January 10, 2016

The “environment” to be “fostered” in each community by the institutions of the Faith – through “encouragement, assistance, counsel, and education”

In this context, then, every individual finds himself or herself immersed in a community that serves increasingly as an environment conducive to the cultivation of those attributes that are to distinguish a Bahá’í life —
  • an environment in which a spirit of unity animates one and all;
  • in which the ties of fellowship bind them;
  • in which mistakes are treated with tolerance and fear of failure is diminished;
  •  in which criticism of others is avoided and backbiting and gossip give way to mutual support and encouragement;
  • in which young and old work shoulder to shoulder, studying the Creative Word together and accompanying one another in their efforts to serve;
  • in which children are reared through an educational process that strives to sharpen their spiritual faculties and imbue them with the spirit of the Faith;
  • in which young people are helped to detect the false messages spread by society, recognize its fruitless preoccupations, and resist its pressures, directing their energies instead towards its betterment.
The institutions of the Faith, for their part, strive to ensure that such an environment is fostered. They do not pry into the personal lives of individuals. Nor are they vindictive and judgemental, eager to punish those who fall short of the Bahá’í standard. Except in extreme cases of blatant and flagrant disregard for the law that could potentially harm the Cause and may require them to administer sanctions, their attention is focused on encouragement, assistance, counsel, and education. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 19 April 2013 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice)