The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience

From: K. Paul Johnson <>
To: <>
Subject: Re: [bahai-faith] Censorship vs Free Speech
Date: Friday, June 05, 1998 2:28 PM
According to George & Marlena:
> I have seen a lot on the Net (and here) about censorship and free speech. I
> have also had some personal dealings with censorship in some newsgroups. I
> question, though, if any freedoms are in question here.
How so?  For example, my own freedom to raise a question about a
prophecy of `Abdu'l Baha in a way that cannot conceivably be seen
as rude, hostile, etc. or violating any newsgroup rules.
 I see no reason why
> everyone should be allowed to print anything they want, anywhere they want.
Straw man.  The fact is that no one is asking for that.  Just for
consistent, fair application of the guidelines.
> There is enough of a subject choice that a person should be able to find a
> newsgroup  sympathetic with their beliefs that would allow them to freely
> vent. If I am a guest in a church of another faith, I don't bring a picnic
> lunch to the service and eat it during the sermon.
A newsgroup is not church.  I've seen a great many Eckists treat
nonmembers who raise difficult issues on alt.religion.eckankar
freak out and accuse the critics of "violating their space."  But
newsgroups are *public* space, and even those groups devoted to
some religion or other are virtually always explicitly for
inquirers as well as members.
 And if I have anything to
> say about the what went on or what was said I'll ask the proper person at
> the proper time and in the proper manner. Meetings in real life follow rules
> I see no difference online.
Some differences: people don't conduct religious ceremonies in
newsgroups or lists that could be disrupted by "inappropriate"
questions or comments.  Believers who discuss their faith on a
public forum are inviting public visibility and response, rather
as if Baha'is took over public parks for their firesides or
deepenings.  Srb has a responsibility to the non-Baha'i public,
by virtue of being a public newsgroup.  That's not equally true
of a private list, where behavior like that of Bill Hyman would be
less reprehensible.
If you come into my local study group meeting and start asking
skeptical questions in an unfriendly tone about Edgar Cayce, or
criticizing the ARE, you'll probably get a chilly reception.  If you
do the same on a public newsgroup, say talk.religion.newage, no one
could accuse you of invading private space.  Baha'is generally
are too control-oriented when it comes to expression of
independent ideas or dissent, and cyberspace is the Waterloo for
such attitudes.  It's a new world order and censorship is part of
the old.
List Archive: 
To Subscribe: e-mail to
To Unsubscribe: e-mail to
Start Your Own Free Mailing List at !