The Bahá'í Faith
Beliefs and practices
||Bahá'ís believe that there is only one God who is the source of
|God is transcendent and unknowable. However, He has sent, and
will continue to send, great prophets to humanity, through which the Holy Spirit has
revealed the "Word of God." The Great Manifestations of God up
to this time have been:
Adam (? BCE)
- Abraham (? BCE)
- Moses (1456 BCE)
- Krishna (1249 BCE)
- Zoroaster (1000 BCE)
- Buddha (757 BCE)
Jesus Christ (34 CE)
- Mohammed (613 CE)
- The Bab (1844 CE)
- Baha'u'llah (1863 CE)
(Dates shown are common estimates from historical and Christian sources;
BCE dates are very approximate) A new prophet is not expected for many centuries
into our future.
||The Bahá'í's believe in an essential unity of the great religions
of the world. However, this does not mean
they believe the various religious creeds and doctrines are identical. Rather, they
view all religions as having sprung from the same spiritual source.
The social and outer forms of different religions vary due to the
circumstances at the time that they were founded. Other differences in doctrine and belief
can be attributed to later accretions, after the death of the founder.|
||Every person has an immortal soul. Unlike everything else in creation, it is not subject
to decomposition. At death, the soul is freed to travel through the spirit world. The
latter is viewed as a "a timeless and placeless extension of our own universe--and
not some physically remote or removed place." |
||Some of Baha'u'llah's most famous sayings are:
||"The best beloved of all things in my sight is justice,"
||"The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens"
||"The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and
until its unity is firmly established."
||Bahá'í beliefs promoted
major social changes when they were first circulated in the 19th century: they supported gender and race
equality; world government; freedom of expression and assembly; world peace;
religious tolerance, and religious cooperation.
In many ways, they were a century or more ahead of many other faiths. Their followers are heavily involved in promoting
these concepts today. Also, unlike
many other religions, Bahá'ís view scientific inquiry as essential to
expand human knowledge and to deepen their members' faith. They feel that
science needs to be guided by spiritual principles so that its
applications are beneficial to all humanity. |
One exception to their acceptance of scientific findings is their teaching
about homosexuality. Baha'u'llah rejected homosexuality. This puts the Bahá'í faith in
opposition to mental health and human sexuality researchers who have reached
a near consensus that a homosexual orientation is unchosen, fixed, and is
normal and natural for a minority of adults.
Neither the official Bahá'í
website, 1 or the national web sites in Canada 2 or the U.S.
3 appear to contain any
description of the faith's teachings on homosexuality. The Canadian web site, for example, states:
"The Bahá'í teachings promote the elimination of all forms of
prejudice and uphold equal dignity and respect for all peoples,
regardless of their racial, ethnic, religious or national background.
Equality of men and women, the elimination of extremes of poverty and
wealth and economic justice for all peoples, universal education, and
the dignity of the individual are central Bahá'í principles." 4
Sexual orientation is notably absent from their list of
protected classes of humans.
Another policy which appears to contradict the faith's promotion of
equality is the exclusion of all women from serving on its highest religious court,
the Universal House of Justice.
We expect that the Baha'i policy towards homosexuality and the role of women
in the court will cause increasing friction within the religion over time.
||They believe that there will eventually be a single world government, to be led by
Bahá'ís, and based on the Baha'i administrative framework. This would have the
world governed by a theocracy -- a form of government that has had a poor
track record on human rights in the past.
||The Universal House of Justice in Haifa, Israel, is the global governing body;
its functions were set out by Baha'u'llah. It is an all-male body.|
||National Spiritual Assemblies (NSA) supervise affairs in each country. The
American NSA is located in Wilmette IL at the site of a Bahá'í House of Worship, one of
||In each locality where there are more than nine adult believers, affairs are
administered by local spiritual assemblies. Each of these institutions has nine
members and is elected, not appointed. Their functions have been defined by Baha'u'llah
and 'Abdu'l-Baha in Bahá'í scripture.|
||Bahá'ís have no clergy, sacraments or rituals.|
Bahá'í scripture comprises the writings of the Bab and Baha'u'llah, together with the
writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha. Among the better known writings of Baha'u'llah are, The Most
Holy Book, The Book of Certitude, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, The Hidden
Words and The Seven Valleys. There are many others books of Bahá'í scripture.
The Bahá'ís have created a new calendar. Its year begins on March 21, at the spring equinox.
Other fixed seasonal days of celebration or commemoration are:
||April 21, 29 & May 2: Baha'u'llah's public declaration of
||May 23: Bab's declaration of his mission
||May 29: Passing of Baha'u'llah
||July 9: Martyrdom of the Bab
||October 20: Birth of Bab
||November 12: Birth of Baha'u'llah
Copyright © 1996 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on
Latest update: 2009-OCT-06
Author: B.A. Robinson