Bahá'í Faith in Oceania

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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.[1] Most encyclopedias and similar sources estimate between 5 and 6 million Bahá'ís in the world in the early 21st century.[2][3] 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.[2] See Bahá'í statistics.

The Bahá'í Faith originated in Asia, in Iran (Persia), and spread from there to the Ottoman Empire, Central Asia, India, and Burma during the lifetime of Bahá'u'lláh. Since the middle of the 20th century, growth has particularly occurred in other Asian countries, because the Bahá'í Faith's activities in many Muslim countries has been severely suppressed by authorities. Comparatively mild troubles exist in other countries like Pakistan,[4] Iraq,[5] and Indonesia,[6][7] where the Bahá'í Faith is legal and only somewhat restricted.

Australia[edit]

The Bahá'í Faith in Australia has a long history beginning with a mention by `Abdu'l-Bahá, the son of the founder of the religion, in 1916[8] following which United Kingdom/American emigrants John and Clara Dunn came to Australia in 1920.[9] They found people willing to convert to the Bahá'í Faith in several cities while further immigrant Bahá'ís also arrived.[10] The first Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in Melbourne[11] followed by the first election of the National Spiritual Assembly in 1934.[12] Though at first denied in 1948, Iranian Bahá'ís arrived in number after 1973 following the persecution of Bahá'ís in Iran.[13] Since the 1980s the Bahá'ís of Australia have become involved and spoken out on a number of civic issues – from interfaith initiative such as Soul Food[14] to conferences on indigenous issues[15] and national policies of equal rights and pay for work.[16] The community was counted by census in 2001 to be about 11,000 individuals[17] and includes some well-known people (see – Bahá'í Faith in Australia – National exposure.)

Guam[edit]

Hawai'i[edit]

Kiribati[edit]

The only substantial non-Christian population is of the Bahá'í Faith. The Bahá'í Faith in Kiribati begins after 1916 with a mention by `Abdu'l-Bahá, then head of the religion, that Bahá'ís should take the religion to the Gilbert Islands which form part of modern Kiribati.[8] The first Bahá'ís pioneered to the island of Abaiang(aka Charlotte Island, of the Gilbert Islands), on 4 March 1954.[18] They encountered serious opposition from some Catholics on the islands and were eventually deported and the first convert banished to his home island.[19] However, in one year there was a community of more than 200 Bahá'ís[20] and a Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly.[21] Three years later the island where the first convert was sent to was found to now have 10 Bahá'ís. By 1963 there were 14 assemblies.[22] As the Ellice Islands gained independence as Tuvalu and the Gilbert Islands and others formed Kiribati, the communities of Bahá'ís also reformed into separate institutions of National Spiritual Assemblies in 1981.[23] The Bahá'ís had established a number schools by 1963[22] and there are still such today – indeed the Ootan Marawa Bahá'í Vocational Institute being the only teacher training institution for pre-school teachers in Kiribati.[18] The census figures are consistently between 2 and 3% for the Bahá'ís while the Bahá'ís claim numbers above 17%.[19] All together the Bahá'ís now claim more than 10,000 local people have joined the religion over the last 50 years and there are 38 local spiritual assemblies.[18]

Marshall Islands[edit]

The Bahá'í Faith in the Marshall Islands begins after 1916 with a mention by `Abdu'l-Bahá, then head of the religion, that Bahá'ís should take the religion there.[8] The first Bahá'í to pioneer there arrived in August 1954[24] however she could only stay until March 1955. Nevertheless, with successive pioneers and converts the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly in 1967 in Majuro.[25] The community continued to grow and in 1977 elected its first National Spiritual Assembly.[26] Before 1992 the Bahá'ís began to operate state schools under contract with the government.[21] Middle estimates of the Bahá'í population are just over 1,000, or 1.50% in 2000.[27]

New Caledonia[edit]

The Bahá'í Faith in New Caledonia was first mentioned by `Abdu'l-Bahá in 1916,[28] though the first Bahá'í arrived in 1952[29] during a temporary visit because of restrictive policies on English-speaking visitors.[21] In 1961 Jeannette Outhey was the first New Caledonian to join the religion and with other converts and pioneers elected the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly of Nouméa.[30] The Bahá'í National Spiritual Assembly of New Caledonia was elected in 1977.[21] Multiplying its involvements through to today, the 2001 population was reported at 1,070 and growing.[31]

New Zealand[edit]

