membership cards!

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playexyshoola
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membership cards!

Postby playexyshoola » Fri Oct 20, 2006 8:23 pm

Hi

I am a Bahai and have been all my life..i was born one..but im not so sure why we must have bahai membership cards..Could someone plz explain to me why a religion requires a membership card?

Thanks

asal :?

Jonah
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Postby Jonah » Sat Oct 21, 2006 2:01 am

There is no requirement that Baha'i administrations use membership cards, and many don't. It was a uniquely American Baha'i innovation, though one that's been adopted by many other countries.

The oldest place I've ever been able to find a reference is in a letter from Shoghi Effendi about, if I recall correctly, suggesting that Baha'is use membership cards if necessary in order to prove affiliation with a "church," and that for the sake of getting conscientious objector status during WWII. I thought the letter was in <i>Lights of Guidance: A Baha'i Reference File,</i> but I don't see it now. Take a look, maybe you'll find it: http://bahai-library.com/?file=hornby_lights_guidance .

I found one reference, at http://bahai-library.com/?file=hornby_l ... ter=1#n264
265. Enrolment Card--Not a Universal Requirement

"There is no requirement in Bahá'í administration for a new believer to sign an enrolment card. It is for each National Spiritual Assembly to decide, in the light of conditions in the territory under its jurisdiction, how it wishes a declaration of faith to be made. For a number of reasons it has been found in most countries that an enrolment card is a simple and useful way of registering new believers, but this is not a universal requirement...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany, October 28, 1975)


-Jonah

playexyshoola
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Postby playexyshoola » Sat Oct 21, 2006 2:57 am

thanks for your reply Jonah

The reason why i asked is because i see having membership cards for bahai's as a mean of control. Why cant a person become a bahai purely in their heart?....i do not know of any bahais that do not have a membership card...do u?

Asal

choogue
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Postby choogue » Sat Oct 21, 2006 10:45 am

Hi Asal,

Welcome aboard! I havent been a member for too long but just to let you know, this is a great place to find answers to questions. Hope you find the answers you need and inshallah Allah will guide onto the right path. :)

Could someone plz explain to me why a religion requires a membership card?


Thats an interesting question. Ive asked my gf about the membership card before but she didnt know the reason behind it but she also told me in order to be Bahai they all need to have a membership card.

There is no requirement in Bahá'í administration for a new believer to sign an enrolment card. It is for each National Spiritual Assembly to decide, in the light of conditions in the territory under its jurisdiction, how it wishes a declaration of faith to be made. For a number of reasons it has been found in most countries that an enrolment card is a simple and useful way of registering new believers, but this is not a universal requirement...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany, October 28, 1975)


Is an enrolment card different than a membership card? Because it mentions it is only for "a new believer", so maybe its two different things? Or maybe only if you are brought up as Bahai that you must have a membership card.

The membership card has the persons name on it and a membership number. Isnt that a way to differentiate between a Bahai and non-bahai?

So basically without a membership card, a Bahai will not have any administrative rights which would include attending Feasts, meetings, voting, etc. So really they're not Bahai unless they sign the membership, right? Because going back to the whole covenant breaker topic, if a Bahai has not got a membership card then they wont be able to be labeled as covenant breakers if the need arises.

Dear Mr. McGlinn,

The Universal House of Justice has advised us of its conclusion that, on the basis of your established pattern of behaviour and the statements you have published, you cannot properly be considered as meeting the requirements of Baha'i membership.

Accordingly, we have removed your name from our membership roll and have informed the Baha'i institutions concerned.

Sincerely
...[signature]
The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the Netherlands


The above reference for example. Since this McGlinn fella wasnt able to meet the requirements for a Bahai membership, they removed his name from the membership roll. If he didnt have a membership card, then they cannot remove a CB.

Your thoughts?

Regards
Abbas

Jonah
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Postby Jonah » Tue Oct 24, 2006 6:21 pm

Off-topic question to Abbas:

May I ask where you obtained the letter regarding Sen McGlinn which you quoted above? I have a couple PDFs on the matter but have refrained from posting them due to their personal, private nature. However, if Sen McGlinn has already shared them publicly, then that changes things. (My interest in the issue is not regarding Sen's membership status, but regarding Kalimat Press.)

BTW, your post mentioned CB (Covenant-Breaker) and Sen in the same context. Let me emphasize, strongly, that Sen has *not* been declared or even rumored to have any affiliation with Covenant-Breakers, and he has not even had his administrative rights removed. Rather, he has been deemed to simply not be a Baha'i. It is a relatively new classification, as I understand it, and one that carries no stigma.

Thanks, -Jonah

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Postby Jonah » Tue Oct 24, 2006 6:29 pm

in order to be Bahai they all need to have a membership card.

