The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience


False Statistics for Baha'i Membership in the USA, India, & Elsewhere (updated August 2010)

NOTE WELL: I state at the bottom of this page that "Recent claims of 140,000 in 2004 are certainly highly exaggerated."

"During my time as a Baha'i, I saw potential converts lied to by Baha'is regarding the membership of the Faith.  The Baha'is, especially the Baha'i leadership, have always grossly inflated the 'official' numbers in order to present an inaccurate picture to the world (as well as to individuals considering conversion) and to make the Faith seem much more successful and influential than it really is. " --Scott

(The special case of India is discussed throughout and at the end. See former India NSA member Ravi Kumar for his disclosures on the offical census figures and actual membership statistics in India.) On India and Russia, elsewhere, see BAHA'I CENSUS "They claim to be a 2.2 million strong community in India alone, which is absolute exaggeration of numbers."

BANK FRAUD - Re: Baha'i technique of loan application (using false, inflated statistics to qualify for loans)

Baha'i Faith "Fraud Shop" Israeli concerns about the source of funding

Professor Juan Cole of the University of Michigan commented in April 2001 that, since 1968, 50% of the people who entered the bahai faith have left it. According to him, the usual figure for most Christian denominations is approximately 80% retention, meaning about only 20% decide to leave once they become a member. See Professor Cole's comment below that even 5 million Baha'is worldwide is exaggerated by the Baha'i administration.

50% is truly a remarkably high number and reveals emphatically that something is indeed wrong about the atmosphere within the bahai faith. Often the new adherent quickly comes to realize someting is wrong behind the facade of love and brotherhood.

The FULL TEXT of the New Mexico lawsuit reveals what many of the problems are that are driving sensitive and thoughtful people out of the bahai faith in droves.

Juan Cole has also stated that according to the official census figures of India there are approximately only 5,000 bahais that they were able to find in the country compare with the millions claimed by the bahai administration, a fact worth lingering on....

Upon further reflection, a better estimate might be arrived
at for true Baha'i world membership statistics than 6.7 million by
extrapolating what is generally accepted regarding USA Bahai
membership. The Bahai administration regularly claims 140,000 US
Bahais. Having never seen such large numbers of US Bahais, most
thoughtful Bahais prefer the figure of 60,000 US Bahais based
on the widely known existence of actual mailing addresses for
that number, many of whom though never participate in Bahai
activities, being regarded as "inactive." If we subtract the "inactive"
Bahais from the 60,000, we have the figure of approximately
only 25,000 Bahais who show up regularly in the United States.
Taking these two widely held figures, I calculate 43% and 19%
of the 140,000 claimed by the Bahai administration:

140,000 X 43 % = 60,200 addresses for "Bahais" in US
140,000 X 19% = 26,600 "active" US Bahais

Applying that formula to the similarly inflated figure of
worldwide Bahai membership of 6.7 million, I believe the
true worldwide membership numbers to be close to the following:

6.7 million X 43% = 2,881,000 known "addresses" worldwide
6.7 million X 19% = 1,273,000 "active" Bahais worldwide

Rounding up, giving the benefit of the doubt, and there are probably
only a maximum of 3 million Bahais at best worldwide, especially
since there are essentially no Bahais in Europe beyond a negligible
few hundred to a thousand in most countries, as in Japan. Many Bahais have
for decades been suspicious of the administration's claims of millionsin the
developing world.

Hope this helps the Encyclopedia Britannica in its effort to ascertain
a reliable figure.

I should like to add two points:

1) A number of Bahais or ex-Bahais who worked at the NSA of
the United States have stated online over the past years that they knew
for a fact that only about 60,000 addresses existed for American Bahais--
all other snail mail would bounce.... Hence, the 60,000 figure.

2) TENS of THOUSANDS of people have entered the Bahai
faith and then left, or been driven out, often without caring enough to
bother with officially "withdrawing." It would appear approximately
80,000 of them....

Both facts should be considered by the Encyclopedia of
Britannica when attempting to determine worldwide membership
and probably both corroborate further my estimates based on 43%
and 19% according to known discrepancies in the United States
enrollment figures.

The Bahai Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience  


Thanks for contacting the Encyclopedia Britannica.

I myself doubt 5 million Bahais exist. The statistics for India
and other countries of the developing world are certainly
inflated and they usually have only the vaugest idea of what
they're doing when they sign a Bahai card, never or seldom
to show up again for any Bahai activity. 3 to 4 million would
still be too many.

