A Bahá’í Faith Perspective

The harmony of science and religion is one of the fundamental principles of the Bahá’í Faith.  Bahá’ís reject the notion that there is any inherent conflict between science and religion.  Given this key aspect of the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith, I believe that there is a direct connection to the role of science within the faith lens, particularly as we look at recent vaccinations around COVID-19 and the evolution of HIV vaccine research.

The intersectionality of faith and science is exhibited throughout the Writings of the Bahá’í teachings, where there are myriad writings that provide guidance for the global Bahá’í community regarding the need for and use of vaccinations.  When our global community was challenged with questions around COVID vaccinations, the governing body of the United States Bahá’í Community issued the following guidance: “In relation to the coronavirus pandemic, the friends should follow the counsel of medical and other scientific experts on . . . the wisdom of particular health measures.”  As an individual believer, I would offer that as HIV vaccines eventually become available to our community,  this guidance would likely be shared with all of those affected by HIV. 

However, as scientists continue the development of HIV vaccines, we continue to experience a constant evolution in the very foundations of how we operate as a “global community.” As this shift occurs, I would suggest that there is another public health issue that points to the intersectionality of these two areas, and that is the issue of discrimination.  Though discrimination can be exhibited in many ways,  I will focus on discrimination against those living with HIV.  One critical teaching of the Bahá’í Writings is the elimination of prejudice and judgment of any kind, and the reality of the oneness of humanity. This also speaks to the connection between science and religion.  To me, these two realities that, hopefully, we are all working to embrace in our own lives are some of the most powerful depictions of the connection between science and faith. 

While those in the areas of science and public health continue to do life-saving work around addressing HIV, it is critical that we who profess to be people of faith, no matter what that spiritual path may be, do the daily work of eliminating our individual and societal biases against any human being living with HIV.  Our faith communities should be safe places for all, and encouraging spaces to ensure the full health and well-being of all believers.  I would close by suggesting that as faith leaders follow the science on the evolution of all vaccines, we must also embrace the scientific and spiritual basis of the unity in our diversity and the oneness of all humanity, without regard for HIV status.