The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience

From: Matthew Cromer <>
Subject: Re: Where LIBERTY is LIMITED
Date: Thursday, June 11, 1998 7:57 AM
In article
<7E5C1E324C494E80.0CD84DA21B4C4F45.DAA44BB59B25097B@library-proxy.airne> John Noland, writes:
>Nobody is forced to become a Baha'i, and nobody is forced to remain a Baha'i. 
And with the present downward trend towards censorship, denigration of
free discourse, and the like, it is no surprise that in the enlightened
countries of the world where intellectual freedom is well understood many
people are leaving the faith because of this issue and many more are
never joining at all.

>leadership of the Baha'i Faith is elected, they didn't seize their positions.
I won't go into the long off-topic morass of a debate of whether or not
an "election" justifies anything.
Suffice it to say that this elected body which advocates censorship,
which attacks free discourse, and which excommunicates all critics is
creating a credibility problem for the Baha'is in the eyes of the world. 
This is the kind of religious organization we expect from the
Scientologists, not the Baha'is.
 There are
>administrative channels to properly handle any Baha'i's concerns or complaints.
So you say.  I guess the question is what is "proper" handling.
Yes, the Baha'i religion has avoided schism for the most part.  However,
the Baha'i religion has also avoided growth, dynamism, and has
increasingly driven away its most intellectual, its most creative, and
its most dynamic members because of the issue of a refusal to allow frank
consultation of the issues, censorship, using the "covenant breaker"
threat, usually whispered behind the back, as a thought control
technique, and other sins against the developed conscience.
 >AFAIK, the
>UHJ is purely a legislative body and will never have any power to persecute people.
Except Baha'is.  Spiritual persecution is still a form of persecution in
my opinion.
I compared the ideas of censorship to those of the totalitarians. 
Obviously the totalitarians are far worse because there is no escaping
their wrath by voluntary withdrawal.  However, the "virtues" of
censorship are espoused by both--a fact that ought to be acknowleged.
In a world where free and open discourse are the watchwords of all
progress, it ought to bother people when a body advocates the exact
opposite approach as an ideal to be implemented.  Especially when the
Baha'i scriptures themselves advocate honest open frank consultation.
>Every Baha'i has both rights AND responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is to be
>faithful to the Covenant. This includes not questioning or criticizing the decisions of
>the Universal House of Justice. The UHJ is a divinely appointed institution and is
>promised by Baha'u'llah to be guided by God and free from all error. 
I'd like to see a reference for that.  
As someone who is not a Baha'i any longer and is looking to judge
institutions by their fruits rather than by claims of infallibility, I
see some serious problems with the Baha'i leadership today.
Unfortunately if you are a Baha'i you cannot discuss this, you are not
allowed to think for yourself, you are forced to espouse the party line. 
Censorship is truth.  War is Peace.
Basically, if a
>Baha'i questions the UHJ, then they are questioning God.
I question God all the time and sometimes I tell God I think her
decisions stink.  So far the heavens haven't been cleft asunder nor have
any lightening bolts fallen.
I think that God is willing to work with people and listen to their
complaints, unlike the UHJ appearently.
BTW, did you know that you are not supposed to say "UHJ", the censors
have decreed that saying "UHJ" is not properly respectful.  I'd suggest
you refrain from doing so any longer before someone in an official
capacity lets you know.
 I think all Baha'is are aware of
>this and feel that the statement above from the UHJ is perfectly appropriate.
And the myriad who do have a problem with it have, of course, left the
Baha'i religion or never joined because they don't believe in thought
>I don't know what motivated you to compare the UHJ to North Korea or Cuba or Nazi Germany
>(of all things).
The comparison of those who praise censorship as having positive and
healthy results is obvious.  I am only comparing the advocacy of
censorship here, and suggesting that when the only others except for the
Baha'i leadership who will stand up for a principle are the scum of the
earth, perhaps the principle is, shall me say, flawed.  Not that in other
ways the leadership is equal to dictators.
 As a Baha'i, I believe the UHJ will always act in the best interest of
>the Faith and not in the personal interests of its members.
Of course you believe that, if you ever express doubts you risk getting
drummed right out of the Baha'i religion.
Your entire spiritual experience which includes the Baha'i component you
have identified with absolute belief in the orthodoxy of the Baha'i
religion, as I once did.  The idea that certain teachings of the Baha'i
orthodoxy are in fact wrong is unthinkable to you--it threatens
everything you value in your spiritual life and your relationship with
God.  Therefore you cannot judge anything which comes to you from the UHJ
on its merits--you must applaud every act in every metaphoric play, you
must cheerlead every censorship, every ruling is divinely ordained, every
critic must be cast out, every disagreement must be squelched, the
emperor is wearing fabulous luxuriant fabrics, silks, and gold, he is not
naked, even if you think you see bare flesh it is in fact that you
misunderstand, that is not really bare flesh, you just have to have more
faith and if you were a truly spiritual person you would see the
luxurious flowing purple robes.  Censorship is good.  Yeah.  Right. 

 I'm sorry you feel
>differently. I wish you well in resolving any bitterness you feel toward the Faith.
I am not bitter about the faith.  I am pissed off that I am not allowed
to post to S.R.B. because the "moderators" do not want my viewpoint
represented.  Therefore I am essentially banned from electronic dialogue
with Baha'is because most of them do not read alt.religion.bahai.  I am
saddened at the fact that thinking Baha'is are leaving in droves because
they can no longer stomach the gut-wrenching contradictions of, on the
one hand, a scripture which advocates truthfulness, honesty, and frank
consultation, and on the other hand a religious leadership which will
brook no dissent nor critical dialogue whatsoever.  Baha'u'llah has a lot
to teach the world but appearantly the Baha'i leadership hasn't learned
much of it yet.