Social Action

Human rights, community development and the like

Malicious, defamatory posts in a possibly influential Baha'i blog

I've been wondering why I'm so much more alarmed by defamation campaigns excused as defense of the Faith, than I am by campaigns against the House of Justice by people who claim allegiance to Baha'u'llah.

Explanations I've considered:

  • My personal friendships with some targets of campaigns excused as defense of the Faith
  • Higher expectations from non-protesting members
  • More experience with campaigns against the House of Justice
  • No systematic effort until now to feel closer to people who excuse their campaigns as defense of the Faith
  • Imagining that people who excuse their campaigns as defense of the Faith might have more credibility with more members.

I thought it might help to consider what I keep wanting to do in response to campaigns excused as defense of the Faith. I keep wanting to try to counteract their effects, and to report them to Baha'i institutions. I posted a response to the "apostate" posts in "Baha'i Views" everywhere I could that might come up in searches for "Baha'i apostates." I saw that "Baha'i Views" was featured in the American Baha'i and by the U.S. Baha'i News Service, so I wrote to them about the "apostate" posts, and I asked my local Spiritual Assembly to write to our National Spiritual Assembly.

After years of hesitation, I finally wrote to the Universal House of Justice about campaigns of defamation masquerading as defense of the Faith. Not in those words. Like this:

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Religious leaders call for justice in Tibet

South African religious leaders, who took part in the Ubuntu-Tibet Freedom Day event in Cape Town, have called on the Chinese government to negotiate unconditionally with the exiled Tibetan religious leader, the Dalai Lama.

The event was organised by the movement SA Friends of Tibet. It highlighted alleged human rights abuses in Tibet during the 57 years of Chinese rule.

Christians, Jews, the Bahai faith and traditional healers in South Africa called for an end to Chinese rule. The group will take part in a peace walk through Cape Town. The event will end with a human rights concert at the V&A Waterfront later this afternoon.

{josquote}Christians, Jews, the Bahai faith and traditional healers in South Africa called for an end to Chinese rule.{/josquote}

China last week agreed to have talks with the Dalai Lama.

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Day of Prayer stirs controversy

APPLE VALLEY — Though all faiths are welcome to attend Apple Valley’s National Day of Prayer, so far only Christians are hosting the event.

“Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Sikhs are being excluded,” said Simone Kvalhein of the Baha’i faith.

Kvalhein said she called Pastor Doris Eddy of Valley Christian Fellowship, who has coordinated the event along with the Town Council for the last 13 years, and that Eddy told her there was no room for these groups to participate.

“I had the program almost completely filled by the time she approached me,” Eddy responded. “I had filled all but one space, and I told her she could have it.”

This isn’t the first year the event has stirred up controversy. Last year the day was initially taken off the town’s calendar after it became more about politics than faith.

“I don’t want to offend anyone,” Eddy said, “but this entire nation was founded on Christian faith. The reason we are a great county is because we’re Christian. In the Muslim countries, you can get shot if you’re Christian.”

{josquote}...the event is a prime example of the town not living up to its pledge to be inclusive of all people.{/josquote}

Kvalhein said, “If they do not remedy the situation, we would like to hold the same event at 6 p.m. and include the Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Sikhs,” and added that the event is a prime example of the town not living up to its pledge to be inclusive of all people.

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Bahai court ruling yet to be implemented

File picture dated Dec. 18 2006, shows Bahai Labib Iskander Hanna (center) and his two sons, 20-year-old Hady (left) and 24-year-old Ragy (right), at their home in Maadi.

CAIRO: The Ministry of Interior has yet to implement a court ruling that allows Bahais to leave the religious affiliation field on birth certificates and identity cards blank.

On Jan. 29 Cairo’s Administrative Court had granted members of Egypt’s Bahai community the right to obtain identity papers without identifying their religious affiliation, placing a “dash” in the field.

“When we got the court ruling we were happy and we thought it would put an end to our suffering, but this feeling waned when we went to the Civil Status Authority,” Raouf Hendi, who wanted to issue birth certificates for his two children, said. “They told us they needed more time to study the court ruling … I don’t know why they won’t accept us.”

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Related story: It is Time to Issue ID Cards to the Baha'is of Egypt

Politics and religion

Religion, politics and power

Welcome to a new series of occasional posts on the theme of religion, politics and power. Religion is becoming ever more prominent for good and ill in the public square. Questions about the relationship of religion, politics and power are increasingly important and demand answers. The Bahá’í sacred texts and commentaries have some interesting insights into these questions.

Ridván and Bahá’í elections

The Ridván season in the Bahá’í calendar prompts some thoughts about politics and religion.

Why? Well this is the time of year when Bahá’ís across the world elect their local and national governing councils. And this year is a special one. In less than a week’s time, members of the world’s National Spiritual Assemblies (the national governing councils) will converge on the Bahá’í World Centre in Haifa, Israel, to take part in electing the Universal House of Justice, the Bahá’í community’s international council.

Religion and identity politics

Religion is becoming ever more salient as a marker of identity. At the same time, we live in an era of identity politics, a time when people campaign and vote on the basis of presumed group identities and interests. Congruence of identity based on ethnicity, religion, sexual preference, gender and so on, is seen as more important than ideas or policies. And more important than personal qualities, such as integrity, honesty, trustworthiness, capacity to contribute effectively to parliament and government.

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