The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience

From: <>
To: Talisman <>
Subject: Catch-22 in Faith
Date: Monday, December 22, 1997 6:18 PM

Hello Talisman,
  I was a Baha'i for about 21 years and have since gone on to other things in my independent
investigation of the truth.  I still have much good will toward the Faith and I would like to make
an observation: 
  I feel the Baha'i Faith is in a Catch-22 situation, certainly in the United States, and possibly in
other countries as well.  By this I mean that the very fact that the 'real' membership in the Faith
in the U. S. is so low (anywhere from about 30,000 to 80,000 depending on the source of the
statistics) hampers its growth.  From my experience, most people who are in the market for a
new religion are looking for a lot more than religious 'truth' and challenging dogma when they
choose a religion. Many are looking for a religious community where they can feel security,
companionship, as well as explore spiritual matters.  Many can overlook various problems they
may have with what they perceive as the 'truth' of a religion (or lack thereof) and the dogma, as
long as the above qualities are present. Often potential converts to the Faith, when they learn of
the extremely low numbers, decide that they do not what to be, in essence, 'pioneers'.  They want
companionship, a certain deg!
ree of security, and a candid and open-minded atmosphere where they can discuss things freely.
  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.  The Faith is really a 'footnote' religion, in my view, and all the
peace/race unity statements and p. r. in the world will not change this.
  I do not know how to solve the above problem, except to be completely honest and open to the
public and to people who may be interested in the Faith.  It does little good to 'hide' things
regarding the Faith that may be unpleasant or misunderstood, intending to reveal these things
later when the new Baha'i has been in the Faith for a few years.  If people feel that they've had
the wool pulled over their eyes, they will leave or become disenchanted.  Believe me, I observed
this phenomenon over and over during my years as a Baha'i.
  These are just some friendly observations from someone who is familiar with Baha'i matters. 
Wishing everyone the best.  Shalom.  Scott
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