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Faith in Focus: Baha'i non-involvement in partisan politics
Faith in Focus

Faith in Focus: Baha'i non-involvement in partisan politics

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As we enter the home stretch of another election season, Baha’is often get asked, “Why aren’t Baha’is more involved in politics?”

Baha’is are engaged in community-building work and ways to bring about greater justice, and fully support our democracy by exercising the right to vote and advocating in ways that align with the Baha’i teachings. This includes encouraging legislators to take action on important issues, such as education, racial justice, human rights, the environment and the health and welfare of the community.

Looking at the big picture, Baha’is are following the divine plan brought by Baha’u’llah, the prophet-founder of the faith. Centered on the fundamental principle of the oneness of humanity, his revelation offers hopeful new ways to transition humanity from its period of adolescence into maturity.

As such, members of the Baha’i Faith refrain from involvement in partisan politics; that is, becoming members of a political party. The worldwide Baha’i community holds a transcendent view based on Baha’u’llah’s proclamation, saying: “The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”

The prophet’s son said, “Our party is God’s party; we do not belong to any party.”

Most of the ills the world is facing are essentially spiritual in nature, so the solutions must be spiritual in order to address the root cause. The Baha’i writings state: “... the working of the material world is merely a reflection of spiritual conditions and until the spiritual conditions can be changed, there can be no lasting change for the better in material affairs.”

Let us consider the most fundamental Baha’i teaching — that there is only one human family. Imagine if we truly believed this and regarded every human on the planet as a member of our family. How would that completely transform societal ills such as poverty, hunger, racism and lack of human rights? We would never allow a member of our family to go hungry while we ate plenty. We would truly value every life as noble and dignified.

Baha’is fully expect that the tumultuous time we’re living in is ultimately leading to a time of great unity and peace — viewing the growing confusion and chaos as a natural phase in an organic process that will lead to the unification of humanity. Baha’u’llah can be viewed as a divine physician who has diagnosed the ills; whereas in politics, we often deal with various symptoms and side-effects, and often in ways that are disunifying.

While very concerned about the welfare of their communities and countries, and wishing to be of service to humanity, Baha’is participate in nonpartisan ways in an attempt to stay above the fray — a great challenge in these polarized times. These quotes shed more light on the Baha’i view:

“The faith is not opposed to the true interests of any nation, nor is it against any party or faction. It holds aloof from all controversies and transcends them all.”

“The faith with which the followers of Baha’u’llah stand identified is one which they firmly believe God has raised high above the storms, the divisions, and controversies of the political arena. Their faith they conceive to be essentially non-political, supra-national in character, rigidly nonpartisan, and entirely dissociated from nationalistic ambitions, pursuits and purposes. Such a faith knows no division of class or of party.”

Far from being indifferent about the policies and affairs where they reside, Baha’is feel a “sacred obligation” to promote, in the most effective manner, the best interests of their government and people. The Baha’is are called upon “to serve, in an unselfish, unostentatious and patriotic fashion, the highest interests of the country to which one belongs, and in a way that would entail no departure from the high standards of integrity and truthfulness associated with the teachings of the faith.”

May we all consider ways to rise above partisan and ideological divides and live from our spiritual values and principles.

Marcia Berry is a member of the Carlisle Baha’i Community. Comments are welcome at carlislebahai@yahoo.com and visit at www.bahai.us.

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