Baháʼí Faith in Oceania

The Baháʼí Faith is a minority religion in all the countries of Oceania. Baháʼí Houses of Worship are present in Australia and Samoa, and two more are under construction in Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. Malietoa Tanumafili II of Samoa was a follower of the Baháʼí Faith and the first Baháʼí head of state.

AustraliaEdit

The Baháʼí Faith in Australia has a long history beginning with a mention by ʻAbdu'l-Bahá, the son of the founder of the religion, in 1916[1] following which United Kingdom/American emigrants John and Clara Dunn came to Australia in 1920.[2] They found people willing to convert to the Baháʼí Faith in several cities while further immigrant Baháʼís also arrived.[3] The first Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in Melbourne[4] followed by the first election of the National Spiritual Assembly in 1934.[5]

When persecution of Baháʼís intensified in Iran in 1955, Shoghi Effendi, then head of the religion, suspended plans for a Baháʼí House of Worship in Tehran, and in its place commissioned the Kampala Baháʼí House of Worship and the Sydney Baháʼí Temple.[6] According to Jennifer Taylor, a historian at Sydney University, the latter was among Sydney's four most significant religious buildings constructed in the twentieth century.[7] It was the world's fourth Baháʼí House of Worship to be completed, dedicated in 1961.[8] Shoghi Effendi, head of the Baháʼí Faith when the Sydney Baháʼí Temple was designed, called it the "Mother Temple of the whole Pacific area" and the "Mother Temple of the Antipodes."[9]

Though they had been denied entry in 1948, Iranian Baháʼís began to be admitted in 1973 where persecution again rose.[10] Since the 1980s the Baháʼís of Australia have become involved and spoken out on a number of civic issues – from interfaith initiative such as Soul Food[11] to conferences on indigenous issues[12] and national policies of equal rights and pay for work.[13] The community was counted by census in 2001 to be about 11,000 individuals[14] and includes some well-known people (see Baháʼí Faith in Australia – National exposure.)

GuamEdit

The Baháʼí Faith has been present in Guam for over 50 years. It is part of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baháʼís of the Northern Mariana Islands, and there are six communities in Guam which have local spiritual assemblies. There is a Baháʼí National Center in Hagåtña.[15]

HawaiiEdit

In 2000, Paul Sjoquist of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baháʼís of the Hawaiian Islands estimated that there were as many as 1,000 followers in Hawaii.[16]

KiribatiEdit

The only substantial non-Christian population is of the Baháʼí Faith. The Baháʼí Faith in Kiribati begins after 1916 with a mention by ʻAbdu'l-Bahá, then head of the religion, that Baháʼís should take the religion to the Gilbert Islands which form part of modern Kiribati.[1] The first Baháʼís pioneered to the island of Abaiang(aka Charlotte Island, of the Gilbert Islands), on 4 March 1954.[17] They encountered serious opposition from some Catholics on the islands and were eventually deported and the first convert banished to his home island.[18] However, in one year there was a community of more than 200 Baháʼís[19] and a Baháʼí Local Spiritual Assembly.[20] Three years later the island where the first convert was sent to was found to now have 10 Baháʼís. By 1963 there were 14 assemblies.[21] As the Ellice Islands gained independence as Tuvalu and the Gilbert Islands and others formed Kiribati, the communities of Baháʼís also reformed into separate institutions of National Spiritual Assemblies in 1981.[22] The Baháʼís had established a number of schools by 1963[21] and there are still such today – indeed the Ootan Marawa Baháʼí Vocational Institute being the only teacher training institution for pre-school teachers in Kiribati.[17] The census figures are consistently between 2 and 3% for the Baháʼís while the Baháʼís claim numbers above 17%.[18] All together the Baháʼís now claim more than 10,000 local people have joined the religion over the last 50 years and there are 38 local spiritual assemblies.[17]

Marshall IslandsEdit

The Baháʼí Faith in the Marshall Islands begins after 1916 with a mention by ʻAbdu'l-Bahá, then head of the religion, that Baháʼís should take the religion there.[1] The first Baháʼí to pioneer there arrived in August 1954[23] however she could only stay until March 1955. Nevertheless, with successive pioneers and converts the first Baháʼí Local Spiritual Assembly in 1967 in Majuro.[24] The community continued to grow and in 1977 elected its first National Spiritual Assembly.[25] Before 1992 the Baháʼís began to operate state schools under contract with the government.[20] Middle estimates of the Baháʼí population are just over 1,000, or 1.50% in 2000.[26]

