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Old 07-12-2017, 06:24 AM   #1
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Will the Universal House of Justice become a civil government agency?

While reading the comments on the Kitáb-o-Aqdas, I found the following:
70. Exile and imprisonment are decreed for the thief
Bahá’u’lláh states that the determination of the degree of penalty, in accordance with the seriousness of the offense, rests with the House of Justice (Q&A 49). The punishments for theft are intended for a future condition of society, when they will be supplemented and applied by the Universal House of Justice.
Can you help me in understanding what this "future condition of society" is?
Do you envision the UHJ converted into a sort of government agency that applies force to comply with the Kitán-o-Aqdas?

I am very confused... your help, friends will be very much appreciated.
 
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Old 07-12-2017, 06:44 AM   #2
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I'm sure someone with more scholarly knowledge on the subject can give a better answer... but I'm not getting the same reading you are here:

From reading this, I think this interpretation is stating that the law does not currently apply to Baha'is, as Baha'is, at the moment, aren't in the positions of secular lawmaking and the like.

The "future condition" when the law will apply is when there is a Baha'i majority society, a society where Baha'is will determine secular laws through the function of democracy, to guide us as Baha'is in decisions in voting and secular legislation, so that our laws regarding serious crimes (like theft) are not too severe or lenient for the appropriate crime.

I take it to mean that it is not a religious law that will be enforced by the UHJ, but it is a religious law intended to guide us in the implementation of secular laws.
 
Old 07-12-2017, 07:46 AM   #3
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Your explanation is very reassuring, Walrus. Thank you!

Now I just want to make sure we both are right in this appreciation... so let's hope someone else joins the discussion and provides further guidance.

My shock came from reading that "punishments" will be "applied by" the UHJ. Meaning, UHJ as an agency to apply punishments.
So the image of theocratic regimen like Iran under a Baha'i's equivalent of the sharia came to my mind. Bahai policemen, guards, prisons, etc.
 
Old 07-13-2017, 01:29 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camachoe View Post
Your explanation is very reassuring, Walrus. Thank you!

Now I just want to make sure we both are right in this appreciation... so let's hope someone else joins the discussion and provides further guidance.

My shock came from reading that "punishments" will be "applied by" the UHJ. Meaning, UHJ as an agency to apply punishments.
So the image of theocratic regimen like Iran under a Baha'i's equivalent of the sharia came to my mind. Bahai policemen, guards, prisons, etc.
I see the Universal House of Justice giving the required details of the law to be implemented in each country by Local Authority. Houses of Justice are envisaged right down to the Local Level.

If I am not wrong, from memory, Local and National Spiritual Assemblies are transitional names of what will be in the future Houses of Justice. (Must look it up again my guess is it will be past my time on this earth) In Kitab-i-Aqdas

49. The Lord hath ordained that in every city a House of Justice be established # 30
The institution of the House of Justice consists of elected councils which operate at the local, national and international levels of society. Bahá'u'lláh ordains both the Universal House of Justice and the Local Houses of Justice in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Abdu'l-Bahá, in His Will and Testament, provides for the Secondary (National or Regional) Houses of Justice and outlines the method to be pursued for the election of the Universal House of Justice. In the verse cited above, the reference is to the Local House of Justice, an institution which is to be elected in a locality whenever there are nine or more resident adult Baha'is. For this purpose, the definition of adult was temporarily fixed at the age of 21 years by the Guardian, who indicated it was open to change by the Universal House of Justice in the future.
Local and Secondary Houses of Justice are, for the present, known as Local Spiritual Assemblies and National Spiritual Assemblies. Shoghi Effendi has indicated that this is a "temporary appellation" which,
...as the position and aims of the Bahá'í Faith are better understood and more fully recognized, will gradually be superseded by the permanent and more appropriate designation of House of Justice. Not only will the present-day Spiritual Assemblies be styled differently in future, but they will be enabled also to add to their present functions those powers, duties, and prerogatives necessitated by the recognition of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, not merely as one of the recognized religious systems of the world, but as the State Religion of an independent and Sovereign Power. Baha'u'llah : The Kitab-i-Aqdas - Notes

Also consider when the world is a majority of Baha'i, there will indeed be Baha'i's that have jobs in the Justice System. I see that the system will always be aimed at spiritual change to a person and not inappropriate punishment.

Regards Tony

Last edited by tonyfish58; 07-13-2017 at 01:39 AM.
 
Old 07-13-2017, 05:35 AM   #5
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Greetings Camachoe,

This question does arise from time to time. Do appreciate that at each stage of development within the Bahá'í Community, new perceptions and understandings have taken shape. So some older perceptions are clearly incorrect. This is why there are conflicting ideas about the interconnection between state and religion within the Bahá'í Community at this time.

Naturally, all Bahá'ís are given the right to hold and express viewpoints and to share these in good faith with others. But it is also expected that such views should be fair and courteous too. This can be challenging for some Bahá'ís, especially once they begin to understand the Bahá'í Administrative Order. These can and often do build up into intellectual and emotional frustrations. They are actually a natural stage in progressing as a member of the Bahá'í Faith. It is therefore a healthy process, but the experience is comparable to a child having a tantrum. Like with young children, some grow out of the tantrum phase, while others take it into adulthood with them. In the end it is simply about appreciating that the collective is something that is much bigger than ourselves.

A view is not a fact. Here is a fact. Bahá'ís and the Bahá'í Administrative Order are duty bound to obey secular law. The only time this can be challenged is if a person is denied the legal right to be a Bahá'í and practice their beliefs. As this is currently the situation within the Islamic Republic of Iran, your question is very relevant, because it is essentially asking if the Bahá'í Faith is aiming to be a theocracy where religion controls human society like it does within modern Iran.

It is important to understand that no person within the Bahá'í Faith, other than the Central Figures and the Guardian, hold the ability to interpret the Bahá'í Writings. As I sometimes put it, the Bahá'í Faith is and always will be full of amateurs. I use the term amateurs quite deliberately here because amateurs love what they do. However, it is important to understand that as time progress, more and more professionals within the academic world are going to explore the Bahá'í Faith and produce material about it. Some Bahá'ís, myself included, have had the opportunity to produce academic research on the Bahá'í Faith through an established university. When a Bahá'í does this it helps them to reshape many of their early views have were propagated within the wider Bahá'í Community. My research looked at political and religious responses towards the both the Bábí and Bahá'í movements. Since this time a few others have ventured to explore the interplay between religion and state too. For instance, Sen McGlinn went on to follow it with his masters entitled Church and State: A Postmodern Theology. Unlike my academic research, McGlinn's is published outside of the academic community. Naturally you are free to read it for yourself.

One of the difficulties that you will find with this subject matter is that there is a natural clash of ideas about how the Bahá'í Faith might evolve in the future. Some will project an image of it being a perfected human society with religion being at its beating heart. Others will express a far darker view of it becoming a totalitarian world superstate with the right to impose laws on those that violate Bahá'í law. Both of these views are totally preposterous because no one can predict the future. This is why hyperbole can be found within both camps. The Bahá'í Faith is simply a religion. Sorry to understate it, but we need to maintain a measured perspective.

All sovereign states maintain security agencies and these will naturally scan to access viable threats; foreign and domestic. In this respect if the Bahá'í Faith were ever seen to pose a threat to either a regime or its sovereign state, then they would take measures to protect themselves. It is rather hard to see how the Bahá'í Administrative Order can pose a thread to any sovereign state when it is obliged to obey secular law. This is why Bahá'í National Spiritual Assemblies have a history of either voluntarily disbanding or modifying their working mandate to comply with state legislation. Indeed one of the most interesting case studies to examine here is with the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of South Africa. In order to accommodate the law of Apartheid it elected to become a black only organisation. This means that white Bahá'ís were forbidden the right to be elected onto a Bahá'í Institution by secular law. It is good example of how the Bahá'í Community can adapt to accommodate what would now be viewed as racist legislation. Bahá'í Institutions were banned within some facist states during the build-up to and during the Second World War. Just like some Bahá'í Institutions are either banned or might face difficulties within some Islamic sovereign states today; most notably Iran. It is worth noting that within Iran Bahá'ís are persecuted for being Bahá'ís, whereas within Nazi Germany and Naza occupied states, Bahá'ís with Jewish backgrounds were persecuted as Jews. This is why Bahá'ís are martyred in Iran compared with being murdered in Nazi Germany and Nazi occupied countries.

Do understand that sovereign states are free to select their own head of state by constitutional law. In the same way sovereign states of the Commonwealth have collectively chosen to designate Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as their collective Head of State, any sovereign state, pending constitutional amendments, is free to request that the Universal House of Justice considers being their Head of State. This in not an idol preposition based on the need for a world government. It is constitutional reality. Therefore it is perfectly plausibly for the Universal House of Justice to be invited to become the Head of State for sovereign states in the world. Naturally this would have to transpire through mutual recognition and trust.

To appreciate how a head of state is expected to rule without venturing into numerous texts, you might find it helpful to read the following extract taken from Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet to Queen Victoria. This will offer you a distinct clue as to how and why the reigns of a sovereign state is best given to its peoples. It is important to reflect on the fact that the Queen of England is also the Supreme Head of the Church of England. So Her Majesty holds what would now be an identical religious role by international law as the Universal House of Justice does today. This is why it is also known as the Supreme Institution. Hopefully you will come to understand why both the head of state and the head of a religion should not impose their right of rule, but rather adopt the role of being a spiritual counsel. Such an approach is not a theocracy.

"We have also heard that thou hast entrusted the reins of counsel into the hands of the representatives of the people. Thou, indeed, hast done well, for thereby the foundations of the edifice of thine affairs will be strengthened, and the hearts of all that are beneath thy shadow, whether high or low, will be tranquillized. It behoveth them, however, to be trustworthy among His servants, and to regard themselves as the representatives of all that dwell on earth. This is what counselleth them, in this Tablet, He Who is the Ruler, the All-Wise. And if any one of them directeth himself towards the Assembly, let him turn his eyes unto the Supreme Horizon, and say: "O my God! I ask Thee, by Thy most glorious Name, to aid me in that which will cause the affairs of Thy servants to prosper, and Thy cities to flourish. Thou, indeed, hast power over all things!" Blessed is he that entereth the Assembly for the sake of God, and judgeth between men with pure justice. He, indeed, is of the blissful."

I hope this might help to allay some of your initial concerns on this subject matter and help you realise that the Bahá'í Community has a lot of growing to do. Both in numerical, intellectual, spiritual, economic and social terms before such matters can even become the faintest possibility. To help put this into material context, the Crown, under Queen Elizabeth II, currently owns more wealth and lands than the entire global Bahá'í Community put together. While the Bahá'í World Centre may rank as a United Nations World Heritage Site and the few Bahá'í Houses of Worship situated around the world have received numerous architectural accolades, the total assets of the Bahá'í Faith is still surprisingly modest.

Earth
 
Old 07-13-2017, 10:56 AM   #6
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In a word Yes. That is the ultimate goal of the Baha'i Faith A new world order under the auspices of The Faith and UHJ.
 
Old 07-13-2017, 03:53 PM   #7
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Reading this thread has reminded me of a reply I sent to one of Sen McGlinns'
posts, at
https://senmcglinn.wordpress.com/201...-the-governor/
It seems that, as in a previous occasion, he's having difficulties posting my replies.
I don't know if it was popular acclaim which forced him to previously. Anyway, he has
been excommunicated from the Faith for opposing the formation of a theocratic state.

Dear Sen,
I'm Roy who originally posed the question of the Guardian and the
Governor in a previous post, at
https://senmcglinn.wordpress.com/abo...s-14-may-2006/ .
This is intended to answer your reply to it there and here.

Someone who runs a business or is on a school board, is exercising temporal
administrative authority, which can be subject to the temporal political
authority of a Baha'i assembly, each working in its own sphere of influence and
without overstepping its limits in relation to the other. There is no
contradiction.

What you are proposing conflates the "temporal authority" of politicians and
businessmen, in such a way that there is no room for the "spiritual authority"
of Baha'i institutions to act as a go between. If one is bent on an inevitable
and irreconcilable separation of materialism and spirituality, just such a
conflation of temporal political authority with temporal administrative
authority might do the job. But it goes against the Baha'i principle of the
unity of science and religion. There is more to it than a mere intellectual
exercise.

In the current society you may see examples of politicians and businessmen
colluding and saying there is no other way to do things. But they don't have
the real interests of humanity at heart. It is all self-serving, and the poor
ignorant masses have all been duped by them. Will you follow in their
footsteps?

In the Baha'i view the high minded, praiseworthy leaders of thought are those
who have recognized that unbridled materialism is the scourge of humanity, and
can only lead to chaos and confusion. This has ever been the case, and the
Baha'i Cause is what will ultimately rid the world of the scourge of politics
and politicians, fulfilling the most ardent, hopeful dreams of all the by-gone
prophets and seers.
 
Old 07-13-2017, 08:03 PM   #8
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Thank you very much, Earth, for the time devoted in your comprehensive response.
I have some questions for you

Quote:
Originally Posted by Earth View Post
Do appreciate that at each stage of development within the Bahá'í Community, new perceptions and understandings have taken shape. So some older perceptions are clearly incorrect.
Can you give an example of a such a clearly incorrect old perception?
More importantly, could you give an example of a correct new perception?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Earth View Post
... some grow out of the tantrum phase, while others take it into adulthood with them. In the end it is simply about appreciating that the collective is something that is much bigger than ourselves.
Still, no individual can be forced by the collective to give up their fundamental rights. Do we agree on this?
No collective, for example, could use force to make you donate one of your kidneys, or donate your money to the poor, or choose a given profession, under the allegation that it helps the collective and you should give up your selfish illusion of the "self" to embrace unity with the crowd.

So, any tantrum should evolve into a rational opposition (and fight) where you have evidence that the collective, by means of any State, Court, or Law, is violating or intending to violate your rights.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Earth View Post
... your question is very relevant, because it is essentially asking if the Bahá'í Faith is aiming to be a theocracy where religion controls human society like it does within modern Iran.
Thanks for understanding my question. Now please help me with the answer, I beg you: Is the Baha'i Faith aiming to be a theocracy where religion controls human society like it does within modern Iran?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Earth View Post
Some will project an image of it being a perfected human society... Others will express a far darker view of it becoming a totalitarian world superstate... Both of these views are totally preposterous because no one can predict the future.
No one can predict the future. But everyone can envision a future, and fight for it.
What is that future you envision as a Baha'i, my friend?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Earth View Post
Therefore it is perfectly plausibly for the Universal House of Justice to be invited to become the Head of State for sovereign states in the world. Naturally this would have to transpire through mutual recognition and trust.
I agree. If the UHJ persuades the world to be an agency that preserves peace by upholding the basic rights of each individual, I can forsee this happening.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Earth View Post
Hopefully you will come to understand why both the head of state and the head of a religion should not impose their right of rule, but rather adopt the role of being a spiritual counsel. Such an approach is not a theocracy.
An spiritual counselor lacks the ability to enforce punishment by the use of arms. A court has that ability.
An spiritual counselor advices, warns, persuades.
A court executes through force.
Based on the Kitab-i-Aqdas and other Baha'i Scriptures that you have examined during your academic research, which of these roles would the UHJ play?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Earth View Post
I hope this might help to allay some of your initial concerns on this subject matter and help you realise that the Bahá'í Community has a lot of growing to do. Both in numerical, intellectual, spiritual, economic and social terms before such matters can even become the faintest possibility.
Thanks for your patience, my friend. I feel better now. I am still intrigued but not desperate. Following on your metaphor, I feel my tantrum is over and now I am just frowning and looking carefully to the object I have in front of my cradle.

I look forward to reading your answers.
May the rays of the Sun of Truth keep illuminating our souls.

Last edited by camachoe; 07-13-2017 at 08:07 PM.
 
Old 07-14-2017, 04:52 AM   #9
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We should note also that Baha'u'llah specifically taught that all nations ought to have constitutional monarchies with both a king or queen and a legislative assembly. He said kingship is a "sign of God and [he did ]not wish that nations should remain deprived thereof". Quite obviously, neither the Universal House of Justice, nor a National House of Justice can fill this role. Neither could they be considered as the required legislative body of a national government, because the relation between the parliament and the monarch is different that the role of the House of Justice.

Last edited by Jcc; 07-14-2017 at 05:15 AM.
 
Old 07-15-2017, 10:39 AM   #10
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Greetings Camachoe,

One Bahá'í that taught me said that for every question that we have answered we will find at least two more questions. So do not concern yourself too much with the road blocks that appear to obstruct you. Simply leave them be and return to them at a later date. This way you will not subject yourself to spiritual indigestion. I will therefore seek to explore your secondary questions with this in mind. I can only offer you my apologies if you need to reach for the indigestion tablets.

Q. Can you give an example of a such a clearly incorrect old perception? More importantly, could you give an example of a correct new perception?

It is important to appreciate that people's former beliefs also shape how they will perceive the Bahá'í Faith too. So in a manner of speaking, it is about learning how to cultivate the courage to move from one insight about the human condition to another. This is far more subtle than changing one's religion. This is because it goes to the very core of one's being.

Here is a very simple example of one individual going through this process. The gentleman concerned was a large biker who was the leader of a motorbike pack. When he heard about Bahá'u'lláh he cried and accepted Him. Armed with little more than he should teach the Faith he rode off. Every week, without fail, he brought a new person to enrol into the Bahá'í Faith. His community were elated. However, it slowly began to dawn on them that the people he brought into the Faith did not appear to share his enthusiasm and looked rather timid. So they decided to ask him how he taught these people about the Bahá'í Faith. Not afraid of answering the question the gentleman simply said that he would pick a fight with another biker and beat him until he consented to join the Bahá'í Faith.

Rather like this biker, all Bahá'ís have a preexisting moral code before they join the Faith. It is these codes that can be both our strength and our weakness. Sometimes we refer to it as the spiritual baggage we bring into the Bahá'í Faith with us.

Here is a simple taster of what you might have experienced in some Bahá'í homes in America before the arrival of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. On entering the house you would be offered a glass of wine. Once seated a small passage of the Bahá'í Writings in English would be shared. Then you would be invited to adjourn to witness a séance. Needless to say, when 'Abdu'l-Bahá finally reached the shores of America, He loving guided their ways to help them on the road towards acquiring better Bahá'í values. He used a simple phase that is worth bringing to mind from time to time: Little by little; day by day.

Q. So, any tantrum should evolve into a rational opposition (and fight) where you have evidence that the collective, by means of any State, Court, or Law, is violating or intending to violate your rights.

In the Bahá'í Faith we are encouraged to pray for tests. In other words we invite God to challenge us in our personal lives so that we might learn to overcome adversity and grow in our spiritual character. Therefore these tantrums, as I put it, are actually a reflection of the way we begin to acclimatise to this spiritual process. This is why I enjoy hosting youth events where people will stand up and vocally share all the uncertainties that are on their minds because the quicker a person can progress through this phase the more likely it is they will develop the capacity to truly grow. The alternative is to sit in a stagnant pond of self pity and simple endure the Bahá'í Faith out of a sense of duty. I do not advise you to do the latter.

Q. Is the Baha'i Faith aiming to be a theocracy where religion controls human society like it does within modern Iran?

Fancy that glass of wine now while we wait for an answer in that séance?

Do understand that the Kitáb-i-Aqdas follows on from the Bayán. Indeed Bahá'u'lláh refers to the Bayán as the Mother Book. Once you read the Persian Bayán, you will begin to understand that these laws are not what they might appear. For instance they have a symbolic and spiritual meaning that is far greater than their material meaning. Indeed the material meaning is often quite deceptive. This is why the Persian Bayán places great emphasis on not harming others. So Bábí and Bahá'í laws are arguably moral lessons that contain within them extremely rich spiritual insights. As an example of this, see if you can calculate how many fines for adultery the richest person in the world could pay before running out of money. By doubling the fine after each and every offence, naturally it reaches a point where even the richest person in the world cannot pay the fine. This is its point. It should also be noted that by paying such a fine one would also need to confess a sin to another person. As this is prohibited by Bahá'í law, hopefully you can start to see there is much more to this than what meets the eye because the law in itself cannot actually be applied. The same is true with some other laws in these Holy Books. However, this does not negate their spiritual importance.

If you examine political systems closely, you will begin to understand that they are all influenced by religion. Indeed the Ten Commandments are just as much alive today as they were during the time of Moses. The Guardian even went as far as to suggest that the spiritual actions of Bahá'í National Spiritual Assemblies will directly influence the spiritual behaviour of their respective governments. Now, let us ponder on this for a moment as we look around at the governments of the world. Does this mean that Bahá'í National Spiritual Assemblies are accountable for the way governments act and behave within their respective sovereign states? Well in my eyes the answer to this is a clearly resounding, yes!

This is what true spiritual leadership is all about and it is exactly what the Bahá'í Administrative Order is ultimately designed to achieve. It is not designed to sit in a stagnant pool to proliferate about how great it is or how one day it will rule the world.

A theocracy by its very nature is a government ruled by the clergy. There is no clergy within the Bahá'í Faith because no one is granted the right of interpretation. We are all equally ignorant. It is our spiritual actions that define us.


Q. No one can predict the future. But everyone can envision a future, and fight for it. What is that future you envision as a Baha'i, my , friend?

