Lights of Guidance
A Bahá'í Reference File
by
Bahá'u'lláh, Abdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi, and Universal House of Justice

compiled by Helen Hornby

I. ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER
A. Administrative Order

1. Established First in America Not American Production

“The Administrative Order of the Cause, though first established in America, copied as a model by other national Bahá’í communities, is not an American production, but is a universal system based on the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. It is not simply by coincidence however that it was first initiated and perfected by the American believers.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 29, 1938: Dawn of a New Day, p. 202)

2. Cannot be Identified with Principles of Present-Day Democracies

“… The administrative order which lies embedded in the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, and which the American believers have championed and are now establishing, should, under no circumstances, be identified with the principles underlying present-day democracies. Nor is it identical with any purely aristocratic or autocratic form of government. The objectionable features inherent in each of these political systems are entirely avoided. It blends, as no system of human polity has as yet achieved, those salutary truths and beneficial elements which constitute the valuable contributions which each of these forms of government have made to society in the past ….”

(Postscript written by the Guardian to a letter written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, November 18, 1933: The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 26)


B. Bahá’í Administration

3. The Ideal Instrument to Make Spiritual Laws Function Properly

“He hopes you will devote as much of your spare time as possible to the work of the Cause, especially in impressing upon the believers the importance of the Administration and helping them to really understand its purpose and all it can achieve once they get it to function properly. In other words it is a perfect form which must be animated by the spirit of the Cause. It is the ideal instrument to make spiritual laws function properly in the material affairs of this world.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 16, 1945)

4. Purpose of Administration

“Your letter of October 19, 1973 giving a comprehensive survey of developments throughout Australia is of great interest and we commend you on your manifold efforts to promote the Faith throughout that vast continent.” pg 2 “We urge you ever to bear in mind that the purpose of Bahá’í administration is primarily to lend strength and direction to the teaching work and to promote the establishment of the Faith. It should never be regarded as an end in itself but purely as a means to canalize and make effective a spiritual vitality generated by the Word of God in the hearts of the believers. “The dedication and zeal with which you promote the Cause of God are highly commendable and we will pray at the Sacred Threshold that the process of expansion and consolidation will be greatly intensified as a result of your efforts.”

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia, November 12, 1973)

5. Social Order of Bahá’u’lláh

“…To accept the Cause without the administration is like to accept the teachings without acknowledging the divine station of Bahá’u’lláh. To be a Bahá’í is to accept the Cause in its entirety. To take exception to one basic principle is to deny the authority and sovereignty of Bahá’u’lláh, and therefore is to deny the Cause. The administration is the social order of Bahá’u’lláh. Without it all the principles of the Cause will remain abortive. To take exception to this, therefore, is to take exception to the fabric that Bahá’u’lláh has prescribed; it is to disobey His law.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, May 30, 1930: Bahá’í News, No. 43, August 1930, p. 3)

6. Relationship of the Cause to the Administration

“Regarding the relationship of the Cause to the Administration: the Bahá’í Faith, as the Guardian himself has repeatedly and emphatically stated, cannot be confined to a mere system of organization, however elaborate in its features and universal in its scope it may be. Organization is only a means to the realization of its aims and ideals, and not an end in itself. To divorce the two, however, would be to mutilate the Cause itself, as they stand inseparably bound to each other, in very much the same relationship existing between the soul and body in the world of human existence.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 19, 1939)


C. Bahá’í Local Spiritual Assemblies

7. Assemblies Ordained by Bahá’u’lláh

“Addressing the nations, the Ancient Beauty ordaineth that in every city in the world a house be established in the name of justice wherein shall gather pure and steadfast souls to the number of the Most Great Name (9). At this meeting they should feel as if they were entering the Presence of God, inasmuch as this binding command hath flowed from the Pen of Him Who is the Ancient of Days. The glances of God are directed towards this Assembly.”

(Bahá’u’lláh: From a newly translated Tablet cited in The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 6, compiled by the Universal House of Justice)

8. Established in Every City Counsellors to the Number of Bahá (9)

“The Lord hath ordained that in every city a House of Justice be established wherein shall gather counsellors to the number of Bahá (9), and should it exceed this number it does not matter….”

(Bahá’u’lláh: Kitáb-i-Aqdas, K 30, p. 29)

9. Purpose of Spiritual Assemblies

“…These bodies have the sacred obligation to help, advise, protect and guide the believers in every way within their power when appealed to indeed they were established just for the purpose of keeping order and unity and obedience to the law of God amongst the believers.”

“You should go to them as a child would to its parents….”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 28, 1941: The Local Spiritual Assembly, compiled by the Universal House of Justice)

10. Their Defender is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

“These Spiritual Assemblies are aided by the Spirit of God. Their defender is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Over them He spreadeth His wings. What bounty is there greater than this?… These Spiritual Assemblies are shining lamps and heavenly gardens, from which the fragrances of holiness are diffused over all regions, and the lights of knowledge are shed abroad over all created things. From them the spirit of life streameth in every direction. They, indeed, are the potent sources of the progress of man, at all times and under all conditions.”

(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: God Passes By, p. 332 and The Local Spiritual Assembly, pp. 6-7)

11. Assemblies Styled Differently in Future

“… Not only will the present-day Spiritual Assemblies be styled differently in future, but will be enabled also to add to their present functions those powers, duties, and prerogatives necessitated by the recognition of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, not merely as one of the recognized religious systems of the world, but as the State Religion of an independent and Sovereign Power….”

(Shoghi Effendi: The Bahá’í World, Vol. III, p. 108)

12. Assembly Operates at First Levels of Human Society

“The divinely ordained institution of the local Spiritual Assembly operates at the first levels of human society and is the basic administrative unit of Bahá’u’lláh’s World Order. It is concerned with individuals and families whom it must constantly encourage to unite in a distinctive Bahá’í society, vitalized and guarded by the laws, ordinances and principles of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation. It protects the Cause of God; it acts as the loving shepherd of the Bahá’í flock.”

(Message from the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá’ís of the world, Naw-Rúz 1974, paragraph 13)

13. Strengthening of Local Spiritual Assemblies Nerve Centres of Communities

“Great attention should be paid to the strengthening of Local Spiritual Assemblies which must act as the nerve centres of the Bahá’í communities in the towns and villages, promote Bahá’í education of the youth and children, and increase cooperation and participation of the believers in Bahá’í community life. Travelling teachers and all who are actively engaged in spreading the Message should rededicate themselves to their vital work and set out with renewed enthusiasm. They should aim at assisting as large a number as possible of Bahá’í communities to stand on their own feet and become capable of carrying out the thrilling tasks which they are called upon to discharge in the Vineyard of God in this Day.”

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, February 8, 1972)

14. Primary Purpose to Promote Teaching Work

“And since the primary purpose for which Local Spiritual Assemblies are established is to promote the teaching work, it is clear that every National Spiritual Assembly must give careful consideration to ways and means to encourage each Local Assembly under its jurisdiction to fulfil its principal obligation… it is important that Local Assemblies share with the local friends stories of successes achieved by some of them, descriptions of effective presentations found useful by them, examples of various ways that a Bahá’í subject could be introduced to inquirers, or illustrations of methods which would enable the believer to relate the needs of society to our teachings. Such information and suggestions should be offered to the friends at Nineteen Day Feasts, through a local newsletter, or by any means open to each Local Assembly. In all these contacts with the believers, each Local Spiritual Assembly should impress upon the friends the unique and irreplaceable role the individual plays in the prosecution of any Bahá’í undertaking….”

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, March 3, 1977)

15. Areas Under Jurisdiction of Local Spiritual Assemblies National Spiritual Assembly Must Study

“The matter of the areas under the jurisdiction of a Local Spiritual Assembly is one which the National Assembly must study, and apply the principles laid down by the Guardian; namely, that within a municipal area, where the people resident in the area pay taxes and vote, the Assembly can be elected, and holds jurisdiction. Anyone living outside of that area is not a member of that Community and cannot enjoy the administrative privileges of that Community. Although this will affect your Assembly roll, it will place the work of the Faith on a much sounder basis, and increase the number of Centres where the Bahá’ís reside… It will challenge the friends to work harder to create new Assemblies and make up for those dissolved.…

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, June 13, 1956: Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, pp. 130-131)

16. Local Spiritual Assemblies Created by Bahá'u'lláh in His Kitab-i-Aqdas

“As to your query about the Local Spiritual Assembly, it is indeed a divine institution, created by Bahá’u’lláh in His Kitáb-i-Aqdas as the Local House of Justice. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has clearly set out its provenance, authority and duties and has explained the differences between it and other administrative institutions, whether of the past or the present. We refer you to the book ‘Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá,’ 37, 38, and 40. “It is clear that while Local Spiritual Assemblies must supervise all Bahá’í matters in their areas, including arrangements for the Nineteen Day Feast, the observance of the Holy Days, the election of the members of the Assembly, promoting the teaching work, caring for the spiritual welfare and Bahá’í education of the friends and children, etc., they and the friends themselves must at the same time be good citizens and loyal to the civil government, whether it be a Tribal council, a Cacique or a municipal authority.”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Brazil, April 13, 1983)


D. Formation of Local Spiritual Assemblies

17. Forming Local Assemblies Obligation to Establish

“Shoghi Effendi feels that in any locality where the number of adult believers reaches nine, a Local Assembly should be established. He feels this to be an obligation rather than a purely voluntary act. Only in exceptional cases has the National Spiritual Assembly the right to postpone the formation of an Assembly if it feels that the situation does not warrant such a formation. This right, however, should be exercised if the situation absolutely demands it. As to the principle according to which the area of jurisdiction of a Local Assembly is to be determined, he feels, this is to be the function of the National Spiritual Assembly; whatever principle they uphold should be fairly applied to all localities without any distinction whatever.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, April 11, 1931: Bahá’í News, No. 55, September 1931, p. 1)

18. A Community of Nine Adult Believers Must Form an Assembly by Joint Declaration

“In reply to your letter of 28 October 1980 we are instructed to make the following points:

(1) There is nothing in the directives of the beloved Guardian or in the by-laws of Local Spiritual Assemblies to require that the joint declaration of a new Local Spiritual Assembly be signed. The way the declaration is made is within the discretion of the National Spiritual Assembly to determine, and it may or may not require signatures.

(2) Wherever at Ridván there are nine or more adult believers resident in an area properly qualified for the establishment of a Local Spiritual Assembly, the Assembly must be formed at Ridván.

(3) If the number of adult resident believers is exactly nine the Local Spiritual Assembly must be formed by joint declaration in a manner acceptable to the National Spiritual Assembly and the secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly will record the formation of the Local Assembly.

(4) When the Spiritual Assembly is to be formed for the first time and one or more of the adult believers refuses to join in the declaration, the Spiritual Assembly cannot be formed.”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Iceland, December 2, 1980)

19. Duty of Every Bahá’í to Take Part in Joint Declaration

“The statement that it is a condition to the formation of a Local Spiritual Assembly that there be at least nine adult believers who are ready, willing and able to serve on the Local Assembly, should not be construed as giving any Bahá’í the right to refuse to take part in the formation of the Assembly. It is merely a statement of a factual condition. The National Bahá’í Constitution specifies: ‘When the number of Bahá’ís in any authorized civil area is exactly nine, these shall on April 21st of any year, or in successive years, constitute themselves the Local Spiritual Assembly by joint declaration. Upon the recording of such declaration by the Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly, said body of nine shall become established with the rights, privileges and duties of a Local Spiritual Assembly …’. It can therefore be seen that it is the duty of every Bahá’í in such a situation to take part in the joint declaration. If a Bahá’í, however, refuses to do so he should be helped to realize that he has committed a grave dereliction of his Bahá’í duty. In this stage of the development of the Cause a National Spiritual Assembly should not, generally, deprive a believer of his voting rights for such an offence, but should lovingly and patiently educate the friends in the importance of their responsibilities.’’

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand, October 12, 1969)

20. Believer Must Be “a Resident” to Participate in the Formation of a Spiritual Assembly Unusual Cases as Exceptions

“To count as a member of a local Bahá’í community for the purpose of forming or maintaining the Local Spiritual Assembly, a believer must be resident in that area of jurisdiction on the First Day of Ridván. This is the principle. What constitutes ‘residence’ is a secondary matter for each National Spiritual Assembly to decide, but there is no exception to the principle that a believer must be resident in order to participate in the formation of the Spiritual Assembly.”

“You will see from the above instruction that it is not possible for believers living outside the civil limits of a locality to count as members of that community. There are, of course, many unusual cases. For example, it may be that a university student spends some six months of the year in the town where his university is, and the other half-year in the home of his parents. In such a case it is normal to permit him to choose which of the two places is to count as his residence for Bahá’í purposes; one cannot count as being ‘resident’ in two places at once. It is, moreover, not essential for a person to be physically present to be resident. There are many instances of a sailor or salesman who spends most of his time moving from place to place but who is indisputably resident in the town where his family lives. All such matters must be decided by the National Spiritual Assembly in the light of the circumstances of each case within the general framework of the definition of ‘residence’ that it adopts. Such a definition must, of course, be a reasonable one, otherwise the principle would be nullified.”

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of France, September 18, 1985)

21. Re-Formation by Election or Joint Declaration Refusal of a Believer to Participate does not Prevent Re-Forming Assembly

“In subsequent years the Assembly must be re-formed each Ridván, either by election, if the number of voting believers exceeds nine, or by joint declaration if the number is exactly nine. The failure or refusal of a believer to take part in the joint declaration would not be a bar to the re-formation of the Assembly.”

