The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience


Subject:      Re: Michael McKenny's expulsion from Baha'i Faith
From: (K. Paul Johnson)
Date:         1997/09/04
Message-ID:   <>
Newsgroups:   alt.religion.bahai,misc.misc,talk.religion.misc
[More Headers]
[Subscribe to alt.religion.bahai]
Chris  writes:

> Well, that doesn't stop the issuing of death threats, slagging of
> Princess Diana and various other statements and acts that I, and many
> others, would consider totally uncivilized. The fact that there is no
> individual central authority does not affect the principle of what I
> posted.

Right.  But "We're not as bad as the Muslims at persecuting
dissent" is not much of a defense IMO.

> Well, that is your opinion, which, of course, you are entitled to.
> Personally, I don't have a problem with what the House does about these
> things.

No, it's a matter of fact rather than opinion that the House
has refused to engage the arguments of those it attacks.  How
that makes one view them is where opinions come in.

> I did not ignore him initially.  Only later.  Also, in one breath you
> are saying that I should be believing everything Mike has posted (or

Said no such thing.  I said that it wasn't "speculation" to
believe him, which is what you had labeled me as doing.

> others have repeated as I haven't seen anything of Mike's for a while,
> but as soon as I try to apply similar criteia to teh House I am being
> brainwashed, or whatever.

One judges on the basis of past behavior.  I've seen Mike's
communications, I've seen those of the House, and I know which
source seems reliable and which doesn't.  If you come to the
opposite conclusion, that doesn't mean I think you're
brainwashed.  But you are after all subject to ENORMOUS social
pressures.  Believe Mike's version, and you lose everything you
love the most according to your own testimony.  Believe the
House, and you are rewarded as a true and faithful Baha'i.
With the deck stacked like that, can you blame me for doubting
your objectivity?

> You seem to be coming from a "let's assume that they are wrong unless I
> agree with what they say" approach. 

When religious authorities are concerned, that's a wise
course.  And even if you do agree with them!  As a general rule
it's a good policy to assume anyone claiming to speak with
divine authority is wrong.

> Paul, I absolutely agree with you.  But if one, say, decides that
> although paragraph 27 of the Kitab-i-Aqdas is wonderful, paragraphs 28
> to 30 are really not to one's liking and one, therefore, does not accept
> them, then one is rejecting the infallibility of Baha'u'llah, and, by
> implication, of God.

The infallibility of Baha'u'llah is factually impossible.  He
says things that are just plain wrong.  As far as God being
infallible, that seems pretty devoid of meaning.  God can't
make mistakes?  This is a universe full of them, unless you
want to say that by definition there are none and it's just our
puny human reason that imagines otherwise.  But then you have a
non-falsifiable position.

  I would suggest that at that point one is getting
> very close to not being a Baha'i.  (Ask yourself, what is the definition
> of a Baha'i?)  

There is `Abdu'l Baha's very broad one, and the Administrative
Order's ever-narrowing one.


> I don't *have* to believe anything, I choose to believe because I have
> investigated the Writings and have satisfied myself that they support
> Baha'u'llah's claims to be rasul.

But you *have* to believe certain things or face consequences.
That's putting improper pressure on what is proclaimed to be
"independent investigation of truth."

> This fear seems to be very much an American phenomenon.  I have never
> come across it in the UK, or amongst European and Iranian Baha'is that I
> have met. The other day I admitted openly on the Net to having read
> parts of Miller's book on the Baha'i Faith. I received a response from
> one person saying that I was brave to admit to it as it could bring
> repercussions. Such is teh UK community that it had not even occured to
> me that that could happen. 

I'm glad you acknowledge the terrorized state of the U.S.
Baha'i community.  Now, does or does not Haifa endorse the
state of affairs and support those responsible for it?


> Paul, I don't think you understand what I am saying at all.  If I decide
> to pick and choose what suits me and reject what does not then in no way
> can I call myself a Baha'i as that would be, as the Muslims would say,
> joining partners with God.

Well, joining partners with God sounds like a good thing to me.

  If I like a lot of what Baha'u'llah teaches
> and say, 'Yes, I will go along with that and practise it' but also add
> 'but I do not like this idea of the one-ness of mankind thing', or
> whatever, then I am denying Baha'u'llah as God's Messenger.  

Not at all.  You are rejecting the definition of "God's
Messenger" as someone who is always right.


> I don't know what Edgar Cayce's central philosophy was but it seems a
> very easy one to follow -- essentially it denies the divinity of God's
> Messengers. 

Where are you coming up with this?  If you don't know about it,
how can you summarize?  Cayce asserts there's a divine spark within
all life, and says that some souls are especially enlightened and chosen as
messengers.  He even, like Baha'is, asserts that the Christ is
present in all the founders of great religions.

 It would be not too difficult to slip from that philisophy
> to another one -- 'Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law' --
> though I am sure that Cayce himself would never have approved of the
> latter.

No.  One is to serve humanity and the will of God as one can
understand it.

> Oh, how many of Baha'u'llah's teachings did 'Abdul-Baha reject?
Only polygamy SFAIK.  But I didn't say AB rejected the
teachings of Baha, rather that Shoghi and the House rejected
the teachings of AB on freedom of speech and belief in the
Baha'i Faith.


> OK, "suspend judgement" -- "For the time being I will accept it and hope
> that it will become clear to me in time."  Not, "I don't understand it
> so I will reject it, accepting it later if I can make sense of it."

Neither one!  How about a plain old honest "I don't know?"  I
can't accept or reject the Resurrection, for example, since
there's no way of knowing at this point just what happened.
But I can entertain hypotheses about it.  Why do people feel
the need to "accept" things when they can't possible know
whether or not they are true?  That seems silly.

> I'm still not sure about the use of the word 'expelled' here.  You
> obviously see this man as being, by definition, a Baha'i and having been
> kicked out of the Faith.  But it appears that by his public statements
> and statements to the UHJ he has shown that, although he thinks he is a
> Baha'i, he actually does not believe in the basic teachings.

Which ones? It would be nice of them to tell him.

  There are
> then two steps, a) tell him what the beliefs are and, if he still feels
> that he cannot accept them, b) tell him that he is not a Baha'i and
> remove his name from the list of believers. 

The infallible House ignored your step a and is now refusing to
tell McKenny what his errors were or how he can amend them.

> >
> >Duality exists whether or not we can accept it in ourselves.
> >Somewhere in the heart of sensitive and perceptive Baha'is lies
> >the capacity to realize how far astray the House has gone in
> >the direction of being international thought police.

> Oh dear, you really are serious aren't you.  Well, as I've said before,
> you are welcome to your beliefs, it's just that I do not share them.

You might if you had been acquainted with Juan Cole, Steve
Scholl, Linda Walbridge and others when the axe fell on them.

> What is ARE?

The Association for Research and Enlightenment.

> Again that is your opinion.  You imply that anyone who does not agree
> with it is brainwashed and "where THEY want you".  Well, I'm sorry but I
> just don't agree.  I love my Faith and find it far more satifying that I
> could ever have believed.

Your Faith and the alleged infallible leadership are not the
same thing.  I'm glad you find satisfaction in being a Baha'i,
but am sorry that this seems to blind you to the abuses now
being perpetrated in its name.