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

Registration - age of maturity

Although the children of Bahá’í parents are considered to be Bahá’ís, there is no objection at the present time, for purposes of keeping a correct census, and also ascertaining whether the young people are, sincerely, believers, and willing to do their share in service to the Faith, to asking them to make a declaration of their intention, at the age of fifteen or so. Originally the Guardian understands this was adopted in America to enable young Bahá’í men to make certain arrangements in connection with their application for non-combatant status, upon their attaining the age of military service. There is really nothing about it in the Teachings or in the Administration. Your Assembly is free to do as it pleases in this matter.
(Shoghi Effendi, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


Declarations of faith from non-Bahá’í youth between the ages of fifteen and twenty-one, whose parents are not Bahá’ís, may be accepted without the consent of their parents unless this is contrary to the civil law. However, the importance of respect for one’s parents must not be forgotten, and such youth may need to be counseled to give heed to their parents’ wishes as far as the degree of their activity on behalf of the Faith is concerned, and even, if the parents are very antagonistic, to be completely inactive for a time.The National Assembly hopes that each Local Assembly will celebrate this occasion with the youth and take the opportunity to nurture their understanding of the significance of being a Bahá’í, of reaching the age of spiritual maturity and of obeying the laws of the Faith.
(Universal House of Justice, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


Fifteen is the age at which a child attains spiritual maturity, and thus it is at the age of fifteen that a Bahá’í child assumes the responsibility for obeying such laws as those of fasting and prayer, and for affirming of his own volition his faith in Bahá’u’lláh.
(Universal House of Justice, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


In answer to your letter … concerning the registration of children of Bahá’í parents the Universal House of Justice has instructed us to say that at the present time it prefers to leave the details of such matters to the discretion of each National Spiritual Assembly. One National Assembly, for example, sends a very nice letter to each Bahá’í child in its community on the occasion of its fifteenth birthday (unless, of course, it has reason to doubt that the child in question is a Bahá’í), explaining the meaning of attaining the age of maturity, and extending the good wishes of the Assembly for his or her future services to the Cause. This does not require an active response from every child but does provide each with an opportunity to make his or her position clear if desired.
(Universal House of Justice, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


In the past, a youth was required to sign a declaration card upon reaching the age of fifteen. Now when a Bahá’í youth who has been previously registered reaches the age of fifteen, the National Assembly sends a loving letter along with a membership card and explains what it means to reach the age of maturity. The letter is sent about three months before the youth’s fifteenth birthday, and it is not required that the youth complete a Bahá’í Declaration card since they have previously been registered as a Bahá’í child.
(Universal House of Justice, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


It may happen that a Bahá’í child, on reaching the age of fifteen, is not entirely sure in his own mind. This can well happen if one of the parents is not a Bahá’í or if the parents have accepted the Faith not long before. In such a case the Assembly should not assume automatically that he is not a Bahá’í. If the youth wishes to attend Feasts and is content to continue to be regarded as a Bahá’í as he was when a child, this should be permitted, but in the process of deepening his understanding of the Faith his parents and the Assembly should explain to him that it is his responsibility to soon make his position clear.
(Universal House of Justice, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


The House of Justice points out that the Assembly must wisely steer a course between seeming to doubt the faith of a child who has been brought up as a devout Bahá’í on the one hand, and seeming to compel a child to be a member of the Bahá’í community against his will, on the other.
(Universal House of Justice, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


The form and wording of an enrollment or registration card is also within the discretion of a National Spiritual Assembly.
(Universal House of Justice, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


The signing of a card is simply the means by which the individual indicates his desire to be registered as a Bahá’í youth, as a member of the Bahá’í community, and it enables the National Spiritual Assembly to keep an accurate record of the membership of the community.
(Universal House of Justice, Messages of the Universal House of Justice, p. 665, 426.4)


The way in which Bahá’í children should be registered upon reaching the age of fifteen is within the discretion of each National Spiritual Assembly; there is no objection to using for this purpose the general enrollment card, if such a card is adopted, or a new and separate one specially for Bahá’í children attaining the age of fifteen. It is important, however, that whatever method of enrollment is used or card adopted, it is clear to such children that they had been Bahá’ís up to that time, and that on attaining the age of spiritual maturity they are reaffirming their belief in Bahá’u’lláh.
(Universal House of Justice, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


Upon attaining the age of fifteen a child becomes spiritually mature and is responsible for stating on his own behalf whether or not he wishes to remain a member of the Bahá’í community. If he does not then reaffirm his faith, he must be treated, administratively, as a non-Bahá’í.
(Universal House of Justice, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)