Bahá'í Involvement in Politics
Bahá’u’lláh required that His followers strictly abstain from conflict and contention, which are characteristics of the partisanship practiced in present-day politics. Bahá’ís, in whatever country they reside, are prohibited from holding membership in any political party.
At first glance, one might expect to find the members of the Bahá’í community actively engaged in a wide range of political pursuits in furtherance of its universal ideals. The opposite is in fact the case. But Bahá’ís are urged to contribute to the welfare of society, one way being to fulfill their civic responsibilities.
Bahá’ís are free, therefore, to vote in a general election for any candidate who, in the privacy of their conscience, they believe would make the most valuable contribution to the society in which they live.
Bahá’ís may also accept nonpolitical government appointments. But they may not identify themselves with or campaign for any political party or partisan movement.
The reason for this is the basic Bahá’í belief that the fundamental challenge to all people and nations today is the attainment of the unification of humankind. Real social progress, Bahá’u’lláh taught, waits upon attainment of this new level in the development of human civilization: "The well-being of mankind, its peace and security are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established."
Bahá’í teachings hold that political action of a partisan and divisive nature cannot provide the answers to problems that are universal in their very essence. Current political instruments are limited and particular, whether they be national, racial, cultural, or ideological.
The Bahá’í principle of noninvolvement in politics does not prevent Bahá’ís from taking public positions on purely social and moral issues. Indeed, over the years Bahá’ís have been at the forefront of action on several social issues such as racial equality and nondiscrimination.
The principle of noninvolvement in politics is closely related, both in belief and practice, to the Bahá’í teaching of loyalty to government in power.
Bahá’u’lláh called upon His followers to obey the government in power at a given time, and to refrain strictly from any attempts to subvert or undermine it. Should the government of a nation change, the Bahá’í community must, in the same spirit of faithfulness, give its loyalty to the new administration, in every fashion consistent with the principle of nonpolitical involvement.
(Adapted from The Bahá’í Faith: The Emerging Global Religion by William S. Hatcher and J. Douglas Martin. Bahá’í Publishing Trust, Wilmette, Illinois. 1998.)