The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience

From: K. Paul Johnson <>
Subject: Re: The Pickering Tape
Date: Thursday, July 22, 1999 7:19 PM
Dear Berekiah:
You wrote:
: Yes, definitely. There is much evidence to show that Baha'u'llah,
: `Abdul-Baha did not envisage the kind of system we have before us
: today.
Agreed.  Very much evidence.  But going further back to the real
roots of the movement, it seems to me that there is plenty of
evidence that the Bab was triumphalistic and totalitarian in his
vision of the future.  And Baha and `Abdu'l Baha, while I think
seeing pretty clearly the horrors of Babism, were too cowardly or
politic to denounce them outright.  They praised the Bab to the
skies rather than saying explicitly that what they wanted for
humanity was 180 degrees from what he wanted.  (Usually, although
in one place AB talked very harshly about the Bayan.)  That worked in
acquiring and keeping the loyalty of the Babis.  But it laid the
foundation for the undermining of everything Baha and AB wanted
and believed in.  They kept the triumphalist
rhetoric while rejecting the totalitarianism.  Little wonder
that Shoghi Effendi could bring the bad stuff back so easily,
since it went back to the foundation which was itself rotten.
 And I will say this: it was to some degree the fault of Shoghi
: Effendi (or, rather, the Shoghi Effendi era) which set the pretext for
: the authoritarianism current in Baha'i now.
An admission that I wish were made more often by those who see
the current House and American NSA as out of sync with what Baha
and AB envisioned.  They are indeed; but they are following in
SE's path.
: where the key lies. Shoghi Effendi was a closet Leninist, imv, and was
: much inspired by its message. Notice how the Baha'i administration
: functions under the democratic-centralist model of Lenin and the old
: Soviet-style Communist parties in most aspects. But look at how much the
: triumphalistic language and imminentist world-outlook of SE resembles
: that of Marxism-Leninism.
Absolutely.  Which is why in the West the heyday of Bahai, the
1970s, was also the heyday of Marxism-Leninism as a fashion among
the youth.  No one wants or believes in one-size-fits-all
ideologies any more.
 The reason therefore why the Baha'i
: administration has become so authoritarian is because it was designed to
: be a 'Vanguard Party' by its architect. IMO, this isn't at all what the
: two Baha'i Central Figures had in mind.
True indeed.  But any Baha'i can be shunned as a Covenant-breaker for
saying anything was wrong with Shoghi Effendi. 
: I think the way the system is working now this sort of thing becomes
: inevitable. Reform the system, place safeguards, checks and balances,
: and you prevent this sort of thing from happening. But unfortunately the
: Baha'is leaders are not prepared to do this and don't even see a
: problem or the need to adjust. It's all very depressing.
Very sad for people of good will and good sense who have been
drawn into the system and now find themselves facing a crisis of