While the first mention of events related to the history of the Bahá'í Faith in New Zealand was in 1846[32] continuous contact began around 1904 when one individual after another came in contact with Bahá'ís and some of them published articles in print media in New Zealand as early as 1908.[33] The first Bahá'í in the Antipodes was Dorothea Spinney who had just arrived from New York in Auckland in 1912.[34] Shortly thereafter there were two converts about 1913 – Robert Felkin who had met `Abdu'l-Bahá in London in 1911 and moved to New Zealand in 1912 and is considered a Bahá'í by 1914[35] and Margaret Stevenson who first heard of the religion in 1911 and by her own testimony was a Bahá'í in 1913.[36] After `Abdu'l-Bahá wrote the Tablets of the Divine Plan which mentions New Zealand[37] the community grew quickly so that the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly of the country was attempted in 1923[38] or 1924[39] and then succeeded in 1926. The Bahá'ís of New Zealand elected their first independent National Spiritual Assembly in 1957.[40] By 1963 there were four Assemblies, and 18 localities with smaller groups of Bahá'ís.[22] The 2006 census reports about 2800 Bahá'ís[41] in some 45 local assemblies and about 20 smaller groups of Bahá'ís[42] though the Association of Religion Data Archives estimated there were some 7,000 Bahá'ís in 2005.[43]

Papua New Guinea[edit]

The Bahá'í Faith in Papua New Guinea begins after 1916 with a mention by `Abdu'l-Bahá, then head of the religion, that Bahá'ís should take the religion there.[8] The first Bahá'ís move there (what Bahá'ís mean by "pioneering",) in Papua New Guinea arrived there in 1954.[44] With local converts the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in 1958.[45] The first National Spiritual Assembly was then elected in 1969.[23] The Association of Religion Data Archives (relying onWorld Christian Encyclopedia) estimated some 60000 or 0.9% of the nation were Bahá'ís in 2005[43] though the 2012 CIA Factbook estimated 1/3rd of that citing national census figures from 2000.[46] Either way it is the largest minority religion in Papua New Guinea, if a small one.

Tonga[edit]

The Bahá'í Faith in Tonga started after being set as a goal to introduce the religion in 1953,[47] and Bahá'ís arrived in 1954.[48] With conversions and pioneers the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in 1958.[19] From 1959 the Bahá'ís of Tonga and their local institutions were members of a Regional Spiritual Assembly of the South Pacific.[49] By 1963 there were five local assemblies.[22] Less than forty years later, in 1996, the Bahá'ís of Tonga established their paramount Bahá'í school in the form of the Ocean of Light International School.[50] Around 2004 there were 29 local spiritual assemblies[48] and about 5% of the national population were members of the Bahá'í Faith though the Tonga Broadcasting Commission maintained a policy that does not allow discussions by members of the Baha'i Faith of its founder, Bahá'u'lláh on its radio broadcasts.[51]

Samoa[edit]

The Bahá'í Faith in Samoa and American Samoa begins with the then head of the religion, `Abdu'l-Bahá, mentioning the islands in 1916,[28] inspiring Bahá'ís on their way to Australia to stop in Samoa in 1920.[52] Thirty four years later another Bahá'í from Australia pioneered to Samoa in 1954.[53] With the first converts the first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in 1961,[54] and the Bahá'í National Spiritual Assembly was first elected in 1970. Following the conversion of the then Head of State of Samoa, King Malietoa Tanumafili II,[55] the first Bahá'í House of Worship of the Pacific Islands was finished in 1984 and the Bahá'í community reached a population of over 3,000 in about the year 2000.[56]

