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May 20, 2014

Ottawa Bahá'ís participate in successful Reddit “Ask me Anything” discussion
Q&A session about Bahá'í  principles finds a receptive online audience
REDDIT LogoThe Bahá’í community on Reddit, a popular social media website, broke new ground recently when it hosted an online question-and-answer session known as an AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) on May 13th. Several Ottawa Bahá’ís participated in the event, which attracted a substantial amount of interest and wide-ranging discussion about the Bahá'í Faith.

AMAs are one-time events featuring an individual or group of individuals who field questions from Reddit's userbase. Any user can ask and vote for their favourite questions, which may range from the profound to the mundane. The person, or people, giving the AMA then answer those questions to the best of their ability. Many AMAs focus on a certain topic, but others, most often ones involving famous people, are completely open. Those who have given especially well-received AMAs include U.S. President Barack Obama, naturalist Sir David Attenborough, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield.

The Bahá'í AMA took place in a section of Reddit devoted to religion, as part of a series to allow its users to discover different faith traditions through discussions with individual believers. A number of Bahá'ís from around the world participated, fielding questions from members of many different faith and non-faith traditions. A wide variety of topics were covered: Bahá'u'lláh's vision in the Siyáh-Chál; the Bahá'í view of sexuality and gender identity; progressive revelation; universal auxiliary language; the unique station of the Báb; Bahá'í beliefs about the after-life; Bahá'í Holy days; the persecution of Bahá'ís in Iran and Egypt; and many more.

Those who attended called the event an excellent learning experience. One Reddit user noted, "I certainly learned quite a bit about Bahá'í beliefs that I wasn't aware of. My knowledge of the faith was rather general prior to reading through the explanations. I learned about [the Bahá'í Faith's] beginnings, the concept of a uniting religion for all people... I certainly didn't know everything about the different faiths as much as I thought I did."

Many of the Bahá'ís who attended found that the AMA was an excellent way to engage in public discourse, and a wonderful way to spread knowledge of the Faith. Indeed, not long after the AMA was complete, an article appeared in the Huffington Post summarizing its contents, entitled "Eight Things We Learned About Bahá'ís From The Reddit AMA", generating even more interest. Overall, this event provided a wealth of shared experience that should greatly advance the Bahá'í community's ability to engage in public discourse on the Internet.

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