By Baha’i journalism, I mean journalism about issues to do with the Baha’i Faith and its community. As I see it, there is no Baha’i journalism, or very little. I think that is because the Baha’i concept of ‘unity’ is understood to mean that Baha’is cannot disagree with each other in public, and may not disagree with decisions made by the community’s administration. That doesn’t leave much to say except that we should all love one another. But as the Fire Tablet shows, all the divine goods have no meaning without the cold. In any case, I cannot see how everyone is going to magically agree when even Baha’u’llah says that human beings have been created in different stations, and are necessarily going to see things in different ways.
“As the wayfarers traverse these three differing planes, their understanding and their words differ accordingly, and hence the sign of conflict hath ever appeared on earth. For there are some who dwell on the plane of Divine Unity and speak of that world, and some inhabit the realms of limitation, and some the grades of self, while others are completely veiled. Thus do the ignorant people of the day, who have no share of the radiance of the divine Beauty, make certain claims and, in every age and cycle, inflict upon the people of the ocean of Divine Unity what they themselves deserve.”Baha’u’llah: Seven Valleys www.bahai.org/r/600216086
Therefore, different points of view are inevitable, even views about the meaning of the Baha’i Faith and Baha’u’llah’s writings, and even views that are inconsistent with each other. My view is that Baha’is should be tolerant of this, for each person is travelling their own spiritual path to God and no one knows how many useless ideas a person has to wade through before they arrive at better ones. God help me if I was ever judged on some of the nonsense I have held to in the past. Baha’u’llah says we should not dwell on the faults of others and instead dwell on our own. I think the principle applies to opinions as well. Never mind what others believe, focus instead on clearing out one’s own vain imaginings. Baha’u’llah is clear that he is the only one who can change people’s minds, so it is not possible for us to change someone else’s views without his say so, and it is not our province to exert power over others so that they fit with our approval.
This all bears on Baha’i journalism, I think. An example of the new journalism, which will become more widespread in the future, is the new video out on YouTube “LGBTQ Baha’i Experience Episode 1: Dan and Alexis Ware story“, in which Dan Ware tells his story about becoming Baha’i and serving for a decade at the US Baha’i National Centre, and then being tossed out of the community when he came out as gay. I know that Baha’is hold various views about what the Baha’i teachings say, or do not say, about homosexuality. But whatever the deal there, there is no doubt that Dan was a believer and was thrown out of the Baha’i community as a result of being gay. Some viewers will sympathise with him, as I do, and others will say it can’t be helped because that’s Baha’i law. But those differences of opinion have nothing to do with the question of journalism. Dan Ware has a right to tell his story, in public, no matter how it might affect the reputation of the Baha’i community. The Baha’is do not have a right to condemn Dan for telling his story. Trying to constrain a person from telling their personal story is a mark of tyranny. It’s like a sexual predator trying to silence victims because it will make him look bad. Baha’is have to respect other people’s personal stories and points of view, even it makes them look bad. If the picture of the Baha’i community that comes out to the world isn’t one Baha’is like, then the answer is not to insist that the one speaking their truth should be quiet, the answer is to examine whether the Baha’i community is acting in a way that measures up to public scrutiny.