John Barnabas Leith

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Barney Leith

Barney Leith is currently a Partner at Rights and Empowerment Training LLP, a London based company, which provides "training for corporate, government and civil society organisations in (a) influencing government, parliamentarians and decision makers; and in (b) human rights" [1]

In June, 2011, Mr Leith received an OBE "For services to the Baha'i Faith and to Inter-Faith Relations."[2]

Mr Leith "served the UK Bahá'í community in the field of external affairs from 1998 to 2010. This has covered a wide range of activities, including working with UK government departments (such as the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the Home Office, Communities and Local Government, the Cabinet Office), with the UK parliament, and with a range of civil society organizations in the fields of human rights, equality, social cohesion, and inter-faith relations." [3]

According to Mr Leith, he also "has many years experience in designing and delivering professional training in parliamentary advocacy and government relations." [4]

In the past, Mr Leith "has been a member of the UK Bahá’í community’s elected national governing council since 1993 and has served as its Secretary and Secretary for External Affairs. He is currently the community’s principal diplomatic representative, with a focus on the human rights of the Bahá’ís in Iran and Egypt."[5]

He held a position with the Office of External Affairs for the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the UK from October 2009 – June 2011, and according to his employment profile, is "very experienced in national level inter-faith relations and work on the intersection between faith and public policy.[6] Prior to this, he was Director of the Office of Public Information National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the UK from October 2009 – November 2010, Secretary for External Affairs for the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the UK from April 2005 – April 2007, and Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the UK from 1998-2005.[7]

"He is a founder member of two national multi-faith bodies in the UK, both of which he currently chairs: the Religion and Belief Consultative Group on Equality, Diversity and Human Rights, and the Faith-Based Regeneration Network. He is a trustee of the Inter Faith Network for the UK and a founder-member of the Multi-Faith Group for Healthcare Chaplaincy. He represents the Bahá’í community on CLG’s Faith Communities Consultative Council"[8]

"He is also a member of the Attorney General’s Equality and Diversity Advisory Group and serves on the Crown Prosecution Service’s Community Accountability Forum." [9]

His blog http://www.leithjb.net/blog

He writes: "I’ve been a Baha'i since I was 18 (in 1966) and my faith has shaped the whole of my adult life." [10]

In December of 2010, Leith suggested on his website that media coverage of Wikileaks was potentially taking attention away from the human rights concerns of the Baha'i Faith, stating that "Governments around the world know what is going on and have raised their voices in protest. The media do report the suffering of the Baha'is from time to time. But when the attention of the media is drawn by Wikileaks and the like, the life of those who are trying to keep the Baha'i situation in Iran in the public eye is made just that little bit more difficult."[11]

Evidence given to the Hutton Inquiry

In September, 2003, Leith gave evidence to the Hutton Inquiry, relating to Dr David Kelly's conversion to, and membership of, the Baha'i Faith, and his association with Baha'i local Spiritual Assemblies in the United Kingdom [12]. His testimony can be found beginning at line 17, section 85 of the hearing transcript here: Hutton Inquiry Transcript 27

Consultation and editorial review of the 1996 "National Curriculum for the Education of Baha'i Children in the United Kingdom"

In 1996, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United Kingdom released a document they had commissioned, entitled "Waiting upon the Blessed Beauty: A National Baha'i Curriculum for the United Kingdom, Commissioned by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United Kingdom, and approved for use in all schools and educational institutions."[13] In the preface to this document, the document's author, Trevor R.J. Finch (a then member of the The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United Kingdom, and the Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE) of the London Borough of Wandsworth[14]), stated that he "would like to express my thanks for the careful reading of the draft document by the members of the National Assembly review panel, Peter Hulme and Barney Leith, and the suggestions they made for certain quotations and alterations."[15]. Peter Hulme is current Vice Chair of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United Kingdom, and received an OBE in the 2011 Birthday Honors list for his work in the field of mental health.

In introducing the document, the National Spiritual Assembly writes:

"Dear Friends,
We commend to you this first National Bahá’í Curriculum as a document which we hope will promote the development of Bahá’í education in the United Kingdom and beyond. It is to serve for the :duration of the Four Year Plan, at least, and while it is not exhaustive, it is, nevertheless, comprehensive. It sets out aims and topics for study in a systematic way which we feel would :greatly assist those who are engaged in drawing up Bahá’í courses, of whatever kind, for children, youth and, indeed, adults.
It is a major step forward in the process of the maturation of our educational institutions and we hope that, in time, it will stimulate the production of a range of syllabi suited to every :region and to each delivery system which serves for the human resource development of our community.
We are grateful to Mr. Finch for producing this document on our behalf; a task for which he is amply qualified. He draws upon an experience, over a period of a quarter of a century, in both :Bahá’í and state education, as a trained teacher of Religious Education, and as a curriculum development specialist - a result of his M.A. in Development Education from the University of London Institute of Education.
As well as having served on this National Spiritual Assembly since April 1991, Mr. Finch has served from October 1991 on the Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE) of the :London Borough of Wandsworth. More recently he has been appointed an adviser to the Citizenship Foundation secondary curriculum panel and is a member of the Values Education Council, :representing the Faith nationwide.
Every part of the content does not, necessarily, reflect the view of the National Spiritual Assembly, but this document is approved by us for use in the Bahá’í community. We urge you to read it :carefully and to allow it to guide you in your work as educators of children and young people, whether as parents, as teachers or as those who facilitate education in other ways.
The National Spiritual Assembly of
the Bahá’ís of the United Kingdom
1996"[16]

