The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience

From: Matthew Cromer <>
Subject: Censored from S.R.B 6 Jun 1998
Date: Sunday, June 07, 1998 12:37 PM
Dear Mr. Cromer,
I am returning your submission to you unposted as it falls outside the
of soc-religion-bahai. Mainly, you level accusations at specific
institutions, as well as bringing up the names of other individuals and
experiences. This is not to say what you have stated is not true. It is,
however, outside the charter of this newsgroup to post submissions of this
If you would care to revise your submission, leaving out specific
indiviuals and
institutions, we can reconsider posting it.
S. Michele Smith
-----Original Message-----
From: Matthew Cromer <>
Newsgroups: soc.religion.bahai
Date: Friday, June 05, 1998 1:27 PM
Subject: Re: Leaving Faith
In article <"xv2A1B.A.Y8C._02d1"> , writes:
Only after the individual demonstrates an unwillingness to
>abide by these few basic laws would some action be taken, such as withdrawal
>of administrative privileges. The aim is always to lovingly assist that
>person to more closely align him/herself with the Laws of God.

Except that we are talking about people who choose to _leave_ the Baha'i
religion, _then_ being investigated, not someone who chooses to stay and
believes in and chooses to abide by the institutions.
You are referring to investigations of behavior of an individual
identifying himself as a Baha'i.

>> In article <"6a5-SC.A.huF.Pgub1"> Kent Johnson,
>> writes:
>> >I believe National
>> >investigates everyone who wants to withdraw from the Faith.  We recently
>> had
>> >a woman resign from our spiritual assembly to lead a lesbian lifestyle and
>> >National needed confirmation from members of the Assembly that it was not a
>> >frivolous or spite induced resignation.
Here is the original quote--you can see that it refers to people who tell
the National Baha'i Assembly they are not Baha'is anymore, then being
"investigated" in some manner to "confirm" that the resignation was not
"frivolous or spite-induced".
I withdrew from the Baha'i faith myself in March timeframe of 1994, and
was harassed by the Local Baha'i Assembly of Chapel Hill, NC, who refused
to recognise my statement of withdrawal.
I decided to get married and my mentally-disturbed mother withdrew
consent.  I decided that the teachings no longer made sense--my doubts
turned into disbelief in the whole package.  I still believe in many
individual truths I found in the Faith but not in the entire package as
an entire truth which must be believed in every jot and tittle, and from
which all deviation is naught but error.
It was a difficult time for me, but the fact that the Chapel Hill (NC)
Baha'i Assembly continued to harass me, sending me carbon copies of mail
sent to the National Assembly complaining about my "immoral" behavior
with regards to my wife, and complaining about my getting married, and
petitioned to have my voting rights removed after I clearly mailed them
demanding they remove my names from the rolls, left a bad taste in my
So I have first hand knowlege of what kinds of "investigation" go on and
if I had not frankly written both the National Assembly and the Chapel
Hill Baha'i Assembly stating my withdrawal in the clearest terms and
stating my demand that they accept my withdrawal at face value, I am
certain I would have had my "voting rights" removed as a non-Baha'i.  I
guess the symbolic punishment of the "heretic", the desire to inflict
retribution, runs deep in some Baha'is.
I hope my experience was an aberration, and that Baha'is in general
desire to maintain their image of acceptance with the non-Baha'i
community and not to persecute their "apostates", but after hearing about
more "investigations" of everyone who withdraws I am finding it easy to
believe otherwise.
Certainly the entire episode with Juan Cole, the Waldbridges, and the
Talisman list would seem to indicate a religious organization intent on
thought-control, suppression of dissent, non-freedom of thought,
conformity, and spiritual decay.  Although my experience in the faith was
generally very positive and my encounters with this kind of fanaticism
were few in number, perhaps that is no longer the case in these days of
turmoil before the advent of the millenium.  Perhaps the Baha'is whose
lives are dominated by the desire to control and command the thoughts and
beliefs of others have gained ascendency and now rule the roost.
Certainly the rampant censorship of numerous Baha'is on the internet by
the Baha'i organization which has been reported would indicate such a sad
trend.  In a world of increasing openness and a place where everyone can
now find a voice on the internet, the Baha'is have chosen to place
themselves with such as the North Koreas of the world, with only
officially sanctioned viewpoints allowed to speak.
I now find myself in the sad spectacle of seeing a faith that once taught
so much love and understanding and compassion becoming now a muzzle
stuffed in the mouths of those some would care not to hear, and now have
the power to silence through their eccleastical offices.

Matthew Cromer