No, your local Baha’i website probably doesn’t wear flannel or have a ridiculous mustache. But it could be unintentionally alienating some of the very people it is supposed to serve: people from outside the Baha’i Community who feel their hearts being attracted to Baha’u'llah.
What do seekers think when they show up at a local Baha’i website, and all they see is a picture of a temple in the Middle East and a list of principles?
Hipsters are a fascinating subculture of young people centered in a few neighborhoods in New York City, but their influence is widespread among the younger generation of North Americans and Europeans, and spreading. Popularity, of course, never comes without controversy. Hipsters are best known for their aversion to anything considered “mainstream”. Crudely put, the definition from Urban Dictionary is “Someone who listens to bands you’ve never heard of, wears ironic tee-shirts, and believes they are better than you.” Some people even think I’m a hipster. Not that there’s anything wrong with indie bands or funny t-shirts, but hipster culture is not exactly known for being warm and inviting to people outside their circle. Whatever you think about hipsters, the culture reflected on our local Baha’i websites needs to be warm, accepting, and relevant to the people in our cities.
In audio tapes of these talks [David Hofman] called democracy “baloney” and boasted that he had never voted in a non-Bahai election...
Editorial, April 6
Two recent news reports, in the Columbian Missourian and the Columbia Tribune have drawn attention to Tyree Byndom’s unusual way of ‘campaigning’ for a seat on the Columbia City Council. Because he is a Bahai, he is not campaigning, although his name is on the ballot. His voice has even dropped from the airwaves: he has taken a break from his day job as a talk show host.
I would certainly not suggest that he should be elected just because he is a Bahai, or that Bahai voters in Columbia should give him any greater credibility because of his faith. So why mention him on a blog dedicated to world Bahai news? He is not the first Bahai to run for public office, even in the US, but his faith and the reasons why he has refrained from self-praise or any critique of other candidates have been more widely publicised than any previous case I know of, and this is helping to correct a misconception about Bahais’ participation in politics. The Columbia Tribune article states, “the Baha’i faith encourages its members to be politically active and vote in elections if they are allowed to do so by secret ballot.” It does not give a source, but seems to be reflecting these words of Abdu’l-Baha:
He's good at bringing people together for a conversation. He likes to reach out to people and work on an understanding and consensus-building
Tyree Byndom has remained mostly silent on issues facing city government since declaring his candidacy for the First Ward seat on the Columbia City Council, choosing to decline invitations to election forums and appear in the media.
Byndom did make a public appearance before the City Council at its March 17 meeting, during public comment on Opus Development Co.'s agreement with the city, which was approved at a special meeting two days later.
"I'm one of the protectors of the city, and I've been so since a young man," Byndom told the council.
Tyree Byndom, a candidate for the open First Ward seat on the Columbia City Council, is known for speaking out about his background, his beliefs and the issues he cares about.
When Mayor Bob McDavid presented Byndom with the Columbia Values Diversity individual award last year at the city's annual diversity celebration, the mayor quoted Martin Luther King Jr., saying that lives begin to end when "we become silent about things that matter."
"Anyone who knows Tyree Byndom can tell you he is not a silent man," McDavid said.
I’m sharing this on my blog to show that individuals, even those in positions where they are appointed, can misuse their position.
My name is Sean X and I am a Baha’i residing in xx, California. It is with much humbleness I come to write you this letter regarding a much unfortunate situation.
On April 21, 2008 I heard from a local member of my Baha’i community that my parents X and X resigned from the Local Spiritual Assembly of Riverside California (they were re-elected on Ridvan as well as my sister X) and that my sister X and I were being investigated at the World Centre.
On April 22, 2008 I contacted my Auxiliary Board Member for Protection with my concerns regarding the aforementioned information and to set up a meeting with him and my family. On May 5, 2008 my family and I met with our Auxiliary Board Member for Protection, it was at this meeting we found out that I was under investigation at the World Centre over a petition called “Speak Up Against Baha’i Discrimination Against Homosexuals” that I signed and forwarded to adult Baha’is in my local area (including my Auxiliary Board Member for Protection). My Auxiliary Board Member for Protection was not informed of the source of this very petition and did not know of the Baha’i sites I believed to have found the petition on such as “The Gay Baha’i Website” and Planet Baha’i.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about how the sweeping acceptance of gay marriage in recent years is owed in large part to Christianity. Rejecting the rigidly hierarchical and stratified societies of the ancient world, Jesus Christ taught the equal dignity of all persons, proclaimed that the meek shall inherit the earth, and declared that the last shall be first and the first shall be last. The Western world has been working out the logic of these subversive teachings ever since, with the institutional transformation of marriage being the latest, though surely not the last, example of its social, moral, and political consequences.
But what if the next institutions to be leveled by the Christian ideal of equality are the churches themselves?
American Catholics have become accustomed to worshipping in a state of cognitive dissonance
I'm not talking about all of the churches. I mean those that have resisted reforming themselves in light of women's equality — and specifically those that resist this reform from the top down, with ecclesiastical authorities enforcing male-centered dogma and doctrine. That's mainly the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons).
Recently I came across this Letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi:
“The Bahá’í conception of social life is essentially based on the subordination of the individual will to that of society. It neither suppresses the individual nor does it exalt him to the point of making him an anti-social creature, a menace to society. As in everything, it follows the ‘golden mean’. The only way that society can function is for the minority to follow the will of the majority.”
This made me sit up because it is the individual, not the collective, that is “created in the image of God,” (See Genesis 1:27 or Some Answered Questions, pp. 195-197) and because the protection and priority given to minorities is characteristic of the form of democracy intended for a Bahai society. And that the spiritual priority of the individual, over all the structures that are created by and consist of various individuals, underlies many other Bahai teachings. For example: