We’re in the political season, when campaigns and campaigners become heated, and when Baha’is inevitably hear this question: Why don’t Baha’is get involved in politics?
Baha’is vote, get involved in community building and support their respective governments, but they don’t campaign for specific candidates, become members of political parties or involve themselves in the political wrangling so common to our current systems of governance.
Simply, Baha’is don’t participate in partisan politics. The Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, Shoghi Effendi, gave two reasons why Baha’is take that position: promoting a political party means supporting its platform; and political involvement inevitably leads to disunity.
First, no political platform is entirely in keeping with the Baha’i teachings, so if a Baha’i became a party member, that person would to some degree be working against the teachings of the Faith. Secondly, people inevitably have differing views, and if Baha’is participate in the political conflicts of the day, we bring them into the Baha’i community and dis-unify the very instrument Baha’u’llah brought to unify the world.
The Baha’i Community is a world-wide organization seeking to establish true and universal peace on earth. If a Baha’i works for one political party to overcome another it is negation of the very spirit of the Faith …. If a Baha’i were to insist on his right to support a certain political party he could not deny the same degree of freedom to other believers. This would mean that within the ranks of the Faith whose primary mission is to unite all men as one great family under God, there would be Baha’is opposed to each other. Where, then, would be the example of unity and harmony which the world is seeking? … By becoming involved in political disputes, the Baha’is instead of changing the world or helping it, would themselves be lost and destroyed. The world situation is so confused and moral issues which were once clear have become so mixed up with selfish and battling factions, that the best way Baha’is can serve the highest interests of their country and the cause of true salvation for the world, is to sacrifice their political pursuits and affiliations and wholeheartedly and fully support the divine system of Baha’u’llah. – The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 8 February 1970.
So with regard to political parties: that which is the greatest policy directing the world of mankind, nay, rather, the Divine policy, is found in the teachings of His Holiness Baha’u’llah …. when ye look deeply into this matter, ye will discover that the highest aims of those parties are found in the teachings of Baha’u’llah …. Today nothing but the power of the Word of God which encompasses the realities of things can bring the thoughts, the minds, the hearts and the spirits under the shade of one Tree. He is the potent in all things, the vivifier of souls, the preserver and the controller of the world of mankind. Praise be to God, in this day the light of the Word of God has shone forth upon all regions, and from all sects, communities, nations, tribes, peoples, religions and denominations, souls have gathered under the shadow of the Word of Oneness and have in the most intimate fellowship united and harmonized!
Similarly, he wrote to the Baha’is of the United States and Canada in what Baha’is call one of the Tablets of the Divine Plan:
O ye heavenly souls, sons and daughters of the Kingdom … the Collective Center of the Kingdom, embodying the institutions and divine teachings, is the eternal Collective Center. It establishes relationship between the East and the West, organizes the oneness of the world of humanity, and destroys the foundation of differences. It overcomes and includes all the other collective centers. Like unto the ray of the sun, it dispels entirely the darkness encompassing all the regions, bestows ideal life, and causes the effulgence of divine illumination. Through the breaths of the Holy Spirit it performs miracles; the Orient and the Occident embrace each other, the North and South become intimates and associates, conflicting and contending opinions disappear, antagonistic aims are brushed aside, the law of the struggle for existence is abrogated, and the canopy of the oneness of the world of humanity is raised on the apex of the globe, casting its shade over all the races of men. Consequently, the real Collective Center is the body of the divine teachings, which include all the degrees and embrace all the universal relations and necessary laws of humanity. – p. 101.
Baha’is recognize that the world’s governments play essential roles in resolving the world’s problems, and the Baha’i Teachings propose remedies to many issues of great concern to governments. These are presented at the level of principle in official statements of the Baha’i International Community on a multitude of subjects, in its Statement Library.
Baha’is care deeply about the state of the world, and believe that the best way to establish true justice on Earth involves following the plan brought by Baha’u’llah and administered today by the Universal House of Justice.