The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience


Nima Hazini

Selected Messages for 2001

Selected Messages for 2000

Also see these related messages:

Re: The root of the problem 9/13/99
Re: The root of the problem (was Re: Baha'u'llah's grammer and Mahdi's gwammer) 9/24/99
Re: The root of the problem (was Re: Baha'u'llah's grammer and Mahdi's gwammer) 9/16/99
Re: The root of the problem (was Re: Baha'u'llah's grammer and Mahdi's gwammer) 9/14/99
Re: The root of the problem (was Re: Baha'u'llah's grammer and Mahdi's gwammer) Michael McKenny 9/10/99
Re: The root of the problem (was Re: Baha'u'llah's grammer and Mahdi's gwammer) 9/10/99
Re: The root of the problem (was Re: Baha'u'llah's grammer and Mahdi's gwammer) 9/7/99

From: <>
Subject: Re: The root of the problem (was Re: Baha'u'llah's grammer and Mahdi's gwammer)
Date: Monday, September 06, 1999 11:21 PM
"Rick Schaut" <RSSchaut@email.msn.NOSPAMcom> wrote:
> Well, Nima, I was on Talisman at the time, and your account of the
>facts leaves much to be desired.
Well, Rick, your official line interpretation of the facts hasn't shed
much illumination, either, I dare say. Which leaves everybody still
pretty much at square one.
> The individual who had been subject to administrative sanctions had
>posted **slanderous remarks**, had agreed to post a
Slanderous remarks?! Hardly! The post(s)in question the honorable
gentleman was taken to the proverbial cleaners for hardly constituted
"slander" by any functional legal definition of the word. If so, why
didn't the AO just sue the good gentleman in the courts? Well, it
wasn't slanderous and so they couldn't do anything other than to take
institutional retaliatory measures against the said individual's
standing in the Baha'i community. And just to refresh your memory about
the post in question, he was speaking of his personal observations
about a particular mode of administrative operation the American NSA
continually engaged in, and not about people's mothers or who they were
sleeping with, etc. And how is drawing learned parallels between
Stalinist or Nazi kangaroo courts and how the AO does things legally
slanderous, pray tell? I'd really like to know this one for my own
edification. Thanks.
> retraction, and failed to do so during the time-frame that he had
>agreed to post that retraction.
Nonesense. I was both on Talisman and on Majnun, saw all the relevant
correspondence between the good gentleman, the NSA and the House about
the matter, and the good gentleman was given an extension on the time-
frame by the NSA itself pending the House's reply. But when the said
gentleman retracted (to the chagrin of the rest of us majnunis who
advised him that he shouldn't) he was held to the original deadline,
and thus had sanctions imposed. Now how are the actions of the AO to be
taken in this matter other than that they were disingenuous from the
beginning and that the good gentleman was being set-up as a scapegoat
from the get-go? This I'm dieing find out.
> As for the post that Covenant-breakers were lurking on Talisman, it
>was a simple statement of fact, and was, indeed, quite true.
Oh, really! Care to elaborate?
>The fact that far too many people misunderstand what the Counsellor
>meant ought, by no means, become an indictment of the Counsellor who
>made those posts.
OK. Let's see. The good Cousellor's first language is English. He's an
American from the Midwest. He is an erudite and educated man. I believe
he holds an MBA and teaches Business Administration and is some
professional consultant, am I right? Therefore, his command of language
and, need I say communication skills, is hardly that of a fifth grader.
How is it then that the good Counsellor could convey his message in
such vague and sloppy terms that the rest of us could so misunderstand
his intentions? Rick, you're a much more conscientious and intelligent
man than that, so be so good and stop insulting our intelligence.
> Lastly, to answer the question, there appeared to be a group of
>individuals who were engaging in activities, and who appeared to have
>motives, that were strikingly similar to those of Ahmad Sohrab.
And the US State Department in the late 40s/early 1950s was infiltrated
by communist agents in the pay of Moscow after all...And ya'll get so
angry when we draw comparisons to McCarthyism.
>The primary purpose for paying
> people a visit would be to ascertain the truth.
Of what?
>Yet, we are to believe that this is a bad thing.
Well, look at it this way, if some official of a religious organization
you happen to belong to barges into your living room and without
context accuses you of being a near heretic because of your views, is
that supposed to be a good thing?
> Dr. Cole has certainly intimated that the purpose of these visits was
>to threaten people, but how can that be?
Very simple. When you start telling people that their statements on an
academic email list are "covenantly suspect" and that they are
"dangerously close" and then just barge into their living rooms stating
the same and worse, just what in the heck is that other than a threat?
The good Counsellor wasn't exactly wooing the good Professor for a good
old smooch session, you know   I-)
>The Counsellors don't have the authority to do anything,
As they shouldn't, since they're not elected representatives.
>so, even if they do make a threat, they can't follow through with it.
Well, someone in the high ups should have had the foresight and decency
to say just that before everything exploded into some Wagnerian opera.
But given that Counsellors usually do not act on their own initiative
in such weighty matters, it was obvious to us that it wasn't the good
Counsellor who was making the threats in the first place, but the ITC
through the House.
>Every Counsellor knows this, and, thus, if we are to
> accept Dr. Cole's thesis, we must presume that these Counsellors are
> blithering idiots.
Much wisdom and calculation behind the blithering of idiots...
>Not one of the Counsellors I know could be remotely
> described as "foolish".
I wholeheartedly agree. Very intelligent people, these Councillors.
They execute so well what they're told to, and strategically at that.
> Now, Counsellors do have the duty to inform people of the
>consequences of their behavior.
And how, pray tell good sir, was the behavior of Juan Cole, John and
