THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

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					                     The Administration of Justice in Bahá’í Communities
page 2         Part 1: Appreciating Bahá’í Justice
               (Quotations from Bahá’ú’lláh)

page 3         Part 2: Bahá’í Justice With Respect to a Current Social Issue — Domestic Violence
               (From 24 January 1993 letter of the Universal House of Justice)

page 13        Part 3: The Administration of Justice — The Role of the Individual
               (Includes working and presenting case studies to learn to apply the concepts)

               Presentation of a graphic regarding the inputs and outputs of consultation

page 15        Part 4: The Administration of Justice — Initial Assembly Steps

page 18        Part 5. The Temperament of Authority in the Administration of Justice
               (Includes working and presenting case studies to learn to apply the concepts)

page 21        Part 6: The Administration of Justice — Additional Miscellaneous Topics
               (Including issues related to the decision of the Assembly, what to do when issues involve
               Assembly members, the appeal process, and the “atmosphere of tolerance, understanding,
               forbearance, and active kindness which should be the hall-mark of a Bahá’í community”)

page 26        Evaluation/Reflection

page 27        Appendix- Toward a Deeper Understanding of Domestic Violence
page 46        Outline for Facilitators
page 51        Cases to use with this course

                                            Theme Quotes
“The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice. Turn not away therefrom if thou desirest me, and
neglect it not that I may confide in thee.” (Bahá’ú’lláh in the Hidden Words)

“Assembly members have always to be mindful that the authority they wield must in general be expressed
with love, humility and a genuine respect for others. Thus exercised, authority strikes a natural note and
accords with that which is acceptable to spiritually attuned and fair-minded souls." (letter from the
Universal House of Justice dated May 19, 1994 as quoted in Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities
page 1.8-1.9).

“…the Assembly is a nascent House of Justice and is supposed to administer, according to the
Teachings, the affairs of the Community. But individuals towards each other are governed by love, unity,
forgiveness and a sin-covering eye. Once the friends grasp this they will get along much better, but they
keep playing Spiritual Assembly to each other and expect the Assembly to behave like an individual."
(Shoghi Effendi: Directives of the Guardian, Pages: 41-42)



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                     The Administration of Justice in Bahá’í Communities
Part 1: Appreciating Bahá’í Justice

Working in pairs, each person should read each quote out loud. When both have read, go on to the next
quote. When you come to a question, each person should write their own answer individually. Then
share your answers. Then continue.

1. “O Son of Spirit! The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice. Turn not away therefrom if
   thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee….” Bahá’ú’lláh The Hidden Words.

Question: What is the reward of those who turn towards Justice and embrace it? ___________________

____________________________________________________________________________________

2. "Say: From My laws the sweet-smelling savour of My garment can be smelled, and by their aid the
   standards of Victory will be planted upon the highest peaks.” Bahá’ú’lláh, Kitab-i-Aqdas page 20

3. “Observe My commandments, for the love of My beauty.' Happy is the lover that hath inhaled the
   divine fragrance of his Best-Beloved from these words, laden with the perfume of a grace which no
   tongue can describe." Bahá’ú’lláh, Kitab-i-Aqdas page 20-21.

Question: If the laws of the city where you live had a smell, what would they smell like? ___________

___________________________________________________________________________________

4. "By my life! He who hath drunk the choice wine of fairness from the hands of My bountiful favour
   will circle around My commandments that shine above the Dayspring of My creation." Bahá’ú’lláh
   Kitab-i-Aqdas page 21

5. "Think not that We have revealed to you a mere code of laws. Nay, rather, We have unsealed the
   choice Wine with the fingers of might and power." Bahá’ú’lláh Kitab-i-Aqdas page 21.

Question: If Bahá’ú’lláh has served the choice wine of fairness to mankind, a wine that had been sealed
away since the beginning of time, what role has His Institution, the Local Spiritual Assembly, in this
banquet?




Continue in your pair on the next page




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Part 2: Bahá’í Justice With Respect to a Current Social Issue — Domestic Violence

Working in pairs, each person should read out loud each paragraph from the following letter from the
Universal House of Justice, and from the section on Civil Law that follows it. When both have read, each
person individually should write their own answer to the question(s) that follow. Then share your
answers. Then continue.


Letter from the Universal House of Justice


                                THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

                                             Bahá’í World Centre

Department of the Secretariat                  24 January 1993

Dear Bahá’í Friend,

6. Further to our letter of 14 November 1991, the Universal House of Justice has now completed its
   consideration of your letter of 21 September 1991, in which you raised a number of questions
   pertaining to violence and to the sexual abuse of women and children. We have been instructed to
   provide the following response to your questions.

7. As you know, the principle of the oneness of mankind is described in the Baha’í Writings as the pivot
   round which all the Teachings of Bahá’ú’lláh revolve. It has widespread implications which affect
   and remold all dimensions of human activity. It calls for a fundamental change in the manner in
   which people relate to each other, and the eradication of those age-old practices which deny the
   intrinsic human right of every individual to be treated with consideration and respect.

   The principle of the oneness of mankind calls for every individual to be treated with ______________

   and ________________.

8. Within the family setting, the rights of all members must be respected. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has stated:

   9. The integrity of the family bond must be constantly considered and the rights of the individual
      members must be upheld. The rights of the son, the father, the mother—none of them must be
      transgressed, none of them must be arbitrary. Just as the son has certain obligations to his father,
      the father, likewise, has certain obligations to his son. The mother, the sister and other members
      of the household have their certain prerogatives. All these rights and prerogatives must be
      conserved…

       Who must ensure that the rights of all family members are respected (check all that apply)?
        members of families
        Local Spiritual Assemblies and other Bahá’í institutions
        members of the Bahá’í Community

                                                      3
10. The use of force by the physically strong against the weak, as a means of imposing one’s will and
    fulfilling one’s desires, is a flagrant transgression of the Bahá’í Teachings. There can be no
    justification for anyone compelling another, through the use of force or through the threat of violence,
    to do that to which the other person is not inclined. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has written, “O ye lovers of God!
    In this, the cycle of Almighty God, violence and force, constraint and oppression, are one and all
    condemned.” Let those who, driven by their passions or by their inability to exercise discipline in the
    control of their anger, might be tempted to inflict violence on another human being, be mindful of the
    condemnation of such disgraceful behavior by the Revelation of Bahá’ú’lláh.

   What is a flagrant transgression of the Bahá’í Teachings? ___________________________________

   __________________________________________________________________________________

   Can there be any justification for using force or the threat of violence to compel another to do

   something the other person is not inclined to do? _______________________________________

   Who should be mindful of the condemnation in the Revelation of Bahá’ú’lláh against inflicting

   violence against another person? ______________________________________________________

   __________________________________________________________________________________

11. Among the signs of moral downfall in the declining social order are the high incidence of violence
    within the family, the increase in degrading and cruel treatment of spouses and children, and the
    spread of sexual abuse. It is essential that the members of the community of the Greatest Name take
    the utmost care not to be drawn into acceptance of such practices because of their prevalence. They
    must be ever mindful of their obligation to exemplify a new way of life distinguished by its respect for
    the dignity and rights of all people, by its exalted moral tone, and by its freedom from oppression and
    from all forms of abuse.

   Who must not be drawn into such practices as violence within the family, degrading and cruel

   treatment of spouses and children, and sexual abuse? ______________________________________

   What kind of care must be taken to avoid being drawn into such practices? _____________________

   Bahá’ís are called upon to exemplify a new way of life distinguished by its respect for the dignity and
   rights of all people, by its exalted moral tone, and by its freedom from oppression and from all forms
   of abuse. For Bahá’ís this call is a (check all that apply):
    lofty but impractical ideal
    goal to work towards
    an obligation

   Please write a concrete example of an obligation you have in every day life:


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   __________________________________________________________________________________

12. Consultation has been ordained by Bahá’ú’lláh as the means by which agreement is to be reached and
    a collective course of action defined. It is applicable to the marriage partners within the family, and
    indeed, in all areas where believers participate in mutual decision-making. It requires all participants
    to express their opinions with absolute freedom and without apprehension that they will be censured
    or their views belittled; these prerequisites for success are unattainable if the fear of violence or abuse
    is present.

   Success in consultation is unattainable if _______________________________________________.

13. A number of your questions pertain to the treatment of women, and are best considered in light of the
    principle of equality of the sexes which is set forth in the Bahá’í Teachings. This principle is far more
    than the enunciation of admirable ideals; it has profound implications in all aspects of human relations
    and must be an integral element of Bahá’í domestic and community life. The application of this
    principle gives rise to changes in habits and practices which have prevailed for many centuries. An
    example of this is found in the response provided on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a question whether
    the traditional practice whereby the man proposes marriage to the woman is altered by the Bahá’í
    Teachings to permit the woman to issue a marriage proposal to the man; the response is, “The
    Guardian wishes to state that there is absolute equality between the two, and that no distinction or
    preference is permitted….” With the passage of time, during which Bahá’í men and women endeavor
    to apply more fully the principle of equality of the sexes, will come a deeper understanding of the far-
    reaching ramifications of this vital principle. As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has stated, “Until the reality of
    equality between man and woman is fully established and attained, the highest social development of
    mankind is not possible.”

   According to this passage, what principle must be an integral part of Bahá’í domestic and communty

   life? ____________________________________________________________________________

14. The Universal House of Justice has in recent years urged that encouragement be given to Bahá’í
    women and girls to participate in greater measure in the social, spiritual, and administrative activities
    of their communities, and has appealed to the Bahá’í women to arise and demonstrate the importance
    of their role in all fields of service to the Faith.

15. For a man to use force to impose his will on a woman is a serious transgression of the Bahá’í
    Teachings. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has stated that:

   Write a concrete example of a man using force to impose his will on a woman: __________________

   __________________________________________________________________________________

   16. The world in the past has been ruled by force, and man has dominated over woman by reason of
       his more forceful and aggressive qualities both of body and mind. But the balance is already
       shifting; force is losing its dominance, and mental alertness, intuition, and the spiritual qualities of
       love and service, in which woman is strong, are gaining ascendancy.


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17. Bahá’í men have the opportunity to demonstrate to the world around them a new approach to the
    relationship between the sexes, where aggression and the use of force are eliminated and replaced by
    cooperation and consultation. The Universal House of Justice has pointed out in response to questions
    addressed to it that, in a marriage relationship, neither husband nor wife should ever unjustly dominate
    the other, and that there are times when the husband and the wife should defer to the wishes of the
    other, if agreement cannot be reached through consultation; each couple should determine exactly
    under what circumstances such deference is to take place.

   In the new approach to the relationship between the sexes, which of the following is "eliminated" and
   which is the "replacement" (mark one or the other for each of the following)

      aggression             eliminated             replacement
      use of force           eliminated             replacement
      cooperation            eliminated             replacement
      consultation           eliminated             replacement

   Please write a concrete example of something that is eliminated. ______________________________

   __________________________________________________________________________________

18. From the Pen of Bahá’ú’lláh Himself has come the following statement on the subject of the treatment
    of women:

   The friends of God must be adorned with the ornament of justice, equity, kindness, and love. As they
   do not allow themselves to be the object of cruelty and transgression, in like manner they should not
   allow such tyranny to visit the handmaidens of God. He, verily, speaketh the truth and commandeth
   that which benefitteth his servants and handmaidens. He is the Protector of all in this world and the
   next.

   Who should not allow tyranny to visit the handmaidens of God? ______________________________

   Who does this apply to (check all that apply)?
    Individual Bahá’ís
    Local Spiritual Assemblies and other Bahá’í institutions
    The Bahá’í Community

19. No Bahá’í husband should ever beat his wife, or subject her to any form of cruel treatment; to do so
    would be an unacceptable abuse of the marriage relationship and contrary to the Teachings of
    Bahá’ú’lláh.

   Who should never beat his wife, nor subject her to any form of cruel treatment? _________________

20. The lack of spiritual values in society leads to a debasement of the attitudes which should govern the
    relationship between the sexes, with women being treated as no more than objects for sexual
    gratification and being denied the respect and courtesy to which all human beings are entitled.


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   Bahá’ú’lláh has warned: “They that follow their lusts and corrupt inclinations, have erred and
   dissipated their efforts. They, indeed, are of the lost.” Believers might well ponder the exalted
   standard of conduct to which they are encouraged to aspire in the statement of Bahá’ú’lláh concerning
   His “true follower,” that: “and if he met the fairest and most comely of women, he would not feel his
   heart seduced by the least shadow of desire for her beauty. Such a one, indeed, is the creation of
   spotless chastity. Thus instructeth you the Pen of the Ancient of Days, as bidden by your Lord, the
   Almighty, the All-Bountiful.”

   Bahá’ú’lláh has warned that those who follow their lusts and corrupt inclinations are, indeed, of the

   lost. Please give a concrete example of something being lost. ________________________________

   __________________________________________________________________________________

21. One of the most heinous of sexual offenses is the crime of rape. When a believer is a victim, she is
    entitled to the loving aid and support of the members of her community, and she is free to initiate
    action against the perpetrator under the law of the land should she wish to do so. If she becomes
    pregnant as a consequence of this assault, no pressure should be brought upon her by the Bahá’í
    institutions to marry. As to whether she should continue or terminate the pregnancy, it is for her to
    decide on the course of action she should follow, taking into consideration medical and other relevant
    factors, and in the light of the Bahá’í Teachings. If she gives birth to a child as a result of the rape, it
    is left to her discretion whether to seek financial support for the maintenance of the child from the
    father; however, his claim to any parental rights would, under Bahá’í law, be called into question, in
    view of the circumstances.

   Bahá’í victims of rape are entitled to which of the following (mark all that apply)?

      loving aid and support of members of her community
      freedom to initiate legal action against the perpetrator if she wishes to
      freedom from pressure from Bahá’í institutions to marry the perpetrator if she becomes pregnant
      freedom to decide for herself whether to continue or terminate a pregnancy resulting from rape.
      freedom to decide for herself whether to seek child support from the father for a child conceived in
       rape.

   Is a father of a child conceived in rape automatically entitled to parental rights under Bahá’í Law? __

22. The Guardian has clarified, in letters written on his behalf that, “The Bahá’í Faith recognizes the value
    of the sex impulse,” and that, “The proper use of the sex instinct is the natural right of every
    individual, and it is precisely for this very purpose that the institution of marriage has been
    established.” In this aspect of the marital relationship; as in all others, mutual consideration and
    respect should apply. If a Bahá’í woman suffers abuse or is subjected to rape by her husband, she has
    the right to turn to the Spiritual Assembly for assistance and counsel, or to seek legal protection. Such
    abuse would gravely jeopardize the continuation of the marriage, and could lead to a condition of
    irreconcilable antipathy.

   In the sexual aspect of marital life, as in all others, what two qualities should apply? _____________


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   _________________________________________________________________________________

   What rights does a Bahá’í woman who suffers abuse or is subjected to rape by her husband have?

