Baha'i Proselytizing advice for internet.

Sep 2010
4,521
Earth
#1
This subject I see would be good to discuss here, so we can bring up thoughts as Baha'i's, as to what crosses the line to be proselytizing in online discussions. This is a law none of us wish to neglect, but I have found that in many discussion online, it can lead to that being the accusation.

In this thread it would be good to post links to all known resources on this matter.

Please Discuss your Ideas.

Regards Tony
 
Sep 2010
4,521
Earth
#2
Link to resource:

3 January 1982 – [To an individual] | Bahá’í Reference Library

"......It is true that Bahá’u’lláh lays on every Bahá’í the duty to teach His Faith. At the same time, however, we are forbidden to proselytize, so it is important for all believers to understand the difference between teaching and proselytizing. It is a significant difference and, in some countries where teaching a religion is permitted, but proselytizing is forbidden, the distinction is made in the law of the land. Proselytizing implies bringing undue pressure to bear upon someone to change his Faith. It is also usually understood to imply the making of threats or the offering of material benefits as an inducement to conversion. In some countries mission schools or hospitals, for all the good they do, are regarded with suspicion and even aversion by the local authorities because they are considered to be material inducements to conversion and hence instruments of proselytization."

Regards Tony
 
Jan 2012
719
China
#4
For me the issue is not actually about proselytizing, in any Baha'i sense or any dictionary sense. It's about courtesy, and obedience to authority. It seems discourteous to me to continue talking about the Baha'i Faith in a forum where no one has shown any interest in learning about it, and where some people are complaining about seeing too much of it. If the purpose is really to share the Faith on the Internet, then it might be better to try to find some other way to do it, for example by searching for a forum where discussions about the Baha'i Faith will be more welcome, or by learning to use social networks.

For me, obedience to authority includes observing the letter and the spirit of the rules of an Internet forum. Regardless of dictionary definitions or how administrators define "proselytizing," what might be the purpose of a rule against it? Apart from courtesy, it might be to keep from driving people away from the forums. Then the question would be, could our behavior be spoiling the forum for some other members? Especially paying members. :D

What I see the House of Justice promoting as a way to help spread the Faith is working side by side with other people in various kinds of service activities, and learning to raise the level of our conversations with them to the level of spiritual values, principles and purposes, improving ourselves to help improve the lives of others. Part of the institute training is learning how to do that, and if there is no one to practice with, it can still help to study the books alone and do the practices, roleplaying them if we can't actually do them. One way of working side by side with people in Internet forums might be to find forums where people are getting ideas from each other, and encouraging and supporting each other, in some kind of service activity, like mentoring for example. Another way might be to look for people who are working side by side on some kind of online service that helps improve people's lives.
 
Sep 2010
4,521
Earth
#5
For me the issue is not actually about proselytizing, in any Baha'i sense or any dictionary sense. It's about courtesy, and obedience to authority. It seems discourteous to me to continue talking about the Baha'i Faith in a forum where no one has shown any interest in learning about it, and where some people are complaining about seeing too much of it. If the purpose is really to share the Faith on the Internet, then it might be better to try to find some other way to do it, for example by searching for a forum where discussions about the Baha'i Faith will be more welcome, or by learning to use social networks.

For me, obedience to authority includes observing the letter and the spirit of the rules of an Internet forum. Regardless of dictionary definitions or how administrators define "proselytizing," what might be the purpose of a rule against it? Apart from courtesy, it might be to keep from driving people away from the forums. Then the question would be, could our behavior be spoiling the forum for some other members? Especially paying members. :D

What I see the House of Justice promoting as a way to help spread the Faith is working side by side with other people in various kinds of service activities, and learning to raise the level of our conversations with them to the level of spiritual values, principles and purposes, improving ourselves to help improve the lives of others. Part of the institute training is learning how to do that, and if there is no one to practice with, it can still help to study the books alone and do the practices, roleplaying them if we can't actually do them. One way of working side by side with people in Internet forums might be to find forums where people are getting ideas from each other, and encouraging and supporting each other, in some kind of service activity, like mentoring for example. Another way might be to look for people who are working side by side on some kind of online service that helps improve people's lives.
I see many good thoughts in what you have offered. I also see there are many things to be further considered.

My first thoughts would be that no one can know who will visit and discuss in a public forum. As such there will always be a large diversity of views. It may be that those most receptive just read and do not post, or ask one or two questions and continue the journey elsewhere?

I recently met a person on a Christain Forum, that I had known from another Catholic forum from a few years ago. It was a positive experience as It was them that brought up a positive aspect of Baha'i after reading a post that had not mentioned the Faith.

I see it is a hard lesson to learn the wisdom of when and when not to share on some forums.

Of course this as many tangents. Regards Tony
 
Likes: jimhabegger
Jan 2012
719
China
#6
@tonyfish58 If you put up a big sign all across a busy sidewalk in the city, with Baha'i principles and some quotes from Baha'i writings, there might be a few people who would stop and read it, and decide to learn more about it. A few of those might become followers of Baha'u'llah. There might be many others who would only remember that the sign that got in their way had "Baha'i" in big letters on it. Would you put up a sign like that?
 
Sep 2010
4,521
Earth
#7
@tonyfish58 If you put up a big sign all across a busy sidewalk in the city, with Baha'i principles and some quotes from Baha'i writings, there might be a few people who would stop and read it, and decide to learn more about it. A few of those might become followers of Baha'u'llah. There might be many others who would only remember that the sign that got in their way had "Baha'i" in big letters on it. Would you put up a sign like that?
Some have in the past, some may in the future. If it helps one person it was well worth it, but for me, to many town planning issues I would say. 😉

I have seen many a Baha'i Booths in the local markets over the years. They have mixed results.

Is there a point you wish to expand upon?

Regards Tony
 
Likes: jimhabegger
Mar 2013
564
Edwardsville, Illinois, USA
#9
Baha'u'llah sometimes referred to teaching as "diffusing the fragrances of God". This is a beautiful metaphor, with implication that it is to present the teachings in a way that appeals to the spiritual senses (in this case, metaphorically the sense of smell). For those who have that spiritual sense, they will be attracted, for others, at least they will not be repelled.
 
Sep 2010
4,521
Earth
#10
Baha'u'llah sometimes referred to teaching as "diffusing the fragrances of God". This is a beautiful metaphor, with implication that it is to present the teachings in a way that appeals to the spiritual senses (in this case, metaphorically the sense of smell). For those who have that spiritual sense, they will be attracted, for others, at least they will not be repelled.
Except many now seem to have developed allergies to flowers 😄😂😉.

Regards Tony
 

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