New CaledoniaEdit

The Baháʼí Faith in New Caledonia was first mentioned by ʻAbdu'l-Bahá in 1916,[27] though the first Baháʼí arrived in 1952[28] during a temporary visit because of restrictive policies on English-speaking visitors.[20] In 1961 Jeannette Outhey was the first New Caledonian to join the religion and with other converts and pioneers elected the first Baháʼí Local Spiritual Assembly of Nouméa.[29] The Baháʼí National Spiritual Assembly of New Caledonia was elected in 1977.[20] Multiplying its involvements through to today, the 2001 population was reported at 1,070 and growing.[30]

New ZealandEdit

While the first mention of events related to the history of the Baháʼí Faith in New Zealand was in 1846[31] continuous contact began around 1904 when one individual after another came in contact with Baháʼís and some of them published articles in print media in New Zealand as early as 1908.[32] The first Baháʼí in the Antipodes was Dorothea Spinney who had just arrived from New York in Auckland in 1912.[33] Shortly thereafter there were two converts about 1913 – Robert Felkin who had met ʻAbdu'l-Bahá in London in 1911 and moved to New Zealand in 1912 and is considered a Baháʼí by 1914[34] and Margaret Stevenson who first heard of the religion in 1911 and by her own testimony was a Baháʼí in 1913.[35] After ʻAbdu'l-Bahá wrote the Tablets of the Divine Plan which mentions New Zealand[36] the community grew quickly so that the first Baháʼí Local Spiritual Assembly of the country was attempted in 1923[37] or 1924[38] and then succeeded in 1926. The Baháʼís of New Zealand elected their first independent National Spiritual Assembly in 1957.[39] By 1963 there were four Assemblies, and 18 localities with smaller groups of Baháʼís.[21] The 2006 census reports about 2800 Baháʼís[40] in some 45 local assemblies and about 20 smaller groups of Baháʼís[41] though the Association of Religion Data Archives estimated there were some 7,000 Baháʼís in 2005.[42]

Papua New GuineaEdit

The Baháʼí Faith in Papua New Guinea begins after 1916 with a mention by ʻAbdu'l-Bahá, then head of the religion, that Baháʼís should take the religion there.[1] The first Baháʼís move there (what Baháʼís mean by "pioneering",) in Papua New Guinea arrived there in 1954.[43] With local converts the first Baháʼí Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in 1958.[44] The first National Spiritual Assembly was then elected in 1969.[22] The Association of Religion Data Archives (relying onWorld Christian Encyclopedia) estimated some 60,000 or 0.9% of the nation were Baháʼís in 2005[42] though the 2012 CIA Factbook estimated 1/3rd of that citing national census figures from 2000.[45] It is, in either case, the largest minority religion in Papua New Guinea, though a small one. A national Baháʼí House of Worship is under construction in Papua New Guinea as of 2019.[46]

SamoaEdit

The Baháʼí Faith in Samoa and American Samoa begins with the then head of the religion, ʻAbdu'l-Bahá, mentioning the islands in 1916,[27] inspiring Baháʼís on their way to Australia to stop in Samoa in 1920.[47] Thirty four years later another Baháʼí from Australia pioneered to Samoa in 1954.[48] With the first converts the first Baháʼí Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in 1961,[49] and the Baháʼí National Spiritual Assembly was first elected in 1970. Following the conversion of the then Head of State of Samoa, King Malietoa Tanumafili II,[50] the first Baháʼí House of Worship of the Pacific Islands was finished in 1984 and the Baháʼí community reached a population of over 3,000 in about the year 2000.[51]

TongaEdit

The Baháʼí Faith in Tonga started after being set as a goal to introduce the religion in 1953,[52] and Baháʼís arrived in 1954.[53] With conversions and pioneers the first Baháʼí Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in 1958.[18] From 1959 the Baháʼís of Tonga and their local institutions were members of a Regional Spiritual Assembly of the South Pacific.[54] By 1963 there were five local assemblies.[21] Less than forty years later, in 1996, the Baháʼís of Tonga established their paramount Baháʼí school in the form of the Ocean of Light International School.[55] Around 2004 there were 29 local spiritual assemblies[53] and about 5% of the national population were members of the Baháʼí Faith though the Tonga Broadcasting Commission maintained a policy that does not allow discussions by members of the Baháʼí Faith of its founder, Baháʼu'lláh on its radio broadcasts.[56]

TuvaluEdit

Baháʼí Faith is practised by 3% of the population of Tuvalu.[57][58] There are relatively large numbers of Baháʼís in the Nanumea Island of Tuvalu.[59]

VanuatuEdit

The Baháʼí Faith has been present in Vanuatu since 1953[60] and the national administration was established as the National Spiritual Assembly of the New Hebrides in 1977. The religion's community of Vanuatu currently holds communal worship and children's classes.[60] A Baháʼí Temple designed by Ashkan Mostaghim is planned for Tanna. A design was revealed in 2017.[61] The temple is under construction as of 2019.[62]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d ʻAbdu'l-Bahá (1991) [1916–17]. Tablets of the Divine Plan (Paperback ed.). Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Baháʼí Publishing Trust. pp. 40/42. ISBN 978-0-87743-233-3.
  2. ^ "Australian Baháʼí History". Official website of the Baháʼís of Australia. National Spiritual Assembly of the Baháʼís of Australia. Archived from the original on 19 July 2008. Retrieved 20 July 2008.
  3. ^ William Miller (b. Glasgow 1875) and Annie Miller (b. Aberdeen 1877) – The First Believers in Western Australia Archived 26 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine The Scottish Baháʼí No.33 – Autumn, 2003
  4. ^ Hassall, Graham (December 1998). "Seventy Five Years of the Baháʼí Faith in Victoria". presented at a dinner marking 75 years of the Baháʼí Faith in Victoria. Association for Baháʼí Studies, Australia.
  5. ^ The Baháʼí Faith: 1844–1963: Information Statistical and Comparative, Including the Achievements of the Ten Year International Baháʼí Teaching & Consolidation Plan 1953–1963, Compiled by Hands of the Cause Residing in the Holy Land, pages 22 and 46.
  6. ^ Hassall, Graham (December 2012). "The Baháʼí Faith in Australia 1947-1963". Journal of Religious History. 36 (4): 563–576. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9809.2012.01231.x.
  7. ^ Dictionary of Sydney staff writer. "Baha'i House of Worship". Dictionary of Sydney. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  8. ^ Rafati, V.; Sahba, F. (1996). "BAHAISM ix. Bahai Temples". In Yarshater, Ehsan (ed.). Encyclopaedia Iranica. Vol. 3 (Online ed.). New York. pp. 465–467. Retrieved 24 December 2016.
  9. ^ Badiee, Julie and the Editors. "Mashriqu'l-Adhkár". The Baháʼí Encyclopedia Project. Retrieved 14 January 2017. {{cite web}}: |first1= has generic name (help)
  10. ^ Hassall, Graham; (ed.) Ata, Abe (1989). Religion and Ethnic Identity, An Australian Study. Melbourne: Victoria College & Spectrum. Chapter "Persian Baháʼís in Australia". {{cite book}}: |last2= has generic name (help)
  11. ^ 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: 65–7. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 2011.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  12. ^ "Social and Economic Development and the Environment". International Conference "Indigenous Knowledge and Bioprospecting". Australian Association for Baháʼí Studies. 28 April 2004. Archived from the original on 13 September 2007. Retrieved 20 July 2008.
  13. ^ "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 Baháʼí Community. June 2005. Archived from the original on 23 September 2008. Retrieved 2 February 2013.
  14. ^ "A Practical Reference to Religious Diversity for Operational Police and Emergency Services" (PDF) (2 ed.). Australasian Police Multicultural Advisory Bureau. 19 June 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 June 2005.
  15. ^ "Organization/Business Detail - Pacific Region Resources | Pacific Region's Community Resource Directory". pacificregionresources.org. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  16. ^ "Baha'is to solemnize martyrdom of man who predicted prophet". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Honolulu, Hawaii. 24 June 2000. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  17. ^ a b c Baháʼí International Community (4 March 2004). "Sailing in for a jubilee". Baháʼí World News Service.
  18. ^ a b c Hassall, Graham (1996). "Baháʼí Faith in the Asia Pacific Issues and Prospects". Baháʼí Studies Review. Vol. 6. pp. 1–10.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ a b c d Graham, Hassall (1992). "Pacific Baháʼí 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.
