Questions on Baha'i ethics by a non-Baha'i scholar

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Posted by Jonah on July 22, 2101 at 02:53:38:

A college professor in Kenya named Arthur Dobrin (apparently widely published in the field of moral pedagogy) is compiling a source-book on religious ethics for use in his college classes. He seeks answers to 55 questions about the Baha'i Faith, sorted by category. He will be using any answers he receives in his classroom; he has no plans to publish the book (though if he does rewrite it for later publication, I'm sure he'd ask to quote some of the answers).

I'd be grateful if anyone would be willing to tackle any of these questions. I'll compile the answers and send them to him. Please include quotations as relevant. The answers can be short or long, written colloquially or in formal prose. If anyone would like more information about the project, write to me at winters AT

Thanks so much! If I can get at least half of his questions answered (or include relevant quotations from the Writings for) I'll consider it a success. Answers and/or quotations can be posted here, or email to me. Thanks so much! -Jonah


1. What does it mean to be a good person?

2. Why be good?

3. Is it possible to be a good person and not be a member of your religion?

4. Is it possible to be a good person and no longer believe in your religion i.e. can an apostate be a good person?

5. Is there a difference between religious requirements and morality?

6. What is the source of ethics?

7. Can someone be a good person and be an atheist?

8. How do you decide what is right and what is wrong?

9. Why do bad things happen to good people?

10. Is there a difference between a religious offence and a moral/secular offence?

11. Who enforces the moral rules of your religion?

12. Should the moral rules of your religion apply to everyone?

13. What role should religion play in secular society?

Use of Force

14. Is killing ever justified?

15. Is war ever justified?

16. Is violence against innocent people justifiable?

17. Can someone be a conscientious objector?

18. Is force justifiable against children?

19. Is force justifiable against a spouse?

20. Is suicide ever justifiable?

21. To what extent is martyrdom acceptable?

22. Is it right to kill an innocent person in order to save the life of another?

23. Is capital punishment acceptable; if so, for what offenses?

Science and Medicine

24. Under what circumstances, if any, is abortion allowable?

25. Are autopsies allowable; if so, under what circumstances?

26. Are there rules about body modification e.g. tattoos, cosmetic surgery or amputations?

27. Are transfusions allowed?

28. Should extraordinary means be used to prolong life?

29. Should family and/or patients have the right to end suffering?

30. Does anyone have the right to hasten death?

31. In the case of conjoined twins when both will die if nothing is done to separate them but only one will live (and the other die) if the operation takes place, is the killing of one acceptable in order to save the life of the other?

32. Is genetic engineering permissible?

33. Is the theory of evolution compatible with your religion?

34. Are environmental concerns part of your religious ethic?

35. Do animals have any moral standing?

36. Does your religion predict an end of time? If so, when will that be and what will the world be like for humans?


37. Is sex outside marriage permissible?

38. Is sex only for procreation?

39. Is masturbation allowed?

40. Is genital sex the only morally permissible type?

41. Are there moral codes regarding dress and hairstyles?

42. Is transvestism immoral?

43. Is homosexuality immoral?

44. Should all people have equal rights under the law even if they engage in immoral behavior?

45. Should gay marriages be recognized by the state?

46. Is it immoral to have more than one spouse at time?

47. Is divorce acceptable?

48. Are the roles played by men and women a moral issue?

49. Are men and women separate but equal?

50. Is the use of drugs and/or alcohol allowable?

51. Should prayers be allowed in public schools?

52. Should the state subsidize religious schools or programs?

53. Is the food a person eats a religious and/or moral concern?

54. Is gambling allowed?

55. Is smoking allowed?

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