The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience

From: Juan R. I. Cole <>
To: <>; <>
Subject: Re: Control of media?
Date: Friday, February 06, 1998 9:15 PM
Burl is just attempting to muddy the waters.  If he wrote an article on the
Baha'i faith for a magazine with national circulation, the article would
have to be vetted in Wilmette, and he knows it.
When I was a Baha'i professor of history, I was constantly harrassed by the
Baha'i authorities who insisted on subjecting my academic writing to
prepublication censorship.  I was actually called up at home and browbeaten.
I received nasty letters in the mail from Haifa containing personal insult.
Now, the whole point of academic free inquiry is to discover new things and
to delve into primary sources.  Prepublication censorship by a religious
organization would make that impossible.  No self-respecting professional
academic would agree to have his writing put through such censorship.
Indeed, Firuz Kazemzadeh has written almost nothing about the Baha'i faith,
he has told friends, precisely because he is unwilling to have his writing
on the subject "reviewed" by religious bureaucrats.  Baha'i writers are
faced with a choice of silence, dishonesty or expulsion.
With regard to Professor Amanat's book, *Resurrection and Renewal*, the
author refused to submit it for prepublication "review" by the Baha'i
authorities, and as a result the "universal" house of "justice" sent a
letter to the US NSA announcing that Professor Amanat is "not a Baha'i."
However, the US NSA declined to take formal action against him, leaving him
technically on the rolls!  There was, of course, a lively controversy in
Wilmette over whether his book could be carried by the Baha'i distribution
service.  It was only because he was *not* a Baha'i (though he had not made
any such declaration himself) that the uhj allowed his book to be carried.
If you find all this confusing and faintly ridiculous, you are not alone.
So, Burl, I'm afraid the story of that book, that author, and his fate are
not exactly advertisements for the "openness" of the Baha'i administration.
cheers   Juan