   _________________________________________________________________________________

   _________________________________________________________________________________

23. You have raised several questions about the treatment of children. It is clear from the Bahá’í Writings
    that a vital component of the education of children is the exercise of discipline. Shoghi Effendi has
    stated, in a letter on his behalf about the education of children, that:

   24. Discipline of some sort, whether physical, moral, or intellectual, is indeed indispensable, and no
       training can be said to be complete and fruitful if it disregards this element. The child when born
       is far from being perfect. It is not only helpless, but actually is imperfect, and even naturally
       inclined towards evil. He should be trained, his natural inclinations harmonized, adjusted, and
       controlled, and if necessary, suppressed or regulated, so as to ensure his healthy physical and
       moral development. Bahá’í parents cannot simply adopt an attitude of non-resistance towards
       their children, particularly those who are unruly and violent by nature. It is not even sufficient that
       they should pray on their behalf. Rather they should endeavor to inculcate, gently and patiently,
       onto their youthful minds such principles of moral conduct and initiate them into the principles
       and teachings of the Cause with such tactful and loving care as would enable them to become
       “true sons of God” and develop into loyal and intelligent citizens of His Kingdom…

       Bahá’í parents should endeavor to inculcate principles of moral conduct onto the youthful minds
       of their children "gently and patiently." Write a concrete example of something done "gently and

       patiently." ______________________________________________________________________

       _______________________________________________________________________________

       Bahá’í parents should endeavor to initiate their children into the principles and teachings of the
       Cause with "tactful and loving care." Write a concrete example of someone teaching something

       with "tactful and loving care." _____________________________________________________

       _______________________________________________________________________________

25. While the physical discipline of children is an acceptable part of their education and training, such
    actions are to be carried out “gently and patiently” and with “loving care,” far removed from the anger
    and violence with which children are beaten and abused in some parts of the world. To treat children
    in such an abhorrent manner is a denial of their human rights, and a betrayal of the trust which the
    weak should have in the strong in a Bahá’í community.

   What characterizes the relationship that the weak should have with the strong in a Bahá’í



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   community? ______________________________________________________________________

   Who are the weak in a Bahá’í community (check all those that apply)
    children
    the aged
    those afflicted with mental illness
    the uneducated
    those with incomplete knowledge of the Bahá’í Faith

   Who are the strong? _________________________________________________________________

26. It is difficult to imagine a more reprehensible perversion of human conduct than the sexual abuse of
    children, which finds its most debased form in incest. At a time in the fortunes of humanity when, in
    the words of the Guardian, “The perversion of human nature, the degradation of human conduct, the
    corruption and dissolution of human institutions, reveal themselves… in their worst and most
    revolting aspects,” and when “the voice of human conscience is stilled,” when “the sense of decency
    and shame is obscured,” the Bahá’í institutions must be uncompromising and vigilant in their
    commitment to the protection of the children entrusted to their care, and must not allow either threats
    or appeals to expediency to divert them from their duty. A parent who is aware that the marriage
    partner is subjecting a child to such sexual abuse should not remain silent, but must take all necessary
    measures, with the assistance of the Spiritual Assembly or civil authorities if necessary, to bring about
    an immediate cessation of such grossly immoral behavior, and to promote healing and therapy.

   Do we live at a time in the fortunes of humanity when, in the words of the Guardian, “The perversion
   of human nature, the degradation of human conduct, the corruption and dissolution of human
   institutions, reveal themselves… in their worst and most revolting aspects,” when “the voice of

   human conscience is stilled,” and “the sense of decency and shame is obscured?” _______________

   Bahá’í institutions must be uncompromising and vigilant in their commitment to the protection of the
   children entrusted to their care. Please describe a concrete example of a protector that is

   "uncompromising" and "vigilant." ______________________________________________________

   __________________________________________________________________________________

   Please describe a concrete example of a threat that could divert a Local Spiritual Assembly from its

   duty to protect children:_____________________________________________________________

   ________________________________________________________________________________


   Please describe a concrete example of an appeal to expediency that could divert a Local Spiritual

   Assembly from its duty to protect children:______________________________________________


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   ________________________________________________________________________________

27. Bahá’ú’lláh has placed great emphasis on the duties of parents toward their children, and He has urged
    children to have gratitude in their hearts for their parents, whose good pleasure they should strive to
    win as a means of pleasing God Himself. However, He has indicated that under certain circumstances,
    the parents could be deprived of the rights of parenthood as a consequence of their actions. The
    Universal House of Justice has the right to legislate on this matter. It has decided for the present that
    all cases should be referred to it in which the conduct or character of a parent appears to render him
    unworthy of having such parental rights as that of giving consent to marriage. Such questions could
    arise, for example, when a parent has committed incest, or when the child was conceived as a
    consequence of rape, and also when a parent consciously fails to protect the child from flagrant sexual
    abuse.

   For the present, what should Bahá’í institutions do with all cases where the conduct or character of a
   parent appears to render him unworthy of having such parental rights as that of giving consent in

   marriage? ________________________________________________________________________

28. As humanity passes through the age of transition in its evolution to a world civilization which will be
    illumined by spiritual values and will be distinguished by its justice and its unity, the role of the
    Bahá’í community is clear: It must accomplish a spiritual transformation of its members, and must
    offer to the world a model of the society destined to come into being through the power of the
    Revelation of Bahá’ú’lláh as the Manifestation of God, and who thereupon embark on the process of
    changing their conduct and refining their character. It is inevitable that this community will, at times
    be subject to delinquent behavior of members whose actions do not conform to the standards of the
    Teachings. At such times, the institutions of the Faith will not hesitate to apply Bahá’í law with
    justice and fairness in full confidence that this Divine law is the means for the true happiness of all
    concerned.

   Who must accomplish a spiritual transformation of its members and offer to the world a model of the

   society destined to come into being? ___________________________________________________

   At those inevitable times when the Bahá’í communty is subject to delinquent behavior of members

   whose actions do not conform to the standards of the teachings, how will its institutions act? _______

   __________________________________________________________________________________

   __________________________________________________________________________________

   "The institutions of the Faith will not hesitate to apply Bahá’í law…" Please write a concrete
   example

   of an action taken without hesitating: ___________________________________________________



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   _________________________________________________________________________________

29. However, it should be recognized that the ultimate solution to the problems of humanity lies not in
    penalties and punishments, but rather in spiritual education and illumination. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has
    written:

   30. It is incumbent upon human society to expend all its forces on the education of the people, and to
       copiously water men’s hearts with the sacred streams that pour down from the Realm of the All-
       merciful, and to teach them the manners of Heaven and spiritual ways of life, until every member
       of the community of man will be schooled, refined, and exalted to such a degree of perfection that
       the very committing of a shameful act will seem in itself the direst infliction and most agonizing
       of punishments, and man will fly in terror and seek refuge in his God from the very idea of crime,
       as something far harsher and more grievous than the punishment assigned to it.

   The ultimate solution to the problems of humanity lies not in _____________ and _______________,

   but rather in ________________ _________________ and _________________.

31. It is toward this goal that the community of the Greatest Name is striving, aided and reinforced by the
    limitless power of the Holy Spirit.

                                              With loving Bahá’í greetings,

                                              For Department of the Secretariat


                          REGARDING CIVIL LAW AS IT APPLIES TO VIOLENCE

32. To all administrative regulations which the civil authorities have issued from time to time, or will
    issue in the future in that land, as in all other countries, the Bahá’í community, faithful to its sacred
    obligations towards its government, and conscious of its civic duties, has yielded, and will continue to
    yield implicit obedience. (Shoghi Effendi as quoted in Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities
    page 12.7)

33. Bahá’ís must live the Bahá’í life, fully and continuously, unless prevented by the authorities. If local,
    state, or federal authorities actively prohibit Bahá’í life or some aspect of it, then Bahá’ís must submit
    to these requirements in all cases except where a spiritual principle is involved such as a denial of
    faith. This Bahá’ís cannot do under any circumstances. The lives the friends lead will prove to be the
    greatest teachers. (The Universal House of Justice quoted in Developing Distinctive Bahá’í
    Communities page 12.7)

34. If an Assembly is handling a case in which the state has exclusive interest (such as child abuse, sexual
    molestation, battering, severe neglect, etc.), it must be careful not to interfere with the established
    legal procedures. For example, most states require all suspected cases of child abuse to be reported to
    the civil authorities. In those states, Bahá’í institutions would be legally required to report all such
    cases to the appropriate social agencies. In addition, many states require persons in certain positions,



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    i.e. teachers, doctors, etc., to report these types of cases. (Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities
    page 15.26)
35. Texas State Law says:

      “A person having cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health has been or may be
       adversely affected by abuse or neglect by any person shall immediately make a report as provided
       by this subchapter.” Texas State Family Code 261.101 (A)

      “The requirement to report under this section applies without exception to an individual whose
       personal communications may otherwise be privileged, including an attorney, a member of the
       clergy, a medical practitioner, a social worker, and a mental health professional.” Texas State
       Family Code 261.101 (C)

      “Abuse includes the following acts or omissions by a person:
       (a) mental or emotional injury to a child that results in an observable and material impairment in
           the child’s growth, development, or psychological functioning;
       (b) causing or permitting the child to be in a situation in which the child sustains a mental or
           emotional injury that results in an observable and material impairment in the child’s growth,
           development, or psychological functioning;
       (c) physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child, or the genuine threat of substantial
           harm from physical injury to the child, including an injury that is at variance with the history
           or explanation given and excluding an accident or reasonable discipline by a parent, guardian,
           or managing or possessory conservator that does not expose the child to a substantial risk of
           harm;
       (d) failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent an action by another person that results in
           physical injury that results in substantial harm to the child;
       (e) sexual conduct harmful to a child’s mental, emotional, or physical welfare;
       (f) failure to make a reasonable effort to prevent sexual conduct harmful to a child;
       (g) compelling or encouraging the child to engage in sexual conduct as defined by Section 43.01,
           Penal Code;
       (h) causing, permitting, encouraging, engaging in, or allowing the photographing, filming, or
           depicting of the child if the person knew or should have known that the resulting photograph,
           film, or depiction of the child is obscene as defined by Section 43.21, Penal Code, or
           pornographic.” Texas State Family Code 261.001 (C)

36. In Texas, reports described above are to be made to the Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-252-5400.

Is the letter from the Universal House of Justice part of Bahá’ú’lláh's guidance for Bahá’ís faced with

situations of violence and the sexual abuse of women and children? ____________ Why or why not?
__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Is Texas Civil Law part of this guidance? ________________________________________________

Do we always understand Bahá’ú’lláh's guidance? _________________________________________



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Take a break. If you are interested you may wish to review the additional material related to domestic
violence in the Appendix starting on page 24.




                                                   13
Part 3: The Administration of Justice – The Role of the Individual

Working in pairs, carefully go through the following items 37 and 38. Take turns reading the paragraphs
out loud.

37. The responsibility of the individual

   While it can be a severe test to a Bahá’í to see fellow believers violating Bahá’í laws or engaging in
   conduct inimical to the welfare and best interests of the Faith, there is no fixed rule that a believer
   must follow when such conduct comes to his notice. A great deal depends upon the seriousness of the
   offense and upon the relationship which exists between him and the offender.

   If the misconduct is flagrant or threatens the interests of the Faith the believer to whose attention it
   comes should immediately report it to the Local Spiritual Assembly. Once it is in the hand of the
   Assembly the believer’s obligation is discharged and he should do no more than pray for the offender
   and continue to show him friendship and encouragement- unless, of course, the Spiritual Assembly
   asks him to take specific action.

   Sometimes, however, the matter does not seem grave enough to warrant reporting to the Spiritual
   Assembly, in which case it may be best to ignore it altogether. There are also other things that can be
   done by the Bahá’í to whose notice such things come. For example, he could foster friendly relations
   with the individual concerned, tactfully drawing him into Bahá’í activities in the hope that, as his
   knowledge of the teachings and awareness of the Faith deepens, he will spontaneously improve his
   patterns of conduct. Or perhaps the relationship is such that he can tactfully draw the offender’s
   attention to the teachings on the subject- but here he must be very careful not to give the impression of
   prying into a fellow-believer’s private affairs or of telling him what he must do, which would not only
   be wrong in itself but might well produce the reverse of the desired reaction.

   If a believer faced with knowledge of another Bahai’s conduct is unsure what course to take, he can,
   of course, always consult his Local Spiritual Assembly for advice. If, for some reason, he is reluctant
   at that stage to inform his Spiritual Assembly, he can consult an Auxiliary Board member or assistant.

   Whatever steps are taken, it is vital that the believers refrain from gossip and backbiting, for this can
   only harm the Faith, causing perhaps more damage than would have been caused by the original
   offense.

   (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual dated February 20,
   1977, as quoted in Building Distinctive Bahá’í Communities page 15.5-15.6)

38. Attitudes

   It should be realized that there is a distinction drawn in the Faith between the attitudes which should
   characterize individuals in their relationship to other people- namely, loving kindness, forbearance,
   and concern with one’s own sins, not the sins of others- and those attitudes which should be shown by
   the Spiritual Assembly, whose duty is to administer the law of God with justice.




                                                     14
   (From a letter from the Universal house of Justice dated February 6, 1973 as quoted in Building
   Distinctive Bahá’í Communities, pages 15.4-15.5)

Check whether the following summary of the above paragraphs is accurate. Make any additions or
corrections as needed.

The role of the individual who becomes aware of another Bahá’í in non-compliance to a Bahá’í law
(Distinctive Bahá’í Communities page 15.5)

a) Refrain from backbiting at all costs


b) If- conduct is blatant and flagrant, refer immediately to Assembly, and continue to show friendship
   and encouragement to the person.


c) If- you have a doubt whether it is blatant and flagrant, clarify with the Assembly or an Auxiliary
   Board Member or assistant


d) If- not blatant or flagrant, consider the relationship you have with the person


      If- the relationship does not provide a basis to do something positive, it may be best to ignore it.


      If- the relationship does provide a basis to do something positive, go ahead, but give careful
       attention to avoid giving the impression of prying into a fellow-believer’s private affairs or of
       telling him what to do.



The attitude of the Assembly and of the Individuals (Distinctive Bahá’í Communities page 15.4-15.5)

a) The attitude of the individual is characterized by loving kindness, forbearance, and concern with one’s
   own sins and not the sins of others.


b) The attitude of the Assembly reflects its direct responsibility to administer the law of God with justice.




Work the case study provided to you by your course facilitator (Case 1a, 2a, 3a, or 4a).




                                                     15
Part 4: The Administration of Justice – Initial Assembly Steps

Before studying the material in Part 4 a graphic will be presented to the class as a whole. This graphic
provides an overview of the inputs and outputs of consultation.

Working in pairs, carefully go through the following items 40 through 42. Take turns reading the
paragraphs out loud.