“Where the number of voting believers resident in a community falls below nine during the course of a year, the Local Spiritual Assembly is not automatically dissolved; it can continue in existence so long as the National Spiritual Assembly has the hope and expectation of being able to restore the number, by enrollment or pioneers. If, however, the number is not restored by the following Ridván, the Assembly will lapse.”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, July 22, 1981)

22. Circumstances Under Which an Assembly Should not be Immediately Dissolved

“He feels that where the dissolution of an Assembly is in question each case should be treated separately in this sense, that if a member moves away permanently, leaving less than 9 to function, the Spiritual Assembly should not immediately be dissolved if they, its members, see an immediate remedy in view; in other words if they are going to confirm soon, or receive within a reasonable length of time, someone to take the person’s place, they need not give up Assembly status. If they do, for insurmountable reason, fall below Assembly status, then they can only be reconstituted on April 21st. Also if certain members temporarily absent themselves from meetings there is no need to dissolve the Assembly; on the contrary the reluctant ones should be educated and encouraged to reassume their spiritual obligations as believers. A Spiritual Assembly is not based on 9 people being available for every single meeting but on 9 resident Bahá’ís doing their best to discharge their duty to the Spiritual Assembly when they are not prevented by illness or absence or some legitimate reason for doing so.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, March 31, 1945)

23. Members of Lapsed Assembly are Responsible to Notify National Secretary

“…any Assembly which is dissolved must immediately report to the national secretary, who must always keep an up-to-date list of Assemblies. Any dissolved Assembly cannot be reconstituted until the time of election in April….”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, April 13, 1944: The Covenant and Administration, p. 62)

24. Spiritual Assembly Jurisdictions Changes as Civil Units Are Modified

“The general principle is that Local Spiritual Assemblies may be formed in the smallest civil administrative units of the country. If these areas are enlarged or reduced in size by the Government the area of jurisdiction of the Local Spiritual Assembly should likewise be changed.”

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Zambia, June 8, 1978)

25. Assemblies Cannot be Formed in Prison

“…the Hands of the Cause residing in the Holy Land have shared with us a portion of the February 3rd letter of referring to teaching in the prison in and to the formation of Local Assemblies in cell blocks. While this teaching work is commendable those who accept Bahá’u’lláh under these conditions cannot undertake administrative responsibilities, nor can Local Assemblies be formed in prisons. However, they may observe Nineteen Day Feasts, Bahá’í Holy Days, and other Bahá’í events. When they return to their own communities they may participate in administrative affairs as well.”

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, February 9, 1972: Extract from a letter written to another National Spiritual Assembly, June 11, 1964)

26. Qualifications of Assembly Members Subject to Human Limitations

“With reference to your next question concerning the qualifications of the members of the Spiritual Assembly: There is a distinction of fundamental importance which should be always remembered in this connection, and this is between the Spiritual Assembly as an institution, and the persons who compose it. These are by no means supposed to be perfect, nor can they be considered as being inherently superior to the rest of their fellow believers. It is precisely because they are subject to the same human limitations that characterize the other members of the community that they have to be elected every year. The existence of elections is a sufficient indication that Assembly members, though forming part of an institution that is divine and perfect, are nevertheless themselves imperfect. But this does not necessarily imply that their judgment is defective.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 15, 1935)

27. Qualifications Outlined Applicable to Anyone Elected

“In regard to your question about qualifications of delegates and Assembly members: The qualifications which he outlines are really applicable to anyone we elect to a Bahá’í office, whatever its nature. But these are only an indication, they do not mean people who don’t fulfill them cannot be elected to office. We must aim as high as we can.”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, October 24, 1947: The Spiritual Character of Bahá’í Elections, p. 3)

28. Auxiliary Board Members, Eligibility of

"All adult Bahá'ís, including members of the Auxiliary Board, are eligible to vote in elections for delegates or in elections for members of the Local Spiritual Assembly."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Uganda and Central Africa, April 10, 1966)

29. Board Members May Serve on Assembly Temporarily

“In all three areas of election, Auxiliary Board members are eligible to be elected. Therefore, a ballot should not be invalidated because it contains the name of a member of an Auxiliary Board. The basic principle involved is that the Board member himself must decide whether or not to accept his election. As you have stated in your letter, if the membership in a Bahá’í community drops to nine, including the Auxiliary Board member resident there, the Auxiliary Board member may serve temporarily as a member of the Assembly to preserve its Assembly status.”

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, March 25, 1966, cited in the compilation, Auxiliary Board Members)

30. Annual Elections Provide Opportunity to Remedy Defects the Assembly May Suffer

“For as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has repeatedly emphasized Bahá’í Assemblies are under the guidance and protection of God. The elections, specially when annual, give the community a good opportunity to remedy any defect or imperfection from which the Assembly may suffer as a result of the actions of its members. Thus a safe method has been established whereby the quality of membership in Bahá’í Assemblies can be continually raised and improved. But, as already stated, the institution of the Spiritual Assembly should under no circumstances be identified with, or be estimated merely through, the personal qualifications of the members that compose it.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 15, 1935)

31. Absence of Nomination in Bahá'í Elections A Distinguishing Feature

“As to the practice of nomination in Bahá’í elections, this the Guardian firmly believes to be in fundamental disaccord with the spirit which should animate and direct all elections held by the Bahá’ís, be they of a local or national character and importance. It is, indeed, the absence of such a practice that constitutes the distinguishing feature and the marked superiority of the Bahá’í electoral methods over those commonly associated with political parties and factions. The practice of nomination being thus contrary to the spirit of Bahá’í Administration should be totally discarded by all the friends. For otherwise the freedom of the Bahá’í elector in choosing the members of any Bahá’í Assembly will be seriously endangered, leaving the way open for the domination of personalities. Not only that, but the mere act of nomination leads eventually to the formation of parties a thing which is totally alien to the spirit of the Cause.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 4, 1935)

32. Bahá'í Electoral Procedures Develop Spirit of Responsibility

“In addition to these serious dangers, the practice of nomination has the great disadvantage of killing in the believer the spirit of initiative, and of self-development. Bahá’í electoral procedures and methods have, indeed, for one of their essential purposes the development in every believer of the spirit of responsibility. By emphasizing the necessity of maintaining his full freedom in the elections, they make it incumbent upon him to become an active and well-informed member of the Bahá’í community in which he lives.”

(Ibid.)

33. Freedom of Believers to Choose Should Be Choicest, Most Varied Elements

“…I do not feel it to be in keeping with the spirit of the Cause to impose any limitation upon the freedom of the believers to choose those of any race , nationality or temperament, who best combine the essential qualifications for membership of administrative institutions. They should disregard personalities and concentrate their attention on the qualities and requirements of office, without prejudice, passion or partiality. The Assembly should be representative of the choicest and most varied and capable elements in every Bahá’í community.”

(From a letter of the Guardian to an individual believer, August 11, 1933: The Spiritual Character of Bahá’í Elections, p. 3)

34. Believers Should Become Intelligent, Well-Informed and Responsible Electors

“To be able to make a wise choice at the election time, it is necessary for him to be in close and continued contact with all of his fellow-believers, to keep in touch with all local activities, be they teaching, administrative or otherwise, and to fully and whole-heartedly participate in the affairs of the local as well as national committees and assemblies in his country. It is only in this way that a believer can develop a true social consciousness, and acquire a true sense of responsibility in matters affecting the interests of the Cause. Bahá’í community life thus makes it a duty for every loyal and faithful believer to become an intelligent, well-informed and responsible elector, and also gives him the opportunity of raising himself to such a station. And since the practice of nomination hinders the development of such qualities in the believer, and in addition leads to corruption and partisanship, it has to be entirely discarded in all Bahá’í elections.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 4, 1935)

35. Canvassing is Deprecated

“The strength and progress of the Bahá’í Community depend upon the election of pure, faithful and active souls…. Canvassing is deprecated….”

“Bahá’í elections of the Community are sanctified from all traces of canvassing and plotting that characterize the activities of the perfidious.”

(From a letter of Shoghi Effendi to the friends in Persia, April 9, 1932: The Spiritual Character of Bahá’í Elections, p. 3)

36. Reference to Personalities Before Election

“I feel that reference to personalities before the election would give rise to misunderstanding and differences. What the friends should do is to get thoroughly acquainted with one another, to exchange views, to mix freely and discuss among themselves the requirements and qualifications for such a membership without reference or application, however indirect, to particular individuals, but should stress the necessity of getting fully acquainted with the qualifications of membership referred to in our Beloved’s Tablets and of learning more about one another through direct, personal experience rather than through the reports and opinions of our friends.”

(From a letter of Shoghi Effendi to the Spiritual Assembly of Akron, Ohio, May 14, 1927: Principles of Bahá’í Administration, p. 46)

37. Avoid Intrigues

“Beware, beware lest the foul odour of the parties and peoples of foreign lands in the west, and their pernicious methods, such as intrigues, party politics and propaganda practices which are abhorrent even in name should ever reach the Bahá’í Community, exert any influence whatsoever upon the friends, and thus bring all spirituality to naught. The friends should, through their devotion, love, loyalty and altruism, abolish these evil practices, not imitate them. It is only after the friends completely ignore and sanctify themselves from these evils, that the spirit of God can penetrate and operate in the body of humanity, and in the Bahá’í Community.”

(From a letter of the Guardian to the friends in Persia, January 30, 1923: The Spiritual Character of Bahá’í Elections, p. 1)

38. Election Day

“On the election day the friends must whole-heartedly participate in the elections, in unity and amity, turning their hearts to God, detached from all things but Him, seeking His guidance and supplicating His aid and bounty.”

(From a letter of the Guardian to the friends in Persia, February 27, 1923: The Spiritual Character of Bahá’í Elections, p. 1)

39. Prayer and Reflection Before Voting

“…the elector is called upon to vote for none but those whom prayer and reflection have inspired him to uphold. Moreover, the practice of nomination, so detrimental to the atmosphere of a silent and prayerful election, is viewed with mistrust, inasmuch as it gives the right to deny that God-given right of every elector to vote only in favour of those who he is conscientiously convinced are the most worthy candidates.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, May 27, 1927: Bahá’í Administration, p. 136)

“… in the time of election, the friends should be in the mood of prayer, disinterestedness and detachment from worldly motives. Then they will be inspired to elect the proper members to the assemblies.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 7, 1924)

40. Procedure for Voting by Mail

“The same procedure in voting should be followed, namely, the ballot should be placed and sealed in an unmarked inner envelope and that envelope placed in an outer envelope marked with the name of the voter…”

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, January 21, 1973)

41. No Quorum Required for Election of an Assembly

“No quorum is required in the holding of an election for a Local Spiritual Assembly. This rule also applies in the case of by-elections. The mere fact that less than nine vote for the members of the Local Spiritual Assembly does not invalidate the election.”

“As you know, the National Assembly can always look into the circumstances surrounding a Local Spiritual Assembly election and use its discretion in determining whether, considering all circumstances, the existence of the Local Spiritual Assembly should be recognized.”

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, April 16, 1969)

42. Bahá'í Elections for Spiritual Assemblies Cast Nine Votes, Neither More nor Less

“Concerning the question you have asked as to whether in elections for Spiritual Assemblies the electors should cast exactly nine votes, or may cast less than this number. Inasmuch as Spiritual Assembly membership, according to the principles of Bahá’í Administration, has been limited for the present to nine members, it follows that no electoral vote can be effective unless it is cast for exactly that number. It is, therefore, the sacred duty of every Bahá’í elector to cast nine votes, neither more nor less, except under special circumstances so as to insure that the results of the elections for the Spiritual Assembly will be effective and on as wide a basis of representation as possible.”

(From a letter dated March 27, 1940 written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles)

43. Believer Has Right to Vote for Himself

“A believer has the right to vote for himself during the election time, if he conscientiously feels the urge to do so. This does not necessarily imply that he is ambitious or selfish. For he might conscientiously believe that his qualifications entitle him to membership in a Bahá’í administrative body, and he might be right. The essential, however, is that he should be sincere in his belief, and should act according to the dictates of his conscience. Moreover, membership in an assembly or committee is a form of service, and should not be looked upon as a mark of inherent superiority or a means for self-praise.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, Pakistan and Burma, March 27, 1938: Dawn of a New Day, pp. 200-201)

44. Votes Confidential

“One’s vote should be kept confidential. It is not permissible to make any reference whatsoever to individual names. The friends must avoid the evil methods and detestable practices of the politicians. They must turn completely to God, and with a purity of motive, a freedom of spirit and a sanctity of heart, participate in the elections; otherwise the outcome will be chaos and confusion, serious difficulties will ensue, mischief will abound and the confirmation of God will be cut off.”

(From a letter of the Guardian to the friends in Persia, January 16, 1932: The Spiritual Character of Bahá’í Elections, p. 2)

45. Secret Ballot

“Let them exercise the utmost vigilance so that the elections are carried out freely, universally and by secret ballot. Any form of intrigue, deception, collusion and compulsion must be stopped and is forbidden.”

(From a letter of the Guardian to the friends in Persia, January 16, 1932: The Spiritual Character of Bahá’í Elections, p. 2)

46. Results of Election Should Be Accepted

“…Once Assembly elections are over, the results should be conscientiously and unquestionably accepted by the entire body of the believers, not necessarily because they represent the voice of truth or the will of Bahá’u’lláh, but for the supreme purpose of maintaining unity and harmony in the Community. Besides, the acceptance of majority vote is the only effective and practical way of settling deadlocks in elections. No other solution is indeed possible.”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 10, 1939)

47. Breaking of Tie Votes

“Regarding your question about the breaking of tie votes, a balloting to break such a tie vote for members of a Spiritual Assembly may be held after the first day of Ridván if necessary, but obviously the day of balloting should not be delayed too long.”

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of El Salvador, July 4, 1972)

48. If Enrolled Believer Withdraws Subsequently Elected to Spiritual Assembly

“Regarding your last question, if, prior to local elections an enrolled believer withdraws from the Faith and this leads to the removal of his name from Bahá’í membership, and yet he is subsequently elected to the Local Assembly, such votes as have been cast in his name are disregarded without invalidating the remaining votes on the ballots. If, however, the process of withdrawal has not taken place, that is, the believer refuses on the day of election to participate and expresses then his desire to withdraw from the community, and yet he is subsequently elected to the Assembly, since his withdrawal is generally unknown to the friends, in such a case the remaining eight elected members should meet, consider the withdrawal, and if his name has to be removed from Bahá’í membership, a by-election should be held to fill the vacancy.”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, December 11, 1979)

49. Mass Migrations

“Local Assemblies cannot be formed any time during the year, unless it is for the first time. The House of Justice fully understands the problems you face each year in forming the Assemblies due to the mass migration of the friends during the pine nuts harvest. However, the Assemblies in that area cannot be elected before January 15 or after May 15, as you have suggested. We have noted from your letter that not all of the friends may migrate to the higher regions during the Ridván period, which means that those remaining at home may hold elections. Those Bahá’ís who leave their homes and are absent during the Ridván period may leave their votes with those believers remaining behind, who will on the First Day of Ridván count the ballots and report the results of the election to the National Spiritual Assembly or its representative.”

“If all the friends from one Spiritual Assembly jurisdiction go away to work at different locations and there is nobody left in the village to receive their votes, they may write out their ballots before dispersing and send them to the National Assembly or to any committee appointed by that body, who at Ridván will open and count the votes and inform the Bahá’ís when they return home of those elected to the Local Assembly.”

“When the entire Bahá’í population of a village moves away together to a new location and is absent during the Ridván period, they may elect their Assembly at Ridván and function as a Local Assembly when they return home.”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Chile, January 1, 1984)

50. When Conditions Beyond Human Control Prevent Election of Assembly at Ridvan

“Local Spiritual Assemblies which have not been re-elected during the Ridván period must be considered as groups. However, there may be cases when conditions beyond the control of the local believers exist, such as, as you have said, the Bahá’ís had left the community because of flooding, or extremely inclement weather conditions made it impossible to hold the election. In such cases which, by their very nature, should be rare, the National Spiritual Assembly may use its discretion in recognizing the Local Spiritual Assembly, considering it a group, or decide to hold the election of such Local Spiritual Assemblies at a later date when the friends have returned to their communities.”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, September 5, 1983)

51. Should Guide Believers During Year in Proper Administrative Procedures

“The conditions of limited manpower, of difficulties in travelling and of illiteracy among the local people are found in varying degrees in other countries of the world, and we have always and everywhere urged the National Spiritual Assemblies concerned to guide and teach the friends in proper Bahá’í administrative procedures, not only during the weeks immediately preceding local elections but indeed throughout the year, so that the friends would await the advent of Ridván with anticipation and determine to observe and uphold correct principles of Bahá’í administration.”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 24, 1973)


E. Annual Conventions

52. The Functions of the National Convention

“The assembled delegates at a National Convention have two basic functions to elect and to recommend….”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, June 8, 1967)

“…The function of the Convention is purely advisory and though the advice it gives is not binding in its effects on those on whom rest the final decision in purely administrative matters, yet, the utmost caution and care should be exercised lest anything should hamper the delegates in the full and free exercise of their functions. In discharging this sacred function no influence whatever, no pressure from any quarter, even though it be from the National Assembly, should under any circumstances affect their views or restrict their freedom. The delegates must be wholly independent of any administrative agency, must approach their task with absolute detachment and must concentrate their attention on the most important and pressing issues.”

(From letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, August 18, 1933: The National Spiritual Assembly, pp. 23-24)

53. Election of Delegates to National Conventions

“As you are aware, some national communities elect their delegates to the National Convention on the basis of areas which have Local Spiritual Assemblies, while in other, larger, national communities delegates are elected on the basis of electoral units in which all adult believers have the vote.”

“In view of the growth of the Faith and the developing life of the Bahá’í communities, the Universal House of Justice has decided that, notwithstanding that in some countries the number of believers and of Local Spiritual Assemblies is still small, the time has come for delegates to National Conventions everywhere to be elected on the basis of electoral units, but with the option of introducing certain differences from the procedures followed to date. These differences are explained below and are designed to make the system adaptable to the variations in the make-up of the many Bahá’í communities and in the geography of the lands in which they are situated.”

“When establishing the electoral unit basis for the election of delegates, a National Spiritual Assembly should divide the territory under its jurisdiction into electoral units, based on the number of adult Bahá’ís in each area, in such a way that each unit will be responsible for electing preferably one delegate only.”

“In addition to the voting, the opportunity for consultation with the delegates is important. Hitherto this has been achieved by calling a convention in each unit to which all the believers in that electoral unit are invited. The voting for delegates has then taken place at the unit conventions with provision for voting by mail for those who do not attend. In some areas these meetings have been very fruitful and have helped to foster collaboration among the believers in the unit. However, in other areas, no doubt for a number of reasons, attendance at unit conventions has been very low, as has been the voting by mail, and this has meant that the delegates have been elected by a relatively small proportion of the electorate. National Assemblies are free to call unit conventions if they find they are successful, but if they find problems of attendance they may follow the alternative method described below.”

“Where holding unit conventions has proved ineffective, or does not seem to be a viable procedure, a National Assembly may divide each electoral unit into sub-units of a convenient size. A meeting could then be held in each sub-unit to which all the adult believers residing therein would be invited. This should result in the participation of a large number of the believers. It is important to remember, however, that the delegate to be elected represents the entire unit and therefore, although the voting may be carried out in sub-units, each voter has all the adult believers resident in the entire unit to choose from in voting for the delegate.”

“In some countries, it may even be too difficult to expect the believers throughout a sub-unit to gather together at a certain time, and so it would not be practical to hold sub-unit meetings. In such places a central point in each sub-unit could be chosen for the establishment of a polling station to which the friends would come to leave their ballots on the voting day as and when they can do so.”

“Each National Spiritual Assembly should study and master the broad outlines of this system. All matters of detail should be decided by the National Assembly which should ensure that the friends are fully informed and thoroughly understand what they are expected to do. The help and advice of the Counsellors and their Auxiliary Board members and assistants could be sought in working out these details and in educating the friends. It may also be desirable for the National Assembly to appoint a special national committee to organize the elections and to oversee them through unit or sub-unit committees or representatives. Such matters of detail could include the following:

The number of delegates to be allocated to each unit. Although one for each unit is preferable, this may not be practicable in certain instances, such as in a unit which contains one or more very large local communities. In such cases it may be necessary to make the unit large enough to be the electoral base for two or possibly three delegates.

The number and size of sub-units. These could be as many as there are Local Spiritual Assemblies in a unit, the boundaries being so delineated as to include the surrounding isolated believers and Bahá’í groups. It may even be necessary in some remote areas to have sub-units in which there are no Local Spiritual Assemblies.

The body to be responsible for organizing a unit convention or sub-unit meeting or for establishing and supervising a polling station. This could be a centrally located, firmly established Local Spiritual Assembly or a committee.

The day or days on which the elections should take place. Elections could be carried out in different sub-units on different days, extended over a reasonable period of time, if this is felt to be desirable.

The manner in which ballots are to be cast, collected, counted, and consolidated with other ballots from the same unit.

Procedures to be followed in consultation, if the procedure chosen allows for consultation.

A method for monitoring the balloting to ensure that proper Bahá’í procedures are followed, that the ballots are safeguarded, and that a Bahá’í voter cannot cast more than one ballot.

The procedure for holding a second ballot should there be a tie-vote for the delegate.

The means for announcing to the friends in all units the names of their elected delegates. “It is the hope of the Universal House of Justice that the implementation of these instructions this year and thereafter will promote Bahá’í solidarity, broaden the basis of representation at the National Conventions and that thereby the work of the Faith in each country will be characterized by greater efficiency and enhanced harmony.”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, July 21, 1985)

54. Area of Assembly Jurisdiction Not to be Subdivided for Electoral Districts

“The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 14 April 1986 and has instructed us to confirm the principle that the area of jurisdiction of a Local Spiritual Assembly should not be sub-divided by boundaries of districts for the election of delegates to the National Convention. We are asked to explain the policy in more detail, as follows.”

“The basic guideline for the fixing of the boundaries of electoral districts which was given in the letter of 21 July 1985 was that a National Spiritual Assembly should divide the territory under its jurisdiction into electoral units, based on the number of adult Bahá’ís in each area, in such a way that each unit will be responsible for electing preferably one delegate only. Later in the letter it was further clarified that although one delegate for each unit is preferable, this may not be practicable in certain instances, such as in a unit which contains one or more very large local communities. In such cases it may be necessary to make the unit large enough to be the electoral base for two or possibly three delegates.”

“In some national Bahá’í communities which are comparatively small numerically in relation to the number of delegates allocated for their National Conventions, it may be found that, to avoid sub-dividing localities (i.e., the areas of jurisdiction for Local Spiritual Assemblies), it will be necessary to have some electoral districts elect more than three delegates. This does not matter, as long as the principle of proportionality is followed as closely as possible.”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of France, June 3, 1986)

55. Delegates Assigned According to Numerical Strength

“Delegates must be assigned according to the numerical strength of a Bahá’í community uniformly in all parts of the country. The question as to whether the friends are active or not is not to be taken into consideration; all persons accepted by you as Bahá’ís must be included on the voting list. Of course, if some of the believers cannot be found after reasonable efforts have been made to locate them, they need not be counted on the voting list.”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of French Guiana, January 20, 1987)

56. Inactivity Does Not Justify Removing Name from Voting List

“Mere inactivity on the part of a believer does not justify removing his name from the voting list. Neither is it in accordance with Bahá’í principles to take into account the degree of activity in allocating delegates. Believers whose whereabouts are unknown should be considered quite separately from those who are inactive, and a distinction is to be made between those who are interested in the Faith but remain inactive and those whose inactivity indicates complete lack of interest to the extent that they no longer consider themselves to be Bahá’ís.”

(Ibid.)

57. Replacement of Delegates

“There is no provision in the National Bahá’í Constitution for replacement of a delegate and this is, therefore, a matter left to the decision of each National Spiritual Assembly. In general, one of the following procedures is followed. If a delegate dies or becomes unable to serve before Convention, the believer polling the next highest number of votes may replace him, or another election may be held. If a delegate ceases to be able to serve after the Convention and there is need for a by-election to the National Spiritual Assembly, you may decide whether or not the delegate should be replaced, and if so, how. In the event of an elected delegate removing to another place, either before or after Convention, you may decide whether to replace him or allow him to continue as an elected delegate. Whatever procedure is adopted should be uniformly followed in all such cases.”

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Argentina, July 3, 1973)

58. National Spiritual Assembly Determines Timing in Respect to Unit Conventions

“…all matters of detail concerning Unit Conventions are left to the discretion of the National Spiritual Assembly and this includes the timing of the allocation of delegates and the holding of the Unit Conventions. The House of Justice points out, however, that the allocation of delegates should be left as late as possible so that the National Assembly will be able to take into consideration any increases in membership which would affect the number of delegates assigned.”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Kenya, March 29, 1987)

59. Consultation Between Delegates and the National Spiritual Assembly

“I fear this letter will reach you after the closing of the convention, but I hope that it will serve to assure you of the necessity of adopting for future conventions the essential method of a full, frank and unhampered consultation between the National Assembly and the assembled delegates. It is the vital duty of the delegates to unburden their hearts, state their grievances, disclose their views, and explain their motives. It is the duty of the National Assembly to give earnest, prompt and prayerful consideration to the views of the delegates, weigh carefully their arguments and ponder their considered judgements, before they resort to voting and undertake to arrive at a decision according to the dictates of their conscience. They should explain their motives and not dictate; seek information and invite discussion.”

(From a postscript to a letter dated April 13, 1927, written by the Guardian to the Spiritual Assembly of Montreal, Canada: Extracted in Bahá’í News, No. 18, June 1927, p. 3)

60. Status of Members of the National Spiritual Assembly at the National Convention

“Concerning the status of members of the N.S.A. at Convention sessions, the Guardian feels that the members of both the incoming and the outgoing assemblies should be given the full right to participate in the Convention discussions. Those members of the N.S.A. who have been elected delegates will, in addition to the right of participation, be entitled to vote. The Guardian wishes thereby to render more effective the deliberations and the recommendations of the national representatives. He feels that the exercise of such a right by the members of the N.S.A. will enable them to consult more fully with the assembled delegates, to exchange fully and frankly with them their views, and to consider collectively the interests, needs and requirements of the Cause. This, he believes, is one of the primary functions of the Convention.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, December 25, 1933)

61. Preferably Delegates Attend Convention in Person

“…It should, however, be made clear to every elected delegate who should be continually reminded that it is a sacred responsibility and admittedly preferable to attend if possible in person the sessions of the Convention, to take an active part in all its proceedings, and to acquaint his fellow-workers on his return with the accomplishments, the decisions and the aspirations of the assembled representatives of the believers.”

(From a letter written by the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, October 24, 1925: Bahá’í Administration, pp. 91-92)

62. If Delegate Cannot Pay Own Expenses

“…In the matter of attendance of delegates at Conventions, the desirability of the friends themselves being self-supporting should be pointed out by the National Assembly. If a delegate cannot pay his own expenses in attending the Convention, the Local Assembly or the believers in the electoral unit from which the delegate comes should be encouraged by the National Assembly to defray such expenses, so that only when funds are unavailable from those sources, the National Assembly is approached to consider offering financial assistance. The same principle holds true about other activities, such as attendance at Institutes, Conferences and Summer Schools.”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a number of National Spiritual Assemblies, February 9, 1967)

63. New Blood Adds to Energy of the Group

“Shoghi Effendi has never said that the members of the National Assembly have to be renewed partially every year. The important thing is that they should be properly elected. It would be nice if there should be new members elected, for new blood always adds to the energy of the group and will keep up their spirit. But this depends entirely upon the will of the delegates as represented in the result of their voting.”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 27, 1932: Bahá’í News, No. 67, October 1932, p. 4)

64. Election of New Members on the National Spiritual Assembly Duty of Friends to Acquaint Themselves with Fellow Believers

“As regards the election of new members on the National Assembly, Shoghi Effendi finds no other practical method that is in conformity with the spirit of the teachings, except through better acquaintance of the friends during the annual conventions and summer schools. It is the duty of the individual friends to come to know one another and find out who are the persons best fitted to become members of that body. This is a slow process but surely the best one and gives the greatest amount of freedom of choice to the electors. It is the duty of the friends individually to become more intelligent voters and vote only after studying the situation conscientiously.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 16, 1933)

65. Consultation Among Delegates of a Region Prior to Convention No Objection, if the Bahá'ís Are Mature Enough

"The House of Justice sees no objection to consultation among the delegates of a region prior to the Convention, if they wish to undertake this. Indeed, one of the important functions of a Regional Convention, at which the delegates are elected, is for the delegates to consult with the believers present so that they may be familiar with their views and interests in preparation for their own participation in the National Convention. As you know, any believer at the National Convention can request a delegate to put forward a point for him, and the delegate is free to do this if he so wishes; likewise, there would be no objection to one delegate's speaking on behalf of all the delegates from his region to save time, if they and he agree. On the other hand, one must remember that the National Convention is a national Bahá'í institution, and that every delegate should have in the forefront of his mind the interests and needs of the Cause throughout the nation, not merely those of the region from which he happens to have been elected. All these details are secondary matters, not covered in the National Bahá'í Constitution, and therefore it is for the National Spiritual Assembly to make decisions where they are called for. In one country the delegates may be mature enough to have prior consultation in regional groups; in another it might indeed lead to 'caucusing' or other undesirable developments. The National Spiritual Assembly must ensure that not merely the letter but also the spirit of Bahá'í elections and consultation is upheld."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, October 26, 1983)

66. National Spiritual Assembly Present as an Institution at the National Convention

“The National Spiritual Assembly is present at the Convention as an institution, and its members are present as individual participants in the consultations. These two facts are not incompatible. All the delegates and the members of the National Spiritual Assembly should take part in the Convention in the spirit of free, frank, loving Bahá’í consultation. Most Bahá’ís perform many different functions in their lives. Very often a member of the National Assembly is also a delegate, a member of a Local Assembly, a member of one or more committees, and possibly also an assistant to an Auxiliary Board member. These multiple functions should not prevent him from expressing his views frankly and courteously in any consultation.”

