Sunday, March 23, 2008

On Inclusivity and Exclusivity: "Non-Baha'i" as "not-yet-Baha'i" - Wikipedia

Peoples Park, Hilltop, Tacoma, WA
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May 28, 2007 by tacomamama on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Yesterday 60 or so Baha'is gathered at our Reflection Meeting which was followed by the launching of teaching teams out into the Hilltop neighborhood for the beginning of our 9-day intensive phase. We were blessed with many confirmations our first day out including a declaration among the dozens of "not-yet Baha'is" whose homes we visited. -gw

Non-Bahá'í is a term commonly used by members of the Bahá'í Faith to refer to those who are not registered members. It is not typically intended pejoratively.

Since the stated principles of the Bahá'í Faith are about inclusivity and unity and there are very few activities within Bahá'í community life open exclusively to Bahá'ís, many modern Bahá'ís choose to use alternate terms such as "Not-Yet-Bahá'ís", or "those who are not Bahá'ís", etc. While not a major or controversial issue in the present-day Bahá'í community, the importance of inclusion - or making an atmosphere of warm acceptance - is seen by Bahá'ís as quite important, so such negative terminology is often deprecated by its members.

The term equally applies to friends or opponents of the Bahá'í Faith, as well as to former members without implication of penalty. It is, however, not used to describe Covenant-Breakers as this term refers to a special category of offense within Bahá'í theology which results in expulsion and is quite rare. While Bahá'ís are required to shun Covenant Breakers, they are strongly encouraged to associate with Bahá'ís and Non-Bahá'ís alike regardless of religious outlook, ethnicity, nationality, etc.

The only Bahá'í community activities in which Non-Bahá'ís may not participate are Bahá'í Elections and the administrative, or consultative phase of the Nineteen Day Feast. Of course, Non-Bahá'ís would also not be eligible to hold administrative office, though Bahá'í Spiritual Assemblies and the Universal House of Justice can and do hire Non-Bahá'ís for specific roles or tasks. Lastly, only members of the Bahá'í faith may contribute to the funds of the faith.

There is no official Bahá'í policy regarding this term.

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