My experience as a member of the Baha’i Faith

By Dennis James Rogers

I became a member of the Baha’i Faith in the early seventies while an undergraduate at a small private midwestern university. The initial attraction was to the social teachings of the Faith particularly the tenets about gender and racial equality. I had been raised as a Roman Catholic and had attended parochial and public schools, but was not very well versed in Biblical Christianity. Since the sixties and seventies were a time of social upheaval and turmoil, the Baha’i Faith seemed like a rational alternative to traditional religious dogma. My connection to the group was minimal during my college years but picked up after I graduated in 1973. I had “accepted ” the Faith based on a conversation with a Baha’i teacher who asked me if I agreed with the basic nine tenets of the Faith, I told him I did and he said I was a Baha’i. This was quite ironic considering that one of the basic tenets is “independent investigation of the truth”. I had not taken the time to investigate nor done a thorough examination of it’s history or doctrine, something that I would not do until many years later while pursuing a role as a Baha’i apologetic.

In 1974 there was an International Convention held in St. Louis to initiate one of the plans that the Baha’i Administrative Order imposes on the rank and file. The plans originated with Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, they are ten-year plans, five-year plans, four-year plans, and seven-year plans or as little as one year plans. The plans have goals for teaching (expansion and consolidation) and “pioneers” which are similar to missionaries with the exception that pioneers are not subsidized by the organization, pioneers are expected to finance their own travel expenses, find employment and establish themselves as part of the city, village or community in which they are pioneering. The pioneer is to teach the faith, find new converts, establish a local spiritual assembly, (a local governing body consisting of nine adults) and then move on to a new pioneering post after the task has been completed. The Universal House of Justice, the international governing body for the Bahá’is, generally established what the goal areas were with input from the National Spiritual Assemblies, the national governing bodies. I must comment that many pioneers I met, rarely if ever established Local Spiritual Assemblies and generally left their “posts” to return home. Pioneering is considered a glorious spiritual station and a certain degree of social pressure is put upon the members to become pioneers. The pioneers I met in the United States who came from the Middle East, primarily from Iran, were people of means, educated and wealthy. The early pioneers of the Baha’i Faith (from the West} were also people of means. This can be verified by the early written Baha’i history of the United States and Canada.

Being a new member of the group, I was not aware of the Baha’i culture, I was first asked to answer telephone calls from people interested in the Faith, there was considerable publicity on television, bill boards and newspapers about the convention with a phone number to call for people interested in finding out more information concerning the Faith. I was to answer questions, secure addresses and phone numbers to send literature for follow up by Baha’i teachers. The older members, not wanting to answer phones, attended the conference, which was presented by the ruling Baha’i elite. The nine members of the Universal House of Justice and the remaining living “Hands of the Cause”. The Hands were individuals who had been appointed by Bahá-u-lláh, Abdul Bahá or Shoghi Effendi. The rank and file members, due to their high spiritual station of “servitude”, regarded them as spiritual giants. Their main function was to protect and propagate the Faith. They were to protect the Faith from schism, but were apparently unsuccessful after the death of Shoghi Effendi in 1957, the only appointed Guardian of the Baha’i Faith. There have been, since his death, two main splinter groups, the Orthodox Bahá’is and the Bahá’is Under the Provision of the Covenant (BUPC) that I am aware of. I do not know what the other group’s membership numbers are or their exact doctrines since contact with them is forbidden. They are to be shunned as “covenant breakers” and are considered “spiritually diseased” by the Baha’i Administrative Order. To be quite honest, I really was not that interested in them.

I attended a general session where several of the “Hands” spoke. Most of the talks were anecdotal in nature, encouraging the members to bring in more converts and step up the “teaching efforts”. Though Bahá’is claim they do not proselytize, semantics, all their efforts are aimed at bringing in more new members to establish the “New World Order”; this is to occur when there are mass conversions or “entry by troops”. A term I discovered taken from Sura 110 in the Qu’ran entitled. “Help”. (Rodwell’s edition pg.429).

One of the elements that I found disturbing during the conference was an underlying anti-Christian sentiment, which is what eventually contributed to my leaving the Bahá’is later, it was and is something not so overt as much as an arrogant attitude that many Bahá’is feel. There were Christians offering literature outside of the convention center, which were not allowed in, and heavily criticized by the Baha’i attendee’s. They consider themselves to be spiritually superior to Christians because Bahá’is believe they have all the answers to humanity’s problems for this day. One of the “Hands” stated that most Christians “were dead from the neck up.” I purchased this speech on audiocassette tape and had also heard the comment live. This individual was upset that the Christians had more heart and moral fiber than the Bahá’is. Christians were getting into Africa, South/Central America and Asia with missionaries before the Baha’i pioneers could “open” those areas. This “Hand” also felt that Americans were really not worth trying to teach the Faith to, since they were so entrenched in the culture and their churches. They were basically doomed, not worth saving. The Bahá’is should therefore concentrate their efforts on native peoples who did not have so many “veils”. A term frequently used by the membership to denote someone who could not accept the station of Bahá-u-lláh as God’s savior for the world. After the conference was over, I was introduced to a Baha’i couple that lived in the municipality where I resided. This introduction and my experience with this couple would have lasting implications for me for the rest of my life.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith, as I will call them, were a very charismatic and charming couple, they took me into their home and became my “spiritual parents”. Though I did not live with them I spent much time there. They were in their mid forties and had an adult daughter, whom I never met. Mr. Smith was about six foot four and had a very intimidating presence if he chose to and Mrs. Smith was about five foot seven and on the full figured side. She was very soft spoken with a mild southern drawl.

The couple immediately took me under their wing, seeing I was a new young and impressionable recruit gave them license to teach me as they saw fit. We began having “firesides”, weekly teaching meetings in their home, for “seekers” as they are referred to (potential Bahá’is). We held public meetings at the local library and community center, picnics at parks, anywhere we could attract attention to the Faith to bring in new members or seekers to invite to firesides. During this time I became a very persuasive teacher under Mr. Smith’s tutelage and as a result many young people “declared ” their belief in Bahá-u-lláh, including one of my older brothers, his wife and several of my friends. So many people were enrolling in the Baha’i Faith, coming to firesides and meetings that it attracted the attention of the National Spiritual Assembly and they began to send people to investigate our activities. I found out decades later that the more conservative Baha’i administration at that time were alarmed at the number of “long hair hippie types” and African-Americans who were enrolling into the Baha’i Faith. Professor Juan R.I. Cole, a historian and former member of the Bahá’is has gone into this in some detail in a published paper entitled “The Baha’i Faith as Panopticon”. The website address is:

The Smiths had me under their control and completely indoctrinated into the Baha’i Faith. I was their “spiritual son” and anything Mr. Smith said I took as truth. He began handing out “fez’s”, hats like the early Middle Eastern Bahá’is wore, to the younger male Bahá’is in the community. A symbol of his discipleship I suppose. This was alarming to the members of the National Spiritual Assembly who really took offense at this action, but did not confront Mr. Smith about it directly. I on the other hand and the other new young believers thought this was normal, wearing the fez, since none of the other older Bahá’is in the area said anything to him or us about it. At this time I was alienated from my family and former non-Baha’i friends. Everything I did was Baha’i, I felt I had all the answers and refused to listen to anyone else outside of the Baha’i Faith. Mr. Smith began to get verbally abusive and authoritarian with me if I disagreed with him on any issue. He never struck me, but he did on one occasion force me to prostrate myself before him and beg for forgiveness because I had disappointed him. I had wanted to get married and start a family and he wanted me to move away to another state with him. I need to add without going into to much detail that Mr. Smith sometimes would slip drugs into glasses of punch that he would give me and others to drink while we were guests in his home. On several occasions after giving me the “punch”, he proceeded to lock me in a small room on the second floor of his house, a prayer closet he called it, and tell me to pray and meditate. Several times I hallucinated while in the “prayer closet” and he would grill me as to what I had experienced. It was some years later that I realized what he had done to me and how sick an individual Mr. Smith really was. To this day I do not know what the nature of the drugs were he had given to me.

The Smiths moved away out of state, as there were enough adult members in the community to form a Local Spiritual Assembly. (LSA). I was elected Chairman of the LSA and had been in that position for less than a year when the Assembly was summoned to a meeting at a local hotel with members of the Baha’i Administration. I must add that when Mr. and Mrs. Smith left the area I was greatly relieved and thought to myself “good riddance”. I did occasionally speak to him on the telephone, when he called to see how I was doing.

What happened next when the LSA met with the Administrative representatives was something that I had kept to myself for over twenty years. We, the Local Spiritual Assembly members, thought we were going to be praised for all the teaching activity that had occurred and tripling the number of new believers. On the contrary, we were seated in a large hotel suite and then I was read a list of charges against me which included “conspiring” with Mr. Smith to run the Local Spiritual Assembly from out of state and for “claiming a station”, whatever that meant. When I protested and attempted to defend myself, I was told to “sit down and shut up, we know all about you and anything you say will be just lies.” I said I was leaving and they locked and blocked the door leading out of the room, there were about seven of them and they forced me and the other members of the Local Spiritual Assembly to listen to them for two hours. This is what the Bahá’is call “loving and frank consultation”. I was humiliated, demeaned and my character assassinated in this meeting. Two of the members of the Local Spiritual Assembly came to my defense and stated that the charges were not true and that the picture that was being presented of me by them was inaccurate. My accusers never confronted me; I came to find out later that the National Spiritual Assembly and other Administrative bodies had used members of the Local Spiritual Assembly and the community as “informants”. The concept of due process is foreign in the Baha’i Faith.

The result of this “consultation” had me removed from the assembly and ostracized from the community at large. Several of the Local Spiritual Assembly members left the Faith after this incident; as did several people that I had taught the Faith to. I seriously considered it, but decided not to because I was isolated and felt I deserved to be punished because of my association with the Smiths. I was instructed not to ever speak to them or have contact with the Smiths again, but not told why. If they contacted me I was to report it immediately to the Baha’i Administration.

The next step that the Baha’i Administration did was to “reeducate” me in the Baha’i teachings. They arranged for me to attend “deepening classes” (a Baha’i term used to denote in-depth study) with an older Baha’i teacher who had very little regard for me, almost to the point of open hostility. If I questioned him about certain doctrines that did not make sense to me he would become extremely defensive and caustic in speech. One time he hung up on me during the course of a telephone conversation after calling me an arrogant punk when questioning him about a prophetic statement in the Baha’i writings. He stated there was no such passage and when I read it to him over the phone he became very upset and hung up. I did not study with him much after that. Many of the Bahá’is and the Baha’i Administration considered him one of the best teachers in the United States and would rave about him. I found him to be offensive, sarcastic, demeaning to his students and to be without any formal training as an educator. He published a book through the Baha’i Publishing Trust, which I thought was confusing and incoherent, he was in his mid sixties when I met him.

Since many of the new Bahá’is we had taught had left the faith, the numbers in the community went down, so I was reinstated to the Local Spiritual Assembly by default. Much of my time was spent planning firesides, public meetings, picnics and fundraising. In the fifteen years that followed there was very little growth in the community in terms of the numbers of new believers, there was a revolving door so to speak, and people would come into the Faith and then either become inactive or just resign. This was particularly true of the African-American Bahá’is coming from a church background. There was very little structure or community life that resembles a church community. Most, if not all of Baha’i activity centers on meetings, teaching activities and fundraising. There was very little time left to develop interpersonal relationships or socialization.

One last painful episode, which further alienated me from the faith, was the fact that my wife at the time, we are now divorced, developed a close friendship with a “home front pioneer”. These are Bahá’is that move to an area for a short time to fulfill some arbitrary local goal of the Baha’i Administration to establish a group or Local Spiritual Assembly. This individual, unbeknownst to me, tried to coerce my wife to divorce me and marry him during his tenure in the community. She told me about the relationship after he left the country to pioneer to South America. She is still on the rolls of the Baha’i Faith to my knowledge.

During the divorce process the community abandoned me, since divorce is frowned upon. An incident that occurred while going through the divorce, (a year of patience is required by Baha’i law), was when I attended a Baha’i Sunday class where I was confronted by several members of the community and chastised in the class for going through the divorce, I did not defend myself, but I must add that a Persian Baha’i man stood up for me and said in my defense that no one knows what goes on between two people and that it was not for anyone to judge. Despite that I did not attend any meetings for the next two years, nor was I contacted by any of the “friends” during that time. The community has a history of abandoning its members when they no longer can attend the meetings or participate in teaching activities.

I cannot truly characterize the Baha’i Faith as a “cult”, though in my opinion there are strong social controls in place by the Baha’i Administration. Those controls filter down to the individuals who are afraid of openly questioning the decisions of that administration for fear of being labeled a “covenant breaker”. Which is tantamount to being excommunicated from the community. The leadership has used this effectively since the beginnings of the religion to “purge the ranks of the believers”. Once a person has been declared a covenant breaker, the Baha’i community shuns that person and contact with such an individual could cause “spiritual contamination” of the “Cause” as it is referred to. There are parallels in the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormon groups, as I understand it. The discussion of “unquestioning loyalty and obedience” to the Baha’i covenant and administration is paramount to maintaining order within the community. Though membership in the Baha’i Faith is completely voluntary, individuals such as myself who based their entire lifestyle around the faith find it difficult to separate themselves from family and friends who are Baha’i even if they know there are contradictions within Baha’i doctrine. One risks those relationships and being isolated from the community. It took me three painful years to extricate myself and resign as an enrolled member. Since leaving the Baha’i Faith in the fall of 2000, I have had little or no contact with people I had been friends with for many years, friends whose children grew up with my children. Most of them believe I lost my faith in God. Those that I have spoken to are surprised that I am doing fine, that I attend church and perform in a gospel band.

Some of the contradictions that began to surface for me were a result of a radio broadcast I heard by Rev. Robert Pardon of the New England Institute of Religious Research (NEIRR) on a Lutheran radio station in St. Louis. He was giving an overview of the Baha’i Faith and I called to challenge him and his sources. I felt he was misrepresenting the Faith and had gotten his source material from “covenant breakers” or enemies of the Faith. I thought about what he had said and contacted him through his web site, I was finally beginning to investigate the Baha’i Faith after twenty-seven years. He sent me facsimiles of his source material and I began to meticulously go over it. Checking it against what had been presented to me by the Bahá’is. I also began writing letters and asking questions of Baha’i administrators and academics. I discovered that several contemporary Baha’i historians and academics had been forced out of the Faith because of their research and publications. Baha’i academics have to go through a review process before publishing anything about the Faith. If an author does not pass the review process one is not published. Their work essentially is censored. This is why almost all Baha’i literature and historical works are redundant. All the books and pamphlets are rewritten from the same “approved” source material. As a result of this, most Bahá’is are unaware of the early history of the Faith, the power struggles that ensued from the founders family members and instead are directed to the Baha’i approved materials. Other sources are considered suspect, labeled as unauthorized or from enemies of the faith.

Though the Faith teaches tolerance for other religions, the truth is taught that the Baha’i Faith is the “Ultimate Truth” for this day. All the previous “Manifestations of God” and revealed religions are essentially null and void. Humanity must follow the Baha’i Faith or suffer severe punishment. Jesus Christ, the Messiah and Savior for the entire human race is reduced to the station of a ”Divine Educator”. His revelation is no longer considered relevant for this day, in fact Christ’s dispensation ended with the coming of Muhammad in the sixth century C.E. The clergy and a misunderstanding of scriptural interpretation have led all Christians astray. Personal salvation is no longer important; the salvation of the human race is the priority now. An intimate personal relationship with God is not possible, ” the door leading unto the Ancient of Days is forever closed to man”, (paraphrase from the Baha’i Writings). As I began to study the Bible in depth and outside of a Baha’i context, I began to understand the perspective of the Christian objection to the Baha’i Faith. A great deal of the social teachings and all of the spiritual teachings, which the faith presented as new, I discovered in Old and New Testament scripture. Some of the phrases from the Bible I found transcribed into Baha’i prayers. However the main source of contention for me was the arrogance of many Baha’i who became incensed at Christian authors trying to give accurate accounts regarding the Baha’i Faith and it’s history. Yet they thought nothing of explaining away two thousands years of historical Christianity and exegetical study, while engaging in the worst form of eisegesis.

On a more personal level, I was concerned about my soul and salvation, I never really felt forgiven or saved as a Baha’i or that Bahá-u-lláh was a personal savior. When reading how Jesus taught us to forgive our enemies and to pray for them in the Gospels, I compared that to how the Baha’i Faith historically condemned and shunned its enemies. (Many who were the disciples, spouses and relatives of the central figures of the Faith, even Shoghi Effendi, the Baha’i Guardian, excommunicated his own parents!). I began to ask God to open my eyes and guide me to the truth.

With the help of Rev. Bob Pardon, (NEIRR) Pastor Todd Wilken and Jeff Schwartz of radio station KFUO in St. Louis, I began the task of “testing the spirits” to determine what was true. I tested the Bahá’is by raising questions at Baha’i meetings about historical and doctrinal contradictions as well as prophetic statements in the Baha’i Faith that had not come to pass. Dates had been given where certain events were to have transpired and did not occur. Many Bahá’is were desperately trying to rationalize these unfulfilled prophecies. This line of questioning was making me very unpopular to say the least, particularly when I began to post those questions on the local Baha’i chat list. I started to receive calls from the local Baha’i authorities as well as from some of the “friends”. (A term Bahá’is use to refer to each other). I finally officially withdrew my membership and posted it on the chat list. I received numerous calls and e-mails from the “friends” wanting to counsel me, I then posted and requested that I not be contacted, which of course did not occur, finally I posted my reasons for leaving the Baha’i Faith and that I no longer could follow the doctrines or obey the Administrative Order. An Administrative Representative who wished to meet with me concerning my statements contacted me. His real intent was to declare me a “covenant breaker” and therefore have me shunned so as not to “infect” any other Bahá’is with doubt. I agreed to meet with him. He had books with him and was prepared to contend with me. I chose not to engage him on doctrinal issues, I instead stated that I did not believe that Bahá-u-lláh was the return of Christ and relayed to him the incidents I had suffered at the hands of Bahá’is and the Administration. He repeatedly apologized and stated he would ask the Bahá’is to respect my wishes that I not be contacted and harassed about my decision.

I have since accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and have found a peaceful assurance that I had never experienced as a Baha’i. I bear no malice towards the Baha’i Faith or individual Bahá’is. Some of them are very kind, gentle and loving souls. This testimony is intended to help those members of the Baha’i community, who may have experienced similar situations and come to a personal realization regarding doctrinal contradictions. There is hope, peace and life outside of the Baha’i Faith for those who choose to seek it.

Source :


Baha’u’llah vs Jesus

The Life of Baha’u’llah, Compared to Jesus

Many of the Baha’i Scriptures compare Holy Father Jesus with their founder Baha’u’llah, at times exceeded the virtues of their founder Baha’ullah over Jesus. I reproduce herewith the link of the matter for universal reference of my readers.

Baha’u’llah wrote, “Let deeds, not words, be your adorning.” But I fail to see where Baha’u’llah’s deeds indicate that he was a “supreme manifestation of God” equal to Jesus. I just don’t get it.

A Critical Look at the Baha’i Faith – Part 2 By: John Ankerberg Show

In this two-part article we will briefly examine: (1) the Baha’i approach to other religions; (2) the absence of the personal requirements Baha’i demands for the Manifestations; (3) anachronistic Baha’i scriptures; (4) the Miller analysis of the Baha’i faith; (5) moral concerns; (6) some Baha’i errors; and (7) failed prophecy and Baha’i misuse of Christian prophecy.

Parts of Baha’u’llah’s mystical philosophy and experience are troubling because they tend to blur moral categories. In part, they may explain his own purported moral evils, as discussed in Miller.[1] Remember, Baha’u’llah is the greatest Manifestation of God to date. If so, what are we to make of teachings like the fol¬lowing? If, as Sabet declares, Baha’i teaches that “good and evil are not fixed in their value once for all, but are themselves subject to development,” why cannot the evil of today be the good of tomorrow?[2]If one prophet speaking the Word of God nullifies or contradicts the moral teachings of another, do we still live in a moral universe? If even “love becometh an obstruction and a barrier,” where are we headed?[3]


When Baha’u’llah declared that “the works and acts of each and every one” of the prophets “are all ordained by God, and are a reflection of His Will and Purpose,[4] it would seem that the Baha’i faith must thereby endorse as the divine will much or all of the personal evils and immoral teachings of Krishna, the sins of Moses, the practical atheism of Buddha and the religious violence of Muhammad, not to mention the sins of the Bab and Baha’u’llah himself. Is this in harmony with a progressive and enlightened outlook on religion?

Some Additional Baha’i Errors

1. Discarding historical evidence, Baha’is teach that the Apostle Paul was unconcerned with the historic Jesus, perverted His teachings and was a superstitious ascetic. In order to make such statements, one would have to assume Baha’is have not even read the Apostle Paul, since such charges are demonstrably false. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 we see that what the Apostle Paul considered as having “first importance” was precisely the historic Jesus. Far from perverting Jesus’ teaching, Paul held to it strictly, as J. Gresham Machen’s The Origin of Paul’s Religion proves in detail. Consider a few examples from our own reading of Jesus and Paul. We present a number of basic Christian doctrines showing the theological harmony of Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul. Baha’is and other liberal critics allege these were never Jesus’ original teachings but “invented” by the Apostle Paul. Since the following are agreed to by almost everyone to be Paul’s teachings, we only need to document that they are also Jesus’ teachings:

Jesus Christ as the only Son of God and the Savior. Luke 10:16; John 3:16, 18; 5:34-40; 6:27-40; 8:12; 11:25-27; 12:47.

The Trinity. Matthew 28:19; John 5:18; 10:33-38; 14:9, 16-18; 16:13-15.

Salvation by grace. Luke 18:9-14; John 5:24; 6:29, 47.

Jesus Christ is the only way. John 3:14-18; 8:24; 10:1, 7-9, 28; 14:6; 17:3.

Heaven and Hell. Matthew 25:46; Luke 16:19-31; John 14:2-3; 17:24.

Belief in a personal triune God. Matthew 28:19; John 17.

Death of Jesus Christ for the world’s sins (the atonement). Matthew 20:28; 26:28; John 10:11, 17.

The Church as the institution of believers. Matthew 16:15-19.

Creation of Adam and Eve and the Fall. Matthew 19:4; Luke 10:18; John 8:44.

Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Matthew 16:21; 26:32; John 2:19.

Satan and demons are real. Mark 9:25-29; Luke 4:1-13, 33-35.

Sin is real. John 3:19-20; 5:14; 8:7-11, 34.

Importance of salvation by faith. Luke 7:9; 18:42; John 5:24; 6:47.

Death is an enemy. John 11:32-44.

Jesus is the Christ, the Jewish Messiah. Matthew 16:15-17; Mark 14:61-64; Luke 18:31; 20:41-44;
22:67-71; John 4:25-26; 5:38-47; 7:26-29; 8:42-47; 10:24-26.

The kingdom of God. Matthew 13:44-53; 18:1-4; Luke 9:62; 19:11; John 18:36.

The resurrection of people. Luke 20:35-38.

Jesus Christ’s second coming. Matthew 24:27-31; 25:31.

Necessity of repentance. Matthew 18:3-4; Mark 6:7; 12; Luke 17:1-4.

Literal interpretation of the Bible. John 8:30-32; 18:19-21.

Immorality condemned. Matthew 19:5-9.

Importance of prayer. Matthew 21:13, 22; Luke 5:16; 6:12.

The Old Testament as the Word of God. Matthew 4:4; Mark 7:6-10,13; John 17:17.

The fear of God. Luke 12:4-5.

Inspiration of the New Testament. John 14:16-17; 14:26; 16:13-15.

Communion and baptism. Matthew 3:16; 21:25; 28:19; Luke 22:15-20; John 6:53-56.

Jesus’ acceptance of worship. Matthew 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; John 9:38.

How could the Apostle Peter, who knew Jesus so well, accept Paul if he were a falsifier of Jesus’ teachings (Acts 26:22; 2 Pet. 3:15-16)? The testimony of both Paul and Jesus is that He, Jesus Christ, is wholly unique. Jesus has universal and eternal relevance; that is, not merely relevance for His own place and time (Matt. 24:30, 35; 28:18; John 5:20-29; Phil. 2:9-11). As far as being a “superstitious ascetic,” Paul’s own life and teachings deny this repeatedly (Col. 2:8, 23).

Regardless, Baha’is fail to mention that Jesus’ own disciple Peter declared Paul’s writings the Word of God (2 Pet. 3:15-16). If Baha’u’llah himself confirmed Peter’s station and said God caused “wisdom… to flow out of his mouth,” and if Shoghi Effendi further declared that “the primacy of Peter, the prince of the apostles, is upheld and defended,” how do they proceed to deny the divine authority of Paul whom Peter upheld? [5]

2. The “infallible” Baha’u’llah quite erroneously declared of Muhammad that he claimed to be Jesus. No orthodox Muslim believes this, nor is it taught in the Qur’an. Baha’u’llah says, again falsely, “Neither the person of Jesus nor His writings hath differed from that of Muhammed and of His holy Book.”[6] In The Facts on Islam, we have shown how wrong such a declaration is.

3. Baha’is have written various books to convert Christians to the Baha’i faith. The errors in these books are extremely numerous and often unconscionable.[7] As one example, observe Townshend’s interpretation of Deuteronomy 33:2, where Moses is blessing the Sons of Israel just before he dies. The parentheses are Townshend’s: “The Lord came from Sinai (meaning Himself [Moses]), and rose up from Seir (meaning Jesus Christ); he shined forth from Mount Paran (meaning Muhammad) and he came with ten thousands of saints (meaning Baha’u’llah).” These are supposedly “the undoubted facts of history.”[8]Interpretations as this are not only preposterous but also extremely embarrassing to Baha’i claims to represent enlightened religion.

4. “In the synoptic Gospels, there is nowhere to be found any allusion to a miraculous birth.”[9] But the virgin birth of Jesus is mentioned in two synoptic Gospels (Matt. 1:23; Luke 1:27; cf. Isa. 7:14).

5. Jesus never spoke of Himself as the only Son of God. But in John 3:16 and 18 Jesus very clearly speaks of Himself as the only (monogenes) Son of God. [10]

  1. Christianity was influenced by the mystery religions.[11] This historical error was never tenable and we refuted it in chapter 7 of our Ready with an Answer. (Ronald Nash’s Christianity and the Hellenistic World also provides a detailed analysis.)

6. The Trinity “cannot be found in Paul’s writings,” and Paul never thought of Jesus as “in any sense identical or equal to God.”[12] In fact, Paul’s writings contain some of the most definitive statements for belief in the Trinity and he not infrequently declared the full deity of Jesus Christ (for example, Titus 2:13)

Failed Prophecy and Misinterpretation of Christian Prophecy

The Baha’is religious presuppositions force them to misinterpret the Bible virtually wherever they discuss it. This is particularly true with Baha’i prophetic scriptures. In his text Baha’i (chapter 4, 1975) Dr. Francis Beckwith critically analyzes Baha’i misinterpretations of Daniel 8:13-17; Isaiah 11:1-10; Isaiah 35:1-2; Isaiah 1:1, 6, 7 and other passages. He also documents a particularly damaging false prophecy—and its cover-up—that universal peace would be estab¬lished in 1957. This was a prophecy of ‘Abdu’l-Baha cited by J. E. Esslemont in 1923 but removed (after his death) in the 1970 edition of Esslemont’s text, Baha’u’llah and the New Era. Beckwith then concludes:

The chief representatives of Baha’i scholarship show an absolute ignorance of properly interpreting any given Biblical text. They ignore context, language, intent, and historical setting. They seek only to twist biblical passages so as to fit their presupposed doctrines which, in their opinion, justify these presupposed doctrines. This seems to be the continuing fallacy lurking behind almost every Baha’i apologetic use of the Bible: Baha’i apologists (defenders) reason in a circle.

Concerning ethical character, upon which the Baha’is put a premium, the censorship of J. E. Esslemont’s book, after his death, is indeed a black mark upon all Baha’ism. Changing an eyewitness testimony (of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s false prophecy) after the death of the eyewitness is blatantly unethical. [13]

Nevertheless, the Baha’i syncretism demands that virtually any prophetic scripture can be misinterpreted, and dozens of additional cases can be referenced.[14] Such misinterpretation is found throughout their literature. We shall, however, discuss only one example of their misuse of prophetic scripture in Daniel chapters 8-9.

Dr. John Walvoord offers a clear and detailed analysis of the book of Daniel in The Prophecy of Daniel. This may be compared to the Baha’i booklet “Prophecy Fulfilled” by E. H. Cheney, who expounds ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s views on Daniel.

‘Abdu’l-Baha attempts to find Daniel’s prophecy fulfilled in the Baha’i religion, using Daniel chapters 8 and 9. In Daniel 8:14, the 2,300 “evenings and mornings” are wrongly interpreted by Baha’i’s as 2,300 years. The Hebrew term referred to “evening and morning” sacrifices (see 9:21; Ex. 29:38-42), which would be 1,150 days or about three years, not 2,300 years. The prophecy in Daniel 8 deals directly with Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the eighth ruler of the Syrian dynasty during the time of the Maccabees. The “2,300 evenings and mornings” were fulfilled within a few years, some 2,000 years before Baha’is even existed. As the NIV text note (Zondervan Study Bible) for Daniel 8:14 reads,

The 2,300 evenings and mornings probably refer to the number of sacrifices consecutively offered on 1,150 days, the interval between the desecration of the Lord’s altar and its reconsecration by Judas Maccabeus on Kislev 25, 165 B.C. The pagan altar set up by Antiochus on Kislev 25, 168, was apparently installed almost 2 months after the Lord’s altar was removed, accounting for the difference between 1,095 days (an exact three years) and the 1,150 specified here.

‘Abdu’l-Baha uses Daniel 9:24-26 and applies it contextually to Daniel chapter 8, ignoring the fact that it deals with the first coming of the Messiah, which occurred 2,000 years ago. (Only in verse 27 is the second coming referred to.) In other words, ‘Abdu’l-Baha ties together entirely unrelated prophecies, each fulfilled some two millennia ago, as relating to the nineteenth century A.D. Baha’i origins. In that way he can use the decree of Artaxerxes (Dan. 9:25; Ezra 7; 457 B.C.), add 2,300 years (Dan. 8) and come up with the year 1844, the time of the Bab’s Pronouncement that he was God’s Messenger. He can also claim that Baha’u’llah is the “prince” foretold by Daniel. The difficulty is that there are two princes foretold at Daniel 9:24-27, and neither refer to Baha’u’llah. One is the Messiah, who is “cut off” (Jesus, who died on the Cross), and the other prince who destroys the sanctuary, the Antichrist. Contextually, Jesus Christ is the only person who could fit the prophecy here. (Cf. Dr. A. J. McClain, Daniel’s Prophecy of the 70 Weeks and Sir Robert Anderson, The Coming Prince.)

It is, of course, easy to misinterpret prophecy without careful study. The Seventh-day Adventists made the same error as the Baha’is (interpreting the 2,300 mornings and evenings for years), and thus they expected Christ’s return in 1844. Incidentally, the same Baha’i booklet interprets Nahum 2:3-4 as a prophecy about automobiles of our own era, even though the book of Nahum is a prophecy against Assyria, to whom Jonah had earlier preached. The language in 2:3-4 is a mildly poetic description of chariots of the time.


  1. Baha’u’llah, The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys (Wilmette, IL: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1971), pp. 52, 57.
  2. Huschmand Sabet, The Heavens Are Cleft Asunder (Oxford, England: George Ronald Publishing, 1975), p. 116.
  3. The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys, p. 57.
  4. ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith (Wilmette, IL: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1976), p. 27.
  5. World Order, Summer 1979, p. 7; Summer 1978, p. 3; Udo Schaefer, The Light Shineth in Darkness (Oxford, England: George Ronald, 1973), pp. 80-87.
  6. Shoghi Effendi, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah (Wilmette, IL: Bahia Publishing Trust, 1976), pp. 21-22.
  7. Sabet, chapter 8 and Schaefer, pp. 55-113 are the more “scholarly”; Townshend is replete with error. George Townshend, Christ and Baha’u’llah (Oxford, England: George Ronald, 1977), pp. 11-100 (see pp. 32, 69); George Townshend, The Heart of the Gospel (London, England: George Ronald, 1960), pp. 11-153.
  8. Christ and Baha’u’llah, pp. 13, 32.
  9. World Order, Fall 1978, p. 14.
  10. Christ and Baha’u’llah, p. 25
  11. World Order, p. 10; 1978, p. 38.
  12. World Order, Winter 1978-1979, pp. 7-8.
  13. Francis Beckwith, Baha’i (Bethany, 1985), p. 39.
  14. Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-I-Iqan: The Book of Certitude (Wilmette, IL: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1974), pp. 66, 119; cf. pp. 82, 84-87, 199; Schaefer, pp. 72-90; Townshend, Christ and Baha’u’llah, pp. 16, 24, 27-29, 31-32, 58, 69, 110; World Order, Winter 1966, pp. 30-31, Sabet, chapters 13-14, pp. 106, 108, 134. That Sabet would quote Sears in support is indicative of the book’s quality; Mable Hyde Pain, The Divine Art of Living (Wilmette, IL: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1974), p. 49; ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Christ’s Promise Fulfilled (Wilmette, IL: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1978), pp. 13, 30, 58, 61; ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith (Wilmette, IL: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1976), p. 38.

A Critical Look at the Baha’i Faith – Part 1 By: John Ankerberg Show

In this two-part article we will briefly examine: (1) the Baha’i approach to other religions; (2) the absence of the personal requirements Baha’i demands for the Manifestations; (3) anachronistic Baha’i scriptures; (4) the Miller analysis of the Baha’i faith; (5) moral concerns; (6) some Baha’i errors; and (7) failed prophecy and Baha’i misuse of Christian prophecy.

The Baha’i Approach to Other Religions

Udo Schaefer tells us that his rejection of historic Christianity was not based on science (presumably meaning facts) but on his own faith in the truth of Baha’u’llah’s claim that all religions are one. Assuming the truth of this, religions must then contain “no essential contradictions,” “for God does not contradict Himself.”[1] The truth is that every religion in the world conflicts with every other religion.

In his article, “Baha’i-Christian Dialogue” in the Christian Research Journal, Dr. Francis J. Beckwith makes a good point here, which will introduce our discussion of the Baha’i approach to comparative religion:

The fact that the various alleged manifestations of God represented God in contradictory ways implies either that manifestations of God can contradict one another or that God’s own nature is contradictory. If manifestations are allowed to contradict one another, then there is no way to separate false manifestations from true ones or to discover if any of them really speak for the true and living God…. If, on the other hand, God’s own nature is said to be contradictory, that is, that God is both one God and many gods, that God is both able and not able to have a son, personal and impersonal, etc., then the Baha’i concept of God is reduced to meaninglessness. [2]

Consider just several discrepancies between the teachings of the Baha’i World Faith and the teachings of other religions (see chart).

The Teachings of Baha’i World Faith The Teachings of Other Religions
Opposes reincarnation Hindus, Buddhists, others teach reincarnation.
Man is not one essence with God. There is no final mystical merger with God. [3] Hinduism believes man is God inwardly and finally merges with God mystically.
Numerous religious duties in the Aqdas oppose Muslim/Qur’anic beliefs. [4] Islam rejects such religious duties. Muslims view Bahai’s as heretics, hence Bahai’s admittedly keep very low profiles in Islamic nations. As Chouleur notes, “Bahai’s have to make themselves invisible in most Muslim states.” [5]
Monotheistic, unitarian. Buddhism is atheistic (Hinayana) or polytheistic (Mahayana).[6] Christianity is monotheistic and Trinitarian.
Accepts Baha’u’llah as a prophet of God. Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity reject him as a prophet of God.
Continuing prophets. Islam teaches Muhammad was the seal of the prophets and the final prophet.
Islam, etc., perverted divine revelation. “The people of the Qur’an have perverted [misinterpreted] the text of God’s holy Book.” [7] (The same argument is used for other religions.) Orthodox Muslims disagree, as do orthodox members of all non-Baha’i faiths.
Christ has returned as Baha’u’llah. [8] Christians believe Christ has yet to return.

The problem for Baha’i World Faith is clear. How can Baha’is retain credibility for their claim to accept and honor other religions? The only way Baha’is can “successfully” defend their syncretism is through a subjective, mystical approach to other scriptures, or through emphasis on a monistic religious experience to the exclusion of scriptural study, or by attempting to unite all religions merely upon surface or common characteristics (generally vague ideas on love, worship, God and so on).

To illustrate further, there are irresolvable theological problems in attempting this kind of religious syncretism. For example, how can the concepts of God in the “Religious Founders’ Concepts of God” chart ever be reconciled?

Leader God
Krishna Polytheistic; pantheistic; Hinduism ultimately adopts a monistic/impersonal ultimate reality.
Moses Monotheistic, personal.
Zoroaster Dualistic; two supreme beings (one good and one evil).
Confucius Polytheistic; but gods are secondary in importance to ultimate reality.
Buddha A supreme God is irrelevant; the gods are also; modern Buddhism is, variously, polytheistic or humanistic.
Jesus Monotheistic, personal, Trinitarian, God has a Son who reveals God perfectly.
Muhammad Monotheistic, personal, Unitarian, God has no Son.
The Bab/Baha’u’llah Ineffable, unknowable.

Even when we compare Baha’i with just one other religion, Christianity, the problems are still insurmountable.

Finally, putting comparative religion aside for the most part, even Baha’i claims relative to itself are problematic.

The Absence of the Personal Requirements Baha’i Demands for the Manifestations

We even discover irreconcilable difficulties when we examine the alleged attributes of the Manifestations and the denial of the attributes in history by those very Manifestations. For example, the Baha’i faith claims that all the Manifestations fit the following requirements, most of which are given in George Townshend’s Promise of All Ages (1974). These requirements are that the Manifestations will:

  1. Be sinless
  2. Be uneducated, with no status
  3. Fulfill prophecy and foretell their successor
  4. Maintain a very high ethical standard
  5. Bring harmony among men
  6. Have a self-validating truth based on their character

However, even a cursory examination of the Manifestations, whether they number six, eight, nine, ten or fourteen (as they have been numbered throughout Baha’i history) fail to fulfill the above criteria. For example:

  1. Only Jesus was sinless; all other Manifestations admitted to their sin (for example, Adam, Moses, Mohammad, Abraham, Buddha, Confucius, etc.).
  2. Neither Moses nor Confucius were uneducated or without status.
  3. Neither Krishna, Muhammad nor Buddha maintained a particularly high ethical standard in conduct or philosophy. Moses committed murder and Abraham sometimes lacked faith and committed adultery with Hagar.
  4. Jesus foretold no successor; indeed considered sequentially in history none of the Manifestations ever prophesied their specific historic successor. Nor, as claimed, have any of them accepted the teachings of their alleged predecessor, Baha’u’llah included.
  5. None brought true harmony among men, even among their own followers. Jesus specifically prophesied He would bring great division (Matt. 10:34-37).
  6. As a whole, the Manifestations self-validating truth can hardly be based on their character and teachings, when apart from Jesus, they are morally flawed or contradictory.

The simple fact is that the historic manifestations do not qualify as divine manifestations, even according to Baha’i precepts.

Topic Baha’i Christianity
Manifestations: Nine or more non-divine Manifestations of God to date, who accomplish God’s will progressively in larger and larger increments. One (divine) Manifestation who accomplished God’s will and purpose “once for all” (Heb. 9)
God: God is unknowable: monotheistic/Unitarian. God is knowable: monotheistic/trinitarian
Salvation: Salvation is by works and belief in the Manifestations. No repentance from sin or new birth is needed. Salvation is by grace through faith in Christ alone; repentance from sin and regeneration are vital.
Revelation: Progressive revelation—each Manifestation reveals God more perfectly. The “Word of God” is syncretistic. Perfect (inerrant) and final revelation; Christ alone perfectly revealed God; the Word of God is found in the Bible alone, normally interpreted.
The person and work of Jesus Christ: Denies biblical Christology (Christ is not the monogenes of God; Christ is not God).Spiritualizes or ignores the atonement

No physical resurrection and second coming. Christ is One with other manifestations

Christ is the monogenes (John 3:16; 18) of God and God incarnate.Christ’s atonement was the propitiation for the world’s sin.

Christ Himself resurrected physically, and He will return again. He is unique.

Miracles: Rejects the miraculous. Accepts the miraculous.
Morality: Relative. Absolute.
Claim Reality
Not a new religion. A new religion
Independent investigation of truth. Authoritarian.
Tolerant of other religions Intolerant.
Stresses reason. Irrational in its syncretism.
Believes in Christ. Denies Christ.

Anachronistic Baha’i Scripture

The scriptures of the Baha’i faith present serious problems for the faithful who believe in science, reason and progressive revelation. Indeed, in light of the “divine” requirements expressed in the Baha’i Bible, the Most Holy Book (The Al-Kitab-al Aqdas), written by Baha’u’llah, one can but wonder whether Baha’u’llah would look with favor or scorn upon most Baha’is today, for they do not abide by its divinely authoritative teachings. The Aqdas is, as Miller notes, a divine revelation more relevant to the middle ages than to the twenty-first century. For the greater part it comprises a restatement of the Bab’s Bayan, which Baha’u’llah, strangely, forbade others to read.[9] It embodies few of the major principles for which Baha’is are known today.

Anyone who reads the Aqdas will recognize how antiquated it is. Yet this is the Baha’i Bible, the most important text of all. In his will, ‘Abdu’l-Baha declared that to it “everyone must turn,” and this was also a reflection of his father’s sentiment.[10] Indeed, so important is this alleged divine revelation that it is the text upon which the “theocratic” millennium will be based, wherein Baha’is will rule the world. Its provisions “must remain inviolate for no less than a thousand years, and whose system will embrace the entire planet.” [11] In other words, this book will remain binding well into the 29th century.

One can appreciate the dilemma here. Is a “medieval” “scripture” truly authoritative for the next eight or nine centuries, or was Baha’u’llah simply wrong? If the latter, he cannot be a prophet. But if it is authoritative, why do not even Baha’is practice its precepts, as “commanded by God”? For example, “worship for the dead” (emphasis added); intricate inheritance laws (to children 9/42 or 540/2520; to teachers 3/42 or 180/2520 and so on), [12] regulations for daily worship, regulations for fasting, punishments for criminals (the branding of third-offense thieves; payment of $21 for committing adultery; the burning of arsonists; use of capital punishment; required marriage (to one or two wives; Baha’u’llah had three).[13] Do Baha’is wash their hands every day, then their face, then sit facing God and say ninety-five times, “God is most Splendid”?

Yet these are all laws by which Baha’is are to be living. But do Baha’is believe these laws? Do they live by them? If not, why not? Are they not God’s commandments? Can Baha’u’llah be believed in anything if not in all things?

Baha’is respond by claiming that the time “has not yet come” for the laws of the Aqdas to be put into effect. But a reading of the Aqdas indicates that Baha’u’llah expected his people to abide by the Aqdas for at least a thousand years. “Perform the stipulations and ordinances of God. Then keep them as you keep your eyes.”[14] One wonders why Baha’u’llah, the most superior Manifestation of God to date, would write a book containing so many laws and regulations if not to have his people obey them? Of course, if the Baha’i community began following the commands of the Aqdas, it would have to abandon its modern “progressive” reputation. Thus, the fact that Baha’is do not obey the commands of God’s Manifestations would seem to indicate they do not believe that such writings are truly authoritative. Our conclusion must be either that the Aqdas is outdated or that it is not a divine revelation. It would seem difficult for Baha’is to expect others to accept their Bible as divine if the community of believers does not treat it as such.

The Miller Analysis

The Miller text should, if at all possible, be read in its unabridged entirety, as it comprises a devastating and, to our way of thinking, fatal evaluation for the Baha’i community.[15] Miller’s unabridged edition is one of the few places where one can find an unbiased translation of the Aqdas. With our space limitations here, however, we can at best scratch the surface of this text. To begin, Dr. Miller ends his analysis with a relevant criticism of the Baha’i World Faith and its claim to represent a valid religion for the world and its future:

With its lack of clarity in its doctrine of God; with its legalism which characterizes its Most Holy Book; with its prescription in this Book of practices long since outdated; with the inadequacy of its treatment of sin and of its provision for the cure of evil in man; with the vagueness of its teaching about life after death; with the gross failure of its founders to exemplify among their own families the love they so strongly advocated—with these and other defects which are manifest in its history, can the Baha’i World Faith be an adequate religion for the world for today, and for the millennium to come? Only one answer is possible, and that is decidedly negative.[16]

Miller discusses many interesting points, some of which we reproduce in abbreviated fashion and others which were pointed out in the section “Critique of Baha’i History.”

1. The Bab expected to be the true Manifestation for at least 1511 years. Again, this is one reason why not all Bahai’s accepted Baha’u’llah as the next manifestation.[17]The Bab had said that the next prophet would abrogate his laws (as each one is free to do), but if, in retrospect, the Bab was wrong about the next prophet and Baha’u’llah was the legitimate successor, how could he himself be a legitimate prophet?

2. Why has the Bab’s Bayan been kept from the laity? Is it due to the fact that much of it is “of almost inconceivable incomprehensibility”? Or is it because its laws that were not abrogated by Baha’u’llah must then still be in effect and ruling Baha’is find them difficult to believe, let alone implement? [18]

3. Shoghi Effendi (not a prophet but supposedly an infallible interpreter of Baha’u’llah) clearly contradicts the teaching of Baha’u’llah.[19]Also, Baha’u’llah declared that only the prophet had infallibility,[20] so how then did ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Shoghi Effendi and others claim it for themselves? [21]

4. Baha’is, of course, reject Millers’ work. “Anyone who questions the accuracy of the authorized version of Baba-Baha’i history is denounced as an enemy of the Cause of God.”[22]Given this fact, isn’t the Baha’i principle of “independent investigation of truth” then hypocritical? If Baha’is are forbidden to read any translation of the Aqdas by non-Baha’i scholars, if the House of Justice has sole authority to interpret Baha’i scripture, how can the Baha’i member possibly live by his own principles?

5. Miller supplies numerous examples of the moral failure and authoritarianism of Baha’i founders. For example, a quarrel between Baha’u’llah and his brother led to the murder of several people on both sides, and Shoghi Effendi excommunicated his parents and many relatives for disagreeing with his policies.[23]Baha’u’llah’s authoritarianism was evident: [24] “If He declares water to be wine, or heaven to be earth, or light to be fire, it is true and there is no doubt therein; and no one has the right to oppose Him, or to say ‘why’ or ‘wherefore’…. Verily no account shall be demanded of Him for what He shall do….” [25]

6. Miller documents numerous errors by “infallible” Baha’i leaders. Baha’u’llah and ‘Abdu’l-Baha both engaged in exaggeration, inaccuracies and deception.[26] For example, we are told that the name of Moses had not been heard in Iran before the time of Christ. We are told that Baha’u’llah achieved (past tense) the uniting of all religious faiths in the Orient into a brotherhood of love. We are told that he spent forty years in prison, when he didn’t. [27]

In light of the sobering facts that Miller brings to light, only a fraction of which has been presented here, one would think that it would be incumbent for every Baha’i to re-evaluate the validity of Baha’i religion. What genuine evidence exists for the truth of the Baha’i faith? Does its founders’ lives reflect a godliness such as that found in the life of Jesus Christ or the Apostle Paul? True, many of the Baha’i ideals are commendable, but are they divinely inspired? Is their ideal of religious unity based on divine revelation or on religious deception?

We cannot stress enough that Baha’is should become independently acquainted with the other side of their history through Dr. Miller’s analysis. If their own research confirms his conclusions, they should, at the least, act in accordance with their individual conscience.


  1. Udo Schaefer, The Light Shineth in Darkness (Oxford, England: George Ronald, 1973), p. 86.
  2. Christian Research Journal, Winter/Spring, 1989, p. 2, internet copy.
  3. World Order, Spring 1978, p. 51.
  4. Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas (The Most Holy Book), Elder-Miller, trans. (London: Royal Asiatic Society Oriental Translation Fund, NS, 1961), pp. 24-25, 42, 66, etc.
  5. See “A Look at Islam,” World Order, Spring 1978; cf. Fall 1977, p. 13.
  6. See “Buddhism and the Baha’i Faith,” World Order, Winter 1971-1972.
  7. Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-I-Iqan: The Book of Certitude (Wilmette, IL: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1974), p. 87.
  8. Cf. “Baha’u’llah to the Christians,” World Order, Winter 1966.
  9. William McLwee Miller, The Baha’i Faith: Its History and Teachings (South Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1974), pp. 142-144.
  10. Ibid., p. 142, citing Baha’u’llah, ed. H. Holley, The Baha’i Scriptures (New York: Brentane’s 1923), pp. 261, 554.
  11. Miller, The Baha’i Faith, p. 142, citing Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By (Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1974), p. 213.
  12. Miller, The Baha’i Faith, Appendix; Aqdas, p. 29.
  13. Ibid., pp. 40-41.
  14. Ibid., p. 63.
  15. The original William Carey Library edition (1974) is currently out of print, although large libraries should carry a copy or an interlibrary loan may be employed.
  16. Miller, The Baha’i Faith, pp. 357-358.
  17. Ibid., pp. 54-55; Aqdas, pp. 71-72n.
  18. Miller, The Baha’i Faith, pp. 49, 159-160.
  19. Ibid., p.345.
  20. Aqdas, p. 345.
  21. Miller, The Baha’i Faith, p. 342.
  22. Ibid., p. 354.
  23. Ibid., pp. 357, 423.
  24. Ibid., p. 140, citing Baha’i Scriptures, pp. 241, 243.
  25. Miller, The Baha’i Faith, p. 140.
  26. Ibid., p. 165-166, 225-231, 333.
  27. Ibid., citing Baha’i Scriptures, 286, 289, 361, 309, 316, 317, 393, 394, 333-336, 351; ‘Abdu’l-Baha, A Traveler’s Narrative (Baha’i Publishing Trust), pp. 156-160.

Bahai Activities in Christian Nations Part 2

Selected Baha’i Social and Economic Development Projects prepared by the Office of Social and Economic Development May 2003

This document provides an overview of some of the more substantial development activities undertaken by Baha’is worldwide.  Each description is based on the information available at the Baha’i World Centre at the time of its preparation and may not reflect the current status of the project.

Nancy Campbell Collegiate Institute (NCCI)

Ontario, Canada

The Nancy Campbell Collegiate Institute, located in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, is an accredited private international school for boys and girls in grades 7-12.  NCCI fosters academic achievement within a clear moral framework consisting of nineteen moral capabilities, a concept gleaned from the Moral Leadership Program of Universidad Nur in Bolivia.  Examples of these capabilities are:  learning from systematic reflection upon action, building unity in diversity, and cultivating and creating a sense of beauty in every endeavor.  The school’s Performing and Visual Arts program nurtures artistic talents and develops confidence and skills.  One feature of the program is a dance workshop that has toured internationally, dramatizing social issues such as substance abuse, domestic violence and peer pressure.  Nancy Campbell Collegiate Institute is affiliated with the Wildfire Outdoor Education Centre, an 85-acre forested site that conducts programs intended to inculcate in students a sense of environmental responsibility.  In 2002, NCCI had a limited enrollment of 200 and an academic staff of 12.  The “Report Card on Ontario’s Secondary School’s:  2001 Edition,” published by the Fraser Institute in Canada, placed NCCI among the sixteen institutions that achieved the highest ranking in academic performance in a study of 815 of the province’s public and private secondary schools.

The Virtues Project


The Virtues Project was started in 1991 as an initiative to empower individuals, families, and communities to live by their highest values.  It has been well received even in remote areas because it addresses the virtues and principles common to all religions.  Its methodology rests on a strategy for influencing behavior through language, and on learning about virtues from daily situations.  Five texts are used as the basis of programs in schools, day-care centers, corporations, diverse faith communities, and traditional cultural settings.  Beyond Canada, where it originated, The Virtues Project has been implemented directly or has inspired similar approaches in Australia, Russia, Malaysia, Bermuda, the Solomon Islands, the United States, and elsewhere.  In  the past few years, in the Solomon Islands, training sessions for teachers, government leaders, university students, and villagers were complemented by a “Virtue of the Week,” based on The Family Virtues Guide, that appeared as a weekly column in the national newspaper and was partially financed by the Canada Fund.  In Moses Lake, Washington, in the United States, individuals responded to two tragic school shootings with a “Virtuous Reality” educational campaign that involved students, city businesses, and civic organizations.

Instituto Regional Baha’i

Mapuche Region, Chile

The Instituto Regional Baha’i is located in the town of Labranza, in southern Chile.  The vision of the institute is the integrated development of the community and the enrichment of the culture of the Mapuche, the largest indigenous group in the country.  Its projects include the Faizi School, a primary and secondary school that offers boarding facilities for girls; the Muhajir School, a primary school with extracurricular activities in literacy and horticulture; a model organic garden project; and a radio station.  Established in 1986, the station broadcasts to more than 100,000 listeners in the Spanish and Mapuche languages on topics related to agriculture, health, ecology, and basic education; it has special programming for women and children.  The work of the teachers at the Faizi and Muhajir Schools has received recognition by the regional government.  Staff at the schools prepare curricula for the education of children, as well as materials on topics such as gender equality for use in radio broadcasts.  Contributions were made, for example, to the radio station’s adult literacy program, which is sponsored by the Ministry of Education.  A model agricultural project, overseen by the Faizi School, is a pilot site for testing innovative organic gardening methods that involve pest control, worm breeding, and composting.  The project serves as a center for experimental horticulture for families, which encourages households to introduce vegetables into their diet.

Fundacion para la Aplicacion de Ensenanza de las Ciencias (FUNDAEC)


Fundacion para la Aplicacion de Ensenanza de las Ciencias was established in 1974 in order to provide alternative strategies for rural development in Colombia.  It dedicated its efforts to the creation of the rural university, defined as a social space in which the inhabitants of a given region would learn about the path of their own community development.  This evolved later into a number of programs in various parts of the world, under the umbrella of the University for Integral Development.  The methodology of the university is to focus on the processes of social life in a region–for example, production, marketing, decision-making, education, and socialization–and set in motion for each a parallel learning process, which includes research, action, and training.  The processes which have received the greatest attention and for which valuable knowledge has been generated are:  formal education, systems of production on small farms, rural agroindustry, and microenterprises.  In education, the most successful of FUNDAEC’s endeavors is the secondary education program known as Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial (SAT).  SAT has received governmental certification in Colombia and has spread beyond its borders, reaching over 40,000 youth in Latin American countries through sponsorship by nongovernmental and grassroots organizations as well as government agencies.  FUNDAEC has also established a four-year tertiary program in rural education and a specialization called “Education for Development.”

Fundacion Jayuir


Fundacion Jayuir, formally established in 1993, is dedicated to developing educational programs for the Wayuu people, an indigenous population of some 130,000 individuals living mainly in the border area between Colombia and Venezuela, along the Guajira Peninsula.  By March 2000, the Foundation was assisting 70 primary tutorial schools in Colombia and 20 in Venezuela with a combined enrollment of about 2,200 students.  Jayuir provides training, materials, administrative support, and a small stipend to the Wayuu teachers who serve at the schools, many of whom are young people.  Every year, a number of festivals are organized at which students from the schools in both countries come together for a program of contests, games, and shows to display their newly acquired literacy skills, to promote the native culture through arts and crafts, and to allow teachers to share experiences about the establishment and operation of tutorial schools.  In addition to sponsoring tutorial schools, the Foundation also supports a number of other activities.  A secondary-level program, Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial (SAT), is taught at the Jayuir Educational Center in Riohacha and is offered to the Wayuu teachers.  The New Garden School, also in Riohacha, is partly funded by the Colombian government, has classes from the preschool level to fifth grade, and in 2002 had an enrollment of 226 students.

Ruhi Foundation


The Ruhi Institute, established in 1974, is an educational institution of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Colombia.  Its purpose is to develop human resources dedicated to the spiritual, social, and cultural progress of the people of that country.  The institute’s courses are widely used in Colombia and in many other parts of the world.  In order to strengthen local communities and provide training ground for those in its programs, the institute initiated a series of social and economic development activities in the 1980s.  The growing complexity of these endeavors led to the registration of the Ruhi Foundation as a nonprofit organization in 1992.  It is now one of the “participating organizations” in the University for Integral Development, coordinated by Fundacion para la Aplicacion y Ensenanza de las Ciencias (FUNDAEC) in Colombia.  Presently, the Ruhi Foundation oversees such activities as the establishment of schools and a corresponding teacher training program, ecological camps for junior youth, and a program for empowering youth through literacy called “Conquering the Word.”  By 2002, seventy kindergarten and primary-level schools had been established with enrollments totaling over 2,600 students.  Between 2000 and 2002, five ecological camps were held throughout the country with close to 160 youth participants studying courses on the environment.  The Foundation also supports a number of youth from all over Latin America, especially its indigenous areas, who are pursuing FUNDAEC’s university-level program leading to a degree in rural education.

Instituto del Ecuador


In addition to providing courses for the development of human resources, the Instituto del Ecuador operates three social and economic development projects, namely, Radio Baha’i of Ecuador, the Raul Pavon Baha’i School, and the Higher Studies Program.  Radio Baha’i, the first Baha’i station in the world and the only one in the country to transmit in both Spanish and Quechua, was opened in 1977; today it reaches thousands of people in the region around the town of Otavalo in the province of Imbabura.  The station’s broadcast schedule includes community news, public service announcements, traditional music, and shows in support of its basic courses for human resource development in the region.  The Raul Pavon School was established in 1984 as a preprimary and primary school, later adding a secondary program.  Most of the school’s enrollment is indigenous, and about twenty percent of students receive scholarship assistance.  In 1997 the European Union financed the construction of a facility, enabling the school to move out of borrowed quarters into its own premises.  The Higher Studies Program offers a baccalaureate degree in rural education that emphasizes fieldwork.  At the start of 2002, thirty-five students were enrolled in the program, which is monitored and assisted by the Centro Universitario de Bienestar Rural of FUNDAEC in Colombia.

Varqa Foundation


The Varqa Foundation grew out of a variety of social and economic development efforts undertaken for more than a decade by the Baha’is of Guyana.  After its establishment in 1994, the Foundation was engaged in projects for community health.  Currently, the Foundation operates two major initiatives:  “On the Wings of Words,” a literacy and character development project, and “Youth Can Move the World,” a youth empowerment program.  Both are based on curricula that were prepared by the Foundation.  “On the Wings of Words” consists of a set of courses tailored to promoting reading and comprehension among junior youth.  In 2001 over 2,000 volunteer facilitators from all over the country had been trained to help more than 10,000 young people develop their literacy skills and reflect on moral and spiritual concepts.  Through its “Youth Can Move the World” program, the Foundation works with agencies and youth groups around the country to promote participation in community transformation.  The program addresses such problematic issues confronting young people in Guyana as the use of drugs and alcohol, suicide, prejudice, poverty, and HIV/AIDS.  Support from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and UNICEF has enabled Amerindians from isolated parts of the country to be trained in the program.  It was estimated that by July 2002 “Youth Can Move the World” had reached some 4,000 youth.

Asociacion Bayan


Asociacion Bayan, formerly Bayan, started in 1985 as a small rural hospital in Honduras in the Department of Gracias a Dios to serve the Miskito and Garifuna peoples.  Other early endeavors pursued by Bayan included a community health worker training program, a mobile clinic, and a community water, sanitation, and health education project.  Efforts to address the problems of the region grew in complexity until, in 1994, Asociacion Bayan was established as a nongovernmental organization to give a more formal structure to these activities.  In the late 1990s, the management of Hospital Bayan, by then a clinic with modest surgical facilities, an ambulance service, and an X-ray machine, providing medical care for a small fee, was entrusted to a partnership made up of Asociacion Bayan, the government, and the community.  The agency turned its attention to the field of education, embarking on a major initiative to introduce into the region the secondary tutorial program Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial (SAT).  This sizable project has received support from the Kellogg Foundation, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).  By May 2001, more than 500 students were enrolled.  The program has since been formally recognized by, and received funding from, the national government.  The organization is now working to extend SAT to other parts of the country.

Badi School

Panama City, Panama

The Badi School held its first classes in a rented home in the San Miguelito area of Panama City.  The school opened on 22 March 1993 with a total enrollment of 14 students:  7 in preschool, 2 in kindergarden, 5 in first grade.  Gradually, subsequent grade levels were added to meet the needs of the community and permanent facilities were acquired.  An ongoing teacher-training program ensures that Badi School’s code of ethics–based on such principles as the oneness of mankind, equality of men and women, harmony of science and religion–permeates every aspect of the school environment.  The curriculum integrates moral values into most of its subjects.  For example, students learn to strive for excellence in reading and writing with materials that help develop an awareness of the need for sound ecological practices.  In an effort to strengthen family unity and involve parents in the supervision of their children’s schoolwork, Badi School provides regular orientation meetings for the students’ parents and friends.  The computer lab at the school also serves local women in the area who take night courses at minimum costs to improve their technical skills.  By 2002, Badi School had 235 students enrolled in a complete elementary program up to the eighth grade and had opened a branch with 53 students in the town of David.

Ngobe-Bugle Baha’i Institute

Chiriqui Province, Panama

The Ngobe-Bugle Baha’i Institute has grown out of the Guaymi Cultural Center that was established in Panama in 1982.  The institute strives to combine traditional wisdom and culture with modern knowledge in an educational curriculum appropriate to the Ngobe-Bugle people inhabiting the country’s Chiriqui province.  For example, in 1993 the institute began research on traditional processes of production and experimentation with new agricultural practices in order to improve the health and economic stability of the people in the region.  The institute seeks to realize its vision by promoting a number of integrated programs:  a sequence of courses for the training of human resources that focuses on youth and junior youth (12-15 year olds), cultural and folklore festivals, a network of tutorial schools, a secondary education program known as Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial (SAT), and a radio station.  The radio station is the only one in Panama to broadcast in both Spanish and in the Ngabere language.  By 1999, seven tutorial schools served by thirteen teachers were supported by the institute, which provides funding, teacher training, and curricular materials.

Children’s Enrichment Program (CEP)

United States

The Children’s Enrichment Program began as the response of a group of concerned community members to the civil unrest that took place in Los Angeles, California, in 1992.  In an effort to address mistrust among racial groups and the resulting violence, the group organized a program of character education for elementary-school children that is offered in after-school and summer school classes.  The mission of CEP is to help children embrace their role as meaningful contributors to society as its helpers and healers.  CEP’s curriculum, entitled “Full-Circle Learning,” focuses on influencing both attitude and aptitude.  Its educational model uses character education as a springboard for academic and arts enrichment, conflict resolution, and community service.  CEP’s students are routinely evaluated for academic improvement; in 2001, of those who participated, all had increased their ranking in the national percentile for reading, while 84 percent had increased their ranking in spelling and math.  Parents are encouraged to become involved in their children’s learning by sponsoring such activities as fundraisers and skit nights, serving on the parent advisory board, and making policy recommendations.  In 2002, Los Angeles Unified, the nation’s second-largest school district, adopted CEP’s curriculum, and that year CEP opened three new sites in the Gadsden School District in New Mexico.

Children’s Theater Company (CTC)

United States

Founded in New York City in 1989, the Children’s Theater Company is a nonprofit organization that uses the arts to address character education, multi-ethnic cultural interaction, good citizenship, conflict resolution, and literacy.  With the assistance of professional artists, teachers, and volunteers in the community, CTC provides weekly classes and rehearsals in drama, dance, music theatre, and a variety of art forms for some 100 children aged 4 to 13 from diverse cultural backgrounds.  The classes culminate in staged productions and exhibitions expressing such principles as world peace, unity in diversity, and racial harmony.  Each season CTC celebrates certain annual United Nations theme days, for example, Race Unity Day, World Environment Day, World Religion Day, and International Day of the World’s Indigenous People.  Talented young people from CTC have been invited to perform in television programs and at conferences.  In May 2002 members of the Children’s Theater Company participated in a concert for some 1,000 world leaders held during the United Nations Special Session on Children.

Health for Humanity

United States

Health for Humanity is a nonprofit development organization, incorporated in the United States in 1992, that promotes initiatives for public health and social well-being through three main strategies.  Regional networks enlist volunteers in a number of states in the United States to engage in such local initiatives as after-school tutoring and character development classes, efforts to promote English literacy among preschool children in a predominantly Spanish-speaking community, wellness clubs, and smoking cessation programs.  An international exchange program deputizes members, mostly clinicians, to share their expertise at a range of health endeavors in countries around the world.  For example, in 2002 a program was carried out in Chengdu, China, to assist in the rehabilitation of children with cerebral palsy.  Heath for Humanity also collaborates with health organizations in other countries to help build capacity, exchange knowledge, and strengthen public health programs.  During its partnership with the University of Tirana Eye Clinic in Albania, from 1992 to 1999, for instance, the number of patients seen in the outpatient clinic increased by a factor of six, and the introduction of modern techniques of eye surgery caused the number of surgical procedures performed to triple.  In collaboration with the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control in Cameroon, Health for Humanity is training a network of health facilitators in a program to eradicate river blindness among the tens of thousands of persons at risk.

Institutes for the Healing of Racism (IHR)

United States

Started in 1988 by two Baha’is from different racial backgrounds, the Institutes for the Healing of Racism are a network of grassroots agencies and informal groups that host workshops to address the psychological, historical, social, and emotional connotations of racism with the aim of promoting racial harmony.  The workshop format has two parts.  One allows individuals to share their personal experiences, providing insight for all participants into the operation of prejudice and institutionalized racism.  The other builds commitment to promoting unity and working for the oneness of humankind.  Discussions are guided by facilitators trained to encourage camaraderie and openness among the participants.  Scores of workshops have been established in North America, Europe, and Australia.  Such efforts may be organized as independent groups, or as programs for the healing of racism in existing institutions such as churches, schools, government agencies, or businesses.  For example, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, programs have been set up by the Chamber of Commerce, high schools and local colleges, and the Grand Rapids Bar Association, among others.  In 2002 an initiative called the Center for the Healing of Racism in Houston, Texas conducted workshops for hundreds of individuals.

Tahirih Justice Center

United States

In 1996 a seventeen-year-old from Togo landed illegally on United States soil while fleeing an arranged marriage and the threat of imposed female genital mutilation.  Before she could enter the country, she was stopped and detained without the protection of law afforded to refugees in the United States.  Through the efforts of a student attorney, the young woman obtained political asylum, and her case made legal history by establishing a precedent for women to receive refugee status on account of gender-based persecution.  Out of this experience, the Tahirih Justice Center was created in 1997 to serve women, in particular immigrants and refugees subjected to human rights abuses.  Founded on the conviction that empowering women is a fundamental step to achieving a just civilization, the Center provides legal, medical, and social services to those it can help.  Legal assistance is offered through any one of the Center’s three main programs:  the Gender-Based Political Asylum, Immigration, and Human Rights Project; the Refugee Women and Girls Advocacy Project; and the Battered Immigrant Women Advocacy Project.  A number of physicians collaborate with the Center to make medical services available without charge to those who require them.  An associated referral program offers psychological counseling, literacy classes, English instruction, day-care services, job skills training, and housing assistance.  The Center’s statistics show that, between 1997 and 2001, some 1,800 women and girls received support and legal protection.

Instituto de Educacion Moral (IEM)


Formed by a group of professional educators in 1994, Instituto de Educacion Moral is a registered civil association whose mandate is to stimulate alternative approaches to moral education.  IEM pursues its vision through three main strategies:  conducting workshops and seminars at schools and universities; creating educational materials for children, teachers, and parents that emphasize moral conduct and cooperation; and monitoring an Internet discussion forum for parents and educators.  In the 2001-2002 school year, eleven workshops were conducted involving teachers from a number of schools who were trained by ten facilitators.  In collaboration with the Centro de Asistencia al Maestro, an educational institution in the state of Lara, IEM held a number of well-attended seminars on such topics as “the road to world peace.”  As a result, the Board of Education of the state of Lara has accepted one of IEM’s programs for implementation in 40 schools.  The schools have taken steps to include moral education in their academic curriculum, have organized events to strengthen this effort, and have enlisted the support of parents.  Included among IEM’s activities is a 40-hour, university-level course conducted at a number of tertiary institutions for which support lessons are provided through its Web site.  By 2000, IEM had published teachers’ guides for elementary school grades 1-3 and middle school grades 7-9, printed a book with 90 cooperative games, and circulated a quarterly newsletter.  Through its Internet services, IEM supports the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World proclaimed by the United Nations.


Rahmanian Foundation


The Rahmanian Foundation operates a hostel for boys, the Rahmanian Academy, which was established in the city of Rajshahi in 1999 through a philanthropic contribution.  The Foundation’s vision is to empower junior youth to become agents of change in their communities and moral leaders in society.  Beginning with thirty 11 to 15 year olds, the Academy has expanded, through the support of the community, until, by 2002, it housed over sixty young people.  In that year the Academy had three full-time and several part-time staff who had received training in Baha’i principles of education from the Foundation for Advancement of Science in India.  While living at the hostel, the boys attend a local school, and during their free time participate in a number of activities organized by the Academy that are intended to build their capacities and improve their skills, such as tutorial sessions in academic subjects, sports, and service projects.  Some of the older students, representing a variety of religious backgrounds, have formed junior youth groups in the surrounding villages.  In the summer of 2002, tutors trained by the Foundation helped 63 students at a village high school to complete their study of the text Drawing on the Power of the Word, which focuses on language skills and spiritual empowerment.  The effort was received warmly by students and staff of the high school.

Cambodian Organization for Research, Development and Education (CORDE)


The Cambodian Organization for Research, Development and Education started in 1994 and is now officially registered with the Cambodian Ministry of Interior.  CORDE focuses on providing educational programs to Cambodia’s many children deprived of access to the country’s public school system.  Boys and girls of diverse religious backgrounds attend CORDE’s tutorial classes in the rural regions near Battambang and Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s two largest cities.  The implementation of courses for training tutors and the development of a curriculum have contributed to the steady growth of the program.  By June 2002, approximately 50 tutorial classes were serving nearly 1,400 children in daily classes offered free of charge in a number of villages.  The children are taught reading, writing, moral virtues, and mathematical skills in the context of community service.  Since 2001, some of the tutorial schools have evolved to become Centers of Learning that offer a variety of courses intended for all age groups.  With the help of collaborators, CORDE has also carried out successful campaigns in the areas of community health education, agriculture, reforestation, and vocational skills training that have  reached hundreds.  For example, in 2000, the organization undertook an initiative in dental hygiene that involved 3,870 children in four primary schools.

Barli Development Institute for Rural Women

Madhya Pradesh, India

Since 1985, the Barli Development Institute for Rural Women has provided a variety of courses and activities for rural and tribal women in the state of Madhya Pradesh.  A major component of the institute’s program is its six-month and one-year residential courses intended to combine spiritual education with instruction in practical skills:  literacy, marketing, primary health care, vegetable gardening, tailoring, and batik making.  Participants learn how to put such principles into action as the equality of women and men, and the use of consultation to resolve family and community issues.  At environmental training camps women are taught to use solar-powered equipment and to promote environmental consciousness in rural communities.  Over the years, the work of the institute has received extensive media coverage and public recognition.  In 2002, collaboration with the National Council of Educational, Research and Training (NCERT) resulted in the joint sponsorship of a values education seminar, and in the inclusion of value education materials from Barli’s texts in NCERT’s national curriculum.  By that year the agency had grown to a full-time staff of 18 and had trained over 1,300 women.

Foundation for Advancement of Science (FAS)


The Foundation for Advancement of Science was created in 1996 by a group of educators who decided to pool their experience in the fields of education, literacy, and development to serve the rural communities of India.  FAS is primarily concerned with developing human resources to support programs in primary and secondary schools with courses in moral education and English as a second language, promoting reading skills and service to the community among junior youth, and sponsoring graduate-level courses.  FAS also designs and creates curricular materials for its programs.  Its publications include the bimonthly Uncle Hathi magazine for youth that cultivates moral virtues, and such textbooks for urban and rural schools as the “Think in English” series.  Between March 2000 and April 2001, seminars and training programs for teachers and administrators were held in a number of schools in India, as well as in Kuwait, Dubai, Malaysia, and Singapore.  The Foundation’s Junior Youth Empowerment Program integrates literacy with character development and social action.  In 2001, the program was established in ten villages in the vicinity of Lucknow, with 227 participants completing the first course of study.  Higher education is addressed by supporting a few groups that are studying an advanced, distance-learning curriculum entitled “Education for Development” prepared by the Fundacion para la Aplicacion y Ensenanza de las Ciencias (FUNDAEC), a Baha’i-inspired foundation in Colombia.

New Era Development Institute (NEDI)


The New Era Development Institute, established in 1987, grew out of a long period of extensive outreach efforts by the New Era High School to promote community development.  Over the years, with the support of the Indian, Canadian, and Norwegian governments, a complete campus has been established comprising an administrative block, classrooms, a workshop, and dormitories.  NEDI’s objective is to prepare young people for contributing to the advancement of their local communities through a program of study that emphasizes personal growth, vocational training, and rural development.  The institute’s curriculum includes courses in moral education, community service and social action, cultural sensitivity, and small business development.  For more than a decade, NEDI’s areas of vocational specialization consisted of training in primary school education, radio and television repair, motor mechanics, secretarial and home sciences, computer operations and office management, and women’s tailoring.  Over 800 rural youth have participated in these integrated training programs.  In recent years, owing to NEDI’s success in training teachers, focus has increasingly shifted to education.  The curriculum for preschool teachers has been published in a series of textbooks, and training sessions have been held to share it with other educational institutions.  NEDI has had a far-reaching impact on the states of Gujarat, Manipur, Sikkim, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra through its work with local providers of community services.  Approximately 70 percent of NEDI’s graduates have either started a business or have become employed in their field, which is a notable achievement in India and one that is reflected in the swelling list of rural youth seeking placement at the institute.

New Era High School

Panchgani, India

The New Era High School, established in 1945 under the aegis of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of India, is one of the oldest Baha’i schools in the world.  At the start of the 2002-2003 academic year, the school had an enrollment of more than 800 boys and girls of whom some 700 were boarding students.  The student body is drawn from over twenty countries and from diverse religious backgrounds.  The academic program extends from primary school through the tenth standard of high school.  A number of innovative approaches to teaching and to administration have been instituted.  For example, moral education curricula are implemented at all levels, and a service program is conducted for students in the higher grades in association with the New Era Development Institute and the primary school’s moral education and cooperative learning program.  New Era’s facilities include seven dormitories, a health center, three libraries, vocational workshops, a number of science laboratories, an amphitheater that seats 1,500, and a gymnasium/ auditorium with a capacity of 550.  The school is a recognized center for examinations for the Central Board of Secondary Education in New Delhi, the General Certificate of Education of the University of London, and the American College Testing Service.

Rabbani Secondary School

Gwalior, India

Established in 1977 near Gwalior in the state of Madhya Pradesh, the Rabbani Secondary School operates under the aegis of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of India.  Its objective is to offer boys from rural communities opportunities for academic achievement, train them in practical skills for rural development, and instill in them high moral standards and a love for service.  Its curriculum consists of a full range of subjects, with an emphasis on agriculture.  The Rabbani campus includes 72 acres of farmland where students learn agricultural skills and grow some of their own food.  The school offers special courses for rural development in such areas as literacy, primary school teaching, community health, poultry farming, commercial forestry, vegetable growing, crop production, and dairy farming.  The skills they acquire enable students and faculty to carry out a variety of service in collaboration with residents in nearby villages involving literacy, carpentry, farming, and health.  Hundreds of children at neighboring tutorial schools have also benefited from Rabbani’s assistance.  In December 2002, at the time of the school’s silver jubilee celebrations, the Rabbani Baha’i School Alumni Association was formed to help channel some of the alumni’s energy and talents into further enriching the school.  In 2002, the school had an enrolment of over 300 students.

Unity in Diversity Foundation


Unity in Diversity Foundation is a development organization with headquarters on the island of Sumatra.  Its aim is to raise the standard of living in remote regions in Indonesia, such as the islands of the Mentawi archipalago, through the education of children.  The Foundation has two major initiatives.  In its Empowering Youth in Child Education project, a group of some twenty young people from a variety of religious backgrounds–Christian, Muslim and Baha’i–receive one year of instruction in how to conduct kindergarten and tutorial classes in subjects like basic English, health practices, writing and reading skills, tree planting, developing creative abilities, and moral education.  As part of their training, prospective tutors teach for a time in government schools.  Graduates of the program are eligible to undertake a year of service in the second project, Educating Children in Remote Villages.  This endeavor aims at bringing the benefits of schooling to children in remote locations.  By the end of 2002, the Foundation had established ten Centers of Creative Education in distant villages at which some 600 children ages 7 to 12 were participating in formal kindergarten and tutorial classes.  The curriculum used at the Centers is designed to encourage children to think creatively, to express themselves through the arts, to master basic academic subjects, to develop a good character, and to serve humanity regardless of race, nationality, religion, or gender.  The work of the Foundation has attracted the support of a number of local government agencies and funding from the government of Luxemburg.

Badi Foundation


The Badi Foundation was established in 1990 to serve Chinese society by fostering individual and institutional capacities in support of efforts to promote the development of local communities.  Its Social Enterprise Program trains participants to recognize social challenges, to identify principles leading to their solution, and then to take effective action in such areas as the environment and education.  By July 2002 over 250 people, mostly rural women, had taken part in the program’s “Environmental Action” course, and 50 teachers from primary and secondary schools in China had completed its course “Enhancing the Learning Environment”.  At the School of the Nations in Macau, the 2002-2003 academic year started with an enrollment of some 260 students in its regular academic program from kindergarten to the eleventh grade.  The Foundation’s Center for Curriculum Development prepares instructional materials for schools and training programs, including the Hidden Gems series, a three-year, pre-primary curriculum covering character development, sciences, and mathematics, which is used by a number of educational institutions worldwide.  The Foundation also networks with like-minded organizations to create and apply strategies for the development of human resources.  Consultancies carried out have included gender analysis training with the World Food Programme and enhancement of the knowledge of women mayors and entrepreneurs about the environment with the United Nations Development Programme.

Mongolian Development Centre (MDC)


Established in 1993, the Mongolian Development Centre (MDC) is dedicated to empowering individuals and institutions in Mongolia through education and training.  Its areas of focus include capacity-building of families and promotion of child development.  To build up the collective knowledge of families, the Centre offers courses in gardening and in social enterprise, that is, in how to consult, acquire new skills, initiate action, and work together for the benefit of the community.  Instruction in gardening emphasizes use of biointensive methods to grow vegetables for home consumption and for sale.  In 2002, seventy-eight families in the towns of Darkhan and Baganuur took part in community gardening efforts that yielded a total of almost 20,000 kilograms of vegetables.  MDC’s initiatives on fostering and protecting the rights of the child include exhibitions, lectures, and the education of teachers and parents in the importance of moral education as a component of a preschool program.  A set of lessons in character development has been incorporated into the curriculum of six kindergartens, and fifteen teachers, who reach some 1,000 children, have received training in how to use it.  In collaboration with two schools, one children’s center, and UNICEF, MDC also offers a project for young people between the ages of 12 and 15 that strives to enhance their literacy skills, teach them about gardening, and build their capacity for service to their communities.  To reinforce this endeavor, activities are conducted for the parents and teachers of the youth.

Education, Curriculum and Training Associates (ECTA)


Education, Curriculum and Training Associates was established in 1997 as a development agency focused on empowering the rural population of Nepal through a range of sustainable endeavors.  ECTA, the Nepali word for “unity,” specializes in preparing nonformal education curricula to build capacity at the grassroots.  One series of courses begins with basic literacy and then presents material on topics such as community banking and managing microenterprises, while emphasizing principles like consultation, honesty, responsibility, and solidarity.  ECTA developed a curriculum and carried out training for the Women’s Empowerment Program that was implemented by Pact, an international non-governmental organization.  This program enabled approximately 130,000 Nepalese women to form and operate 6,500 village banks in their communities using only their own savings and no outside funding.  Within two years, these groups had collectively saved about US$1.6 million and more than 80,000 women took loans to start or expand their own microenterprises.  ECTA is now working on creating a new version of the program that incorporates spiritual values and concepts.

New Day School

Karachi, Pakistan

The New Day School in Karachi, established in 1978 with just three students, now offers a complete primary and secondary program and has an enrollment of about eight hundred students.  In the 1990s, the facilities of the school were enhanced through the building of fully equipped science laboratories provided by the Pakistani government and the completion of twenty classrooms using the school’s own resources.  The first group of students took the Public Examination conducted by the Board of Secondary Education in 1991:  Out of the fourteen  children in the graduating class that year, all passed the examination, with eleven receiving marks of more than 80 percent.  Since that time, the school has maintained a distinguished record of academic achievement.

Dawnbreakers Foundation


Apart from its general program for the development of human resources, the Dawnbreakers Foundation oversees three endeavors for social and economic development:  an initiative to conduct moral education classes in public schools, a radio station, and a tutorial program.  To carry out its program of teaching children in primary schools about religious values and universal spiritual principles, the Foundation arranges to train teachers in how to use a specially prepared curriculum.  By the end of 2002, approximately 3,000 children were attending weekly classes in ten urban primary schools in the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, and Cagayan.  Radio Baha’i Philippines, which was granted an operating license in March 2002, supports a variety of educational and community activities through broadcasts on an AM frequency.  One innovative radio program for children follows a young female character through a series of everyday situations in which she is called upon to acquire and exhibit such virtues as honesty, cleanliness, prayerfulness, generosity, and kindness to animals.  The station promotes local musical talent, hosts a show that offers advice to parents, and supports the effort to teach moral education in public schools.  A tutorial schools program in the remote Mangyan tribal region, originally started in the early 1970s, was recently revived by the Foundation.  It aims at training local youth to give instruction to children in literacy and arithmetic, and to be of service to their community.

Civilization Advancement Center (CAC)


The Civilization Advancement Centre is a not-for-profit organization that provides spiritual and moral education for all ages, especially junior youth, through seminars, workshops, group activities, and the media.  In April 1998, in collaboration with the Ministry of National Unity and Social Development of Sabah, CAC launched the Virtues Project, an effort that empowers participants to live by their highest values.  Workshops were prepared for the general public, for law enforcement officers, and, with great success, for parents.

Between 1998 and 2002 Daily Express, the most widely read English newspaper in Sabah, had 52 full-page articles per year on the Virtue of the Week.  More recently, CAC has arranged for Daily Express to publish one weekly column on parenting and family issues, and another aimed at junior youth.  The newspaper also publicizes a number of CAC activities, for example, the ZIPoPo Show, an audience participation activity that encourages moral conduct; “Excellence in All Things,” a motivational course for students; and English classes for children and adults.

Special programs for junior youth and youth, such as that based on the Bahasa Malaysia translation of the text, Drawing on the Power ofthe Word, help youngsters to learn skills and build capacities that will ultimately serve to unify and advance their communities.  In 2002 CAC acquired a facility in the northern region of the country that houses the Northern Sabah Centre of Learning, a site for training and activities for the rural population.


Naveed Foundation


Established in July 2001 in Australia as a not-for-profit funding agency, the Naveed  Foundation channels resources to a number of grassroots development initiatives in countries in the south Pacific.  By December 2002, the Naveed Foundation had financially assisted half a dozen projects.  In Papua New Guinea, 29 youth from remote areas of the country were sponsored to attend teacher-training colleges preparing them to return to their villages to offer primary education to hundreds of children with limited access to Schooling.  In Vanuatu, funding was provided for the construction of a new facility for a government-accredited primary school on the island of Espiritu Santo, enabling the school to increase its enrollments and make progress towards self-sufficiency.  In Fiji, the Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific received support to train local facilitators for a virtues program in government schools; the successful project attracted the attention of the media and resulted in requests for the program from the Commissioner for Prisons, the police, the army, and youth and women’s interest groups.  The Naveed Foundation is currently taking steps to obtain accreditation with the Australian Council for Overseas Aid, which would enable it to seek funding for projects from the Australian government.

Ocean of Light International School

Nuku’alofa, Tonga

In 1996 the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Tonga opened the first class of the Ocean of Light International School with nine children.  By March 2003, the school had 250 boys and girls from diverse backgrounds in classes from kindergarten to the eleventh grade.  The school is dedicated to developing the spiritual, intellectual, and physical potential of its students and to serving Tonga’s multicultural society.  It maintains a high standard of academic education and promotes character development by teaching spiritual values in the primary school and moral education in the high school.  Classes, except those for the study of the Tongan language, are taught in English.  The school places a strong emphasis on social service and cooperation, with students encouraged to participate in such pursuits as cross-age tutoring, mentoring in schools for hearing impaired and for disabled children, and raising awareness of environmental concerns.  All students at the secondary level are required to devote two to three hours a week to these activities.  In January 2003 Ocean of Light School opened two new Internet-ready buildings with space for classrooms, laboratories, and a library.  The inauguration of the new facilities was attended by 600 guests including various government ministers and foreign dignitaries, and featured an address by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Tupouto’a.


Townshend International School

Hluboka, Czech Republic

The Townshend International School is a private institution established in 1992.  It is a coeducational English-language residential school for students in grades 7-13 from diverse religious, ethnic, and racial backgrounds representing over twenty countries.  By the 2001-2002 school year, enrollment had reached 125 full-time students.  In that same year, new facilities were opened on a 40,700-square-meter property, which now allow the school to house 360 students during the academic year and up to 500 participants at summer programs.  The standard curriculum, certified by the Ministry of Education, is enriched by subjects that reflect the philosophy of the school, such as international relations and ethics and morals in a global society.  Extracurricular activities provide further scope for advancing these ideals.  In 2002, some 50 students chose to participate in community service projects to assist the elderly, young children, and the disabled; 40 students were involved in the school’s dance workshop, whose choreographed performances depicting social issues were presented in various cities and towns across Europe.

European Baha’i Business Forum (EBBF)


Registered in 1993 in Paris, the European Baha’i Business Forum is a nongovernmental organization that provides networking opportunities for some 300 business men and women in over 50 countries in Western and Eastern Europe.  One of EBBF’s objectives is to work with liked-minded organizations concerned with the operation of ethical principles of business and economics, such as UNESCO, the International Labor Organization, and AIESEC, a 30,000-member network of students in business and economics with representation in 87 countries.  Conferences are arranged regularly.  For example, aspects of the topic “Moral Values in a Social Market Economy” are addressed annually at a gathering in Sofia, Bulgaria, and meetings to discuss “The Role of Business in Enhancing the Prosperity of Humankind” are held each year at the De Poort Conference Centre in the Netherlands.  EBBF is active in counseling youth on career choices and attempts to address the needs of young professionals through its Young Professional Task Force.  Members of the agency have conducted courses and workshops on the role of business ethics in today’s global economy at a business college in Sofia, at the University of Prague’s School of Economics, and at the University of Bari, Italy’s second largest university.  To date, over twenty books on subjects related to ethics in business have been published by the EBBF in several European languages.

Global Perspective Development Center (GPDC)


The Global Perspective Development Center was registered in December 2001 in accordance with the regulations of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo.  GPDC is a locally based, nongovernmental organization engaged in increasing the ability of certain segments of the people of Kosovo to participate actively in the reconstruction and progress of their communities.  Through implementation of the Value-Based Leadership Project, derived from the Moral Leadership Program of Universidad Nur in Bolivia, the Center focuses on building the capacity of youth workers, civil servants, and other social actors.  In its operations it emphasizes the application of spiritual principles, promotes the development of moral capabilities, and encourages use of the arts to change attitudes.  As part of its initiative to employ the arts to change attitudes, GPDC supports the Global Motion Social Dance Theater, which establishes dance groups among local youth who portray social issues in their performances.  With the assistance of the Association for Creative Moral Education (ACME) in Russia, GPDC uses the “Stop and Act” show format to raise awareness and cultivate empowerment.  The first “Stop and Act” course was carried out near the town of Gjilan on March 2002 when 33 youth of Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian, and other backgrounds were trained in a methodology that is tailored to overcome ethnic prejudice and to foster unity in diversity.  GPDC works closely with the government’s Department for Youth and Ministry of Culture, Youth, Sports, and Non-Resident  Affairs.  It has also collaborated with a number of international agencies working in the post-war rebuilding of the region, including UNICEF, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and the European Agency of Reconstruction.

Unity Foundation


Since 1983 the Unity Foundation has assisted Baha’i development organizations worldwide to obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars for a variety of activities related to improving the health, education, and well-being of local populations.  Monies for specific endeavors or capital expansion projects are sought from the European Union, the government of Luxembourg, and local partners that offer funding for development projects.  To date, a wide variety of undertakings have benefitted from the efforts of the Foundation.  In Guyana, the Varqa Foundation was assisted with carrying out the Rupununi Health Outreach Project, which provided training and equipment to village health committees that organized and conducted primary health care classes.  In Brazil, Associacao para o Desenvolvimento Coesivo da Amazona (ADCAM), which serves children and families by offering education and social services, has been able to raise the number of scholarships it offers.  In Ecuador, the Raul Pavon School renovated its physical structure with funds from the European Union channeled through the Foundation.  In Tanzania, the Ruaha Secondary School, which focuses on the education of the girl-child, secured a grant through the Foundation to build a dormitory for 120 students.  In Indonesia, the Unity in Diversity Foundation received funds through the agency for its program of educating children in remote villages.

Norwegian Baha’i Office for Social and Economic Development


The Norwegian Baha’i Office for Social and Economic Development, whose operations date back to 1988, is dedicated to developing partnerships with organizations around the world that apply Baha’i principles for the advancement of their communities.  The Office works in Norway to procure funding and other types of assistance.  The scope of its work has evolved from one person responsible for a small project to a five-member group coordinating a range of support activities.  The Office has successfully obtained increasing levels of funding from the government’s Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) in order for the New Era Development Institute (NEDI) in India to carry out a series of four projects spanning twelve years beginning in May 1988.  These projects enabled NEDI to build its vocational and community development program, reach out to impact rural areas throughout India, construct portions of its campus including dormitories and classrooms, and prepare and publish a set of educational materials for school teacher training.  The Office was also able to enlist other individuals and agencies in Norway to assist NEDI, most notably, Telemark College’s Department of Teacher Training in Notodden.  In 2003, the Office opened a new chapter in its collaboration with NORAD by obtaining funding for a pilot project to expand the primary health education program of the William Mmutle Masetlha Foundation in Zambia.  The project will support training of health workers, the extension of the program to other countries, and the production of additional materials.

Association for Creative Moral Education (ACME)

Russian Federation

The activities that led to the eventual establishment of the Association for Creative Moral Education began in Kazan, Russia, in the early 1990s as a television show for young people, “The Happy Hippo Show.”  Programs are directed mainly at youth to help them find positive responses to dilemmas involving such issues as alcohol abuse, peer pressure, selecting a marriage partner, lying, and backbiting.  This approach to moral education consists of dramatic presentations of contemporary moral or social dilemmas in which all action is suddenly frozen at the climax.  The audience then consults about the underlying principles and ethical issues of the situations depicted and explores constructive outcomes to the drama.  The format that worked so successfully on television was easily adapted to a host of other venues:  radio studios, youth centers, schools, universities, businesses, government offices, and public settings.  Gradually, this initiative to promote positive messages through the media spread to other countries, mostly in Europe and Asia.  In 1998-1999 the “Stop and Act” approach, as it came to be known, was formally incorporated into the Royaumont Process, the cultural healing and rapprochement component of the Dayton Agreement for solving ethnic conflict in the countries of the Balkan region.  By the end of 2001, more than 1,000 people in 40 countries, representing most age groups and many walks of life, had been trained as “Stop and Act” presenters in over 500 topics.

Axios International Moral Education Project

Russian Federation

Established in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1995, the Axios International Moral Education Project encourages the study of ethics and spirituality through a series of courses and public lectures at a number of institutions of higher learning, and through the production of educational materials in English and Russian.  Between 1996 and 1999, courses on the topics of morality and ethics were offered at the Electrotechnical and State Universities in St. Petersburg.  The main publications of the Axios initiative are:  Ethics of Authenticity:  A Course of Integrated Ethics for Youth and Young Adults and Love, Power and Justice:  the Dynamics of Authentic Morality, both of which are available in English and Russian; and Prominent People on God and the Divine, available in Russian only.  A stream of public lectures on such topics as “science and religion,” “economic and moral values,” and “a logical proof of the existence of God” attracted approximately 3,000 people in 1997 in Kiev, Luhans’k, and other cities in the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).  Successful experiences in the CIS led to courses at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale in Switzerland.  In 1998 a number of these lectures were offered to some 5,000 people in 31 universities across Canada.  In 2002, Russian radio and television stations broadcasted seminars conducted by Axios personnel.

Institute for Moral and Spiritual Education

Russian Federation

The Institute for Moral and Spiritual Education began in 1995 when it published a 600-page book containing stories, poems, and fairy tales to foster the moral education of children.  Since then, it has continued to expand its programs and develop materials for pre-primary and primary education.  By March 2002, the institute had published and disseminated more than 100,000 copies of ten titles on moral education to teachers throughout Russia, the Ukraine, Belarus, and Latvia.  The institute conducts from 35 to 40 seminars for teachers annually in  several cities in Russia and a number of countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States.  Teachers in more than 2,000 schools now use the institute’s programs and materials.  Stories and articles contained in the texts have been extracted and published by a children’s magazine in the United States and by the popular Russian newspaper for educators The First September.  The institute’s programs have been implemented by such educational establishments as the Republican Institute for Training Teachers in the Ukraine, which, in October 2001, organized a seminar on moral education for more than 200 teachers.

Young Lions Association

Buryatia, Russian Federation

The Young Lions Association, founded in 1998 in Ulan-Ude in the republic of Buryatia in the Russian Federation, is dedicated to enhancing the spiritual and material well-being of society by building the capacities of young people through education and service to the community.  Young Lions started by sponsoring activities that offered alternatives to the use of alcohol and drugs.  It continues to train youth volunteers from local schools in the areas of prevention, and to promote the growth of a new youth culture in the region based on values inherent in a healthy way of life.  In 2000 and 2001, in collaboration with the AIDS Center of Buryatia, Young Lions conducted programs in fourteen regions of the republic aimed at helping to curtail the rising incidence of HIV/AIDS among youth.  In 2002 it offered seminars to some 70 youth in local schools on the Social Enterprise Program, an endeavor developed at the Badi Foundation in Macau, which focuses on raising the awareness of individuals at the grassroots and providing them with the skills they need to respond collectively to social challenges in the community.  In that year Young Lions also promoted study groups for some 70 children and adolescents at six locations in Ulan-Ude that worked with translated versions of such materials as Drawing on the Power of the Word, a text intended to improve literacy skills and foster spiritual empowerment.

Baha’i Agency for Social and Economic Development (BASED)

United Kingdom

The Baha’i Agency for Social and Economic Development, founded in 1993, is a non-governmental charitable organization.  It works for the alleviation of poverty and the advancement of education by securing funding for development projects in other parts of the world.  The agency has collaborated over a number of years with two endeavors in Honduras.  It obtained financial assistance from the British government’s Department for International Development (DFID) in support of the secondary education program known as Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial (SAT) conducted by Asociacion Bayan, and has
assisted in the work of the Tierra Santa Home for Abandoned Children.  BASED also attempts to link individuals who have specific expertise with projects that can utilize their skills or knowledge.  Further, BASED undertakes to educate the British public about the Baha’i approach to social and economic development through such media as conferences, training courses, and a Web site.

Bahai Activities in Christian Nations Part 1

Selected Baha’i Social and Economic Development Projects
Prepared by the Office of Social and Economic Development.

This document provides an overview of some of the more substantial development activities undertaken by Baha’is worldwide. Each description is based on the information available at the Baha’i World Centre at the time of its preparation and may not reflect the current status of the project.


Association for the Promotion and Development of Integrated Pisciculture (APRODEPIT)


The Association for the Promotion and Development of Integrated Pisiculture has its head-quarters in Sarh, a city on the Chari River in southern Chad. It began its activities in 1985 and was recognized as a nongovernmental organization by the national government in 1992. By 2000, it had set up 172 fish farming projects in lakes, creeks, and artificial ponds in a number of villages throughout the southern region of the country. APRODEPIT’s activities support 250 fishermen’s groups that train local entrepreneurs in the technical aspects of farming and raising fish, 150 women’s organizations whose members sell cereal and fish and are eligible for microcredit loans, and individual fishermen in need of credit to acquire materials and tools. As a result of APRODEPIT’s success in conserving the region’s wildlife–notably, in fostering the increase in the population of hippopotamuses from 2 to 50 within ten years–the government of Chad has declared a large tract of land to be a National Natural Reserve. In order to pursue an expanded range of community development goals, APRODEPIT created the Center for the Learning of Moral Virtues (CAVM) and the Group for the Reflection on the Condition of Women and Children (GRCFE). Between 1995 and 2000, GRCFE worked with a number of preschool and primary schools and trained more than 400 teachers reaching some 1,900 children. CAVM owns facilities in which it teaches literacy to young children and conducts sewing classes for women.

Institut Baha’i Ola

North Kivu and South Kivu

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Institut Baha’i Ola is located in the easternmost part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo near the border with Rwanda and Burundi. Despite the political strife that has characterized this central African nation in the past decade, the institute has evolved into a strong agency that actively trains human resources and carries out extension programs to increase the community’s capacity for health care, education, and agricultural production. By September 2001, Ola managed over 100 literacy centers for adults, and assisted six primary schools by conducting teacher training and providing curricular materials. The institute also supports a network of community health workers, encourages cultural and artistic initiatives for youth, and promotes activities that foster the advancement of women. As part of the Chidoro agricultural project, farmers grow crops on land owned by the institute. A special focus of the institute is a project that serves the Bayanda people of North Kivu. The project carries forward activities that began in 1993 with education and literacy. Agricultural advisors offer technical assistance for the cultivation of cassava, beans, soya, sweet potatoes, and bananas and for the operation of small-scale animal breeding activities involving mainly chickens, rabbits, and goats. Bayanda women learn skills such as mat weaving. And, in 2002, scholarships were provided to 60 Bayanda children to attend primary and secondary schools.

Sabri Development Institute


Founded in 1996, the Sabri Development Institute, with headquarters in Addis Ababa, promotes capacity-building programs in the fields of literacy and health in various communities in Ethiopia. Many training activities are carried out among local populations in the Oromiya region in southern Ethiopia, one of the materially poorest areas of the country. The literacy program focuses on teaching reading skills to children and junior youth, especially girls. From its inception, this program has enjoyed the support of the community. Tutors participate in an intensive seven-day training seminar; most are volunteers eager to improve reading skills in their own communities. Of those students who have participated in literacy classes, 85 percent were reported to have performed well when they enrolled in formal schools, sometimes jumping one or more grade levels. In January 2002, the literacy effort reached some 250 children and youth through the work of 33 trained volunteers. The health education program imparts information and demonstrates practices related to personal and community health to families in Oromiya. One member of selected families, preferably the mother, is trained to be a health tutor. By April 2002, fifty-four such health tutors and one professional health provider were working with approximately 500 households.

Two Wings Education and Communication International


Two Wings Education and Communication International is an Ethiopian agency that
operates Two Wings Academy and Brilliant Children’s Newspaper, both endeavors
concerned with promoting the moral transformation of society. Two Wings Academy began classes in June 2002 and ten months later had 65 children in kindergarten and grades one and two. Its curriculum prepares young people to become helpers in their neighborhoods and citizens of the world. By March 2003 the school also had 145 students in its tutorial classes for primary and secondary education and in its short-term enrichment courses in subjects like English and computer science. The Brilliant Children’s Newspaper is a bimonthly publication in Amharic intended to foster good character and leadership skills in children. Its contents include stories to guide the moral development of children, a column with commentary on the spiritual solution of social issues, and a section for teachers. Youth can earn a commission by selling the newspaper. In 2003, Two Wings International started a series of weekly training sessions for more than 600 young people, from some 300 municipal sectors of Addis Ababa, who serve as its sales agents.At these gatherings emphasis is placed on personal transformation and on acquiring skills for social action.

The Olinga Foundation for Human Development


The Olinga Foundation for Human Development was formed in June 1999 to promote
literacy and moral education in primary and junior secondary schools, especially among girl students, in rural areas of Ghana. The Foundation’s main initiative is the Enlightening the Hearts literacy project, which operates in a number of government primary and junior secondary schools. In October 2001, and again in October 2002, the Foundation offered workshops to some 60 teachers from about 40 schools in the western region of the country. Teachers were equipped with textbooks for their students and the skills needed to effectively teach basic reading and writing in the local languages, Ewe and Twi. The workshops dealt with classroom management skills and methods of discipline, and also stressed the cultivation of moral principles including honesty, responsibility, trustworthiness, and compassion.

After the October 2001 training, five participating schools spontaneously abandoned the use of corporal punishment in favor of alternative approaches to discipline. In the 2001-2002 school year, the average rate of literacy in the schools at which the project had been introduced rose from 10 percent to 47 percent, with approximately 2,500 students reaching a basic level of literacy. The Olinga Foundation is now creating English-language modules to complement its curriculum.

Bambino Schools

Lilongwe, Malawi

The Bambino Schools provide formal education for all ages, serving the urban community of the capital, Lilongwe. In 1993 a nursery section and a primary school were established; one year later a secondary school was added, and in 1998 a secretarial and computer college was introduced. The schools operate under a single, private, nonprofit organization managed by a board of directors that consults regularly with a parent-teachers association. The aim is to provide a high standard of education and an environment in which students will develop their full potential in the areas of academic excellence, practical skills, physical fitness, and moral responsibility. As part of their extracurricular programs, the Bambino Schools sponsor three service clubs that give students the opportunity to serve in the preschool program, in the First Aid Club, and in the Environment and Art Club. The primary school also offers free adult literacy classes to the wider community. In January 2002 a hostel was built that houses 110 girls, most of them secondary students. By January 2003 total enrollment had reached almost 1,100, with 100 in the nursery program, 700 in primary grades, 250 in the secondary level, and 30 in the secretarial college.

Agence de Developpement Social et Economique (ADESEC)


The Agence de Developpement Social et Economique was established in Niamey, the capital of Niger, in July 1994, to promote activities for health and education, particularly in the western region of the country. In subsequent years, the agency’s pursuits included courses in first aid and widespread vaccination programs. In collaboration with the health authorities of the Makalondi and Gourma regions, ADESEC arranged for immunization against measles for 2,000 individuals, and against meningitis for some 3,500. In response to the high rates of illiteracy among rural populations, the agency carried out a number of efforts to enhance reading skills in the Gourma region. In 2002, ADESEC instituted the Projet d’Education et de Formation au Niger (PEFN), a three-year initiative to bring the principles of moral and character education to bear on programs for teacher training, on curricula for secondary school students, and on courses for parents. The effort is being carried out in collaboration with Lycee Enoch Olinga, a Baha’i-inspired school for children in grades 6-9. One long-term objective of PEFN is to produce educational materials that can be made available to secondary schools in francophone Africa.

Royal Falcon Education Initiative

South Africa

The Royal Falcon Education Initiative is an agency dedicated to the promotion of moral values among teenagers and young adults in South Africa. Its primary tool is the Youth Enrichment Programme (YEP). YEP currently consists of a text that contains lessons on such pressing issues as HIV/AIDS, alcohol and drug use, multiculturalism and prejudice, and character development; materials on other topics are being prepared. YEP was first implemented in the year 2000 at a teacher training college in Pretoria. Twenty-two teachers were instructed in how to present it, seven of whom went on to offer the program in their own classes. In May 2000, fourteen high school youth were trained to conduct YEP courses, which were well received by teachers, principals, and government officials, including representatives of the South African Ministry of Education. By December 2002, twenty-nine facilitators were offering the full program at eighteen middle and high schools throughout South Africa. At one of them, YEP is being used in collaboration with other local secondary schools as a way of resolving common behavioral problems among students. In addition, the University of Pretoria and a prison are using YEP. Outside of South Africa the program is being tested, for example, in Botswana, Madagascar, Lesotho, and Swaziland.

Baha’i Schools

Mbabane, Swaziland

The Baha’i Schools, located in Mbabane, comprise preprimary, primary, and secondary levels under a single board of directors. The preprimary and primary schools were established in the early 1990s; the Setsembiso Sebunye High School was inaugurated in January 2000. All provide an environment conducive to the spiritual development and the moral training of students. By April 2001, the schools had a combined enrollment of over 600 students and nearly 30 staff. Teachers in the preprimary school are trained to use Montessori-based programs and to develop their own curricular materials. In 2001, the Baha’i primary school distinguished itself in the standard five examinations; out of more than 500 primary schools in Swaziland, it obtained second place in test score average for all students. The high school’s human development program, well recognized for its involvement in the struggle to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS, reaches out to students in ten other schools and to more than 600 families. Information about HIV/AIDS and about the values and attitudes necessary to curb the country’s soaring infection rates is presented at workshops, in classes, and through the media, with students creating their own radio and television spots, videos, T-shirts, posters, and Web pages.In 2000 the high school received a donation of 57 Pentium 133 computers from the Mona Foundation in the United States, enabling it to set up one of the most advanced technology labs in the country.

Ruaha Secondary School

Iringa, Tanzania

Ruaha Secondary School is a nonprofit educational institution owned and operated by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Tanzania. A policy committee, named by the National Assembly, which works closely with a board of governors appointed by the Ministry of Education of Tanzania, guides the management of the school. Established in 1986, the school strives to apply Baha’i teachings to every aspect of its functioning, while embracing the religious diversity of its students, who are Baha’is, Christians, and Muslims. Ruaha is distinguished by the high importance it places on the education of girls. The school is coeducational, but the boarding facilities are for girls only, and a scholarship program administered in cooperation with the World Bank and the Ministry of Education makes full scholarships available to a number of female students annually. The Tanzanian national curriculum for forms I-IV (grades 8-11) is offered with an emphasis on agriculture and within a distinct framework of moral education. The academic program consists of courses in English, mathematics, social science, chemistry, biology, physics, agriculture, and computer science. Activities for social and economic development are an integral part of the school’s programs and include a dairy enterprise, crop production, a computer facility, a fishpond, and a sewing project. In 2002, the school had 35 full-time teachers and a student enrollment of 491.

Uganda Programme of Literacy for Transformation (UPLIFT)


Uganda Programme of Literacy for Transformation was established to help raise the level of reading among the people of Uganda, where, in 2000, out of a total adult population of 10 million, almost 4 million-mostly women–were illiterate. UPLIFT is a non-governmental organization registered in Uganda that serves as one of a number of local partners in a government initiative to combat poverty through literacy. This concerted endeavor receives encouragement and assistance from international agencies. UPLIFT’s efforts began in 2001 when it trained 35 literacy facilitators who reached about 200 participants in Jonam County. By October 2002 the program was reaching over 700 learners in 36 villages in Jonam and Padyere Counties. Apart from addressing the mechanics of reading and writing, UPLIFT stresses the necessity of promoting the equality of women and men and of encouraging participants, most of whom are parents, to include their children in the learning process, for example, by reading to them. Texts for facilitators and students are available in English and in local languages, with lessons on such relevant subjects as fostering social and economic development initiatives, improving health conditions, preventing HIV, preserving the environment, and understanding the importance of universal education.

William Mmutle Masetlha Foundation


The William Mmutle Masetlha Foundation is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization with its seat located on 200 hectares of agricultural land situated in Chisamba, about 80 kilometers north of Lusaka. While its origins date back to 1983, the Foundation was organized under its present structure in 1995. The major programs of the Foundation include the Capstone Education Program, the Health Education Program, the Agriculture Research Program, the Banani International Secondary School, and a general training program to develop capabilities for service. Capstone is a village tutorial program that seeks to consolidate the primary education of junior youth, prepare them for a secondary-level education, and enable them to contribute to the progress of their communities. The Health Program has trained dozens of individuals serving an increasing number of communities in Zambia, and is developing a series of primary-health training materials that have been implemented locally and in Cameroon, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Ethiopia. The Agriculture Research Program consists of modest research and demonstration projects on sustainable agriculture. The Banani Secondary School, a residential academic school for girls, was established in 1993 and had an enrollment, in 2002, of 130 students in grades 8-12. A primary school for boys and girls also functions under the Foundation.


Children and Youth Ambassadors for Peace Foundation


Inspired by UNESCO’s declaration of an International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010), a young Baha’i couple living in Resistencia, Argentina, established the nonprofit foundation Children and Youth Ambassadors for Peace. The aim of the organization is to empower children to acquire a vision of a peaceful society and the capacities required to translate that vision into reality. The foundation’s main pursuit is the Children’s Service-Oriented Leadership Program, in which young people ages 10 to 12 gather in groups called “circles of peace,” in order to read about, and reflect on, the subject of peace; to develop capabilities for community service; and to engage in exploring their artistic and creative talents. Trained youth facilitate the groups. In 2000, activities of the foundation included two Friendship and Peace Workshops for fifteen year olds in Resistencia which attracted more than 100 students. In 2002, the agency’s course for training teachers in peace education was approved for use in the province of Chaco by the Provincial Ministry of Education. In 2003, apart from its work with children and youth, the foundation offered a course on strategic development for nongovernmental organizations.

Universidad de las Naciones Integracion, Desarrollo y Ambiente (UNIDA)

Buenos Aires, Argentina

The Universidad de las Naciones Integracion, Desarrollo y Ambiente, founded in 1996 with an initial enrollment of 22, has grown to an institution with some 150 students and a core group of 15 professors and 70 adjunct lecturers. It offers graduate-level instruction in four areas: sustainable development, social anthropology, human development, and organizational processes. As part of its program, UNIDA provides regular training courses intended to strengthen civil society and to promote participatory models of development. Since 1996 over 500 students in the province of San Juan, and 50 students at the university’s satellite centers in Rosario and Viedma, have completed courses with UNIDA. The organization has received funding for specific training programs including a grant from the municipal government of Buenos Aires to train 20 unemployed people in how to start microenterprises for recycling, and support from Women in Equality to train 20 women from local development agencies in leadership skills. UNIDA’s publications office has produced and distributed five books on topics related to social and economic development, and publishes a quarterly magazine, ECO: Ecologia y Unidad Mundial, that deals with environmental and social awareness.

Universidad Nur

Santa Cruz, Bolivia

Located in the city of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Universidad Nur was founded in 1985 with just 97 students. Its educational philosophy advocates the integration of academic knowledge with both practical experience and the teaching of basic moral principles, while emphasizing community service, social justice, and a respect for human diversity. In 2001, the university had over 3,000 graduate and undergraduate students working toward degrees in 17 fields of study including accounting, communications, agricultural economics, education, commercial engineering, computer science, international commerce, business administration, and rural medicine. In addition, hundreds of students enroll each year in its nonformal educational programs. The university has collaborated with such non-governmental organizations as the World Health Organization and with educational institutions in other countries on research and development projects to promote literacy, moral leadership, public health, public administration and governance, the advancement of women, and sustainable development. Universidad Nur’s specialized program for training in moral leadership–based on the acquisition of moral capabilities–has been presented to teachers and government administrators in some 400 rural communities in Bolivia. The program has also spread to over a dozen other Latin American countries, as well as to North America, Africa, and Europe.

Universidad Tecnica Privada de Santa Cruz (UTEPSA)

Santa Cruz, Bolivia

The Universidad Tecnica Privada de Santa Cruz was started by a group of educators whose vision was to have a technical training school at which educational and administrative policy would be guided by moral values. By 1995, this endeavor had evolved into a technical university with some 320 students. In 2001, UTEPSA was certified as a fully accredited university by the Ministry of Education and Sports, recognition enjoyed by eight of Bolivia’s thirty-three private universities. UTEPSA’s Universal Technical Institute offers inexpensive short-term courses aimed at making the benefits of higher education available to the poor in Santa Cruz. By 2002, UTEPSA was offering courses of study in sixteen areas of specialization to some 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The university works closely with the region’s business sector; in 2001-2002 it offered training to personnel from 197 companies throughout the country. The graduate program, established in June 1997, offers master’s degrees in management, finance, and marketing; it has close ties to Havana University in Cuba, to Columbus University in Panama, and the Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico. The facilities of the university include a modern library, well-equipped laboratories and workshops, and a sports complex. In 2002, over 100 students earned degrees from UTEPSA in five undergraduate and three graduate programs.

Associacao Monte Carmelo (AMC)

Porto Feliz, Brazil

The Associacao Monte Carmelo, established in 1992, is an educational center that promotes the intellectual, physical, and spiritual development of children and adolescents. The agency, situated near the town of Porto Feliz about 140 kilometres from Sao Paulo, was recognized in 1995 as a public interest institution by the city council. In the school system in that region of Brazil, children attend formal classes for only half a day, some in the mornings and some in the afternoons, leaving many of them unsupervised and unoccupied for the remainder of the day. AMC provides an engaging and productive alternative to life in the streets. Over the last ten years, scores of young people between the ages of seven and fourteen, from all religious backgrounds and ethnic groups, have attended the rural 84,000-square-meter facility during weekday hours when they were not in school. While at the center they learn and recite prayers; attend tutorial classes to reinforce studies, for example, in mathematics and reading; get help with their homework; and participate in outdoor recreation. AMC is concerned not only with stressing traditional academic subjects but also with having a positive influence on the children’s character. Virtues such as cleanliness, love, kindness, generosity, and integrity are taught and put into practice. A “virtue of the week” is the theme of classes, songs, artwork, and group exercises. The selfless efforts of many volunteers, including local people and businesses but in particular mothers, are contributing to the upkeep and growth of AMC. Some 150 boys and girls were enrolled in 2002.

Associacao para o Desenvolvimento Coesivo da Amazonia (ADCAM)

Amazonas, Brazil

The Associacao para o Desenvolvimento Coesivo da Amazonia is a nonprofit organization based on Baha’i principles that, since 1984, has been dedicated to the education and development of the population of the state of Amazonas. ADCAM’s major initiatives include the Masrour School, the Youth Leadership Program, the Juvenile Assistance Program, the Tahirih College of Education, and various professional improvement courses. In August 2001 the Masrour Vocational School had an enrollment of 518 students in classes from preschool through the eleventh grade. The Youth Leadership Program, which began in 1990, offers approximately 120 youth ages 8 to 14 a four-hour after-school program that includes spiritual enrichment, training in sports, and leadership courses.The Juvenile Assistance Program focuses on the social rehabilitation of juvenile offenders. The Tahirih College of Education, a teacher training college that offers a baccalaureate degree program for schoolteachers, was opened in July 2002 with 100 students, 50 percent of whom receive full scholarships. In 2001, the Ministry of Education approved funding for the construction of facilities to house a new institute for vocational training.

School of the Nations

Brasilia, Brazil

The School of the Nations, located in Brazil’s capital city, Brasilia, opened its doors in 1980 to children from all cultures and religious backgrounds. During the 2001-2002 academic year, 560 students representing 42 nationalities were enrolled in its elementary and secondary programs, and received instruction in both Portuguese and English. The school aims at preparing students to participate actively in the creation of a global society in which dialogue and cooperation can be used constructively in service to the community. Specially designed educational materials are created for use in many classes. Participation in service projects is an integral component of the curriculum, which includes the following subjects: language, mathematics, science, social studies, art, music, physical education, and computer science. The social studies program emphasizes the unique contribution that different cultures make to the unfoldment of a world civilization.

Canadian Baha’i International Development Services (CBIDS)


The Canadian Baha’i International Development Services was incorporated in 1981 for the purpose of acquiring funds for Baha’i social and economic development projects from those government agencies and private sector organizations in Canada that make monies available for humanitarian endeavors. Since its inception, CBIDS has been successful in obtaining more than C$2.2 million (Canadian dollars) for primary health care projects in Kenya, Zambia, and Uganda; for culturally appropriate radio programming in Bolivia and Ecuador; for integrated rural development in Haiti; for literacy and vocational training pursuits in India; and for the expansion of two large rural secondary education programs in Colombia and Honduras. In addition to securing funds, CBIDS has a monitoring role and provides support, as appropriate. At the request of the projects it works with around the world, CBIDS may assist with the design of proposals, the evaluation of programs, and the training of staff on such topics as management and gender equality. To keep the Canadian public informed about trends in international development, CBIDS has arranged for the production of videos featuring the education projects in Colombia and Honduras.

Maxwell International Baha’i School

British Columbia, Canada

Maxwell International Baha’i School is a coeducational residential secondary school that offers a government-approved curriculum of language, visual and performing arts, mathematics, history, science, and social studies. The aim of the Maxwell School is to prepare students for global citizenship by fostering their spiritual, emotional, intellectual, social, and physical development. From an initial enrollment of 47 students in 1988, the student body had increased to 152 students from 38 countries by 2002. The facilities are situated in an expansive setting on the shores of Shawnigan Lake, 40 minutes from Victoria, British Columbia. Community service projects, coordinated by the Maxwell Community Service Institute, have had a positive effect on the surrounding area, and other schools have emulated Maxwell’s example. Such projects have included the ecological renovation of streams and the rendering of assistance to children, youth, and the elderly. Through its dramatic portrayal of social problems such as racism and drug abuse, Maxwell’s dance workshop has received acclaim from audiences across North America.

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Baha’is misusing the name of Queen Marie of Romania

Princess Ileana of Romania (Queen Marie’s daughter)

January 30. On this date in in 1926, Martha Root secured the first of her eight meetings with Queen Marie of Romania, which occurred from January 1926 through February 1936. Although Bahá’ís frequently refer to her as “the first member of a royal family to embrace the Bahá’í Faith,”

Queen Marie’s daughter disputes this claim:  

“It is perfectly true that my mother, Queen Marie, did receive Miss Martha Root several times…..She came at the moment when we were undergoing very great family and national stress. At such a moment it was natural that we were receptive to any kind of spiritual message, but it is quite incorrect to say that my mother or any of us at any time contemplated becoming a member of the Baha’i faith.”.

A Christian Response to Bahaism by Francis Beckwith

Here is a brief, yet remarkably thorough treatment of the Bahai Faith. Beckwith first presents a historical review, noting the most important events crucial in the formative years of this movement. Secondly, he examines the main doctrines of Bahai Faith in the light of Scriptures, along with the Bahai’s use of the Bible in defence of their religion.

Read Francis Beckwith’s Book

In addition, he asks several important questions concerning the relationship between Christianity and Bahaism

  1. Can the teachings of Jesus be placed into their structure without damage to their original intent.
  2. Is their use of the Bible legitimate, compelling or successful
  3. Apart from personal assurance, does the Bahai religion have objective evidence upon which to rest its beliefs?

This is a remarkable incisive work. Mr Beckwith’s research of the Bahai movement will face any honest member to take a serious “second look” at what he has been taught

Some content on this page was disabled on July 8, 2019 as a result of a DMCA takedown notice from Francis J. Beckwith. You can learn more about the DMCA here:

Shoghi Effendi : Baha’is should discontinue observing holidays as Christmas and New Years

Bahais have been busy in Haifa, Israel celebrating Christmas (Read more). However this is in direct contravention to the command from Shoghi Effendi – the erstwhile guardian of the Bahai Faith. He said,

“As regards the celebration of the Christian Holiday by the believers; it is surely preferable and even highly advisable that the friends should in their relation to each other discontinue observing such holidays as Christmas and New Years, and to have their festival gatherings of this nature instead during the Intercalary Days and Naw-Rúz….”
(Shoghi Effendi)

Are the Bahais going to comply?

Lessons for Christians in the history of the Bahai faith

This is an article by Adrian Worsfold (Pluralist). He has a doctorate in sociology and a masters degree in contemporary theology. He lives near Hull, in northeast England and keeps the blog Pluralist Speaks.

When I was confirmed into the Church of England in 1984 I asked some Baha’is I met at their firesides to come along. None did. In the end I fell out with the Baha’is as I discovered academic material that presented their history differently from their own. They are very committed to the preservation of their history as monitored by the Universal House of Justice, the nine seater male-only assembly meant to be a combined secular and religious decision making body for the world, elected without campaigns by the National Spiritual Assemblies below them, these elected by delegates from the Local Spiritual Assemblies below them. It is a very conserving system, a sort of democratic centralism: what the top level says goes.

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