Bahá'í Faith in South America
|Part of a series on|
The Bahá'í Faith is a diverse and widespread religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in the 19th century in Iran. Bahá'í sources usually estimate the worldwide Bahá'í population to be above 5 million. Most encyclopedias and similar sources estimate between 5 and 6 million Bahá'ís in the world in the early 21st century. The religion is almost entirely contained in a single, organized, hierarchical community, but the Bahá'í population is spread out into almost every country and ethnicity in the world, being recognized as the second-most geographically widespread religion after Christianity. See Bahá'í statistics.
- 1 South America
- 2 See also
- 3 Notes
- 4 References
- 5 External links
The Bahá'í Faith was introduced into South America in 1919 when Martha Root made an extended trip to Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Peru. She introduced the Bahá'í Faith to Esperantists and Theosophical groups and visited local newspapers to ask them to publish articles about the Bahá'í Faith. The first Bahá'í permanently resident in South America was Leonora Armstrong, who arrived in Brazil in 1921. The first Seven Year Plan (1937–44), an international plan organized by then head of the Bahá'í Faith, Shoghi Effendi, gave the American Bahá'ís the goal of establishing the Bahá'í Faith in every country in Latin America (that is, settling at least one Bahá'í or converting at least one native). In 1950, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of South America was first elected, and then in 1957 this Assembly was split into two – basically northern/eastern South America with the Republics of Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela, in Lima, Peru and one of the western/southern South America with the Republics of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia in Buenos Aires, Argentina. By 1963, most countries in South America had their own National Spiritual Assembly.
Among the more significant developments across South and Central America for the religion has been the building of the last continental Bahá'í House of Worship in Chile, a program of developing Bahá'í radio stations in several countries, relationships with indigenous populations, development programs like FUNDAEC, and the Ruhi institute process began in Colombia.
House of Worship in Chile
In late 2002, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Chile and the Universal House of Justice, the international governing body of the Bahá'ís, announced a competition for the design of the first Bahá'í House of Worship for South America, to be built near Santiago ( ) though the general decision to have the first temple of South America was set since 1953. The selected design was designed by Siamak Hariri of Toronto, Canada, and fabrication of components began in 2007. The temple was inaugurated in 2016. Its sides are composed of translucent panels of alabaster and cast glass. The interior structure is a lattice structure of steel supporting the inside of the upper dome.
Since the 1960s there has been interest in mass media to promote and support development projects. This was followed by a view that the service of the community of the religion was through the participation of the community and spread of information. At a series of UNESCO conferences Bahá'ís consulted and the consensus of opinion lead to advancing the issues until in 1978 a conference was held in Ecuador. At that conference researchers summarized developments along these lines and noted challenges such projects faced and a few ways such projects failed while also noting that village radio stations seemed to be a nice fit because of the necessary quality of communication in a society. The Bahá'í Radio project in Ecuador served as a means to study the process of the two trends by setting up a community radio station of the community for the community - and may have been the first such project in all Latin America aimed at serving the campesinos as its primary purpose with development oriented programming. It mixed national music forms with public service features (lost and found, messages to individuals, official communications, but looking to develop more.) The project was studied through faculty from Northwestern University from 1980–1982, and briefly in 1983, and reviewed Bahá'í Radio projects in Peru and Bolivia as well and resulted in a PhD by Kurt John Hein in 1985 following which he took up service at WLGI Radio Bahá'í.
Since 1977, Bahá'ís have established several radio stations worldwide, particularly in South America. Programmes broadcast may include local news, music, topics related to socio-economic and community development, educational programmes focusing on indigenous language and culture, and Bahá'í introductory and deepening material.
The Bahá'í Faith and Native Americans has a history reaching back to the lifetime of `Abdu'l-Bahá, the head of the religion near the turn of the 20th century and has multiplied its relationships across the Americas. Individuals have joined the religion and institutions have been founded to serve Native Americans and have Native Americans serve on Bahá'í institutions.