Currently the Universal House of Justice operates in Persian and English. Indeed everyone that has been elected onto it since its formation can speak either one or both of these languages; even though there are no restrictions in the electoral colleges. How then can the trustees of the Supreme Institution be open to the actual spiritual needs of the various peoples around the world if the overriding cultural perception is based on Persian and English values?

There is one member of the Universal House of Justice, who as a younger person, used to go around conventions asking delegates how they voted. He did not ask for the names, merely how many incumbents and new members they voted for. Now there is no need to respond to such an impertinent question from such an upstart. You see, in order to vote you actually have to get out and meet real people within the Bahá'í Community. When you do this you know exactly who to vote for. Therefore, in order for Bahá'í democracy to truly work, one needs to travel and get to know people. If this is not the case then the delegates from the electoral colleges will simply keep on electing the same people. This can have have the undesired effect of creating inertia within Bahá'í Institutions.

Now, to better understand this, I would like to invite you to listen to an hours presentation by Amatu'l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum at the 6th Annual Convention. While dated, her concerns are just as relevant today as they were back then. She will assist you to see what I am seeking to share with you here https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyI3qiApkeo


Q. Spiritual counsellor or court. Based on the Kitab-i-Aqdas and other Bahá'í Scriptures that you have examined during your academic research, which of these roles would the UHJ play?

Now that you know my education is worthless because it grants me no greater licence to talk about the Bahá'í Faith than anyone else. Hopefully you can begin to see why it can be such a challenge to try to define the Bahá'í Administrative Order in academic terms. Indeed the one value that my education did afforded me is that it allowed me to witness and better appreciate the type of prejudices that currently exist within the Bahá'í Community. This has helped me to reshape my understanding.

While there is often a degree of interest in the Universal House of Justice, the Bahá'í Administrative Order is a multifaceted entity. The following link on an official Bahá'í website should help you to better put this into context The Bahá

In reference to the above link do appreciate that the Guardian once explained that it will take at least a century before the Bahá'í Community might be ready to understand the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. The only assistance I can offer you here is that it is actually three Will and Testaments. By law only the last will and testament constitutes as being legal, unless clauses permit earlier sections to be implemented. So for instance, when Shoghi Effendi passed away, it would support the application of the second Will and Testament. Hopefully you might come to appreciate that had Shoghi Effendi produced a will and testament, it would have invalidated 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Will and Testament. So do understand that this is still a living legal document and it will remain so until the next Manifestation of God. The Guardian was exceptionally well versed in understanding how to protect the Bahá'í Covenant. As you continue to grow in your understanding, his wisdom will never cease to amaze you.

Also in reference to the above link do appreciate that the Universal House of Justice, as the Supreme Institution, is still evolving. The Constitution of the Universal House of Justice can actually be quite painful to read. This is because it offers a snapshot into the Bahá'í Community around half a century ago. It was an age when quote upon quote was needed in order to grant it legitimacy. This is because one Hand of the Cause claimed to be the second guardian in line with 'Abdu'l-Bahá's first Will and Testament. He even sought to obtain the legal rights of Bahá'í properties. The matter actually went to court because it was a property dispute. Essentially the court ruled in favour of those that would go on to support the Universal House of Justice. Therefore do understand that this event has actually shaped the way that the Constitution is written and presented. This should help you to place its unusual writing style into better context when you read it.

I hope these insights might go some way towards providing responses that you can personally relate with.

Your dear friend,
Earth

Last edited by Earth; 07-15-2017 at 10:55 AM.
 
Old 07-17-2017, 04:42 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camachoe View Post
... My shock came from reading that "punishments" will be "applied by" the UHJ. Meaning, UHJ as an agency to apply punishments.
So the image of theocratic regimen like Iran under a Baha'i's equivalent of the sharia came to my mind. Bahai policemen, guards, prisons, etc.
Walrus has said, correctly imv, that this is " a religious law intended to guide us in the implementation of secular laws." Do not put any weight on the "applied by the UHJ" bit: the notes to the Aqdas are just the opinions of individual members of the research department, and the book was barely published before it was followed by a list of corrections to be made in the next edition.

Quote:
The House of Justice has thus made the status of the Research Department's statements, such as that previously provided to Mr. Cope, very clear: the contents are the considered views of the departmental staff, provided as "an aid to resolving perplexities or gaining an enhanced understanding". Such statements, however, cannot have the identical weight as the elucidations given by the Universal House of Justice. 2

(The Universal House of Justice, 1988 Sept 25, Function of Research Department, Various terms, p. 1)
 
Old 07-17-2017, 05:38 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earth View Post
Greetings Camachoe,

Do understand that the Kitáb-i-Aqdas follows on from the Bayán. Indeed Bahá'u'lláh refers to the Bayán as the Mother Book. Once you read the Persian Bayán, you will begin to understand that these laws are not what they might appear. For instance they have a symbolic and spiritual meaning that is far greater than their material meaning. Indeed the material meaning is often quite deceptive. This is why the Persian Bayán places great emphasis on not harming others. So Bábí and Bahá'í laws are arguably moral lessons that contain within them extremely rich spiritual insights.
Thank you very much, Earth, for all your answers... and not just for your answers as such, but for your willingness to explain.

I take home the message you have stated in the part I am quoting. Behind a law there is the "spirit of the law" which is the one that any true follower should strive to get to. It is the spirit of the law that will influence secular governments to issue sound secular laws.

I have no problem with one global government, as long as individual rights are respected. I am not sure if the "political culture" of the audiences of Bahá'u'lláh in Persia and the Otoman Empire were familiar with the concept of individual rights. I suspect that those audiences were more familiar with the concept of a benevolent, wise monarch that enforces good behaviour and punishes bad behavior, even when "bad behaviour" happens to relate when how you treat what belongs to you and only to you (say, your body, your money). So, the Bab's and Bah'a'u'lláhs messages were perhaps formulated in such a way that people with a weaker understanding of individual rights could understand.

For Westerners it may be somewhat different. Most Westeners, for example, would know intuitively that you are entitled to throw to the fireplace a one hundred dollar bill that belongs to you, even if a poor hungry neighbour would benefit from that money.
Although throwing the bill to the fireplace would be ethically wrong (and condemmed as "bad" by believers and non believers alike), Westerners would agree that the government should not act to prevent you or to punish you from burning up your US$100 bill.

Same with ingesting drugs, for example. This is undoubtedly a bad thing. Nevertheless, you should not be punished by the police for harming your own body with cocaine (or with wine or with bacon and sausages, for that matter). Why? Because it is my right to do with my property as I choose, even if my choices are wrong... the only limit being not violating the rights of others.
For example, if I own a baseball bat, I have the right to use it, keep it in my closet, sell it, lend it, give it for free, exchange it for another good or service, throwing it to the litter bin or destroy it. I could even use it to hit my own head with it (a stupid thing to do, but I would still have the right to do it). However, I do not have the right to use it to hit my neighbour's head, because my neighbour's body does not belong to me. If I hit him with the bat, we expect the government to send the police and punish me.

A secular govermnent illuminated by Baha'i Teachings, in my view and the view of those who uphold civil rights, should not send a man to prison for throwing his $100 bill to the fireplace or for getting drunk at home... and certainly not for consensual sex outside marriage. All these things would be certainly condemned from a non-coercive standpoint so that, through persuasion, that is, by appealing to their reason and their heart, people could be educated to do better.

Last edited by camachoe; 07-17-2017 at 12:08 PM.
 
Old 07-18-2017, 01:55 AM   #13
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Greetings Camachoe,

I am glad that you can now see that the Bahá'ís are people that are expected to adhere to secular moderation. Like it or not, Bahá'í publications really do require an extensive amount of professional third party editorial work if they are to be read and understood in an intelligent manner by wider members of the public. All young religions face this issue because if they are the publishers they can be blind to the intellectual challenges their religious writings can bring to non-believers.

My partner, who produces religious material for educational bodies around the world, is constantly less that satisfied at the standards employed within some mainline Bahá'í publications; like the Kitáb-i-Aqdas for instance. The problem here is not with the Bahá'í Writings, but rather the lack of clarity that is afforded to the general reader. This is why all core Bahá'í Writings need to be reviewed by people with the skill-set and expertise to ensure that what is being published meets acceptable intellectual criteria. If this is not the case, then understandably, good people like yourself are prone to being confused by their contents.

You are going to find this issue again and again as you read core Bahá'í material. If you wish to read some quality material on Bahá'u'lláh that is designed for wider readership, then might I suggest that you consider reading The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh by Adib Taherzadeh https://bahaikipedia.org/Adib_Taherzadeh While this 4 volume set is copyrighted, you can sample it online here STUDY THE FAITH - Revelation of Baha'u'llah The reason these volumes are so beautiful and informative to read is because they were properly edited before publication by a coherent editorial team that was established by the author.

Naturally, it has taken a few exchanges between us to help you come to a more rational view. But do appreciate that some older Bahá'ís today still prescribe to the view that the Bahá'í Faith is going to become a global theocracy. The primary reason for them thinking like this is because of the poor publishing standards of the material they have read. It is fundamentally imperative that people understand that any guidance offered to an individual from the Guardian is unique and for that person alone. The Guardian has shared some ideas that appear to support this, but they need to be examined in their full context. The Guardian has used political comparisons to help represent components of what form the Bahá'í Faith might take. In one example he lists a range of political concepts like capitalism and socialism, and while he omits theocracy, he did interestingly employ the term nihilism. There is an example of this with 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Haifa. During the food crisis, bakers started the raise the price of bread to the point where the general population could not afford to buy a loaf of bread. They turned to 'Abdu'l-Bahá and ask Him what they should do. He told them to break down the windows and doors, steal the bread for themselves and furthermore to tell these bakers that 'Abdu'l-Bahá told them to do it. The point to understand here is that in a human crisis, like a food shortage, secular laws can be used to disrespect human beings. These type of events transpire every day as the situation for humans become more and more perilous for them in various parts of the world. As such challenges radically change people's perceptions about human governance, we cannot even begin to visualise how, if indeed humanity ever will, collectively come to embrace Bahá'u'lláh.

Hopefully you can see that this is actually a manmade Bahá'í conundrum that is likely to remain until publishing standards improve. While members of the Bahá'í Faith are more versed at spanning these intellectual chasms. Members of the public do not relate to such guidance in the same way. This is why, understandably, some view Bahá'ís and the Bahá'í Faith in a less than unflattering manner.