(Ibid.)

67. Only Delegates May Vote in the National Convention

“Only the delegates may vote at the National Convention, whether it be in the election of the National Spiritual Assembly or in arriving at decisions. Some decisions at the Convention can be implemented immediately, such as a decision to send a cable of news or greetings to the World Centre or to another Bahá’í body, but most are decisions on whether or not to make a specific recommendation to the National Spiritual Assembly.”

(Ibid.)

68. Each Voter Must Vote for the Nine Best Suited for Election Not Betray Sacred Trust

“It is a basic principle of elections for Bahá’í Spiritual Assemblies that each voter must vote for the nine people who, in his or her opinion, are best suited to serve. He may have a low opinion of all those who are eligible, but his duty is to vote for those nine from among them who, in his estimation, best meet the standards for service on a Spiritual Assembly. This is how it is possible to vote for exactly nine names. Since the membership of an Assembly is nine, it would give rise to a number of statistical anomalies if voters were permitted to record votes for fewer or more than nine names. In any one election there are not usually many cases where a voter accidentally makes a mistake and includes a name of an ineligible person, so the statistical effect is slight, and there is no need to invalidate his whole ballot. As you point out, a believer who does not wish to vote for nine, may achieve his end by purposely including the names of those who are ineligible, but this would be a betrayal of the trust placed in him as a Bahá’í voter. One cannot control such actions, but like any action contrary to the spirit of the Faith, they are detrimental and should be strongly discouraged.”

(Ibid.)

69. National Convention Must Be Convened During Ridvan

“Concerning the dates of your National Convention, the Convention must begin, and the election of the National Assembly must take place, before sundown on 2nd May. It is permissible to extend the Convention beyond May 2nd, as long as it is convened during Ridván.”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Paraguay, June 22, 1986)

70. Election of National Spiritual Assembly to be Held at Midpoint in the Convention

“It was noted that although you held a Convention of two days’ duration, the election of the new National Spiritual Assembly was scheduled to take place immediately after the election of Convention officers; that is very early in the program. You should know that Shoghi Effendi stated that the election of the National Spiritual Assembly should be held as nearly as possible at the midway point of Convention.”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Chile, July 17, 1983)

71. National Teaching Conference and National Convention Should Not Be Held at the Same Time

“In response to your letter of 25th June 1982 asking whether or not it would be permissible to hold a national teaching conference either simultaneously with the National Convention or in the days immediately before or following the Convention, we have been asked by the Universal House of Justice to inform you that the National Convention, for whatever number of days it is arranged, should be independent of a national teaching conference. They should not be held simultaneously, but whether the conference is held before or after the Convention is left to your discretion.”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, July 22, 1982)

72. Attendance Record of National Spiritual Assembly Members May Be Provided to Convention Delegates

“In the matter of reporting to the delegates to the National Convention on the attendance record of the outgoing National Spiritual Assembly, the House of Justice confirms that this is entirely within the discretion of your National Assembly. You could, if you wish to do so, include this information in the National Assembly report to the Convention. The same guidance applies to providing information to the believers in a local community about the attendance record of the members of the outgoing Local Spiritual Assembly.”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Mexico, July 26, 1981)

73. Workshops During National Convention Not Suitable

“He does not feel that workshops are suitable at the National Convention, the time at the disposal of the delegates is short, and the whole purpose of delegates to a Convention is that as a body they should take up the affairs of the Cause presented for discussion and air ideas and make recommendations. No doubt the workshop itself is a good technique and should be used at summer schools and even if found desirable, at Conferences, but for the Convention it is out of place.”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, August 25, 1949: Bahá’í News, No. 226, December 1949, p. 2)

74. Delegates Have Specific Administrative Duties

“The delegates have specific administrative duties to perform as a body and to divide them into smaller groups to consult upon matters which are the business of the Convention as a whole is not correct, particularly as the time of the delegates is limited.”

(Ibid.)

75. Non-Delegate Can Be Permitted to Address Convention Permissiveness Not to be Abused

“If a suggestion that a non-delegate be permitted to address the Convention is approved by the delegates, this is in order. The National Assembly, however, should be careful that such a permissiveness is not abused, as it will defeat the original purpose of stimulating the delegates and deprive them of the limited time at their disposal to engage in their vital deliberations. The delegates should bear in mind that they have business to attend to, and in all such cases the benefits of the Convention should be considered.”

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Argentina, September 18, 1968)

76. Auxiliary Board Members Present at National Convention

“Auxiliary Board members present at a National Convention do not have the privilege of the floor unless deputized by the Continental Board of Counsellors or given the privilege of the floor by the Convention.”

(To all Continental Boards of Counsellors from the Universal House of Justice, March 25, 1969)

77. Desirable Auxiliary Board Members Be Left Free from Administrative Duties

“National Assemblies in whose areas of jurisdiction Board Members reside, should point out to the delegates at Convention that whilst teaching and administrative duties are not mutually exclusive, it is desirable that Auxiliary Board Members, whether for teaching or protection, be left free to concentrate on the work allotted to them…. The following extract from the Guardian’s letter, written through his secretary, could be shared with the delegates for their guidance when casting their votes:

“‘Teachers of the Cause can surely become members of any Assembly or Committee. There should be no incapacity attached to them. But, Shoghi Effendi would just prefer to see them devote all their time to teaching and leave the administrative functions for those who cannot serve as teachers.’ (Bahá’í News, October 1932)”

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, November 25, 1963)

78. Hands of the Cause and Counsellors' Participation in Conventions

“We ask you to extend a cordial invitation to the Continental Board of Counsellors of your area to attend each of your Annual Conventions. All Counsellors present at a Convention should be accorded the same freedom of the Convention as is given to the Hands of the Cause. If no Counsellors can attend a Convention, they may appoint for that Convention one or two Auxiliary Board Members to act as their special deputies, who should be warmly welcomed and given the courtesy of taking part in the Convention as representatives of the Board of Counsellors.”

(Ibid., March 25, 1969)

79. Counsellors Ineligible for Membership on Administrative Bodies

“The members of these Boards of Counsellors will serve for a term, or terms, the length of which will be determined and announced at a later date, and while serving in this capacity will not be eligible for membership on national or local administrative bodies….”

(The Universal House of Justice: Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 141-142)


F. Instruction of Tellers, Priority of Minorities, Approval of Outgoing Assembly

80. Tellers Should Be Given Guidelines Recording of Identical Names

“It is for your National Assembly to determine how to properly instruct the delegates beforehand in the recording of identical names on ballots and to give the tellers guidelines for handling these questions when they arise in the counting of the ballots. Thereafter, it is for the tellers to make the decision and give the results to the Convention or Assembly….

Q. In the case of a tie between five persons for three vacancies should the names of the five be read for the delegates vote?

A. Yes.

Q. In voting for officers is it permissible to read the names of those persons who have tied?

A. When voting for officers of an Assembly a result is only reached when one member receives five or more votes. Until that result is reached all members are eligible for the office in question and the results of all inconclusive ballots should be made known to the meeting.”

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Jamaica, July 29, 1971)

81. Convention Procedure in Connection with Tellers' Report

“Normal Convention procedure would call for a tellers’ report announcing the names of the nine believers elected to the National Spiritual Assembly plus statistical information as to the balance of the votes cast. However, if the Convention votes to have the complete report of the tellers, or any part of it, the Convention is entitled to have the information which will thereupon be presented by the tellers in accordance with the vote of the Convention.”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, December 16, 1965)

82. Under Certain Conditions One or More Names May Be Invalidated

“Under certain conditions an entire ballot may be declared invalid. These are: (1) More than nine names on ballot paper; (2) Less than nine names on ballot paper; (3) Duplication of names. Under other conditions, because of specified irregularities, one or more of the names may be invalidated but the rest of the ballot would be considered valid. These irregularities are: (1) A name not identifiable, or illegible; (2) The name of an ineligible person, such as a youth or person not resident in the jurisdiction of the voting area, provided of course that each ballot contains no more or less than nine names and no name has been duplicated.”

(From a letter dated July 29, 1971 from the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Jamaica)

83. Minority Accorded Priority Without Question

"Since the Guardian's instruction on this point is unequivocal where it is obvious that one of the persons involved represents a minority, that person should be accorded the priority without question. Where there is doubt further balloting will allow every voter present to participate."

"With reference to the provision in Article V of the National By-laws governing the situation where two or more members have received the same highest number of votes, if one of those members represents a minority that individual should be given priority as if selected by lot."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, January 25, 1967)

84. Definition of Minority and Majority at Discretion of the National Spiritual Assembly

"...the definition of a minority in any locality is in the discretion of the National Spiritual Assembly. It is clear that pioneers from other lands should not be regarded as belonging to a minority, neither do the categories quoted by the Guardian in 'The Advent of Divine Justice', namely, 'faith, race, class or nation', include sex. The overriding principle is always that if there is any doubt as to whether the minority principle should be invoked, then a further ballot should be taken."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom, March 5, 1986)

85. Results Reported to National Assembly for Acceptance and Instruction to Tellers About Re-Voting

"In answer to your question about who should decide this matter, the House of Justice states that it is the duty of the tellers to report the entire result of the voting to the National Spiritual Assembly which has a duty of accepting the tellers' report before it is presented to the Convention. If the National Assembly sees that the ninth place is tied and that one of the persons tied is a member of a minority, it would instruct the tellers to report the results on this basis without calling for a re-vote. If, however, there is any doubt at all as to whether a minority is involved, the Assembly should resolve the matter by instructing that a re-vote for the ninth place should be held."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Switzerland, April 13, 1975)

86. Only Names of Those Tied Appear on Subsequent Ballots

"Following the voting in an election of an Assembly, Local or National, results of the balloting should be announced, including the names of those tied for ninth place. A new ballot must then be cast to decide between those who have received the same number of votes for ninth place. Only those who are tied to be voted for on that ballot, and the tie may be broken by the delegates present at the Convention."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of The Bahamas, May 18, 1982)

87. How to Report a Tie

"It is not correct to show that Senorita ... received 13 votes. If she is to be listed among those receiving votes on the first ballot it should be shown that she was tied for ninth place with 6 votes and that on the second ballot she received 13 of the votes cast."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Colombia, June 16, 1964)

88. First, New Assembly Must Consider Whether to Accept Resignation

"...your Assembly should first have considered whether to accept Miss ... resignation, and then, if the Assembly had accepted her resignation, the vacancy should have been filled by a by-election in which all ... delegates should have been given an opportunity to vote. It is only a tie vote that may be broken by a vote of those delegates present at Convention, not a by-election unless, of course, all delegates are present."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, July 6, 1981)

89. By-Election Can Be Held During Convention Only if All Delegates Are Present

"If a by-election is necessary, however, all delegates must be given an opportunity to vote. If all delegates are present at the Convention, the by-election can of course take place at one of the sessions. If there are absent delegates, the by-election can still be arranged so that the delegates present may cast their ballots before the Convention disbands, and ballots from absent delegates be received at a later date."

(Ibid., May 18, 1981)

90. Tie for Ninth Member of the National Spiritual Assembly

"In the case of a tie for the ninth member of a National Spiritual Assembly, a vote can be held immediately at the Convention among the delegates present, to break the tie. However, if a vacancy is declared at the Convention because a resignation of one of the members of the newly elected National Assembly is accepted, a by-election must be called, i.e., all delegates must be given an opportunity to vote for someone to fill the vacancy."

(Ibid., June 13, 1976)

91. Duty of Auxiliary Board Member to Advise Assembly, Not Delegates, that He Will Not Serve

"The Auxiliary Board member ... should have been listed as elected and given the opportunity to decide whether to continue to serve on the Board or to resign and accept the election to the administrative body. It is his duty to advise the National Assembly itself and not the delegates or the Convention. If he decides to remain on the Board, and the National Assembly declares a vacancy while Convention is still in session, a by-election could be arranged before the Convention disbands."

(Ibid., June 26, 1978)

92. Board Members Should Not Resign Before a Tie-Breaking Vote is Cast

"A Board Member should not be given the opportunity to resign before a tie-breaking vote is cast since there are other factors involved and it is possible that he may not be elected. However, if he is elected, he should advise the National Assembly of his decision to accept the elected post or continue his role as an Auxiliary Board member. If he resigns from the Assembly, then that body declares a vacancy and arranges for a by-election."

(Ibid.)

93. Preservation of Ballots

"In the minutes of your meetings of ..., the Universal House of Justice noted the items about 'Ballots of the Third National Assembly Election' and your instruction to the Secretary to destroy the ballots. We are directed to convey the following to you for your guidance."

"While it is within the discretion of a National Spiritual Assembly to determine what to do about preservation of the ballots following the annual election, the House of Justice points out that should any question concerning the balloting arise during the year following the election, it would be helpful if the ballots were available for National Spiritual Assembly scrutiny. Obviously, after the next following election, such need to preserve the ballots cast in the previous year's election would no longer exist."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, July 22, 1980)

94. Assembly Has Right to Examine Ballots

"He considers that the National Spiritual Assembly has every right to examine the ballots if there is some doubt as to the election having been properly conducted. By 'preservation' of the ballots is meant that they are preserved in the National files."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, March 14, 1947)

95. Delegates Should Be Given Opportunity to Report to the Community

"A Convention delegate should certainly be given an opportunity to report to the Community his or her experiences at Convention and impressions!"

(Ibid.)


G. Officers of Local and National Assemblies

96. If All Members Present, Permanent Officers Should Be Elected Immediately

"While it is certainly true that the permanent officers of an Assembly should be elected immediately following the election of that Assembly, it is equally important, as stated in Article IV of the By-laws of the National Assembly, that 'The officers shall be elected by a majority vote of the entire membership of the Assembly taken by secret ballot.' That is all members of the Assembly must be properly notified and given an opportunity to vote, and in cases of unavoidable absence it does not contravene the spirit of the By-laws if the absent member should cast his ballot by mail or even by telephone."

"Temporary officers may be elected until all nine are properly notified of the election."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, July 27, 1981)

97. Assembly or Committee Members May Excuse Themselves from Being Elected as Officers

"We have also been asked to point out that although it is the obligation of a Bahá'í to serve on an Assembly, either Local or National, when elected, on several occasions the beloved Guardian pointed out that before the election of officers, if any member had a good reason in his own opinion why he should not be elected to one of the offices of the Assembly, he was free to suggest that he should not be so elected. The House of Justice also feels that as the work of the Faith expands and the duties of officers, particularly on National Spiritual Assemblies, acquire more importance, it is permissible and at times advisable to discuss the duties incumbent upon and required of each officer before ballots are cast."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, February 9, 1987)

98. It is Preferable that a Person Hold No More Than One Office

"...we are asked to say it is preferable that a person hold no more than one office, but it is within the discretion of your Assembly to permit a member to hold two offices."

"Regarding the specific instance you have cited, you should consider carefully whether one person can effectively perform as both Chairman and Secretary, given the requirements of each office."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Togo, July 4, 1984)

99. Complete Results of Each Vote Must Be Known to All Members of the Assembly Present

"The complete results of each vote should be known to all members of the Assembly. Therefore, the names and tally should be given by the tellers, and if no member has received the required majority, the members should proceed to vote again. Voting should not be confined to those receiving the highest number of votes."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, August 4, 1981: cited in a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly of Mexico, September 2, 1981)

100. The Integrity of the Elector Must Be Relied Upon

"You will note in the above extract that the tellers should report both names and tally. The House of Justice suggests that we must rely on the integrity of the elector to consider dispassionately those names he lists on his ballot, irrespective of the results of the previous balloting."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Mexico, September 2, 1981)

101. Any Officer Elected Must Have Received at Least Five Votes

"Any officer elected must have received at least five votes, even if only five members are present. The ballots of any absentee members cannot be counted if re-voting is necessary. If for any reason no member receives five votes, then the Assembly must in consultation appoint one or more temporary officers to function until the next meeting, and must call another meeting as soon as possible to elect permanent officers."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, September 26, 1983)

102. The Chairman of the Assembly

"Concerning the duties of the Chairman of the Local Spiritual Assembly or the National Spiritual Assembly: He is supposed to share, freely and fully, in the discussions of all subjects under the consideration of these bodies, and to register his vote regarding each one of them. The duty of a Bahá'í Chairman is not only to guide the course of the discussion, but also to express his own viewpoint without any reservation whatever. He is entitled to exercise both of these functions."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 10, 1936)

103. The Vice-Chairman

"The Universal House of Justice has asked us to advise you that the appropriate procedure would be for the Vice-Chairman of the Assembly to chair the meetings in the absence of the Chairman. If the Vice-Chairman happens to be also absent, then the Assembly should decide who among the members present should chair the meeting."

(From a letter on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ciskei, February 10, 1987)

104. Duties of the National Secretary

"The proper growth of a community is possible only when the National Spiritual Assembly, through its office and secretary, is able to maintain a steady flow of communication to the believers in its jurisdiction, offering guidance and encouragement to them. Every effort should be made to enable the National Assembly secretary to discharge his or her duties without being hampered by too many administrative regulations. The manner in which this is done, of course, is left to the discretion of each National Spiritual Assembly."

"A key factor in determining how much responsibility is to be placed on the secretary is trust. When there is trust and love among the members of the Assembly, many problems will be avoided. The National Assembly secretary should be empowered to take the initiative in matters of a routine nature. It is not normally necessary for the secretary's letters to be scrutinized by other members of the Assembly although they may always have access to such correspondence."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bangladesh, September 21, 1983)

105. The Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly is Its Chief Executive Officer

"Whatever the personal circumstances of the believer employed, the National Assembly should realize that its Secretary is its chief executive officer, and as such acts not only as liaison with the national committees, the Local Spiritual Assemblies and all the friends, but generally represents the National Spiritual Assembly and the Faith itself to the non-Bahá'í world, a duty becoming ever more important as the Cause becomes more widely known."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Italy, January 23, 1981)

106. Full-Time Services of Secretary May Require Remuneration, about which the Agreement Should Be Duly Recorded

"A national Bahá'í community which reaches that stage of development where the work of its National Spiritual Assembly requires the full-time services of its Secretary, faces many difficult, and sometimes delicate, considerations. It is generally a thought-provoking occasion to the community itself, which has become used to the work of the Cause being discharged by voluntary, dedicated, part-time and often amateur service; and the realization that the Cause has reached the point where its work and public image so important to future progress can no longer be maintained in the old way, may be disturbing at first. The friends, however, quickly respond to the new capacity for leadership and guidance and the increased status which its National Assembly acquires by establishing a sounder foundation for its operations, and are encouraged by the advancement of the Cause."

"The specific remuneration and conditions of service of the national Secretary must obviously be the result of consultation, and when agreement has been reached the result should be recorded, not necessarily in a contract, but certainly in a Minute of the Assembly and/or an exchange of letters."

(Ibid.)

107. Secretary's Helper Can Be Non-Member of Assembly

"In reply to your letter of November 7th, 1973 there is no objection whatsoever to a non-member of the National Spiritual Assembly typing your Minutes or such other confidential reports. Many National Spiritual Assemblies employ typists in their national offices who are intimately connected with all the work of the National Spiritual Assembly. Of course, the person so employed should enjoy the confidence of the National Spiritual Assembly."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, November 20, 1973)

108. Secretariat Should Be Situated in the Capital City

"He was sorry that he felt it necessary to insist that the secretary of your Assembly must be located in Buenos Aires so that the Secretariat can be located in the Headquarters of this region; this is a general principle which he has insisted the friends adhere to everywhere...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia, July 29, 1957: The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 43)

109. National Secretary Should Keep in Close Touch with Local Assemblies

"Shoghi Effendi firmly believes that consultation must be maintained between the N.S.A. and the entire body of the believers and that such a consultation, when the Convention is not in session, can best be maintained through the agency of the local assemblies, one of whose essential functions is to act as intermediaries between the local communities and their national representatives."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi: Principles of Bahá'í Administration, pp. 67-68)

110. Contents of Minutes

"The content of some of the minutes we receive could be improved, and we therefore offer the following suggestions: The purpose of the minutes is to record the action of the Assembly with sufficient background information so that one reading the minutes will understand the reason for the action. National Assemblies may find it helpful if the background and the action are separated and not typed together. On the other hand, minutes should not be a verbatim report of the National Assembly meeting, and it is not the purpose of the minutes to record the views of individual members. Names of individuals making motions need not be recorded. Names should be included, however, whenever required to make clear the assignments of persons responsible for actions. Each set of minutes should reflect the time and place of the next meeting."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, May 27, 1970)

111. Secretary Should Be Careful to Convey Majority Decision

"Generally speaking the Secretary of an Assembly must be careful to convey exactly what the majority decision or advice of the body was. There can surely be no objection to his putting it in proper terms and clarifying the matter according to the decisions or instruction of the Assembly. But he should of course not introduce his personal views unless endorsed by the Assembly."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 19, 1947)

112. Treasurer of the Spiritual Assembly Receives All Donations and Contributions

"And as the progress and execution of spiritual activities is dependent and conditioned upon material means, it is of absolute necessity that immediately after the establishment of local as well as National Spiritual Assemblies, a Bahá'í Fund be established, to be placed under the exclusive control of the Spiritual Assembly. All donations and contributions should be offered to the Treasurer of the Assembly, for the express purpose of promoting the interests of the Cause, throughout that locality or country. It is the sacred obligation of every conscientious and faithful servant of Bahá'u'lláh who desires to see His Cause advance, to contribute freely and generously for the increase of that Fund...."

(From a letter of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, dated March 12, 1923: Bahá'í Administration, pp. 41-42)

113. Handling of Funds

"As to your question: The friends can give their contributions to the treasurer, or, if they wish to remain anonymous and give small sums, a receptacle can be provided. The Local Assembly can decide this matter."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 29, 1951: Bahá'í Funds and Contributions, a compilation of extracts from the Guardian's letters on the subject dated January 1970, from the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assemblies of the World)

114. Obligation of a Bahá'í Who is Elected to an Office which Requires Full-Time Service

"The Universal House of Justice has received your letter mailed 23rd January, 1987 concerning the obligation of a Bahá'í who is elected to an office which requires full-time service. We are asked to share with you an excerpt of a letter dated 7th August 1980 written on behalf of the House of Justice addressed to an individual believer facing a problem similar to the one you pose."

"The delicate balance between the claims of the Cause of God and the claims of one's profession is an intensely personal matter which can only be resolved eventually in the heart and soul of each individual. Many Bahá'ís have become, and are, distinguished in their professions and at the same time have rendered and are rendering great services to the Cause and it is obviously possible to achieve distinction in one's profession and calling and to serve the Cause of God at the same time. The House of Justice realizes, however, that circumstances can conspire, at critical times in the fortunes of the Faith, to require individuals to make the heart-searching decision of sacrificing one's own prospects for the apparent good of the Cause. Here again, the history of the Cause provides many examples of believers who have willingly foregone promotion in, or even the continued practice of, their professions in order to meet the needs of the Faith. As in all difficult decisions facing individual believers, the God-given process of consultation is available to them, and every individual may consult either one of the institutions of the Faith or an individual officer, such as a Counsellor or Board member, or even one or two friends of his own choosing. Even then, however, the eventual decisions rests with the individual himself.'"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, February 9, 1987)

115. Those Elected to an Assembly Should Consider It a Privilege and a Responsibility to Serve

"...those who have been elected to such membership should consider it a privilege and also a responsibility to serve in that body, and should therefore refrain from any resignation, even though they may disagree with the majority of the members. Obedience to the considered views and policies of the majority should be whole-hearted, for it implies obedience and loyalty to the Administrative Order itself."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, May 8, 1939)

116. Procedure for Assemblies When Dissatisfied with Officers

"As regards the question of what procedure the Bahá'í Assemblies should adopt when dissatisfied with the services of any of their officers. Should such dissatisfaction involve the loyalty of an Assembly officer to the Faith, he should, following a majority vote, be dismissed. But in case the dissatisfaction is due to the incompetence of a member, or simply to a neglect on his part to discharge his duties, this does not constitute sufficient justification to force his resignation or dismissal from the Assembly. He should be kept in office until new elections are held."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, November 22, 1940: The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 42)


H. Local and National Administrators

117. Functions and Duties of Elected Representatives

"...Their function is not to dictate, but to consult, and consult not only among themselves, but as much as possible with the friends whom they represent. They must regard themselves in no other light but that of chosen instruments for a more efficient and dignified presentation of the Cause of God. They should never be led to suppose that they are the central ornaments of the body of the Cause, intrinsically superior to others in capacity or merit, and sole promoters of its teachings and principles. They should approach their task with extreme humility, and endeavour by their open-mindedness, their high sense of justice and duty, their candour, their modesty, their entire devotion to the welfare and interests of the friends, the Cause, and humanity, to win not only the confidence and the genuine support and respect of those whom they serve, but also their esteem and real affection. They must, at all times, avoid the spirit of exclusiveness, the atmosphere of secrecy, free themselves from a domineering attitude, and banish all forms of prejudice and passion from their deliberations."

(From a letter of the Guardian to the Bahá'ís of America, February 23, 1924: Bahá'í Administration, p. 64)

118. They Must Uphold the Standard of Justice

"In all cases submitted for its consideration the Assembly must uphold the standard of justice in delivering its verdict, and in all its dealings with the community and the outside world it must strive to evince the qualities of leadership. The following quotation from a letter of the Guardian summarizes in simple terms the immediate goal every Assembly should set for itself in its efforts to pursue the exalted standard of perfection inculcated in our writings:

'The first quality for leadership both among individuals and Assemblies is the capacity to use the energy and competence that exists in the rank and file of its followers. Otherwise the more competent members of the group will go at a tangent and try to find elsewhere a field of work and where they could use their energy. 'Shoghi Effendi hopes that the Assemblies will do their utmost in planning such teaching activities that every single soul will be kept busy'. (From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, dated August 30, 1930)"

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia, July 30, 1972)

119. Administrators of Faith Like Shepherds

"The administrators of the Faith of God must be like unto shepherds. Their aim should be to dispel all the doubts, misunderstandings and harmful differences which may arise in the community of the believers. And this they can adequately achieve provided they are motivated by a true sense of love for their fellow-brethren coupled with firm determination to act with justice in all cases which are submitted to them for their consideration."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, March 9, 1934: The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 23)

120. The Ones in Real Authority Known by Humility and Self-Sacrifice

"The ones in real authority are known by their humility and self-sacrifice and show no attitude of superiority over the friends. Some time ago a tablet was written stating that none are appointed to any authority to do anything but to serve the Cause as true servants of the friends and for this no tablet is necessary; such service when true and unselfish, requires no announcement, nor following, nor written document. Let the servant be known by his deeds, by his life! To be approved of God alone should be one's aim."

(Abdu'l-Bahá in the Holy Land answers questions of Dr. Edward C. Getsinger and recorded by Dr. Getsinger at the time (1905): Star of the West, Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 43)

121. Keynote of Cause of God Not Dictatorial Authority

"Let us also bear in mind that the keynote of the Cause of God is not dictatorial authority but humble fellowship, not arbitrary power, but the spirit of frank and loving consultation. Nothing short of the spirit of a true Bahá'í can hope to reconcile the principles of mercy and justice, of freedom and submission, of the sanctity of the right of the individual and of self-surrender, of vigilance, discretion, and prudence on the one hand, and fellowship, candor, and courage on the other."

(Shoghi Effendi: Bahá'í Administration, pp. 63-64)

122. Assemblies Should Influence Believers to Confidently Present Their Problems

"...You are no doubt aware of the exhortations of the beloved Guardian concerning the attitude that National Assemblies must endeavour to maintain in their dealings with the friends under their jurisdiction. He indicated that a National Assembly should be like a loving parent, watching over and helping its children, and not like a stern judge, waiting for an opportunity to display his judicial powers.

"Shoghi Effendi has pointed out the National Assemblies must assume such a role as to influence the believers to confidently take their problems to the Assembly, and to respect and unhesitatingly obey its wishes and decrees. The Assemblies should evidence not even the least trace of dictatorial assertiveness, but should remember that most of the sins of the believers are the sins of immaturity. These friends should be nursed and assisted into a fuller understanding of their responsibilities as Bahá'ís and encouraged to conduct themselves in a Bahá'í manner."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Venezuela, June 3, 1979)

123. Breach of Trust by Assembly Members Will Destroy Confidence of Believers

"...regarding the extent to which confidential information about believers may be shared with other believers for their protection, and we offer in reply the following considerations:

1. Any information which comes to the notice of an Assembly member, solely by reason of his membership on that Assembly must not be divulged by that member, even though the Assembly itself may later decide to share it.

2. The Assembly must itself carefully consider which information should rightly fall in the category of confidential information and which should not be shared with others, and which information may be divulged under special circumstances, and how such information may be divulged. Should confidential matters regarding personal problems be freely shared with others, upon application, the confidence of the believers in the Assembly and its members will obviously be destroyed.

3. It must be remembered that individuals can reform, and a reprehensible past does not necessarily disqualify a believer from building a better future.

"Within the general framework of these principles, we feel you should be able to handle each case as it may come to your attention. No hard and fast rule should be laid down in such cases, as each case requires careful handling, sound judgement and utmost discretion."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, September 18, 1968)

124. Administrative Efficiency Should Be Accompanied by an Equal Amount of Love

"Administrative efficiency and order should always be accompanied by an equal degree of love, of devotion and of spiritual development. Both of them are essential and to attempt to dissociate one from the other is to deaden the body of the Cause. In these days, when the Faith is still in its infancy, great care must be taken lest mere administrative routine stifles the spirit which must feed the body of the Administration itself. That spirit is its propelling force and the motivating power of its very life."

"But as already emphasized, both the spirit and the form, are essential to the safe and speedy development of the Administration. To maintain full balance between them is the main and unique responsibility of the administrators of the Cause."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, December 10, 1933)

125. Administrators Should Consider Themselves as Mere Channels Whereby God Protects and Guides His Faith

"The Cause ... is a divine institution whose responsible administrators should consider themselves as mere channels whereby God protects and guides His Faith. The Administration should never be allowed to become a bone of contention between individuals and groups. It stands above human personalities and transcends the scope of their limited and inevitably selfish ideas. Its custodians should continually purge themselves of every trace of personal desire or interest and become wholly imbued with the spirit of love, of cooperation and of genuine self-sacrifice."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, August 8, 1933)

126. National Spiritual Assembly is Supreme Authority, Mainspring of Activities, Sole Link to the Universal House of Justice

"I wish to reaffirm, in clear and categorical language, the principle already enunciated upholding the supreme authority of the National Assembly in all matters that affect the interests of the Faith in that land. There can be no conflict of authority, no duality under any form or circumstances in any sphere of Bahá'í jurisdiction whether local, national or international. The National Assembly, however, although the sole interpreter of its Declaration of Trust and by-laws, is directly and morally responsible if it allows any body or institution within its jurisdiction to abuse its privileges or to decline in the exercise of its rights and prerogatives. It is the trusted guardian and the mainspring of the manifold activities and interests of every national community in the Bahá'í world. It constitutes the sole link that binds these communities to the International House of Justice the supreme administrative body in the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh."

(Postscript by Shoghi Effendi to a letter written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, June 11, 1934)

127. Obedience to the National Spiritual Assembly is the Basis for Unity

"...the Guardian wishes me to again affirm his view that the authority of the National Spiritual Assembly is undivided and unchallengeable in all matters pertaining to the administration of the Faith ... and that, therefore, the obedience of individual Bahá'ís, delegates, groups, and assemblies to that authority is imperative, and should be whole-hearted and unqualified. He is convinced that the unreserved acceptance and complete application of this vital provision of the Administration is essential to the maintenance of the highest degree of unity among the believers, and is indispensable to the effective working of the administrative machinery of the Faith in every country."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, June 11, 1934)

128. The National Spiritual Assembly is the Head and the Local Spiritual Assemblies Are the Various Organs

"...the best way to insure and consolidate the organic unity of the Faith is to strengthen the authority of the Local Assemblies and to bring them within the full orbit of the National Assembly's jurisdiction. The National Assembly is the head, and the Local Assemblies are the various organs of the body of the Cause. To insure full cooperation between these various parts is to safeguard the best interests of the Faith by enabling it to counteract those forces which threaten to create a breach within the ranks of the faithful. This is the delicate and highly significant mission with which the Guardian wishes to entrust you. Not only to teach the outsiders, through public lecturing, but in addition to that, and in view of making your efforts more varied and successful, to acquaint the friends with the essentials of the Administration, upon the full understanding of which the future progress of the Cause greatly depends."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 20, 1933)

129. Vital Function of National Spiritual Assembly

"...It is one of the vital functions of the National Spiritual Assembly to be always in touch with local conditions in every community and to endeavour through personal contacts and by means of regular correspondence, to guide the friends, individually and collectively, in all their activities."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, January 30, 1938: The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 33)

130. Authority and Influence of Assemblies Must Be Strengthened

"...the steady progress and consolidation of the Cause of God on the one hand and progressive disintegration of a moribund world on the other will undoubtedly impose upon us new tasks, the obligation of devising new approaches to teaching, of demonstrating more clearly to a disillusioned world the Bahá'í way of life and making more effective the administrative institutions of the Faith. The authority and influence of National and Local Spiritual Assemblies will have to be strengthened in order to deal with larger Bahá'í communities...."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, Ridvan, 1971: Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, p. 72)

131. A "Best" Assembly

"...The best Assembly is the one that capitalizes the talents of all the members of the group and keeps them busy in some form of active participation in serving the Cause and spreading the Message."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, August 1932: Bahá'í News, No. 68, November 1932, p. 3)

132. Centralization of Authority Made Manifest in Master's Will

"The need for the centralization of authority in the National Spiritual Assembly, and the concentration of power in the various local Assemblies, is made manifest when we reflect that the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh is still in its age of tender growth and in a stage of transition; when we remember that the full significance of the Master's world-wide instructions, as laid down in His Will, are as yet not fully grasped, and the whole Movement has not sufficiently crystallized in the eyes of the world."

(Shoghi Effendi: Bahá'í Administration, p. 42)

133. Fundamentals of Bahá'í Administration Must Be Adhered to

"The fundamentals laid down in the Bahá'í Administration must, of course, be adhered to, but there is a tendency for Assemblies to constantly issue detailed procedures and rules to the friends, and he considers this hampers the work of the Cause, and is entirely premature. As far as is possible cases which come up should be dealt with and settled as they arise, and not a blanket ruling be laid down to cover all possible similar cases. This preserves the elasticity of the Administrative Order and prevents red tape from developing and hampering the work of the Cause... Uniformity in fundamentals is essential but not in every detail. On the contrary, diversity, the solving of the local situation in the right way, is important."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, November 4, 1948: Messages to Canada, pp. 8-9)

134. Tendency of All National Assemblies to Over-Administer

"Your Assembly must be very careful not to over-load the Bahá'ís with rules and regulations, circulars and directions. The purpose of the Administration at this time is to blow on the fire newly kindled in the hearts of these people who have accepted the Faith, to create in them the desire and capacity to teach, to facilitate the pioneer and teaching work, and help deepen the knowledge and understanding of the friends. The beloved Guardian issues this word of warning, as long experience has shown that it is a tendency on the part of all N.S.A.'s to over-administer. In their enthusiasm they forget that they only have a handful of inexperienced souls to guide, and attempt to deal with their work as if they had a large population to regulate! This then stifles the spirit of the friends and the teaching work suffers."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia, July 15, 1957: Japan Will Turn Ablaze!, p. 67)

135. It is Not Necessary to Anticipate Situations

"...It is not necessary for your Assembly to anticipate situations which have not arisen, and to lay down general rules and regulations to meet them. It would be wiser to consider every case individually as it arises, and then to resolve the problem connected with it in the most suitable and practical manner...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, November 27, 1937: The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 49)

136. Over-Administration Worse than Under-Administration

"...Over-administration can be even worse for the Faith at this time than under-administration. The believers are, for the most part, young in the Cause, and if they make mistakes it is not half as important as if their spirit is crushed by being told all the time do this and don't do that! The new National Body should be like a loving parent, watching over and helping its children, and not like a stern judge, waiting for an opportunity to display his judicial powers. The reason he points this out to you is that constantly, for the past twenty years and more, he has been pointing this out to the old and tried National Assemblies, and he does not want the younger bodies to make the same mistakes. Individual cases should be dealt with as they arise, according to the Teachings, of which the believers have quite sufficient available to handle all of their problems at this time, and no more additional rules and regulations need be introduced."

137. National Spiritual Assemblies Should Be Uncompromising in Principle But Flexible in Procedures

"In the Bahá'í Faith there are matters of principle affecting the operation of Bahá'í institutions, which are outlined in the writings of the Faith as well as in the Constitutions of National and Local Spiritual Assemblies. Obviously, National Assemblies will face situations and problems which have to be resolved but are not fully covered by these texts. In such matters the National Assembly should adopt its own procedures suited to the conditions and requirements of its own national community. It may be found useful to adopt a procedure followed by another National Spiritual Assembly; certainly there is no objection to such a course of action, provided it is clear that in the final analysis such issues are left to the discretion of the National Assembly itself."

"In matters of principle, therefore, there should be uniformity, while in matters of detail and procedure not only is diversity permitted, it is also encouraged. As conditions vary from country to country and, indeed, can vary from community to community within the country, Shoghi Effendi repeatedly advised the friends that they should be uncompromising in principle but flexible in subsidiary details."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Burundi, October 22, 1986)

138. National Assembly is Guardian of the Welfare of the Faith

"The National Assembly is the guardian of the welfare of the Faith, a most sacred and heavy responsibility and one which is inescapable. They must be ever vigilant, ever on the lookout, ever ready to take action, and, on all matters of fundamental principle, refuse to compromise for an instant. Only in this way can the body of the Faith be free of disease."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Germany and Austria, August 14, 1957: The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 61)

139. Tendency of Late-Comers to Belittle Work Done

"...So often ... situations arise because there is a tendency, very human but not very kind, for late-comers to belittle the work done by the first believers and hurt their feelings. Those responsible therefore, for carrying on the work, must be extremely tactful and loving in their efforts to prevent a rift from occurring. It is very difficult for the administrators of the Cause to learn to be absolutely impartial, patient and wise, and very difficult for the believers to learn to give up personal will to the will of the majority! But this is Bahá'u'lláh's standard, and they must all constantly strive to attain it."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Inter-America Committee, March 28, 1950)

140. Each Believer Should Have Access to Communications from World Centre of His Faith

"The importance of communicating the progress of the Faith to every individual believer can hardly be over-emphasized. Learning of the victories achieved by the valiant souls who have arisen to serve Bahá'u'lláh can inspire others and can create a sense of world perspective which raises one's sights above his own petty pre-occupations and makes being a Bahá'í more meaningful and purposeful."

"Each believer should have access, for example, to the communications from the World Centre of his Faith the Messages from the Universal House of Justice and the Hands of the Cause as well as news emanating from the World Centre."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to National Spiritual Assemblies in Latin America, Africa and the South Pacific, August 28, 1965)

141. Legal Standing for Spiritual Assemblies

"It is surely very important to give to the Local Assemblies some legal standing for as the Cause progresses and its adherents increase, they will be confronted with duties they cannot even imagine at present. Not only will they have to make contracts for acquiring halls for their meeting place, but also they will be obliged to create new institutions to care for their sick, poor and aged people. We hope that before long the Bahá'ís will even afford to have schools that would provide the children the intellectual and spiritual education as prescribed in the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and the Master."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, December 25, 1931: Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 47)

142. Local Assemblies Should Give Teachers Every Encouragement

"Regarding the principle that the Cause must not be allowed to centre around any Bahá'í personality, the Guardian wishes to make it clear that it was never intended that well qualified individual teachers should not receive from Local Assemblies every encouragement and facilities to address the public. What the Guardian meant was that the personality and popularity of such a speaker should never be allowed to eclipse the authority, or detract from the influence of the body of the elected representatives in every local community. Such an individual should not only seek the approval, advice, and assistance of the body that represents the Cause in his locality, but should strive to attribute any credit he may obtain to the collective wisdom and capacity of the Assembly under whose jurisdiction he performs his services. Assemblies and not individuals constitute the bedrock on which the Administration is built. Everything else must be subordinated to, and be made to serve and advance the best interests of these elected custodians and promoters of the Laws of Bahá'u'lláh."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, August 12, 1933: Principles of Bahá'í Administration, p. 19)

143. Class Consciousness Contrary to Actual Teachings of Faith

"...although it is essential for the believers to maintain always a clear distinction between teaching and administrative duties and functions, yet they should be careful not to be led to think that these two types of Bahá'í activity are mutually exclusive in their nature, and as such cannot be exercised by one and the same person. As a matter of fact, the friends should be encouraged to serve in both the teaching and administrative fields of Bahá'í service. But as there are always some who are more specially gifted along one of these two lines of activity it would seem more desirable that they should concentrate their efforts in acquiring the full training for that type of work for which they are best suited by nature. Such a specialization has the advantage of saving time, and of leading to greater efficiency, particularly at this early stage of our development."

"The great danger, however, lies in that by doing so the friends may tend to develop a sort of class consciousness which is fundamentally contrary to both the spirit and actual teachings of the Faith."

