Bridging Politics and Religion for Global Unification
Forcing Change, Iss.3, Vol.1 -1- www.forcingchange.org
There is a specific “independent religion” literally seeking to create a new world civilization, both spiritually and politically. It could even be said that world government is their spiritual mandate.
To the casual outside observer looking in, this bold directive may appear preposterous. After all, this particular religion is not numerically large. Nor does it thrust itself on the public consciousness; especially when one compares it to the international political clout of Roman Catholicism, the massive media attention Islam receives in the world press, or the perceived role of evangelical Christianity in US national affairs. In fact, for all intent and purposes, this religion remains largely unknown to the general population of North America, and, arguably, much of the rest of the world.
Yet as unfamiliar as this religion may be to the average person, its involvement in the realm of global governance is undeniable, with a track record at the United Nations going back to the UN’s birth. Even so, political commentators and researchers alike have routinely overlooked this body of believers. In fact, if it hadn’t been for my attendance at one particular UN event, I too would have completely overlooked this international player.
In the spring of 2000, I had the opportunity of participating in the United Nations Millennium Forum. It was during this weeklong event that I recognized the importance of this spiritual-political entity, and the only reason I did notice was because of its visible activity during the conference.
At first I thought it was rather odd that a relatively minor religious group would be so involved at such an important event. I could understand why the Franciscans International, a Roman Catholic organization, would hold the key positions it did, including having one of its members fill the role of Executive Secretary. After all, regardless of what one thinks about Roman Catholicism, there is no denying the part this powerful institution plays in world affairs. But the Bahá’ís?
The significance of the Bahá’í religion as a leader in global advancement dawned on me when Techeste Ahderom, the principle representative of the Bahá’í International Community (BIC) to the United Nations, gave his opening speech as the Millennium Forum’s Co-chair. True, in the past I had seen the Bahá’ís at World Federalist events and various interfaith gatherings, but in these instances the Bahá’í representatives were just part of the background noise – like so many other attendees.
But with Ahderom at the helm of the UN Millennium Forum, and the BIC providing media and communications outreach, database management, and direct administrative support to the Forum’s Executive Committee, it forced me to ask a simple but important question: why the Bahá’ís?
Bahá’í Global Context
As far as religions go the Bahá’í faith is relatively young, emanating from the teachings of its founder, Bahá’u’lláh, who lived from 1817 to 1892. Started in Iran, the matrix of the Bahá’í Faith was primarily Islamic,1 and most of its early supporters stemmed from Muslim communities, with a smaller mix of Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrian involvement.
Like the monotheistic faiths, Bahá’ís believe that “God is one.” However, the Bahá’í faith claims that God “manifests His will to humanity” through a series of messengers. Accordingly, “Bahá’ís believe that Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Krishna, Jesus, and Muhammad are all equally authentic messengers of one God.”2 Furthermore, each of these religious figures and their various messages are viewed as legitimate paths to salvation and are part of a larger plan to advance civilization.
This idea of propelling society is integral to the Bahá’í faith. According to their official website, the Bahá’ís “central theme…is that humanity is one single race and that the day has come for its unification in one global society.”3 This message of unification is clearly stated throughout Bahá’í writings.
One such text, Bahá’í Teachings For The New World Order, released by the US National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís, lists some of their key principles,
“The oneness of mankind.”
“Universal peace upheld by a world government.”
“The common foundation of all religions.”
“Universal compulsory education.”
“A spiritual solution to economic problems.”
John Ferraby, author of the Bahá’í reference All Things Made New, stakes some equally significant claims,
“The unity which exists among Bahá’ís resembles, but is stronger than, that of the early Christians and the early Muslims; for the elements united are more diverse. We live in a peerless age when, for the first time in the history of the human race, mankind can be recognized as one. According to Bahá’u’lláh, the Divine Plan of Creation requires the process of unification to culminate at this stage in human history; all that has gone before has been leading to the present age, in which the oneness of mankind is to be realised in world unity…
We have entered a new era, in which the unification of mankind can be adequately organized only by a world state…God has released through Bahá’u’lláh the forces necessary to unite mankind… Accordingly, the spirit of unity released by Bahá’u’lláh is more intense than any released in former ages. Its first fruits are visible in the Bahá’í Community today; tomorrow its spiritual power will overwhelm mankind.”4
This explains why Bahá’í representatives have been involved within the global community for decades: world government is their spiritual mandate. Obviously, the Bahá’í Community has been a participant for global change far beyond what I had witnessed at the UN Millennium Forum. Consider this brief backgrounder from the BIC,
“The Bahá’í International Community has a long history of involvement with international organizations. At League of Nations headquarters in Geneva, an International Bahá’í Bureau, established in 1926, served as a base for Bahá’ís participating in League activities.
"In 1945 when the UN Charter was signed in San Francisco, Bahá’í representatives were present. In 1948 the Bahá’í International Community registered with the UN as an international non-governmental organization (NGO) and in 1970 was granted consultative status (now called 'special' consultative status) with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Consultative status with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) followed in 1976, and with the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) in 1989.
