Meeting on 25th September 2012 - A talk given by Adam Thorne about the visits of Abdul Baha to Europe and America in 1912/13
After Adam’s graphic presentation of the reception Abdul Baha received on his visits, particularly in London and Bristol, questions focussed on the Baha’i faith itself.
We heard of the persecution experienced by Baha’is, not only in the early days of the movement in Persia and the Ottoman empire, but in present-day Iran and other parts of the Muslim world. This has led to an unwillingness of Baha’is to be involved in political parties and the business of government, although Baha’is do use their vote. It has also brought about a greater cohesiveness in what was originally called a ‘movement’, but which like other religious movements has now developed an institutional framework and become an organised faith in its own right. Its message was and is the unity of all religious faiths, but that is now expressed in a separate religious community.
Questions also focussed on the leadership of the community, and the House of Justice, its supreme body, which makes decisions about current ethical issues, like genetic engineering, gay marriage etc. Bahai’s oppose a gay life-style and require celibacy from gay members. There are no women members of the House of Justice, though we got the impression that this is something which may change in future. As elsewhere in religious bodies it is no doubt a contentious issue.
Adam Thorne was thanked for a lucid and informative account of the Baha’i faith and history.