Allowance of non-Bahá'ís at Feast
December 16, 2008
To all Local Spiritual Assemblies
Dearly loved Friends,
New guidance from the Universal House of Justice has recently been received that we hasten to share with you, mindful of its significant implications for the Nineteen Day Feasts you conduct in accordance with your sacred responsibilities. The guidance concerns the presence of non-Bahá'ís at Feasts. As both the beloved Guardian and the House of Justice have numerous times pointed out, the Feast is for Bahá'ís only, and non-Bahá'ís should not be invited to attend any portion of it. Our understanding has for some time been that if a non-Bahá'í should appear at the Feast, however, he or she was to be welcomed and invited to participate in its spiritual and social portions, while the administrative portion was to be suspended. The new guidance we have received from the House of Justice makes it clear that the administrative portion can now be modified to accommodate the attendance of non-Bahá'ís rather than being postponed. The House of Justice has further specified that:
The sharing of local and national news and information about social events, as well as consultation on topics of general interest, such as expansion and the multiplication of core activities, service projects, the fund, and so on, can continue as usual, while discussion of sensitive or problematic issues can be set aside for another occasion when the friends can express themselves freely without being inhibited by the presence of guests.The definition of what constitutes “sensitive or problematic issues,” beyond the general exceptions specified above, is left to the local Assembly.
The House of Justice has also stated that a similar approach can be taken when a family with some members who are not Bahá'ís hosts a Feast in their home. The local Assembly is encouraged to consult with these families to “find a satisfactory way to resolve each situation that arises” and “apply the requisites of hospitality and love, on the one hand, and those of confidentiality and unfettered discussion on important topics, on the other.”
We invite you to share this important guidance with your community as a means of deepening the friends’ understanding of the institution of the Nineteen Day Feast, in the words of the House of Justice that “link that connects the local community in a dynamic relationship with the entire structure of the Administrative Order,” that “new stage in this enlightened age to which the basic expression of community life has evolved.”
May your celebrations of the remaining Feasts in this Bahá'í year be joyous and satisfying on every level, and may they be gradually enriched by this significant new guidance from the Supreme Institution of the Bahá'í world.
cc: Continental Counselors serving the United States
Regional Bahá'í Councils