I'm afraid that's not correct. After all, in many parts of the world there is no infrastructure to provide the necessary bureaucracy for issuing and maintaining such a card system -- or even if there is now, surely there wasn't until recently. Again, it was a uniquely American development.

Is an enrolment card different than a membership card?

Well, there's a "declaration card" used in many countries, on which a person affirms their belief in Baha'u'llah and signs their name. But again, that's not required and is not universal.

So really they're not Bahai unless they sign the membership card?

There are only two requirements for being a Baha'i, and they're both spelled out by Baha'u'llah in the opening of the Kitab-i-Aqdas: recognizing the Manifestation, and following His ordinances:
The first duty prescribed by God for His servants is the recognition of Him Who is the Dayspring of His Revelation and the Fountain of His laws, Who representeth the Godhead in both the Kingdom of His Cause and the world of creation. Whoso achieveth this duty hath attained unto all good; and whoso is deprived thereof hath gone astray, though he be the author of every righteous deed. It behoveth every one who reacheth this most sublime station, this summit of transcendent glory, to observe every ordinance of Him Who is the Desire of the world. These twin duties are inseparable. Neither is acceptable without the other. [emphasis added]

-Jonah

choogue
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Postby choogue » Tue Oct 24, 2006 6:31 pm

Hey Jonah,

I just did a search on google about covenant breakers and that came up as a source. Ill have to do the search again and try and find it.

Ill post the link once i find it.

Regards
Abbas

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Postby Jonah » Tue Oct 24, 2006 6:41 pm

Thanks, Abbas. I didn't think of Googling it. I see it now on Alison Marshall's site and Karen Bacquet's site.

I'm going to refrain from posting (or asking Sen for permission to post) the letters from the House about him, his book Church and State, and the Kalimat Press issue. It is of interest to some, including me, but probably not a good topic for public discussion here. Also it doesn't relate to the issue at hand, membership cards.

-Jonah

choogue
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Postby choogue » Tue Oct 24, 2006 6:46 pm

BTW, your post mentioned CB (Covenant-Breaker) and Sen in the same context. Let me emphasize, strongly, that Sen has *not* been declared or even rumored to have any affiliation with Covenant-Breakers, and he has not even had his administrative rights removed. Rather, he has been deemed to simply not be a Baha'i. It is a relatively new classification, as I understand it, and one that carries no stigma.


But if he is deemed simply not to be a Bahai, wouldnt that mean he would have had his administrative rights removed? Because if he still has his admin rights, then he can attend the feasts, vote, etc. and a non-Bahai cant do those things.

Regards
Abbas

choogue
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Postby choogue » Tue Oct 24, 2006 7:00 pm

ErikL,

Bahais aren't allowed to accept converts in my country,


Really? Didnt know that. Is that only for Jews or Muslims and Christians aswell?

Am I considered Bahai if I proclaimed myself to be one?


I think you would be. Religion is in your heart not a piece of paper. No-one has the right to tell you what you believe in. Religion is simply a belief.

lower my consumption of alcohol drastically


Shouldnt you stop completely?

Regards
Abbas

brettz9
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Postby brettz9 » Wed Oct 25, 2006 12:14 am

abbas wrote:But if he is deemed simply not to be a Bahai, wouldnt that mean he would have had his administrative rights removed? Because if he still has his admin rights, then he can attend the feasts, vote, etc. and a non-Bahai cant do those things.


Effectively speaking, this would be one result. But I believe it would differ for one in terms of let's say if an outside agency asked if the person were a Baha'i or not (people without voting rights are still considered Baha'is). Voting rights also are generally only removed if there is some flagrantly immoral (and usually sustained) behavior or the like, and maybe that is why membership is instead removed in some cases (perhaps more questions of people consistently asserting positions/beliefs that are deemed contrary to the Faith's teachings, but which does not assert belief in an alternate succession (as with Covenant-breaking) and which does not need to involve egregiously violating some Baha'i law or behavioral principle (as with rights removal).

Jonah wrote:It is a relatively new classification...


I recall reading a talk of a House of Justice member stating that Shoghi Effendi had used this practice at least once, who had cited a passage from Baha'u'llah to the effect of "leave him to himself" as the basis for the action. I don't have a source to offer to confirm this though.

take care,
Brett

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Postby Jonah » Wed Oct 25, 2006 1:15 am

Shoghi Effendi had used this practice at least once

Thanks, Brett. It would be interesting to know the source, if you come across it again. I'd never heard of this particular approach -- deeming someone "not a Baha'i" -- before Michael McKenny in 1997. That statement can be found online via Google at another site:
The Universal House of Justice has advised us of its conclusion that, on the basis of the correspondence it has had with you and the established pattern of behaviour you have demonstrated over the past several months, you cannot properly be considered a member of the Baha'i community. Accordingly we have removed your name from our membership rolls and have informed the Baha'i institutions concerned.

