How is the Baha’i system of organized religion different?

For critics of organized religions, the Baha’i Faith offers a number of unique aspects that can help them overcome their aversion. For one, there is no clergy or professional Baha’i class of believers. The Baha’i Faith is an all-volunteer organization. Additionally, leaders are chosen by silent elections, where Baha’is pray, meditate, and then vote for the people they think will do the best job. This helps avoid politicking and posturing for positions of power.  Finally, individuals in elected office enjoy no individual authority whatsoever over the Baha’is. It is only through decisions made by consensus that there is any authority over the affairs of the Baha’i’ community. This is an aspect of the Baha’i Faith that reduces the tendency for corruption and abuses of power.

Another aspect of the organized Baha’i faith is its unity. In other religions of the world, their efforts were dissipated and the divisions between sects fueled conflicts. The Baha’i Faith, while there have been, and still are, attempts to divide it; currently has no significant sects, and none that are recognized by the Baha’i Faith’s governing bodies.

The Baha’is in the world are under one administrative system that follows the Universal House of Justice. Indeed, to be a Baha’i one turns to obey the Universal House of Justice, and he or she agrees to shun those who try to divide our religion. Baha’is believe this is because Baha’u’llah promised that His Faith would never be broken up and divided, and that this was a hallmark of mankind’s attainment to maturity. As our Holy Texts state, “After the departure of Christ various sects and denominations arose, each one claiming to be the true channel of Christianity, but none of them possessed a written authority from Christ; none could produce proof from Him; yet all claimed His sanction and approval. Baha’u’llah has written a Covenant and Testament with His own pen, declaring that the One Whom He has appointed the Center of the Covenant shall be turned to and obeyed by all. Therefore, thank God that Baha’u’llah has made the pathway straight. He has clearly explained all things and opened every door for advancing souls. There is no reason for hesitation by anyone. The purpose of the Covenant was simply to ward off disunion and differences so that no one might say, “My opinion is the true and valid one.” (Abdu’l-Baha, PUP, p. 386)

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