39. Assemblies should initiate action for the solution of the problem

   The Local Spiritual Assemblies should neither be like private agents prying into the lives of the
   believers and seeking out their personal problems, nor should they condone glaring disregard of the
   Holy Laws. Whenever it becomes known that one of the believers is flagrantly disobeying the
   Teachings of the Faith, whether spiritual, ethical, moral, or administrative, the Assemblies should not
   allow such a situation to become a source of backbiting among the friends or deteriorate into either the
   loss of the dignity of the Teachings in the eyes of the Bahá’ís and non-Bahá’ís, or the eventual
   inactivity of the believers, as you have observed. The Assemblies, with the encouragement and under
   the continuous guidance of your National Assembly, should, in the name of protecting the interests of
   the Faith, themselves initiate action for the solution of the problem, and handle it with love, wisdom,
   and firmness.

   (From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly dated November 12,
   1965 as quoted in Building Distinctive Bahá’í Communities, page 15.4)

40. Administering Bahá’í law- the process

   After learning about a problem that may require action, the Local Spiritual Assembly decides what
   information it needs, from what sources the information will be obtained, and how it will gather the
   information. The persons reported to have violated Bahá’í law, created disunity, or broken civil laws
   must be given the opportunity to present their side of the case.

   Once the Assembly determines what questions are to be asked and who is to be contacted, it may
   request individuals to appear before it, send a representative or representatives (who need not be
   Assembly members) to meet with the person, or gather information by mail or telephone. Assemblies
   with large Bahá’í communities have also found it helpful to appoint committees or task forces on
   personal status to assist them in gathering background information. Since they must receive
   information of a sensitive nature, members of such committees and task forces should be trustworthy,
   and able to maintain confidences.

   (From the general text, rather than a specific letter, found in Developing Distinctive Bahá’í
   Communities, page 15.6)

41. Cooperation with an Assembly’s investigation of facts

   When an allegation is made that a believer has violated Bahá’í law, irrespective of the consequences
   in civil law, the process of investigation calls for a diligent and persistent effort by the Assembly to
   ascertain the facts, and for wholehearted cooperation of all concerned in the search for truth.


                                                     16
   Believers called upon to provide information should, if necessary, be reminded of the responsibility
   they bear to speak the truth and of the spiritual consequences of a failure to do so. ‘‘Abdu’l-Bahá’
   asserts:

       Truthfulness is the foundation of all human virtues. Without truthfulness, progress and success, in
       all the worlds of God, are impossible for any soul. When this holy attribute is established in man,
       all the divine qualities will also be acquired.

   If this “holy attribute” should adorn the behavior of believers toward others, how much more should it
   characterize statements which a Bahá’í makes to a divinely ordained institution.

   The prospect of a believer’s displaying an attitude of hostility, when being interviewed by a Spiritual
   Assembly or its representatives who are seeking to determine the facts of a matter, is abhorrent. All
   believers are strongly enjoined to have the utmost respect for the Assemblies, to cooperate fully with
   them, and to support their decisions. An Assembly inquiring into a matter should not allow itself to
   be deterred by the hostility of a believer who is withholding relevant information; it should appeal to
   him for cooperation, remind him forcefully of his responsibilities and, in extreme cases such as threats
   made to the investigators, warn him of the administrative consequences of the persistence of his
   deplorable conduct.

   (Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated December 24, 1991, as quoted in Building
   Distinctive Bahá’í Communities, pages 4.11-4.12)

Check whether the following summary of the above paragraphs is accurate. Make any additions or
corrections as needed.

The Assembly’s first decision in a matter- to take initiative or to leave it be (Distinctive Bahá’í
Communities page 15.4)


a) Assemblies should not be like private agents prying into the lives of the believers, seeking out their
   personal problems.


b) Assemblies should not condone glaring disregard of the Holy Laws


c) When it becomes known that a believer is flagrantly disobeying the Teachings of the Faith,
   Assemblies should initiate action for the solution of the problem, so that-


      the situation does not become a source of backbiting among the friends


      the situation does not deteriorate into the loss of dignity of the Teachings in the eyes of Bahá’ís or
       Non-Bahá’ís



                                                      17
      the situation does not deteriorate into the eventual inactivity of the believers



The Assembly’s second decision in a matter – information gathering (Distinctive Bahá’í Communities
page 15.6).


a) decide what information is needed from whom, and how to get it


b) the person involved must be given a chance to present their side


c) confidentiality must be respected in gathering information



In case of resistance in gathering the facts (Distinctive Bahá’í Communities page 4.11-4.12)


a) an investigation for violation of Bahá’í law calls for



      a diligent and persistent effort by the Assembly


      wholehearted cooperation of all involved


      Assemblies may need to remind believers of the responsibility they have to speak the truth and of
       the spiritual consequences of a failure to do so.


      An Assembly should not be deterred by hostility on the part of a believer who is withholding
       relevant information. In extreme cases administrative sanctions can be called for.




Continue in your pair on the next page




                                                      18
Part 5. - The Temperament of Authority in the Administration of Justice

Take turns carefully reading the quote below, answer the question individually, then share your answers.

42. "The temperament of authority in the administration of justice varies according to the degree of the
    gravity of each case. Some cases require that the Assembly take action that is firm or drastic. Even
    so, Assembly members have always to be mindful that the authority they wield must in general be
    expressed with love, humility and a genuine respect for others. Thus exercised, authority strikes a
    natural note and accords with that which is acceptable to spiritually attuned and fair-minded souls."
    letter from the Universal House of Justice dated May 19, 1994 as quoted in Developing Distinctive
    Bahá’í Communities page 1.8-1.9.

Question: What examples of authorities have you seen outside the Bahá’í Faith who have consistently
concerned themselves with striking a natural note with spiritually attuned and fair-minded souls?



_____________________________________________________________________________________

Consider the following strategies for expressing authority with love:

a) Say that the individual(s) are dearly loved members of the Bahá’í community (note that this will be
   especially effective when supported by deeds of love by the community to the individuals).

   Example- “You and your family are dearly cherished members of the community of Bahá’ú’lláh’s
   faithful servants in (name of town)- and we are so fortunate that He has provided us with His
   community of loving support whenever we face difficult and purplexing issues in His Path.”

b) Say that the individual(s) are dearly loved by Bahá’ú’lláh (note that this will be especially effective
   when supported by quotes from Bahá’ú’lláh’s Revelation)

   Example- “Some of the issues you face seem daunting, but much greater and more important is
   Bahá’ú’lláh’s great love for all of us who are God’s creatures, and especially those of us whom He has
   chosen in His path, however unworthy we may be. He is always very close to us. As He reminds us
   in the Hidden Words: ‘My love is in thee, know it, that thou mayest find me near unto thee.’ (from
   number 10 of the Arabic Hidden Words)”

c) Pray for the individual(s) in the Assembly and say so

   Example- “Your Assembly prays for the happiness of you and your family at every meeting, for the
   Assembly holds all of you in its heart at all times.”

d) Offer hope

   Example- “It must seem like a great mystery why you are faced with these difficult tests at this time.
   Yet so many times these things lead to a happiness that we have never imagined, for Bahá’ú’lláh
   sends them to us for our perfecting. As we find in Prayers and Meditations (page 220): ‘O Thou

                                                     19
   whose tests are a healing medicine to such as are nigh unto thee…’ The Assembly feels assured that
   the day will come when all this will become clear in your case, and prays in every meeting that the
   this day will not be far off.”

e) Present Bahá’ú’lláh’s laws as an expression of His love for us

   Example- “It is always worthwhile to meditate that Bahá’ú’lláh’s statement: ‘Think not that We have
   revealed to you a mere code of laws. Nay, rather, We have unsealed the choice Wine with the fingers
   of might and power (Kitab-i-Aqdaspage 21)’. How Bahá’ú’lláh suffered to give us these laws, and
   how Abdu’l Baha suffered to set up the Institutions to administer them. Surely they love us very
   much, and envision day-to-day lives for us that are very very glorious.”

Consider the following strategy for expressing authority with humility:

a) Let Bahá’ú’lláh, Abdu’l Baha, Shoghi Effendi, and the Universal House of Justice express the
   difficult aspects of the direction to be given, so that the Assembly can take the role of servant in
   helping to facilitate the necessary changes.

   Example- The Assembly was anxious to research the Bahá’í guidance regarding the issues you have
   reported that you are facing, and came across the following statements regarding the use of force in
   the home:

   ‘The use of force by the physically strong against the weak, as a means of imposing one’s will and
   fulfilling one’s desires, is a flagrant transgression of the Bahá’í Teachings.’

   ‘No Bahá’í husband should ever beat his wife, or subject her to any form of cruel treatment; to do so
   would be an unacceptable abuse of the marriage relationship and contrary to the Teachings of
   Bahá’ú’lláh.’

   The Universal House of Justice also points out that ‘mutual consideration and respect’ should
   characterize all aspects of the marriage relationship.

   As you know, Bahá’ú’lláh has given the Assembly the responsibility to uphold justice in the Bahá’í
   community. For this reason the Assembly requests to meet with you in person to explore the situation
   you face fully, objectively, and positively.”

b) Individual assembly members should model their respect for the Assembly by deferring to it.

   Example- “As Secretary of the Assembly, I can assure you that the Assembly loves you deeply and is
   praying for you and your family. Consultation was begun on the information you shared at the last
   meeting, but has not yet reached a conclusion, so we don’t yet know what guidance the Assembly may
   decide is appropriate to give to you and your family in the light of the Writings of the Faith. I will
   communicate your desire for a response as soon as possible.”




                                                     20
Consider the following strategy for expressing authority with genuine respect for others:

a) Avoid the appearance of having pre-judged a situation before the Assembly’s investigation is
   complete.

Example- “Individual believers who bring issues such as this to the attention of the Assembly are seldom
in a position to have a complete understanding of all the facts and circumstances- in fact their concern
sometimes comes from a complete misunderstanding. For this reason the Assembly requests your
assistance in obtaining as clear an understanding as possible before consultation on the issue takes place,
if in fact this turns out to be necessary.”

b) Acknowledge and appreciate the courage individuals have shown in participating with the Assembly’s
   investigation.

Example- “The Assembly sent representatives to talk separately with each member of your family, as well
as two Bahá’í friends who have been especially close to your daughters over the last several years, and
greatly appreciates the efforts and courage you showed in explaining the situation as fully as possible.”

c) State the Assembly’s understanding of the facts based on its investigation in as neutral a way as
   possible. Avoid taking sides with regards to the facts.

Example- “The Assembly based its consultation on the following understanding of the situation: to
summarize, it seems that the relations in your family result at times in raised voices and lost tempers,
especially between James (father) and Sally (older daughter), and that this sometimes results in James
pushing or hitting Sally, and her fighting back, either openly or through revenge, such as the time she ran
over James’s tool box with the pickup. Beyond this basic outline, different family members expressed
very different ideas about the root cause of these conflicts, their severity, and their frequency. For
example, Sally expressed that at times she has been sore and bruised for days from being hit, and that this
has happened 5 times in the last three months. On the other hand, James said that although he might
sometimes lose control and slap or push her, it would never cause a serious injury, and he cannot recall
when this has happened.”

d) Show respect for the inherent nobility of the individual(s) by giving expression of the noble ideals we
   are called to realize as Bahá’ís

Example- “The destiny to which Bahá’ú’lláh calls all his loved ones is exceptionally noble and
praiseworthy. A careful look at the Writings reveals that He envisions your home as a haven of joy and
peace, a little community where the rights of each member of the family are upheld and all accept and
strive their best to fulfill their responsibilities to one another. He sees the marriage relation at the center
of this family as characterized by mutual consideration and respect in every aspect. All Bahá’ís are
striving to learn how to live this noble ideal.”




Work the case study provided to you by your course facilitator (Case 1b, 2b, 3b, or 4b).



                                                       21
Part 6: The Administration of Justice - Additional Miscellaneous Topics
Working in pairs, carefully go through the following items 43 through 50. Take turns reading the
paragraphs out loud. Answer the questions individually as you come to them, then share your answers.
43. The Decision of the Assembly
   Non-observance of certain laws and ordinances incurs some form of sanction. While some violations
   incur punishment for a single offense, other punishments are incurred if, after repeated warnings, the
   believer fails to remedy the violation. Examples of violations of law and standard of conduct subject
   to sanction:

      Immorality
      Cohabitation
      Homosexuality
      Drinking of alcohol
      Owning a business that sell alcohol
      Use of illegal drugs
      Violation of marriage laws
      Violation of divorce laws
      Political activity
      Criminal offenses, disobedience to civil laws (murder, physical/sexual abuse, tax evasion,
       robbery)
      Membership in other organizations (other religious organizations, secret societies)
      Gambling
      Behavior which damages the reputation of the Faith or causes disunity
      Dishonest or fraudulent behavior
      Irresponsible behavior
   Note- Chapter 15 in Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities has a section with quotes applicable
   to each of these areas noted above.
   (Letter from the Universal house of Justice, dated November 12, 1965 as quoted in Developing
   Distinctive Bahá’í communities page 15.16)
44. In all cases involving the possible removal or restoration of a believer’s administrative rights, the
    Local Spiritual Assembly should forward a recommendation to the National Spiritual Assembly with
    reasons for the recommendation.
   A report to the National Spiritual Assembly should include the following:
    A statement defining the problem, including individuals’ names and identification numbers
    A list of all relevant facts
    A brief summary of the case, including all actions undertaken by the Local Spiritual Assembly
    The Assembly’s recommendation of a course of action and the rationale for it.
   After reviewing the report, the National Assembly may ask the Local Assembly for further
   information before making a decision.

   (From the general descriptive text in Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities page 15.10)

                                                    22
45. It is also quite permissible for a National Spiritual Assembly to debar an individual believer from
    serving on a Local Spiritual Assembly without removing his or her voting rights and they may also
    debar a believer from attending the consultative part of a Nineteen Day Feast. You may also debar a
    believer from voting in elections without imposing all the other administrative sanctions involved in
    administrative expulsion.

    (Letter from the Universal house of Justice, dated January 31, 1972 as quoted in Developing
    Distinctive Bahá’í communities page 15.9)

46. Issues that involve Assembly members

    Concerning the question of the presence of a member of an Assembly during the discussion of his
    personal problems, all members of a Spiritual Assembly have the right and duty to participate in all
    meetings of the Assembly. The Assembly cannot require a member to absent himself from a properly
    called Assembly meeting.

    (Letter from the Universal house of Justice, dated April 23, 1964 as quoted in Developing Distinctive
    Bahá’í communities page 4.12)

    It should also be understood that a member may wish to absent himself from a meeting at which
    subjects in which he is personally involved are to be discussed. In such cases he may do so unless the
    Assembly requires him to be present.

    (Letter from the Universal house of Justice, dated January 22, 1975 as quoted in Developing
    Distinctive Bahá’í communities page 4.12)

Question: Consider the following two responsibilities of Assembly members during consultation:

   “The honored members must with all freedom express their own thoughts, and it is in no wise
    permissible for one to belittle the thought of another.” (‘‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í Administration, p. 22)

   “They must… not insist upon their own opinions, for stubbornness and persistence in one’s views will
    lead ultimately to discord and wrangling and the truth will remain hidden.” (‘Abdu’l Baha in Bahá’í
    Administration, page 22)

What is the relevance of the above two points if one is trying to decide whether to be present during an
Assembly consultation regarding one’s personal matters?

