The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience


While I have a different view from either the Haifan branch or the Orthodox Baha'i Faith,
I also found Jeffrey Goldberg's personal story poignant and hope others will take the time
to read and reflect on it, especially paragraphs 26 through 33. They reveal a great deal
about what the Haifan denomination has become.

Declaration Under Penalty of Perjury of Jeffrey Alan Goldberg


"26. On May 27, 1997, my wife and I were declared to be covenant-breakers
and all of my friends in the Faith were instructed to shun me entirely and
never to have any contact with me or face the same expulsion themselves. A
true and correct copy of the NSA's letter of May 27, 1997, and the front page
of The American Bahá'í for June 24, 1997, are attached as Exhibit 5).

27. My wife did not join the OBF at that time but she was also expelled and
shunned because she refused to take my children and divorce me as they had
insisted she must.

28. The NSA organization claims that shunning us as covenant-breakers is
required to maintain the unity of the Faith. The OBF believe, on the other
hand, that unity in the Faith is achieved and maintained by obedience to the
Center of the Cause, the living Guardian, and that a
covenant-breaker is one who rejects the authority of the Guardian.

29. Only one member of my former community, the Bahá'ís of Barrington,
Illinois, was willing to speak with me (Janice Franco). At first, I was
reluctant to tell Ms. Franco what I had learned because I did not want her
to face the same dilemma that I now faced. She insisted,
however, that I explain to her what I discovered. I then carefully explained
the situation using only materials officially accepted by the NSA to show
her my belief that the Hands wrongfully usurped authority and that their
Universal House of Justice should have the Guardian as its head. Ms. Franco
was declared to be a covenant-breaker and shunned after she dared to share
these arguments with the rest of the community. The other community members
rejected these arguments after they were threatened by a representative of
the NSA's organization that they too would be shunned and cut off forever
from many of their friends and family unless they rejected these ideas and
shunned my family and I, and Ms. Franco.

30. Just before I had declared my acceptance of the Guardianship, my
brother, who was not a Bahá'í at all, coincidentally became engaged to marry
a believer under the NSA's organization.

31. I was not permitted to attend my brother's wedding, and my family
thereafter had to hold separate family functions so that I would not be
present at the same time as brother's wife who literally held the belief
that I was satanic and my breath was poisonous so that mere contact with me
would be dangerous.

32. After the birth of my nephew, I was not allowed to see him at all, nor
does he even know of the existence of his uncle and the rest of my family.

33. My story is by no means unique. Many of my fellow believers within the
OBF report similar experiences. Juan Cole, a professor of modern Middle East
and Southeastern Asian history for the History department of the University
of Michigan has written about the fanatical shunning behavior exhibited by the
NSA and its organization, characterizing it as "cultlike." Attached as Exhibit 6
are emails written by Dr. Cole. Attached as Exhibit 7 is an article by Dr Cole
detailing the shunning practices." Related documents regarding nsa lawsuit in 2007 against the Orthodox Baha'i Faith

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