Currently there is an interesting discussion on Talisman about the nature and evolution of the Baha’i community and identity. Among the things being talked about is the size of the Baha’i community in the US.
Apparently, according to the numbers from the NSA of the United States, we are seeing a stagnant community. And if taken relative to the growing population of the host country, one that is slowly becoming smaller.
But to my surprise, according to the World Christian Database, at the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, the Baha’i Faith is the second fastest growing religion in the world:
The methodology isn’t clear but it seems that they are citing the Baha’i communities in the developing world, especially India for that achievement.
This is a contentious issue because Indians have very malleable religious identities. Many are Baha’is as well as their original faith tradition (whatever it may be among the thousands available in India).
As well, according to the 1991 government census, the Indian Baha’i community numbers approximately 5,500 believers – that is people who identified themselves as such – instead of 1.8 million as cited in the article.
Of course, it is possible that in the interim years the community grew, but from 5,000 to 1.8 million? Either the census is inaccurate or the current numbers are (or both).
One thing which I don’t quite understand is this, if we assume the 1.8 million number to be correct then the Indian Baha’i community comprises a huge portion of the total. According to the World Christian Database, almost 25%!
So where are they? where is their influence? where and how are they represented in the worldwide community?
As I look across the membership of the International Teaching Center, the Universal House of Justice, the Counsellors, etc… I don’t see a proportional representation of Indian Baha’is.
And if you think this post is another April Fool’s prank, well, there’s no hope for you 😉