This article endeavors to examine legality (both as per the Holy Writings and as per acceptable human values) of child registration in the Baha’i Faith and establish our responsibility as members of the Baha’i Faith with regards to these practices.
At the outset, let us examine the position of a child, through the scriptures. As per the Baha’i Faith a child is a like a bud which will bloom exhibiting all its potential in some time. Childhood is considered as a sapling, which if nourished, will result in a strong tree. Both Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l Baha have conveyed in several writings childhood as a period for inculcating values. When a child is brought up with such nurturing, he/she will grow to appreciate the Baha’i Faith and will be a harbinger for establishing the world order. Further, the faith with its well-known principle of ‘Independent Investigation of Truth’, compliments the idea of development, not to be prejudiced or succumbed to any pressure while accepting the Faith.
The United Nations in its charter on Child Rights has also desired to have a society which is beyond chains of bias or prejudice. It desires that development of a child be on values to develop responsible World Citizens. Throughout its charter it hints at religious bigotry not coming in way of human development.
For the Baha’is, adapting to such expectations have always come naturally. I remember my Baha’i parents ensured that my upbringing included values from all major religions. Not to be limited to this, the fundamentals of major religions were brought to my disposal by making available scriptures and important books of those religions. It is with this background that I and many other Baha’is have grown to appreciate the Baha’i Faith better and can fit into a modern world like a tee.
Alas, some administrative functionaries of the Baha’i Faith have in recent years desired to focus more on numbers. Instead of ripening of the fruit naturally, they have resolved to reap early benefits. With a short term view of exhibiting big populations, Baha’i Faith members in many regions are approaching school going children with short term value based coaching and thereafter seeking their allegiance to the Faith. The increase in numbers is then proudly circulated. Such an approach is damaging from several aspects:
- It is against the spirit of Holy teachings, even if it was to enjoy administrative support of short sighted elected members.
- It is against law of the land of many countries and has placed the Faith under scanner in many regions.
- Such registrations will bear no results and it will be like an under-nourished plan which can be easily uprooted.
- Imagine when such children become adults and get a feeling that they have been cheated to register allegiance for something as personal as religion, what would their approach be towards the Baha’i Faith?
It is with this concern I would urge all responsible friends to stand-up against any such attempts to register allegiance to the Baha’i Faith from minors. It is against principles of the Faith and human values. The Baha’i Faith should not be seen as a fraudulent and deceptive Faith, if we want the world to appreciate its values. Let’s all stand and raise our voice against such practices, even if it offends any of our esteemed friends from the administrative bodies.
At the end we present the idea of “No declaration” and to accept the faith from the heart. We the Free Baha’is do not believe in signing the card or declaring your faith by writing emails to an organization. If you accept the Baha’i faith, you should follow the teachings of Baha’u’llah and work for the sake of humanity.