Church membership

Ahanu

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I remember reading somewhere on here that Arthra said that Baha'is are not supposed to attend Christian church services now. However, here is a quote from Abdul-Baha where he does not have a problem with it. . .

O thou maid-servant of God!
What thou hast written was perused and its contents became manifest. Thou hast questioned how thou canst accept this divine cause, for thou art a member of the Church: (Know thou) in the day of the Manifestation of Christ, many souls became portionless and deprived (from the favor of God) because they were members of the Holy of Holies in Jerusalem. According to that membership, they became veiled from that brilliant Beauty. Therefore, turn thou thy face to the Church of God which consists in divine instructions and merciful exhortations. For what similarity (is there) between the church of stone and cement and the Celestial Holy of Holies!
Endeavor that thou mayest enter in this Church of God. Although thou hast given oath to attend the church, yet thy spirit is under the Covenant and Testament of the Spiritual Divine Church. Thou shouldst protect this. Although they consider the wine and the bread in the church as the blood and body of Christ, yet this is but the appearance and not the reality. But the reality of Christ is the words of the Holy Spirit. If thou are able, take a portion thereof.
The performance of baptismal celebration would cleanse the body, but the spirit hath no share; but the divine teachings and the exhortations of the Beauty of Abha will baptize the soul. This is the real baptism. I hope that thou wilt receive this baptism.

Why are Baha'is forbidden to be a member of a Christian church?
 
Ahanu..

You can call me "Art" that's my name.

I don't recall writing here that a Baha'i cannot attend a church service. If you can find that I did ..please post it.

Anyway Baha'is are free to attend religious services of other religions as long as we do not give the impression we belong to them, i.e., a Baha'i shouldn't take communion in a church because Christians will assume you are a member. We don't dissimulate our religion or hide it either.

In the days of Abdul-Baha many Baha'is retained their membership in churches... but the during the Guardianship, Shoghi Effendi made it clear that as Baha'is we should not continue to have dual membership.. this dual membership also could be interpreted as being dishonest and possibly conveying some sort of subterfuge to Christians.

From "Lights of Divine Guidance":

"If a person is registered as a member of a church or similar religious organization he should withdraw from it on becoming a Bahá'í.

"In the case of new believers, it should be made clear to them in the course of teaching them the Faith that one cannot be a Bahá'í and also a member of another religious organization. This is simply a matter of straight-forwardness and honesty. A great part of the teaching of Jesus Christ concerned His Second Coming and the preparation of His followers to be ready for it. The Bahá'ís believe He has come. No Christian Church believes this; on the contrary, they either look for Him still, or have ceased to believe that He will come. For a



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Bahá'í to be a member of a community which holds such beliefs is disloyalty to Christ and hypocrisy towards the Christians.

"You should not formalize the method by which the withdrawal from the church is to be made, and certainly nothing should be added to a declaration form, if you use one. It should be left to the Local Spiritual Assembly which is accepting the declaration to satisfy itself, as it deems best in each case, that the new believer has already resigned from the church, or does so within a reasonable time of his declaration.

"In regard to the old believers, your Assembly should tactfully, and in a kindly way, make the Bahá'í position clear to them and gently persuade them to resign from their former churches. This is a matter for great tact and discretion. If such a believer remains adamant you will have to consider depriving him of his voting rights."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Switzerland, November 21, 1968: Canadian Bahá'í News, Special Section, March 1973, p. 6)

Also:

Ministers Who Consider Themselves Bahá'ís Should Withdraw from Church Membership

"As he has already informed you, the Guardian feels that the time has now come to ask any ministers still affiliated with churches, but who consider themselves practising Bahá'ís, to withdraw from the church openly. This is following the example of the Hand of the Cause, former Archdeacon Townshend, who courageously defied the opinion of his fellow-clergymen, his relatives and the public, and stepped forth from his high office as a Bahá'í. When the friends realize that many of the first to accept the Bab were priests and suffered martyrdom for their act, it does not seem to be asking much that they should rally openly to the Kingdom of the Father which they believe in and for whose advent they cannot very well go on encouraging people in their churches to pray."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, July 19, 1956)
 
Hey Art, this is what I was talking about.

I should add that some time ago during the lifetime of Abdul-Baha there were Baha'is who also held church membership but when Shoghi Effendi became Guardian of the Faith after 1921 the friends were asked to leave the churches. This was difficult for some Baha'is who were also ministers and depended on pensions from their church later in life but was nonetheless accepted and they formally resigned their membership in the churches.

In a letter dated June 15, 1935 the Guardian Shoghi Effendi clarified that Baha'is could not hold membership in non-Baha'i religious organizations. Baha'is cannot "accept membership in any non-Baha'i ecclesiastical organization."

Since Scientology is a "church" by definition then no Baha'i can accept membership in it.

- Art

Sorry. . .I misread what you were saying. So it is ok to attend church services, but it is not cool to have "dual membership." Hmm. . .I'll have to talk to my youth pastor about this one.
 
While as Baha'is we're supposed to be clear about our religion--that we're Baha'is and not a combination of other memberships--I think it's encouraged to visit churches, synagogues, and mosques.

"Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship." -Baha'u'llah

_____

I have a Baha'i membership card and have even made a public declaration in a newspaper with an article about an interfaith group I started a few years ago. I was clear in the article that I have been a Baha'i since the summer of 2000. And even though I was clear and made a public declaration, I think the church I formerly belonged to continues to keep my name on their records.
 
Hey Art, this is what I was talking about.



Sorry. . .I misread what you were saying. So it is ok to attend church services, but it is not cool to have "dual membership." Hmm. . .I'll have to talk to my youth pastor about this one.

Oh.. that's OK Ahanu.. I've attended a bar mitzveh and church services but it was always clear I was there as a guest or observer never as a member.

Just curious:

As a Baha'i how do you have a "youth pastor"?

- Art:)
 
While as Baha'is we're supposed to be clear about our religion--that we're Baha'is and not a combination of other memberships--I think it's encouraged to visit churches, synagogues, and mosques.

"Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship." -Baha'u'llah

_____

I have a Baha'i membership card and have even made a public declaration in a newspaper with an article about an interfaith group I started a few years ago. I was clear in the article that I have been a Baha'i since the summer of 2000. And even though I was clear and made a public declaration, I think the church I formerly belonged to continues to keep my name on their records.

Thanks Dawud ...

Hmm.. well I guess if they want to keep you on their rolls that's up to them.. but you've already made it clear you're Baha'i anyway...

I've been involved in an Inter-faith community for some years now ... and was the President until recently. We had some prayer breakfasts for the Mayor of the city and World Religion Day as well. Good to hear you started an interfaith group!

- Art:)
 
Thanks Dawud ...

Hmm.. well I guess if they want to keep you on their rolls that's up to them.. but you've already made it clear you're Baha'i anyway...

I've been involved in an Inter-faith community for some years now ... and was the President until recently. We had some prayer breakfasts for the Mayor of the city and World Religion Day as well. Good to hear you started an interfaith group!

- Art:)

Yeah, I've made it clear I'm a Baha'i.

The interfaith group I started is online, on myspace.... "Baha'i and Christian Interfaith Dialogue." I chose three moderators to replace me and they chose a fourth. My computer had trouble with myspace, especially myspace groups, so that's why I'm at this interfaith forum instead.
 
Just curious:

As a Baha'i how do you have a "youth pastor"?

- Art:)


Sorry for the long delay. I do not want to leave your question unanswered because it is rude. Right. No clergy. Since Baha'is look at everyone as their spiritual teacher, I should say that the "youth pastor" of the church is a spiritual teacher or mentor to me.
 
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