Anything below 6.7 million, though, is headed in the right
direction. Obviously, the Bahai institutions are unreliable.

The Bahai Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience  


Thanks, Fred. I wrote them that even 5 million is an exaggeration.

cheers JRIC

[Juan Cole]

FYI <>:


Your comment has been bouncing around our email network, from editors to
World Data authorities, and the resolution is that we would like to revise
our figures for Baha'i membership worldwide provided we can come across hard
statistical data to go by. Given that our current figures are based on the
best available statistics currently at our disposal, however, we will not be
able to make such a change unless you can point us in the direction of
publications that indicate exaggerated membership totals in the areas you
mention. Do you know of such a reference source that we could consult?


Mark Diller, Ph.D.
Online Editor, Religion, Inc.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Trumbull, Charles
> Sent: Tuesday, January 11, 2000 8:54 AM
> To: Sturgis, Joseph; Diller, Mark
> Subject: RE: False Bahai membership statistics on Encyclopedia
> Britannica
> Our figure this year for total Bahais worldwide is about 6.9 million. I'm
> sure the authors of the table would be interested in any hard statistics
> any of these readers may have that indicate our figures are too high.
> Charlie
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Sturgis, Joseph
> Sent: Tuesday, January 11, 2000 7:02 AM
> To: Trumbull, Charles
> Subject: FW: False Bahai membership statistics on
> Encyclopedia Britannica
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Diller, Mark
> Sent: Monday, January 10, 2000 08:31 AM
> To: Sturgis, Joseph
> Subject: FW: False Bahai membership statistics on
> Encyclopedia Britannica
> RE: World Religions Table. Joe Sturgis
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Himick, Michael
> Sent: Sunday, January 09, 2000 4:34 PM
> To: Diller, Mark
> Subject: FW: False Bahai membership statistics on
> Encyclopedia
> Britannica


A response from the Encyclopedia of Britannica:

Dear Mr. Glaysher,

Thank you for your feedback regarding the site. We value and
appreciate all comments from our visitors. Your suggestions have been
forwarded to the appropriate department.

Thank you again for contacting

Jin Customer Service 

-----Original Message-----
From: FG
Sent: Monday, January 03, 2000 5:33 AM
Subject: False Bahai membership statistics on Encyclopedia Britannica

Actually the Encyclopedia Brittanica figure (6 million) is misleading.
There has been a discussion on numerous Baha'i lists for some years
about the actual number of "active Baha'is" in the world and the number
is closer to 1 million than 6+ million. The numbers claimed for the
global south, for example, in such places as India, Africa as well as
Latin America are often exaggerated.


In article <84l8ip$67f$>, wrote regard Washington Post article:
> idx.html
> "Bahai's 6,764,000"

Patrick Henry <> wrote in message
> I've emailed the Encyclopedia Britannica regarding these
> false Bahai membership statistics.

[The Washington Post took as accurate the inflated figure of Bahai membership and reported it in its paper:]

> > In article <84l8ip$67f$>,
> > wrote: 
"Bahai's 6,764,000"


Juan Cole, in the following articles, places Bahai membership in the USA at 60,000, a figure that, in my opinion, is still too high:

"Race, Immorality and Money in the American Baha’i Community" Religion 30, 2 (2000)


It is difficult to assess how reliable the numbers are below. Recent claims of 140,000 in 2004 are certainly highly exaggerated.


Baha'i Population Statistics

Document issued to Delegates to the annual National Spiritual Assembly Elections, April 1979

Membership Statistics of the U.S. Baha'i Community:

Category Number
1. April 15, 1978
In possession of Administrative Rights: 70, 248
Without Administrative Rights: 1,850
Total: 71,899
Gains as of 15 April 1979:
New Enrollments: 5, 417
Transfers-in - Pioneers 118
Transfers-in - Non-Pioneers: 1, 832
Reinstatements from Withdrawals: 37
Administrative Corrections: 29
Total: 7, 433
Losses as of 15 April 1979:
Deaths: 612
Transfers Out - Non-Pioneers: 394
Transfers Out - Pioneers: 153
Withdrawals: 633
Administrative Corrections: 119
Prisoners: 15
Mental Patients/Institutionalized: 10
Total: 1,936
2. Total Baha'is as of 15 April 1979:
Total Baha'i Membership as of 15 April 1979: 77,396


In Possession of Administrative Rights: 75,448
Without Administrative Rights: 1,948
Total Membership: 77,396
The Total membership of Baha'is in possession of their administrative rights is categorized as follows:
Category Adults Youth Total
Total Baha'is with Known Addresses: 45,389 2,968 48,357
Baha'is CategorIzed as "Address Unknown:" 14,525 241 14,766
Mail Returns and Unidentifiable Other than Address Unknown 11,941 384 12,325
Totals as of 15 April 1979 71,755 3,593 75,448
144 youth reached the age of 21 years during the reporting period of 16 March 1979 to April 1979.

