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Featured Baha’i community members: Baha’is spreading misunderstandings and misinformation about the community

Discussion in 'Same Faith Debates' started by Jim, Jan 1, 2020.

  1. Jim

    Jim Nets of Wonder

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    NOTE: I’m posting this in the same faith debates forum because it’s about disagreements between members of the Baha’i Faith community that I want to discuss with other members. I’m specifying the group for this discussion as members of the worldwide Baha’i Faith community, as it is defined by the Baha’i Universal House of Justice seated on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel. In most cases that means that you’re on the membership list of a Baha’i national spiritual assembly. There might be some exceptions to that. The topic is misunderstandings and misinformation about that community that are being spread by members of that community, and what to do about it.
     
    #1 Jim, Jan 1, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2020
  2. Jim

    Jim Nets of Wonder

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    In every Internet forum where I’ve seen Baha’is posting, I’ve seen them spreading what looks to me like misunderstandings and misinformation about the Baha’i Faith, and they might feel the same way about what I’m doing. I see that as more damaging to the cause of Bahá’u’lláh than anything that any of its critics could ever do. Here are some things that I would like to discuss with any members of the Baha’i Faith who are willing:
    - What to do in general about Baha’is in Internet discussions spreading misunderstandings and misinformation about the worldwide Baha’i Faith community.
    - Some examples of what looks to me like misunderstandings and misinformation.
    - Examples of misunderstandings and misinformation that other members think that I’m spreading, if anyone wants to discuss those.
     
  3. Tony Bristow-Stagg

    Tony Bristow-Stagg World Citizen
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    What is on your mind Jim?

    There is ample advice in the Writings on all subjects and any advice that is not clear, the Universal House of Justice has issue collective and individual responses to. Thus any discussion we can have on this topic, will always reference back to that advice.

    Regards Tony
     
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  4. Jim

    Jim Nets of Wonder

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    Tony please
    Stop.
    Look.
    Listen.

    Please give some thoughtful consideration to what I’m trying to do, and to the rules of the same faith debate forum where I started this thread. In this forum the author of the OP specifies who is invited to post. I am the author of the OP, and I have specified recognized members of the worldwide Baha’i Faith community.
    Same Faith Debates - Special Rules

    There is a Religious Q&A forum where people can ask questions about this discussion and you can observe the response.
     
    #4 Jim, Jan 1, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2020
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  5. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    That is such a funny response Jim I am in fits of laughter. So are you saying Tony is not a Baha'i community member? Am I? If not, who do you think is?
     
  6. Jim

    Jim Nets of Wonder

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    I’ll give some examples of what looks to me like Baha’is in Internet discussions spreading misunderstandings and misinformation about the Baha’i Faith community and the cause of Bahá’u’lláh.
    - A view of the Baha’i Faith as a belief system opposed to other belief systems, and competing with them for attention and approval.
    - Saying that there is a prohibition in the Baha’i Faith against all homosexual relations and against gay marriage.
    - Saying that some people have been removed from the membership because of the views they were promoting.

    I don’t want to begin by debating about those issues. First I want to discuss ideas about what to do when think we see Baha’is in Internet discussions spreading misunderstandings and misinformation about the Faith. Not critics. Not former members. I would like to discuss ideas about what to do when we think that we see current members of the Baha’i Faith community spreading misunderstandings and misinformation about our community and about the cause of Bahá’u’lláh.
     
  7. Jim

    Jim Nets of Wonder

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    No, I’m not saying that Tony is not a member. I was very happy to see this on-topic post from him. Maybe you didn’t see the posts that were removed. I won’t be questioning anyone’s membership. This is for anyone who honestly thinks that they are a recognized member of the worldwide Baha’i Faith community.
     
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  8. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    What I would do in the first instance is try to better uderstand where that individual was coming from and be clear about what they did and didn't believe. If I felt they were indeed spreading misunderstandings and misinformation about the Baha'i community I might consider talking to my local assembly and assistant/ABM for protection as to what if anything I should do about it.
     
  9. Jim

    Jim Nets of Wonder

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    Thank you. The problem for me is not what the person believes or doesn’t believe. The problem for me is what they are saying and doing, that I think is helping to spread misunderstandings and misinformation.
    I don’t have that option.
     
  10. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    Would you provide a specific example of what you mean (without mentioning names)?

    Why not?
     