The moral of the story here is that the Bahá'í Faith is a young religion. While we are grateful to obtain official translations from Arabic and Persian, it does not mean they will be welcomed by others. The Guardian was always highly sensitive to the way material in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas could be widely misperceived. This is why he only translated some key components and assisted the reader to put these into mature context. While Bahá'ís will applaud the Universal House of Justice for deciding to translate and publish the Kitáb-i-Aqdas into the English language in 1992, the lesson that needs to be learnt here is that translations also need to provide supporting material in order to assist general readers to put them into context too. This is because scholars study the Kitáb-i-Aqdas in its Arabic text and Persian subtext. So to really read it at source a person needs a very competent ability in both Arabic and Persian. While western scholars can learn these languages, they do not possess the cultural framework of thinking. This is why it is such a challenge for people with western minds to study the Bahá'í Faith, even if they possess the necessary linguistic skills to read material at source.

In time I envisage the learning of Persian and Arabic cultures and languages as being a basic component of learning about the Bahá'í Faith. Sadly, some Bahá'ís still have to acquire the ability to learn how to exchange basic pleasantries with a Persian or Arabic host in their own language. If some western Bahá'ís have still not even mastered this basic human etiquette, how then can they ever truly share the value of what lays at the heart of their own religion to others? There is a profound difference between Persian, Arabic and English values. Learning how to fuse and bring these together is going to take much more than scholars.

Earth

Last edited by Earth; 07-18-2017 at 01:58 AM.
 
Old 07-18-2017, 06:59 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earth View Post

... some older Bahá'ís today still prescribe to the view that the Bahá'í Faith is going to become a global theocracy. The primary reason for them thinking like this is because of the poor publishing standards of the material they have read.
Thanks, Earth, for enlighting me about the subject on the poor publishing standards. Regardless of how important good publishing standandards are for a correct understanding of the Faith, I would be skeptical in thinking this is the primary reason for older Bahais to adhere to the belief in a future theocracy. Please bear with me a little:

I think most human beings have held through ages, and still hold, an authoritarian perspective of governance.

Just ask any taxi driver, or clerk at a store what they would do if he/she was president of his/her republic, and you will start hear immediately how he/she would issue all kind of decrees that have little to do with consultation, democracy, dialogue, or even respect for some human rights. To some extent, deeply inside, it is as if the French Revolution (or the Founding Fathers of the USA) had never existed. Most people still believe that, if we had governors that were wise enough, and honest enough, and bold enough, we would not need democracy at all: they would just, somehow, fix problems and bring prosperity.

If this is still prevalent now, imagine the concept of a government among the followers of all religions over the past millenia.

Therefore, it is reasonably to think that these dreams on theocracy are merely a reflection of how people (including very good people) conceive society. The multiple references for a future theocracy that we can find in all scriptures are probably a way Prophets and Manifestations use a language their audiences can understand.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Earth View Post

It is fundamentally imperative that people understand that any guidance offered to an individual from the Guardian is unique and for that person alone.

This is an outstanding statement that resonates strongly with me. I thank you for this, Earth.

I have been asking myself: To whom the Manifestations of God spoke/wrote?
  • To their people within their culture and time?
  • To all mankind for years to come?
  • To me as an individual?

Probably They spoke to the three at different levels and contexts. It is our responsibility to approach God through these different levels and channels, which include the sacred writings of the Manifestations, but also the guidance from parents, friends, Lesser Prophets, scientists and scholars, communities, and finally and most importantly, the Holy Spirit working within the rational soul of each one of us.

Last edited by camachoe; 07-18-2017 at 07:18 AM.
 
Old 07-20-2017, 03:21 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ernobe View Post
Reading this thread has reminded me of a reply I sent to one of Sen McGlinns'
posts, at
https://senmcglinn.wordpress.com/201...-the-governor/
It seems that, as in a previous occasion, he's having difficulties posting my replies.
I don't know if it was popular acclaim which forced him to previously. Anyway, he has
been excommunicated from the Faith for opposing the formation of a theocratic state.


Dear Sen,
I'm Roy who originally posed the question of the Guardian and the
Governor in a previous post, at
https://senmcglinn.wordpress.com/abo...s-14-may-2006/ .
This is intended to answer your reply to it there and here.

Someone who runs a business or is on a school board, is exercising temporal
administrative authority, which can be subject to the temporal political
authority of a Baha'i assembly, each working in its own sphere of influence and
without overstepping its limits in relation to the other. There is no
contradiction.

What you are proposing conflates the "temporal authority" of politicians and
businessmen, in such a way that there is no room for the "spiritual authority"
of Baha'i institutions to act as a go between. If one is bent on an inevitable
and irreconcilable separation of materialism and spirituality, just such a
conflation of temporal political authority with temporal administrative
authority might do the job. But it goes against the Baha'i principle of the
unity of science and religion. There is more to it than a mere intellectual
exercise.

In the current society you may see examples of politicians and businessmen
colluding and saying there is no other way to do things. But they don't have
the real interests of humanity at heart. It is all self-serving, and the poor
ignorant masses have all been duped by them. Will you follow in their
footsteps?

In the Baha'i view the high minded, praiseworthy leaders of thought are those
who have recognized that unbridled materialism is the scourge of humanity, and
can only lead to chaos and confusion. This has ever been the case, and the
Baha'i Cause is what will ultimately rid the world of the scourge of politics
and politicians, fulfilling the most ardent, hopeful dreams of all the by-gone
prophets and seers.
I don't think that is the reason why he has been declared a non-Baha'i. I don't know what the reason is, but it's not that.
 
Old 07-24-2017, 04:26 AM   #16
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Quote:
We should note also that Baha'u'llah specifically taught that all nations ought to have constitutional monarchies with both a king or queen and a legislative assembly. He said kingship is a "sign of God and [he did ]not wish that nations should remain deprived thereof". Quite obviously, neither the Universal House of Justice, nor a National House of Justice can fill this role. Neither could they be considered as the required legislative body of a national government, because the relation between the parliament and the monarch is different that the role of the House of Justice.
________________________________________
Last edited by Jcc; 07-14-2017 at 05:15 AM.
Expanding upon what Jcc has contributed (post # 9), I will offer the words of Shoghi Effendi reinforcing the information provided by Jcc.in his comments: “Let none, however, mistake or unwittingly misrepresent the purpose of Bahá’u’lláh. Severe as has been His condemnation pronounced against those sovereigns who persecuted Him, and however strict the censure expressed collectively against those who failed signally in their clear duty to investigate the truth of His Faith and to restrain the hand of the wrongdoer, His teachings embody no principle that can, in any way, be construed as a repudiation, or even a disparagement, however veiled, of the institution of kingship. The catastrophic fall, and the extinction of the dynasties and empires of those monarchs whose disastrous end He particularly prophesied, and the declining fortunes of the sovereigns of His Own generation, whom He generally reproved—both constituting a passing phase of the evolution of the Faith—should, in no wise, be confounded with the future position of that institution. Indeed if we delve into the writings of the Author of the Bahá’í Faith, we cannot fail to discover unnumbered passages in which, in terms that none can misrepresent, the principle of kingship is eulogized, the rank and conduct of just and fair-minded kings is extolled, the rise of monarchs, ruling with justice and even professing His Faith, is envisaged, and the solemn duty to arise and ensure the triumph of Bahá’í sovereigns is inculcated. To conclude from the above quoted words, addressed by Bahá’u’lláh to the monarchs of the earth, to infer from the recital of the woeful disasters that have overtaken so many of them, that His followers either advocate or anticipate the definite extinction of the institution of kingship, would indeed be tantamount to a distortion of His teaching.” I would encourage those interested in better understanding how “the principle of Kingship” is “envisaged” by Baha’u’llah to further read the Guardian’s exposition on that topic found in his letter dated March 28, 1941 and titled “The Promised Day is Come”. See The Promised Day is Come (pp. 71 – 74).

-LR
 
Old 07-24-2017, 03:05 PM   #17
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I do not recall your reply appearing on my blog queue, but if it did, I might well have decided not to post it, because I cannot see what it is that you are saying that is relevant to the Guardian and the Governor. I am selective of what goes on the comments section, because postings that do not say anything, do not include new content, waste the time of my readers.

You wrote: "excommunicated from the Faith for opposing the formation of a theocratic state."

So far as I know, that is not true. If it were true, I might be the last to know, but I doubt that you would be the first to be notified.
 
Old 07-24-2017, 06:55 PM   #18
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Camachoe asked in post #1 on this thread:
Quote:
Do you envision the UHJ converted into a sort of government agency that applies force to comply with the Kitán-o-Aqdas?
In ‘Abdul-Baha’s Will and Testament (Part 1), He “envision(ed)” that: “This House of Justice enacteth the laws and the government enforceth them. The legislative body must reinforce the executive, the executive must aid and assist the legislative body so that through the close union and harmony of these two forces, the foundation of fairness and justice may become firm and strong, that all the regions of the world may become even as Paradise itself.”

Appearing to be expounding on ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s words above, Shoghi Effendi wrote in his letter dated March 11, 1936 that “The unity of the human race, as envisaged by Bahá'u'lláh, implies the establishment of a world commonwealth in which all nations, races, creeds and classes are closely and permanently united, and in which the autonomy of its state members and the personal freedom and initiative of the individuals that compose them are definitely and completely safeguarded. This commonwealth must, as far as we can visualize it, consist of a world legislature, whose members will, as the trustees of the whole of mankind, ultimately control the entire resources of all the component nations, and will enact such laws as shall be required to regulate the life, satisfy the needs and adjust the relationships of all races and peoples. A world executive, backed by an international Force, will carry out the decisions arrived at, and apply the laws enacted by, this world legislature, and will safeguard the organic unity of the whole commonwealth. A world tribunal will adjudicate and deliver its compulsory and final verdict in all and any disputes that may arise between the various elements constituting this universal system. . . .” (The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 203 - To read his entire exposition, see pages 202 through 206)

Beyond the Guardian’s clear expositions, we can only ourselves imagine what stages and forms are necessary (both within and without the Cause of God) to achieve what it is that Baha’u’llah has Himself “envisaged”. Based on the Writings and the Guardian’s explanations, we do know that the House of Justice is envisioned to have a legislative role in the development of divinely inspired law. We do know that Baha’u’llah envisioned constitutional monarchies as the ideal form of government(s). What we are missing is the Institution of the Guardianship to assist us to further understand this process of unfoldment – to help us to “to take a long, an uninterrupted view over a series of generations . . .” (The Dispensation of Baha'u'llah).

- LR
 
Old 07-25-2017, 12:22 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sen McGlinn View Post
I do not recall your reply appearing on my blog queue, but if it did, I might well have decided not to post it, because I cannot see what it is that you are saying that is relevant to the Guardian and the Governor. I am selective of what goes on the comments section, because postings that do not say anything, do not include new content, waste the time of my readers.

You wrote: "excommunicated from the Faith for opposing the formation of a theocratic state."

So far as I know, that is not true. If it were true, I might be the last to know, but I doubt that you would be the first to be notified.
Good to see you here Sen, I hope all is well and happy with you. Thank you for all the News Updates on Facebook.