"It is precisely in order to overcome such a danger that the Guardian thinks it advisable that the friends should be encouraged to serve from time to time in both the teaching and the administrative spheres of Bahá'í work, but only whenever they feel fit to do so."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, July 29, 1935: Ibid., p. 3)

144. Extension Teaching Goals, Local Assemblies Should Assume Responsibility for

"The time has come, we believe, when increasing numbers of Local Spiritual Assemblies should assume responsibility for helping the teaching work of groups, isolated believers, and other Spiritual Assemblies in their neighbourhood. Such extension teaching goals should be assigned by the National Spiritual Assembly or one of its teaching committees, or can be spontaneously adopted by Local Spiritual Assemblies, and should be carried out within the framework of the overall teaching plans of the country. It should also be made clear that by being given such goals a Spiritual Assembly is not being given any jurisdiction over believers outside its area, still less over other Local Spiritual Assemblies, but is being called upon to collaborate with them in their work."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, Naw-Ruz 1974)

145. Plans of the Assemblies Should Be Known to Counsellors and Auxiliary Board Members

"It is the Spiritual Assemblies who plan and direct the work, but these plans should be well known to the Counsellors and Auxiliary Board members, because one of the ways in which they can assist the Assemblies is by urging the believers continually to support the plans of the Assemblies. If a National Spiritual Assembly has adopted one goal as preeminent in a year, the Auxiliary Board members should bear this in mind in all their contacts with the believers and should direct their attention to the plans of the National Assembly, and stimulate them to enthusiastically support them."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, October 1, 1969: Messages from The Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973, pp. 32-33)

146. Local Spiritual Assemblies' Relations with Auxiliary Board

"It is at this local level of Bahá'í community life, the very foundation of the administrative structure of the Faith, that we so often find lack of adequate strength and efficiency. It is at this same level that our beloved Guardian urged Auxiliary Board members to establish contact with Local Spiritual Assemblies, groups, isolated centres and the individual believers, and through periodic and systematic visits to localities as well as by correspondence help in promoting the interests of the Plan, assist in the efficient and prompt execution of the goals, watch over the security of the Faith, stimulate and strengthen the teaching and pioneer work, impress upon the friends the importance of individual effort, initiative and sacrifice, and encourage them to participate in Bahá'í activities and be unified under all circumstances."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all Continental Boards of Counsellors, November 17, 1971)

147. All Local Spiritual Assemblies Should Collaborate with Auxiliary Board Members and Their Assistants

"When a Local Spiritual Assembly begins to function properly, it does not mean it can dispense with the service and work of Auxiliary Board members and their assistants, who can and should continue to provide stimulation and inspiration not only generally to the Assembly and local Bahá'í activities, but to individual believers as well."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 9, 1980)

148. When Local Spiritual Assemblies Are Truly Effective

"Such a firmly-founded, busy and happy community life as is envisioned when Local Spiritual Assemblies are truly effective, will provide a firm home foundation from which the friends may derive courage and strength and loving support in bearing the Divine Message to their fellowmen and conforming their lives to its benevolent rule."

(From the Naw-Ruz Message of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World, 1974)

149. A Functioning Local Spiritual Assembly Salient Objectives to be Attained

"In reply to your letter of July 14th asking guidance as to what is a functioning Local Spiritual Assembly, we offer you the following comments:"

"Local Spiritual Assemblies are at the present newly-born institutions, struggling for the most part to establish themselves both in the Bahá'í community and in the world. They are as yet only embryos of the majestic institutions ordained by Bahá'u'lláh in His Writings. This is also true of National Spiritual Assemblies. In the following passage written by the Secretary of the Guardian on his behalf this point is elucidated:

'The Bahá'í administration is only the first shaping of what in future will come to be the social life and laws of community living. As yet the believers are only first beginning to grasp and practice it properly. So we must have patience if at times it seems a little self-conscious and rigid in its workings. It is because we are learning something very difficult but very wonderful how to live together as a community of Bahá'ís, according to the glorious teachings.'" (From a letter dated October 14, 1941 to an individual believer)

"What we find expounded in the writings of our Faith is the lofty station Local Spiritual Assemblies must attain in their gradual and at times painful development. In encouraging these assemblies to attain this aim, there is no harm in the National Spiritual Assembly mentioning certain minimum requirements from time to time, provided it is clear that non-attainment of such standards, which by their very nature must be continuously revised with changing conditions, do not justify the withdrawal of recognition from any weak Assemblies. It would not be profitable therefore for the Universal House of Justice to lay down universal minimum standards for properly-functioning Local Spiritual Assemblies, as these must necessarily differ from country to country, and even from district to district within the same country in the process of the evolution of these Assemblies into Houses of Justice, as envisaged by Bahá'u'lláh."

"Among the more salient objectives to be attained by the Local Spiritual Assembly in its process of development to full maturity are to act as a loving shepherd to the Bahá'í flock, promote unity and concord among the friends, direct the teaching work, protect the Cause of God, arrange for Feasts, Anniversaries and regular meetings of the community, familiarize the Bahá'ís with its plans, invite the community to offer its recommendations, promote the welfare of youth and children, and participate, as circumstances permit, in humanitarian activities. In its relationship to the individual believer, the Assembly should continuously invite and encourage him to study the Faith, to deliver its glorious message, to live in accordance with its teachings, to contribute freely and regularly to the Fund, to participate in community activities, and to seek refuge in the Assembly for advice and help, when needed."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia, July 30, 1972)

150. Prominent People, Foster Cordial Relations with

"A very important activity which has been pursued effectively in all too few countries, is the undertaking by the National Spiritual Assembly of a sustained, planned effort to foster cordial relations with prominent people and responsible government officials and to familiarize them personally with the basic tenets and the teachings of the Faith. Such an activity must be carried out with wisdom and discretion, and requires the constant attention of a responsible committee as well as periodic review by the National Spiritual Assembly itself. Where successful it can effectively forestall opposition to the Faith and smooth the way for many essential aspects of the development of the Bahá'í community."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, Naw-Ruz, 1974)

151. Public Figures

"To approach such well-known and important persons is always an extremely delicate matter, since it requires a good deal of wisdom, courage and ability. But those friends who really feel the urge to do so, and possess the necessary qualifications, should cultivate such friendships which, if properly done, can be of an immense benefit to the Cause. In any case, however, the assistance and help of either the local or the National Assembly is not only useful but necessary if important contacts of this sort are to be fruitful and promising. The principle of consultation, which constitutes one of the basic laws of the Administration, should be applied to all Bahá'í activities which affect the collective interests of the Faith, for it is through cooperation and continued exchange of thoughts and views that the Cause can best safeguard and foster its interests. Individual initiative, personal ability and resourcefulness, though indispensable, are, unless supported and enriched by the collective experiences and wisdom of the group, utterly incapable of achieving such a tremendous task."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 30, 1933: Bahá'í News, No. 79, pp. 3-4, November 1933)

152. Individual Members of the Local Spiritual Assembly Should Deepen

"Only as individual members of Local Spiritual Assemblies deepen themselves in the fundamental verities of the Faith and in the proper application of the principles governing the operation of the Assembly will this Institution grow and develop toward its full potential."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, August 11, 1970)

153. Members of Spiritual Assembly Must Face Responsibilities

"All over the world the Guardian is constantly encouraging and enjoining the believers to learn to function according to Bahá'í laws and principles; members of Spiritual Assemblies must learn to face their responsibilities; individuals must learn to turn to them and abide by their decisions. When we realize that all marriages, divorces, disposal of inheritance, etc., are now handled in Egypt and Persia solely through the Assemblies and that the believers abide by their decisions, we see that in Western countries the friends still have a long way to go the sooner they start the better for themselves and for the Faith."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 17, 1944)


I. Meetings of Bahá'í Assemblies, Attendance, Resignations

154. Obligation of Assembly Members to Meet and Discharge Sacred Responsibilities

"After the formation of the National Spiritual Assembly, laxity and negligence in the holding of its meetings, in the coming together of its nine members, and in the discharge of its sacred responsibilities, will have undesirable repercussions in the community, will weaken and disgrace the Cause, will create chaos and confusion, and will cause the Faith to decline and retrogress."

(From a letter written by Shoghi Effendi to the Central Spiritual Assembly of Persia, April 22, 1930: Meetings of the National Spiritual Assembly, A Compilation, p. 1, October 1980)

155. Membership in Bahá'í Assembly or Committee is a Sacred Obligation Should Endeavor to Attend All Meetings

"...The Guardian wishes you to make clear to all the believers that membership in a Bahá'í Assembly or Committee is a sacred obligation which should be gladly and confidently accepted by every loyal and conscientious member of the Community, no matter how humble and inexperienced. Once elected to serve in a given Assembly a believer's duty is to do his utmost to attend all assembly meetings, and cooperate with his fellow-members, unless, however, he is prevented from doing so by some major reason such as illness, and even then he should notify the Assembly to this effect. The N.S.A.'s duty is to urge, and also facilitate attendance at assembly meetings. If a member has no valid reason to justify his repeated absence from assembly meetings, he should be advised, and even warned, and if such warning is deliberately ignored by him, the Assembly will then have the right to suspend his rights as a voting member of the Community. Such administrative sanction would seem to be absolutely imperative and necessary, and while not tantamount to a complete expulsion of such member from the Cause, deprives him of any real participation in its administrative functions and affairs, and is thus a most effective corrective measure which the Assembly can use against all such half-hearted and irresponsible individuals in the Community."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma, July 2, 1939: Ibid., p. 2)

156. Teaching Must Be Accorded Precedence When in Session

"When in session it behooveth them to converse, on behalf of the servants of God, on matters dealing with the affairs and interests of the public. For instance, teaching the Cause of God must be accorded precedence, inasmuch as it is a matter of paramount importance, so that thereby all men may enter the pavilion of unity and all the peoples of the earth be regarded even as a single body..."

"Should these souls comply with the prescribed conditions, they shall, indeed, be aided through His invisible bestowals. This is truly a matter whose benefits will be conferred on all men...."

(Bahá'u'lláh: The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 11)

157. All Meetings Must Revolve Around One Focal Center Teach

"If the meetings or Spiritual Assembly has any other occupation, the time is spent in futility. All the deliberations, all consultation, all the talks and addresses must revolve around one focal center and that is: Teach the Cause! Teach! Teach! Convey the Message! Awaken the souls!"

"Nothing else will be useful, today... The interests of such a Glorious Cause will not advance without undivided attention. While we are carrying this load we cannot carry any other load!"

(Abdu'l-Bahá: Bahá'í Meetings and the Nineteen Day Feast, p. 9)

158. Principle on which to Conduct the Work of an Assembly

"There is only one principle on which to conduct the work of an Assembly, and that is the supremacy of the will of the majority. The majority decisions must be courageously adopted and carried out by the Assembly, quite regardless of the opinionated adherence to their own views which any minority may cling to."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 20, 1941: The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 19)

159. Why Some Local Assemblies Do Not Meet

"Many Local Spiritual Assemblies do not meet, because they do not know or see what they should meet about. A compilation on the functions of a Local Spiritual Assembly, or the By-Laws of a Local Assembly will not usually provide the impetus to the members to meet. One of the stipulations of the Five Year Plan is the desirability for each Local Assembly to have local goals. Just as there are international and national goals, there should be local goals for each Local Assembly and throughout the Bahá'í world. These goals, as indicated in our Naw-Ruz 1974 Message, can either be adopted spontaneously by the Local Assemblies, or assigned to them by the National Spiritual Assembly. The adoption of a local plan by the Local Assembly can exert a far-reaching influence on its work and on the life of the community."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly of Africa, December 24, 1975)

160. How Often to Meet The Spiritual Assembly Must Decide

"The Spiritual Assembly must decide how often it should meet in order to properly handle the affairs of the Cause under its jurisdiction. Twice a week or twice a month is not the point, the point is that it should be alert and carry on the work adequately."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 23, 1949: Bahá'í News, August 1951, p. 2)

161. Bahá'u'lláh's Promise

"Bahá'u'lláh has given the promise that in every Assembly where unity and harmony prevail, there His glorious spirit will not only be present, but will animate, sustain and guide all the friends in all their deliberations."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the Evanston and Wilmette Spiritual Assemblies, November 17, 1933: The Local Spiritual Assembly, p. 16)

162. Not Possible to Have Non-Assembly Member in National Spiritual Assembly Meeting

"...in the light of the Master's statement that the deliberations of Assemblies must be secret and confidential, it is not possible to have a non-Assembly member in the National Spiritual Assembly meeting. You must always remember that, in matters of principle, there can be no deviation;... Highly personal subjects, damaging to the honor and happiness of others, are often taken up by National Assemblies, and the danger that confidence will be betrayed is already great enough with the 9 chosen representatives of the whole community, let alone introducing non-Assembly members. You will just have to make your minutes a little more compact and sacrifice, if necessary, a certain amount of efficiency in order to follow this very important principle."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, July 5, 1950: The National Spiritual Assembly, p. 19)

163. Distribution of Minutes of Meetings

"We have your letter ..., regarding distribution of the minutes of your National Assembly meetings to members of the National Assembly."

"Two principles apply, namely:

1. Every member of the National Spiritual Assembly is entitled to have access to the minutes of the National Assembly meetings.

2. The National Assembly must take measures to safeguard the confidential nature of many matters referred to in the minutes."

"It is within the discretion of your National Spiritual Assembly to decide what should be done to give effect to these two principles."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia, March 25, 1971)

164. Access to Records of the Spiritual Assembly

"In reply to your letter of May 13th, 1976, the Universal House of Justice instructs us to say that all members of the Spiritual Assembly are equal and should have access to the files and minutes of the Assembly of which they are members. It is, however, within the discretion of any Spiritual Assembly to so organize its files and records that certain items could be listed as 'confidential' and access to those so classified could only be had by a specific decision of the Assembly itself."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ireland, June 8, 1976)

165. Business Can Be Conducted with a Quorum

"...It is, as you say, highly desirable for all nine members of a Spiritual Assembly to be present but business can be conducted with a quorum of five, provided that all have been properly notified of the meeting."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Ecuador, June 14, 1972)

166. Assembly Quorum

"We have your letter of July 20, 1967 asking for clarification of Article VIII, Section 1 of the By-Laws of a Local Spiritual Assembly which appears on Page 19 of the Declaration of Trust."

"A majority of the members present and constituting a quorum is sufficient to carry a motion. Thus, if only five members of the Assembly are present at a meeting, a majority vote of three is sufficient."

"However, Assemblies should take into account the last clause of the first sentence of Section 1 of Article VIII reading as follows:

'...and with due regard to the principle of unity and cordial fellowship involved in the institution of a Spiritual Assembly.'"

"In other words, members of a Spiritual Assembly should not take advantage of a quorum as an expedient to pass a motion which would violate the spirit of the above quoted passage."

"As your National Assembly has stated, it is desirable that all nine members of a Local Spiritual Assembly be present at every meeting, and we hope that you will be able to educate members of Assemblies to assume their responsibilities in this regard."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, August 6, 1967)

167. Duties of Assembly Members

"In its own meetings it must endeavour to develop skill in the difficult but highly rewarding art of Bahá'í consultation, a process which will require great self-discipline on the part of all members and complete reliance on the power of Bahá'u'lláh. It should hold regular meetings and ensure that all its members are currently informed of the activities of the Assembly, that its Secretary carries out his duties, and its Treasurer holds and disburses the funds of the Faith to its satisfaction, keeping proper accounts and issuing receipts for all contributions. Many Assemblies find that some of their activities such as teaching, observance of Feasts and Anniversaries, solution of personal problems, and other duties are best dealt with by committees appointed by the Assembly and responsible to it...."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Bolivia, July 30, 1972)

168. Abstaining Does Not Arise in Bahá'í Voting

"It is important to realize that the spirit of Bahá'í consultation is very different from that current in the decision-making processes of non-Bahá'í bodies."