Linda Walbridge, Steven Scholl, David Langness, Tony Lee, myself and a
host of others on an academic email list either consequential or
misbehavior? It wasn't. The powers-that-be did not desire real academic
discourse in the Baha'i community in the first place (period) so moved
as they did. Heck, they were ready to do it way back in January 95,
long, long before Tasliman was even a 'consequential' email discussion
list or a Majnun post strayed. They did it in 1988 with Dialogue
magazine, for God's sake.
>If we are to accept Dr. Cole's thesis, however, we must
> discount this possibility entirely.
Well, duh!
>Either that, or telling someone that walking into traffic could have
>serious consequences for their health would have to be deemed a
Non sequitor alert!
Rick (and am laughing heartily writing this) go back and read
Baha'u'llah's Kitab-i-Iqan and come back and say this to me. But all
the same it is not the business of Councillors who are not trained
academics themselves to be telling people (and people who are within
the bounds) what they can or cannot believe or state about their
beliefs on an academic email list - and neither can the House. There is
no ortho-doxy (correct opinion) in the Baha'i faith, but ortho-praxy
(correct practice in terms of the divine Law). Furthremore, just what
was so objectionable that the parallel of walking into traffic has been
drawn? Because for instance they were stating the obvious that Shoghi
Effendi's pronouncements on certain matters are not immutable for all
time? Gee, even Shoghi Effendi said that about his own interpretations,
>Neither of these possiblities seems particularly plausible.
:-) Well, perhaps not to you...But, then again, it's your job to make
it to be implausible. That's why you're an Assistant to an Auxilliary
Board and not me or Michael. Not exactly my idea of a disinterested
party, dude.
> I can't answer for Dr. Maneck, but I can return the question about
> obfuscating truths.  You've done it in this post.  In fact, I've yet
>to see anyone make a clear allegation about the "modus operandi" of the
> Administrative Order without omitting rather important facts
>regarding the events in question.
Oh, come off it, Rick! You and I weren't born yesterday. OK. You want
facts about modus operandi. Let's talk about one example close to home.
This is my own personal experience, so I trust you won't accuse me of
embellishing or making things up.
    I withdrew in November 1996 and moved back from California to the
Southwest in March. I pretty much had severed all contact with Baha'is
during this time, not to mention that I was off-line for much of 1997
(March to December). I reignited my former contacts with Sufi friends
in the area and was even initiated into an Order. No one other me and
one or two relatives, or so I thought, knew about my affliation. In
late December I came to visit my parents in Australia, and lo and
behold, there's a letter waiting intercepted and kindly forwarded by
the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the Gold Coast to my
parents. The letter originated from the Office of the Secretary-General
of the US NSA which the Australian NSA had summarised key contents and
forwarded to the LSA here. It was supposed to be strictly an internal,
confidential administrative communique, but given that the LSA here are
all decent people who know my family and I well, out of their genuine
concern they sent a copy along - and a week before I arrive at that
(the original US NSA to the Aussies communication having arrived a week
before that).
   In it the US NSA advises the Aussies that I had withdrawn accusing
them of nasty things (not that I disagree with the assertion), and
informing them that I had become "a supporter of Sufism." They then
advise the Aussies to carefully monitor my activities, by which the NSA
here adds that I should be kept away from the youth in the community
and that my activities should be put under surveillance and reported to
them, etc. And then I hear from one of the LSA members that they had
previously been informed about me, my activities and my association and
friendship with those bad scholars. And, this, to a community I didn't
even belong to!
   Now 1) how in the world did the US NSA know I had joined a Sufi
order (I didn't advertise it) and 2) was coming to Australia? Moreover,
3) what business was it of the US NSA to spy into my personal life
months after I had officially resigned and not even been in contact
with Baha'is? Also, 4) what gives the US NSA and the Australian NSA the
right to incite others to shun me when I'm not technically even a
Baha'i? Don't they know that, at least here in Australia, surveillance
of individuals for ideological purposes and institutional sanctioned
shunning are illegal under the law? And 5) why is such Stalinist
measures of surveillance, spying and blacklisting taken by certain
"rogue" elements within the AO in the first place?
   So, unlike some people, I do not believe such modus operandi are
isolated instances. Stuff like this happens all the time within the
Baha'i community to ideological undesirables like yours truly. And the
other, similar, cases have already been recounted here again and again
and again and elsewhere.
>This "modus operandi" emporer has no clothes.
Well, hopefully I've put some underwear on his Majesty.
> So, perhaps you will answer the question to which every other critic
>has responded with nothing but personal insults.  Why has no critic
>ever told us all the facts, and has never given us just the facts
>without either embellishing upon them or adorning them with
>flourishing rhetoric?
Well, make what you will of the facts pertaining to my own case, and if
you're man enough, draw the appropriate inferences from the other cases
you know about.
   But before I go, let me qualify something here. Unlike some others I
do not believe that the entire AO is constituted by mean old fascist
Stalinists tout court. Experience has proven to me that there are some
genuinely good and sincere people within it. Maybe you're even one
them, Rick. Who knows? The problem is that the "jerks" seem to be at
the helm of things for now and the good ones, a silent majority, or
just walking in step with the the jerks.
> Regards,
> Rick Schaut
Sent via
Share what you know. Learn what you don't.