Regards Tony
 
Old 07-25-2017, 07:36 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Roofener View Post
Camachoe asked in post #1 on this thread:


In ‘Abdul-Baha’s Will and Testament (Part 1), He “envision(ed)” that: “This House of Justice enacteth the laws and the government enforceth them. The legislative body must reinforce the executive, the executive must aid and assist the legislative body so that through the close union and harmony of these two forces, the foundation of fairness and justice may become firm and strong, that all the regions of the world may become even as Paradise itself.”

Appearing to be expounding on ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s words above, Shoghi Effendi wrote in his letter dated March 11, 1936 that “The unity of the human race, as envisaged by Bahá'u'lláh, implies the establishment of a world commonwealth in which all nations, races, creeds and classes are closely and permanently united, and in which the autonomy of its state members and the personal freedom and initiative of the individuals that compose them are definitely and completely safeguarded. This commonwealth must, as far as we can visualize it, consist of a world legislature, whose members will, as the trustees of the whole of mankind, ultimately control the entire resources of all the component nations, and will enact such laws as shall be required to regulate the life, satisfy the needs and adjust the relationships of all races and peoples. A world executive, backed by an international Force, will carry out the decisions arrived at, and apply the laws enacted by, this world legislature, and will safeguard the organic unity of the whole commonwealth. A world tribunal will adjudicate and deliver its compulsory and final verdict in all and any disputes that may arise between the various elements constituting this universal system. . . .” (The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 203 - To read his entire exposition, see pages 202 through 206)

Beyond the Guardian’s clear expositions, we can only ourselves imagine what stages and forms are necessary (both within and without the Cause of God) to achieve what it is that Baha’u’llah has Himself “envisaged”. Based on the Writings and the Guardian’s explanations, we do know that the House of Justice is envisioned to have a legislative role in the development of divinely inspired law. We do know that Baha’u’llah envisioned constitutional monarchies as the ideal form of government(s). What we are missing is the Institution of the Guardianship to assist us to further understand this process of unfoldment – to help us to “to take a long, an uninterrupted view over a series of generations . . .” (The Dispensation of Baha'u'llah).

- LR
Thank you very much, Larry.

From what I understand from these paragraphs, theocracy is what we envision.
Indeed, to me there is nothing wrong or worrisome about theocracy, monarchy, or even a republican government, as long as:

1) Autonomy of communities is upheld
2) Individual rights are respected

To preserve both, a very simple, brief, but clear constitution must be in place.
The "control of the resources" of the SuperState, or the "regulation of life" of the citizens, should in no way imply violation to any individual right, even if we dislike or condemn morally their behaviour.

Speaking straightforward, no adult who chooses to produce or drink alcohol, or sell it to another adult, should be sent to prison. No person committing adultery by consensual sex with another person should be forced at gunpoint to pay a fine. No homosexual couple choosing to marry should be denied rights (e.g. inheritance rights) recognized to a heterosexual couple.

And very importantly, no person in legal possesion of a $100 bill should be sent to prison for throwing it to his fireplace, or spending it in a Cuban cigar, even if his neihgbour is in need of that $100 bill to pay for food, and even if the sole idea of a person doing this with her money is repulsive to us.

In other words, I regard as immoral to threat a woman with the use of force (batons, guns, electric shocks) with the intention to make her generous and rational with the things that belong to her (her body, her mind, her property). That is not God's way to deal with mankind. God wants us to teach the truth not to impose it, and truth can only be taught and learnt in the realm of self-ownership. If we try to enforce truth, we end up having not believers, but slaves.

That is my true concern.

Last edited by camachoe; 07-25-2017 at 10:09 AM.
 
Old 07-25-2017, 01:00 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camachoe View Post
From what I understand from these paragraphs, theocracy is what we envision.
God forbid no: the Bahai Faith has a very strong principle of the separation of church and state, which Baha'u'llah argues from "Render unto Caesar", as well as other arguments. He writes:

Quote:
The sovereigns of the earth have been and are the manifestations of the power, the grandeur and the majesty of God. This Wronged One hath at no time dealt deceitfully with anyone.... Regard for the rank of sovereigns is divinely ordained, as is clearly attested by the words of the Prophets of God and His chosen ones. He Who is the Spirit (Jesus) — may peace be upon Him — was asked: “O Spirit of God! Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not?” And He made reply: “Yea, render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” He forbade it not. These two sayings are, in the estimation of men of insight, one and the same, for if that which belonged to Caesar had not come from God, He would have forbidden it. ....
(Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 89)
"
Quote:
Know thou that We have annulled the rule of the sword, as an aid to Our Cause, and substituted for it the power born of the utterance of men. ... Say: O people! Sow not the seeds of discord among men, and refrain from contending with your neighbor, for your Lord hath committed the world and the cities thereof to the care of the kings of the earth, and made them the emblems of His own power, by virtue of the sovereignty He hath chosen to bestow upon them. He hath refused to reserve for Himself any share whatever of this world’s dominion. To this He Who is Himself the Eternal Truth will testify. The things He hath reserved for Himself are the cities of men’s hearts, that He may cleanse them from all earthly defilements, and enable them to draw nigh unto the hallowed Spot which the hands of the infidel can never profane.
(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, 303)
Quote:
"In the Epistle to the Romans Saint Paul hath written: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God.” And further: “For he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” He saith that the appearance of the kings, and their majesty and power are of God.
(Baha’u’llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, 91)
Quote:
"… God, …hath ever regarded, and will continue to regard, the hearts of men as His own, His exclusive possession. All else, whether pertaining to land or sea, whether riches or glory, He hath bequeathed unto the Kings and rulers of the earth. … The instruments which are essential to the immediate protection, the security and assurance of the human race have been entrusted to the hands, and lie in the grasp, of the governors of human society. This is the wish of God and His decree…. .” (Gleanings, CII 206-7)
Quote:
"Dispute not with any one concerning the things of this world and its affairs, for God hath abandoned them to such as have set their affection upon them. Out of the whole world He hath chosen for Himself the hearts of men — hearts which the hosts of revelation and of utterance can subdue. Thus hath it been ordained by the Fingers of Baha, upon the Tablet of God’s irrevocable decree, by the behest of Him Who is the Supreme Ordainer, the All-Knowing.
(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, 279)
etc. etc: the theme is repeated throughout the Bahai writings, and Abdu'l-Baha includes it some of his "numbered lists" of the essential Bahai teachings, such as this one:

Quote:
..
Eighth, the universal peace. A supreme tribunal should be formed by all the governments and religious communities [note the plural ~ sen], in general elections, and any differences and disputes arising among the governments and peoples should be settled in that tribunal, so that they do not lead to war.

Ninth, religion is separated from politics. Religion does not enter into political matters. In fact, it is linked with the hearts, not with the world of bodies. The leaders of religion should devote themselves to teaching and training the souls and propagating good morals, and they should not enter into political matters.

Tenth, the education and training of women, ....
A Bahai theocracy – in the sense of the Bahai institutions ruling society - would not be consistent with Shoghi Effendi’s statement, in 1931, that the Bahais should “be on their guard lest the impression be given to the outside world that the Baha’is are political in their aims and pursuits or interfere in matters that pertain to the political activities of their respective governments.” A year later, in the letter ‘The Golden Age of the Cause of Baha’u’llah,’ Shoghi Effendi writes:

Quote:
Theirs is not the purpose, while endeavoring to conduct and perfect the administrative affairs of their Faith, to violate, under any circumstances, the provisions of their country’s constitution, much less to allow the machinery of their administration to supersede the government of their respective countries.
[/I]
This is very strong: the “much less” construction seems to mean that allowing the Bahai administrative institutions to supersede national governments would be worse than a violation of the constitution (as indeed it would, for it would violate God’s law as well).

Reason tells us that theocracies never work, and a state in which people of only one faith are allowed to vote for a government organ whose decisions affect all, can never be equitable in principle, however kind one might hope it would be in practice. The World Order of Baha’u’llah cannot be based on a fundamental inequity.

And if we are clear that the separation of Church and State is a principle that is consistently taught by Baha’u’llah, Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi, and applies to the Bahai institutions as much as to non-Bahai ones, we will have much less difficulty in presenting the Bahai World Order model to the world.

Last edited by Sen McGlinn; 07-25-2017 at 01:29 PM. Reason: highlighting
 
Old 07-25-2017, 01:16 PM   #22
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some more quotes on the separation of church and state

More quotes:

From Baha'u'llah:

The Second Ishraq
We have enjoined upon all mankind to establish the Most Great Peace — the surest of all means for the protection of humanity. The sovereigns of the world should, with one accord, hold fast thereunto, for this is the supreme instrument that can ensure the security and welfare of all peoples and nations. They, verily, are the manifestations of the power of God and the daysprings of His authority.
(Tablets of Baha’u’llah, 125)

From Abdu’l-Baha :
“Should they place in the arena the crown of the government of the whole world, and invite each one of us to accept it, undoubtedly we shall not condescend, and shall refuse to accept it.” ( Tablets of the Divine Plan 51)

The signature of that meeting should be the Spiritual Gathering (House of Spirituality) and the wisdom therein is that hereafter the government should not infer from the term “House of Justice” that a court is signified, that it is connected with political affairs, or that at any time it will interfere with governmental affairs. … (Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha Abbas vol. 1, page 5).

