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Switch to Forum Live View dissent against government
3 years ago  ::  Apr 19, 2015 - 7:06PM #1
Aka_me
Posts: 14,464

on another forum I read a comment that made it sound like Baha'i are not supposed to dissent against the government.


I was wondering if this could have been confused with "obey" the government?


Baha'i are supposed to obey even on topics such as the draft which involve running counter to other rules like not killing our fellow human beings


where in the writings does it say not to dissent against the government?


and how is that different than what we're asked to do against the Iranian government?


we get to dissent only when it's self serving?

I dream in my lifetime uhmericans will come to realize hezbollah, hamas, and isis gain followers by helping society AND the only way to defeat them is to perform greater good.

the average person is 8 times more likely to be murdered by a cop than a radical terrorist
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3 years ago  ::  Apr 20, 2015 - 1:22AM #2
in_my_opinion
Posts: 4,107

Apr 19, 2015 -- 7:06PM, Aka_me wrote:


on another forum I read a comment that made it sound like Baha'i are not supposed to dissent against the government.


I was wondering if this could have been confused with "obey" the government?




They are related but separate laws.



Baha'i are supposed to obey even on topics such as the draft which involve running counter to other rules like not killing our fellow human beings


where in the writings does it say not to dissent against the government?




"If, however, for a few days, in compliance with God's all-encompassing wisdom, outward affairs should run their course contrary to one's cherished desire, this is of no consequence and should not matter. Our intent is that all the friends should fix their gaze on the Supreme Horizon, and cling to that which hath been revealed in the Tablets. They should strictly avoid sedition, and refrain from treading the path of dissension and strife. They should champion their One True God, exalted be He, through the hosts of forbearance. of submission, of an upright character, of goodly deeds, and of the choicest and most refined words."


 (Compilations, Fire and Light, p. 10)


"The attitude of the Bahá'ís must be two-fold, complete obedience to the government of the country they reside in, and no interference whatsoever in political matters or questions. What the Master's statement really means is obedience to a duly constituted government, whatever that government may be in form. We are not the ones, as individual Bahá'ís, to judge our government as just or unjust -- for each believer would be sure to hold a different viewpoint, and within our own Bahá'í fold a hotbed of dissension would spring up and destroy our unity. We must build up our own Bahá'í system, and leave the faulty systems of the world to go their way. We cannot change them through becoming involved in them; on the contrary, they will destroy us."


 (Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, p. 56)


Those are just two quotations. Dissension is repeatedly deprecated in the Writings.



and how is that different than what we're asked to do against the Iranian government?


we get to dissent only when it's self serving?




No, dissent is not allowed against our own government but we don't have that duty towards any other government than our own. For example should we be required to serve in a combatant role warring against our own nation's opponent, we can't just say that it would be dissent against that opponent and thus we refuse. Such a refusal is forbidden.


The point is that in order to build greater unity we must maintain unity at lower levels until we finally obtain world unity.


The Baha'is in Iran have to follow this rule even if it literally kills them. Their only recourses are to plead with the very regime that is trying to destroy them, and prayer.


But the believers elsewhere are not bound to keep stifled. It is a little like the law against killing. We are to die rather than to kill someone who wishes to kill ourself. But we may kill in order to save someone else's life that would be taken by a killer.


The same thing also exists in a situation when a woman would die unless her unborn babe is aborted. In our Faith the child should be killed instead of the mother being killed by it.

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 20, 2015 - 10:55AM #3
world citizen
Posts: 6,480

Apr 20, 2015 -- 1:22AM, in_my_opinion wrote:

The same thing also exists in a situation when a woman would die unless her unborn babe is aborted. In our Faith the child should be killed instead of the mother being killed by it.



We seem to be of a different mind here re "in our Faith," and I would appreciate seeing this instruction cited.  I looked for something along this line, but couldn't fiind anything.


The woman has lived her life and her soul might be ready for judgment, whereas the fetus is a new soul beginning its journey.  If the fetus is viable (ie., trimester), I cannot undertand how the mother would be given precedence over the new soul.  After all, at that stage of life, the very same mother could just as readily have been killed in an auto accident or struck by lightning, if it was God's Will that her time on earth should end.

Blessed is he who mingleth with all men in a spirit of utmost kindliness and love.  ~Baha'u'llah
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3 years ago  ::  Apr 20, 2015 - 11:10AM #4
Aka_me
Posts: 14,464

having personally assisted non-computer literate Iranian Baha'is...


in sending email to US legislators, on issues that amount to dissenting against their own government


I'm struggling to see the difference between Iranians located in the US dissenting against their own government, and american Baha'is dissenting against their own government.


to split hairs... we could say they have become US citizens and the Iranian government is no longer THEIR government.


the appearance to non-members however is that Iranians are dissenting against their own government.


imo, permanent change can only be affected from internal dissent.


if there is no internal dissent... nothing will change, whether the problem be human rights violation or selling drugs to minority communities to fund illegal war.


I dream in my lifetime uhmericans will come to realize hezbollah, hamas, and isis gain followers by helping society AND the only way to defeat them is to perform greater good.

the average person is 8 times more likely to be murdered by a cop than a radical terrorist
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3 years ago  ::  Apr 20, 2015 - 10:02PM #5
in_my_opinion
Posts: 4,107

Apr 20, 2015 -- 11:10AM, Aka_me wrote:


having personally assisted non-computer literate Iranian Baha'is...


in sending email to US legislators, on issues that amount to dissenting against their own government


I'm struggling to see the difference between Iranians located in the US dissenting against their own government, and american Baha'is dissenting against their own government.


to split hairs... we could say they have become US citizens and the Iranian government is no longer THEIR government.




Come now, is that really splitting hairs, or is it legal fact?


As American immigrants they can't even have dual citizenhip. Where they're from may make them Iranian-Americans, but every citizen of the USA is a hyphenated American of some sort. Italian-American, African-American, Native-American, Asian-American, etc. 


the appearance to non-members however is that Iranians are dissenting against their own government.


imo, permanent change can only be affected from internal dissent.


if there is no internal dissent... nothing will change, whether the problem be human rights violation or selling drugs to minority communities to fund illegal war.




In America, correct this one if wrong, there are so many voices advocating for so many mutually exclusive things that you might as well be talking to a steel wall a kilometer thick trying to be heard.


Permanent change on earth can happen in many different ways and has done so since the formation of the planet.


Can't believe that you think that internal dissent is the only pathway. For one thing it would mean that the Faith wouldn't grow at all, since there are far more quotations against dissension within the Faith. The way is unity, not criticism. And the Cause has been among the top two fastest growing world religions for decades now and doing so by increasing conversion while the others are doing so by reproduction.

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 20, 2015 - 11:07PM #6
in_my_opinion
Posts: 4,107

Apr 20, 2015 -- 10:55AM, world citizen wrote:


Apr 20, 2015 -- 1:22AM, in_my_opinion wrote:

The same thing also exists in a situation when a woman would die unless her unborn babe is aborted. In our Faith the child should be killed instead of the mother being killed by it.



We seem to be of a different mind here re "in our Faith," and I would appreciate seeing this instruction cited.  I looked for something along this line, but couldn't fiind anything.


The woman has lived her life and her soul might be ready for judgment, whereas the fetus is a new soul beginning its journey.  If the fetus is viable (ie., trimester), I cannot undertand how the mother would be given precedence over the new soul.  After all, at that stage of life, the very same mother could just as readily have been killed in an auto accident or struck by lightning, if it was God's Will that her time on earth should end.