From: <>
Subject: Re: The root of the problem (was Re: Baha'u'llah's grammer and Mahdi's gwammer)
Date: Monday, September 06, 1999 12:49 AM (Smaneck) wrote:
> I have already stated why the Counselors visited certain persons, so I
>will not repreat myself, here.
Why, pray tell? The good Counselor had already requested a meeting with
at least one of the scholars before the infamous majnun post had even
been misdirectedly posted. And at least one of the majnunis was
being threatened with sanctions at the time by the Office of the
Secretariat of the US NSA for a posting on Talisman. And let
me remind you, since you weren't there, that it was the good Counselor
who started posting vague, ambiguous messages about CBs lurking on
Talisman, and it was a Baha'i-in-the-know in the UK who had first
written Juan drawing parallels to Sohrab. So, again, given this, why
exactly was the good Counselor so concerned about paying people visits?
>But I think Michael Mckenny is confused as to whose views
> he is really opposed to.
Well, I don't speak for Michael, and neither do I agree with his
wiccan-esque ecofeminism. But he's made many valid points here, points
you yourself at least privately have conceded to in the past. So, I
don't get it! Why is it, Susan, you will express your misgivings about
the AO's modus operandi in private, but in public you will come out,
intentionally obfuscate truths and take such a hardline defending its
indefensible actions.
Sent via
Share what you know. Learn what you don't.

From: <>
Subject: Re: The root of the problem (was Re: Baha'u'llah's grammer and Mahdi's gwammer)
Date: Tuesday, September 07, 1999 2:06 AM