Vanuatu[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Bahá'í International Community (2006). "Worldwide Community". Bahá'í International Community. Archived from the original on 13 June 2006. Retrieved 31 May 2006. 
  2. ^ a b "Worldwide Adherents of All Religions by Six Continental Areas, Mid-2002". Enyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2002. Retrieved 31 May 2006. 
  3. ^ adherents.com (2002). "Major Religions of the World Ranked by Number of Adherents". adherents.com. Retrieved 28 August 2005. 
  4. ^ Wardany, Youssef (2009). "The Right of Belief in Egypt: Case study of Baha'i minority". Al Waref Institute. Retrieved 4 April 2009. 
  5. ^ United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (26 October 2009). "Iraq: International Religious Freedom Report". U.S. State Department. Retrieved 20 April 2010. 
  6. ^ United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (26 October 2001). "Indonesia: International Religious Freedom Report". U.S. State Department. Retrieved 3 March 2007. 
  7. ^ United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (26 October 2009). "Indonesia: International Religious Freedom Report". U.S. State Department. Retrieved 19 April 2010. 
  8. ^ a b c d `Abdu'l-Bahá (1991) [1916–17]. Tablets of the Divine Plan (Paperback ed.). Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 40/42. ISBN 0-87743-233-3. 
  9. ^ "Australian Bahá'í History". Official website of the Bahá'ís of Australia. National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Australia. Archived from the original on 19 July 2008. Retrieved 20 July 2008. 
  10. ^ William Miller (b. Glasgow 1875) and Annie Miller (b. Aberdeen 1877) – The First Believers in Western Australia The Scottish Bahá'í No.33 – Autumn, 2003
  11. ^ Hassall, Graham (December 1998). "Seventy Five Years of the Bahá'í Faith in Victoria". presented at a dinner marking 75 years of the Bahá'í Faith in Victoria. Association for Bahá'í Studies, Australia. 
  12. ^ 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, Compiled by Hands of the Cause Residing in the Holy Land, pages 22 and 46.
  13. ^ Hassall, Graham; (ed.) Ata, Abe (1989). Religion and Ethnic Identity, An Australian Study. Melbourne: Victoria College & Spectrum. Chapter "Persian Bahá'ís in Australia". 
  14. ^ Coker, Richard; Coker, University of South Australia, Jan (9 December 2004). "Soul Food: collaborative development of an ongoing nondenominational, devotional event" (PDF). Education and Social Action Conference. Building 10, 235 Jones St, Broadway 2007: Centre for Popular Education, University of Technology, Sydney: 65–7. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 2011. 
  15. ^ "Social and Economic Development and the Environment". International Conference "Indigenous Knowledge and Bioprospecting". Australian Association for Baha'i Studies. 28 April 2004. Retrieved 20 July 2008. 
  16. ^ "Submission in response to selected questions from the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission discussion paper, Striking the Balance: Women, men, work and family". Striking the Balance – Women, men, work and family. Australian Bahá'í Community. June 2005. 
  17. ^ A Practical Reference to Religious Diversity for Operational Police and Emergency Services "2nd" edition
  18. ^ a b c Bahá'í International Community (4 March 2004). "Sailing in for a jubilee". Bahá'í World News Service. 
  19. ^ a b c Hassall, Graham (1996). "Bahá'í Faith in the Asia Pacific Issues and Prospects". Bahá'í Studies Review. 6. pp. 1–10. 
  20. ^ Finau, Makisi; Teeruro Ieuti; Jione Langi (1992). Forman, Charles W., ed. Island Churches: Challenge and Change. Pacific Theological College and Institute for Pacific Studies. pp. 101–2, 107. ISBN 978-982-02-0077-7. 
  21. ^ a b c d Graham, Hassall (1992). "Pacific Baha'i Communities 1950–1964". In Rubinstein, Donald H. (ed). Pacific History: Papers from the 8th Pacific History Association Conference. University of Guam Press & Micronesian Area Research Center, Guam. pp. 73–95. 
  22. ^ a b c d Hands of the Cause. "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". pp. 26, 28. 
  23. ^ a b Hassall, Graham; Universal House of Justice. "National Spiritual Assemblies statistics 1923-1999". Assorted Resource Tools. Bahá'í Library Online. Retrieved 2 April 2008. 
  24. ^ 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. 
  25. ^ "First Local Spiritual Assembly of…". Bahá'í News. No. 442. January 1968. p. 18. 
  26. ^ Hassall, Graham (1990). "H. Colllis Featherstone". Australian Bahá'í Bulletin. National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Australia. October. Retrieved 25 July 2010. 
  27. ^ "Top 20 Largest National Baha'i Populations". Adherents.com. Adherents.com. 2008. Archived from the original on 19 October 2008. Retrieved 18 November 2008. 
  28. ^ a b `Abdu'l-Bahá (1991) [1916–17]. Tablets of the Divine Plan (Paperback ed.). Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. p. 40. ISBN 0-87743-233-3. 
  29. ^ Effendi, Shoghi (1997). Messages to the Antipodes:Communications from Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'í Communities of Australasia. Mona Vale: Bahá'í Publications Australia. ISBN 978-0-909991-98-2. 
