when my anger subsided, or perhaps the AO simply managed to come out with stuff that was sillier than what I was able to dream up.

    But in this case there’s nothing silly about the concept at all. I really have to defend the Baha’i administration for its bold and principled move to grow the Baha’i Faith. Arbitrarily declaring people to be Baha’is is just as sensible as declaring people not to be Baha’is. More sensible, in fact. Certainly more efficient. Energy no longer needs to be wasted on the institute process. The power to grow the faith has been put right back where it belongs — with the House.

    The Baha’i World Centre’s new spokesperson, Faith C. Lensing is the most honest, sincere, dedicated and selfless person you could ever hope to meet. I forsee great things for her. A spot on the ITC, maybe even a sex-change.

    I do hope she finds God one day.

    ka kite
    Steve

  • I forgot to say that there is a precedent: Declaring people to be Baha’is is quite similar to the Mormon procedure of baptism for the dead (Thanks Dermod).

    Since this is a private and secure list, i can tell you a little more about dear sweet Faith. She’s a wonderful zealot who grew up as a Baha’i, studied journalism and food technology, was a youth volunteer at the Baha’i World Centre for 18 months, gave up a promising career as a public relations person for a breakfast cereal manufacturer during a time of turmoil in her life, and took up a long-term position at the BWC. The turmoil? It concerned a long engagement with a Baha’i/non-Baha’i (?) that was ended by the other party. She’s intelligent and capable, but quite insecure and needy. Her parents devoted a lot of time and energy to the Baha’i faith, and not much time and energy
    to her.

    Anyway, that’s just between us and must never be spoken of in public.

  • I forgot to say that there is a precedent: Declaring people to be Baha’is is quite similar to the Mormon procedure of baptism for the dead (Thanks Dermod).

    Since this is a private and secure list, i can tell you a little more about dear sweet Faith. She’s a wonderful zealot who grew up as a Baha’i, studied journalism and food technology, was a youth volunteer at the Baha’i World Centre for 18 months, gave up a promising career as a public relations person for a breakfast cereal manufacturer during a time of turmoil in her life, and took up a long-term position at the BWC. The turmoil? It concerned a long engagement with a Baha’i/non-Baha’i (?) that was ended by the other party. She’s intelligent and capable, but quite insecure and needy. Her parents devoted a lot of time and energy to the Baha’i faith, and not much time and energy
    to her.

    Anyway, that’s just between us and must never be spoken of in public.

  • Pingback: Teaching vs. Proselytizing: UHJ Letter at Baha’i Rants()

  • Mark

    For those who wish to go out and knock on door after door, they need to quit kidding themselves about what they're doing; that's proselytizing. Proselytizing is holding the desire in your heart to convert someone to your religion or way of thinking. That's what's in their hearts if they would just be truthful enough to admit it.

    Teaching is imparting knowledge to someone. If they don't want to hear it then fine. The teacher should turn away and look for those souls who are receptive. As Baha'u'llah said, you can not teach a stone (paraphrased).

    The Beloved Guardian took some of his precious time to write to the friends telling them that going door-to-door would cause great harm to the Faith. Don't folks believe that the Central Figures of the Faith knew the meaning of the word? Do you really think they made up their own definition? Is anybody listening? In one's wildest imagination do you think Shoghi Effendi wrote letters to the friends frivolously? His time was incalculably precious. He didn't wast time writing about issues that weren't of paramount importance to the Faith. Wake up folks!

    I have been a Baha'i for almost 40 years. I participated in street teaching in the '70s and I felt sick to my stomach while I did it. But I did it because I wanted to be a “good” Baha'i. Well now I am a lot more deepened, I still want to be a good Baha'i so I don't go anywhere near that kind of behavior. It is forbidden. Period. Now I feel sick to my stomach, literally, sitting in the cluster meetings and in the Nineteen Day Feast, listening to people sitting there recounting their tales of proselytizing and I actually feel like vomiting.

    If someone like me is feeling like that imagine how someone who has never heard of Baha'u'llah's Teachings might feel at being approached like that? As for me, I want to be part of the new world order, not part of the old, banging on people's doors like the Witnesses and Mormons. God forbid! (Oh yeah, He did!)