By 1963 Bahá'í sources claim members of some 83 tribes of Native Americans had joined the religion.:19 Among the Central and South American indigenous there are substantial populations of native Bahá'ís. An informal summary of the Wayuu ( a tribe living in La Guajira Desert) community in 1971 showed about 1000 Bahá'ís. The largest population of Bahá'ís in South America is in Bolivia, a country whose population is estimated to be 55%–70% indigenous and 30%–42% Mestizo, with a Bahá'í population estimated at 206,000 in 2005 according to the Association of Religion Data Archives.
Relationships between North American and South American Indian populations have been fostered by North American Indians. The idea for a Trail of Light occurred during preparations for the first Bahá'í Native Council in 1978. Another inspiration for the Trail of Light was the concept of promulgating the religion among the indigenous peoples in the Pacific Rim that was described by the Hand of the Cause Rahmátu'llah Muhájir in 1978. The Trail of Light, also known as Camino del Sol, was defined as a process whereby native Bahá'ís engaged with diverse native peoples about a number of issues including promulgating their religion as well as organizing councils for the people and encouraged discovery of mutual cultural links across the native peoples. The first Trail of Light traveling trip by 22 members of the religion occurred spontaneously immediately after the council. In 1985 the Trail of Light project began its work in Colombia.
FUNDAEC, the acronym in Spanish for “The Foundation for the Application and Teaching of the Sciences”, is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that focuses on training and development in the rural areas of Colombia and other countries in Latin America. It was created in 1974 in Colombia by a group of scientists and professionals led by Farzam Arbab then a visiting professor to the University of Valle in 1970. In 1974 FUNDAEC was initiated as a Colombian NGO based on Bahá'í consultations with Colombians starting in the 1970s which developed a number of projects like a secondary curriculum centered on skill development for living in the countryside and minimized urbanization for example. According to Gustav Correa, director of FUNDAEC in 2002, it was originally inspired by a quotation from Bahá'u'lláh - "Baha'u'llah talks about man as 'a mine rich in gems of inestimable value.' He says that 'education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom'. Its founding ideals included not seeing the people as masses of undernourished people, overwhelmed by problems and needs-housing, employment, sanitation, education, but instead to consider the participants of its programs as irreplaceable resources in a self-sustaining process of change. FUNDAEC was officially instituted as a private development foundation based in Cali, and has developed a number of development projects centered around a goal that rural populations should not only benefit from higher education, but should also actively participate in creating and generating knowledge and technologies, to improve their quality of life and standard of living FUNDAEC sought to dispel the image of the poor farmer whose life must be planned and managed by more privileged members of society.
The Ruhi Institute is an educational institution, operating under the guidance of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'í Faith in Colombia. The general idea of an institute in Bahá'í terms originates with the beginning of the Nine Year Plan (starting in 1964) designated by the Universal House of Justice. The institute or training institute was especially for countries where large-scale expansion was taking place to meet the needs of the thousands who were entering the religion. At that time, the emphasis was on acquiring a physical facility to which group after group of newly enrolled believers would be invited to attend deepening courses. Over the years, in conjunction with these institutes as well as independent of them, a number of courses—referred to, for example, as weekend institutes, five-day institutes, and nine-day institutes— were developed for the purpose of promulgating the fundamental verities of the religion and how to serve it. Since its founding the program of courses developed first in Colombia has been adopted for work around the world and across age groups and studied in a variety of applications.
The Bahá'í Faith in Bolivia begins with references to the country in Bahá'í literature as early as 1916. The first Bahá'í to arrive in Bolivia was in 1940 through the beginning of the arrival of coordinated pioneers, people who chose to move for the growth of the religion, from the United States. That same year the first Bolivian joined the religion. The first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in La Paz in 1945 and the first Indian formally joined the religion in 1956 which soon spread widely among that subculture. The community elected an independent National Spiritual Assembly in 1961. By 1963 there were hundreds of local assemblies. The Bahá'í Faith is currently the largest international religious minority in Bolivia. The largest population of Bahá'ís in South America is in Bolivia, a country whose general population is estimated to be 55%-70% indigenous and 30%-42% Mestizo, with a Bahá'í population estimated at 217000 in 2005 according to the Association of Religion Data Archives.
