The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience


From: Juan R. I. Cole <>
To: <>; <>
Subject: anonymous remailers
Date: Wednesday, December 03, 1997 1:31 AM

I am sorry to inform you that a devoted Baha'i who has in the past been a
wonderful and thoughtful and polite contributor to irfan and talisman has
been under investigation by the counselors and has received a threatening
letter from the "universal" house of "justice".  My information, which is
second hand, appears to indicate that irfan postings were included in the
indictment and had been archived and sent to the accused as proof of his
perfidy.  This use of Irfan messages (if my information is correct) strikes
me as completely unethical (surprise!) on the part of the Baha'i
authorities, since they can only have gotten the messages from someone who
is on irfan under false pretenses and lied about their willingness to comply
with the no-forwarding policy.

This individual was always unfailingly polite and never criticized the
Baha'i institutions in any way.  The only possible charge against him is
that he is not a fundamentalist.  In all the ridiculous and trumped-up
heresy cases that have been brought by the uhj and its counsellors against
devoted Baha'is in the past two years, to my knowledge not a single
conservative, however rude or obstreperous, has been charged, which pretty
clearly signals the real intent of these show trials and purges.

I think it may be time for any Baha'i of liberal views who is involved in
regular email conversations to think seriously about becoming anonymous, for
self-protection.   Talisman is glad to accept anonymous email addresses; the
Irfan board should decide the issue there, but I should think there is not a
problem as long as anonymity doesn't encourage people to act up.

America Online (AOL) allows its subscribers up to six aliases.  There are
also numerous anonymous remailing services on the Web, the most famous of
which is  I don't know much about this sort of thing, since
I insist on speaking my mind under my own name and then enjoying my
notoriety.  But I have heard that there is at least one anonmyous remailer
that provides excellent security against surveillance of the account.
Probably a Web keyword search under anonymous remailer would turn up more

Obviously, there are thousands of Baha'is who do not share the current uhj's
fundamentalist mindset, and they can't put them all on trial, so most of you
are probably safe enough.  Their tactic appears to be to identify persons
who are persistent posters and who therefore are becoming "prominent," with
whom they disagree about their vision of the Baha'i faith, and then to
target them in hopes of either silencing them or forcing them out of the
religion.  They probably also hope that a few such publicized cases will
scare every other non-fundamentalist into silence, as well.  If so, they
haven't dealt with many Americans.

cheers Juan