The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience


For Dr. Linda Walbridge, a prominent anthropologist of Islam, an authority on Shi`ite Islam, and former associate director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University, also see the following links

"Critics chafe at Baha'i conservatism" By IRA RIFKIN
February 27, 1997, Religion News Service Obituary 2002 by Juan Cole

Juan Cole - Menu

From: <> Subject: Re: Some thoughts Date: Tuesday, February 02, 1999 12:10 AM thanks for saying this, Matthew.
Actually, the tally goes this way:
Denis MacEoin was leaned on or threatened in some way in 1979 or so by two
members of the UHJ and had some sort of conflict with Abu'l-Qasim Fayzi, as a
result of all of which he felt forced out of the Baha'i faith.	He was the
first Western Baha'i to do a Middle East studies Ph.D. at a major university
(Cambridge), with a dissertation on some aspect of the Faith.
Those academics on Talisman who were threatened with being shunned included
Dr. Professor Linda Walbridge, an authority on Shi`ite Islam and former
associate director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University,
Steven Scholl, who did graduate work in Islamics at McGill and is now an
important publisher of books on spirituality;  an M.Phil. in African history
from UCLA whom I will not name; another prominent Middle East studies
specialist at a major university; and myself.  A prominent specialist in the
Baha'i faith in South Asia resigned in disgust at this pogrom.	For it to be
suggested that no academic has been thrown out is so close to a falsehood as
to pass for one.
The one individual who resigned after 2 years, spent that 2 years being
relatively silent on email, and certainly *did* feel the pressure during all
that time, and I presume finally decided that being on permanent heresy trial
was not a way to spend a life.	Nor will you find any academic worth his or
her salt who will put up with this sort of thing.
There are not really large numbers of college professors in the humanities
and social sciences who are Baha'is, and even fewer in Middle East Studies;
and even fewer bother to be active in any way.	These charges did indeed
affect a significant number of active and committed Baha'i academics, either
directly or indirectly.
It is not clear exactly what the house of justice's motives were.  Stephen
Birkland, who delivered the bad news, afterwards claimed that there had been
no intention to threaten these individuals with shunning, only to deliver a
"head's up".  It does seem clear that there was an intent to interfere with
the college professors' freedom of inquiry and speech.	Burl Barer reported
back from a visit to Haifa that house of justice members were representing
themselves as surprised and saddened at the academics' resignations.
I don't really want to talk about this old past history, which I think in any
case may well be a chapter drawing to a close.	The folks in Haifa haven't
done anything similar for a year and a half now, and I can only think it is
because they have rethought their approach and decided that such heavy-handed
interventions are after all not a good idea.  I don't think it serves a good
purpose to harp on the past incidents, and feel it is best to move forward.
Every set of religious leaders makes mistakes.	The institutions tend to
survive them.  (Well, not all do; Manichaeanism's leaders pretty much ran
that one into the ground).
I only posted this because an attempt was made to muddy the actual historical
record.  If there aren't such attempts, I'm glad to talk about something else.
cheers   Juan

In article <792rn8$2ov$>,
  Matthew Cromer <> wrote:
> In article <> Smaneck,
> writes:
> >To date, not a single academic historian has been expelled. Michael was the
> >only one kicked out and he is a fiction writer.
> >warmest,
> >
> >Susan
> Susan, this does not become you.
> The record is clear that these academics were told in no uncertain terms
> that they were on the verge of being declared covenant breakers, which
> would mean in most cases shunning by family members and friends.
> Now if someone under such duress resigns, I consider that being kicked
> out.  Perhaps others differ.
> Matthew
Juan Cole
History, U of Michigan
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