The Bahá'í Faith in Brazil started in 1919 with Bahá'ís first visiting the country that year, and the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly in Brazil was established in 1928. There followed a period of growth with the arrival of coordinated pioneers from the United States finding national Brazilian converts and in 1961 an independent national Bahá'í community was formed. During the 1992 Earth Summit, which was held in Brazil, the international and local Bahá'í community were given the responsibility for organizing a series of different programs, and since then the involvements of the Bahá'í community in the country have continued to multiply. The Association of Religion Data Archives (relying on World Christian Encyclopedia) estimated some 42211 Bahá'ís in 2005.
The Bahá'í Faith was first mentioned Chile in Bahá'í sources as early as 1916, with Bahá'ís visiting as early as 1919 but the community wasn't founded in Chile until 1940 with the beginning of the arrival of coordinated pioneers from the United States finding national Chilean converts and achieved an independent national community in 1963. In 2002 this community was picked for the establishment of the first Bahá'í Temple of South America which the community is still prosecuting.
The permanent Chilean Bahá'í community dates from the arrival of Marcia Stewart Atwater, born in 1904 in Pasadena, California, who arrived in Chile on 7 December 1940. The first Chilean to accept the Bahá'í Faith was 12-year-old Paul Bravo, which was followed by his family becoming Bahá'ís. Then in 1943, Chile's first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was elected. Following the election of the Regional Bahá'í Spiritual Assembly of South America in 1950, Chile established its independent Bahá'í National Spiritual Assembly in 1961. The Association of Religion Data Archives (relying mostly on the World Christian Encyclopedia) estimated some 26000 Bahá'ís in 2005.
The Bahá'í Faith in Colombia begins with references to the country in Bahá'í literature as early as 1916, with Bahá'ís visiting as early as 1927. The first Colombian joined the religion in 1929 and the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in Bogotá in 1944 with the beginning of the arrival of coordinated pioneers from the United States and achieved an independent National Spiritual Assembly in 1961. By 1963 there were eleven local assemblies.:16, 19, 77 In the 1980s institutions were developed in Colombia that have influenced activities inside and independent of the religion in other countries: FUNDAEC and the Ruhi Institute. The Association of Religion Data Archives (relying mostly on the World Christian Encyclopedia) estimated some 70000 Bahá'ís in 2005.
The Bahá'í Faith in Guyana was first mentioned in Bahá'í sources as early as 1916, the first Bahá'ís visited as early as 1927 but the community was founded in Guyana in 1953 with the beginning of the arrival of coordinated pioneers and from Guyanese converts. The community elected the first Bahá'íLocal Spiritual Assembly in 1955 and an independent National Spiritual Assembly in 1977. The country has experienced large migrations and the size of the Bahá'í community has also dramatically changed. In the most recent cycle the 2002 national census showed about 0.1%, or 500, Bahá'ís mostly in three of its Regions though Bahá'ís were noted in every Region. However, by 2005 the Association of Religion Data Archives estimated there were some 13,000 Bahá'ís. Bahá'ís are now widely distributed across Guyana and represent all major racial groups and regions. The Bahá'í community, while relatively small, is well known for its emphasis on unity, non-involvement in politics and its work in issues such as literacy and youth issues.
The Bahá'í Faith in Paraguay begins after `Abdu'l-Bahá, then head of the religion, mentioned the country in 1916. Paraguayan Maria Casati was the first to join the religion in 1939 when living in Buenos Aires. The first pioneer to settle in Paraguay was Elizabeth Cheney late in 1940 and the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly of Asunción was elected in 1944. By 1961 Paraguayan Bahá'ís had elected the first National Spiritual Assembly and by 1963 there were 3 local assemblies plus other communities.:15, 108 Recent estimates of Bahá'ís mention 5500 or 10,600 though the state Census doesn't mention the Bahá'ís.
The Bahá'í Faith in Peru begins with references to Peru in Bahá'í literature as early as 1916, with the firstBahá'ís visiting as early as 1919. A functioning community wasn't founded in Peru until the 1930s with the beginning of the arrival of coordinated pioneers from the United States which progressed into finding national Peruvian converts and achieved an independent national community in 1961.:19, 22, 23, 36, 46, 52, 109 The Association of Religion Data Archives(relying mostly on the World Christian Encyclopedia) estimated some 41,900 Bahá'ís in 2005.
The Bahá'í Faith in Uruguay begins after `Abdu'l-Bahá, then head of the religion, mentioned the country in 1916. The first Bahá'í to enter the country was Martha Root in 1919. The first pioneer to settle there was Wilfrid Barton early in 1940 and the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly of Montevideo was elected in 1942. By 1961 Uruguayan Bahá'ís had elected the first National Spiritual Assembly and by 1963 there were three Local Assemblies plus other communities.:22, 46, 127 Circa 2001 there was an estimated 4,000 Bahá'ís in Uruguay. The Association of Religion Data Archives (relying on World Christian Encyclopedia) estimated some 7,300 Bahá'ís in 2005.
- Category:Bahá'í Faith by country
- Bahá'í Faith and Native Americans
- Bahá'í statistics
- Religions by country
- Islam by country
- Judaism by country
- Hinduism by country
- Christianity by country
- Sikhism by country
- No Faith by Country
- Bahá'í International Community (2006). "Worldwide Community". Bahá'í International Community. Archived from the original on 13 June 2006. Retrieved 31 May 2006.
- "Worldwide Adherents of All Religions by Six Continental Areas, Mid-2002". Enyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2002. Retrieved 31 May 2006.
- adherents.com (2002). "Major Religions of the World Ranked by Number of Adherents". adherents.com. Retrieved 28 August 2005.
- MacEoin, Denis (2000). "Baha'i Faith". In Hinnells, John R. The New Penguin Handbook of Living Religions: Second Edition. Penguin. ISBN 0-14-051480-5.
- The Bahá'í Faith: 1844–1963: Information Statistical and Comparative, Including the Achievements of the Ten Year International Bahá'í Teaching & Consolidation Plan 1953–1963. Haifa, Israel: Hands of the Cause Residing in the Holy Land. 1963. pp. 22, 46.
- "33°28'35.1"S 70°30'41.9"W - Google Maps". google.de (in German). Retrieved 2017-04-27.
- "The Foundation". The Chilean Temple Initiative. The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States. 2007. Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 2008-03-08.
- Scott, Alec (2006-07-13). "Higher Power - Toronto architect Siamak Hariri ascends to architectural greatness". Arts - Art & Design. CBC.ca. Archived from the original on 23 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-03.
- "Fabrication begins on components for Baha'i temple in South America". BWNS. 2007-02-19. Retrieved 2008-03-03.
- "Die Religion der Bahai - Neues "Haus der Andacht" in Chile". deutschlandfunk.de (in German). Retrieved 2017-04-27.
- Hein, Kurt John (1988). Radio Bahá'í - Ecuador; A Bahá'í Development Project. George Ronald. p. 215 inc. bibliography. ISBN 0-85398-272-4.
- Smith, Peter (2000). "radio; radio stations". A concise encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford: Oneworld Publications. pp. 287–288. ISBN 1-85168-184-1.
- The Bahá'í Faith: 1844–1963: Information Statistical and Comparative, Including the Achievements of the Ten Year International Bahá'í Teaching & Consolidation Plan 1953–1963. Haifa, Israel: Hands of the Cause Residing in the Holy Land. 1963.
- "Mass Teaching is the only way to tell the people in time". Bahá'í News. No. 483. June 1971. p. 23.
