A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Military

A person who becomes a Bahá’í while engaged in military service, and who does not already have non-combatant status has an obligation to the government to finish out his or her term of duty as was honorably committed to do. However, it may be possible to obtain de facto non-combatant status by transferring to a selected duty which does not call for physical fighting; such transfer should be accomplished in such fashion as not to impair relationships with responsible superiors, and without there being any question of his or her willingness to serve without regard for personal safety, comfort, or type of service to which he or she may be assigned.
(USA- NSA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 35)


All men in the United States must register for the draft upon attaining the age of 18. Bahá’í youth are not required to request non-combatant status at that time. Should a draft be instituted, those affected should contact the National Spiritual Assembly for specific instructions.
(NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


Bahá’ís recognize the right and duty of governments to use force for the maintenance of law and order and to protect their people. Thus, for a Bahá’í, the shedding of blood for such a purpose is not necessarily essentially wrong. The Bahá’í Faith draws a very definite distinction between the duty of an individual to forgive and “to be killed rather than to kill” and the duty of society to uphold justice. This matter is explained by ?bdu’l-Bahá in Some Answered Questions. In the present condition of the world Bahá’ís try to keep themselves out of the internecine conflicts that are raging among their fellow men and to avoid shedding blood in such struggles, but this does not mean that we are absolute pacifists.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, no. 1354)


Every Bahá’í in military service should request identification as a Bahá’í. This may facilitate burial according to Bahá’í law should death occur while in service.
(USA- NSA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 34)


Note: At this time, we are not aware of any branch of the United States armed forces which will guarantee that the enlistee will not be assigned to combat.
(NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


Regarding your question about military service, the Guardian sees no reason why the Bahá’í in question should not bring a test case, and press the matter. It is now, since he has become a follower of Bahá’u’lláh, against this conscience to kill his fellow-men; and he should have the right to explain his position and ask to be exempted from combatant service. During the hearing of such cases, the Bahá’ís should make it absolutely clear that we do not fear being placed in danger, and are not asking to be given a safe berth in hours of national crisis—quite the contrary—any dangerous service that Bahá’ís can render their fellow-men during the agonies of war, they should be anxious to accept.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 408)


Sanctions should not be imposed for violation of these instructions. It is for each believer, under pain of his own conscience, to determine for himself what his actions should be, bearing in mind that the application of these principles is the spiritual obligation of every Bahá’í. It is rather for your Assembly to see that adequate instruction is provided so that the friends will let these principles be mirrored forth in their actions, and that they will be so steadfast in their love for Bahá’u’lláh that it would be unthinkable for them to willingly place themselves in a position where they must take human life.
(Universal House of Justice, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


The Bahá’í teachings require that followers of the Faith obey the laws of the government under which they live. Bahá’ís do not on the grounds of religious conviction seek to abandon their obligations as citizens; instead, they are able to reconcile their fundamental spiritual convictions and their civil obligations as citizens by applying for non-combatant service under the existing laws and regulations. They try to serve as members of the Armed Forces in the medical corps or in any capacity in which they may legally maintain a non-combatant status regardless of the effect which that may have on their personal safety, convenience, the kind of activity they must discharge or the rank to which they may be assigned.
(NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


The other main objection to the conscientious objectors is that their method of establishing peace is too negative. Non-cooperation is too passive a philosophy to become an effective way for social reconstruction. Their refusal to bear arms can never establish peace. There should first be a spiritual revitalization which nothing, except the Cause of God, can effectively bring to every man’s heart.
(Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, no. 144)


There are many other avenues through which the believers can assist in a time of war by enlisting in services of a non-combatant nature - services that do not involve the direct shedding of blood - such as ambulance work, air raid precaution service, office and administrative works, and it is for such types of national service that they should volunteer.
It is immaterial whether such activities would still expose them to dangers, either at home or in the front, since their desire is not to protect their lives, but to desist from any acts of willful murder.
(Shoghi Effendi, in Principles of Bahá’í Administration, p. 95–96)


[T]here is no objection to a Bahá’í’s enlisting voluntarily in the armed forces of a country in order to obtain a training in some trade or profession, provided that he can do so without making himself liable to undertake combatant service. Note: Enlistees may be able to specify non-combatant status in their contracts but should be sure the language is unambiguous and does not contain exceptions.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, no. 1357)


We think that Bahá’ís should be discouraged from seeking or continuing a career in the military, and that in any event they must, in obedience to the Guardian’s clear instructions, apply for exemptions from military duty which necessitates the taking of human life.
(NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


When the law imposes an obligation upon citizens to fulfill a term of military service, as the U.S. Selective Service Act does, and a Bahá’í may fulfill this term of service by enlisting, reenlisting or by being commissioned as an officer, he may do so provided he does not in any way jeopardize his right to “apply for and maintain the non-combatant status” within the spirit of the above principle.
(Universal House of Justice, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


When the law imposes an obligation upon citizens to fulfill a term of military service, as the U.S. Selective Service Act does, and a Bahá’í may fulfill this term of service by enlisting, re-enlisting or by being commissioned as an officer, he may do so provided he does not in any way jeopardize his right to “apply for and maintain the noncombatant status” within the spirit of the above principle.
(Universal House of Justice, 20 September 1965, to a National Spiritual Assembly)


With reference to the absolute pacifists, or conscientious objectors to war; their attitude, judged from the Bahá’í standpoint, is quite anti-social and due to its exaltation of the individual conscience leads inevitably to disorder and chaos in society. Extreme pacifists are thus very close to the anarchists, in the sense that both of these groups lay an undue emphasis on the rights and merits of the individual. The Bahá’í conception of social life is essentially based on the subordination of the individual will to that of society. It neither suppresses the individual nor does it exalt him to the point of making him an anti-social creature, a menace to society. As in everything, it follows the “golden mean.” The only way that society can function is for the minority to follow the will of the majority.
(Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, no. 144)


With very few exceptions, all men in the United States from the age of 18 through 25 are required by law to register with the Selective Service System. Registration may be accomplished online at www.sss.gov or via forms that are available through local Post Offices. Bahá’í youth may wish to request non-combatant status at the time they register with the Selective Service but are not required to do so at that time. Should a draft be instituted, those affected should contact the National Assembly for specific instructions.
(USA- NSA, Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Chapter 14, p. 35)