The actual guidance is in material provided to Local Spiritual Assemblies but here is an older (1986) statement that touches upon the subject before the somewhat more recent and more specific statements of the Supreme House of Justice:


"Your second request is for a definition of the circumstances under which abortion would be justified. The House of Justice does not wish to enter into this subject at this time, since it is very complicated indeed. From the context, however, it is clear that the House of Justice has in mind medical circumstances. Letters written on behalf of the House of Justice in response to specific questions indicate that among circumstances which are open to consideration are:


– serious malformations of the embryo


– serious damage to the foetus


– neural tube defects in babies in utero


-serious risk to the mental health of the mother


We should stress that these by no means exhaust the range of possibilities, they are merely those which have arisen in specific cases. Moreover, the House of Justice has not ruled that abortion would or would not be justified in these cases, merely that they are the kinds of circumstances which fall within the area of the individual’s decision.


In the case of rape of a mentally defective woman who would in incapable of bringing up the child, the House of Justice answered that although some cases of this kind might fall within the area of permissible abortion, the problem of care for a child born in such circumstances would have to be solved in the situation of each case and that one solution would be adoption."


(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 14 November 1986)


"24. Under what circumstances, if any, is abortion allowable?

Abortion is considered morally wrong if it is done only to take the life of the unborn and not to save another life; abortion might be permitted in cases where the doctor and family involved decides it is necessary to save the life of the mother, in which case it is left to them to decide."


"30. Does anyone have the right to hasten death?

As a general principle, individuals are not to arrogate to themselves the responsibility for determining who may live. The Universal House of Justice has written: '... In general our teachings indicate that God, the Giver of life, can alone dispose of it as He deems best ... (Lights of Guidance, pages 291-292)

There are, of course, some exceptions: e.g. when abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother, or in the case where a criminal has incurred the death penalty. However, appropriate action in both cases must be decided by competent doctors and courts, respectively. Any other exceptions will have to be legislated by the Universal House of Justice as the issues arise."


These are not directly from that Guidance but cover the question.


If, you are in America; then, you can ask your LSA secretary to show you the information directly.


Hoping this was helpful. As this one recalls in one quotation, the reasoning was that the mother may have other children whom she must care for and raise.

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 21, 2015 - 12:28AM #7
in_my_opinion
Posts: 4,107

World Citizen, please recall also what the Master said to different bereaved mothers about the death of their child:


"Be not grieved at the death of that infant child, for it is placed in trust for thee before thy Lord in His great Kingdom.


Verily God will bestow upon thee that whereby thy heart shall be rejoiced and thy breast shall be dilated. Verily thy Lord is compassionate and merciful!"


 (Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha v1, p. 194)


"Be not grieved at the death of thy dear daughter. This divine bird flew away to the rose-garden of the Merciful and that plant of humanity hastened to the garden of the Kingdom of El-ABHA. That drop returned to the Most Great Sea and that ray betook herself to the Most Great Orb. Be happy and thankful because thou wilt see her face shining in the divine Kingdom and wilt find her as a lamp amid an assembly in the spiritual heaven."


 (Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha v1, p. 179)


There is another one in a compilation about passing from this life to the next which have not found. Perhaps you have a copy? and might post that quotation?

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 21, 2015 - 3:09AM #8
Aka_me
Posts: 14,464

I thought for sure Baha'is were allowed to protest the vietnam war so long as they don't make it known that they are Baha'i.


but in talking with people who were Baha'i during the vietnam war at voting this evening I find out my assumption is incorrect... not supposed to protest at all, regardless of how many lives are being lost.


I think society OVERALL is much lazier and apathetic now than it was in the 60's and 70's. making the potential to affect change less likely.


the money and profit in war is going to ensure the war on terrorism does not end any time soon. we fuel the problem by war crimes of double tapping first responders and collateral damage of innocent life.


is simply stating facts considered dissent, or does dissent require physically attending a protest?


dissent verb


1. to differ in sentiment or opinion, especially from the majority; withhold assent; disagree


2. to disagree with the methods, goals, etc., of a political party or government; take an opposing view.


as far as #1 is concerned, there was never any majority of american society that said killing a half a million Asians with napalm and agent orange IS A GOOD THING


so we end up with word games over definition #1 or definition #2 whether trying terminate the murder of innocent life is permissible or not.


and this goes back to what I was saying about not associating with CB... context is critical


I don't believe God expects people to follow blindly without reason or understanding.

