Other religions - belonging to

A student of the modern methods of the higher criticism asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá if he would do well to continue in the church with which he had been associated all his life, and whose language was full of meaning to him. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá answered: "You must not dissociate yourself from it. Know this; the Kingdom of God is not in any Society; some seekers go through many Societies as a traveller goes through many cities till he reach his destination. If you belong to a Society already do not forsake your brothers. You can be a Bahá’í-Christian, a Bahá’í-Freemason, a Bahá’í-Jew, a Bahá’í-Muhammadan. The number nine contains eight, and seven, and all the other numbers, and does not deny any of them. Do not distress or deny anyone by saying 'He is not a Bahá’í!' He will be known by his deeds. There are no secrets among Bahá’ís; a Bahá’í does not hide anything."

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 97-98

As he has already informed you, the Guardian feels that the time has now come to ask any ministers still affiliated with churches, but who consider themselves practising Bahá’ís, to withdraw from the church openly. This is following the example of the Hand of the Cause, former Archdeacon Townshend, who courageously defied the opinion of his fellow clergymen, his relatives and the public, and stepped forth from his high office as a Bahá’í. When the friends realize that many of the first to accept the Báb were priests and suffered martyrdom for their act, it does not seem to be asking much that they should rally openly to the Kingdom of the Father which they believe in and for whose advent they cannot very well go on encouraging people in their churches to pray.

Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 160

Concerning the membership of Mr. ... in the synagogue; as this concerns his non-Bahá’í Jewish wife and means a great deal to her - even involving the place of her burial -- the Guardian does not feel it is right to request him to take a step which would deprive her of her own religious rights. On the other hand,he sees no reason why Mr. ... should not write a letter to the appropriate authority in this  161  synagogue, explaining that he is a practising Bahá’í, but is keeping his synagogue membership for the benefit of his wife and children.

Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 160

No Bahá’í can any longer dissimulate his faith and practise the laws and ordinances of a previous Dispensation and call himself at the same time a believer. No compromise, no vacillation can any longer be tolerated. We must have the courage of our convictions and preserve the integrity of our glorious Cause.

Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 159

The first case is that of the elderly Catholic woman who is suffering from severe heart disease and is thus liable to die at any time. In this case, as also in that of suffering believers, the Assemblies, whether Local or National, should act tactfully, patiently, and in a friendly and kindly spirit. Knowing how painful and dangerous it is for such believers to repudiate their former allegiances and friendships they should try to gradually persuade them of the wisdom and necessity of such an action, and instead of thrusting upon them a new principle to make them accept it inwardly, and out of pure conviction and desire. Too severe and immediate action in such cases is not only fruitless, but actually harmful. It alienates people instead of winning them to the Cause.

Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 162-163

The friends should by all means be encouraged to withdraw from church membership and be made to realize that, though we as Bahá’ís are ardent believers in Christ, we do not and cannot support, church institutions and doctrines, when Christ has come again and brought new laws for the world today and it present need; to adhere to forms, mostly man-made, and now out-moded and no longer needed, is meaningless. This does not mean they should no longer associate with the church members; they should cease to be registered members of it.

Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 160