My intention, with these words, is not that religion has any business in politics. Religion has no jurisdiction or involvement in political matters, for religion is related to spirits and to ecstasy, while politics relates to the body. Therefore the leaders of religions should not be involved in political matters, but should busy themselves with rectifying the morals of the community. They admonish, and excite the desire and appetite for piety. They sustain the morals of the community. They give spiritual understanding to the souls. They teach the [religious] sciences, but they have no involvement with political matters, for all time. Baha’u’llah has commanded this. In the Gospels it is said, “Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” (Khatabat-e Abdu’l-Baha 182. My translation)

… this sect have no worldly object nor any role in political matters. The fulcrum of their motion and rest and the pivot of their cast and conduct is restricted to spiritual things and confined to the doctrine of the unity of the prophets; it has no role to play in the affairs of the government nor any connection to the seat of sovereignty. Its principles are the proclamation of the praises of God, the investigation of signs, the education of souls, the reformation of characters, the purification of hearts, and illumination with the gleams of enlightenment. …
[the Bahai scriptures] are entirely taken up with the prohibition of sedition, and with upright conduct amongst mankind, obedience, submission, loyalty, obeying the law, the acquisition of laudable qualities, and encouragements to become endowed with praiseworthy accomplishments and characteristics.
They play absolutely no role in political questions, and do not raise opposition in matters which could cause disturbance or sedition. Under these circumstances the government cannot justly offer excuses, and possesses no pretext [for further persecuting this sect] except [a claim to the right of] interference in thought and conscience, which are the private possessions of the heart and soul. … (A Traveler’s Narrative, 86-88)


From Shoghi Effendi:

…in the slow and hidden process of secularisation invading many a Government department under the courageous guidance of the Governors of outlying provinces — in all of these a discerning eye can easily discover the symptoms that augur well for a future that is sure to witness the formal and complete separation of Church and State.
(Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha’i Community, 76)

The establishment of a constitutional form of government, in which the ideals
of republicanism and the majesty of kingship, characterized by Him as “one of the signs of God,” are combined, He recommends as a meritorious achievement ….
God Passes By, 218-219

I would warn [the Bahais] to be on their guard lest the impression be given to the outside world that the Baha’is are political in their aims and pursuits or interfere in matters that pertain to the political activities of their respective governments. The Cause, still in its state of infancy, should be adequately protected from this particular danger….
(13 November 1931 to an individual believer, cited in The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 420)

On behalf of Shoghi Effendi:

“The Administrative Order is not a governmental or civic body, it is to regulate and guide the internal affairs of the Bahá’í community; consequently it works, according to its own procedure, best suited to its needs. (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to Canada, 276)

“… the Assembly is a nascent House of Justice and is supposed to administer, according to the Teachings, the affairs of the Community.” (Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, p. 41)

and more and more - see
https://senmcglinn.wordpress.com/com...hurch-n-state/
for a start, and read Abdu'l-Baha's "Art of Politics" (aka Treatise on Politics). The principle that “The Administrative Order is not a governmental or civic body, it is to regulate and guide the internal affairs of the Bahá’í community" is deeply rooted in the Bahai scriptures from the second part of the Kitab-e Iqan through to Shoghi Effendi's last words.
 
Old 07-25-2017, 04:05 PM   #23
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Camachoe (post #20):

To be clear, I wasn’t suggesting that a theocracy was envisioned by Baha’u’llah, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, or Shoghi Effendi, although I can see how one could interpret it that way having only considered the limited information I presented in my post. In my post, I suggested reading Shoghi Effendi’s words found in The World Order of Baha’u’llah pages 202 - 206, or better yet, read the entire letter titled “The Unfoldment of World Civilization”, pages 161 – 206.

I would also encourage you to consider the huge compilation of references offered by Sen McGlinn who has passionately studied the topic of separation of church and state for many years.

Whatever the ultimate outcome and whatever the form the New World Order will take on, it will not be a replica of any past or current System, theocratic or otherwise. Baha’u’llah assured that the New Order will be revolutionary and “unique”, and will be a “wondrous System - the like of which mortal eyes have never witnessed.” (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 136).

-LR
 
Old 08-22-2017, 05:52 PM   #24
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To Walrus: I like your response to the topic at hand. The lack of spirituality has its consequences for the individual and society at large. Baha’u’llah proclaimed Himself not only to monarchs but also to democratic republics and the peoples of the world.

To the world also Baha’u’llah warned there was an unforeseen calamity awaiting it by reason of rejecting Him as God’s timely Messenger. The lack of recognition and acceptance, in other words, would eventually have dire consequences. As Jesus put it, “Man does not live by bread alone.” I would say without redemption from God even daily bread has become a problem. When civilization is carried to excess it becomes as prolific a source of evil as it had of good is also a principle pointed out by Baha’u’llah.

Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s is not the same thing as endorsing the lack of morality of certain Caesars. When the Roman Emperor Nero burned Rome and lied by blaming the Christians is a good example. What lack of morality we see in present day politics equally applies.

Just as the early Christians concentrated on ushering in a Christian Community as an alternative to the society of Caesar so Baha’is concentrate on establishing a world society imbued with a strong spiritual basis as a refuge for a crumbling Old World Order.
 
Old 08-24-2017, 07:35 AM   #25
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Dear all

I have just read a letter from the UHJ, directed to the Canadian Spiritual Assembly, addressing misconceptions that a group of Baha'i was spreading through the Internet, and that the UHJ considered internal opposition. Please read the whole letter here to get the context right and help me out.

The letter presents three examples of such misconceptions, that I reproduce here:
In general, the strategy being pursued [by this internal opposition] has been to avoid direct attacks on the Faith’s Central Figures. The effort, rather, has been to sow the seeds of doubt among believers about the Faith’s teachings and institutions by appealing to unexamined prejudices that Bahá’ís may have unconsciously absorbed from non-Bahá’í society.

In defiance of the clear interpretation of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the Guardian, for example, Bahá’u’lláh’s limiting of membership on the Universal House of Justice to men is misrepresented as merely a “temporary measure” subject to eventual revision if sufficient pressure is brought to bear.

Similarly, Shoghi Effendi’s explanation of Bahá’u’lláh’s vision of the future Bahá’í World Commonwealth that will unite spiritual and civil authority is dismissed in favor of the assertion that the modern political concept of “separation of church and state” is somehow one that Bahá’u’lláh intended as a basic principle of the World Order He has founded.

Particularly subtle is an attempt to suggest that the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár should evolve into a seat of quasi-doctrinal authority, parallel to and essentially independent of the Local House of Justice, which would permit various interests to insinuate themselves into the direction of the life processes of the Cause."
The second misconception, says the letter, is to think that Bahá'u'lláh intended the separation of church and state to be a basic principle of the World Order He has founded when in reality, we should subscribe to the Guardian's vision on civil and religious authority being united in the future Baha'i World Commonwealth.

Therefore, trying to reconcile the numerous quotes from the Scriptures that Sen McGlinn and others have posted, my take is this:

Nowadays, the principle of separation of church and state must prevail. We are not interested in seizing political power and explicitly discouraged to seek that.
In the future, though, civil and religious authority will become one and the same. And this will be achieved not by violence, but by the growing influence of the principles of the Faith in political theory and practice. The Future State will not be a theocracy in the sense of being ruled by clergy, and will preserve human rights, including of course religious freedom.

Am I OK with this understanding?

Last edited by camachoe; 08-24-2017 at 07:40 AM.
 
Old 08-24-2017, 12:41 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camachoe View Post
In the future, though, civil and religious authority will become one and the same. And this will be achieved not by violence, but by the growing influence of the principles of the Faith in political theory and practice. The Future State will not be a theocracy in the sense of being ruled by clergy, and will preserve human rights, including of course religious freedom.

Am I OK with this understanding?
If the House of Justice would really become a political body, how would this affect Feasts and Consultation about public affairs? Would this lead to two-class society where only the ones with Bahá'í administrative rights could in any way contribute to consultation about matters affecting society at large or them specifically? Would it mean that Christians and Muslims were not allowed to vote in general elections and were not allowed to serve on political bodies or any other department of the state? Or would non-Bahá'í be allowed to take part in consultation and serve on the Houses of Justice? This is a fundamental question that isn't resolved yet.
 
Old 08-24-2017, 02:11 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoerenRekelBludau View Post
If the House of Justice would really become a political body, how would this affect Feasts and Consultation about public affairs? Would this lead to two-class society where only the ones with Bahá'í administrative rights could in any way contribute to consultation about matters affecting society at large or them specifically? Would it mean that Christians and Muslims were not allowed to vote in general elections and were not allowed to serve on political bodies or any other department of the state? Or would non-Bahá'í be allowed to take part in consultation and serve on the Houses of Justice? This is a fundamental question that isn't resolved yet.
Very interesting question

We may get some insight from what happen now in some developed monarchies: the King must belong to certain religion, even when complete religious freedom is granted to the people. I don't remember exactly, but it seems o to be the case of the UK, where the Crown must be occupied by a member of the Church of England... not a Catholic or a Muslim or any other religion... but this does not prevent the Constitution to grant British people full religious freedom. From what I remember, in Argentina the President must also be Catholic, which does not affect at all individual liberties.

It may be the case that the Executive Power (which is not only the President, but all her cabinet) and the Tribunals could be exercised by people from all religions, and leave the UHJ as a Baha'i-only body, as a relic or symbol of the most influential religion of this Dispensation.

In addition, let us remember that such a Superstate would be founded on the principle of autonomy of communities (nations? city-nations? provinces?). These autonomous local governments would be composed by people from all religions and represent a powerful counterbalance to the central state.

Last edited by camachoe; 08-24-2017 at 02:17 PM.
 
Old 08-26-2017, 03:40 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camachoe View Post
... my take is this:

Nowadays, the principle of separation of church and state must prevail. We are not interested in seizing political power and explicitly discouraged to seek that.
In the future, though, civil and religious authority will become one and the same. And this will be achieved not by violence, but by the growing influence of the principles of the Faith in political theory and practice. The Future State will not be a theocracy in the sense of being ruled by clergy, and will preserve human rights, including of course religious freedom.

Am I OK with this understanding?
"Arise, and serve Him Who is the Desire of all nations, Who hath created you through a word from Him, and ordained you to be, for all time, the emblems of His sovereignty. By the righteousness of God! It is not Our wish to lay hands on your kingdoms. Our mission is to seize and possess the hearts of men. Upon them the eyes of Baha are fastened.
(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 211)


There are passages in Shoghi Effendi’s writings which, taken in isolation, could be taken to mean that the Baha’i Administrative Order would assume the functions of the superstate — but not if one reads them in the light of Shoghi Effendi’s clarification in WOB 66, ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Treatise on Governance, and Baha’u’llah’s Iqan, Kitab-i Aqdas, Kitab-i ‘Ahd, Lawh-i Maqsud, Lawh-i Ashraf, Lawh-i Dunya and so on. I have already posted sources from Gleanings, and extracts from the Aqdas, and you will have no trouble in finding more. The principle of the two sovereignties that is first stated in the Iqan permeates all of Baha’u’llah’s thinking: one can no more understand the Baha’i Faith without it, than one could leave out say the oneness of humanity or the relativity of religious truth. Shoghi Effendi selected some of the most emphatic statements of this principle for Gleanings, and he assumes that his readers will have grasped it.

If you do take firm hold of it, and read Shoghi Effendi’s writings and the other Writings in that light, you will see that the Writings are consistent, and also that the kind of government and society they refer to looks remarkably attractive and contemporary. It is one you could go out into the modern world and unashamedly teach, whereas if you think that our real aim is to build up the institutions of world government and support our national governments for a while and then abolish them at both levels — well, you can either practice a little dissimulation in your teaching work, or just stop teaching. Because nobody out there today is going to buy that recipe — theocracy has been demonstrated to be the worst of all possible forms of government, and the separation of church and state to be essential to good governance in every field and every society.

If you will try to read the Writings in the light of the principle that God endorses both the religious order AND the political order, with two separate sovereignties, you will see that the apparent contradictions in the Writings melt away. Just as the Counsellors function in a different way to the Assemblies, the Government functions in a different way to the Houses of Justice, and each is able and authorised to do things that the other is not. The verses which appear to be contradictory, are simply explaining principles which apply only in the religious order, or only in the political order.

