The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience

From: <>
Subject: Re: What is a Cult?
Date: Wednesday, January 27, 1999 10:41 PM

Dear JayLiz:
I don't think that most of the problems in the community affect most Baha'is
most of the time, and that is why there is not more of an uproar (besides,
people tend to vote with their feet by just leaving).
I would make the following suggestions:
1) If an Assistant or an Auxiliary Board Member or a Counselor calls you to
a meeting to insist that you fall silent about some issue, simply firmly tell
him or her that Shoghi Effendi said Baha'is have the right to declare their
conscience and express their views.  And then post a full account of this
attempt to browbeat you right here on the Net.
2)  If a Baha'i body seems to you to be wasting the money you give it or is
not being fully accountable for how it spends your money, don't give it any
more. Restrict your donation to your local assembly if you think it is doing
a good job, or restrict the donation to "charitable purposes" (Baha'i
institutions are supposed to be doing *way* more charity work than they do).
3)  If you are a writer, insist on publishing without Baha'i prepublication
4)  If someone suggests to you that you cannot disagree with some policy you
think is wrong because the author of the policy is infallible, tell that
person that only God is infallible and all human beings make mistakes,
including the Baha'i institutions.
Basically, just don't allow yourself to be boxed in to a very authoritarian
situation, where if some Baha'i body ever actually does order you to drink
poisoned coolaid or do something unethical or be silent about something
unethical, you are still in a psychological frame of mind where you can tell
them to jump in a lake.
I myself dissent from the idea that the problem in any way resides in one
ethnicity more than another.  Lots of Iranian Baha'is have seen all the scams
the AO types pull and are far more chary of them and canny about them than a
lot of ernest Americans.
cheers    Juan
Juan Cole
History, U of Michigan
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