    Not until the dynamic love we cherish for Him is sufficiently reflected in its power and purity in all our dealings with our fellowmen, however remotely connected and humble in origin, can we hope to exalt in the eyes of a self-seeking world the genuineness of the all-conquering love of God. Not until we live ourselves the life of a true Bah??'? can we hope to demonstrate the creative and transforming potency of the Faith we profess. Nothing but the abundance of our actions, nothing but the purity of our lives and the integrity of our characters, can in the last resort establish our claim that the Bah??'? spirit is in this day the sole agency that can translate a long-cherished ideal into an enduring achievement.

    Humanity, through suffering and turmoil, is swiftly moving on towards its destiny; if we be loiterers, if we fail to play our part, surely others will be called upon to take up our task as ministers to the crying needs of this afflicted world.

    Not by the force of numbers, not by the mere exposition of a set of new and noble principles, not by an organized campaign of teaching — no matter how world-wide and elaborate in its character — not even by the staunchness of our faith or the exaltation of our enthusiasm, can we ultimately hope to vindicate in the eyes of a critical and skeptical age the supreme claim of the Abha Revelation. One thing, and only one thing, will unfailingly and alone secure the undoubted triumph of this sacred Cause, namely, the extent to which our own inner life and private character mirror forth in their manifold aspects the splendor of those eternal principles proclaimed by Bah??'u'll??h.

  • Craig Parke

    Your experience is pretty much mine too. I have 38 years in but I stopped going to anything in 2004 after 32 straight years of dedicated service. The Faith was the center of my life for all those years. But seeing Peter Khan speak in person in 2001 (I was absolutely astounded at the completely self-centered mind bending blow hard arrogance of this man) and taking Ruhi Book One in 2004 (it was suffocating spiritual claustrophobia like being trapped in an elevator for six weeks with no way out – one of the worst spiritual experiences of my life) it was the end of the road.

    In my opinion the Faith is now completely one dimensionally barren and totally cut off from the living spiritual forces of the Cosmos. It is more an incestuous bubble than ever. What these people have done is so hare brained and inept it is hard to fully grasp the magnitude of the destruction. We are the completely top down Jehovah's Witnesses of Shia islam now! How could this have ever happened? I know many long time Baha'is that are now completely gone and will never return and are having to start all over spiritually in life. Many were hurt very, very badly in the new top down system of bullying and intimidation. If you are not completely with the program you are worthless and treated as a Covenant Breaker. I will never be a part of recruiting people as marks by “teaching” so they can be later bullied and intimidated in the “name of God” to carry out the “Plan”. I just can't accept having to do that. So there is no place for me in the Baha'i Faith after all these years of service in many different capacities. I will not be buried Baha'i either. No ring on my finger in this disgrace. I am very sad about it. But I will never be publicly identified with this hijacked mess ever again.

    Those are nice quotes and sentiments from SE. But anything he ever had to say no longer is relevant in the hijacked NEWTHINK BAO. What the UHJ says the Baha'i Faith is is what it is and no one has the right to ask why or wherefore. There is no living Guardian so there is no one to ask them to reconsider anything that may actually be against the Spirit of the Revelation. What they say goes. They can change anything at any time with complete impunity and no one can do a thing about it.

    This is a major lesson in life from the film “Boyz 'n the Hood”: “Never give your respect in life to anyone who does not respect you.” I wish I had learned this simple life rule as a teenager. It would have saved me a lot of abuse. The current AO does not have any respect whatsoever for the people who served the Faith for many long years who no longer fit in with the new groupthink Faith. So they should be given no respect in return. It is as simple as that.

    I am back into Buddhism and my Sufi books and just trying to do my job and help anyone I meet each day who needs encouragement in some way on the path of life. I do this with no selfish motive. I am so happy to be freed of sizing up people as marks to try to convert them. I just could not take that mentality anymore. It robbed me of my both my spirituality and my connection to the powers and mysteries of the Cosmos.

  • Mark

    Hi Craig-

    My heart is hurting for you and all of us who find ourselves in this situation. Here is my take on it. No one can take Bah??'ull??h away from me. In the long run this, like so many other Bah??'? flash-in-the-pan programs I've witnessed over the years, will run its course. The pendulum will swing the other way, as it did in the '70s, and more level heads will prevail. And how will it end? When they run out of steam realizing that entry by troops hasn't occurred and that their behavior has failed, as it surely will.