In outlining the projected outcome of the developments in Baha'i related education, Mr Finch states that:

"The creation of a well-organised, systematic and balanced Bahá’í educational service for the children and youth of the United Kingdom is probably the single most important task that faces the U.K. Bahá’í community at present. Once such a service is in place we can look forward to long-term success in the teaching field, in the maturation of our divine institutions, and in the first stirrings of the development of a distinctive Bahá’í identity and civilisation. The production of a National Bahá’í Curriculum is an important element in the establishment of such a service"[17]

Numerous perspectives and quotations regarding the Baha'i teachings are laid out in this document-- subject to acknowledged review and editorial guidance by Barney Leith and Peter Hulme-- including the asserted authority of the Baha'i teachings in solving the "personal, moral, social, economic, political and environmental ills from which humanity is presently suffering"[18]

"The world will continue to suffer unless and until sufficient numbers of people, especially those of capacity, come to hear of and accept the teachings enshrined in Bahá’u’lláh’s revelation :and in the writings of His appointed successors.
These teachings are the only effective medicine for the personal, moral, social, economic, political and environmental ills from which humanity is presently suffering. They are the ark which :will rescue the human race from the deluge of its own making.
The Bahá’í student must be so educated in the teachings of their Faith that they may be enabled to know and understand them, live them out through their lives and apply them to the situations :and problems of the world, as well as to share them in a meaningful and relevant way with others."[19]

Regrading the so-called "Covenant", by which members of the Haifan Baha'i Faith are 'bound' to the institutions and administrative bodies of the faith (see Baha'i Faith), the document states that:

"The Covenant is what separates us from oblivion. It is the umbilical cord for the soul. It is the fulcrum by which to lever the world. It is the driving force of the universe. Adherence to it :in times of great danger causes all the angels, the Concourse on High and the creatures of the world beyond to rush to assist the faithful. No power can overcome it, all powers are its servant. :To skirt its boundaries is to invite insanity and immolation.
The administrative order is the channel, the vehicle of the covenant in the material realm. It is the instrument by which the covenant can exert its influence on the human race.
No covenant in the history of humanity has been so clearly preserved, so clearly explained, nor so well provided with the means by which it might be affirmed, enacted and renewed.
No system of government in the panoramic sweep of human life on this earth has ever approached the beauty, the symmetry, the sensitivity, the grandeur or transformative potency of the :administrative order of Bahá’u’lláh. It is a machine of infinite possibilities which can be operated by the simplest, purest souls to generate nothing less than a new world civilisation.
How can any Bahá’í parent or teacher fail, then, to impart to their children and youth the wonders of the covenant and administration? Socrates consulted the Oracle to learn the truth. Bahá’ís :have only to turn their hearts to the covenant and consult with their divine institutions and truth can be theirs for the asking."[20]


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References

  1. Barney Leith Profile, accessed October 18, 2011.
  2. [1], Queens Birthday Honours List, Guardian Online, accessed October18, 2011.
  3. Barney Leith Profile, accessed October 18, 2011.
  4. Barney Leith Profile, accessed October 18, 2011.
  5. Members of the Equality Bill Senior Stakeholder Group, UK Government, accessed December 22, 2008.
  6. Barney Leith Profile, accessed October 18, 2011.
  7. Barney Leith Profile, accessed October 18, 2011.
  8. Members of the Equality Bill Senior Stakeholder Group, UK Government, accessed December 22, 2008.
  9. Members of the Equality Bill Senior Stakeholder Group, UK Government, accessed December 22, 2008.
  10. About, John Barnabas Leith, accessed December 22, 2008.
  11. Is Wikileaks taking attention from persecution of the Baha'is in Iran?, 'Barbney's Posterous: Reasoned Reactions to the World's Strangeness', December 21, 2010. Accessed October 18, 2011.
  12. Hutton Inquiry Hearing Dates, accessed October 23, 2011.
  13. A NATIONAL CURRICULUM FOR THE BAHÁ’Í EDUCATION OF CHILDREN IN THE UNITED KINGDOM, accessed October 25, 2011.
  14. A NATIONAL CURRICULUM FOR THE BAHÁ’Í EDUCATION OF CHILDREN IN THE UNITED KINGDOM: Introduction and Preface, accessed October 25, 2011.
  15. A NATIONAL CURRICULUM FOR THE BAHÁ’Í EDUCATION OF CHILDREN IN THE UNITED KINGDOM: Introduction and Preface, accessed October 25, 2011.
  16. A NATIONAL CURRICULUM FOR THE BAHÁ’Í EDUCATION OF CHILDREN IN THE UNITED KINGDOM: Introduction and Preface, accessed October 25, 2011.
  17. A NATIONAL CURRICULUM FOR THE BAHÁ’Í EDUCATION OF CHILDREN IN THE UNITED KINGDOM: Section3, PHASES IN BAHÁ’Í EDUCATION DEVELOPMENT IN THE U.K., accessed October 25, 2011.
  18. A NATIONAL CURRICULUM FOR THE BAHÁ’Í EDUCATION OF CHILDREN IN THE UNITED KINGDOM, accessed October 25, 2011.
  19. A NATIONAL CURRICULUM :FOR THE BAHÁ’Í EDUCATION OF CHILDREN IN THE UNITED KINGDOM, accessed October 25, 2011.
  20. A NATIONAL CURRICULUM FOR THE BAHÁ’Í EDUCATION OF CHILDREN IN THE UNITED KINGDOM, accessed October 25, 2011.