The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience


From: Juan Cole <>
To: FG <>
Cc: bahai-faith @ <>; talisman <>
Subject: Re: [bahai-faith] Fw: fw Juan Cole: censorship
Date: Wednesday, June 03, 1998 2:58 PM
Dear Miguel:
1)  While it is true that both the internet and the Baha'i faith are global
in nature, it is also true that a) the vast majority of internet
connections are in free, educated and relatively well off societies such as
the U.S. and b) the vast majority of literate Baha'is in the world live in
the U.S. and Canada.  It therefore makes at least a little sense for both
the Baha'i faith's administration and for SRB to adopt policies that don't
drive off hundreds or thousands of thinking people.
2)  I was not arguing against the legitimate laws of the Baha'i religion,
which I respect.  I was arguing that when the administration gets to the
point where they threaten to have university professors declared covenant
breakers for running an Indiana University listserv and for making
non-fundamentalist postings, then the administration has become not only
intellectually bankrupt but also repressive and corrupt in a manner that
betrays the basic teachings of the religion's holy figures.  And when you
betray what you are supposed to be standing for, you guarantee your own
stagnation or decline.
Case in point.  From May 1, 1997 till May 1, 1998, the *gross* increase in
the number of Baha'is in the U.S. was about 1,500.  Subtract withdrawals
(formal and informal), deaths, and persons subjected to administrative
sanctions, and you probably are pretty close to stagnant.  This stagnation
is a result of the Baha'i administration not standing for what the religion
stands for, of it being overly controlling and overly centralized and
You get invited into the Baha'i faith being assured it believes all
religions are one, all humankind is one, that there should be universal
peace, love, and harmony, that women and men are equal, and that there
should be unity of science and religion.  
And then you find out that Baha'is actually are busy shunning other people,
are quick to put anyone within the community into the category of 'covenant
breaker' who has a different outlook (as Doug Martin did to me beginning in
the early 1980s, backbiting me behind the scenes), demand conformity,
believe cities are about to be evaporated, believe women should be
subordinate to the men on the uhj, believe that all of modern biological
science, based on Darwin is wrong because scripture says so, and in general
often behave in ways that are intolerant and narrow-minded, chasing people
out of the religion, so that it remains tiny.  (How many Baha'is are there
in Poland, *really*?)
It is not just a problem of people failing to live up to their scriptural
values, as with most religions.  It is a problem of people being committed
to the diametric opposite of their scriptural values.  A child could
formulate it.  It is a problem of people being mean when they were
commanded to be nice.  It is a problem of people being narrow and exclusive
when they were commanded to be universal and inclusive.  And the meanest of
all are people like Doug Martin and Farzam Arbab, who now control the
levers of power by virtue of having clawed their way on to the House.
cheers   Juan
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