To give another example: one might take Shoghi Effendi’s statements about the right of the individual to earmark donations, and find that this contradicts what the Writings say about the Huquq’u’llah. Does this mean that the fund and its laws is to be abolished and replaced by the Huquq’u’llah? That the Huquq’u’llah refers only to a future state of society and the Fund is what we have now? That the Huquq’u’llah was a law referring to a Middle Eastern context and it is no longer relevant? That what we give to the Huquq is not a donation? That the freedom of the individual is temporary and will eventually be replaced by coercion? You can imagine endless variations, paralleling the argument that the Administrative Order should one day replace the governments. The solution of course is that the Fund and the Huququllah are different things, and each operates according to its own principles. So also Church and State. <continued>
 
Old 08-26-2017, 03:43 AM   #29
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continued to Camachoe

The appeal to first-this-then-that arguments is an implicit acknowledgment that the Baha’i teachings do endorse worldly government, do speak of a world federal government and its legislature, judiciary, and executive, their modes of election, powers and duties, and that none of this is compatible with [what is said about] the equally scriptural institutions of the Guardianship and the House of Justice, with their corresponding national and local equivalents, methods of election, duties and memberships. People who suppose a priori that the Faith cannot be talking about separate religious and political institutions then turn this picture on its side:

from

O – O

to

O
|
O

that is, they turn the constitutional separation of church and state into a temporal separation, as a way out of the indisputable fact that both sets of institutions are ordained in the Writings. But this would entail abolishing political institutions which Baha’u’llah has endorsed. Only a Manifestation could do that.

It does not matter which level one is discussing here, national or international. The theme of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s ‘Treatise on Governance’ is that God guides humanity by establishing two ‘fundamental forces’, religious and governmental. These are forces in the sense of metaphysical principles, like yin and yang. They are manifest throughout the physical world, and at all periods of history, because the visible world is the mirror of the spiritual world. And in fact if we look back through history, one of the first differentiation of functions is between the religious specialist (shaman, priest, witchdoctor) and the temporal leader. And the first “civilizations” (ie urban polities) that emerged into history about 4000 BC are marked by the differentiation of two normative orders, of politics and religion. You can see why countries that have abolished the independence of the political order (Iran, the Mahdi state of Sudan, Afghanistan) have degenerated so rapidly. They have tried to set up a system which cuts across the lines of harmony that underlie the universe. This is not a new Baha’i teaching: Baha’u’llah cites the ‘render unto Caesar’ verse of the New Testament and the ‘authority’ verse of the Qur’an to show that the two sovereignties always has been the will of God, and he says it always will be. He tells the kings:

"Arise, and serve Him Who is the Desire of all nations, Who hath created you through a word from Him, and ordained you to be, for all time, the emblems of His sovereignty. By the righteousness of God! It is not Our wish to lay hands on your kingdoms. Our mission is to seize and possess the hearts of men. Upon them the eyes of Baha are fastened.
(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 211)


O ye the loved ones and the trustees of God! Kings are the manifestations of the power, and the daysprings of the might and riches, of God. Pray ye on their behalf. He hath invested them with the rulership of the earth and hath singled out the hearts of men as His Own domain. Conflict and contention are categorically forbidden in His Book. This is a decree of God in this Most Great Revelation. It is divinely preserved from annulment and is invested by Him with the splendour of His confirmation. (Tablets of Baha’u’llah, 220-221)

One might wonder what precisely is preserved from annulment here – conflict and contention in general, or conflict and contention with those invested with the rulership of the earth, or the whole previous passage? Since the passages before and following refer to the relationship of the believers to the Kings (and of the Houses of Justice to the Kings, if one takes ‘trustees of God’ as being addressed to the Houses of Justice), I am inclined to think that the ‘decree preserved from annulment’ is both the division of the universe into two distinct spheres and any conflict and contention aiming to upset this divine order. The ‘contention’ that is ‘categorically forbidden’ could be by the loved ones or trustees seeking to establish a theocracy, but a government which interfered with freedom of religion and conscience would also be in ‘conflict’ with this principle (because the heart is God’s ‘Own domain’).
 
Old 08-26-2017, 03:44 AM   #30
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to Camachoe continued again

I think that the differentiation of church and state is so fundamental a principle that it will not be changed even a new Manifestation. To begin with, look at the compilation Shoghi Effendi prepared, on the continuity of Kingship, in the Promised Day is Come, page 71 and following. It was presumably directed against the theocratists among the Bahais of his own day. I won’t quote it all here, it is too long. But just the mass of citations from the Baha’i writings Shoghi Effendi summons here is one reason for thinking this is too fundamental a principle to ever be revoked. Could one imagine, for example, that a future Manifestation would teach racial inequality or that the woman’s place in the kitchen? I suggest everyone interested look at this section of PDC.

Most important, we could look at World Order of Baha’u’llah 202-4, because in that passage there is not only a perfected world federal system, but this system is also sustained by its allegiance to one common Revelation. The system is mature in other respects as well – force is the servant of justice, science and religion have learned to cooperate, all men adhere to one common faith, national rivalries have ceased, etc.. So it represents an end-picture. I don’t think you can find anything in the Writings which refers to a stage beyond this. But clearly the institutions in that world federal system are not the same as those of the Baha’i Administrative Order: the electoral methods are incompatible, there is a separation of legislative, executive and judicial functions, the use of force is sanctioned, the ‘members’ are states rather than individuals or Baha’i communities and we know from other writings that representation on the world legislature is to be on a national basis and proportional to population (the UHJ does not have members which represent nations at all). So one has to conclude that at this stage – so far as one can see into the future – the government and the Baha’i administrative order are separate, but united by allegiance to ‘one common revelation.’

The institutions of the world government, summarized in WOB 202-4 but described in many places in the Writings, are firmly fixed in the Writings of Baha’u’llah, `Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi, and in the absence of a Guardian or any way to appoint one, there is no-one now with the authority to change them. So we are stuck with the separation of church and state for this dispensation, and I think there is at least an implication that this and some other most fundamental principles will never change.
 
Old 08-26-2017, 04:10 AM   #31
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and some quotes

Quote:
A world, growing to maturity, must ... establish once for all the machinery that can best incarnate this fundamental principle of its life....

The unity of the human race, as envisaged by Bahá'u'lláh, implies the establishment of a world commonwealth in which all nations, races, creeds and classes are closely and permanently united, ... This commonwealth must, as far as we can visualize it, consist of a world legislature, ... A world executive, backed by an international Force, ... A world tribunal ... A mechanism of world inter-communication ... freed from national hindrances and restrictions,
(Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 203)
Quote:
Theirs is not the purpose, ... to violate, under any circumstances, the provisions of their country's constitution, much less to allow the machinery of their administration to supersede the government of their respective countries.
(Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 65)
Quote:
“Should they place in the arena the crown of the government of the whole world, and invite each one of us to accept it, undoubtedly we shall not condescend, and shall refuse to accept it.” ( Tablets of the Divine Plan 51)
Quote:
The signature of that meeting should be the Spiritual Gathering (House of Spirituality) and the wisdom therein is that hereafter the government should not infer from the term “House of Justice” that a court is signified, that it is connected with political affairs, or that at any time it will interfere with governmental affairs. … (Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha Abbas vol. 1, page 5).
Quote:
The one true God, exalted be His glory, hath ever regarded, and will continue to regard, the hearts of men as His own, His exclusive possession. All else, whether pertaining to land or sea, whether riches or glory, He hath bequeathed unto the Kings and rulers of the earth. ...The instruments which are essential to the immediate protection, the security and assurance of the human race have been entrusted to the hands, and lie in the grasp, of the governors of human society. This is the wish of God and His decree…. .” (Gleanings, CII 206-7)
Quote:
Sow not the seeds of discord among men, and refrain from contending with your neighbor, for your Lord hath committed the world and the cities thereof to the care of the kings of the earth, and made them the emblems of His own power, by virtue of the sovereignty He hath chosen to bestow upon them. He hath refused to reserve for Himself any share whatever of this world’s dominion. To this He Who is Himself the Eternal Truth will testify. The things He hath reserved for Himself are the cities of men’s hearts, that He may cleanse them from all earthly defilements, and enable them to draw nigh unto the hallowed Spot ...
(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, 303)
Quote:
The Second Ishraq
We have enjoined upon all mankind to establish the Most Great Peace — the surest of all means for the protection of humanity. The sovereigns of the world should, with one accord, hold fast thereunto, for this is the supreme instrument that can ensure the security and welfare of all peoples and nations. They, verily, are the manifestations of the power of God and the daysprings of His authority.
(Tablets of Baha’u’llah, 125)
Quote:
Were sovereignty to mean earthly sovereignty and worldly dominion, were it to imply the subjection and external allegiance of all the peoples and kindreds of the earth – whereby His loved ones should be exalted and be made to live in peace, and His enemies be abased and tormented – such form of sovereignty would not be true of God Himself, ...
… the purpose of these verses is not what they have imagined. Nay, the terms “ascendancy,” “power,” and “authority” imply a totally different station and meaning. For instance, consider the pervading power of those drops of the blood of Husayn which besprinkled the earth. What ascendancy and influence hath the dust itself, through the sacredness and potency of that blood, exercised over the bodies and souls of men! ... (Kitab-e Iqan 125-9)
.
Quote:
Amongst mankind are some who say this servant desireth the world for himself … Doth he who regardeth not his life (as assured) for less than a moment, desire the world? … They shall be questioned as to that which they have said; on that day they shall not find for themselves any protector nor any helper. (Tablet to Nasir-e Din Shah, tr. Shoghi Effendi, published in The Baha’i World, Vol. 4, 1930-1932, 103)
 
Old 08-31-2017, 03:53 AM   #32
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Sen:

Respectfully considering your many years of research on this topic of separation of church and state in the Baha’i Writings, and what you have offered in your posts above, and in many other places and works, would you please provide your perspective on what Shoghi Effendi has written in the following excerpt from a letter dated May 4, 1953? In the letter, he described six thousand years of progressive revelatory processes that have lead to the Baha’i Revelation and to the “present (1953) Crusade” which “by virtue of the dynamic forces it will release and its wide repercussions over the entire surface of the globe, contribute effectually to the acceleration of yet another process of tremendous significance which will carry the steadily evolving Faith of Bahá'u'lláh through its present stages of obscurity, of repression, of emancipation and of recognition--stages one or another of which Bahá'í national communities in various parts of the world now find themselves in--to the stage of establishment, the stage at which the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh will be recognized by the civil authorities as the state religion, similar to that which Christianity entered in the years following the death of the Emperor Constantine, a stage which must later be followed by the emergence of the Bahá'í state itself, functioning, in all religious and civil matters, in strict accordance with the laws and ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Most Holy, the Mother-Book of the Bahá'í Revelation, a stage which, in the fullness of time, will culminate in the establishment of the World Bahá'í Commonwealth, functioning in the plenitude of its powers, and which will signalize the long-awaited advent of the Christ-promised Kingdom of God on earth--the Kingdom of Bahá'u'lláh--mirroring however faintly upon this humble handful of dust the glories of the Abhá Kingdom.