  11. Jim

    Jim Nets of Wonder

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    See this post.
    I’ll rephrase that. Do you have any other ideas about what to do when we think that we see members of the Baha’i Faith community spreading misunderstandings and misinformation about the community and about the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh?
     
  12. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    So if I'm correct the two specific examples are

    1/ - Saying that there is a prohibition in the Baha’i Faith against all homosexual relations and against gay marriage.

    2/ - Saying that some people have been removed from the membership because of the views they were promoting.

    You don't want to debate either of these.

    Given the examples you have mentioned it sounds as if the issue is a misunderstanding or differences of opinion rather than someone deliberately promoting misinformation. A better step would be to discuss the issues raised with that person. The outcome could be the two parties better understand each other and hopefully at the very least they would agree to disagree.
     
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  13. Tony Bristow-Stagg

    Tony Bristow-Stagg World Citizen
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    Jim, in all honesty I was much more concerned for the poster that made a reply and the response they got. I wanted them to know that I would enjoy any input from others, albeit they could not.

    RF reflects the wider world. You may note I try not to post in parts of the Forum that restricts the ability of others to contribute. Explian as to why would I want this discussion to happen on an open forum, that all can see, without any input?

    As to the matters raised in the next post;

    1) A view of the Baha’i Faith as a belief system opposed to other belief systems, and competing with them for attention and approval.

    Sorry do not see that, Faith is never a competition and it is never about attention or approval.

    2) Saying that there is a prohibition in the Baha’i Faith against all homosexual relations and against gay marriage.

    There is very clear guidance on this issue.

    3) Saying that some people have been removed from the membership because of the views they were promoting.

    There is clear guidance on these issues and events in the past where this has happened. Mostly they are personal events and that is how they really should remain. Unless of course those that have been involved make it more public.

    Regards Tony
     
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  14. InvestigateTruth

    InvestigateTruth Well-Known Member

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    If I think someone else, being a Bahai or Non Bahai is giving incorrect information about the Faith. I would just give the correct information, and support it with the Bahai quotes.
     
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  15. Jim

    Jim Nets of Wonder

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    I’m willing to discuss specific issues with you, but before that I want to discuss in general how to respond when we think that we see members of the Baha’i community spreading misunderstandings and misinformation about the community and about the cause of Bahá’u’lláh. You’ve already posted some ideas. Do you have any others? If you know of any guidance about it from the institutions, maybe you could quote it or link to it. Also, have you had that experience of thinking some members of the Faith in Internet discussions were spreading misunderstandings and misinformation about the community and the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh? If so, how did you respond to it?

    To clarify, I’m not talking about people doing it intentionally. Most or all of what I’m thinking of might be with the best of intentions.
     
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  16. Jim

    Jim Nets of Wonder

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    I’ll discuss what I’ve done and might do when I think I see Baha’is spreading misinformation about the Baha’i Faith. When I first saw the online feuding around Baha’i more than 15 years ago, my first reaction was to practice and promote Baha’i hospitality towards the people who were denouncing the House of Justice.
     
  17. Jim

    Jim Nets of Wonder

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    (I accidentally hit the post button)

    My first reaction was to practice and promote Baha’i hospitality towards the people who were denouncing the House of Justice. Unfortunately I didn’t try as hard to do the same with the people who were denouncing and scolding the protesters, and continually treated them unkindly. I’ve been struggling against that ever since then, with members of the Baha’i Faith, with very little progress until a few weeks ago.

    Until recently my response to thinking that some Baha’is are spreading misunderstandings and misinformation about the Faith and about the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh has been mostly to either ignore it or to argue with them about it. Recently I’ve started threads of my own to try to counteract it, for example about diversity in Baha’i views. Now in this thread I’m trying something new: to try having some friendly conversations with them about it. I’m embarrassed that I never thought of this before.
     
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  18. Jim

    Jim Nets of Wonder

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    I’m not doing this for any Baha’is to change their ways of thinking or ways of doing things. I’m doing it partly to improve communication between us, and partly as a way of counteracting the misunderstandings and misinformation that I think they’re spreading. As I said, I’m not thinking of it as being intentional.
     
  19. Jim

    Jim Nets of Wonder

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    I’ve never seen any reason to be concerned about what people say against the Baha’i Faith in Internet discussions, but I have been concerned sometimes about what looks to me like misunderstandings and misinformation being spread by members of the Faith debating with its critics, and promoting and defending their beliefs as “Baha’i beliefs.”