- "Most Baha'i Nations (2005)". QuickLists > Compare Nations > Religions >. The Association of Religion Data Archives. 2005. Retrieved 2009-07-04.
- "'Trail of Light' Native American teaching effort follows North American Baha'i Native Council". Bahá'í News. No. 594. September 1980. pp. 6–7. ISSN 0195-9212.
- "Alaska - A Baha'i community grows, matures". Bahá'í News. No. 607. October 1981. pp. 1–6. ISSN 0195-9212.
- "'Train of Light' completes successful visit". Bahá'í News. No. 656. November 1985. pp. 1–3. ISSN 0195-9212.
- Rhodenbaugh, Molly Marie (August 1999), The Ngöbe Baha'is of Panama (PDF) (MA Thesis in Anthropology), Texas Tech University, pp. 119–123, archived from the original (PDF) on 15 August 2011
- "Baha'i-inspired educational system for the poor of the world honored by the Club of Budapest". Bahá'í World News Service. Frankfurt, Germany: Bahá’í International Community. 22 December 2002. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
- Arbab, Farzam; Correa, Gustavo; de Valcarcel, Francia (1988). "FUNDAEC: Its Principles and its Activities". CELATER, Cali, Colombia. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
- "Historical Overview". Official Website of FUNDAEC. FUNDAEC. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
- "Rural Community-based System for University-level Education". International Development Research Centre. 13 March 1998. Archived from the original on 19 May 2011. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
- "Statement of purpose and methods". Official Website of the Ruhi Institute. The Ruhi Foundation. 2008. Retrieved 2010-07-27.
- Universal House of Justice, Department of the Secretariat (December 1998). "Extracts From Messages Written By The Universal House Of Justice On The Four Year Plan Related To Training Institutes". The Bahá'í Community of Guelph: 1. Retrieved 2010-05-12.
- Closson, Rosemary B.; Sylvia Kaye (Jan 1, 2007). "Understanding the Bahá'í Ruhi Institute: A Global Faith-Based Adult Education Process". Adult Learning. 18 (9): 9–11. doi:10.1177/104515950701800103. Retrieved July 16, 2013.
- Stephan Z. Mortensen (2008). The Ruhi Institute Curriculum: A Qualitative Study. ProQuest. ISBN 978-0-549-61544-6. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
- `Abdu'l-Bahá (1991) [1916-17]. Tablets of the Divine Plan (Paperback ed.). Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 31–32. ISBN 0877432333.
- "Inter-America Addresses". Bahá'í News. No. 142. March 1941. p. 4.
- "Inter-America News; Bolivia". Bahá'í News. No. 176. August 1945. p. 9.
- "Canton Huanuni Indian Assembly Formed In Bolivia". Bahá'í News. No. 323. February 1958. pp. 9–10.
- Lamb, Artemus (November 1995). The Beginnings of the Bahá'í Faith in Latin America:Some Remembrances, English Revised and Amplified Edition. 1405 Killarney Drive, West Linn OR, 97068, United States of America: M L VanOrman Enterprises.
- "Bolivia". National Profiles > > Regions > Central America >. Association of Religion Data Archives. 2010. Retrieved 2012-09-21.
- Ruhe-Schoen, Janet (2007). An Enchantment of the Heart – A Portrait of Marcia Steward, Knight of Bahá’u’lláh, First Bahá’í Pioneer to Chile and the Marshall Islands (PDF). The Chilean Temple Initiative. National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States.
- `Abdu'l-Bahá (1991) [1916–17]. Tablets of the Divine Plan (Paperback ed.). Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 31–32. ISBN 0-87743-233-3.
- Universal House of Justice (1986). In Memoriam. The Bahá'í World. XVIII. Bahá'í World Centre. pp. 733–736. ISBN 0-85398-234-1.
- "Around the World; Colombia". Bahá'í News. No. 577. April 1979. p. 19.
- "Bahá'ís of Bogotá…". Bahá'í News. No. 172. December 1944. p. 11.
