The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience

Subject:      Re: Talk.Religion.Bahai Fails Official Complaint
From: (K. Paul Johnson)
Date:         1997/03/28
Message-ID:   <>
Newsgroups:   news.groups
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> > It seems that nowadays, every vote that fails, someone cries censorship.
> I must say, it seems pretty blatant to me in this case. (Like with the
> group a while back)
The more you know about Baha'i, the more obvious it is.  In
looking over the list of no votes, I saw dozens of names of
people who on various lists and on s.r.b. have been upholders
of orthodoxy shouting down any criticism or dissent.  Among the
no voters was the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of
Iceland, two current members of the NSA of the United Kingdom,
a former member of the NSA of the US, and scores of Iranian
names I had never seen before, people who were called into
action solely to prevent uncensored discussion of Baha'i issues.
> > (2a) Neither showing any substantial Bahai threads in talk.religion.misc
> > (2b) Nor by demonstrating how his posts being moderated out were
> >      oppression of free speech and not in compliance with the current
> >      s.r.b to keep discourse civil
> I don't know. I think he did a pretty good job, if you could see through
> the yelling. But there were others (including myself) who coraberated the
> claim. 
Indeed so.  The thing Baha'i officialdom is most paranoid about
is that anyone read anything emanating from the splitoff groups
called "Covenant-breakers."  Like the Amish, Baha'is are ordered
to totally shun these people, on pain of being likewise
declared Covenant-breakers themselves.  Soc.religion.bahai
recently adopted rules forbidding any challenge to mainstream
Haifa/Wilmette Baha'i understanding of the covenant.  That
means no one, Baha'i, covenant-breaker or non-Baha'i, is
allowed to post anything questioning the succession of
authority from the Bab to Baha'u'llah to `Abdu'l Baha to Shoghi
Effendi to the Universal House of Justice.  As if
forbade members of the Reorganized Church from even mentioning
that some LDS don't accept the Utah Mormon lineage of
Don't get me wrong; I think the Covenant-breaker groups are
downright silly.  But the kind of censorship practiced in the
Baha'i world is worse than silly.  It's scary, and you Mr.
Harman have unwittingly supported it.
> >     it stands, there was no difference between this group and a
> >     hypothetical t.r.b.f-glaysher, since the only actual support he
> >     showed was his own.
I and many others posted supportive comments.
Soc.religion.bahai has rejected my posts for content rather
than tone, when a topic was deemed inadmissible because too hot.
I doubt that many of the yes voters approved of Mr. Glaysher's
tone, as I certainly did not.  But he was standing up for an
important principle.
> > Therefore, given a lack of demonstrated need, I voted against the
> > group seeing it as nothing but additional clutter for one man to gain
> > his personal soapbox.
You ignored plenty of evidence to retain that position.
It may help you understand the dynamics of this orchestrated no
vote to know something about recent history of Baha'i on the
Internet.  The suppression of discussion of controversial
issues by Baha'is has gone much further than what is seen on
soc.religion.bahai.  A listserv based in a university was the
object of an inquisition by Baha'i officialdom in Haifa, which
led to the resignation of several leading Baha'i scholars
and the excommunication of one member for opinions expressed on
the list.  (Called "removal of administrative rights" in Baha'i
terminology, which is a step short of being declared a covenant
breaker.)  My article "Baha'i Authorities Vexed by Internet Critics" is
found in the Winter 1997 issue of Gnosis magazine, and
describes these events in more detail.