___________________________________________________________________________________

Question: If an Assembly member chooses to be present during Assembly consultation regarding his own
personal affairs, what special measures can the Assembly take to ensure that the above two aspects of
effective consultation are upheld?

___________________________________________________________________________________



                                                    23
Question: What measures can the Assembly take to assist its members to make a prayerful and spiritual
decision about whether they wish to be present at a consultation regarding their personal affairs?

___________________________________________________________________________________

47. Distinction Between Advisor and Enforcer Roles

    The National Spiritual Assembly should distinguish between its functions as an advisor and counselor
    to the friends and its role as the enforcer of Bahá’í Law. For example, it is quite in order for the
    Assembly to advise a believer to consult a psychiatrist or any other doctor, if it feels this is necessary,
    but such advice should not be linked with any deprivation of voting rights which may have to be
    imposed for flagrant immorality. You may feel it advisable to give advice to a person who is being
    deprived of his voting rights, but the two actions should be clearly separate – one is administrative, the
    other is advice given for the person’s own good which he may or may not accept as he wishes.

    (Letter from the Universal house of Justice, dated September 21, 1965 as quoted in Developing
    Distinctive Bahá’í communities page 15.16)

Question: There is a balance that is carefully struck between the authority of Baha’s as individuals and
Bahá’í Assemblies as Institutions. Select the appropriate role(s) for the Assembly with respect to:

   Making sure I fulfill my spiritual obligations of prayer and fasting
    a. Do nothing as this is entirely a personal affair.
    b. Educate the friends about the laws of prayer and fasting.
    c. Investigate cases of disobedience to these laws as they become known and give direction to the
       friends as necessary.
    d. In cases where disobedience to these laws becomes known, be vigilant for signs of deterioration in
       the person’s behavior.

   Regulating the behavior of the community members
    a. Educate the friends about Bahá’í law.
    b. When cases of blatant or flagrant disobedience to Bahá’í law come to the Assembly’s attention,
       investigate thoroughly, issue warnings, and place administrative sanctions if necessary.
    c. Determine whether mental health or similar factors are contributing to blatant or flagrant
       disobedience to Bahá’í law, and give direction to obtain appropriate professional care.
    d. Be vigilant to detect possible instances of blatant or flagrant disobedience to Bahá’í law so that it
       can be addressed quickly.

48. Acceptance of the Decision of the Assembly

    Obedience to the laws of Bahá’ú’lláh will necessarily impose hardships in individual cases. No one
    should expect, upon becoming a Bahá’í that his faith will not be tested, and to our finite understanding
    of such matters these tests may occasionally seem unbearable. But we are aware of the assurance
    which Bahá’ú’lláh Himself has given the believers that they will never be called upon to meet a test
    greater than their capacity to endure.




                                                      24
   It therefore becomes a matter of demonstration of the depth of one’s faith when he is faced with a
   divine command the wisdom and rationale of which he cannot at that time understand.

   (Letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated September 7, 1965, as quoted in Developing
   Distinctive Bahá’í Communities page 15.32)

Question: When we find ourselves tested by an Assembly decision about our behavior that we don’t
understand, what kind of relationship with our community will help us the most?
_____________________________________________________________________________________
Question: Consider the following quote:
“The people of the world need not only the laws and principles of the Bahá’í Faith – they desperately
need to see the love that is engendered by it in the hearts of its followers, and to partake of that
atmosphere of tolerance, understanding, forbearance, and active kindness which should be the hall-mark
of a Bahá’í community.” (Shoghi Effendi in Lights of Guidance page 405)
Who is responsible for creating the “atmosphere of tolerance, understanding, forbearance, and active
kindness which should be the hall-mark of a Bahá’í community?”
_____________________________________________________________________________________

49. Appeals

   When an individual wishes to appeal a decision of the Local Spiritual Assembly, the person first asks
   the Assembly to reconsider the matter, stating why he or she feels the reconsideration is justified. If
   the person is not satisfied with the decision of the Local Spiritual Assembly, they may appeal to the
   National Spiritual Assembly by requesting that the Local Spiritual Assembly forward the appeal to the
   National Assembly. The process to be followed is explained in the Constitution of the Universal
   House of Justice:

       An Appellant, whether institution or individual, shall in the first instance make appeal to the
       Assembly whose decision is questioned, either for reconsideration of the case by that Assembly or
       for submission to a higher body. In the latter case the Assembly is in duty bound to submit the
       appeal together with full particulars of the matter. If an Assembly refuses to submit the appeal, or
       fails to do so within a reasonable time, the appellant may take the case directly to the higher
       authority.

   If the individual or Local Assembly is dissatisfied with the decision of the National Assembly, the
   case may be appealed to the Universal House of Justice through the National Assembly. While the
   appeal is in progress, the individual must abide by the decision of the Local or National Assembly,
   even though he may think the decision is wrong.

   You are correct in your understanding that an aggrieved party should appeal on his own behalf from a
   decision of a Spiritual Assembly. Appeal by proxy- that is, on the initiative of someone else- is not
   acceptable. However, any believer may exercise the freedom to request a Spiritual Assembly to



                                                    25
   reconsider a decision, regardless of the individual or individuals affected by it; but the Assembly has
   the right to determine whether or not to accede to such a request.

   (From the general text found in Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities, pages 15.13-15.14)

Question: Local Spiritual Assemblies administer the “best beloved of all things” in the sight of
Bahá’ú’lláh even though they are fallible. Explain how the appeal process allows their members to feel
that doing their best is good enough, even if the result turns out to be imperfect at times.



_____________________________________________________________________________________

Question: Explain how the appeal process protects Bahá’ú’lláh’s Order from ever becoming oppressive.



_____________________________________________________________________________________

50. The Assembly’s Relation With the Individual and Community

   The maintenance of a climate of love and unity depends largely upon the feelings of the individuals
   composing the community that the Assembly is a part of themselves, that their cooperative
   interactions with the divinely ordained body allow them a fair latitude for initiative and that the
   quality of their relationships with both the institution and their fellow believers encourages a spirit of
   enterprise invigorated by an awareness of the revolutionizing purpose of Bahá’ú’lláh’s Revelation, by
   a consciousness of the high privilege of their being associated with efforts to realize that purpose, and
   by a consequent, ever-present sense of joy. In such a climate, the community is transformed from
   being the mere sum of its parts to assuming a wholly new personality as an entity in which its
   members blend without losing their individual uniqueness…”

   (Letter of the Universal House of Justice dated May 19, 1994 as quoted in Developing Distinctive
   Bahá’í Communities page 1.7)
Question: What have you learned today that can contribute to the feeling of individuals in the community
that the Assembly is a part of themselves?



_____________________________________________________________________________________



Gather in the big group to share answers to the questions in this section.




                                                     26
                            Mathew Kaszab Bahá’í Regional Training Institute
                                          Student Feedback


Name of Course:__________________________________________________________
Date Started ______________________________Date Completed__________________
Name of Tutor/s: _________________________________________________________
Location:________________________________________________________________
Please use the back of this form and/or additional paper if you need more room for comments and
suggestions.

1. What do you think is the most important skill, knowledge and/or spiritual insight that you have learned
in this course?




2. What do you plan to do differently as a result of taking this course?




3. What did you like about this course?




4. What suggestions do you have for change in this course?




5. What else would you like the MKI Board of Directors to know about your experience in this course?




                                                     27
                                    Appendix
                 Toward a Deeper Understanding of Domestic Violence



                                        Contents



Page 29       Partner Violence as Seen by Professionals in This Field

Page 33       Violence Within Marriage - A Statement by the National Spiritual Assembly
              of the Bahá’ís of New Zealand

Page 36       Partner Violence - Survey of Warning Signs

Page 40       Partner Violence - Personalized Safety Plan

Page 41       Five Characteristics of Children and Their Reaction to Abuse



“The friends of God must be adorned with the ornament of justice, equity, kindness, and love. As
they do not allow themselves to be the object of cruelty and transgression, in like manner they
should not allow such tyranny to visit the handmaidens of God”           Bahá’ú’lláh



“You can kill me as soon as you like, but you cannot stop the emancipation of women.” Tahirih




                                            28
                PARTNER VIOLENCE AS SEEN BY PROFESSIONALS IN THIS FIELD
                      (Taken from http://home.cybergrrl.com/dv/book/def.html)

1. Definition

Have you or someone you know ever experienced the following by a boyfriend, husband, or intimate
partner?

   Name-calling or put downs
   Isolation from family or friends
   Withholding of money
   Actual or threatened physical harm
   Sexual assault

These are examples of domestic violence, which includes partner violence, family violence, spouse abuse,
child abuse, battering, and wife beating.

This violence takes many forms, and can happen once in a while or all the time. Although each situation
is different, there are common warning signs – “red flag” behaviors – to look out for, including those
behaviors listed above. Knowing these signs is an important step in preventing and stopping violence.

In this booklet, we will focus on domestic violence as partner violence, defined as violent or controlling
behavior by a person toward a partner, usually a wife, girlfriend, or lover. Although the partner is the
primary target, violence is often directed toward children as well, and sometimes toward family members,
friends, and even bystanders in attempts to control their partners.

Approximately 95 percent of the victims of domestic violence are women. However, violence also
happens in both gay and lesbian relationships, and in a small number of cases, by women against men.

2. Myths, Facts, Statistics

Myth 1 Domestic violence does not affect many people.

          A woman is beaten every 15 seconds. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, Report to the nation on
           Crime and Justice. The Data. Washington DC Office of Justice program, US Dept. of Justice.
           October, 1983) Note: the references are included for your information. Do not take the time
           to read them.
          Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between ages 15 and 44 in the
           United States - more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. (Uniform Crime
           Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1991)
          Sixty-three percent of the young men between ages 11 and 20 who are serving time for
           homicide have killed their mother’s abuser. (March of Dimes, 1992)

Myth 2 Battering is only a momentary loss of temper
       Battering is the establishment of control and fear in a relationship through violence and other
        forms of abuse. The batterer uses acts of violence and a series of behaviors, including


                                                    29
           intimidation, threats, psychological abuse, isolation, etc. to coerce and to control the other
           person. The violence may not happen often, but it remains as a hidden (and constant)
           terrorizing factor. (Uniform Crime Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1990)
          “One in five women victimized by their spouses or ex-spouses report they have been
           victimized over and over again by the same person.” (The Basics of Batterer Treatment,
           Common Purpose, Inc. Jamaica Plain, MA)

Myth 3 Domestic violence only occurs in poor, urban areas

          Women of all cultures, races, occupations, income levels, and ages are battered – by husbands,
           boyfriends, lovers and partners. (Surgeon General Antonio Novello, as quoted in Domestic
           Violence: Battered Women, publication of the Reference Department of the Cambridge Public
           Library, Cambridge, MA)
          “Approximately one-third of the men counseled (for battering) at Emerge are professional men
           who are well respected in their jobs and their communities. These have included doctors,
           psychologists, lawyers, ministers, and business executives.” (For Shelter and Beyond,
           Massachusetts Coalition of Battered Women Service Groups, Boston, MA 1990)

Myth 4 Domestic violence is just a push, slap or punch – it does not produce serious injuries.

          Battered women are often severely injured – 22 to 35 percent of women who visit medical
           emergency rooms are there for injuries related to ongoing partner abuse. (David Adams,
           “Identifying the Assaultive Husband in Court: You be the Judge.” Boston Bar Journal, 33-4,
           July/August 1989)
          One in four pregnant women have a history of partner violence. (Journal of the American
           Medical Association, 1992)

Myth 5 It is easy for battered women to leave their abuser.

          Women who leave their batterers are at a 75% greater risk of being killed by the batterer than
           those who stay. (Barbara Hart, national Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1988)
          Nationally, 50% of all homeless women and children are on the streets because of violence in
           the home. (Senator Joseph Biden, U.S. Senate committee on the Judiciary, Violence Against
           Women: Victims of the System, 1991)
          There are nearly three times as many animal shelters in the United States as there are shelters
           for battered women and their children. (Senate Judiciary Hearings, Violence Against Women
           Act, 1990)

3. The psychological forces at work on the victim of violence.

Victims of domestic violence face an array of individual behaviors that form a pattern that is designed to
control them:

       Intimidation                   Verbal attacks              Isolation
       Using loved ones               Abusing authority           Economic control
       Coercion and threats           Minimizing, denying and blaming


                                                     30
The behaviors follow a cycle of

       1)Tension-building:    criticism, yelling, swearing, using angry gestures, coercion, threats
       2) Violence:           physical and sexual attacks and threats
       3) Seduction:          apologies, blaming, promises to change, gifts

The victims become trapped in a cycle of emotions that make it hard to end an abusive relationship.

       1) Love:               for the partner, the relationship has its good points, it’s not all bad
       2) Hope:               that it will change; the relationship didn’t begin like this
       3) Fear:               that the threats to kill you or your family will come true

Note that these emotions have their place in a positive life, but become a trap when fed by the cycle of
abusive behaviors.

4. Suggestions for helping (from “Domestic Violence: The Facts” – A Handbook to STOP violence
   courtesy of Peace at Home, Boston)

This page is geared toward women because the majority of domestic violence is perpetuated against
women. It is important to emphasize, however, that violence occurs to others as well, and is equally
unacceptable.

Do you know someone in a battering relationship? Do you suspect that a friend, relative, or someone you
know is being abused? If so, don’t be afraid to offer help – you just might save someone’s life. Here are
some basic steps you can take to assist someone who may be a target of domestic violence.

Approach her in an understanding, non-blaming way. Tell her that she is not alone, that there are many
women like her in the same kind of situation, and that it takes strength to survive and trust someone
enough to talk about battering.

Acknowledge that it is scary and difficult to talk about domestic violence. Tell her she doesn’t deserve to
be threatened, hit or beaten. Nothing she can do or say makes the abuser’s violence OK.

Share information. Show her the survey of warning signs in Exhibit A. Explain the psychological
pressures at work in a violent relationship, and how they work in the interest of power and control.

Support her as a friend. Be a good listener. Encourage her to express her hurt and anger. Allow her to
make her own decisions, even if it means she isn’t ready to leave the abusive relationship.

Ask if she has suffered physical harm. Go with her to the hospital to check for injuries. Help her report
the assault to the police, if she chooses to do so.

Provide information on help available to battered women and their children, including social services,
emergency shelter, counseling services, and legal advice. To find this information, start with the Yellow
Pages.



                                                     31
Inform her about legal protection that is available in most states under abuse prevention laws. Go with
her to district, probate, or superior court to get a protective order to prevent further harassment by the
abuser. If you can’t go, find someone who can.

Plan safe strategies for leaving the abusive relationship. These are often called “safety plans.” Never
encourage someone to follow a safety plan that she believes will put her at further risk. And remember
that she may not feel comfortable taking these materials with her.