  30. ^ Universal House of Justice (1986). p.721-2 In Memoriam Check |url= value (help). The Bahá'í World. XVIII. Bahá'í World Centre. pp. 721–2. ISBN 0-85398-234-1. 
  31. ^ "Territory of New Caledonia and Dependencies". Operation World – Pacific. Patrick J. St. G. Johnstone. 2001. Retrieved 26 July 2008. 
  32. ^ "Mahometan Schism". New Zealand Spectator Cook's Strait Guardian. 15 July 1846. p. 3 near the bottom. Retrieved May 31, 2013. 
  33. ^ Bain, Wilhemenia Sherriff (8 December 1908). "Behaïsm". Otago Witness. New Zealand. p. 87. Retrieved 10 September 2010. 
  34. ^ Elsmore, Bronwyn (22 June 2007). "Stevenson, Margaret Beveridge 1865–1941 Baha'i". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Online. New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 19 September 2009. 
  35. ^ There isn't a definite date Felkin is considered a Baha'i except before 1914 – Arohanui, Introduction by Collis Featherstone.
  36. ^ "New Zealand community – The first New Zealand Bahá'í". New Zealand Community. National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of New Zealand. Retrieved 19 September 2009. 
  37. ^ `Abdu'l-Bahá (1991) [1916–17]. Tablets of the Divine Plan (Paperback ed.). Wilmette, Illinois: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 47–59. ISBN 0-87743-233-3. 
  38. ^ Hassall, Graham (January 2000). "Clara and Hyde Dunn". draft of Short Encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. bahai-library.com. Retrieved 28 September 2009. 
  39. ^ Effendi, Shoghi; J. E. Esslemont (1982). "Appendix". Arohanui: Letters from Shoghi Effendi to New Zealand. Suva, Fiji Islands: Bahá’í Publishing Trust of Suva, Fiji Islands. 
  40. ^ "New Zealand community – Historical timeline". New Zealand Community. National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of New Zealand. Retrieved 19 September 2009. 
  41. ^ Nachowitz, Todd (August 2007). "New Zealand as a Multireligious Society: Recent Census Figures and Some Relevant Implications" (PDF). Aotearoa Ethnic Network Journal. Ruth DeSouza. 02 (2). ISSN 1177-3472. Retrieved 19 September 2009. 
  42. ^ "About Us". The Bahá'í Community of the Kapiti Coast District of New Zealand. Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Kapiti. Retrieved 31 September 2009.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  43. ^ a b "Most Baha'i Nations (2005)". QuickLists > Compare Nations > Religions >. The Association of Religion Data Archives. 2005. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  44. ^ "A life in pursuit of noble endeavors". Bahá'í World News Service. Bahá’í International Community. 29 June 2004. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  45. ^ "Celebrations held throughout the land". Bahá'í World News Service. Bahá’í International Community. 8 May 2004. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  46. ^ "East & Southeast Asia - Papua New Guinea". CIA World Factbook. 13 November 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  47. ^ Hassall, Graham (1992). "Pacific Baha'i Communities 1950–1964". In H. Rubinstein, Donald. Pacific History: Papers from the 8th Pacific History Association Conference. University of Guam Press & Micronesian Area Research Center, Guam. pp. 73–95. 
  48. ^ a b Tuitahi, Sione; Bolouri, Sohrab (28 January 2004). "Tongan Baha'is parade to the palace". Bahá'í World News Service. 
  49. ^ `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. 
  50. ^ Bahá'í International Community (17 July 2006). "Ocean of Light School celebrates 10th anniversary". Bahá'í World News Service. 
  51. ^ Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (15 September 2006). "International Religious Freedom Report – Tonga". United States State Department. Retrieved 15 September 2008. 
  52. ^ Hassall, Graham (9 March 1994). "Clara and Hyde Dunn". draft of "A Short Encyclopedia of the Baha'i Faith". Bahá'í Library Online. Retrieved 15 June 2008. 
  53. ^ National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Samoa (February 2004). "50th Anniversary of the Bahá'í Faith in Samoa". Waves of One Ocean, Official Bahá'í website. National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Samoa. Archived from the original on 4 September 2009. Retrieved 15 June 2008. 
  54. ^ International Community, Bahá'í (30 November 2004). "Timeline of significant evens in the history of the Bahá'í Faith in Samoa and American Samoa (1954 -2004.)". Bahá'í World News Service. 
  55. ^ International Community, Bahá'í (September 2006). Century of Light. Project Gutenberg: Bahá'í International Community. p. 122. 
  56. ^ "Samoa Facts and Figures from Encarta – People". Encarta. Online. Microsoft. 2008. Archived from the original on 31 October 2009. Retrieved 15 June 2008. 

References[edit]

  • Academic American Encyclopedia. Grolier Academic Reference. 1998. ISBN 0-7172-2068-0. 
  • 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. 
  • Jones, Lindsay, ed. (2005). Encyclopedia of Religion (second ed.). MacMillan Reference Books. ISBN 0-02-865733-0. 
  • O'Brien, Joanne; Palmer, Martin (2005). Religions of the World. Facts on File. ISBN 0-8160-6258-7. 

External links[edit]