As presidential candidates knock each other out competing for evangelical Christian, Muslim or Jewish votes, a few flocks are particularly impervious to their appeals. For example, you won’t see a Baha’i at the polls on Tuesday. Jehovah’s Witnesses will be absent as well. Both religious traditions prohibit participation. Does that imply all politics are evil?
Not necessarily. While Jehovah’s Witnesses always steer clear of the polls, Baha’is bow out only in the primaries. It’s the divisiveness of partisan politics they avoid. That precludes campaigning too, which means you won’t see an Obama sign on a Baha’i lawn or a McCain button on a Baha’i lapel.
Instead of declaring party affiliations, Bahais are to cast their ballots for leaders based on character, merit and likelihood of making the greatest contribution to society.
Glen Fullmer, a spokesman for the North American Baha’i Temple in Wilmette, said Baha’is are simply trying to model the Baha’i system of government in their public life. Baha’is believe Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of their faith, outlined a divine and superior system of government, which came to him in a divine revelation.
"It takes the best of a lot of the recognized systems of government [including] monarchy and democracy ... and eliminates the weaknesses," Fullmer said.
Without a professional clergy, Baha’i elect their leaders in a process they try to make as unifying as possible. Leaders of spiritual assemblies are selected without nominations or campaigning. Members simply write down names based on what they know about the individuals.
"It’s giving each elector the widest freedom," Fullmer said.
That’s an adjustment for a lot of Baha’i converts who previously called themselves Goldwater Republicans or Yellow Dog Democrats, he added.
"A lot of people come to the faith with all kinds of desire to change the world," Fullmer said. "For a lot of people, the outlook for that has been politics. For many Baha’is that’s a difficult thing. It’s taking a different lens to it."
Jehovah’s Witnesses have a more absolute prohibition. They pledge allegiance to God, not Caesar, and forbid voting of any kind. Jesse Graziani, a spokesman for Chicago-area Jehovah’s Witnesses, said their prohibition stems from John 17:16: "They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world." Graziani was referring to the biblical translation preferred by Jehovah’s Witnesses called the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, a Bible translated into modern language from Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek.
"The best way we can assist people is not by preaching some political dogma but by following the tenets that are found in the Bible," Graziani said. "We feel that God’s kingdom is the only hope for mankind. When Jesus Christ was on the Earth ... they wanted to make him a secular king. He turned that down. He felt that man’s government in general could never succeed because these governments never had God’s backing."
Do you believe God backs Super Tuesday? Will your choice to vote or not to vote have religious motivation?
Publicado no blog de Manya Brachear, do Chicago Tribune