                                                     32
                                       Violence Within Marriage
                             A Statement by the National Spiritual Assembly
                                     of the Bahá’ís of New Zealand

Many of the problems that exist within society also exist within the Bahá’í community. Problems do not
vanish from our personal lives just because we have “signed up” as Bahá’ís, or have recognized
Bahá’ú’lláh as the Manifestation of God for this age. It isn’t enough to acknowledge the Divine
Physician. We must apply His remedy.

Violence, wherever it occurs, is abhorred in the Bahá’í Faith. As the overwhelming experience within
and within the Bahá’í community is men’s violence to women, this is the perspective of the National
Spiritual Assembly in preparing this statement. This cannot be taken as indicating any less serious a view
being held on other manifestations of violence. Violence is especially debilitating and reprehensible
when it takes place within what is meant to be the safety of one’s own home and the sanctity of marriage.

The man who batters his wife, whether with words, fists, or feet, may be an ordinary man, who in the
Bahá’í community, comes to Feast, hosts a Holy Day commemoration, participates in Assembly
consultation, and on the way home will scream at and abuse his wife for not supporting his view, for
smiling at another man, or for talking privately to one of the women. Any behavior of his wife that he can
construe as unsupportive, provocative, or independent, may become the “cause” of an outburst. A man
who behaves like this – usually only in private – will often say he “just lost control.” However, the
violent, abusive man usually exercises perfect control over himself, he doesn’t behave that way to his
work-mates, the police, or other members of the community. He keeps himself well controlled until in
the privacy of his home, where his wife and children become the victims of his abuse. Such behavior is
seldom the result of a disturbed personality and it can be challenged, modified, and prevented.

What is the effect for the wife and children of a violent man? The woman becomes increasingly fearful,
for that is the intention of violence – it is intended to control behavior by producing fear. Such a woman
manifests her fear by trying, in turn, to control the environment, so that her husband will have no cause
for outbursts. It is a losing battle. The violent abusive man will always find a reason to express his
violence; the house isn’t tidy enough, the children were noisy at Feast; she bought a book without his
permission; she was elected to the Local Spiritual Assembly.

In addition to trying to control the environment in the home, family and community, the wife of a violent
husband will begin to barter her primary responsibility as first educator of their children. In a marriage
between equal and mature people, they recognize that the purpose of their marriage is “that from you may
appear he who will remember Me amongst My servants.” A violent husband is one who insists, overtly
through his words, or covertly through his behavior, that his needs come first.

A frightened mother will find, increasingly that she has to make decisions about the care and well-being
of her children which she knows are not good for them, but in an effort to “keep the peace” she will put
her violent husband’s demands before the rights and needs of her children. Often lacking transportation
(“Oh he needs the car tonight,” or “My husband says the car wouldn’t make it to the conference.”) and
money (“I can’t afford to give to the fund.”), the wife of a violent husband will become increasingly
isolated from the Bahá’í community. If he physically beats her, it will be when the bruises show or she’s
too sore to move easily that she retreats from the community. If his violence is verbal and psychological,
she will increasingly feel unworthy to participate in Bahá’í activities. His verbal abuse will erode her


                                                    33
self-confidence. She will become increasingly preoccupied with him and his needs, and with keeping the
pace. She may become forgetful, indifferent to her appearance, fearful of saying or doing the “wrong”
thing. She may become suicidal and anxious about her sanity.

The children from a violent home will usually appear subdued, unwilling to take risks, unable to try new
things, and lack spontaneity. The boys will often exhibit violent, anti-social behavior in play as they
mirror the same-gender role model. The girls will often be passive and may be unusually helpful, as they
mimic their mother’s pacifying role. As youth they may be particularly rebellious, not only against their
families but maybe against the Bahá’í Faith.

In homes where there is violence, sons often grow up to be violent men nd daughters often grown up to be
submissive, lacking in self-worth, and end up marrying violent men – thus repeating the cycle. And what
of these violent men in our midst? A few of them know that what they are doing is wrong. They love
Bahá’ú’lláh and desire with all their hearts to align their lives with His teachings. These men are ashamed
of their behavior. They will readily acknowledge that they are at fault and eagerly pursue a prescribed
course of behavior modification.

Most violent men, however, do not know that what they are doing is wrong. They sincerely believe that
everyone else is to blame for their problems. Pointing out to these men that what they are doing is wrong
isn’t enough. They merely find ways of disguising their violence, rather than uprooting from their lives.
In His Will and Testament, ‘‘Abdu’l-Bahá’ wrote: “Every aggressor deprives himself of God’s grace.”

Husbands who act violently towards their wives and children are the men ‘‘Abdu’l-Bahá’ refers to as
tyrants. Kindness to such men only encourages their bad behavior. “Kindness cannot be shown the
tyrant, the deceiver, or the thief, because, far from awakening them to the error of their ways, it maketh
them to continue in their perversity as before.”

At this time in our spiritual evolution, we Bahá’ís are still far more influenced by our culture than we are
by the Revelation of Bahá’ú’lláh. It is the responsibility of the parents within the family, of the Local
Spiritual Assembly within the Bahá’í community, and the Bahá’í communities within society, to create an
environment in which men’s violence within the family is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

The Universal House of Justice has stated that: “No husband should subject his wife to abuse of any kind
whether emotional, mental or physical.”

The abuse by husbands of their wives is kept hidden in our Bahá’í communities because of a powerful
combination of influences such as isolation; violence which is glorified, amplified and sensationalized by
the media; “ownership” of family members; the idea that family violence is between two equals rather
than the reality of one weaker partner; economic dependence; and lack of police, legal, or community
protection. The idea of protection of the Faith has, unfortunately, occasionally been used by well-
meaning believers to avoid dealing with violence within a marriage.

Now is the time to face the issue of violence in our own lives and in the lives of those around us. violence
in the Bahá’í community needs to be addressed as it stunts the growth of the human resources of the
Faith. It inhibits the proper functioning of our institutions. The National Spiritual Assembly and the
Auxiliary Board members stand ready to support Local Spiritual Assemblies and the believers at large in
their efforts to courageously address and to progressively eliminate the violence from our midst.


                                                     34
Many institutions within New Zealand have recently taken up the challenge not only to address violence,
but also to develop policies and procedures by which women can seek help. This will enable women to
take their full place within society. Thus it is timely for the National Spiritual Assembly to respond to a
need within the Bahá’í community by providing guidelines to men and women within their communities
who need protection, challenge, and support for change.




                                                     35
                                          Survey of Warning Signs

One of the challenges facing those who attempt to assist people involved in issues that arouse strong
emotions such as violence, is to obtain a clear picture of the facts. This is particularly true for Local
Spiritual Assemblies, whose members are generally not trained or experienced in such things. A survey
such as the one below can assist in obtaining such a clear picture because, once completed, it is a record
that is unaffected by differences in how individuals remember and perceive what was communicated.

Answer each question with a yes or a no:

1. Does your partner continually monitor your time and make you account for every minute          Y    N
   (when you run errands, visit friends, commute to work, etc.)?
   Do you monitor your partner?                                                                   Y    N

2. Does your partner ever accuse you of having affairs with other men (or women) or act
   suspicious that you are?                                                                       Y    N
   Do you accuse your partner?                                                                    Y    N

3. Is your partner ever rude to your friends?                                                     Y    N
   Are you rude?                                                                                  Y    N

4. Does your partner call you names or curse at you?                                              Y    N
   Do you call your partner names?                                                                Y    N

5. Has your partner belittled you for your race, age, gender, education, abilities, or ideas?     Y    N
   Do you belittle your partner?                                                                  Y    N

6. Does your partner discourage you from starting new friendships?                                Y    N
   Do you discourage your partner from new friendships?                                           Y    N

7. Do you ever feel isolated and alone, as if there is nobody close to confide in?                Y    N

8. Has your partner told you that you’ll never “make it” without him/her, or that no one
   would ever want you?                                                                           Y    N
   Have you ever told your partner these things?                                                  Y    N

9. Is your partner overly critical of daily things such as your clothes, your appearance,
   your cooking, etc?                                                                             Y    N
   Are you overly critical of daily things?                                                       Y    N

10. Does your partner demand a strict account of how you spend money?                             Y    N
    Do you demand a strict account of your partner?                                               Y    N

11. Do your partner’s moods change radically, from very calm to very angry?                       Y    N
    Do your moods change radically like this?                                                     Y    N

12. Has your partner gotten out weapons (guns, knives, etc.) to look at, to clean, or to play


                                                      36
    with when you’re having an argument?                                                       Y    N

13. Has your partner threatened to call the police, or your family, or your boss, or Social
    Services if you disagree or refuse to go along with what he/she wants?                     Y    N
    Have your ever threatened to call if he/she doesn’t go along with you?                     Y    N

14. Has your partner ever blocked your freedom of movement, i.e. blocking a doorway,
    taking your keys, taking your distributor cap, etc.?                                       Y    N
    Have you ever blocked your partner’s freedom?                                              Y    N

15. Has your partner physically restrained you?                                                Y    N
    Have you ever physically restrained your partner?                                          Y    N

16. Is your partner disturbed by your working or by the thought of you working?                Y    N
    Are you disturbed by your partner working?                                                 Y    N

17. Does your partner become angry more easily if he/she drinks or uses drugs?                 Y    N
    Do you become angry more easily if you drink or use drugs?                                 Y    N

18. Does your partner pressure you for sex much more often than you’d like?                    Y    N
    Do you pressure your partner for sex?                                                      Y    N

19. Does your partner become angry if you don’t want to go along with his/her requests for sex? Y   N
    Do you become angry if your partner doesn’t go along with your requests for sex?            Y   N

20. Has your partner threatened to take the kids so that you’ll never see them again?          Y    N
    Have you threatened to take the kids so that he/she will never see them again?             Y    N

21. Have you ever had to leave our home because you were frightened of your partner’s
    behavior?                                                                                  Y    N
    Has your partner ever had to leave because he/she was frightened of you?                   Y    N

22. Does your partner blame you for his/her own acts of violence?                              Y    N
    Do you blame you partner for you own acts of violence?                                     Y    N

23. Do you and your partner quarrel over financial matters?                                    Y    N

24. Do you and your partner quarrel much about the children or raising them?                   Y    N

25. Does your partner ever strike you with his/her hands or feet (slap, punch, kick, etc.)?    Y    N
    Do you ever strike your partner?                                                           Y    N

26. Does your partner ever strike you with an object?                                          Y    N
    Do you ever strike your partner with an object?                                            Y    N

27. Does your partner ever threaten you with an object or weapon?                              Y    N
    Do you ever threaten your partner with an object or weapon?                                Y    N


                                                     37
28. Has your partner ever threatened to kill either himself/herself or you?                       Y   N
    Have you ever threatened to kill your partner or yourself?                                    Y   N

29. Is your partner obsessed with you, unwilling to let you go?                                   Y   N
    Are you obsessed with your partner?                                                           Y   N

30. Does your partner follow you to work, to school, or repeatedly call to check on where
    you are?                                                                                      Y   N
    Do you follow your partner or repeatedly check up on him/her?                                 Y   N

31. Are there any holes in your walls, doors off hinges, telephones ripped out of the wall?       Y   N

32. Does your partner ever give you visible injuries such as welts, bruises, cuts, lumps on the
    head?                                                                                         Y   N
    Have you ever given your partner visible injuries?                                            Y   N

33. Have you ever had to treat with first aid an injury from his/her violence?                    Y   N
    Has your partner ever had to treat with first aid injuries you caused?                        Y   N

34. Have you ever had to seek professional aid at a medical clinic, doctor’s office, or
    hospital emergency room for an injury caused by your partner?                                 Y   N
    Has your partner ever had to seek professional aid for injuries caused by you?                Y   N

35. Does your partner ever hurt you sexually or force you to have intercourse?                    Y   N
    Have you ever hurt your partner sexually or forced him/her to have intercourse?               Y   N

36. Is your partner violent toward children?                                                      Y   N
    Are you ever violent toward children?                                                         Y   N

37. Has your partner ever choked you or pulled you by your hair?                                  Y   N
    Have you ever choked your partner or pulled him/her by his/her hair?                          Y   N

38. Is your partner ever violent toward people outside your home and family?                      Y   N
    Are you ever violent toward other people outside your home and family?                        Y   N

39. Has your partner ever thrown you, or tired to throw you, down, or into a wall, or into a
    kitchen counter, etc.?                                                                        Y   N
    Have you ever thrown or tried to throw your partner?                                          Y   N

40. Has your partner ever twisted your arm, tripped you, or bit you?                              Y   N
    Have you ever twisted your partner’s arm, tripped, or bit him/her?                            Y   N

41. Has your partner ever played “mind games” or made you think you were crazy?                   Y   N
    Have you ever played “mind games” or tried to make your partner feel they were crazy?         Y   N

42. Has your partner ever attacked the sexual parts of your body?                                 Y   N


                                                     38
    Have your ever attacked the sexual parts of your partner’s body?                                   Y     N

43. Has your partner ever hurt or threatened to hurt pets?                                             Y     N
    Have you ever hurt or threatened to hurt pets?                                                     Y     N

44. Has your partner ever treated you like a servant?                                                  Y     N
    Have your ever treated your partner like a servant?                                                Y     N

45. Has your partner ever intentionally destroyed your property?                                       Y     N
    Have you ever intentionally destroyed your partner’s property?                                     Y     N

46. Does your partner throw objects or break things when angry?                                        Y     N
    Do you throw objects or break things when you are angry?                                           Y     N

47. Has your partner ever been in trouble with the police?                                             Y     N
    Have you ever been in trouble with the police?                                                     Y     N

48. Has your partner ever said that if he/she can’t have you, no one else will?                        Y     N
    Have you ever said that if you can’t have him/her, no one else will?                               Y     N

49. Has your partner ever “gotten in you face” (yelling or threatening 2 or 3 inches from your
    nose) when angry?                                                                                  Y     N
    Have you ever “gotten in your partner’s face” when angry?                                          Y     N

50. Have you ever called the police or tried to call them because you felt you or other members
    of your family were in danger?                                                                Y          N
    Has your partner ever called the police or wanted to call the police because he/she felt they
    or other family members were in danger?                                                       Y          N


Yes answers to the following questions suggest you are in a controlling relationship:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, 16, 18, 19, 20, 41, 44, 49

Yes answers to the following questions suggest you are in a potentially dangerous situation:
11, 12, 15, 17, 21, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 42, 43, 45, 46, 47, 48,
50

Yes answers to the following questions suggest you should get help immediately:
20, 21, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 39, 40, 42, 43, 48




                                                       39
                                         Personalized Safety Plan

1. Suggestions for increasing safety - in the relationship

   I will have important phone numbers available to my children and myself.

   I can tell _________________ and ________________ about the violence and ask them to call the
    police if they hear suspicious noises coming from my home.

   If I leave my home, I can go (list four places: ___________________ , ______________________,
    ________________________, or _____________________ .

   I can leave extra money, car keys, clothes, and copies of documents with _____________________ .

   If I leave, I will bring ____________________________________ (make a checklist).