This final and crowning stage in the evolution of the plan wrought by God Himself for humanity will, in turn, prove to be the signal for the birth of a world civilization, incomparable in its range, its character and potency, in the history of mankind--a civilization which posterity will, with one voice, acclaim as the fairest fruit of the Golden Age of the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh, and whose rich harvest will be garnered during future dispensations destined to succeed one another in the course of the five thousand century Bahá'í Cycle.
(Printed in Messages to the Bahá'í World: 1950-1957, pp. 155 – 156)

I am reminded of Baha’u’llah’s words referring to a “wondrous System - the like of which mortal eyes have never witnessed.” (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 136).

Thank you Sen for any comment(s) you choose to contribute. - LR
 
Old 08-31-2017, 05:18 AM   #33
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As we await Sen McGlinn comments, please bear with the opinion of such a newbie as me. Sometimes the view from someone who was just months ago an outsider and reads the Scriptures with fresh eyes could provide some insight into the matter.

I do not see an insurmountable incompatibility within what Sen McGlinn has presented as the strong foundation of the separation between the religious and civil authority (which I salute 100%) and the vision of a Baha'i State, as long as we understand the Baha'i Superstate as an State inspired by, or guided by, the principles of the Baha'i Faith, and not ruled by the Baha'i institutions and procedures as they stand now.

The missing link here is
1) We will build a true Baha'i civilization that will result in Baha'i-inspired art, science, literature, philosophy and politics.
2) Such Baha'i civilization implies important paradigms (religious freedom, elimination of prejudices, harmony with science, etc.) that were alien to the way theocracies were implemented in the past.

Any attempt to translate the current Administrative Order into the Most Great Peace without passing through the necessary change in civilazing forces (meaning, a change in the way man sees himself and other people) is doomed.
Any attempt to translate what we know about past theocracies to a future condition of mankind is absurd.

Just think in all current dualities:

Are husband and wife one or two persons? There is a verse in the Bible that says that they will become "one flesh".
Husband and wife are certainly two separate sovereignties, but they can become over the years, as their love and understanding grow, into something that looks like and works like a single entity.

Now what about science and religion, the two wings of man?
Their object and methods of knowledge are quite different. However, far in the future, the understanding of, say, how consciousness and "external" reality interact, will be at once a religious and a scientific knowledge.

Eventually, as eons of time go by, the biggest of all current dualities, God and man, will not be perceived, for any practical purpose, as a duality. As man's soul progresses in the course of eternity, its connection to God will become so strong and total, that the difference, although existent, will be irrelevant.

Last edited by camachoe; 08-31-2017 at 05:30 AM.
 
Old 08-31-2017, 04:00 PM   #34
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Camachoe:

Thank you for your comments. I was not suggesting “an unsurmountable incompatibility” but was inviting Sen’s perspective on how he perceives it all meshing together based on his years of extensive study and research on the topic. Thank you again. -LR
 
Old 08-31-2017, 04:03 PM   #35
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What I note in the passage from the May 4 1953 letter from Shoghi Effendi is what it does not say: It mentions "Baha'i State" and "Baha'i Commonwealth", but it does not say that the Universal House of Justice, nor Secondary and Local Houses of Justice will be involved in governing the Baha'i State and Commonwealth. Perhaps that is an extrapolation which many Baha'is assumed, but which is not actually the intention of the Guardian's guidance.

So, if the House of Justice doesn't actually govern, then what institutions would govern the the Baha'i State? Perhaps civil governments that are elected by all citizens, including non-Baha'is, and that give full rights to all citizens regardless of religion. There may preferably be a Monarch as head of state, who may or may not be a Baha'i, as that is not a position in the Administrative Order of the Faith, but the only the civil government.
 
Old 08-31-2017, 07:22 PM   #36
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JCC:

My intent is not to belittle anyone’s offering here, but I will offer in return, without taking a hard position, a brief response based upon the Baha’i Writings.

Early on, Shoghi Effendi did write: “Not only will the present-day Spiritual Assemblies be styled differently in future, but they will be enabled also to add to their present functions those powers, duties, and prerogatives necessitated by the recognition of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, not merely as one of the recognized religious systems of the world, but as the State Religion of an independent and Sovereign Power. And as the Bahá'í Faith permeates the masses of the peoples of East and West, and its truth is embraced by the majority of the peoples of a number of the Sovereign States of the world, will the Universal House of Justice attain the plenitude of its power, and exercise, as the supreme organ of the Bahá'í Commonwealth, all the rights, the duties, and responsibilities incumbent upon the world's future super-state.” (Letter February 27, 1929 - The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh pp. 6-7)

Given the Baha’i state will function “in strict accordance with the laws and ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Most Holy, the Mother-Book of the Bahá'í Revelation,” it seems that the Universal House of Justice would have to play a significant role in the governance of the super-state.

Please bear with me in my requoting of ‘Abdul-Baha’s Will and Testament: “This House of Justice enacteth the laws and the government enforceth them. The legislative body must reinforce the executive, the executive must aid and assist the legislative body so that through the close union and harmony of these two forces, the foundation of fairness and justice may become firm and strong, that all the regions of the world may become even as Paradise itself.” (Part 1)

-LR
 
Old 09-01-2017, 10:04 AM   #37
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Political theory in the Aqdas

Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Roofener View Post
Given the Baha’i state will function “in strict accordance with the laws and ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Most Holy, the Mother-Book of the Bahá'í Revelation,” it seems that the Universal House of Justice would have to play a significant role in the governance of the super-state.
The argument supposes that the Aqdas envisions or allows the House of Justice to play a significant role in the governance of the super-state, or any state. If on the contrary the Aqdas says "We, of a certainty, have had no purpose in this earthly realm save to make God manifest and to reveal His sovereignty" and "[God]hath created you [kings] ... and ordained you to be, for all time, the emblems of His sovereignty" , then a state governed in accordance with the laws of the Aqdas would not be governed by a House of Justice, but rather by a parliament, where the reins of power are in the hands of the people.

The main section that deals with political theory is K78 to K96, containing summons and warnings addressed to the kings of the earth (K78-84), and specifically to Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria (K85), Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany (K86), to the Rulers of America and the Presidents of the Republics (K88) and to the peoples or countries of ‘Constantinople’ (i.e., Istanbul, K89), Germany (K90) and Persia (K91-94). One key verse is K83:

Quote:
By the righteousness of God! It is not Our wish to lay hands on your kingdoms. Our mission is to seize and possess the hearts of men. Upon them the eyes of Baha are fastened. To this testifieth the Kingdom of Names, could ye but comprehend it.
The section closes with a general injunction to the people, and the blessing of the nations, and K95:
Quote:
None must contend with those who wield authority over the people; leave unto them that which is theirs, and direct your attention to men’s hearts
.

In the Aqdas, Baha’u’llah recognizes and honours the institution of human government, in the forms of monarchy and republican government ("the reins of power [in] the hands of the people"), and enjoins all people to obey “those who wield authority.” The provisions of the Aqdas, according to Shoghi Effendi, “remain inviolate for no less than a thousand years.”

Abdu'l-Baha has given apparent interpretations of these verses in several places. One of them reads:

Quote:
arrangements are being made for a constitutional (mashrutih) government that is in accord with the divine Law, in conformity with the explicit command of the Most Holy Book. ... This became a cause for great happiness. The constitutional government is, according to the unequivocal divine Text, sanctioned (mashru`ih) by the revealed Law, and it is a cause of the might and prosperity of the State, to which allegiance is owed, and of the progress and liberty of the respected citizenry.
 
Old 09-01-2017, 10:31 AM   #38
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"Respectfully considering your many years of research on this topic of separation of church and state.."

I don't really have a comment Larry. I notice two things unsaid: Shoghi Effendi says nothing about a role for the Bahai Administration in governance, even in the remotest future, and you do not say why you picked these lines to ask for a comment.

My guess is that it might have something to do with "state religion" and "the separation of church and state." In US history, the separation of church and state is virtually synonymous with NOT having any established church (at the federal level; individual states retained their established churches for a long time after the first amendment). But the UK has two established churches, one for England and a different one for Scotland (the latter is called the state church not the established church), yet the UK certainly has the separation of church and state. So far as I am aware, every nation today that has an establishment of religion also embodies the separation of church and state in its constitution. Establishment after all is a long-term contract between the state and one or more religious institutions, so they have to be separate bodies (as you can see in the Will and Testament, for example).
 
Old 09-01-2017, 03:41 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sen McGlinn View Post
"Respectfully considering your many years of research on this topic of separation of church and state.."

I don't really have a comment Larry. I notice two things unsaid: Shoghi Effendi says nothing about a role for the Bahai Administration in governance, even in the remotest future, and you do not say why you picked these lines to ask for a comment.

My guess is that it might have something to do with "state religion" and "the separation of church and state." In US history, the separation of church and state is virtually synonymous with NOT having any established church (at the federal level; individual states retained their established churches for a long time after the first amendment). But the UK has two established churches, one for England and a different one for Scotland (the latter is called the state church not the established church), yet the UK certainly has the separation of church and state. So far as I am aware, every nation today that has an establishment of religion also embodies the separation of church and state in its constitution. Establishment after all is a long-term contract between the state and one or more religious institutions, so they have to be separate bodies (as you can see in the Will and Testament, for example).
Sen,UK no longer has an established church
 
Old 09-01-2017, 11:38 PM   #40
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I said that the UK has two established churches, and pointed out that the position of the Church of Scotland is one nuance different.

The Anglican church is formally the established church of England (excluding Wales), Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey, and thus it is not the established Church in Scotland. It has also been disestablished in Northern Ireland. But the Anglican Church's constitutional relationships are with the crown and parliament (both houses) of the United Kingdom, including Wales and Scotland and sometimes Northern Ireland. Of course, when I say parliament is the parliament of the United Kingdom, I'm not implying that all the MPs from Ireland actually take their seats in the Parliament. But 11 do which is good enough.

It's a typical English fudge: the Anglican church is and is not the established church of the UK, depending on the view. And it's definitely the established church in England, but not everywhere. Religious truth is relative, says Shoghi Effendi, and especially in Great Britain. Which of course is not the same as the British Isles (most of which are not British, but the big one is and that's all that counts).

Last edited by Sen McGlinn; 09-01-2017 at 11:42 PM.
 
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