Independent Investigation of Truth, or Child Registration?
A Bahai view*
This article endeavors to examine legality (both as per the Bahá'í Writings and the generally accepted human values) of Child Registration in the Bahá'í Faith, and establish our responsibility as Members of the Bahá'í Faith with regard to the practice.
At the outset, let us examine, through the scriptures the position of a Child. According to the teachings of the Bahá'í 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 Bahaullah and Abdul-Baha have conveyedin 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 Bahá'í 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 a 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 the chains of bias or prejudice. It desires that development of child be on values to be responsible asthe World Citizens. Throughout its Charter it hints at religious bigotry not coming in way of human development.
For the Bahá'ís adapting to such expectations have always come naturally. I remember my (Bahá'í) 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 these religions. It is with this background that I and many other Bahá'ís have grown to appreciate the Bahá'í Faith better, and can fit into a modern world like a tee.
Alas, some administrative functionaries of the Bahá'í 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, Bahá'í 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:
1-It is against the spirit of our teachings, even if was to enjoy administrative support of short sighted elected members.
2-It is against the law of many countries and has placed the Faith under scanner in many regions.
3-Such registrations will bear no results and it will be like an under-nourished plan which can be easily uprooted.
4-Imagine when such children become adult 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 Bahá'í Faith?
It is with this concern I would urge all responsible friends to stand-up against any such attempts to register allegiance to the Bahá'í Faith from birth or childhood. It is against principles of the Faith, the human values, and the international Conventions. The Bahá'í Faith should not be seen as 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.