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How a perversion of human nature PDF Print E-mail
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The Subject of Boys
Written by Lukas Jung, Zeit Online   
Friday, 28 November 2014

[automatically translated from German to English by Google Translate]

I'm gay and a follower of the Bahai religion. A dilemma in that the Baha'is do not allow homosexuality.

Bahai temple in New Delhi | © Shilpa Anand / Reuters

A few years ago I resigned from the church and converted to the Baha'i faith. Baha'is believe that the Divine for humans is not clear but is revealed through spiritual personalities in different cultures and eras. These figures include not only Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Baha'i faith, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Krishna, and the founders of other religions.

The aim of the Baha'i Revelation is the unity of mankind in diversity. Bahai not proselytize why. They recognize the other religions unconditionally and enter into a dialogue with them. You want to build a peaceful and united society of people in all their diversity.

These views and the lived spirituality in the form of simple devotions, prayers, meditations and the service of the people told me too much. In a pretty young church I learned to better understand the scriptures, to broaden my horizons to develop myself spiritual, human and intellectual further. Soon I also took over functions in the community. I became a member of spiritual councils, even once chairman of such Council. It was a wonderful time.

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City seeks to get handle on local homeless situation PDF Print E-mail
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Social Action
Written by John Stroud, Post Independent, Glenwood Springs, USA   
Thursday, 27 November 2014
One of the many faces of the homeless population in Glenwood Springs, Paul Wilm, shown here on a snowy Tuesday morning near Ninth and Blake, recently returned to the area while awaiting word on VA benefits that he is hoping will help ease his own situation.

An unsuccessful attempt to land a job in Denver recently while working to line up benefits through the Veterans Administration ultimately landed Paul Wilm back on the streets of Glenwood Springs Monday night.

It’s the place Wilm has called “home” since 2009 when he first came to Glenwood after a divorce, and amid dealing with lingering trauma from three years of active military duty with the Army National Guard, including a tour in Baghdad, Iraq.

Wilm said he often gets steered toward Christian-based assistance agencies. But as a practitioner of the Bahai’i Faith, he said he feels alienated

But “home” is a relative term for the 37-year-old veteran, since most of his time here has been spent living out of his vehicle while trying to get his life back together.

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Ledoux, Urbain (1874-1941) PDF Print E-mail
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Individuals and groups
Written by "Encyclopedia of American Recessions and Depressions", edited by Daniel Leab   
Thursday, 27 November 2014

A flamboyant self-promoter, many of whose charitable activities skirted the edge of legality and incurred the wrath of the authorities, he dramatically publicized the plight of the unemployed especially during the economic downturn of 1920–1921. Ledoux credited much of what he did for the down and out, in bad times and good, to his Baha'i faith (with its emphasis on good works and on ending extremes poverty and wealth). Ledoux was one of Baha'i's earliest practitioners in the United States and Canada

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 27 November 2014 )
 
Bahais demand minority status PDF Print E-mail
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Community and administration
Written by Abantika Ghosh, Indian Express   
Sunday, 23 November 2014

Less than a year after the UPA government declared Jains as a minority community, the Bahai community has reignited its demand for the status. The community much like the Jains is affluent, but it asserts that the status is a matter of recognition rather than plea for help.

We had asked for more information from the community and they did submit some… But, that was not enough for the commission

Bahai representatives had met Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla in this regard and she, it was learnt, referred the matter to the National Commission for Minorities. The matter was also taken up by the NCM in more than one meeting, but the commission felt that it did not have enough data on the socio-economic condition of the community to make a concrete recommendation. It is now for the Ministry of Minority Affairs to take a call. There are around two million Bahais in India and the community is perhaps best known for the Lotus Temple. The religion traces its roots to Iran — the birthplace of Bahaullah, its prophet.

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Station of scholars and historians in the Baha'i faith (1999) PDF Print E-mail
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Baha'i studies
Written by Juan Cole, Talk.Religion.Bahai   
Saturday, 15 November 2014

Many Baha'is from the global South have grown up in dictatorships or their parents did, and they think about the institutions of the faith as like the governmental dictatorship they experienced. Dictatorships typically severely restrict freedom of speech, jail academics, denounce them for undue "pride," practice censorship, and allow no public questioning of announced government policy. Many Baha'is think of the Universal House of Justice as such a dictatorial body, and believe that when they speak all must be silent.

I don't believe, however, that Baha'u'llah much cared for dictatorships, and he strove mightily to challenge the absolute monarchies of his own day, which he consigned to the dust heap of history with the advent of universal reason among the people.

Last I checked, this system does not produce chaos, and everyone seems to know what the actual law is.

There is another model, which is that of the Supreme Court in democracies. The Supreme Court's decisions stand as the law of the land. But in democracies, professors in law schools can write journal articles in law reviews that examine the reasoning of the decisions, re-examine the law, and come to a different conclusion. As long as the Supreme Court does not find these arguments persuasive, they remain nothing more than obscure journal articles. The Supreme Court's decisions define the law. Sometime the court will take up a law review article and incorporate its reasoning into their new decision. But they don't have to. It is the decision of the Court. Nevertheless, they do not seek to prevent the law professors from writing their articles. Last I checked, this system does not produce chaos, and everyone seems to know what the actual law is.