"Working relations with the World Health Organization (WHO) were also established in 1989. Over the years, the Community has worked closely with the UN Environment Program (UNEP), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the UN Development Program (UNDP).”5
During the last number of years, the BIC was a participant at the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development, the Millennium World Peace Summit, the UN World Conference Against Racism, the UN Special Session on Children, and at the World Summit on the Information Society, along with many other international events. And in Turin, Italy, the home of the United Nations International Labour Organization, a special relationship has developed between the ILO and the European Bahá’í Business Forum (EBBF). The purpose: to apply “spiritual principles to economic problems.”
This European aspect is important, giving not just a global but also a regional framework for social change. Hence, the European Commission has partnered with the EBBF, and in 2002 EBBF member Giuseppe Robiati was awarded the Chair for a New World Order at the University of Bari, Italy.
Furthermore, the European Parliament “hosted a special exhibition highlighting the contribution that Bahá’í communities in Europe have “Bahá’í Universal House of Justice, Haifa, Israel” made to promote social harmony.”6 But it’s the Middle East, and Israel particularly, that the Bahá’í religion is especially focused on.
At Mount Carmel in Haifa, the location where the prophet Elijah had his showdown with the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18), an elaborate 19 step succession of terraced gardens forms a nearly one kilometer swath up the north side of the Mount. In the center of this lavish setting sits the Shrine of the Báb – a golden domed mausoleum structure containing the remains of the Báb, the spiritual forerunner to Bahá’u’lláh.
Apparently, one year before his death, Bahá’u’lláh traveled to Mount Carmel where he “designated Mount Carmel as the site for the world headquarters of His Faith.”7 Consequently, since the mid-1950s, Haifa has become the central location for the Bahá’ís global unification work.
Presently, the Mount Carmel location houses a number of massive Bahá’í administrative structures, including the International Archives building and the International Teaching Center. Also at this location is the Center for the Study of the Texts, a facility housing sacred documents and acting as an institution of study for scholars. All of these establishments work hand-in-glove with the Seat of the Universal House of Justice, the “supreme institution” and governance body of the Bahá’í community. But the House of Justice and its supporting institutions are concerned with more than just the Bahá’í Faith.
In an article in One Country, the official publication of the Bahá’í International Community, Douglas Samimi-Moore, director of the organization’s Office of Public Information, explained the deeper significance behind this Mount Carmel complex,
“Our scriptures tell us that the very construction of these facilities for housing these institutions will coincide with several other processes in the world. One of these processes is the maturation of local and national Bahá’í institutions. The other is the establishment of processes leading to political peace for humanity…”8
Emphasizing this global unification of politics and religion, Samimi-Moore restated this central theme by adding that the “Bahá’ís have gone about building these structures from a spiritual motivation…They believe these new structures will contribute to the unification of the planet.”9
The avowed goal of the Bahá’í faith, a spiritual mandate to create world government, amply demonstrates the reason why this little known religion is so willing to entrench itself within the international community. The implications are extraordinary.
Think about it: a lavish international headquarters complex – including a Universal House of Justice – located at Mount Carmel, all with special ties to the United Nations, and a religiously ingrained interfaith agenda centered on global unification.
But there’s one final part to this picture. John Ferraby, who served as a Secretary to the Bahá’í National Spiritual Assembly, provides a compelling reason for his faith’s intense desire to see a world government and world religious system come to fruition. It’s imperative to the Bahá’í vision of world order: “…before the appearance of the next Manifestation of God, His New World Order will be formed.”10
It’s the Bahá’í version of “build it and he will come.”
Other insightful articles by Carl Teichrib at www.forcingchange.org
1. Historical Context of the Bábi and Bahá’í Faiths, http://info.bahai.org/babi-and-bahai.html
3. The Bahá’í Faith, http://info.bahai.org/index.html.
4. John Ferraby, All Things Made New (Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1975), pp.77-78.
5. Bahá’í International Community (BIC): History of Active Cooperation with the United Nations, http://statements.bahai.org/00-0606.htm.
6. BIC, “Exhibition at European Parliament tells the story of Bahá’í contribution to social harmony,” One Country, April/June 2003, p.14.
7. BIC, “The Bahá’í Faith and its connection to Israel,” One Country, July/September 2000, p.15.
8. BIC, “Reshaping ‘God’s holy mountain’ to create a vision of peace and beauty for all humanity,” One Country, July/September 2000, p.11.
10. John Ferraby, p.304.
Forcing Change, Iss.3, Vol.1 -1- www.forcingchange.org
Forcing Change, Iss.3, Vol.1 -14- www.forcingchange.org
Articles to Watch for in Upcoming Issues of Forcing Change
• Earth Day: A Radical Religious Agenda
• Utopian Politics: International Socialism and the Rise of Global Governance
• Cult of Green: The UN Earth Sabbath
• Fundamental Fears: Biblical Christianity as a Factor in Global Instability
Outside link: Baha'i symbols