  "David Fiorito and Jennifer Spotila" <> wrote:
> If I independently investigate the postulation the Baha'u'llah speaks
>with Divine authority and I reach the conclusion that He does how am I
>supposed to disregard His writings in favor of my own interpretation?
Because other than very specific areas of the Law, Baha'u'llah gives
you the right to do so. Read the Kitab-i-Iqan. And how would a given
conclusion necessarily disregard or negate His Writings? It would be a
highly narrow, circumscribed view of the nature of Revelation to argue
that it is. The range and scope of what He says is so infinitely vast
in any given context, that a multiple and plurality of conclusionary
applications are possible at any given time (so long as they are not
touted as being authoritative). This is the difference between seeing
progressive Revelation also applicable in the domain of our
understanding of the Book, and one that sees it only in one domain
(i.e. history) and insists the Book is closed until further notice.
It's the difference between holding to a Logos that is forever active
and immanent and engaging with and within us, and one who has no real
connection to it other than in a peripherally superficial way.
> To me once an investigation has reached a conclusion and the Truth is
>found then all you are left with is the duty to obey and the duty to
>retest your conclusion, but not to disregard some ordinance that you
That's assuming that any given conclusion is a once and for all, one
time-only affair, static and immutable from further understanding(s) or
refinement or fluidity. And who is saying that an ordinance has been
disregarded? Any ordinace itself (because of its spiritual Divine
nature) has a vast applicational range. But if a conclusion is skewed,
it is skewed (no matter where the motivating premises derive from -
albeit that does not negate the underlying principle itself, i.e.
ordinance). No amount of justification is going to make it otherwise.
And certainly Baha'u'llah never meant "rida" (acquiescence) to imply
some sort of blind obediance or sheepish abeyance. That's Calvinism,
ultra-montanist Roman Catholicism, usuli Twelver Shi'ism, but
definitely *not* Baha'u'llah.
> If one  does not agree with Baha'u'llah how can that person possibly
>be a Baha'i?
This is a serious non sequitor. A fallacy of reasoning. The premises
you seem to be setting out to justify in your conclusion are not borne
out by facts in the world. And it also happens to be a red herring
easily refutable. You're claiming that anyone who does not subscribe to
a particularly closed hermenuetical vision of the Baha'i religion is
ipso facto not a Baha'i. Baha'u'llah Himself already challenged that
notion implicitly in the Aqdas, Iqan, his Tablet to Jamal Borujerdi and
> Independent investigation of the truth does not mean constantly
>challenging authority and having things your own way.
Again a non sequitor. It's not simply a matter of someone having their
own way or challenging authority for its own sake. Independent
investigation of truth entails that it be unfettered and not fettered;
unbound, not bound. Meaning, you follow the line of investigation
wherever it might lead. If it be fettered as many fundamentalists would
have us believe (doesn't matter what religion they belong to), then
it's not an independent investigation of truth, but something else. So
if it's something else (or, since there's failure to apply the
unfettered standard to the quest), why call it 'independent' or an
'investigation', let alone of the truth. The type of pseudo-reasoning
that is being called independent investigation of the truth by some
within the Baha'i public sphere these days is in reality some sort of
vacuous tautological doublespeak which does not care to think outside
of its own narrow framework or paradigms. It sets out to demonstrate
that which is already known to it, or rather that which it already has
demonstrated to/and for itself. Now, how would this make it the same
independent investigation of the truth of the sort lauded by
Baha'u'llah? It simply isn't.
>  It means deciding for yourself
> and living with the consequences of your decision.
So what's the problem?
Regards, Nima

From: <>
Subject: Re: The root of the problem (was Re: Baha'u'llah's grammer and Mahdi's gwammer)
Date: Friday, September 10, 1999 11:26 PM
Hi Michael,
The fact is they had no legitimate grounds whatsoever for writing such a
overtly slanderous letter about someone who is no longer a Baha'i on the
rolls even. And what it in fact amounts to is institutional indulgence
in one of Baha'u'llah's three deadly sins (i.e. backbiting, adultery and
murder). Since I'm neither a drug dealer or a sexual predator (I'm too
much of an old fashioned prude for either one), the only reason for
advising that the youth be kept away from me, was for no other but for
ideological purposes (period). And as far as 'corrupting the youth' in
that respect is concerned, I guess I stand in the company of such
important figures as Socrates :) This simply flatters me. The funny
thing is, though, the letter in fact had the very opposite of the
desired effect - especially since it was the LSA who forwarded the
letter to my family. All the same, the thing to remember here is that no
amount of Kafka-esque, Twilight Zone logic engaged in by Rick Schaut and
other hardliners can in all honesty justify this sort of cultist
behavior by the US and Aussie NSAs. No need to point out that it is this
sort of internal blacklisting communiques that the Church of Scientology
regularly conducts against disgruntled ex-members.