The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience


    Numerous other messages by and about Michael McKenny


                                     25 July 1997

Mr Michael McKenny
424 Cambridge Street South
Ottawa, Ontario K1S 4H5

Dear Mr. McKenny,

    The Universal House of Justice has advised us of its conclusion
that, on the basis of the correspondence it has had with you and the
established pattern of behaviour you have demonstrated over the past
several months, you cannot properly be considered a member of the
Baha'i community. Accordingly we have removed your name from our
membership rolls and have informed the Baha'i institutions concerned.

                                     National Spiritual
                                     Assembly of the
                                     Baha'is of Canada

Judy L. Filson

13 August 1997/ 13 Perfection 154

Mr. Michael McKenny
424 Cambridge Street South
Ottawa, ON
K1S 4H5

Dear Mr. McKenny,
    We have your e-mail message of 31 July 1997, transmitting a copy of a
letter which you have addressed to the Universal House of Justice. You
mention that you have published copies of both to various internet lists.
This being the case, you should note that the House of Justice does not
respond to communications handled in this manner.
    You should note, too, that the conclusion reached by the House of
Justice that you cannot properly be considered a member of the Baha'i
community was in no way related to any failure on your part to write the
additional letter you described. As we stated in our own letter to you,
this decision was based entirely on your pattern of behaviour and
attitude, as reflected in your correspondence.
                                     National Spiritual
                                     Assembly of the
                                     Baha'is of Canada
                                     Reginald Newkirk,

Date sent:      Mon, 18 Aug 1997 13:55:10 -0400 (EDT)
From:  (McKenny Michael)
Subject:        My Request for Clarification
Copies to:
Send reply to:

To the Universal House of Justice

Greetings from Ottawa.
    Although on the day I received from the National Spiritual
Assembly of the Baha'is of Canada a notice that on your assessment
I was no longer a member of the Baha'i community I addressed to you
a message seeking to respond on the basis of my instant deductions
as to what may have prompted such a decision, and although since
that time I have continued to speculate as to what could have been
the reasons for this it seems more constructive that I place the
following question before you that I may affirm your assessment,
attempt to clarify any misunderstanding which may exist, or
consider any other steps which you may draw to my attention:
    "What were the specific reasons for your assessment that I am
not a member of the Baha'i community, and what is required for
this to change?"
    I would be grateful if your reply could confirm or deny your
desire to receive from me the response to your communication to me
dated April 8, 1997 which I had stated I would try to send by July
    I look forward to hearing from you.
    May this find you very well, and may that long be so.

Date: Sun Sep  7 08:56:01 1997
From: (Catherine Woodgold)
Subject: Natural Justice

To the Universal House of Justice:

I want you to know that my respect for you has diminished
significantly because of the manner in which you expelled
Michael McKenny from the Baha'i community.

Religion usually has fundamental importance in a person's
psychological, emotional and social life, and expelling a
person from their religion is a very serious matter.  If
it is to be done at all, certain principles of natural
justice should be followed -- especially if the institution
initiating the expulsion boldly carries the word "Justice"
in its name!

A person who is expelled should be informed of the reason
for the expulsion.  Michael was not so informed.  He was
given extremely vague statements about "behaviour" and
"attitude" -- but since everyone exhibits some form of
behaviour and attitude, these statements did nothing to
explain the expulsion.  He was provided with a small amount
of information:  that it had something to do with his
correspondence.  This is not sufficient to satisfy the
principle of natural justice that he should be informed
of the reason.

You should have a finite list of written rules that Baha'is are
expected to follow, and you should tell Michael which rule
or rules he failed to follow which led to his expulsion,
as well as which specific acts of his were considered by
you to be violations of those rules.

You should have warned Michael in writing that he might
be expelled and told him what rules he was breaking and
what he would have to do to avoid being expelled.  Although
Susan Tamas talked to Michael, as far as I know she didn't
warn him that he might be expelled, or state rules he should
begin to follow, or provide rules in writing. 

Since Michael has been expelled without explanation and
without warning, I believe that many other Baha'is must now
be afraid that they themselves might be expelled at any moment;
and they have no way of knowing what they might be able to
do to prevent such expulsion from happening.

You should have told Michael whether his expulsion is to
be in effect lifelong and if not, what he would have to do
to regain his status as a member of the Baha'i community.
You should also have provided more clarification about what
his status is now.  Can he be a Baha'i without being a
member of the Baha'i community?  How does his status differ
from that of a Baha'i whose administrative rights have been

It's my understanding that the founders of the Baha'i faith
did not bestow upon the Universal House of Justice the
authority to expell people from the Baha'i community, and
that they did not plan that anyone be expelled except for
Covenant-breakers, which apparently you are not accusing
Michael of being, nor has he behaved as such.  It would be
interesting to see if you can provide quotes from the
Baha'i Writings to justify your authority to take such action.

In summary:  Even if, in spite of the name of your institution,
you have not set up a system of "due process", there are still
principles of natural justice which you should follow.
You should have warned Michael, you should
have explained why, you should have clarified his current
and future status, and maybe you shouldn't have expelled
him in the first place.  (Some of these deficiencies can
be corrected by providing more information to him now.)
Those are the reasons why I have less respect for the
Universal House of Justice than I once did.

By the way, I am writing this on my own initiative;  Michael
made no suggestion to me to do so.

Catherine Woodgold