   To ensure safety and independence, I can: Keep change for phone calls with me at all times; open my
    own savings account; rehearse my escape route with a support person; and review safety plan on
    ____________________ (date).


2. Suggestions for increasing safety – when the relationship is over.

   I can: change the locks; install steel/metal doors, a security system, smoke detectors and an outside
    lighting system.

   I will inform ___________________ and ___________________ that my partner no longer lives with
    me and ask them to call the police if he/she is observed near my home or my children.

   I will tell people who take care of my children the names of those who have permission to pick them
    up. The people who have permission are: _____________________, _______________________,
    and _________________________.

   I can tell _______________________ at work about my situation and ask ______________________
    to screen my calls.

   I can avoid stores, banks, and _______________________ that I used when living with my partner.

   I can obtain a protective order from ______________________________. I can keep it on or near me
    at all times as well as leave a copy with _________________________________.

   If I feel down and ready to return to a potentially abusive situation, I can call
    ____________________________ for support or attend workshops and support groups to gain
    support and strengthen my relationships with other people.




                                                     40
                       Five Characteristics of Children and Their Reaction to Abuse

While this section is intended to cover child abuse in general, the examples given involve sexual abuse.
Sexual abuse tends to present the most extreme examples of the dynamics involved for the child who is
subject to abuse. The extremeness can help us to understand dynamics that are present, although less
obvious, in other forms of abuse.

Unless otherwise noted, the quotes that are cited come from “The Child Abuse Accommodation
Syndrome” by Roland C. Summit, M.D. as published in Child Abuse and Neglect, Volume 7, pages 177-
193, 1983. The quotes are generally worded from the perspective a girl-child who is subject to abuse,
since this appears to be the more common case, but are applicable to the case of a boy-child as well,
unless otherwise noted.

1. The child is helpless

       “Whereas a fish from the very first day of its life is independent and in no need of help, such is not
       the case with human offspring, who are helpless, powerless, and dependent upon others for a long
       period of time.” (Hand of the Cause, Dr. Furatan in Mothers, Fathers, and Children, page 8)

       This helplessness has two dimensions:
       a. The child depends upon his care givers to defend him bodily
       b. More importantly, the child depends upon his care givers to teach him how to understand his
          experience. He is very dependent upon what his care givers say and do not say.

       Child abuse involves at least the second aspect, and often the first as well.

       “Material fire consumeth the body, whereas the fire of the tongue devoureth both heart and soul.
       The force of the former lasteth but for a time, whilst the effects of the latter endureth a century. “
       (Bahá’ú’lláh: Gleanings, page 265)

2. If the abuse is shameful, the child will be told to keep it secret

        “Initiation, intimidation, stigmatization, helplessness, and self-blame depend upon a terrifying
       reality of child sexual abuse: It happens only when the child is alone with the offending adult, and
       it must never be shared with anyone else.”

       “Virtually no child is prepared for the possibility of molestation by a trusted adult; that possibility
       is a well kept secret even among adults. The child is, therefore, entirely dependent on the intruder
       for whatever reality is assigned to the experience. Of all the inadequate, illogical, self-serving, or
       self-protective explanations provided by the adult, the only consistent and meaningful impression
       gained by the child is one of danger and fearful outcome based on secrecy.
        ‘This is our secret; nobody else will understand.’
        ‘Don’t tell anybody.’
        ‘Nobody will believe you.’
        ‘Don’t tell your mother; (a) she will hate you (b) she will hate me (c) she will kill you (d) she
            will kill me (e) it will kill her (f) she will send you away (g) she will send me away, or (h) it
            will break up the family and you will end up in an orphanage’


                                                      41
         ‘If you tell anyone (a) I won’t love you anymore, (b) I’ll spank you, (c) I’ll kill your dog, or
          (d) I’ll kill you.’”

      “However gentle or menacing the intimidation may be, the secrecy makes it clear to the child that
      this is something bad and dangerous. The secrecy is both the source of fear and the promise of
      safety: ‘Everything will be all right if you just don’t tell.’ The secret takes on magical, monstrous
      proportions for the child. A child with no knowledge or awareness of sex and even with no pain
      or embarrassment from the sexual experience itself will still be stigmatized with a sense of
      badness and danger from the pervasive secrecy.”

      “Any attempts by the child to illuminate the secret will be countered by an adult conspiracy of
      silence and disbelief.
       ‘Don’t worry about things like that: that could never happen in our family.’
       ‘Nice children don’t talk about things like that.’
       ‘Uncle Johnie doesn’t mean you any harm; that’s just his way of showing how much he loves
           you.’
       ‘How could you ever think of such a terrible thing?’
       ‘Don’t let me ever hear you say anything like that again!’”

      “The average child never asks and never tells. Contrary to the general expectation that the victim
      would normally seek help, the majority of the victims in retrospective surveys had never told
      anyone during their childhood. Respondents expressed fear that they would be blamed for what
      had happened or that a parent would not be able to protect them from retaliation. Many of those
      who sought help reported that parents became hysterical or punishing or pretended that nothing
      had happened.”

      “Yet adult expectation dominates the judgment applied to disclosures of sexual abuse. When the
      child does not immediately complain, it is painfully apparent to any child that there is no second
      chance.
       ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’
       ‘How could you keep such a thing secret?’
       ‘Why did you wait until now if it really happened so long ago?’
       ‘How can you expect me to believe such a fantastic story?’”

      “Unless the victim can find some permission and power to share the secret and unless there is a
      possibility of an engaging, non-punitive response to disclosure, the child is likely to spend a
      lifetime in what comes to be a self-imposed exile from intimacy, trust, and self-validation.”

3. The child accommodates to survive

      If a child has positive life experiences from his caregivers, “accommodation” is referred to by
      another name: “education”. Consider the following quote from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:

      “It is in early childhood that a firm foundation must be laid. While the branch is green and tender
      it can easily be made straight.” Bahá’í Education page 24.



                                                    42
Fortunately the flexibility of the “green and tender branch” allows children to survive abuse.
Unfortunately, in the process they are schooled in habits of thought and self-perception that they
may struggle with for a lifetime. Consider the rest of the quote from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá cited above:

“It is extremely difficult to teach the individual and refine his character once puberty is passed.
By then, as experience hath shown, even if every effort be exerted to modify some tendency of his,
it all availeth nothing. He may, perhaps, improve somewhat today; but let a few days pass and he
forgetteth, and turneth backward to his habitual condition and accustomed ways.” Bahá’í
Education page 24.

On the physical level, in cases involving primary care givers, accommodating abuse usually means
enduring it.

On the psychological level:

Dependent and helpless, the child understands what it is to be human through his parents and
primary care givers. He has no basis for recognizing that his parent could act inhumanly towards
him. If he should suffer inhuman treatment from his parent, recognizing and forgiving this reality
may well be a life-long struggle.

 “The only acceptable alternative for the child is to believe that she has provoked the painful
encounters and to hope that by learning to be good she can earn love and acceptance. The
desperate assumption of responsibility and the inevitable failure to earn relief set the foundation
for self-hate…”

“The sexually abusing parent provides graphic example and instruction in how to be good, that is,
the child must be available without complaint to the parent’s sexual demands. There is an explicit
or implicit promise of rewords. If she is good and if she keeps the secret, she can
 protect her siblings from sexual involvement (‘It’s a good thing I can count on you to love me;
    otherwise I’d have to turn to your little sister.”).
 protect her mother from disintegration (‘If your mother ever found out, it would kill her’).
 protect her father from temptation (‘If I couldn’t count on you, I’d have to hang out in bars
    and look for other women’)
 preserve the security of the home (‘If you ever tell, they could send me to jail and put all you
    kids in an orphanage’).”

“In the classic role reversal of child abuse, the child is given the power to destroy the family and
the responsibility to keep it together. The child, not the parent, must mobilize the altruism and
self-control to insure the survival of the others. The child, in short, must secretly assume many of
the role-functions ordinarily assigned to the mother.”

“There is an inevitable splitting of conventional moral values. Maintaining a lie to keep the secret
is the ultimate virtue, while telling the truth is the greatest sin.”

A child entrapped in a continuous cycle of abuse is under severe pressure to find a way to keep
some hope of goodness alive:


                                              43
         “She may turn to imaginary companions for reassurance.
         She may develop multiple personalities, assigning helplessness and suffering to one, badness
          and rage to another, sexual power to another, love and compassion to another, etc.
        She may discover altered states of consciousness to shut off pain or to dissociate from her
          body, as if looking on from a distance at the child suffering the abuse.
       The same mechanisms which allow psychic survival for the child become handicaps … as an
       adult.”

       “If the child [does not find a way to balance] the continuing outrage, the intolerance of
       helplessness and the increasing feeling of rage will seek active expression. For the girl this often
       leads to self-destruction and reinforcement of self-hate: self-mutilation, suicidal behavior,
       promiscuous sexual activity and repeated runaways are typical… She may fight with both parents,
       but her greatest rage is likely to focus on her mother, whom she blames for abandoning her to her
       father…. Ultimately the child tends to believe that she is intrinsically so rotten that she was never
       worth caring for. [She may become] all the more dependent on the pathetic hope of gaining
       acceptance and protection with an abusive male…. The male victim of sexual abuse is more likely
       to turn his rage outward in aggressive and antisocial behavior. He is even more intolerant of his
       helplessness than the female victim and more likely to rationalize that he is exploiting the
       relationship for his own benefit.… Various admixtures of depression, counterphobic violence,
       misogyny (again, the mother is seen as non-caring and unprotective), child molestation, and rape
       seem to be part of the legacy of rage endowed in the sexually abused boy.”

        “It is worth restating that all these accommodation mechanisms- domestic martyrdom, splitting of
       reality, altered consciousness, hysterical phenomena, delinquency, sociopathy, projection of rage,
       even self-mutilation- are part of the survival skills of the child. They can be overcome only if the
       child can be led to trust in a secure environment which can provide consistent, noncontingent
       acceptance and caring. In the meantime, anyone working therapeutically with the child (or the
       grown-up, still shattered victim) may be tested and provoked to prove that trust is impossible, and
       that the only secure reality is negative expectations and self-hate.”

       While the Bahá’í Community is not responsible for providing therapy to its members, it is worth
       considering is role as a “secure environment which can provide consistent, noncontingent
       acceptance and caring.” Consider the following quote:

       The people of the world not only need the laws and principles of the Bahá’í Faith- they
       desperately need to see the love that is engendered by it in the hearts of its followers, and to
       partake of that atmosphere of tolerance, understanding, forbearance and active kindness which
       should be the hall-mark of a Bahá’í Community. (Shoghi Effendi in Lights of Guidance,
       paragraph 1345)

4. If the force of the secret is strong, disclosure by the child will be delayed, conflicted, and
   unconvincing (to those who hear it)

       “Most ongoing sexual abuse is never disclosed, at least outside the immediate family. Treated,
       reported, or investigated cases are the exception, not the norm.”




                                                      44
       “Contrary to popular myth most mothers are not aware of ongoing sexual abuse….Of the minority
       of incest secrets that are disclosed to the mother or discovered by the mother, very few are
       subsequently reported to outside agencies. The mother will either disbelieve the complaint or try
       to negotiate a resolution within the family.”

       “The victim of incestuous abuse tends to remain silent until she enters adolescence when she
       becomes capable of demanding a more separate life for herself and challenging the authority of
       her parents.”

       Except in cases involving incidental discovery by third parties, or sensitive outreach and education
       by professionals, such as child protective services, disclosure of an abuse secret is typically an
       impulsive act of an adolescent angered in a family fight by a parent’s infliction of a humiliating
       punishment: “After an especially punishing family fight and a belittling showdown of authority
       by the father, the girl is finally driven by anger to let go of the secret.”

       Unless they are especially trained, adults hearing such a disclosure are inclined not to believe it:
        they expect children to behave obediently and lovingly towards their care givers, and are
           especially repelled if expressions of rage accompany the disclosure.
        they do not believe that an apparently normal parent, often a respected member of the
           community, would be capable of such abuse, and they are likely to identify with what they
           see as a parent’s attempt to cope with a rebellious teenager.
        the context of the family fight which motivated the disclosure suggests that the child may be
           fabricating the story to retaliate for a punishment. This idea has additional credence if in
           general the child shows a pattern of unruly, self-destructive behavior that is unattractive and
           seems to justify the parent’s resort to punishment. On the other hand, it also has additional
           credence if a punishment that appears exaggerated or extreme seems to explain why a child
           would be motivated to retaliate against a parent with a fictitious allegation of abuse.
        they do not believe that a normal child would not have reported the abuse when it began,
           typically years earlier. This idea has additional credence if in general the child shows a pattern
           of orderly behavior that is attractive and looks “normal”.
       In short, whatever the scenario of facts, adults without training in the underlying dynamics from
       the child’s point of view tend to disbelieve the disclosure.

5. The child’s disclosures are likely to be retracted

       “Beneath the anger of impulsive disclosure remains the ambivalence of guilt and the martyred
       obligation to preserve the family. In the chaotic aftermath of disclosure, the child discovers that
       the bedrock fears and threats underlying the secrecy are true. Her father abandons her and calls
       her a liar. Her mother does not believe her or [falls apart in] hysteria and rage. The family is
       fragmented, and all the children are placed in custody. The father is threatened with disgrace and
       imprisonment. The girl is blamed for causing the whole mess, and everyone seems to treat her
       like a freak. She is interrogated about all the tawdry details and encouraged to incriminate her
       father, yet the father remains unchallenged, remaining at home in the security of the family. She is
       held in custody with no apparent hope of returning home if the dependency petition is sustained.”




                                                        45
“Unless there is special support for the child and immediate intervention to force responsibility on
the father, the girl will follow the ‘normal’ course and retract her complaint. The girl ‘admits’ she
made up the story:

   ‘I was awful mad at my Dad for punishing me. He hit me and said I could never see my
    boyfriend again. I’ve been really bad for years and nothing seems to keep me from getting
    into trouble. Dad had plenty of reason to be mad at me. But I got real mad and just had to find
    some way of getting out of that place. So I made up this story about him fooling around with
    me and everything. I didn’t mean to get everyone in so much trouble.’

This simple lie carries more credibility than the most explicit claims of incestuous entrapment.”




                                             46
              Striking a Natural Note – a New State of Mind in the Administration of Justice
                                          Outline for Facilitators

I. Necessary copies:

-One copy of pages 1-26 stapled together and 27 separately for each participant, and pages 28-45 stapled
separately if you wish to provide additional background information on domestic violence to participants
of the course. The additional information is not a formal part of the course, but the course may stimulate
interest in this material among many participants if it is provided to them, and they will read it on their
own.

- 1/4 as many copies of each case as there are participants, plus 2 or 3 of each. The cases are on pages 51-
62 and are numbered 1a (2 pages), 2a (2 pages), 3a (2 pages), 4a (2 pages), 1b, 2b, 3b, 4b.

II. Quotes to be used for the spiritual atmosphere

Put the following quotes up at the beginning of the course. Have them read out loud as part of the
introduction to the course before starting on the exercises.

