The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience

From: Milissa Boyer Kafes <>
Subject: Re: Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Freedom of Conscience
Date: Wednesday, February 10, 1999 3:28 PM
Hi Vinson, Michael and Susan--
I am glad you are discussing this issue of voluntary association, as it is
something I am trying to grapple with.
Susan wrote:
>Religion, on the other hand is a voluntary organization, both on the part of
>the adherents and on the part of those in authority. You are free to join or
>resign and they are free to accept or deny your membership. My understanding
>of 'Abdul-Baha's statements regarding freedom of conscience is that this
>will continue to be the case even if in the far distant future Baha'is are
>able to exercise political power.
The problem I see is that, with the Baha'i Faith, it really isn't voluntary
in the sense of being truly free to join or resign and vice versa. I am
thinking of the NZ [New Zeeland] case here, of course.  A Baha'i is declared a CB for
hanging out with someone who was never a Baha'i.
I don't want to discuss whether or not she should have been declared a CB,
since we've already done that.  What concerns me is that she was.  Unlike most
voluntary organizations, the UHJ believes it has the authority to declare
someone a CB even after they have voluntarily left of their own accord.  In
other words, you may very well be free to resign, but the institution does not
have the complementary obligation to relinquish its authority. They can, if
they want, still regard themselves as your authority and punish you according
to rules that you thought you had voluntarily relinquished along with your
membership! Again, I am just pointing out that the UHJ has the power to do
this, whether they should or not in a particular case is a separate issue.
On top of this, the UHJ felt it had the power to make an infallible
declaration about the state of a non-Baha'i's soul....they said she was
"infected" with the "spirit" of CBing. Where in the Writings are they given
the authority to make such pronouncements?  These actions really disturb can Baha'is guarantee non-Baha'is freedom of speech in a Baha'i
world when the Baha'i authorities, with one cable, can have all of your
neighbors shun you if you say something contrary to the Covenant.....a
Covenant you did not volunteer to follow.
Milissa Boyer Kafes
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