The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience


Newsgroups: talk.religion.bahai, alt.religion.bahai
From: Juan Cole <>
Date: 2000/06/27
Subject: high Baha'i divorce rate

[I posted this to another list. But since Mr. Fiorito brought it up
here I thought it may as well be posted for all to make up their minds

An internal Baha'i household survey done in 1987 found that the divorce
rate in the U.S. Baha'i community was higher than that in American
society as a whole. The report was never released to the public.

My own suspicion is that the high divorce rate has several causes.
First of all, Baha'is are encouraged to utopian ways of thinking. Two
young people with little in common save that they are recent converts
to the faith will be encouraged to marry. I have seen this sort of
thing over and over again with my own eyes. This utopianism is
widespread in the faith and is the same reason for which so many other
Baha'i enterprises end up doing damage to people. That both
are "Baha'is" is not a basis for a marriage. One may be a liberal and
the other a fundamentalist; current norms against such labeling make it
difficult for people to identify one another on that basis, but you'd
better believe the difference would show up in a marriage!

Young married Baha'is are also encouraged to pioneer, whether abroad to
places like Haiti and Nicaragua, or homefront. Being uprooted from
their social networks and families and isolated in a strange
environment is not good for them as young marrieds.

In smaller communities the Baha'i committee work is a killer, and may
isolate the two spouses, who spend less time together just coccooning
and watching t.v.

And it is my estimate that from a third to a half of U.S. Baha'is are
what the sociologists would call marginal people--persons with poor
social skills who are emotionally needy and who join the faith because
they are love-bombed and find a high proportion of other marginals in
it. A high rate of marginality is fostered by the cultists who have
infiltrated the administration, since only such individuals would put
up with being ordered around summarily or would eat up conspiracy
theories about bands of dissidents seeking to undermine the
Marginals would have higher than normal divorce rates,

Finally, the Baha'i faith encourages a great deal of ego inflation in
the individual. Each Baha'i thinks he or she is saving the world and
is a linchpin in the plan of God. This inspires in them great (and
often quite misplaced) confidence in their own judgment
--I've seen them
pronounce authoritatively on astronomy, biology, Qajar history, and
many other subjects on which they are woefully ignorant. Such ego
inflation and over-confidence in personal judgment would not be good
for a marriage.

cheers Juan

[P.S. I should have also included that the exclusiveness of the Baha'i
community, non-attendance of non-Baha'is at Feast, pressure to convert
spouses, etc., was also probably a contributing factor to Baha'i
divorces where only one spouse was Baha'i.

P.P.S. Milissa- I said I thought about 1/3 of Baha'is were lacking in
social skills, not all of them. This is a common phenomenon that
sociologists have found in New Religious Movements. I'm not sure why
you think the statement of it offensive, but I don't know how you can
have been around and not met a fair number of such folks.]


Cf. "The very real threat of being declared a Covenant breaker meant my wife had to face the decision of joining me as a heretic or divorcing me so that she could maintain her relationships with her family and other lifelong friends." --Steven Scholl Click his name for his entire letter.

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