        “The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice. Turn not away therefrom if thou desirest
        me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee.” (Bahá’ú’lláh in the Hidden Words)

        “Assembly members have always to be mindful that the authority they wield must in general be
        expressed with love, humility and a genuine respect for others. Thus exercised, authority strikes a
        natural note and accords with that which is acceptable to spiritually attuned and fair-minded
        souls." (letter from the Universal House of Justice dated May 19, 1994 as quoted in Developing
        Distinctive Bahá’í Communities page 1.8-1.9).

        “…the Assembly is a nascent House of Justice and is supposed to administer, according to the
        Teachings, the affairs of the Community. But individuals towards each other are governed by
        love, unity, forgiveness and a sin-covering eye. Once the friends grasp this they will get along
        much better, but they keep playing Spiritual Assembly to each other and expect the Assembly to
        behave like an individual." (Shoghi Effendi: Directives of the Guardian, Pages: 41-42)

III. The contribution of the facilitators in this course

The course itself is quite tightly structured, and seems to flow pretty well all by itself. There are four
areas the learning is highly dependent upon the facilitator’s actions:

           Have the theme quotes for the course read out loud during the introduction
           In the presentation of the first set of cases, help the participants to see that referring the issue to
            the Assembly is the best step that can be taken.
           In the presentation of the first group of cases in Part III note that case 4a is different from the
            others in that there is no direct evidence of a blatant or flagrant violation of Bahá’í Law that
            would require immediate reporting to the Local Spiritual Assembly. If the participants have
            missed this distinction, it should be pointed out.
           Present the graphic described in part IV below- this is 100% dependent upon the facilitator.

                                                           47
           In the presentation of the second set of cases, praise the participants for the strategies the ways
            that they have shown love, humility, and genuine respect for others in their letters. This praise
            reinforces how important these characteristics are to an Assembly's expression of authority.

In the rest of the course the role of the facilitator includes:

first- to establish and maintain the spiritual atmosphere necessary for learning such heart-wrenching
material over an intensely packed day. Lots of prayer, love, and service.

second- assist the friends to understand the instructions for each exercise very quickly so that no time is
lost. The day is very full. They will need all of it. Facilitators should come fully familiar with the
instructions for each part.

third- give special assistance to any who struggle with the reading and analysis. The material and
exercises are really at a college level. This makes it very stimulating to many. The facilitators will need
to serve those who might feel overwhelmed, picking their partners in groups with care, taking care to
render this service in a way that lifts up their hearts.

four- give special support to any for whom the material triggers strong reactions due to associations with
their own histories. To be prepared for this possibility, the course should have more facilitators than
might otherwise be needed for the same size group. This part of the work is pure heart. Be close to the
participants as they study the material- reach out to their hearts. Strong reactions of either identification
or denial are possible. Be ready to reach out with love to any who need to discontinue studying a section,
and to any who inwardly yearn for solace at the breaks.

At least one of the facilitators should be an assistant to an auxiliary board member who can act on behalf
of the auxiliary board as an institution of the Faith unhampered by restrictions against backbiting in
listening to the friends’ personal situations if they need to unburden themselves of sadness they have
faced.

IV. Presentation of Graphic on Inputs and Outputs of Consultation

Put a blank sheet of newsprint on the wall. Draw a circle and call it consultation. Read the prime
requisites and the first and second condition. Say that fully realizing these requirements will help make
the circle perfect and strong.




Point out that consultation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s purpose is to serve as an instrument of
governance in the world. Write “World” at the bottom, and draw a line up to the circle. Point out that it
makes no sense to try to consult to determine the temperature outside- you have to go out, take a
thermometer, and do some the fact gathering.

                                                        48
                                                   Worldly
                                        World

Point out that if the only input to the consultation process is from the world, the output will tend to be
worldly. Add a droopy output arrow that returns back down to the world. Write “worldly” next to it.

Point out that we can also get inputs into the consultation process from Bahá’ú’lláh’s Word- from the
realms of Revelation. Add the word “Revelation” at the top, and an arrow pointing into the circle. Add
another output arrow curving up and write “heavenly” next to it. Cover up the word "world" with your
hand and point out that consultation with inputs only from the Revelation are just heavenly. Just
heavenly- like how many angels can dance on the head of a pin- just heavenly stuff. Point out that it
makes no sense to consult to try to decide what God’s Revelation says. The only way is to open our
hearts and open the book and read it, beseeching God’s help to understand it.
                                    Revelation
                                                 Heavenly




                                       World         Worldly

Then add an output line coming straight out of the circle and write “Of the Kingdom of God On Earth!”

                                    Revelation
                                                 Heavenly


                                                                Of the Kingdom
                                                                     of God on Earth!



                                                    Worldly
                                      World

Point out that if we give consultation the inputs it needs both from the world and from the Revelation,
Bahá’ú’lláh’s gift to mankind – consultation – when applied by His institutions, can consistently give
outputs that are of the Kingdom of God on Earth.


                                                      49
Point out that we have never had this precious capacity in our hands before. So for the first time
mankind can reliably pull off incredible things- like balancing mercy and justice on a consistent basis, day
in and day out. With Bahá’ú’lláh’s gift of consultation in the hands of His Institutions, we now have an
instrument that is worthy of the task of applying Divine Law in the realm of His creatures.

Let’s think a minute about the institutions that are called upon to perform this function for mankind.

Point out that the Institution of the Rulers is by design very tied to the world. Bahá’ú’lláh has invited the
whole world to turn to them with all their problems. This means that our beloved assemblies can at times
have very crowded agendas and might get bogged down with output that is sometimes worldly.

Point out that the Institution of the Learned is not so tied down to the world. People can bring the
Learned their problems, but the Learned don’t have to decide anything concrete. This makes it easier to
keep in touch with the Revelation and work exclusively in the realm of Divine Principle. The Institution
of the Learned has an easier time responding - “now we seem to be getting down into the details and when
we do this we can get confused. Let’s stick with the principles so we can really see what is going on.”

Point out the very close relationship between these institutions called for by the Four Year Plan (par 3.24)

“For such an expansion to be stimulated and accommodated, the Spiritual Assemblies must rise to a new
stage in the exercise of their responsibilities as channels of divine guidance, planners of the teaching
work, developers of human resources, builders of communities, and loving shepherds of the multitudes.
They can realize these prospects through increasing the ability of their members to take counsel together
in accordance with the principles of the Faith [make the circle perfect] and to consult with the friends
under their jurisdiction, through fostering the spirit of service, through spontaneously collaborating with
the Continental Counselors and their auxiliaries [to ensure they get input from the Revelation as well as
from the world], and through cultivating their external relations.”

V. Sample letter to promote this course

Dear Bahá’í Friends,

A special course to develop the ability of Bahá’í communities to "strike a natural note in the
administration of Justice" is being offered <date> at the <place>. It develops participants' appreciation of
how Bahá’ú’lláh's System is meant to function to promote His Justice in the face of the perplexing
problems of today. The course gives balanced treatment to the vital roles that fall upon the individual and
those that fall upon the Assemblies in the operation of this System, as well as the positive interaction that
should exist between the two.

The concepts of the course have a wide applicability- indeed to all areas where Assemblies exercise
authority on behalf of Bahá’í communities. They are developed through concrete examples involving
domestic violence, which turns out to be a particularly challenging issue when faced by our Institutions.
The darkness of an issue like domestic violence provides an ideal context for gaining an appreciation of
the brilliance of Bahá’ú’lláh's System.

The details of the course are as follows:


                                                     50
       Title:         Striking a Natural Note- A new State of Mind in the
                      Administration of Justice
       Date:          <date and time>
       Place:         <place>
       Cost:          <cost>
       Confirm:       <contact>

Your attendance will help us prepare for the demands of entry by troops. Many people will need
assistance in transforming their lives according to Bahá’ú’lláh's pattern. We need to be able to meet this
demand in an effective way that does not divert all our attention from teaching. The necessary guidance
is here. Please join us in learning how to apply it.

With loving Bahá’í Greetings,

Mathew Kahzab Institute

"The All-Knowing Physician hath His finger on the pulse of mankind. He perceiveth the disease, and
prescribeth, in His unerring wisdom, the remedy. Every age hath its own problem, and every soul its
particular aspiration. The remedy the world needeth in its present-day afflictions can never be the same
as that which a subsequent age may require. Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in,
and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements." (Bahá’ú’lláh: Gleanings, page 213)




                                                    51
                                                  Case 1a

Read the case, then work through the quotes and questions that follow. Prepare answers to the questions
for presentation to the group as a whole.

A Bahá’í friend has just called you. She and her husband are both Bahá’ís and they have two children,
ages 2 and 4. The woman says that her husband just left the house and she doesn’t know where he went.
She says that they had been having an argument about money all day and “he just blew up,” slammed her
into the wall, and started hitting her. She says she thinks she is alright, although her head and her arms
hurt. Her nose has stopped bleeding now. She says the children are OK. She says they didn’t hear a
thing- that they were asleep in their bedroom. She says he will be very mad if he finds out that she called,
but she didn’t know what else to do because she thought she might be killed he was so angry.

1..No Bahá’í husband should ever beat his wife, or subject her to any form of cruel treatment; to do so
would be an unacceptable abuse of the marriage relationship and contrary to the Teachings of Bahá’ú’lláh
(Part 2, paragraph 19)

In this quote, what is Bahá’ú’lláh's message to the woman? _____________________________________



2.. ‘Abdu’l-Baháhas written, "O ye lovers of God! In this, the cycle of almighty God, violence and force,
constraint and oppression, are one and all condemned." Let those who, driven by their passions or by
their inability to exercise discipline in the control of their anger, might be tempted to inflict violence on
another human being, be mindful of the condemnation of such disgraceful behavior by the Revelation of
Bahá’ú’lláh. (Part 2, paragraph 10)

In this quote, what is Bahá’ú’lláh's message to the man? _____________________________________



3..If an Assembly is handling a case in which the state has exclusive interest (such as child abuse, sexual
molestation, battering, severe neglect, etc.), it must be careful not to interfere with the established legal
procedures. For example, most states require all suspected cases of child abuse to be reported to the civil
authorities. In those states, Bahá’í institutions would be legally required to report all such cases to the
appropriate social agencies. In addition, many states require persons in certain positions, i.e. teachers,
doctors, etc., to report these types of cases. (Part 2 Paragraph 34)

In this quote, what is Bahá’ú’lláh's message to you who have received the call?
_____________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________

4..If the misconduct is flagrant or threatens the interests of the Faith the believer to whose attention it
comes should immediately report it to the Local Spiritual Assembly. Once it is in the hand of the
Assembly the believer's obligation is discharged and he should do no more than pray for the offender and


                                                     52
continue to show him friendship and encouragement- unless, of course, the Spiritual Assembly asks him
to take specific action.

Whatever steps are taken, it is vital that the believers refrain from gossip and backbiting, for this can only
harm the Faith, causing perhaps more damage than would have been caused by the original offense. (Part
3 Paragraph 37)
In this quote, what is Bahá’ú’lláh's message to you who have received the call?
_____________________



5..“…the Assembly is a nascent House of Justice and is supposed to administer, according to the
Teachings, the affairs of the Community. But individuals towards each other are governed by love, unity,
forgiveness and a sin-covering eye.” (Shoghi Effendi: Directives of the Guardian, Pages: 41-42)

Which of the following courses of action puts you in the best position to act with genuine love, unity,
forgiveness, and a sin-covering eye both towards the woman and towards her husband? Why?

   Put the issue into the hands of Bahá’ú’lláh’s Assembly to take care of the administration of justice.
   Don’t say anything about the issue to anyone in order to forget about it.
   Find a favorable opportunity to discuss with the woman’s husband your concerns about his behavior.
   Encourage the woman to take her concerns about her husband to the Assembly.

Which best allows the Assembly to administer the affairs of the Community according to the Teachings?
Why?
_____________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________




                                                      53
                                                    Case 2a

Read the case, then work through the quotes and questions that follow. Prepare answers to the questions
for presentation to the group as a whole.

You are the teacher of the 8-9 year old group in the Bahá’í Sunday School. One day after class you
overhear a conversation between two of the students. The class had been from the Virtues Guide about
honesty. Joe A and Sam B were waiting for their parents and they were talking about whether it was
realistic to be honest in every situation. Joe was arguing that yes, you should always be honest, but Sam
didn’t think so. Sam said that there are times when he is honest that they hit him. Joe expresses surprise
at this, but Sam insisted that sometimes his Mom gets really mad at some things, and he doesn’t like to
get hit.

You watch until you see Sam’s mother come. He seems happy to see her as he gets into the car.


1..Within the family setting, the rights of all members must be respected. (Part 2 Paragraph 8)

In this quote, what is Bahá’ú’lláh's message to Sam? __________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________

2..While the physical discipline of children is an acceptable part of their education and training, such
actions are to be carried out "gently and patiently" and with "loving care," far removed from the anger and
violence with which children are beaten and abused in some parts of the world. To treat children in such
an abhorrent manner is a denial of their human rights, and a betrayal of the trust which the weak should
have in the strong in a Bahá’í community. (Part 2 Paragraph 25)

In this quote, what is Bahá’ú’lláh's message to his mother? _____________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________

3..Among the signs of moral downfall in the declining social order are the high incidence of violence
within the family, the increase in degrading and cruel treatment of spouses and children, and the spread of
sexual abuse. It is essential that the members of the community of the Greatest Name take the utmost care
not to be drawn into acceptance of such practices because of their prevalence. They must be ever mindful
of their obligation to exemplify a new way of life... (Part 2 Paragraph 11)

In this quote, what is Bahá’ú’lláh's message to you who have heard this conversation? _______________

_____________________________________________________________________________________

4..If the misconduct is flagrant or threatens the interests of the Faith the believer to whose attention it
comes should immediately report it to the Local Spiritual Assembly. Once it is in the hand of the
Assembly the believer's obligation is discharged and he should do no more than pray for the offender and
continue to show him friendship and encouragement- unless, of course, the Spiritual Assembly asks him
to take specific action.


                                                     54
Whatever steps are taken, it is vital that the believers refrain from gossip and backbiting, for this can only
harm the Faith, causing perhaps more damage than would have been caused by the original offense. (Part
3 Paragraph 37)

In this quote, what is Bahá’ú’lláh's message to you who have heard this conversation? _______________

_____________________________________________________________________________________

5..“…the Assembly is a nascent House of Justice and is supposed to administer, according to the
Teachings, the affairs of the Community. But individuals towards each other are governed by love, unity,
forgiveness and a sin-covering eye.” (Shoghi Effendi: Directives of the Guardian, Pages: 41-42)

Which of the following courses of action puts you in the best position to act with genuine love, unity,
forgiveness, and a sin-covering eye both towards the woman and towards her husband? Why?

   Put the issue into the hands of Bahá’ú’lláh’s Assembly to take care of the administration of justice.
   Don’t say anything about the issue to anyone in order to forget about it.
   Find a favorable opportunity to discuss with the woman’s husband your concerns about his behavior.
   Encourage the woman to take her concerns about her husband to the Assembly.

