Written by Manya Brachear Pashman, Chicago Tribune
Wednesday, 13 May 2015
Great Lakes Naval Training Center has dismissed a number of civilian volunteers who offered services for a handful of minority religious traditions, including Unitarian Universalism, the Baha'i faith, Buddhism, Christian Science, Church of Christ and Earth-centered traditions, also called nature worship.
The ouster, conveyed to volunteers last month, echoed a similar expulsion last May in which Muslim leaders were dismissed. That decision was rescinded a month later, with a caveat that if uniformed personnel were available to lead, volunteers would be asked to step aside.
Critics of the latest decision, including leaders of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit that in the past has sued the Pentagon for ignoring policies that ban mandatory religious practices, said Tuesday the dismissal trounces the recruits' constitutional rights.
"They're basically deciding who are the religious winners and who are the religious losers and desecrating religious protection," said Mikey Weinstein, head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. "This is absolutely establishing religion in direct denial of the First Amendment."
But not every religious volunteer affected by the policy change plans to fight the decision. Doug Marshall, 62, of Highland Park, said he enjoyed sharing Baha'i teachings with curious recruits, especially during such an intense time in their lives. He doesn't understand the Navy's motivation, but Baha'i teachings include respect for the government, so seeking court action is not likely, he said.
It was great while it lasted.
"We were their guest," he said. "We're always told to be obedient to our government, and the Navy is part of our government. It's their choice. It's the Navy's game. They invited us up there 12 or 15 years ago, whenever they started having it. It was great while it lasted."
Over the past few years, Iranian officials have championed ‘national’ tech development projects (such as the National Information Network (SHOMA) and Iranian versions of Western services), while eschewing foreign platforms like Viber and WhatsApp.
One of the most recent examples of this dynamic can be found in the February 2015 launch of three Iranian search engines: Parsijoo, Gorgor and Yooz. While this was announced in February, it should be noted that Parsijoo was in fact launched a few years ago, and Yooz was launched in early 2010. It’s unclear why the authorities are presenting them as “new”.
Government officials insist that Iranians can use domestic search engines without any disruption from the filtering system, regardless of what terms they search for. The authorities also maintain that these search engines can compete with Google and other Western alternatives.
The results on all of the Iranian search engines were overwhelmingly hostile to Baha’is, with many referring to them as “the misguided Baha’i sect.”
Small Media’s latest report put these claims to the test. We picked six potentially keywords: ‘sex,’ Baha’i,’ ‘Mir Hossein Mousavi,’ ‘BBC Persian,’ ‘Facebook,’ and ‘VPN,’ and searched for them on the search engines mentioned above plus google. Here’s what we found:
Roushangar was one of 30 winners of the premier graduate school fellowship for immigrants and children of immigrants. The recipients, chosen from a pool of 1,200 applicants, were selected for their potential to make significant contributions to U.S. society, culture or their academic field.
While winning the award is a high achievement, what Roushangar had to overcome is equally praiseworthy. Roushangar was born in Oman, to an Iranian father and Egyptian mother, and grew up and attended high school in Cairo, Egypt.
Facebook posts paint Jordan as a free-spirited young man who shared his father’s Baha’i faith...
Louis Jordan’s Facebook page foreshadowed his fate. A year ago, the 37-year-old South Carolina man began posting photos of himself on his beloved 35-foot sailboat, Angel, which he had painstakingly restored. Over the coming months, he uploaded pictures of food he had jarred and fish he had caught for dinner. Jordan, it seemed, was preparing for a journey.
On Dec. 28, 2014, he posted a video to Facebook. It was grainy footage of a woman recounting a near-death experience.
Less than a month later, Jordan would be the one facing death at sea.
A young black man, Nicholas Thomas was gunned down on March 24, 2015. Iraj offers a few Baha'i prayers on healing and justice ... and ultimate forgiveness of those who repent in this gathering of family and friends of Nicholas in Smyrna, Georgia on March 31, 2015.