    It doesn’t alarm me any more as much as it used to, but I’ve been thinking that I might have some responsibility to respond to it. This thread is something new that I decided to try.

    I just had a new thought, new for me, maybe not for anyone else. I would like to try discussing with other members of the Faith here how to respond to people complaining about what Baha’is do in Internet discussions, and to people raking up muck about it. The best response to one might be very different from the best response to the other. That might help me think about how to respond to Baha’is spreading misunderstandings and misinformation about the Faith.
     
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  20. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    This is a very important topic you have raised and I really needed to go back to the guidance offered not just through the Baha’i writings but from the Universal House of Justice itself.

    The quote that comes to mind is from a document called the Institution of the Counsellors in regards protection of the cause. You may be familiar with the passage where it opens discussing the covenant in relation to the oneness of humankind.

    The pivot of the oneness of humankind is the power of the Covenant, and this power quickens every distinguishing element of Bahá'í life. It is in the context of this unique characteristic of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation that the institution of the Counsellors approaches its sacred duty to protect the Faith. Auxiliary Board members, particularly those assigned to protection, have to be ever conscious of the imperative need for a centre on which all must focus: `Abdu'l-Bahá the Centre of the Covenant and His designated successors, the Guardian and the Universal House of Justice.

    The document then talks about the role of the Counsellors and their Auxiliary Board members in regard their role for the protection of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh.

    In discharging their obligations related to protection, the Counsellors and Auxiliary Board members endeavour to nourish the roots of certitude, fan the flame of an all-embracing love in the hearts of the friends, combat the age-old habit of conflict and contention and fortify bonds of friendship and unity, promote adherence to principle and the ethical standards enshrined in the Teachings, raise the believers' sight above the limitations of self-centredness that they may dedicate their energies to the welfare of the human race, and strengthen their allegiance to the Order of Bahá'u'lláh.

    Now this is really important:

    Helping the believers to meet high moral standards does not require prying into their private lives. The nature of this responsibility is essentially educative.


    However:
    Although deepening the friends' understanding of the Covenant and increasing their love and loyalty to it are of paramount importance, the duties of the Auxiliary Board members for Protection do not end here. The Board members must remain ever vigilant, monitoring the actions of those who, driven by the promptings of ego, seek to sow the seeds of doubt in the minds of the friends and undermine the Faith.

    So who are these people driven by promptings of the ego? How about those who sow seeds of doubt in the minds of the friends? Those that undermine the faith?

    Whoever they are, what about the believer in relation to such people?

    In general, whenever believers become aware of such problems, they should immediately contact whatever institution they feel moved to turn to, whether it be a Counsellor, an Auxiliary Board member, the National Spiritual Assembly or their own Local Assembly. It then becomes the duty of that institution to ensure that the report is fed into the correct channels and that all the other institutions affected are promptly informed. Not infrequently, the responsibility will fall on an Auxiliary Board member, in coordination with the Assembly concerned, to take some form of action in response to the situation.


    Ok, immediately contact the appropriate institution as I mentioned above. Once that responsibility is discharged they have now done all they can.

    If we consider the actions that are next required it becomes apparent we are talking about those who are about to break the covenant.

    This involvement will include counselling the believer in question; warning him, if necessary, of the consequences of his actions; and bringing to the attention of the Counsellors the gravity of the situation, which may call for their intervention. Naturally, the Board member has to exert every effort to counteract the schemes and arrest the spread of the influence of those few who, despite attempts to guide them, eventually break the Covenant.

    Institution of the Counsellors


    I don’t know to what extent any of the material I have shared with you relates to the particular circumstances you describe if at all.

    But you have my attention as I make better sense of what you are saying and how that fits with Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation and more specifically His Covenant.
     
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  21. Jim

    Jim Nets of Wonder

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    Thank you.

    I think there was a time when some Baha’is thought that Abdu’l-Baha was the return of Christ. I might be remembering that wrong, but I’ll use it as a hypothetical example. Imagine that most Baha’is think that Abdu’l-Baha is the return of Christ, and some of them are posting in Internet discussions, saying that it’s a fundamental teaching of the Faith, debating about it with Christians. and saying or insinuating that any Baha’i who openly disagrees with it is violating the Covenant. The institutions are well aware of it and have decided not to intervene in online disagreements between Baha’is except once when it became a growing and spreading war between factions. Does that mean that when you see some Baha’is doing that in a forum where you’re posting, you should just ignore it? If not, then what would you do?
     
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