Posted by Brett Zamir (126.96.36.199) on October 21, 2003 at 03:48:39:
In Reply to: Re: Freemasonry cannot be compatible with Baha'i posted by Joe Ohlandt on October 19, 2003 at 13:49:15:
Welcome and we appreciate your questions.
Regardless of whether the statement of 'Abdu'l-Bahá (even if it is authentic) has changed, whether it was intended only for the individual asking the question, or whether He intended it simply to mean that Bahá'ís should not disassociate their personal connections with those of their former affiliations, it, as has been mentioned, is clear by the authority of His own appointed successor, Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice that Bahá'ís are not to belong to any secret societies, even those which may have some lofty ideals.
Although it isn't really necessary, I think, to read all of these, here are some authoritative quotations on freemasonry and the Bahá'í Faith (from a compilation called Lights of Guidance).
"As regards the question of Baha'is belonging to churches, synagogues, Freemasonry, etc., the friends must realize that now that the Faith is over 100 years old, and its own institutions arising, so to speak, rapidly above-ground, the distinctions are becoming ever sharper, and the necessity for them to support whole-heartedly their own institutions and cut themselves off entirely from those of the past, is now clearer than ever before. The eyes of the people of the world are beginning to be focused on us; and, as humanity's plight goes from bad to worse, we will be watched ever more intently by non-Baha'is, to see whether we do uphold our own institutions wholeheartedly; whether we are the people of the new creation or not; whether we live up to our beliefs, principles and laws in deed as well as word. We cannot be too careful. We cannot be too exemplary.
"There is another aspect to this question which the friends should seriously ponder, and that is that, whereas organizations such as Freemasonry may have been in the past entirely free from any political taint, in the state of flux the world is in at present, and the extraordinary way in which things become corrupted and tainted by political thought and influences, there is no guarantee that such an association might not gradually or suddenly become a political instrument. The less Baha'is have to do, therefore, with such things, the better."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, August 5, 1955)
"As regards your question about Masonry, the Baha'is, the Guardian feels very strongly, must learn at the present time to think internationally and not locally. Although each believer realizes that he is a member of one great spiritual family, a member of the New World Order of Baha'u'llah, he does not often carry this thought through to its logical conclusion: which is that if the Baha'is all over the world each belong to some different kind of society or church or political party, the unity of the Faith will be destroyed, because inevitably they will become involved in doctrines and policies that are in some way against our Teachings, and often against another group of people in another part of the world, or another race, or another religious block.
"Therefore, all the Baha'is everywhere have been urged to give up their old affiliations and withdraw from membership in the Masonic and other secret Societies in order to be entirely free to serve the Faith of Baha'u'llah as a united body. Such groups as Masonry, however high the local standard may be, are in other countries gradually being influenced by the issues sundering the nations at present.
"The Guardian wants the Baha'is to disentangle themselves from anything that may in any way, now or in the future, compromise their independent status as Baha'is and the supra-national nature of their Faith."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 17, 1956)
"The point is not that there is something intrinsically wrong with Masonry, which no doubt has many very high ideals and principles, and has had a very good influence in the past.
"The reasons why the Guardian feels that it is imperative for the Baha'is to be dissociated from masonry at this time, and I might add, other secret associations, is that we are the building blocks of Baha'u'llah's New World Order ... the Baha'is should be absolutely independent, and stand identified only with their own teachings. That is why they are requested to withdraw from membership in the church, the synagogue, or whatever other previous religious organization they may have been affiliated with, to have nothing whatsoever to do with secret societies, or with political movements, etc. It protects the Cause, it reinforces the Cause, and it asserts before all the world its independent character.
"Another reason is that unfortunately the tremendous political influences in the world today are seeping deeper and deeper into men's minds; and movements which in the past were absolutely uninfluenced by any political tinge of thought now in many places are becoming infiltrated with political side-taking and political issues; and it becomes all the more important for the Baha'is to withdraw from them in order to protect the Faith.
"The Guardian believes that you, as an intelligent man, a Baha'i, will see the need for this. It is only by all living according to general principles that we can knit the fabric of the Faith all over the world into a closer unity.
"He is fully aware that certain individuals are struck much more forcibly by such requests than others. This has been the case with some of the old Baha'is in England, who have been Masons from their boyhood on; but, as it is his duty to protect the Faith, he can only appeal to the Baha'is to assist him in doing so; and to consider the general good, rather than their personal feelings, however deep they may be, in such matters."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 12, 1956)
"As regards your question about the Masonic Order, he considers that the honest and courageous thing for you to do is to inform your Lodge that you no longer consider yourself, for purely personal reasons, a Mason; and would like to have your name taken off their list. If they should press you for an explanation, which he imagines is unlikely, everybody being free to do as they please in this world, you can explain to them that in the present chaotic period the world is passing through, with so many streams and counterstreams of political thoughts and prejudices of all kinds, racial, religious, etc., storming the minds of men, that you wish to disentangle yourself from all association with the past and to stand alone, free in your own ideas.
"He does not think that such an explanation will prejudice the Masons or their friends, or arouse in them a feeling of anger against the Faith, or indeed need involve the Faith at all."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 26, 1956)
and one more:
"The Guardian does not think that in the case you mention, it is right to ask this old man to resign from his Masonic Lodge. Generally speaking, the friends should not enter secret societies. It is certainly much better for the believers to dissociate themselves from such organizations; but as I said, it would seem unnecessary, in this particular case, to ask a very old man to break this connection at the end of his life." (Light of Divine Guidance, vol. 1, p. 166 http://www.bahai-library.org/writings/shoghieffendi/ldg/ldg1.html#166 )
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