The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience

From: <>
Subject: Re: An apology to Fred
Date: Wednesday, February 10, 1999 11:21 AM
Dear Michael:
In summer of 1996 after I resigned on being threatened with being declared a
covenant breaker over my academic posts to a listserv at Indiana University,
I did explore the possibility that I had acted too hastily and that perhaps
the house of justice should be given a chance to undo the actions of its
underlings.  This feeling was fueled by a friend of mine who had been in
Haifa recently and was in contact with a member of the house, and who assured
me that they were sorry about the blow-up and wanted me to reconsider.
I contacted the member of the house of justice, who did make it clear that
I'd have to start with a big apology.  This would not have been a problem for
me. I've made mistakes in my life.  I don't mind apologizing for them. 
However, I was a little mystified why the negotiations began that way, since
obviously for things to work out, both sides would have to compromise.
However, at precisely the time I began this dialogue, the house of justice
had Birkland send that fascist letter to an academic friend of mine
threatening him with being declared a covenant breaker over his academic
email posts.  I had started the dialogue in hopes I had been wrong about
them.  But Birkland even openly says he was writing the letter with the
direct knowledge of the house of justice (actually, they almost certainly
instructed him to write it).
I broke off my negotiations, feeling rather badly used.
In fall, 1996, a friend of mine wrote the house of justice without my
permission, asking if and how I could be reinstated.  The reply was that I
would have to agree to a long list of restrictions.  In the meantime a whole
slew of evidence of the repressive way the faith is run behind the scenes had
come into my hands, and I was hardly interested.
I mean, I'd be glad to be a Baha'i.  But not at the price of my personal
cheers   Juan
Juan Cole
History, U of Michigan
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