  21. ^ a b c d Hands of the Cause. "The Baháʼí Faith: 1844–1963: Information Statistical and Comparative, Including the Achievements of the Ten Year International Baháʼí Teaching & Consolidation Plan 1953–1963". pp. 26, 28.
  22. ^ a b Hassall, Graham; Universal House of Justice. "National Spiritual Assemblies statistics 1923-1999". Assorted Resource Tools. Baháʼí Library Online. Retrieved 2 April 2008.
  23. ^ Ruhe-Schoen, Janet (2007). "An Enchantment of the Heart – A Portrait of Marcia Steward, Knight of Baháʼu'lláh, First Baháʼí Pioneer to Chile and the Marshall Islands" (PDF). The Chilean Temple Initiative. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 August 2020.
  24. ^ "First Local Spiritual Assembly of…". Baháʼí News (442): 18. January 1968.
  25. ^ Hassall, Graham (1990). "H. Colllis Featherstone". Australian Baháʼí Bulletin. October. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  26. ^ "Top 20 Largest National Baha'i Populations". Adherents.com. Adherents.com. 2008. Archived from the original on 19 October 2008. Retrieved 18 November 2008.{{cite encyclopedia}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  27. ^ a b ʻAbdu'l-Bahá (1991) [1916–17]. Tablets of the Divine Plan (Paperback ed.). Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Baháʼí Publishing Trust. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-87743-233-3.
  28. ^ Effendi, Shoghi (1997). Messages to the Antipodes:Communications from Shoghi Effendi to the Baháʼí Communities of Australasia. Mona Vale: Baháʼí Publications Australia. ISBN 978-0-909991-98-2.
  29. ^ Universal House of Justice (1986). In Memoriam. The Baháʼí World. Vol. XVIII. Baháʼí World Centre. pp. 721–2. ISBN 978-0-85398-234-0.
  30. ^ "Territory of New Caledonia and Dependencies". Operation World – Pacific. Patrick J. St. G. Johnstone. 2001. Retrieved 26 July 2008.
  31. ^ "Mahometan Schism". New Zealand Spectator Cook's Strait Guardian. 15 July 1846. p. 3 near the bottom. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  32. ^ Bain, Wilhemenia Sherriff (8 December 1908). "Behaïsm". Otago Witness. New Zealand. p. 87. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
  33. ^ Elsmore, Bronwyn (22 June 2007). "Stevenson, Margaret Beveridge 1865–1941 Baha'i". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Vol. Online. New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 19 September 2009.
  34. ^ There isn't a definite date Felkin is considered a Baha'i except before 1914 – Arohanui, Introduction by Collis Featherstone.
  35. ^ "New Zealand community – The first New Zealand Baháʼí". New Zealand Community. National Spiritual Assembly of the Baháʼís of New Zealand. Archived from the original on 17 February 2009. Retrieved 19 September 2009.
  36. ^ ʻAbdu'l-Bahá (1991) [1916–17]. Tablets of the Divine Plan (Paperback ed.). Wilmette, Illinois: Baháʼí Publishing Trust. pp. 47–59. ISBN 978-0-87743-233-3.
  37. ^ Hassall, Graham (January 2000). "Clara and Hyde Dunn". draft of Short Encyclopedia of the Baháʼí Faith. bahai-library.com. Retrieved 28 September 2009.
  38. ^ Effendi, Shoghi; J. E. Esslemont (1982). "Appendix". Arohanui: Letters from Shoghi Effendi to New Zealand. Suva, Fiji Islands: Baháʼí Publishing Trust of Suva, Fiji Islands.
  39. ^ "New Zealand community – Historical timeline". New Zealand Community. National Spiritual Assembly of the Baháʼís of New Zealand. Archived from the original on 23 October 2007. Retrieved 19 September 2009.
  40. ^ Nachowitz, Todd (August 2007). "New Zealand as a Multireligious Society: Recent Census Figures and Some Relevant Implications" (PDF). Aotearoa Ethnic Network Journal. 02 (2). ISSN 1177-3472. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 January 2018. Retrieved 19 September 2009.
  41. ^ "About Us". The Baháʼí Community of the Kapiti Coast District of New Zealand. Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baháʼís of Kapiti. Archived from the original on 16 October 2008. Retrieved 30 September 2009.
