Door-to-Door Campaigning in the 21st Century

You know those people who knock on your door to introduce you to God? That used to be me. I have knocked on doors in the San Joaquin Valley of California, Los Angeles, South Carolina, North Carolina, and even on an Indian Reservation in South Dakota. I did it to “teach” the Bahá’í Faith, as recently as the mid 1980s. I’d been told a few years ago that Bahá’ís don’t go door-to-door anymore, but apparently that is not entirely true.

I recently heard that Bahá’ís in the Pacific Northwest had been running door-to-door “expansion campaigns” (a rather aggressive form of what Bahá’ís call “direct teaching”) as recently as two years ago, so I went out into Googlespace to see what I could scare up. There is ample evidence that Bahá’ís in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington State were knocking on doors in the years 2008–2010. I have also found videos about “direct teaching” from 2011, but I don’t see much in the years since then.

I think this activity was prompted by the Universal House of Justice in the wake of the 2007-8 Global Financial Crisis. Bahá’ís, like some other religious groups, beam with anticipation at the first rumor of crisis. The failures of others are their reassurance that they have the answer and that the world will soon come begging for help.

In the following video, a poster board street map is presented during a 2009 planning session during what was called the “17th Intensive Baha’i Program of Growth.”

Next, one Bahá’í recounts her “teaching” activities in Idaho and Eastern Washington in 2008:

… and we went to many, many, many homes; my husband and I did like fifty—um—houses, …

As late as April 2010, the Universal House of Justice was promoting these expansion campaigns:

With hearts filled with admiration for the followers of Bahá’u’lláh, we are pleased to announce that, as this most joyous Riḍván season opens, there is in every continent of the globe a fresh complement of intensive programmes of growth under way, raising the total number worldwide over the 1,500 mark and securing the goal of the Five Year Plan, one year in advance of its conclusion. We bow our heads in gratitude to God for this astounding achievement, this signal victory. All who have laboured in the field will appreciate the bounty He has bestowed on His community in granting it a full year to strengthen the pattern of expansion and consolidation now everywhere established, in preparation for the tasks it will be called upon to undertake in its next global enterprise—a plan of five years’ duration, the fifth in a series with the explicit aim of advancing the process of entry by troops.

The term “entry by troops” refers to the Bahá’í prophecy that great numbers of converts will rush into the Bahá’í Faith someday.

The corresponding letter for the following “Five Year Plan” (2015) was not quite so triumphalistic, yet the tone did remain expansionist:

The paths that lead to sustained large-scale expansion and consolidation are being followed with firmer footsteps, valiant youth often setting the pace.

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