Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sexuality Conference

One of the most vexed questions that we, as teachers of the Baha'i Faith, confront these days is that of homosexuality. Yesterday I heard a believer admit that she is afraid to teach the faith for fear that some liberal will bring up the Baha'i position on homosexuality and criticize it. This blog has paid some attention to this issue, followed by a spate of negative, critical comment from the same bunch of liberal thinkers. I learn in the most graphic terms how wrong and indeed evil I am as a human being for disagreeing with the standard wisdom.

Anyway, Hamilton's McMaster University is soon going to feature an entire conference on this. A must see. Here are the latest details:

Spiritual Identity as a Path for Transcending Differences

A Conference on Spirituality and Sexuality


Sat. Oct 4th 9-10pm (registration to begin at 8:30am)
Sun Oct 5th 9-12:30pm


Room 3020 at Michael DeGroote Learning Centre, McMaster University,
Hamilton, Ontario

$20 per person

($25 after September 20, 2008) or $15 per student
($20 after September 20, 2008)
On-campus parking fee in effect

Sponsored by the LSA of the Baha’is of Hamilton, BNASAA (Bahai Network for AIDS, Sexuality, Addictions and Abuse) and CABS (Campus Assoc. for Baha’i Studies - McMaster]

Cheques made payable to:
the Local Spiritual Assembly of
the Baha’is of Hamilton,
mail c/o Beth Fachnie,
129 Woodview Cresc.,
Ancaster, ON, L9G 1E8,
Phone: 905-648-3782

email Task Force - Spirituality & Sexuality Conference

Bring Brown Bag lunch and dinner, or eat at local restaurants (list will be provided).
Hotel listing available upon request.

(from an earlier letter on this conference)

Dear Friends,

As we approach more and more diverse peoples through Outreach, not only people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, but individuals with personal, social and family issues of physical, sexual and/or substance misuse or abuse, couples living in common-law, people practicing gay and lesbian lifestyles, etc,. it is important that we not exclude such individuals from approaching Baha’u’llah because of our own feelings or misunderstandings of the processes of change and transformation. This seminar is to start exploring the notion of tolerance and what it means to really appreciate and respect and support the process that leads people to approach Baha’u’llah and His teachings; to recognize the commonality and similarities of all our journeys as we face our humanity and struggle with the veils that keep us from attaining His Presence .

The Universal House of Justice has said, “The mission of the Prophets of God has been to train the souls of humanity and free them from the thralldom of natural instincts and physical tendencies…” and “The impression given…can be that the Baha'i teachins on sex and homosexuality are puritanical and need rethinking. It does not draw the vital distinction between the high standard that Baha'i’s must uphold in relation to themselves and the forbearance they must show towards others. In this connection there is a very important passage [from Baha’u’llah: Tablets of Baha’u’llah pp 169-70] “The heaven of true understanding shineth resplendent with the light of two luminaries: tolerance and righteousness. O My friend! Vast oceans lie enshrined within this brief saying.””

The seminar herein announced we feel offers knowledge, insights and practical training that would be of particular benefit to those going door to door on Outreach, as well as those serving on Local Spiritual Assemblies and Counseling Committees. The seminar is offered with the intention of furthering our understanding of the processes of Community Development, inclusiveness and encouragement.


Mary K. Radpour, MSSW, LCSW Chattanooga, Tennessee

Mary K., a second generation Baha'i, has extensive experience in the Baha'i community as former Auxiliary Board member for 5 Southern US States and member of the Institute Board. A popular presenter and trainer in both the Baha'i and secular communities she has expertise in the treatment of individuals, couples and families with post-trauma sexual abuse, gay and lesbian issues, gender dysphoria, eating disorders and substance abuse. Race relations and cross-cultural communications are also areas of leadership and she has served on Human Rights and Human Relations Commissions, consults professionally in Afro-American, Hispanic and Asian-Anglo communications and has served on the National Organization of Women.

The seminar/workshop is open to both Baha’is and non-Baha’is; however, it is suggested that any non-Baha’is wishing to attend be familiar with Baha’i law.

This seminar is not an occasion for challenging the Baha'i teachings.

Junior youth aged 12-14 may attend but must be accompanied by a parent.


Suraj Chew said...

If we're afraid to teach because of fear of being badgered by those holding very strong polarised views on one issue or another, then we're not being fair to the majority who are not so extreme.

badijet@gmail.com said...

If I am afraid to walk into a dark alley, it is true that I am wronging the majority who are harmless in dark alleys. Such is the nature of fear, and it is not always irrational, since all it takes is one bad exception to the rule to do you in...

Anonymous said...

There is one problem in your posting and that is your apparent disapproval "liberals." Let us not fall into the polarizing language of partisan politics. A few quotations from the Baha'i writings:

"...its readers, while witnessing to the liberal and broad-minded attitude of the Bahá'í Cause, may receive from it their full share of inspiration which only a clear and direct statement of the Divine Message can impart." (Shoghi Effendi, Arohanui - Letters to New Zealand, p. 12)

"Also the preparations you are making for the Centenary should serve to not only publicise the Faith, but bring the believers closer to liberal-minded fellow-citizens." (Shoghi Effendi, Arohanui - Letters to New Zealand, p. 63)

"There can and should be no liberals or conservatives, no moderates or extremes in the Cause. For they are all subject to the one and the same law which is the Law of God. This law transcends all differences, all personal or local tendencies, moods and aspirations." (Shoghi Effendi, Dawn of a New Day, p. 61)

"We should welcome and seize every opportunity that presents itself, however modest it may be, to give a wider publicity to the Cause, to demonstrate its all-inclusiveness and liberal attitude, its independence and purity, without committing ourselves, whether by word or by deed, to programs or policies that are not in strict conformity with the tenets of the Faith." (Shoghi Effendi, Extracts from the USBN)

"cognizant of their no less vital task of demonstrating, through association with all liberal and humanitarian movements, the universality and comprehensiveness of their Faith." (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 330)

Rather than excoriate "liberals" for their position on issus relating to homsexuality, we should become familiar with the Baha'i view - which is neither conservative nor liberal but moderate, spiritual, humane, and practical. Baha'is should make clear that we are neither liberal nor conservative, but rather committed to implementing in a humane and spiritual manner the priniples and commandments that we believe have come from God.

badijet@gmail.com said...

The word "liberal" comes from liberty, or freedom. As the Aqdas points out, freedom is gravely misunderstood in this age; it is taken to be the freedom of the animal, not the human.

Before you plunge into Ocean I suggest reading the comment and thinking about it first. The reference is not to anything within the cause but to conditions outside. Nobody can miss the fact that Western culture is badly split around issues of liberalism, and that homosexuality is a major flashpoint.

Myself, I think it is wise in dealing with homosexuality to admit that little is known about the details of homosexuality and emphasize that we only wish to uphold the family. Since the ideology of homosexual identity is inimical to family, it is an enemy to the continuance of human life on earth, and that has nothing to do with Baha'i. It is a fact of nature, a mark of the poverty of liberalism ...