Valerie Phillips, “The Special Place of America in the Bahá’í Authoritative Texts”
Sunday, April 8, 2018
The Bahá’í Writings contain references to the special place of America in the spiritual development of humankind. Valerie will be focusing on some of those Writings, including the letters to the Rulers of America and the Elected Representatives in Every Land in the Proclamation of Bahá’u’lláh, the Spiritual Destiny of America and Some Answered Questions. She will then move forward in time through later works that reference Americans, such as The Priceless Pearl. Valerie will place these passages in historical context by examining prevailing views within the United States about American Indians during the time periods in which these Bahá’í passages were written. These prevailing American views were explicitly grounded in Christianity. A recurring thread that will run through Valerie’s analysis will be the pervasive influence of the Doctrine of Discovery (promulgated by Pope Alexander VI and explicitly relied upon within federal Indian law in the United States) and the 19th century doctrine of Manifest Destiny. She will bring that thread forward to the present-day, ending with an examination of the most recent letter written by the Universal House of Justice dated April 27, 2017 on social action, public discourse and non-involvement in political affairs.
Valerie Phillips is of Tsalagi (Cherokee) and African American descent. She has been a Bahá’í since 1989. Like most American Indians within the United States, she has an urban background. She was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois where she also attended her first powwow at the historic Navy Pier. A graduate of Wellesley College and the University of California at Berkeley School of Law, Valerie has worked primarily as an attorney (Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Attorney’s Office and solo practice) and an educator. She has taught law, mathematics and social studies. Her teacher career includes stints as a business law professor (Washington State University – College of Business and Economics) and a law professor (University of Tulsa College of Law). She has published in scholarly journals, primarily on the subject of indigenous peoples. She also had the honor of participating in meetings of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Peoples in Geneva, Switzerland and New York City before it became the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. She has also traveled widely within Indian Country (U.S.A., Canada and Guatemala).