The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience

From: Matthew Cromer <>
Subject: Scent of the Bahji Rose
Date: Sunday, January 24, 1999 4:53 AM

In article <78egu6$98k$>, wrote:
> His intent clearly was to establish a religious liberty that would match the
> political liberty he so admired in the United States.  Obviously, any system
> of liberty must be a system of the rule of law, and officers of the court may
> not blithely disregard the precedents and rulings of the highest judicial
> body in the system.  But ordinary believers may in `Abdul-Baha's view put
> forth their beliefs and conscience without fear or trepidation.  Nor can this
> vision, so attractive, so liberal, so unlike any existing religion with the
> possible exception of Unitarian Universalism, forever be distorted or
> prevented from coming to fruition.
So where do we go from here?
We have, on the one hand, a Baha'i religious heirarchy that has rejected its
own, cast away its scholars, made its thinkers depart, and assumed a moral
rigidity that has made countless more leave.
On the other hand, we have the sweet words of Baha'u'llah and Abdul-Baha
and such shining examples among some of the other believers so as to make
hearts weep with joy and sadness at a world so indifferent to their melody.
We have stalwart moral intellectuals like Juan, the Waldbridges, and others,
who have been silenced or driven from the faith. Others were driven from the
faith by assemblies that decided to prosecute moral choices.
I speak for myself when I say that I cannot leave Baha'i behind.  I can't
"get past it".  Nor can I associate myself with the witch-hunts, spiritual
pogroms, or the moneylenders in the temple who enrich themselves in marble
halls with the gold of the credulous.  Where are the people like me to go?
I know Juan is finding some degree of compatibility with UU.  But my parents
became Baha'is when I was two years old, I grew in the crucible of Baha'i
culture, sang Baha'i songs, saw the unity, heard the chants.
Something draws me forward, something keeps me irrevocably away.
Can there be a faith that is Baha'i without a ministry of the orthodox
telling us all how to think, how me must live our lives, upon pain of
excommunication for any questioning of authority?  Is there a spirit that is
Baha'i that is inclusive, that embraces us all with our varying beliefs,
that does not require dogma and doctrine but allows all of us to call
ourselves Baha'i because we find something so Beautiful in the tales of the
Prince of Persia?  Not that I can ever again believe the exclusivity
doctrine, or the belief that every word must never be questioned, regardless
if it came from that Blessed Beauty or someone else.  My mind and heart tell
me that belief ends up in a wasteland.
I don't know.  But I do know that I love something deep about this faith, I
miss something about this faith.  And I loathe what they have done to it,
the mockery they have made of it.  The commanders of the army of inclusion
has chosen excommunication, character assassination, vilification,
censorship, and all manner of evil deeds to perform against their own people
in pursuit of that which cannot last.   But I cannot forget the scent of
Bahji Rose, I cannot leave behind the tapestry of life hung upon the walls,
I still taste the Pilgrim's tea, remember the pomegranate freshly plucked
from a tree so near that blessed spot.
And this is but one dance among many, but one way to the Source, but it was
my way.  One does not forget the walls and halls of childhood, they guide
the mind, they are the framework of every thought and dream and hope.  And
my childhood was Baha'i, I learned to love God by loving the _Baha'i_ God,
and this cannot be undone, the cloth is woven, and ne'er shall be undone.
And yet I stand outside the garden now, in the winter land of ice and snow.
And the gate is barred by human hand--an army of occupation.  No, that is
not correct--this army is instead a misery-infested bunch of turncoats who
have seized the gates and barred them shut to those who wish to enter, and
cast from within any who question their actions.  Oh Tablet of the Holy
So I stand outside, the doors are closed, the walls insurmountable.  But I
will honor the Gardener, and remember the fruits, and speak kindly of the
Planter, even if his successors deserve none of it.
I am not a Baha'i, and they are.  I do not believe in infallibility, or
giving one's will to another person, regardless of how Holy He may be.  And
they do.  And they are the Baha'is, and I am not.  A tear glistens in the
corner of the eye.
Matthew Cromer