Internet - Chats

Recognition of the nobility of each human soul implies a standard of discourse in which dignity, courtesy and mutual respect guide interactions between dialogue participants. Think of yourself as an instrument of unity—a voice which so exemplifies the “spirit of universal love and fellowship as to evoke in the minds of [others]…the vision of that future City of God…”

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá’í Administration, p. 131

As you well appreciate, the extent to which such technology advances the work of the

Faith depends, of course, on the manner in which it is used. As a medium for Bahá’ís to

exchange views, it imposes on participants the same requirements of moderation,

candour, and courtesy as would be the case in any other discussion. Likewise, those

involved should avoid belittling the views of one another. In this regard, the House of

Justice has noted your understandable repugnance at an apparent temptation to use

misleading and invidious labels like "traditionalists" and "liberals", which divide the

Bahá’í community. To the extent that this divisive habit of mind may persist in the Bahá’í

community, it is obviously a carry-over from non-Bahá’í society and a manifestation of

an immature conception of life. If Bahá’ís were to persist in this mode of thinking, it

would bring to naught even the most worthwhile intellectual endeavour, as has so

conspicuously been the case with societies of the past.

Universal House of Justice, Guidelines For Internet Communication

In general, the House of Justice has no objection to Bahá’ís' participating in public,

unmoderated discussions about the Faith, whether those discussions take place in person

or through some form of electronic communication. The wisdom of participating in

particular discussions, must, of necessity, depend upon circumstances prevailing at the

time. When, through such discussions, the Faith is attacked or erroneous information

about it is disseminated, it may become necessary for individual Bahá’ís to actively

defend it. In some circumstances, however, to avoid participating in argumentative

exchanges, attracting attention to enemies of the Faith, or engaging Covenant-breakers, it

will be more appropriate to withdraw from the discussion. While the institutions of the

Faith may, on occasion, find it necessary to offer the friends guidance related to their participation in particular discussions, generally this, too, is a matter left to the individual.

Universal House of Justice, Guidelines For Internet Communication

Indeed, a sad feature of discussions on one or two Internet lists, which has been brought to the attention of the House of Justice, has been the number of academically well-qualified believers who have eventually been driven to give up an interchange of ideas that could have been extremely fruitful by what they perceived as merely the relentless pursuit of a partisan agenda.

The Universal House of Justice, 1992 Dec 10, Issues Related to Study Compilation

It is natural that the friends would discuss such matters among themselves, as you and your correspondent have been doing on your Internet discussion group; how otherwise are they to deepen their understanding of the Teachings? But they should recognize that the resolution of differences of opinion on such fundamental questions is not to be found by continued discussion, but in referring to the Universal House of Justice itself, as you have done. Prolonged, unresolved, public discussion of these fundamental questions can do nothing but breed confusion and dissension.

The Universal House of Justice, 1992 Dec 10, Issues Related to Study Compilation

The ease and relative impersonality of the electronic medium require in some ways an

even higher level of self-discipline than is the case in situations where a spirit of unity is

reinforced by the opportunity for direct personal contact and social interaction. In the

pursuit of such a spirit of unity, Bahá’ís will, without doubt, wish to assist the

consultative processes by sharing and discussing relevant Bahá’í texts. This will itself

have the further effect of drawing attention back to the framework of Bahá’í belief.

Universal House of Justice, Guidelines For Internet Communication

The opportunity which electronic communication technology provides for more speedy

and thorough consultation among the friends is highly significant. Without doubt, it

represents another manifestation of a development eagerly anticipated by the Guardian

when he foresaw the creation of "a mechanism of world intercommunication ...

embracing the whole planet, freed from national hindrances and restrictions, and

functioning with marvellous swiftness and perfect regularity".

Universal House of Justice, Guidelines For Internet Communication

The principle which should guide our efforts to share the fruits of Bahá’í scholarship has been made clear for all of us in this passage from Bahá’u’lláh's Writings: "Thou hast written that one of the friends hath composed a treatise. This was mentioned in the Holy Presence, and this is what was revealed in response: Great care should be exercised that whatever is written in these days doth not cause dissension, and invite the objection of the people. Whatever the friends of the one true God say in these days is listened to by the people of the world. It hath been revealed in the Lawh-i-Hikmat: "The unbelievers have inclined their ears towards us in order to hear that which might enable them to cavil against God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting." Whatever is written should not transgress the bounds of tact and wisdom, and in the words used there should lie hid the property of milk, so that the children of the world may be nurtured therewith, and attain maturity. We have said in the past that one word hath the influence of spring and causeth hearts to become fresh and verdant, while another is like unto blight which causeth the blossoms and flowers to wither. God grant that authors among the friends will write in such a way as would be acceptable to fair-minded souls, and not lead to cavilling by the people.

The Universal House of Justice, 1992 Dec 10, Issues Related to Study Compilation

We have been asked to advise that there is no objection to the conduct of a chat

room…which appears to be similar to a fireside meeting except that it takes place over

the Internet. In general, Bahá’í institutions should not interfere with it. However, you

may emphasize that, in their efforts to teach the Faith, the friends should refrain from engaging in argumentation and disputes, concentrating more on introducing the Faith to


Universal House of Justice, Guidelines For Internet Communication

O ye the sincere loved ones of the Abhá Beauty! In these days the Cause of God, the world over, is fast growing in power and, day by day, is spreading further and further to the utmost bounds of the earth. Its enemies, therefore, from all the kindreds and peoples of the world, are growing aggressive, malevolent, envious and bitterly hostile. It is incumbent upon the loved ones of God to exercise the greatest care and prudence in all things, whether great or small, to take counsel together and unitedly resist the onslaught of the stirrers up of strife and the movers of mischief. They must endeavour to consort in a friendly spirit with everyone, must follow moderation in their conduct, must have respect and consideration one for another and show loving-kindness and tender regard to all the peoples of the world.

?bdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ?bdu'l-Bahá, p. 233