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1933-11-18 status, rights and prerogatives of Convention

USBN #81 - February 1934 - page 3

Concerning the status, rights and prerogatives of the Annual Baha'i

Convention, the Guardian wishes to make it quite clear to all the believers that

this annual meeting of the delegates is by no means a continuous consultative body

all through the year; that its twofold function of electing the body of the

National Spiritual Assembly, and of offering any constructive suggestions in

regard to the general administration of the Cause is limited to a definite period;

and that consequently the opinion current among some of the believers that the

delegates are to serve as a consultative body throughout the year is at variance

with the fundamental, though as yet unspecified, principles underlying the

Administration. Shoghi Effendi firmly believes that consultation must be

maintained between the N.S.A. and the entire body of the believers, and that such

consultation, while the Convention is not in session, can best be maintained

through the agency of the local Assemblies, one of whose essential functions is to

act as intermediaries between the local communities and their national

representatives. The main purpose of the Nineteen Day Feasts is to enable

individual believers to offer any suggestion to the local assembly which in its

turn will pass it to the N.S.A. The local Assembly is, therefore, the proper

medium through which local Baha'i communities can communicate with the body of the

national representatives. The Convention should be regarded as a temporary

gathering, having certain specific functions to perform, during a limited period

of time. Its status is thus limited in time to the Convention sessions, the

function of consultation at all other times being vested in the entire body of the

believers through the local Spiritual Assemblies. - To the National Spiritual

Assembly, November 18, 1933.

Dear and precious co-workers:

I wish to affirm without the least hesitation or ambiguity, that the annual

convention is not to be regarded as a body entitled to exercise functions similar

to those which an ordinary parliament possesses under a democratic form of

government. The administrative order which lies embedded in the Teaching of

Baha'u'llah, and which the American believers have championed and are now

establishing, should, under no circumstances, be identified with the principles

underlying present-day democracies. Nor is it identical with any purely

aristocratic or autocratic form of government. The objectionable features inherent

in each of these political systems are entirely avoided. It blends, as no system

of human polity has as yet achieved, those salutary truths and beneficial elements

which constitute the valuable contributions which each of these forms of

government have made to society in the past. Consultation, frank and unfettered,

is the bedrock of this unique order. Authority is concentrated in the hands of the

elected members of the National Assembly. Power and initiative are primarily

vested in the entire body of the believers acting through their local

representatives. To generate those forces which must give birth to the body of

their national administrators, and to confer, freely and fully and at fixed

intervals, with both the incoming and outgoing national Assemblies are the twofold

functions, the supreme responsibility and sole prerogative of the delegates

assembled in Convention. Nothing short of close and constant interaction between

these various organs of Baha'i administration can enable it to fulfill its high

destiny. - To the National Spiritual Assembly, November 18, 1933. (The Guardian's

postscript to the foregoing letter.)


Response to NSA statement in Nov 1933 USBN

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