The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience

My first and second attempts to respond to William Collins on srb
are given below. His original message appears at the end. I leave
it to the reader to decide regarding the excuses given for
suppressing my messages, that they are "personal responses" or
"pure flame bait."

From: S. Michele Smith <>
To: FG <>
Cc: Baha'i SRB Moderators <>
Subject: Re: Religious Freedom of Conscience; Liberal/Conservative
Date: Tuesday, May 19, 1998 2:31 PM
Dear Mr. Glaysher,
Thank you for your submission to soc-religion-bahai. However, as it is a
personal response, it is being returned to you unposted.
S. Michele Smith
-----Original Message-----
From: FG <>
Newsgroups: soc.religion.bahai
Date: Monday, May 18, 1998 5:57 AM
Subject: Re: Religious Freedom of Conscience; Liberal/Conservative
>William Collins wrote in message <"kLZ6vB.A.UZG.4WLV1">...
>I'd like to respond to your statement but given the "moderators"
>suppressing of my last message to you a week or so ago, as
>they have done in the past, doubt any real discussion or exchange
>on such serious issues can take place on srb.
>If you're sincere let me suggest you repost your message to
>alt.religion.bahai,, or talk.religion.misc,
>where there are no  "moderators" to interfer, allowing only your
>voice or opinion to be heard....
>Usenet: alt.religion.bahai

From: FG <>
To: SRB <>; bahai-faith @ <>
Subject: SRB censored #2: 5-11-98
Date: Monday, May 11, 1998 6:39 AM
-----Original Message-----
From: Teri Rhan <>
To: FG <>
Cc: srb moderators <>
Date: Monday, May 11, 1998 12:47 AM
Subject: Re: Leaving Faith
>Dear Fred,
>This is nothing more than pure flame bait.  Please leave the broad
>generalizations and criticisms out, and stick with the charter.  This
>newsgroup is for the discussion of the Baha'i Faith and it's teachings in
>a consultative and respectful manner, not a grievence forum. Provide some
>real facts and back them up with the Writings.
>Teri Rhan
>Co-moderator, soc.religion.bahai
>On Sat, 9 May 1998, FG wrote:
>> William Collins wrote in message
>> This is no less true
>> >of those who find their meaning in endless criticism of Baha'i
>> >institutions and of committed believers.
>> The context within which you set any kind of criticism or opinion
>> other than what you think justifiable and appropriate obscures
>> the issues that cause the criticism in the first place. An approach
>> employed by many Bahais....
>> And if those who hold to
>> >extremes are committed to continuing in those
>> >directions, the end results are retarded growth of the community, and/or
>> >the withdrawal of individuals or application of
>> >sanctions to them.
>> As is your blaming the individuals or victims....
>> >It appears to me to be an unhealthy pattern in anyone's life to fix upon
>> >discontent, and then to be consumed with communicating
>> >that discontent to others - especially to those with whom one is willing
>> >to be continually angry.
>> Abdul-Baha himself said that angry can serve the good.... There
>> is such a phrase in English, "righteous anger," for wrongs suffered
>> unjustly, wrongs that those who care about the Bahai Teachings
>> ought to want to see corrected if they have any sense of justice....
>> If the Baha'i community, its
>> >institutions, and the believers are as hypocritical, fanatical,
>> >ungenerous, misguided and critical as portrayed by many of those
>> >who post here, then why waste the precious days of your short lives
>> >mired in lashing out at the them?  Why not find something
>> >else more fulfilling?
>> Again, the typical Bahai approach.... Drive out or banish anyone
>> who doesn't conform or agree with prevailing opinion.... This
>> opinion also fails to perceive that there is much of importance
>> the Bahai Faith needs to learn from many of its critics or voices
>> of conscience....
>> The only other alternative is to arise and model
>> >for others the kind of Baha'i life you think Baha'is should
>> >lead, rather than telling the Baha'is how bad they are.  Being
>> >constantly possessed of a critical spirit is self-destructive.
>> The Voice in the Wilderness is usually the one humankind needs
>> the most.... The Bahai Faith is no different....
>> >
>> >In the cyberworld that has opened up the possibility for people to put
>> >all of their immediate and unprocessed feelings up in
>> >print, it might also prove useful for those who post in response to the
>> >naysayers to ponder a few things.  Does the person who
>> >blames the Baha'i institutions, community and believers for various
>> >failures actually want a dialogue, or simply a confirmation
>> >that he's right?  Perhaps the best response to the angry words and
>> >criticism is no written response at all, but a continued
>> >demonstration of wisdom, and a willingness to follow the lived example
>> >of 'Abdul-Baha, who loved everyone but did not
>> >legitimize everyone's actions and words.
>> The answer of many Bahais: ostracism....
>> >
>> >Since the founding of various internet discussion groups a few years
>> >ago, I have observed them carefully, both in the Baha'i
>> >context, and in the context of other religions and disciplines.  Except
>> >for very tightly controlled discussion groups (and
>> >soc-religion.bahai is not so tightly controlled),
>> In my opinion, it is tightly controlled. See my new web site,
>> alt.religon.bahai, or for evidence and
>> discussion to that effect....
>> there is always a
>> >significant percentage of participants whose purpose is criticism,
>> >argumentation, negation and the expression of discontent.
>> I would have to say that among Bahais there are always individuals
>> willing to justify the most shameful abuse of the Teachings and
>> ethics as long as they think it willl further the growth of the Faith....
>> FG
>> Usenet: alt.religion.bahai