    The Central Figures of our Faith knew this was coming. Why else would they have cautioned against it?

  • Craig Parke

    As clearly set forth by Baha'u'llah in the Kitab-I-Iqan, ALL Divine Judgment is completely Archetypal when a New World Age comes. St. Paul got it right. God is no respecter of persons. All bets are now off. We had 2,000 years for somebody, somewhere in the Chrief Priest, scribe, and Pharisee Abrahamic “organized” religions to start to try to get this concept. They didn't. The same old, same old. Last time out they crucified Jesus. No where does Muhammad say there is supposed to be a clergy of any kind in Islam. But his body was not yet cold and these spiritual parasites started to form in the new human heart of that World Age sub cycle. Again, the same old, same old. Now witness the hapless fates being dealt out in Iran by inner Cosmic forces. Duh. Throw in the deranged psychopaths with nuclear weapons and we have come to the Day of the Flying Nails to carry out the Crucifixion of Mankind. Why is no one getting the imagery? It is basic film 101. The screenwriters for God writing the feature films for this part of the Galaxy basically telegraphed the last 15 minutes of this film over 2,000 years ago. But look at the situation in the world. We are in archetypal overdrive. We are on the archetypal Titanic. The Baha'is turned out to have entrenched zero spiritual understanding at the highest institutional level and the entire rest of the world seems to be suicidal. It must be something in the water supply? Especially in the Middle East. Or maybe Zachariah Sitchen really is right. This whole planet is just a alien genetic experiment that went horribly wrong 500,000 years ago.

    All of the Divine Teachers (a triggered consciousness from the lab of the mother planet put into our DNA in the experiment that went horribly wrong?) always put in their disclaimer on their hapless dysfunctional followers that they predicted to appear (again, encoded archetypal Divine Judgment). Jesus and Muhammad's ones are very well know. Baha'u'llah apparently nailed it in the Tablet of the Holy Mariner. It basically says that “people will come after me and set themselves up in positions of entrenched top down leadership who will put loaded guns to their heads and pull the trigger. The Cosmos will completely fall on them as an example to everyone on how this stuff works.”

    So we are here in record time. Completely clueless people standing in front of a speeding train. Same with the hapless Mullahs in Iran. Why didn't anyone ever seem to understand that all of the Holy Books are about Archetypal Divine Judgment in the passage of World Ages? It was all a warning. But it has apparently gone over everyone's heads.

    Thank God I did meet Kurt Vonnegut face to face back in 1983. The fact that that man ever existed gives me hope for the human race. It is the only thing that keeps me going now.

    What an utter disgrace and total farce this sorry planet of dunces has turned out to be.

    God bless the Iranian woman Neda's soul.

  • Craig Parke

    Here is “clergy” talking smack in front of an on rushing train. These are truly unbelievably clueless people when it comes to understanding of primal Cosmic forces.

    “At Friday prayers at Tehran university, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami referred to the demonstrators as rioters and declared, “I want the judiciary to punish leading rioters firmly and without showing any mercy to teach everyone a lesson.”

    Reuters quoted him as saying demonstrators should be tried for waging war against God. The punishment for such offenses under Islamic law is death, Reuters said.

    The cleric's remarks represented a significant hardening of official rhetoric as authorities confronted the biggest political challenge since the Islamic revolution in 1979. Ayatollah Khatami is not regarded as a high-profile figure, so it was not clear how much weight his words carried.

    However, he is a member of the influential Assembly of Experts and his threats seemed likely to further intimidate protesters whose presence on the streets has dwindled in the face of the deployment of security forces in large numbers.”

    This guy needs to read these books:

    http://www.cosmosandpsyche.com/

    http://www.amazon.com/Hamlets-Mill-Investigatin

    http://lifeincorporated.net/

    The man is manifesting absolutely appalling cosmic ignorance. It really is embarrassing for Islam.

    The “Assembly of Experts” are “experts” in what?

    It certainly is not knowledge about World Ages and how they unfold. Heck, the screenwriters for “Galaxy Quest” used this basic Cosmic understanding in the “Crushing Gateway” scene in the TV Episode joke.

    It is Just appalling when “clergy” in an entire society have reached the level of recently created human biological matter.

