Assemblies - Obedience to

One of the fundamentals involved in our Administrative Order, which we must remember will become the pattern for our World Order, is that even if an Assembly makes an ill-advised decision it must be upheld in order to preserve the unity of the community. Appeal can be made from the Local Assembly's decision to the National Assembly ... But the principle of authority invested in our elected bodies must be upheld. This is not something which can be learned without trial and test.

Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 80

So often ... situations arise because there is tendency, very human but not very kind, for late-comers to belittle the work done by the first believers and hurt their feelings. Those responsible therefore, for carrying on the work must be extremely tactful and loving in their efforts to prevent a rift from occurring. it is very difficult for the administrators of the Cause to learn to be absolutely impartial, patient and wise, and very difficult for the believers to learn to give up personal will to the will of the majority! But this is Bahá’u’lláh's standard, and they must all constantly strive to attain it.

Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 39

The Assembly may make a mistake, but, as the Master pointed out, if the Community does not abide by its decisions, or the individual Bahá’í, the result is worse, as it undermines the very institution which must be strengthened in order to uphold the principles and laws of the Faith. He tells us God will right the wrongs done. We must have confidence in this and obey our Assemblies. He therefore strongly urges you to work directly under your Bahá’í Assembly, to accept our responsibilities as a voting member, and do your utmost to create harmony within the community.

Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 80

The believers should have confidence in the directions and orders of their Assembly, even though they may not be convinced of their justice or right. Once the Assembly, though a majority vote of its members, comes to a decision the friends should readily obey it. Specially those dissenting members within the Assembly whose opinion is contrary to that of the majority of their fellow-members should set a good example before the community by sacrificing their personal views for the sake of obeying the principles of majority vote that underlies the functioning of all Bahá’í Assemblies.

Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 80

The Guardian believes that a great deal of the difficulties from which the believers... feel themselves to be suffering are caused by their neither correctly understanding or putting into practice and administration. They seem -- many of them -- to be prone to continually challenging and criticizing the decisions of their Assemblies. If the Bahá’ís undermine the very leaders which are, however immaturely, seeking to coordinate Bahá’í activities and administer Bahá’í affairs, if they continually criticize their acts and challenge or belittle their decisions, they not only prevent any real rapid progress in the Faith's development from taking place, but they repel outsiders who quite rightly may ask however expect to unite the whole world when we are so disunited among ourselves!

Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 82

There can be no protection for the Faith unless the friends are willing to submit to their administrative bodies, especially when these are acting in good faith; the individual believers are not in a position to judge their national Body. If any wrong has been done we must leave it in the hands of god, knowing, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, that he will right it, and in the meantime not disrupt the Cause of God by constantly harping on these matters.

Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 81-82

With reference to your letter in which you asked whether the believer have the right to openly express their criticism of any Assembly action or policy; it is not only their right, but the vital responsibility of every loyal and intelligent member of the Community to offer fully and frankly, but with due respect and consideration to the authority of the Assembly, any suggestion, recommendation or criticism he conscientiously feels he should in order to improve and remedy certain existing condition or trends in his local community, and it is the duty of the assembly also to give careful consideration to any such views submitted to them by any one of the believers. The best occasions chosen for this purpose is the Nineteen Day Feast which, besides this social and spiritual aspects, fulfils various administrative needs and requirements of the Community, chief among them being the need for opinion and constructive criticism and deliberation regarding the state of affairs within the local Bahá’í Community. But again it should be stressed that all criticism and discussion of a negative character which may result in undermining the authority of the Assembly as a body should be strictly avoided. For other wise the order of the Cause itself will be endangered, and confusion and discord will rest in the Community.

Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 82

Bahá’ís are "fully entitled to address criticisms to their Assemblies" and offer their recommendations. When Bahá’ís have addressed their criticisms, suggestions and advice to their Assemblies, including their views "about policies or individual members of elected bodies," they must "wholeheartedly accept the advice or decision of the Assembly."

The Universal House of Justice, 1996 July 02, Criticism of Institutions

Shoghi Effendi has pointed out the National Assemblies must assume such a role as to influence the believers to confidently take their problems to the Assembly, and to respect and unhesitatingly obey its wishes and decrees.

Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 34