- CRECE: Centro de Estudios Regionales, Cafeteros y Empresariales (August 2001). "Successful Alternatives for Rural Education: Tutorial Learning System (TLS) and New School Methodology Rural Post-Primary". Regional Policy Dialogue on Education and Human Resources Training Network, Second Meeting: Secondary Education. Manizales, Colombia: Inter-American Development Bank. Retrieved May 5, 2008.
- "Canada – Association's 8th annual Conference". Bahá'í News. No. 634. January 1984. pp. 8–10. ISSN 0195-9212.
- "The World; Honduras". Bahá'í News. No. 648. March 1985. p. 13. ISSN 0195-9212.
- `Abdu'l-Bahá (1991) [1916-17]. Tablets of the Divine Plan (Paperback ed.). Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 31–32. ISBN 0-87743-233-3.
- prepared under the supervision of the Universal House of Justice. (1986), "In Memoriam", The Bahá'í World, Bahá'í World Centre, XVIII: 733–736, 809–811, ISBN 0-85398-234-1
- "A brief history". Official Webpage of the National Assembly of the Baha'is of Guyana. National Assembly of the Baha'is of Guyana. 2009. Retrieved 10 August 2009.
- "Six pillars added to House of Justice; Surinam and Fr. Guiana". Bahá'í News. No. 555. June 1977. pp. 8–9.
- Beaie, Sonkarley Tiatun (19 September 2007). "Chapter I - National Populations Trends: Size, Growth, and Distribution" (pdf). Population and Housing Census. Bureau of Statistics Guyana. Retrieved 5 September 2009.
- Beaie, Sonkarley Tiatun (19 September 2007). "Chapter II - Population Composition" (pdf). Population and Housing Census. Bureau of Statistics Guyana. Retrieved 5 September 2009.
- "Population and Housing Census 2002 Census" (PDF). Statistics Bureau. 2002. Retrieved 15 August 2009.
- "Independent Evaluation of Youth Can Move the World". Varqa Foundation. July 2000. Retrieved 15 August 2009.
- "Religion can help fight AIDS, says study" (PDF). One Country. Dec 2007. Retrieved 15 August 2009.
- Cameron, G.; Momen, W. (1996). A Basic Bahá'í Chronology. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. pp. 254, 263, 458. ISBN 0-85398-404-2.
- Effendi, Shoghi (1944). God Passes By. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 399. ISBN 0-87743-020-9.
- "Republic of Paraguay". Operation World. Paternoster Lifestyle. 2001. Retrieved 25 July 2008.
- "CUADRO P11: PARAGUAY: Población de 10 años y más por grupos de edad, según área urbana-rural, sexo y religión, 2002" (pdf). Paraguay. Resultados Finales Censo Nacional de Población y Viviendas. Año 2002 – Total País. DGEEC, Gov of Paraguay. 2002. Retrieved 26 July 2009.
- Allmar, Husayn (2007). "Martha Root's Journey to Chile". The Chilean Temple Initiative. National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United State. Retrieved 5 March 2008.
- U.S. State Department (2001). "Uruguay -International Religious Freedom Report 2001". The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affair. Archived from the original on 7 August 2009. Retrieved 3 July 2009.
- Bowker, John W., ed. (1997). The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-213965-7.
- Chernow, Barbara A.; Vallasi, George A. (1993). The Columbia Encyclopedia. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-62438-X.
- The Encyclopedia of Islam, New Edition. Brill. 1960. Ref DS37.E523.
- Hinnells, John R. (2000). The New Penguin Handbook of Living Religions (second ed.). Penguin. ISBN 0-14-051480-5.
- Jones, Lindsay, ed. (2005). Encyclopedia of Religion (second ed.). MacMillan Reference Books. ISBN 0-02-865733-0.
- Roof, Wade C. (1993). A Generation of Seekers: Spiritual Journeys of the Baby Boom Generation. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-066964-0.
- Smith, Jonathan Z.; American Academy of Religion (1995). The Harpercollins Dictionary of Religion. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-06-067515-2.