I think this is a much better model than that of the supreme dictator (like the Shah or Khomeini) for the Baha'i community. So, my answer to your question is very simple. The Universal House of Justice has the authority to decide such issues as whether women are admitted to that body, and as long as they stick to their decision that is Baha'i law. But they do not have the authority to prevent the free and conscientious expression of other views, as long as these are advertised merely as personal and non-authoritative opinion. Thus, historians may examine the evolution of the gender issue in Baha'i institutions, and freely publish their results, but these results do not have to be adopted by the House of Justice.

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 15 November 2014 )
 
What does Baha’i Scripture say about homosexuality? PDF Print E-mail
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The Subject of Boys
Written by Sonja van Kerkhoff, Just a Bahai   
Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Nothing.

Nothing. For Baha’is, Baha’i Scripture is everything penned by The Bab and Baha’u’llah, and the interpretations by Baha’u’llah’s son ‘Abdul-Baha, and where Shoghi Effendi (‘Abdul-Baha’s grandson) wrote in his capacity as official interpreter of Baha’i Scripture. It is a source of pride for many Baha’is to be able to state that we have authoritative scripture. That is to have access to the actual texts (or accurate translations of texts) as the sources for Baha’i Scripture.

“Unity of doctrine is maintained by the existence of the authentic texts of Scripture and the voluminous interpretations of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, together with the absolute prohibition against anyone propounding “authoritative” or “inspired” interpretations or usurping the function of Guardian. Unity of administration is assured by the authority of the Universal House of Justice.”

Universal House of Justice, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Netherlands, March 9, 1965: Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 52-53

The only mention of homosexuality in authoritative Bahai text (not Scripture) is in five letters written by secretaries on behalf of Shoghi Effendi penned between 1949 and 1955.

 
Iran Is Using a Neocon to Hack Its Foes PDF Print E-mail
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Bahais in Iran
Written by Eli Lake, The Daily Beast   
Sunday, 09 November 2014
John Bolton

John Bolton, the former U.N. ambassador under George W. Bush, is playing an unexpectedly prominent role in an Iranian cyberspying campaign.

In Iran’s intelligence war against America, the regime has a new weapon: “John R. Bolton.”

This is what happened to Kit Bigelow, one of Washington’s leading advocates for the Baha’i...

No, Iran has not turned President Bush’s former ambassador to the United Nations into a sleeper agent. Instead, hackers believed to be connected to the Tehran government are posing as Bolton on social media platforms in a scheme to get human rights activists and national security wonks to hand over their passwords and user names.

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Taking the Diefenbunker PDF Print E-mail
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Other
Written by The Chronicle Herald   
Friday, 07 November 2014

Debert landmark fully belongs to patient buyer

Businessman Jonathan Baha’i has cleared a final hurdle in claiming sole ownership of the Debert Diefenbunker, an abandoned Cold War fallout shelter, shown in a file photo before the purchase.

Hunkered down inside the Diefenbunker in Debert, Jonathan Baha’i can finally breathe a secure sigh of relief.

“We finally stomped out the appeal,” Baha’i said Wednesday of clearing the final legal hurdle to undisputed ownership of the underground shelter.

The legal wrangling started not long after Baha’i purchased the 64,000-square-foot former military installation in November 2012 for less than $40,000 in a Colchester County tax sale.

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China's rags-to-riches duo back in spotlight PDF Print E-mail
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Individuals and groups
Written by Esther Teo, Straits Times   
Tuesday, 04 November 2014

Ms Zhang and Mr Pan are the power couple behind real estate giant Soho China and the Soho China Scholarships, a US$100 million endowment in financial aid aimed at encouraging less well-off Chinese students to study abroad. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

Publicity-savvy couple slammed for their huge donations outside China

SHE has developed architecturally stunning buildings in Beijing and is one of China's richest women, but property magnate Zhang Xin, 49, says her whirlwind engagement in 1994 to twice-divorced Pan Shiyi, now her husband, remains her biggest venture.

Some 20 years later, the power couple behind real estate giant Soho China - whose combined net worth is estimated at US$3.6 billion (S$4.6 billion) - have added to their track record of opting for the unconventional.

...spirituality has become increasingly important for the couple, who practise the Baha'i faith

They announced last week they were giving US$10 million to Yale University, once again prompting an angry outcry from Chinese netizens who believe that the money should have gone towards education in the country. In July, the couple's gift of US$15 million to Harvard University also sparked a similar controversy.

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Baha'i Haifa, Banana St. and the ultimate Other PDF Print E-mail
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Buildings
Written by Yuval Ben-Ami, +972 Magazine   
Sunday, 26 October 2014
The view from the Baha’i Gardens (Photo by Yuval Ben-Ami)

A few weeks ago, my dear friend Osnat had an interesting experience on the slopes of Mt. Carmel. It happened when she came to visit the famed Baha’i Gardens: an astounding pillar of greenery rising up from Haifa’s port district, crowned by the golden-domed Mausoleum.

The group climbed down the higher tiers of the garden, descending toward the Tomb of the Bab – the Baha’i faith’s major prophet. There are 18 tiers in all. They reflect the pillars of faith as described by the Bab, and also provide a fairly nice framework for a guided tour. A basic introduction is given at the top, with a splendid view of the bay. A few steps down, features of the garden can be pointed out, and one or two tiers later it’s time for a Q&A session.

This was a real conversation killer.

Osnat asks: “So say I would like to become Baha’i, how would I go about it?”

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