Posted by Nick Stone (22.214.171.124) on April 22, 2002 at 13:16:37:
In Reply to: Voting for an American President posted by Grant on April 22, 2002 at 11:17:07:
It is a good question you ask, the answer to which is linked to numerous Baha'i principles, so it is difficult to simply write a two line answer to explain why... hence why I have included in this post, references to some authorative quotations from Baha'i scripture.
The Baha'i Faith is trying to build a new world order. We have our own administrative system, which is unlike anything that is currently seen. Baha'is can vote, but only if they can do so without identifying themselves with a political party. To do so would have the consequences of fostering disunity within the Faith, which is the opposite of what we are trying to achieve. In Baha'i elections, no one stands for election, everyone in the community who is 21+ and a Baha'i is eligible for service. Serving on the local spiritual assembly, or national assembly are seen as service, not a position of power or prestige which one aspires to. Campaigning is forbidden. People are elected in a prayerful atmosphere on the basis of their qualities.
I would be happy to vote for someone in a General Election here in the UK, if I knew them personally, and thought they had the right qualities to serve our country adequately. However, of course the chances of that happening are remote - I don't know any MPs here. So for me, I cannot vote, because to do so would be to identify myself with a Party.
However, I can vote in Baha'i elections, which are held annually.
OK, so if you have more questions please feel free to ask them here and/or you can e-mail me. The following are the quotations I mentioned above which might help clarify things for you. Here is a link to a radio show broadcast which explains the Baha'i position on this matter very well: http://126.96.36.199/government.mp3
Nick (taking a break from his Finals)
Dea1449. Membership in any Political Party Entails Repudiation Principles of Peace and Unity
"The Baha'i Community is a world-wide organization seeking to establish true and universal peace on earth. If a Baha'i works for one political party to overcome another it is negation of the very spirit of the Faith. Membership in any political party, therefore, necessarily entails repudiation of some or all of the principles of peace and unity proclaimed by Baha'u'llah. As 'Abdu'l-Baha stated: 'Our Party is God's party; we do not belong to any party.'
"If a Baha'i were to insist on his right to support a certain political part he could not deny the same degree of freedom to other believers. This would remain that within the ranks of the Faith whose primary mission is to unite all men as one great family under God, there would be Baha'is opposed to each other. Where, then, would be the example of unity and harmony which the world is seeking?
"If the institutions of the Faith, God forbid, became involved in politics the Baha'is would find themselves arousing antagonism instead of love. If they took one stand in one country, they would be bound to change the view of the people in other countries about the aims and purposes of the Faith. By becoming involved in political disputes, the Baha'is instead of changing the world are helping it, would themselves be lost and destroyed. The world situation is so confused and moral issues which were once clear have become so mixed up with selfish and battling factions, that the best way Baha'is can serve the highest interests of their country and the cause of true salvation for the world, is to sacrifice their political pursuits and affiliations and wholeheartedly and fully support the system of Baha'u'llah."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to National Spiritual Assemblies in Africa, February 8, 1970)
(Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 443)
1443. Voting in Civil Elections
"As regards the non-political character of the Faith,... The friends may vote, if they can do it without identifying themselves with one party or another. To enter the arena of party politics is surely detrimental to the best interests of the Faith and will harm the Cause. It remains for the individuals to so use their right to vote as to keep aloof from party politics, rather than because he belongs to one party or another. The matter must be made perfectly clear to the individuals who will be left free to exercise their discretion and judgement. But if a certain person does enter into party politics and labours for the ascendency of one party over another, and continues to do it against the expressed appeals and warnings of the Assembly, then the Assembly has the right to refuse him the right to vote in Baha'i elections."
(From a letter written on the behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, March 16, 1933)
(Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 441)
1447. Baha'is should Refrain from Voting if they Must Identify with Political party or Doctrine
"The main principle, as you know, is that the friends should refrain from participating in any political election, unless they ascertain that in casting there vote for this or that candidate they are not affiliating themselves with any political party or organization, and are not identifying themselves with any political program. The whole question hangs on the matter of identification, and not on voting
"The application of this principle the Guardian has left to the individuals who are conscientiously required to submit their own special cases in which they are doubtful to their Assemblies for consideration and guidance."
(From a letter written of behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 28, 1936)
(Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 443)
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