I came out of the closet November 4, 2010, at age 24.
I’ve been gay, however, since as far back as I can remember.
I first learned about the Baha’i Faith from a Persian classmate at my high school in Auburn, Maine. We’re best of friends 15 years later, still.
What concerns me are the contradictions within the guidance of the Baha’i Faith and how that affects what is, in all other respects, the most accepting, loving and global community I’ve ever known.
She invited me over to her family home for a devotional. There, I met friends from around the world from various faiths, races and backgrounds. This diversity was intoxicating in my humble, if not sheltered, hometown of 30,000 people. I was awe-struck by the oneness that I felt at the devotional. There were songs, prayers, food and fellowship. I went back every Thursday after and became a Baha’i seven years later. It has informed, guided and enriched my life in every way imaginable.
Written by Heidi A. Campbell and Drake Fulton, Social Media and Religious Change / Bahai Library Online
Thursday, 19 March 2015
Bahá'í Negotiation with the Internet
If the blogger who makes negative claims happens to be a practising Bahá’í, he/she can be labelled as a covenant-breaker and shunned by the community.
The negotiation of new forms of media by religious groups is a dynamic and complex process that involves decision-making engaging the history, tradition and beliefs of the community. This negotiation process is especially complex for bounded religious communities, which establish rigid social and value-laden boundaries allowing them to create and maintain a unique and separate cultural system. Observing how members of bounded religious communities interact with the Internet enables us to consider how some groups resist the fluidity of networked relations and instead use technology to maintain closed social structures and solidify their unique identities. This is clearly seen in the case of the Bahá’í faith, especially in the patterns of use and limits American Bahá’ís have developed to engage with the Internet. By using the Religious Social Shaping of Technology approach, developed by Campbell (2010), as a lens to explore the challenges and choices made by the Bahá’ís, this process of technological negotiation is unpacked.
Albert Einstein endures as “the quintessential modern genius” for his seminal contributions to science, but he was also a great champion of human rights. In fact, despite having taken a backseat to his scientific legacy, Einstein’s strong humanistic and political convictions are no less notable and revolutionary amid the assumptions of his era. Nowhere do they shine more brilliantly than in his lesser-known exchanges with people of radically different backgrounds and beliefs, always deeply thoughtful, irrepressibly respectful, and driven by an earnest desire for mutual understanding and encouragement — including his conversation with the Indian philosopher Tagore about science and spirituality, his correspondence with Freud about violence, peace, and human nature, and his letter to a little girl in South Africa on why her gender shouldn’t hold her back from pursuing science.
Some might assume that Einstein’s compassionate outlook and unflinching commitment to equality were shaped by his own experience of being on the receiving end of history’s deadliest anti-Semitism. When Hitler took over Germany on January 30, 1933 — twelve years after Einstein earned the Nobel Prize, which had already exposed him to anti-Semitism — he had just left Berlin with his wife Elsa to spend their third winter at CalTech, where Einstein had been invited as visiting faculty. The trip may well have saved his life — mere months later, the situation in Germany became inhumane, then gruesomely lethal, for Jews.
[Source: ‘A difficult case: Beyer’s categories and the Bahá’í Faith’ in Social Compass 50(2),2003, 247-255]
Margit Warburg has presented data showing that the Bahá’í community of Denmark represents an excellent case of Beyer’s 'liberal option' in its response to globalisation" She also claims, incorrectly, that the Bahá’í Faith has the "ultimate aim of merging political and religious institutions." The Baha’i Faith represents a paradoxical example in terms of Beyer’s categories. Its values include relativism, pluralism, globalisation, a cosmopolitan ethic and democratic government. But it also seeks to give political and legal effect to these religious values, for instance by supporting the United Nations and advocating a world court. Beyer considers that a religious movement which seeks to have religious norms enshrined in legislation has adopted the 'conservative option' in response to globalisation. Is this a useful categorisation, when the religious norms are liberal and the stage on which they are to be implemented is global?