Which best allows the Assembly to administer the affairs of the Community according to the Teachings?
Why?
_____________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________




                                                      55
                                                   Case 3a

Read the case, then work through the quotes and questions that follow. Prepare answers to the questions
for presentation to the group as a whole.

You are a member of a Bahá’í college club. A Bahá’í friend has confided in you that several of the
Bahá’í youth in the local college have become involved with one another in sexual relations. She
mentioned one of the young men in particular- he seems to have gotten a reputation for being very pushy
and there she says that there are rumors going around that some of the girls have been pressured into
things they have not really consented to.

You have noticed that the club does not appear as active as it once was- nobody wants to participate.

1..Among the signs of moral downfall in the declining social order are the high incidence of violence
within the family, the increase in degrading and cruel treatment of spouses and children, and the spread of
sexual abuse. It is essential that the members of the community of the Greatest Name take the utmost care
not to be drawn into acceptance of such practices because of their prevalence. They must be ever mindful
of their obligation to exemplify a new way of life... (Part 2 Paragraph 11)

In this quote, what is Bahá’ú’lláh's message to the members of the Bahá’í Club? ____________________

____________________________________________________________________________________

2..The lack of spiritual values in society leads to a debasement of the attitudes which should govern the
relationship between the sexes, with women being treated as no more than objects for sexual gratification
and being denied the respect and courtesy to which all human beings are entitled. Bahá’ú’lláh has
warned: "They that follow their lusts and corrupt inclinations, have erred and dissipated their efforts.
They, indeed, are of the lost." (Part 2 Paragraph 20)

In this quote, what is Bahá’ú’lláh's message to the members of the Bahá’í Club? ____________________

____________________________________________________________________________________

3..If the misconduct is flagrant or threatens the interests of the Faith the believer to whose attention it
comes should immediately report it to the Local Spiritual Assembly. Once it is in the hand of the
Assembly the believer's obligation is discharged and he should do no more than pray for the offender and
continue to show him friendship and encouragement- unless, of course, the Spiritual Assembly asks him
to take specific action.

Whatever steps are taken, it is vital that the believers refrain from gossip and backbiting, for this can only
harm the Faith, causing perhaps more damage than would have been caused by the original offense. (Part
3 Paragraph 37)

In this quote, what is Bahá’ú’lláh's message to you and the member of the club who has confided in you?

_____________________________________________________________________________________



                                                      56
4..Whenever it becomes known that one of the believers is flagrantly disobeying the Teachings of the
Faith, whether spiritual, ethical, moral or administrative, the Assemblies should not allow such a situation
to become a source of backbiting among the friends or deteriorate into either the loss of the dignity of the
Teachings in the eyes of the Bahá’ís and non-Bahá’ís, or the eventual inactivity of the believers, as you
have observed. The Assemblies, with the encouragement and under the continuous guidance of your
National Assembly, should, in the name of protecting the interests of the Faith, themselves initiate action
for the solution of the problem, and handle it with love, wisdom and firmness. (Part 4 Paragraph 39)

In this quote, what is Bahá’ú’lláh's message to the Assembly if this situation is reported to it? _________

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

5..“…the Assembly is a nascent House of Justice and is supposed to administer, according to the
Teachings, the affairs of the Community. But individuals towards each other are governed by love, unity,
forgiveness and a sin-covering eye.” (Shoghi Effendi: Directives of the Guardian, Pages: 41-42)

Which of the following courses of action puts you in the best position to act with genuine love, unity,
forgiveness, and a sin-covering eye both towards the woman and towards her husband? Why?

   Put the issue into the hands of Bahá’ú’lláh’s Assembly to take care of the administration of justice.
   Don’t say anything about the issue to anyone in order to forget about it.
   Find a favorable opportunity to discuss with the woman’s husband your concerns about his behavior.
   Encourage the woman to take her concerns about her husband to the Assembly.

Which best allows the Assembly to administer the affairs of the Community according to the Teachings?
Why?
_____________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________




                                                     57
                                                   Case 4a

Read the case, then work through the quotes and questions that follow. Prepare answers to the questions
for presentation to the group as a whole.

A Bahá’í man who recently immigrated to the United States is talking to you about what it is like to live
in America. He and his wife are both Bahá’ís from another country. His wife’s English is limited. He
says that his wife wants to get her driver’s license and take classes. He says that he does not want her to
drive, that he is willing to take her anywhere she wants to go when he gets home from work at night. He
says he thinks she is getting these “American” ideas about school and besides it will cost too much
money. He says that he needs the Assembly’s help with his wife. In fact, he says, she went out just last
week with some Americans and he is really upset.

1..As you know, the principle of the oneness of mankind ... calls for a fundamental change in the manner
in which people relate to each other, and the eradication of those age-old practices which deny the
intrinsic human right of every individual to be treated with consideration and respect. (Part 2 Paragraph 7)

In this quote, what is Bahá’ú’lláh's message to the wife? _______________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________

2..Bahá’í men have the opportunity to demonstrate to the world around them a new approach to the
relationship between the sexes, where aggression and the use of force are eliminated and replaced by
cooperation and consultation. (Part 2 Paragraph 17)

In this quote, what is Bahá’ú’lláh's message to the husband? ____________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________

3..[Consultation] requires all participants to express their opinions with absolute freedom and without
apprehension that they will be censured or their views belittled; these prerequisites for success are
unattainable if the fear of violence or abuse is present. (Part 2 paragraph 12)

In this quote, what is Bahá’ú’lláh's message to the husband? ____________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________

4..If the misconduct is flagrant or threatens the interests of the Faith the believer to whose attention it
comes should immediately report it to the Local Spiritual Assembly. Once it is in the hand of the
Assembly the believer's obligation is discharged and he should do no more than pray for the offender and
continue to show him friendship and encouragement- unless, of course, the Spiritual Assembly asks him
to take specific action.

Whatever steps are taken, it is vital that the believers refrain from gossip and backbiting, for this can only
harm the Faith, causing perhaps more damage than would have been caused by the original offense. (Part
3 Paragraph 37)



                                                      58
In this quote, what is Bahá’ú’lláh's message to you who have had this conversation? _________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________

5..“…the Assembly is a nascent House of Justice and is supposed to administer, according to the
Teachings, the affairs of the Community. But individuals towards each other are governed by love, unity,
forgiveness and a sin-covering eye.” (Shoghi Effendi: Directives of the Guardian, Pages: 41-42)

Which of the following courses of action puts you in the best position to act with genuine love, unity,
forgiveness, and a sin-covering eye both towards the woman and towards her husband? Why?

   Put the issue into the hands of Bahá’ú’lláh’s Assembly to take care of the administration of justice.
   Don’t say anything about the issue to anyone in order to forget about it.
   Find a favorable opportunity to discuss with the woman’s husband your concerns about his behavior.
   Encourage the woman to take her concerns about her husband to the Assembly.

Which best allows the Assembly to administer the affairs of the Community according to the Teachings?
Why?
_____________________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________




                                                     59
                                                  Case 1b

In groups of 2:

       1. Read the case (which is an extension of the case 1a)
       2. Compose a letter to express the decision of the Assembly is indicated in the case with love,
          humility, and a genuine respect for others. Feel free to use the strategies that have been
          presented, and adapt the example wording to the case. Also feel free to use your own ideas.

Gather once again in the big group to present your letter and identify the strategies you have used in your
attempt to express authority with love, humility, and a genuine respect for others.

The case-

A Bahá’í woman calls the secretary of the Local Spiritual Assembly. She and her husband are both
Bahá’ís and they have two children, ages 2 and 4. The woman says that her husband just left the house
and she doesn’t know where he went. She says that they had been having an argument about money all
day and “he just blew up,” slammed her into the wall, and started hitting her. She says she thinks she is
alright, although her head and her arms hurt. Her nose has stopped bleeding now. She says the children
are OK. She says they didn’t hear a thing- that they were asleep in their bedroom. She says he will be
very mad if he finds out that she called, but she didn’t know what else to do because she thought she
might be killed he was so angry.

The secretary, after asking a few questions, was convinced that the woman was truly feeling the fear she
was describing. She decided that the best way to ensure the woman’s immediate safety, as well as to
evaluate her medical condition, would be to call 911 and arrange to have her taken to the emergency
room. This would also have the advantage of allowing any reporting issues to state authorities with
respect to the children to be handled, at least initially, by trained hospital personnel. She called 911 for
the woman, and then called her back to reassure her until the police arrived. While they were waiting and
talking, the woman’s husband returned home, and the woman hung up the phone. The secretary later
found out that when the police arrived, the situation appeared under control, and the woman refused to
accompany them to the hospital. The police left.

The Local Spiritual Assembly had a meeting the next night and decided that it needed to investigate this
situation. A letter would be written to the husband requesting him to meet with two Assembly members,
and a separate letter would be written to the wife requesting she meet separately with these same two
Assembly members.

Draft the letter to the husband.




                                                    60
                                                  Case 2b

In groups of 2:

       1. Read the case (which is an extension of the case 2a)
       2. Compose a letter to express the decision of the Assembly is indicated in the case with love,
          humility, and a genuine respect for others. Feel free to use the strategies that have been
          presented, and adapt the example wording to the case. Also feel free to use your own ideas.

Gather once again in the big group to present your letter and identify the strategies you have used in your
attempt to express authority with love, humility, and a genuine respect for others.

The case-

The Assembly receives the following letter from the teacher of the 8-9 year old group in the Bahá’í
Sunday School:

       Dear Assembly:

       I hate to burden you with this, but I feel that I need to report a conversation I overheard between
       two of the students after my class last Sunday. The class had been from the Virtues Guide about
       honesty. Joe A and Sam B were waiting for their parents in the hall just outside the room I use
       for the class. They were talking about whether it was realistic to be honest in every situation. Joe
       was arguing that yes, you should always be honest, but Sam didn’t think so. Sam said that
       sometimes when he is honest, they hit him. He said sometimes his Mom gets really mad at some
       things, and he doesn’t like to get hit.

       I didn’t know what to do when I heard this. Part of me wanted to call Sam in so I could talk to
       him right away. But then I thought, no- maybe I was overreacting. I certainly don’t want to be the
       cause of disunity in our community. I was paralyzed. A little while later Sam’s mother came-
       and he seemed happy enough to see her as he ran out to her car.

       All Sunday and Monday night, all I have been able to think about is Sam. He seems pretty normal
       in my class, at least the times he comes. I understand his parents work a changing shift and can’t
       always make it.

       But what if it’s true? What should I do the next time he comes?

The Assembly decided to have the teacher and another Assembly member talk with Sam the next time he
comes to Sunday school, and at this time Sam confirms that his parents hit him and his brothers and
sisters frequently. The Assembly has decided to ask his parents to come to an Assembly meeting.

Draft the letter to Sam’s parents requesting this meeting.




                                                     61
                                                  Case 3b

In groups of 2:

       1. Read the case (which is an extension of the case 3a)
       2. Compose a letter to express the decision of the Assembly is indicated in the case with love,
          humility, and a genuine respect for others. Feel free to use the strategies that have been
          presented, and adapt the example wording to the case. Also feel free to use your own ideas.

Gather once again in the big group to present your letter and identify the strategies you have used in your
attempt to express authority with love, humility, and a genuine respect for others.

The case-

A teenage Bahá’í girl has asked to meet with the Assembly. When she arrives, she reports that a Bahá’í
friend has confided in her that several of the Bahá’í youth in the local college have become involved with
one another in sexual relations, and that college club isn’t the same as it was before because nobody wants
to participate. Her friend mentioned one of the young men in particular- he seems to have gotten a
reputation for being very pushy and there are some rumors going around that some of the girls have been
pressured into things they have not really consented to.

The teenager reporting to the Assembly says she didn’t know what to do about it, because she hates to
even think about it, let alone backbite about her friends, who would just kill her if they found out she was
there. She wants to know- is she doing the right thing coming to the Assembly?

The Assembly reassures the teenager that Bahá’ú’lláh has put his Assemblies in the world so we can all
turn to them for answers to our problems, and that this has certainly been an issue that has been weighing
on her. Assembly members ask her if she has found herself involved in the sexual relations she describes;
she says no.

The Assembly decides that an investigation among the youth needs to be conducted. Several young ladies
respond cooperatively to the Assembly’s request to talk with two people appointed to represent it, but
only one of the young men responds in this way- four others refuse to do so. The results so far indicate
that indeed there appears to have been sexual activity among the group. The Assembly recognizes that it
should pursue the issue with the remaining young men, that the pressure needs to be stepped up
somewhat, although not so much as a final ultimatum. One of the original representatives will follow up
in initiating personal contact with them following a letter to be written with a copy sent to each.

Draft this letter to the young men who have not yet cooperated with the Assembly's investigation.




                                                     62
                                                  Case 4b

In groups of 2:

       1. Read the case (which is an extension of the case 4a)
       2. Compose a letter to express the decision of the Assembly is indicated in the case with love,
          humility, and a genuine respect for others. Feel free to use the strategies that have been
          presented, and adapt the example wording to the case. Also feel free to use your own ideas.

Gather once again in the big group to present your letter and identify the strategies you have used in your
attempt to express authority with love, humility, and a genuine respect for others.

The case-

A Bahá’í man calls the secretary and says he needs help from the Assembly. He and his wife are both
Bahá’í immigrants from another country and her English is limited. He says that his wife wants to get her
driver’s license and take classes. He says that he does not want her to drive, that he is willing to take her
anywhere she wants to go when he gets home from work at night. He says he thinks she is getting these
“American” ideas about school and besides it will cost too much money. He says that he needs the
Assembly’s help with his wife. In fact, he says, she has gone out right now with some Americans and he
is really upset.

(both come to the Assembly meeting) The wife is very quiet while he talks and she appears to have a
black eye. The husband says that his wife just won’t listen to him. In fact, he says, before he immigrated,
he saw writings in his native language from Bahá’ú’lláh that haven’t been translated into English yet, that
say that the husband is the head of the family and that it is OK to discipline the wife. He says he needs
the Assembly to help him to keep his family together the way it should be.

The Assembly conducts the meeting for as long as the couple is present in their native language,
providing translation as necessary for the Assembly members who don’t understand this language. As
Assembly members ask questions, it becomes apparent that the husband is very tightly controlling his
wife’s life by controlling all her access to money, transportation, and friends. The husband admits that he
has “been forced to strike her” from time to time since they have come to America, but that this was never
necessary at home, and he hates to have to do this. The woman says very little the whole time,
responding in monosyllables. The little she does say always supports what the husband has said.

In the consultation following this meeting, the Assembly decides that separate letters should be written to
the husband and the wife. The letter to the husband is to communicate

   that men striking their wives is not acceptable Bahá’í behavior, and can not be tolerated in the Bahá’í
    Community.
   invite him to meet again with two male assembly members to explore this question in the Writings if
    he would like, as well as to consult with him about the stresses of adapting to life in the United States

Draft this letter to the husband.




                                                     63

				
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