I dream in my lifetime uhmericans will come to realize hezbollah, hamas, and isis gain followers by helping society AND the only way to defeat them is to perform greater good.

the average person is 8 times more likely to be murdered by a cop than a radical terrorist
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3 years ago  ::  Apr 21, 2015 - 6:55AM #9
in_my_opinion
Posts: 4,107

Apr 21, 2015 -- 3:09AM, Aka_me wrote:


I thought for sure Baha'is were allowed to protest the vietnam war so long as they don't make it known that they are Baha'i.


but in talking with people who were Baha'i during the vietnam war at voting this evening I find out my assumption is incorrect... not supposed to protest at all, regardless of how many lives are being lost.


I think society OVERALL is much lazier and apathetic now than it was in the 60's and 70's. making the potential to affect change less likely.


the money and profit in war is going to ensure the war on terrorism does not end any time soon. we fuel the problem by war crimes of double tapping first responders and collateral damage of innocent life.


is simply stating facts considered dissent, or does dissent require physically attending a protest?


dissent verb


1. to differ in sentiment or opinion, especially from the majority; withhold assent; disagree


2. to disagree with the methods, goals, etc., of a political party or government; take an opposing view.


as far as #1 is concerned, there was never any majority of american society that said killing a half a million Asians with napalm and agent orange IS A GOOD THING


so we end up with word games over definition #1 or definition #2 whether trying terminate the murder of innocent life is permissible or not.


and this goes back to what I was saying about not associating with CB... context is critical


I don't believe God expects people to follow blindly without reason or understanding.




People should not "... follow blindly without reason or understanding." Neither should they act "... blindly without reason or understanding." Nonetheless, God has always required obedience from Creatures; and in this Day, with "... reason and understanding."


The step from dissent to sedition and subversion is a small one. Dissent is at least a vocal dissagreement with legal authority, sedition is vociferous expression and advocacy of positions contrary and inimical to one's government, and subversion is often secret and usually deliberate attempt to undermine the loyalty of people to legitimate authority. Of course, these are only this one's definitions and opinions.


The majority of Americans go along with the government that they freely chose in their elections and generally express their dissatisfaction by electing different legislators and executives.


Short of binding referenda (even those always subject to interpretation by the judicial branch for constitutionality) it is a republic; there is no direct say or micromanagement of government (although business often comes close by buying what it wants and politicians usually will work towards whatever will preserve their constituencies and get them re-elected).


In general, there are always exceptions, loopholes, and seeming (or even actual) inconsistencies in laws of any kind.


We are fortunate that Baha'i laws tend to be clear, but general enough to rest greatly upon principles such as our understanding that they are for our own good. They depend strongly on our consciences, wisdom, discretion, and experts (competent physicians, for example).


This is adulthood for humankind; childhood can be wilful, rebellious and without subtlety and careful attention; so it can require strict and immediate blind obedience when Momma yells to get out of the street's traffic and stay beside her. That saved us while we were little.


Now that we're a little older we're expected to understand why a course of action is a House rule and we might have to be in the doghouse for breaking them or get tossed out for insubordinate behavior.


To follow the analogy, once we're older; someone (male or female) might be sleeping on the couch in the very home for which ownership is shared equally. Amity and concord is, after all, the law, also.

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3 years ago  ::  Apr 21, 2015 - 7:08AM #10
in_my_opinion
Posts: 4,107

Innocent life is not "... murdered ..." since murder implies criminality as well as intent; and self-defense (and defense of others) may be perfectly legitimate killings that should not be evaded simply because the general rule about taking life says don't do it.


That is the same point brought up about other general rules in previous posts, that there are exceptions.

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