  42. ^ a b "Most Baha'i Nations (2005)". QuickLists > Compare Nations > Religions >. The Association of Religion Data Archives. 2005. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  43. ^ "A life in pursuit of noble endeavors". Baháʼí World News Service. Baháʼí International Community. 29 June 2004. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  44. ^ "Celebrations held throughout the land". Baháʼí World News Service. Baháʼí International Community. 8 May 2004. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  45. ^ "East & Southeast Asia - Papua New Guinea". CIA World Factbook. 13 November 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  46. ^ "Construction advances on historic first national Baha'i House of Worship". Bahá’í World News Service. 24 November 2019. Retrieved 10 November 2020.
  47. ^ Hassall, Graham (9 March 1994). "Clara and Hyde Dunn". draft of "A Short Encyclopedia of the Baha'i Faith". Baháʼí Library Online. Retrieved 15 June 2008.
  48. ^ National Spiritual Assembly of the Baháʼís of Samoa (February 2004). "50th Anniversary of the Baháʼí Faith in Samoa". Waves of One Ocean, Official Baháʼí website. National Spiritual Assembly of the Baháʼís of Samoa. Archived from the original on 4 September 2009. Retrieved 15 June 2008.
  49. ^ International Community, Baháʼí (30 November 2004). "Timeline of significant evens in the history of the Baháʼí Faith in Samoa and American Samoa (1954 -2004.)". Baháʼí World News Service.
  50. ^ International Community, Baháʼí (September 2006). Century of Light. Project Gutenberg: Baháʼí International Community. p. 122.
  51. ^ "Samoa Facts and Figures from Encarta – People". Encarta. Vol. Online. Microsoft. 2008. Archived from the original on 13 September 2009. Retrieved 15 June 2008.
  52. ^ Hassall, Graham (1992). "Pacific Baháʼí Communities 1950–1964". In H. Rubinstein, Donald (ed.). Pacific History: Papers from the 8th Pacific History Association Conference. University of Guam Press & Micronesian Area Research Center, Guam. pp. 73–95.
  53. ^ a b Tuitahi, Sione; Bolouri, Sohrab (28 January 2004). "Tongan Baháʼís parade to the palace". Baháʼí World News Service.
  54. ^ ʻAbdu'l-Bahá (1991) [1916–17]. Tablets of the Divine Plan (Paperback ed.). Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Baháʼí Publishing Trust. pp. 31–32. ISBN 978-0-87743-233-3.
  55. ^ Baháʼí International Community (17 July 2006). "Ocean of Light School celebrates 10th anniversary". Baháʼí World News Service.
  56. ^ Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (15 September 2006). "International Religious Freedom Report – Tonga". United States State Department. Retrieved 15 September 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  57. ^ "Tuvalu: Millennium Development Goal Acceleration Framework - Improving Quality of Education" (PDF). Ministry of Education and Sports, and Ministry of Finance and Economic Development from the Government of Tuvalu; and the United Nations System in the Pacific Islands. April 2013. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
  58. ^ "International Religious Freedom Report 2012: Tuvalu". United States Department of State. 20 May 2013. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  59. ^ "Tuvalu".
  60. ^ a b "The Baháʼí Community of Vanuatu". www.bahai.org. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  61. ^ "Design of Vanuatu Temple unveiled | BWNS". Baháʼí World News Service. 18 June 2017. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  62. ^ "Milestone for Vanuatu Temple uplifts, galvanizes island". Bahá’í World News Service. 17 November 2019. Retrieved 10 November 2020.

Further readingEdit

  • Hassall, Graham (1992). "Pacific Baháʼí 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.
  • Hassall, Graham (2005). "The Bahá'í Faith in the Pacific". In Herda, Phyllis; Hilliard, David; Reilly, Michael (eds.). Vision and Reality in Pacific Religion: Essays in Honour of Niel Gunson. Pandanus Books. pp. 73–95. ISBN 1740761197.
  • Hassall, Graham (2009). "The Baháʼí Faith". In Jupp, James (ed.). Encyclopedia of Religion in Australia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 168–171. ISBN 9780521864077. Retrieved 14 January 2017.
  • Hassall, Graham (2012). "The Baháʼí Faith in Australia 1947-1963". Journal of Religious History. 36 (4): 563–576. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9809.2012.01231.x.

External linksEdit