  • Craig Parke

    As clearly set forth by Baha'u'llah in the Kitab-I-Iqan, ALL Divine Judgment is completely Archetypal when a New World Age comes. St. Paul got it right. God is no respecter of persons. All bets are now off. We had 2,000 years for somebody, somewhere in the Chrief Priest, scribe, and Pharisee Abrahamic “organized” religions to start to try to get this concept. They didn't. The same old, same old. Last time out they crucified Jesus. No where does Muhammad say there is supposed to be a clergy of any kind in Islam. But his body was not yet cold and these spiritual parasites started to form in the new human heart of that World Age sub cycle. Again, the same old, same old. Now witness the hapless fates being dealt out in Iran by inner Cosmic forces. Duh. Throw in the deranged psychopaths with nuclear weapons and we have come to the Day of the Flying Nails to carry out the Crucifixion of Mankind. Why is no one getting the imagery? It is basic film 101. The screenwriters for God writing the feature films for this part of the Galaxy basically telegraphed the last 15 minutes of this film over 2,000 years ago. But look at the situation in the world. We are in archetypal overdrive. We are on the archetypal Titanic. The Baha'is turned out to have entrenched zero spiritual understanding at the highest institutional level and the entire rest of the world seems to be suicidal. It must be something in the water supply? Especially in the Middle East. Or maybe Zachariah Sitchen really is right. This whole planet is just a alien genetic experiment that went horribly wrong 500,000 years ago.

    All of the Divine Teachers (a triggered consciousness from the lab of the mother planet put into our DNA in the experiment that went horribly wrong?) always put in their disclaimer on their hapless dysfunctional followers that they predicted to appear (again, encoded archetypal Divine Judgment). Jesus and Muhammad's ones are very well know. Baha'u'llah apparently nailed it in the Tablet of the Holy Mariner. It basically says that “people will come after me and set themselves up in positions of entrenched top down leadership who will put loaded guns to their heads and pull the trigger. The Cosmos will completely fall on them as an example to everyone on how this stuff works.”

    So we are here in record time. Completely clueless people standing in front of a speeding train. Same with the hapless Mullahs in Iran. Why didn't anyone ever seem to understand that all of the Holy Books are about Archetypal Divine Judgment in the passage of World Ages? It was all a warning. But it has apparently gone over everyone's heads.

    Thank God I did meet Kurt Vonnegut face to face back in 1983. The fact that that man ever existed gives me hope for the human race. It is the only thing that keeps me going now.

    What an utter disgrace and total farce this sorry planet of dunces has turned out to be.

    God bless the Iranian woman Neda's soul.

  • Craig Parke

    Here is “clergy” talking smack in front of an on rushing train. These are truly unbelievably clueless people when it comes to understanding of primal Cosmic forces.

    “At Friday prayers at Tehran university, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami referred to the demonstrators as rioters and declared, “I want the judiciary to punish leading rioters firmly and without showing any mercy to teach everyone a lesson.”

    Reuters quoted him as saying demonstrators should be tried for waging war against God. The punishment for such offenses under Islamic law is death, Reuters said.

    The cleric's remarks represented a significant hardening of official rhetoric as authorities confronted the biggest political challenge since the Islamic revolution in 1979. Ayatollah Khatami is not regarded as a high-profile figure, so it was not clear how much weight his words carried.

    However, he is a member of the influential Assembly of Experts and his threats seemed likely to further intimidate protesters whose presence on the streets has dwindled in the face of the deployment of security forces in large numbers.”

    This guy needs to read these books:

    http://www.cosmosandpsyche.com/

    http://www.amazon.com/Hamlets-Mill-Investigatin

    http://lifeincorporated.net/

    The man is manifesting absolutely appalling cosmic ignorance. It really is embarrassing for Islam.

    The “Assembly of Experts” are “experts” in what?

    It certainly is not knowledge about World Ages and how they unfold. Heck, the screenwriters for “Galaxy Quest” used this basic Cosmic understanding in the “Crushing Gateway” scene in the TV Episode joke.

    It is Just appalling when “clergy” in an entire society have reached the level of recently created human biological matter.

  • Kam

    I think the definition of proselytizing is clearly defined by the House of Justice as follows in May 5, 1982:
    Proselytizing implies bringing undue pressure to bear upon someone to change his Faith. It is also usually understood to imply the making of threat or the offering of material benefits as an inducement to conversion.