Original at


The Baha'i administration for many years claimed two million members in India and has lately it seems quietly revised it down to about one million. Many people have always realized enrollment there was much lower. Here is a recent email I've received on the subject of Baha'is in India which is probably pretty close to the mark:

----- Original Message ----- 
From: [deleted]
Sent: Tuesday, June 14, 2005 9:16 PM
Subject: [bahai] Interesting Reading

Dear Friend,
.... Sadly, the emphasis today is on attending courses and increasing numbers.
In India there were 2 million declarations recorded some years ago! However there are not even 5000 "active" members....

Warm regards,

Other views and approaches regarding Baha'i membership statistics:


Newsgroups: talk.religion.bahai
Subject: Baha'i Census is a big LIE with wildly exaggerated number of adherents and localities
Date: 5 Aug 2005 08:00:11 -0700


The Baha'i census that claim 6 to 7.2 million adherents is -A LIE- A
LIE- an actual exaggeration of the real numbers.

It is estimated that there are no more than ***ONE Million*** real
Baha'is worldwide.

Now below one finds wildly exaggerated number of localities- on the
lower end we see 18,000 localities and then on the upper end we see
124000 localities. Then there are statements of 100,000 and 110,000

Finally the number of countries and localities varies with each web
site. There is **no concensus** regarding the actual number of
countries, the actual number of localities, and the actual number of
Baha'i followers.

If one takes the estimated 100000 localities and figures that there are
at least 5-9 Baha'is. We find that the census is going to show 500,000
to 900,000 Baha'i adherents worldwide.

That should make anyone who is a Baha'i very depressed. Not 6 million,
not 5 million, but a little less than 1 million Baha'is worldwide- with
30% still in Iran and 6-7% in the US.

Henry Villar

[It's highly doubtful that the 30% or 300,000 claimed to be in Iran actually exist.]


BANK FRAUD - Re: Baha'i technique of loan application (using false, inflated statistics to qualify for loans)


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "diamondsouled" <>
Newsgroups: talk.religion.bahai,soc.culture.iranian,alt.religion.bahai,alt.religion.islam
Sent: Tuesday, September 26, 2006 1:55 PM
Subject: Re: The Rise of Bahá'í: A Protestant Islam

....Of the 3 million supposed Baha'is in India the greater majority are
from the 'untouchable' caste.

The primary motive for such individuals to convert to Buddhism, Islam
or Baha'i is in an attempt to escape the prejudice of the caste system.

I suggest you look into the Dalit movement in India for a better

As William Garlington stated from his personal on the ground
experience in India Baha'i converts in India are only required to
declare: " their belief in Baha'u'llah as an avatar". Thing is Warren
Hindus also believe that Buddha was an avatar but this doesn't make
them Buddhists. The Baha'i claim of some 3 million Baha'is in India is
most obviously bogus.

Something else you should ask yourself Warren is on whose authority
was Shoghi Effendi's stated requirement for membership in the Baha'i
faith ( the one used on declaration cards in North Amercia), waived?

The number of "address unknown" people who are claimed as members of
the Baha'i faith in North America is high. From my personal experience
the NSA's are always scrambling to keep 9 members in many communities
so they can pad the LSA numbers. After they get their numbers the
people who were sent in to 'pioneer' to the area often go home or to
another community so they can have an 'active' LSA. This practice is
well known and has been going on for many years.

Why the need to send people around to keep LSA membership up to nine
if the Baha'i faith is actually growing?

Truth is Warren that as Baha'is pass away they are not being replaced.
Not even many children of Baha'is are signing up? Why, because it has
become apparent to many people that the Baha'i faith is the same old,
same old; that the Baha'i faith is in fact indistinguishable from past
organised religions - more of a cause of disunity in the world than a
cause of unity.

I refer to facts and you resort to name calling, such is the way of
many Baha'is.