"The ideal of Bahá'í consultation is to arrive at a unanimous decision. When this is not possible a vote must be taken. In the words of the beloved Guardian: '...when they are called upon to arrive at a certain decision, they should, after dispassionate, anxious and cordial consultation, turn to God in prayer, and with earnestness and conviction and courage record their vote and abide by the voice of the majority, which we are told by the Master to be the voice of truth, never to be challenged, and always to be whole-heartedly enforced.'"

"As soon as a decision is reached it becomes the decision of the whole Assembly, not merely of those members who happened to be among the majority."

"When it is proposed to put a matter to the vote, a member of the Assembly may feel that there are additional facts or views which must be sought before he can make up his mind and intelligently vote on the proposition. He should express this feeling to the Assembly, and it is for the Assembly to decide whether or not further consultation is needed before voting."

"Whenever it is decided to vote on a proposition all that is required is to ascertain how many of the members are in favour of it; if this is a majority of those present, the motion is carried; if it is a minority, the motion is defeated. Thus the whole question of 'abstaining' does not arise in Bahá'í voting. A member who does not vote in favour of a proposition is, in effect, voting against it, even if at that moment he himself feels that he has been unable to make up his mind on the matter."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, March 6, 1970: Consultation: A Compilation, p. 12, February 1978)

169. Bahá'ís Not Required to Vote Against Consciences

"Bahá'ís are not required to vote on an assembly against their consciences. It is better if they submit to the majority view and make it unanimous. But they are not forced to. What they must do, however, is to abide by the majority decision, as this is what becomes effective. They must not go around undermining the assembly by saying they disagreed with the majority. In other words, they must put the Cause first and not their own opinions. He (a Spiritual Assembly member) can ask the assembly to reconsider a matter, but he has no right to force them or create inharmony because they won't change. Unanimous votes are preferable, but certainly cannot be forced upon assembly members by artificial methods such as are used by other societies."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 19, 1947)

170. Only Under Special Circumstances is It Permissible to Resign from the Spiritual Assembly

"With reference to your question whether it would be permissible for a believer to resign from the Local Assembly; under special circumstances, such as illness, one may do so, but only after, and never before one has been elected to the membership of the Assembly. Personal differences and disagreements among Assembly members surely afford no sufficient ground for such resignation, and certainly can not justify absence from Assembly meetings. Through the clash of personal opinions, as Abdu'l-Bahá has stated, the spark of truth is often ignited, and Divine guidance revealed. The friends should therefore not feel discouraged at the differences of opinion that may prevail among the members of an Assembly, for these, as experience has shown, and as the Master's words attest, fulfil a valuable function in all Assembly deliberations. But once the opinion of the majority has been ascertained, all the members should automatically and unreservedly obey it, and faithfully carry it out. Patience and restraint, however, should at all times characterize the discussions and deliberations of the elected representatives of the local community, and no fruitless and hair-splitting discussions indulged in, under any circumstances."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 18, 1939)

171. Differences of Opinion Should Not Deter One from Performing His Bahá'í Activities

"Needless to say how much he was afflicted to learn that you both had offered your resignation from the ... Spiritual Assembly. For he is convinced that your action in this matter will have a bad effect on the rest of the believers, and in this way cause great injury to the Cause. Differences of opinion, specially when they arise in connection with personalities, should under no circumstances lead any believer to turn his attention from his major Bahá'í activities. And what activity can be said to be more vital, and hence of a more weighty responsibility than to serve in an Assembly, and specially in the capacity of a Vice-Chairman. Your responsibilities, in this connection, are indeed manifold, and it would be a pity, therefore, if you fail in the least to carry them out to the fullest possible extent."

"Besides, you can easily realize that by resigning from the Assembly you would be encouraging, quite unintentionally but through the mere effect of example, your fellow-members to take a similar action in the future if necessary. This, of course, cannot but lead eventually to the disruption of your Assembly, and would in the meantime greatly detract from the authority and prestige of that body in the eyes of the public."

"In view of all these, the Guardian would specially appeal to you, to exert your utmost in order to retain your membership in the ... Assembly, and thus put a good example before the friends. Should you act in this way, Bahá'u'lláh would undoubtedly assist and strengthen you in overcoming the obstacles which, at present, so sadly retard the effective working and progress of your Assembly."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 28, 1935)

172. There Should Be a Valid Reason for Resignation

"Although it is highly desirable that all members of the National Assembly attend every meeting of the Assembly, the fact that a member is prevented by business or other circumstances from having a good attendance record is not a ground upon which a resignation can be accepted. It is not justified to accept a resignation or otherwise declare a vacancy on the National Assembly without a valid reason such as in the case of prolonged absence or serious illness which prevents one from discharging his duties as a member of the National Assembly."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, November 27, 1968)

173. Should National Assembly Members be Relieved of Local Assembly Service?

“We have your letter of April 28, 1970 raising the question as to whether believers elected to both a Local Spiritual Assembly and the National Spiritual Assembly may resign their membership in the Local Assembly and dedicate their full efforts to the work of the National Assembly.”

“Normally those elected to a Local Assembly and the National Assembly should make every effort to serve on both bodies, whatever the personal sacrifices may be. If it is too much of a burden and impractical for an individual member to assume the responsibilities of serving on both the National and Local Assembly, he should present his case to both bodies, and seek consultation. Each case should be considered separately, depending on the circumstances of each member. It may be found that if a National Assembly member is an officer of the Local Spiritual Assembly, his resignation as officer of the Assembly, instead of the membership of that Assembly, may solve the problem for that individual.”

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of North East Africa, May 7, 1970: Malaysian Bahá’í News, Vol. 8, No. 4, December 1972 to February 1973, p. 28)

174. Not Appropriate to Elect a Temporary Assembly Member

“As regards electing a temporary member to replace one who is absent, the present practice of Bahá’í Administration is not in favor of this but prefers to ascertain the duration of the absence of any member who has to be away. Should this period of time be excessive it is within the discretion of the Assembly to recognize a vacancy and call for a by-election. However this should not be lightly decided and the members declared elected at the Convention should remain in office unless there are insuperable difficulties which prevent it.”

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia, December 10, 1970: Meetings of the National Spiritual Assembly, p. 3, October 1980)

175. Non-Attendance of Assembly Members No Time Limit Fixed

“…it is establishing a dangerous precedent to allow Assemblies to put a time limit on non-attendance of their members at meetings of the Spiritual Assembly beyond which that person is automatically dropped from the Assembly and a vacancy declared… There should be no time limit fixed by Assemblies beyond which a person is dropped. Every case of prolonged absence from the sessions of the Assembly should be considered separately by that Assembly, and if the person is seen to not want to attend meetings, or to be held away from them indefinitely because of illness or travel, then a vacancy could legitimately be declared and a new member be elected.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer: Bahá’í News, No. 208, June 1948)

176. Repeated, Unjustified Absence Cause for Suspension of Voting Rights

“…The National Spiritual Assembly’s duty is to urge, and also facilitate attendance at assembly meetings. If a member has no valid reason to justify his repeated absence from assembly meetings, he should be advised, and even warned, and if such warning is deliberately ignored by him the Assembly will then have the right to suspend his rights as a voting member of the Community. Such administrative sanction would seem to be absolutely imperative and necessary, and while not tantamount to a complete expulsion of such a member from the Cause, deprives him of any real participation in its administrative functions and affairs, and is thus a most effective corrective measure which the Assembly can use against all such half-hearted and irresponsible individuals in the Community.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma, July 2, 1939: Dawn of a New Day, p. 79)

177. Criticism, Opposition, Confusion Do not Provide Grounds for Resignation Sanction May Be Necessary

“Concerning the question of refusal by certain believers to accept election to an administrative post: The Guardian strongly feels that criticism, opposition, or confusion, do not provide sufficient grounds for either refusal or resignation. Only cases of physical or mental incapacity, which, by their very nature, are extremely rare, constitute valid reasons for such an act. The difficulties and tests involved in the acceptance of administrative posts, far from inducing the believers to disassociate themselves from the work of the Cause, should spur them on to greater exertions and to a more active participation in the privileged task of resolving the problems that confront the Bahá’í community. Only in cases where individual believers, without any valid reason, deliberately refuse the repeated exhortations, pleas, and warnings addressed to them by their Assemblies, should action be taken in removing them from the voting list. This is a measure designed to sustain the institutions of the Faith at the present time, and to insure that the abilities and talents of its, as yet, limited number of supporters are properly consecrated to its service….”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, January 15, 1942: Bahá’í News, No. 152, p. 2, April 1942)


J. Administrative Rights, Sanctions, Dissimulation

178. Basis for Deprivation of Voting Rights

“The general basis for the deprivation of voting rights is of course gross immorality and open opposition to the administrative functions of the Faith, and disregard for the laws of personal status; and even then it is the duty of the National Assembly, before exercising this sanction, to confer with the individuals involved in a loving manner to help them overcome the problem; second, to warn them that they must desist; third, to issue further warnings if the original warnings are not followed; and finally, if there seems no other way to handle the matter, then a person may be deprived of voting rights.”

“The Guardian however, wishes the National Assemblies to be very cautious in using this sanction, because it might be abused, and then lose its efficacy. It should be used only when there seems no other way to solve the problem.”

“Answering specifically the questions you raise, if a person is deprived of his voting rights, he may not contribute to the Local or National Funds; he may not attend Nineteen Day Feasts. Of course, not attending the Nineteen Day Feasts, he can take no part in consultation. While it is not forbidden for the friends to associate with the individual, yet their association should be on a formal basis.”

“So far as the individual who has been deprived of his voting rights, teaching the Cause, he is of course free to do this, as every individual has been encouraged by Bahá’u’lláh to teach the Cause.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of South America, March 7, 1955)

179. Assembly Should not Deprive Believer of Rights Unless the Matter Is Very Grave

“As he already told you in a previous communication he feels that your Assembly should not deprive people of their voting rights unless the matter is really very grave; this is a very heavy sanction, and can embitter the heart if lightly imposed, and also make people think we unduly resort to pressure of a strong nature. The friends must be nursed and assisted, for they are still mostly immature spiritually, and their ‘sins’ are those of immaturity! Their hearts are loyal to the Cause, and this is the most important thing.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma, August 2, 1946)

180. No Bahá’í Can Swear to Bring up His Children in Another Religion nor Be Married in Church as a Christian

“…As the Guardian pointed out…, no Bahá’í can conscientiously swear to bring up his children in another religion; and of course he has no right to lie; therefore it becomes impossible for him to make such a promise on his marriage to a non-Bahá’í. Any Bahá’í doing this should be deprived of his voting rights; and, as he has already made plain before, Bahá’ís who go to the church and are married as Christians must also of necessity be deprived of their voting rights.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the European Teaching Committee, May 13, 1936)

181. Alcoholic Beverages Those Who Continue to Drink

“In the case of a believer who continues to take alcoholic drinks, the Assembly should decide whether the offence is flagrant, and, if it is, should try to help him to understand the importance of obeying the Bahá’í law. If he does not respond he must be repeatedly warned and, if this is unsuccessful, he is subject to loss of his voting rights. In the case of an alcoholic who is trying to overcome his weakness the Assembly must show especial patience, and may have to suggest professional counselling and assistance. If the offence is not flagrant, the Assembly need take no action at all.”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, September 26, 1978)

182. Divorce

“…no sanctions should be imposed merely because the believer has commenced a civil action for divorce before the expiration of the year of patience. However, the believer will be subject to sanctions if he should marry a third party within the year of patience, not only because it is a violation of the year of patience itself, but also because even though a civil divorce has been granted, the Bahá’í divorce cannot be granted until the end of the year of patience. For this reason no marriage is possible during the running of the year of patience unless the parties to the divorce re-marry each other again in a civil ceremony.”

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Alaska, March 29, 1966)

183. Ecclesiastical and Political Associations

“…The same sanction (deprivation of voting right) should apply to those who persistently refuse to dissociate themselves from political and ecclesiastical activities. This is a general principle which is being maintained throughout the Bahá’í world, and the believers throughout the East are already aware of the absolute necessity of refusing any political or Moslem ecclesiastical office.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, January 15, 1942)

184. Politics, Participation in

“Your understanding and attitude regarding participation in politics is correct, namely, you immediately warn and quickly remove the voting rights, as such prompt action is necessary to protect the interests of the Faith.”

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of South and West Africa, November 12, 1965)

185. Homosexual Acts Condemned by Bahá’u’lláh

“Regarding the question you asked him about one of the believers who seems to be flagrantly a homosexual although to a certain extent we must be forbearing in the matter of people’s moral conduct because of the terrible deterioration in society in general, this does not mean that we can put up indefinitely with conduct which is disgracing the Cause. This person should have it brought to his attention that such acts are condemned by Bahá’u’lláh, and that he must mend his ways, if necessary consult doctors, and make efforts to overcome this affliction, which is corruptive for him and bad for the Cause. If after a period of probation you do not see an improvement, he should have his voting rights taken away. The Guardian does not think, however, that a Bahá’í body should take it upon itself to denounce him to the Authorities unless his conduct borders on insanity.”

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada: Messages to Canada, p. 39)

186. Immorality, Blatant Acts of

“Any blatant acts of immorality on the part of the Bahá’ís should be strongly censured; the friends should be urged to abandon such relationships immediately, straighten out their affairs, and conduct themselves as Bahá’ís; if they refuse to do this, in spite of the warnings of the Assembly, they should be punished through being deprived of their voting rights. The N.S.A. is empowered to settle such cases of flagrant immorality without referring them to the Guardian.”

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, July 20, 1946: Principles of Bahá’í Administration, p. 85)

187. Criminal Offences, Believers Charged with

“We have carefully reviewed your letter of April 18, 1967 inquiring about the attitude to be adopted by your National Assembly regarding believers who have been charged with criminal offences, suspected to have committed such offences, or convicted by the court. The principle to bear in mind is that each case