The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience

From: Juan Cole <>
Subject: Re: Hooper Dunbar and Austin Powers
Date: Monday, June 28, 1999 7:45 PM

Dear Saman:
If a letter is written by the NSA to all the delegates to the National
Convention, I should think it is a public letter and *should* be posted
to the Web.  Do the NSA and the delegates together have secrets from
their own electorate?  Wouldn't that be scarey?  Should the President be
able to send a letter to all members of Congress that is kept secret
from the American people?
As for the bounced messages, it is, of course, entirely possible that
Hooper Dunbar just wanted to follow the academic discussion on H-Bahai.
He seems to be among the few House members with some intellectual
curiosity (I remember discussing the works of the French academic Henry
Corbin on Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsa'i with him once, and he seemed to approve
of Corbin and his academic approach to Shaykhism;  now that I have gone
on to become the major academic authority on Shaykh Ahmad, however, I
don't get the sense he has the same interest in my work that he had in
Corbin's;  go figure.  Maybe I should have written in obscure French.)
The only issue with Hooper Dunbar having the H-Bahai messages bounced to
him secretly is just that it seems sort of sneaky, that's all.  It
wasn't a violation of list rules for the messages to be forwarded, since
it is an academic list and the posters post precisely for the
advancement of scholarly discussion.  It is just that if he wanted to
read my messages there, he could have openly signed onto the list rather
than having an auto-forward arrangement set up for him by one of the
other list subscribers.
Also, the infamous April 7 letter of the UHJ, on which Dunbar
serves, spent several paragraphs lambasting the academic study of the
Baha'i faith by Baha'is, and in fact one such academic (an assistant to
the auxiliary board) was so upset about being villainized this way that
he has resigned from the Faith.  So it seems to me that there are only a
few possibilities.
1) Dunbar actually approves of the academic study of the Faith by
Baha'is, and disagrees with his fellow House members, and insisted on
following H-Bahai despite their disapproval.
2) Dunbar disapproves of the academic study of the Faith by Baha'is, but
just can't help himself from hypocritically sneaking an admiring peak at
the analyses of these academics.
3) Dunbar is a flaming fundamentalist and deeply disapproves of the
academic study of the Faith by Baha'is, and agrees entirely with the
April 7 letter of the UHJ, on which he serves, and had the H-Bahai
messages bounced to him because he wanted to spy on the list for the
purposes of initiating heresy proceedings against Baha'i scholars.
cheers   Juan
Juan Cole, History, U of Michigan
Buy *Modernity & Millennium: Genesis of Baha'i*
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