BTW, the reason I've heard a fair bit of discussion on these matters, even though only a bit can be found via Google, is because such issues are sometimes discussed extensively on private email listservers. For example, the apparent novelty of the McKenny method of "expulsion" was a matter of some debate on Talisman I (probably archived on Juan Cole's site), though I don't recall the details a decade later. And this very issue of membership cards was discussed on tarikh last month, but I didn't save any of those emails. :<

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Postby Jonah » Wed Oct 25, 2006 4:36 am

I hope that in about three more months I'll completely banish alcohol out of my world.

Yes, it can take a while, can't it... One thing that will help you on your path is knowing that many other people have found it as difficult to give up, and yet have done so. They're an inspiritation, especially if you know any personally.

There are a couple things online about this. A letter from the House about Alcoholics Anonymous, http://bahai-library.org/uhj/alcoholics.anonymous.html . And a compilation of passages from Baha'i texts on alcohol, http://bahai-library.org/compilations/alcohol.html . There was once a website and listserver "Baha'i alcoholics," but it didn't last long, it gave some the impression that the Baha'i teachings were accepting of alcohol.

could I still be considered Bahai simply because of my belief?

Yes, there's a quote by Abdu'l-Baha which unfortunately I can't recall (help, anyone?) to the effect that, ultimately, being a "Baha'i" is independent of what religion one calls oneself a follower of. And by extension, I guess, that official membership is but a symbol and an administrative convenience.

-Jonah

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Wed Oct 25, 2006 12:02 pm

Jonah wrote:
could I still be considered Bahai simply because of my belief?

Yes, there's a quote by Abdu'l-Baha which unfortunately I can't recall (help, anyone?) to the effect that, ultimately, being a "Baha'i" is independent of what religion one calls oneself a follower of. And by extension, I guess, that official membership is but a symbol and an administrative convenience.


If you believe in Baha'u'llah, then the obvious next step is to become His son, His follower. Sure, there are those who call themselves "Baha'is" but who do not abide by the Baha'i teachings, and instead adhere to their perverted impulses.

In contrast, there are those who do not formally recognize Baha'u'llah, but who, if they lead a virtuous life, are deserving of God's grace and pardon, compared to the ones who do not recognize Baha'u'llah and lead a hedonistic, virtueless life.

In 'Abdu'l-Baha's Words:

"If man has not this knowledge [knowledge of God], he will be separated from God, and when this separation exists, good actions have not complete effect. This verse [a verse in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas which is the topic of discussion—see link below] does not mean that the souls separated from God are equal, whether they perform good or bad actions. It signifies only that the foundation is to know God, and the good actions result from this knowledge. Nevertheless, it is certain that between the good, the sinners and the wicked who are veiled from God there is a difference. For the veiled one who has good principles and character deserves the pardon of God, while he who is a sinner, and has bad qualities and character, is deprived of the bounties and blessings of God. Herein lies the difference."

Source: http://www.bahai-library.com/writings/abdulbaha/saq/65.html

(By the way, since the topic of Israel came up, if you want to become a member of the Baha'i Faith there, I believe you have to leave the country to do so, then return—maybe someone can post some info about this?)

Best regards,

Warrior

choogue
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Postby choogue » Sat Oct 28, 2006 12:34 am

It doesn't matter what ethnicity\religion you belong to, as long as you live in the Holy Land you can't be converted to become a Bahai. Bahaullah forbed Bahais to convert people here


So this is a Bahai teaching not a Jewish teaching? Does anyone know why Bahaullah forbad Bahais to convert people in Israel?

Regards
Abbas

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Postby senfreern » Sat Oct 28, 2006 12:55 am

that's sort of wierd.. i've never heard of that. we should be able to convert wherever!

but God has his reasons, and we must respect them!!

choogue
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Postby choogue » Sat Oct 28, 2006 12:59 am

that's sort of wierd.. i've never heard of that. we should be able to convert wherever!


Yeh thats what i would of thought, especially if its a universal religion.

Im sure there is a misunderstanding though and someone can explain.

Regards
Abbas

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Postby senfreern » Sat Oct 28, 2006 1:00 am

yeah, but all religions have laws that might be unusual like that. :P i know christianity and islam especially have some wierd laws lol.. but like i said, God does everything for a reason!! lol

choogue
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Postby choogue » Sat Oct 28, 2006 1:10 am

Thats true.

Only God knows the reasons why, but sometimes people have some logical explanations which are interesting to hear.

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Postby choogue » Sat Oct 28, 2006 6:25 pm

Oh ok so its just for the moment but eventually the Bahais will be able to convert Jews, Muslims, Christians, etc in Israel?

You obviously dont know when the right time is though, but im assuming the UHJ will specify the time?

Thanks ErikL.

Regards
Abbas

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Postby brettz9 » Sat Oct 28, 2006 11:11 pm

ErikL:

Essentially, being a Baha'i is first and foremost a question of belief. There are no rituals that "make" a person a Baha'i. Even our view of baptism (see http://bahai-library.com/writings/abdulbaha/saq/20.html and http://bahai-library.com/writings/abdulbaha/saq/19.html ) was that it was a symbolic (if originally also physical) gesture.

However, there is also the component of joining the community. If you wanted to be involved in other duties like teaching the Baha'i Faith, you could not do it in Israel, again due to the restrictions presently there, so you would need to leave to do so.

As far as military duty, while Baha'is are to avoid involvement if at all possible, and if not possible, try to seek non-combative roles, we are also to obey our respective government.

If you were convinced strongly enough of Baha'u'llah to prepare to eventually leave Israel, as you finished carrying out your duties, I believe you would most certainly be a Baha'i throughout, but you would not be registered as such of course, nor should you be teaching others. But if not, Baha'is are well-wishers of all humanity. If you are trying to lead a good life, it is worthy of praise whatever your religious affiliation.

The Baha'i law could eventually change as far as not accepting converts in the Holy Land, but it has been upheld by 'Abdu'l-Baha, Shoghi Effendi, and the Universal House of Justice thus far.

You may be interested to know that Shoghi Effendi (in the "Advent of Divine Justice") assigned a special priority to teaching Jews outside of Israel (at least in America) and referred to their gradually entering into the Faith.

Abbas:

Yes, I think ErikL's explanation about religious conflicts must be at least a primary reason.

best wishes,
Brett

choogue
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Postby choogue » Sun Oct 29, 2006 2:02 am

The Baha'i law could eventually change as far as not accepting converts in the Holy Land, but it has been upheld by 'Abdu'l-Baha, Shoghi Effendi, and the Universal House of Justice thus far.


Thanks Brettz9. Just a quick question though. It was Bahuallah that implemented this law of converting people in Israel, so did he actually mention that this would eventually change in the future? If not, does the UHJ have the authority to change his laws?

Regards
Abbas

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Postby brettz9 » Sun Oct 29, 2006 7:42 am

Erik, I see those such as yourself who have expressed interest in becoming Baha'is are supposed to contact the Offices of the Bahá'í World Centre in Haifa: http://bahai-library.com/?file=uhj_teaching_in_israel . My apologies if it ends up I have given any incorrect or incomplete information.

I also found this quotation (in Developing Distinctive Baha'i Communities):

Whenever an Israeli citizen living in the West, irrespective of his background and religious affiliation, declares his belief and interest in becoming a member of the Bahá'í community, he should be informed that the Faith is not taught in Israel and that there is no Bahá'í community there apart from those who are associated with the Bahá'í World Center. He cannot be accepted into the Bahá'í community if he is planning to return to Israel to reside there.

If he plans to continue to reside outside Israel, his enrollment can be accepted, but he will then be subject to the same restrictions about travel to Israel as any other Bahá'í, in that he could do so only with the express permission of the Universal House of Justice. In any event, the Universal House of Justice should be informed of any such declaration.

(Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated October 20, 1994, to several National Spiritual Assemblies)


Abbas, I don't have any source on hand. Although it is true that any of the Laws of Baha'u'llah cannot be changed by the Universal House of Justice (though they can progressively apply the laws according to place and circumstance as well as change their own ordinances (see the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Baha), there are some directives which were stated as being temporary, and the House of Justice has been guaranteed by Baha'u'llah's designated infallible Interpreter, 'Abdu'l-Baha, as being freed from error, and would not contradict Him.

My own interpretation (and only my own) is that just as Baha'u'llah withdrew Himself rather than become a source of disunity, Baha'is may be instructed not to go where they would end up not being welcomed--either by Jews who have waited for thousands of years to return to Israel or by Muslims who wish to reclaim the land. That is just my sense. Obviously it is not any kind of religious animosity, as again, Jews as well as Muslims are certainly most welcome to join the Faith outside of Israel and inside of Israel, we hope that all groups can be reconciled in peace (see the 2nd paragraph of the body of the text at http://statements.bahai.org/47-0702.htm for this latter item being stated in connection with Israel).

Addendum: I might add that the Faith is for the whole world (the restriction would surely eventually be removed and there are some pilgrim notes (non-authoritative reports of the utterances (or actions) of the Founders) that state that Israel would become a defender of the Faith in the future and champions of its Administration, contributing their skills in this area. But again, the latter is from pilgrim's notes only.


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