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