Social Activism Among Some Early Twentieth-Century Baha’is
AbstractThis article discusses the socialist involvement of three of Canada’s earliest Bahá’ís, namely Paul Kingston Dealy, Honoré Jaxon, and Rose Henderson. Given that the Bahá’í Faith had an authentic interest in economic and social justice from its earliest days, a number of these early Bahá’ís were involved in socialism. This paper seeks to explain such an engagement despite the Bahá’í proscription of involvement in partisan politics. Because of the paucity of Bahá’í core writings until the early 1920s, a number of early Bahá’ís fit what they perceived to be Bahá’í teachings to their personal views, which led a number of them to engage in political activism. These views stand in sharp contrast to the Bahá’í teachings forbidding such involvement. Moreover, the porous membership boundaries in the early days of the Bahá’í community did not allow members to be consistent about criteria of Bahá’í membership. However, by the 1920s, membership in the Bahá’í community had become formalized and the prohibition against engaging in political affairs became a sine qua non for such membership. As a result, these early Bahá’ís either formally relinquished their membership or withdrew from active participation. At the current time, the Bahá’í Community of Canada numbers approximately 33,000 adherents. It is a religion that was founded in 1844.
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