  • Barbruthw

    That’s an interesting definition. It doesn’t fit with my Webster’s, though: to induce someone to convert to one’s faith (induce: to move by persuasion or influence). 2. to recruit someone to join ones party, institution, or cause.

    I’m not sure where the UHJ’s definition came from – perhaps it originated with them? I certainly have never understood proselytizing to be what they say it is.

    Barb

  • fubar

    It is a common practice in many (haifan) bahai communities to attempt to convert people to bahaism. shoghi effendi used to word “convert” in his communications to bahais.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proselytism

    excerpt:

    “Today, the connotations of proselytizing are often negative and the word is commonly used to describe attempts to force people to convert.”

    – – –

    I think that the use of the word “proselytizing” in bahai communities is farily close to the Wiki definition, but even still there are examples of a pattern in which bahais are overly aggressive and/or “enthusiastic” in their attempts at converting people to bahaism.

    (I was coerced into signing a declaration card.)

    The real question is: how much authenticity and spiritual depth is involved when people convert to bahaism? are such people being partly exploited for reasons that are unethical? is psychological manipulation happening? are converts really given enough accurate information prior to conversion to ensure that they understand the implications of conversion?

    In my opinion, conversion to bahaism has dysfunctional characteristics that are part of a larger pattern of dysfunction in most other areas of bahai culture.

  • Amado de Dios

    No clergy?! Well, maybe at one time. What useful difference can you show between a lay preacher for some church (or their equivalents in other religions than Christianity) and a part-time Auxiliary Board member; or between a Counselor / staff person for the “Institute” and any member of any clergy? We had a nice religion without a clergy, with the ideal of all teaching, all learning as Shoghi Effendi described it – and then started to fill up the Faith with a hierarchy!

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  • Jane

    I was doing some research and came across your site.  I was curious and looked up the actual quote from the Baha’i writings and this is what I found.  “The aggressive proselytism that had characterized efforts in ages past to promote the cause of religion is declared to be unworthy of the Day of God. Each person who has recognized the Revelation has the obligation to share it with those who he believes are seeking, but to leave the response entirely to his hearers”It looks like it’s not proselytism that is unworthy, but aggressive proselytism.

  • Baquia

    Jane, thanks for your comment. The quote you cite is from a statement prepared by the “Bah??’? International Community” titled “Baha’u’llah”. It was published in 1992 to commemorate the centenary of the Revelation of Baha’u’llah and to introduce Him to a general audience. As such, the authorship of the document and quote is unknown – but it is probably a committee. Therefore it is hardly authoritative Baha’i Writings. In any case, even if we were to accept the idea that it presents as a reflection of other authoritative Writings, then the question would be, what does “aggressive” mean? who is to define that? etc.

  • Verhae

    I just want to speak about the door to door issue, because I am one of those people who, because of door to door was able to see the Baha’i Faith. If the Baha’is had not knocked on my door, I would be committing bad things, and for safety I won’t disclose what those may be.  When they knocked on my door, I was an atheist, I didn’t believe in God because I thought, what God would create so many religions that hate each other and didn’t connect. When I opened the door, they greeted me with smiles, and I got a really good vibe from them. They told me about the Junior Youth program, and did not mention the Baha’i Faith or anything regarding the faith, until I asked more questions. My line of questioning was as followed: What does the Junior Youth Program Teach? Reply: We teach spirituality, and the Oneness of Humankind. Me: Is this related some sort of Sunday school? Reply: No, its a program to teach the unity of Humankind, and that all the major religions are from God in a progressive revelation. Me: How exactly are religions connected, and what do you believe in? Reply: I am a Baha’i Me: A what?  Reply: Teaching time!!! 😀
    Now weather this is proselytizing or not is up for debate. But the main thing that should be drawn from this is that had they not have told me about the Junior Youth program, and further more the Baha’i faith, I would be contributing to the already massive amounts of pain and suffering this world experiences. 
    I think if your intentions are well placed, and your purpose is not to convert but merely teach, then God will direct you to the souls that need aid. That is the case for me, and for many others. I would only say that for those souls that are not in search, and they are aware of the faith, then let them be. God will take care of them somehow.

  • Desir0101

    Verhae,
    Praise be to you.
    Word is powerful tool and each one must learn how to use it for the best.
    You have allow words create a spiritual vibe in you. Great.
    I wish you great spiritual harvest.

    Bye,