Internet and Electronic Forums Used for Teaching
by / on behalf of Universal House of Justicepublished in Associate, 27
London: Association for Baha'i Studies English-Speaking Europe, 1999 Winter
first written or published 1988-12-08
To Individual Bahá'ís in the United States
8 December, 1988
Dear Bahá'í Friends
Your letter and its enclosure on teaching the Faith through participation in electronic conferences were received on 13 November 1988 and were referred by Mr. Hugh Chance to the Universal House of Justice, which has instructed us to convey the following comments.
The House of Justice sees no objection to the utilisation of electronic forums for personal teaching activities. Indeed, it feels that developing communications systems will, in time, present numerous opportunities for dissemination of information about the Faith, including initiatives to be undertaken by Bahá'í institutions.
It feels that your National Assembly has been wise in suggesting the use of quotations to minimise personal interpretations in presenting the tenets of the Faith. Given the relative anonymity of this form of teaching, the House of Justice would further encourage you to remain mindful of the potentially large audience which the forums involve and of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's counsel to "be wary of disputation". In this connection, we are instructed to provide the following quotation from a letter dated 29 November 1937, written on behalf of the beloved Guardian to an individual believer.
" ... refrain, under any circumstances, from involving yourselves, much less the Cause, in lengthy discussions of a controversial character, as these, besides being fruitless actually cause incalculable harm to the Faith. Bahá'u'lláh has repeatedly urged us not to engage in religious controversies, as the adepts of former religions have done. The Bahá'í teacher should be concerned above all in presenting the Message, in explaining and clarifying all its aspects ... He should avoid all situations that, he feels, would lead to strife, to hair-splitting and interminable discussions."The House of Justice was pleased to learn of this new teaching effort and of the transmission of "The Promise of World Peace" to various forums. You may wish to contact the office of the National Teaching Committee to obtain recommendations concerning other materials which might be posted to the forums, when appropriate, and to inquire about the availability of electronic documents which may be available for this purpose.