-----Original Message-----
From: William Collins <>
Newsgroups: soc.religion.bahai
Date: Saturday, May 09, 1998 3:59 PM
Subject: Re: Religious Freedom of Conscience; Liberal/Conservative
>There have now been several discussions of the "reality" of the
>existence of "liberals" and "conservatives" in the Faith, while
>accusations are made that many Baha'is are opposed to the principles of
>religious freedom advocated by 'Abdul-Baha.
>I know no Baha'is opposed to the religious freedom commended by
>'Abdul-Baha.  I know many Baha'is who are loyal to Baha'u'llah's
>covenant, who turn to the central authorities of the Faith for guidance,
>and who sustain the Faith through their participation on its
>institutions, processes and promulgation.
>I also know that such loyalty and steadfastness are not admired by
>people who have personal needs that they believe are somehow not being
>met within the Baha'i Faith, but who find it difficult to move on to
>something more fulfilling or to emulate spiritual behavior through
>example.  The Baha'i Faith is not going to be made over into the image
>of any individual or group of individuals who have trouble accepting the
>entire range of the teachings of Baha'u'llah (whether one has trouble
>with the more flexible parts or the less flexible parts of those
>teachings), or who place themselves in opposition to the considered
>decisions and guidance of the Universal House of Justice and the other
>institutions created by Baha'u'llah and His legitimate and authorized
>If you are now going to divide the Baha'i community into liberal and
>conservative camps, and own another of our culture's insidious
>dichotomies, then may God truly help those who buy into it.  My fear is
>not for the Baha'i Faith, which will grow from strength to strength
>among those who can summon the courage to remain teachable and humble.
>My fear, rather, is for those who, through ignorance or lack of profound
>contemplation, will let people of denial set the agenda for discussion
>of the Baha'i Faith and thus find their spirit consumed in the fire of
>conflict and contention.  The struggle to triumph over our own worst
>tendencies, and to overcome evil in ourselves, requires the utmost
>commitment.  It is not a game in which to indulge the basest of human
>Several well-known names reappear here and elsewhere, touted as
>representatives of liberation who are engaged in a crusade to tear down
>the battlements of an imagined "fundamentalism" in the Baha'i community.
>This "fundamentalism" (a term never fully defined) is implicitly and
>explicitly represented by: (1) Baha'i institutional structure; (2)
>Shoghi Effendi's interpretations (and by implication, 'Abdul-Baha's
>judgment in appointing Shoghi Effendi as Guardian in His will); and (3)
>any Baha'i who is unwilling to throw aside parts of the writings that
>are defined by the attackers as "conservative," "fundamentalist,"
>"particularist" (sectarian), "non-democratic" or otherwise not in accord
>with their views.  It is most dramatically represented in the attempt to
>create what amounts to a kind of "back-to-Baha'u'llah" intellectual
>movement to rethink the entire range of Baha'i development after the
>passing of 'Abdul-Baha and the propagation of His will.  To all intents
>and purposes, it is pointed implicitly but directly at the Guardianship
>and the Universal House of Justice to call the legitimacy of their
>decisions and actions into question, and to characterize them as
>anti-intellectual, anti-democratic, dictatorial, patriarchal and
>There are spiritual consequences to covenantal commitment, as well as to
>the denial of that commitment.  Baha'u'llah would call upon us to see
>Him before our faces.  'Abdul-Baha would plead with us to abandon this
>willingness to attack faithfulness and to characterize the sincere with
>labels drawn from the vicious and sickening political in-fighting of a
>corrupted culture.
>Baha'u'llah stated it best in the Kitab-i-Aqdas:
>"This is not a Cause which may be made a plaything for your idle
>fancies, nor is it a field for the foolish and the faint of heart.  By
>God, this is the arena of insight and detachment, of vision and
>upliftment, where none may spur on their charges save the valiant
>horsemen of the All-Merciful, who have severed all attachment to the
>world of being.  These, truly, are they that render God victorious on
>earth, and are the dawning-places of His sovereign might amidst