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Religion Library: Baha'i

Community Organization

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As well as these elected positions, there is a range of other appointed positions, called counselors and auxiliary board members, who are called upon to encourage the Baha'i community to propagate the Baha'i Faith and to guard against schism and external attacks. These appointed positions do not, however, have authority.

The primary instrument for decision making in all Baha'i institutions, and indeed whenever Baha'is meet, is the consultative process. Baha'is are called upon to approach this process in a spiritual and united manner, with their minds freed from prejudices and presuppositions. Under ideal circumstances, they should ascertain the facts and then discuss these in a frank and open manner; they should offer their ideas as a contribution to the discussion but not feel so attached to them that they feel obliged to press them on the group or defend them if others voice a different viewpoint; and they should express their views with courtesy, dignity, care, and moderation. As the discussion proceeds, the preference is for a consensus to be achieved but if that does not occur then the majority vote should prevail. Once a decision has been reached, its implementation is also part of the consultation process. Clear lines of action should be agreed upon. It is, moreover, incumbent according to the Baha'i teachings that everyone support the action agreed, even if they voted against it. In this way, if the decision is wrong, it will become evident more quickly, since no one can then say that any failure is due to some people obstructing implementation.

The bedrock of Baha'i community life is the Nineteen-Day Feast and the commemorations of the holy days. Most Baha'i communities will have a range of other activities, including meetings to provide information to those enquiring about the Baha'i Faith, devotional meetings, study groups, children's and junior youth activities, and other community gatherings.

Funds for Baha'i purposes are only collected from among Baha'is. There is a voluntary donation, called Huququ'llah (the Right of God), of 19 percent of the leftover income after all needful expenses have been paid. This is administered by the head of the religion (at present the Universal House of Justice) but is often used to support weaker Baha'i communities. In addition there are local and national Baha'i funds as well as funds for special purposes such as the building of Houses of Worship. Contributions to all of these are voluntary and are considered a spiritual obligation, but they are not sought by anyone or externally assessed.


Study Questions:
     1.    What is a “local spiritual assembly” and what are its responsibilities?
     2.    What is the difference between Baha'i elections and the elections that occur for a town council?
     3.    What are the features of the Baha'i consultation process?

 

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