Founded in 1985, the U.S. Baha’i Office of Public Affairs represents the American Baha’i community in its collaborations with individuals, organizations, and institutions, as well as its relationships with media, government, and the broader public. The Office operates under the auspices of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States, the elected governing body of the American Baha’i community. The Baha’i national headquarters for the United States is located in Evanston, Illinois; our Office is located in Washington, D.C.
Our Office focuses on contributing to social discourse. We strive to elevate national conversations on urgent social issues to the level of spiritual principle. We have six primary areas of focus: Racial Unity & Justice, the Environment, Economic Justice, the Role of Media in Society, Human Rights, and Gender Equality & the Advancement of Women. In these and other areas, our Office collaborates with like-minded organizations and individuals to advance the thinking around each of these issues. This often manifests as dialogue, public education, awareness-raising, media outreach, and, occasionally, policy advocacy. Informed by Baha’i teachings and principles, our Office seeks to contribute to the betterment of society and to promote the development of a just and unified world.
Background Information on the Baha’i Faith
Founded in Iran in 1844, the Baha’i Faith is the youngest of the world’s independent monotheistic religions with more than five million adherents in 236 countries and territories. Baha’is come from nearly every national, ethnic and religious background, making the Baha’i Faith the second most widespread religion in the world, after Christianity, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Baha’is view the world’s major religions as part of a single, progressive process through which God reveals His will to humanity. Baha’u’llah (1817 – 1892), the Founder of the Baha’i Faith, is recognized by Baha’is as the most recent in a line of Divine Messengers that includes Abraham, Krishna, Moses, the Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus Christ and Muhammad.
The central theme of Baha’u’llah’s message is that humanity is one single race and that it is imperative, for the security and prosperity of all, that it resolve to move toward a united, global civilization. Baha’is believe in the harmony between science and religion, the equality of women and men, the elimination of the extremes of wealth and poverty, the common origin and unity of purpose of all world religions, and the elimination of all forms of prejudice.
Brief Style Guide
Members of the Baha’i Faith are referred to as Baha’is; an individual adherent is a Baha’i. The term Baha’i may also be used as an adjective, as in “the Baha’i community” or “a Baha’i holy day.” “Bahaism” and “Bahaist” are incorrect.
In a first reference of the Baha’i Faith, capitalize “Baha’i” and “Faith.” In subsequent references, “the religion” or “the faith” are appropriate.
We recommend the following websites as sources of accurate and official information: bic.org, which provides updates and background information about the persecution of the Baha’is in Iran and Yemen; and bahai.org, which provides an overview of Baha’i beliefs, activities and history. Reference to these sites can mitigate the impact of concerted disinformation campaigns directed against Baha’is in these and other countries.
It is not accurate to refer to the Baha’i Faith as a sect of any other religion, as it is an independent world religion with its own scriptures, holy days and administrative structure.
The term “Baha’i Faith” is comparable to “Christianity” or “Islam” or “Judaism.” The term “Baha’i Faith” is the name of the religion – just as Christianity, or Islam, or Judaism is the name of a religion – and there is no other term that properly identifies the religion. The word “Baha’i” alone is not the name of the religion, but is rather a noun referring to a person who is a follower of the Baha’i Faith, or else an adjective referring to something affiliated with the Baha’i Faith (e.g., “a Baha’i gathering” or “a Baha’i book”). Therefore, the term “Baha’i Faith” should be used in its entirety and with both letters capitalized.
Standard Baha’i usage includes accent marks in the following names: Bahá’í, Bahá’u’lláh, the Báb, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. If it is not possible to use these accent marks, the names should be spelled Baha’i, Baha’u’llah, the Bab and Abdu’l-Baha.
Bahá’í – Bah-HIGH
Bahá’u’lláh – Bah-HAH-ol-LAH
(The Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith)
The Báb – The Bob
(The Prophet-Herald of the Bahá’í Faith)
‘Abdu’l-Bahá – Ab-dol ba-HAH
(Son of Bahá’u’lláh)
Media Contact Information
Office of Public Affairs, Baha’is of the United States
James Samimi Farr
1320 19th St. NW, Suite 701
Washington, DC 20036