A Baha'i Problem? Entry by Troops, Expansion, and the Administration

After I began to participate in the Bahá’í community and look more into the day-to-day, administrative aspects of the faith, I discovered the doctrine of Entry by Troops. Entry by troops is the belief that at some point in the future, around the same time as Earth-shaking events that will force the restructuring of society, numerous people will discover and convert to the Bahá’í Faith. “Troops” in this sense does not imply a military force, but “people of a great number.” Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and Shoghi Effendi all testify to the belief in Entry by Troops.

But as I sit here reading, I can’t help but think that very few of us can envision what ‘Entry by Troops’ will look like. Moreover, I personally think that certain groups within the Faith have made it a point to emphasize ‘Entry by Troops’ to the detriment of long-term, quality expansion.

{josquote}Because we are largely made up of “theological” converts, we naturally assume that everyone else will convert for similar reasons.{/josquote}

I don’t think it’s much of a surprise to Bahá’ís or non-Bahá’ís that the Faith, at least in the United States, is not growing at the rate we want it to. I know numerous people who want a religion that believes in gender and racial equality; that has a logical response to the existence of other religions; and that promotes a harmony in society that opposes war, promotes science, and respects individuality. I sometimes even find myself getting deeply frustrated that so many of these people ignore or brush off the Bahá’í Faith. If ‘Entry by Troops’ is a genuine reality, why is it that so many people who are already Bahá’í in attitude refuse to be Bahá’í in practice?

The problem is that religious conversion is a social process.

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