The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience

From: Juan R. I. Cole <>
To: <>
Subject: democratic (ha!)
Date: Friday, December 12, 1997 2:49 PM
After the barbaric and dishonest way the "universal" house of "justice"
dealt with Michael McKenny, you are in some state of doubt as to whether
there is a fight going on?  The fight is to determine whether those who hold
the views I listed yesterday may continue to be Baha'is in good standing.
The answer is:  only if they hide their consciences from view, quaking in
fear of the conservatives and fundamentalists who have clawed their way onto
the universal house of justice, and who are eager to institute inquisitions
and expulsions against anyone who dares actually be a Baha'i and think for
him or herself.  And the point of these inquisitions and expulsions is to
ensure conservative hegemony, to ensure than no voice can be heard in the
community save a conservative one.  This is not only a fight, it is a
full-scale persecution.  That would be all right if this were the sort of
thing Baha'u'llah or `Abdul-Baha had ordained.  But it isn't.  It is the
most profound betrayal of a prophet by his successors since the popes
instituted the Inquisition.
I should think the current universal house of justice has by its
pronouncements and actions made abundantly clear that it is not interested
in consultation or group reasoning together as a means of problem solving.
These people have worked themselves into a state of mind that they think
they are prophets speaking with the voice of God, and you either agree with
them or you are not a Baha'i and they can arrange to make your life
miserable.  (They even think they have the authority to say something about
legitimate academic methodology!  That's the funniest thing of all).  They
have said this over and over again in the past two years.  They are not
interested in your faith or sincerity or grappling with difficult questions
or trying to work together through consultation to resolve problems.  They
are interested in dictating a narrow ideology to all Baha'is (despite the
fact that there isn't the slightest scriptural mandate for their behaving in
this manner), and in having all Baha'is kowtow to it.  They don't throw
around the word Supreme so much because they like Motown.
Since most people don't join a religion because they are desperate for
someone to tell them what they can or cannot think or say, the result of
this sort of narrow-mindedness is to keep the religion tiny in literate
countries. I can't tell you how many ex-Baha'is I have met in cyberspace who
complain bitterly about being regimented and shepherded.  I mean, you could
understand this sort of thing in the Amish, who want to be a small
isolationist sect, or in the Catholics, who have believers to spare.  But as
a tactic for a very small group (I doubt there are really more than 1 1/2
million Baha'is) to attract believers and grow itself into a world religion,
it sucks.
 There are some issues on which it is worthwhile writing to them.  This is
not one of them.  My advice:  Do your own thing as long as you can.
cheers   Juan