The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience


See Mahmoudi's coercive email to FG

Further details on Hoda Mahmoudi's coercive email

David Langness on Hoda Mahmoudi


From: <>
Subject: Re: Letter of resignation
Date: Sunday, July 25, 1999 10:44 PM

In article <>, (Smaneck) wrote:
> >  And yet when the UHJ addresses
> >*Baha'i* academics, firm believers, moderates like Paul Dodenhof,
they do so so harshly as to chase them right out of the faith.
> >
> Paul was not being addressed in the April 7 letter at all. The House
was referring solely to certain persons whom I believe we are all
acquainted who attemped to use their academic standing to attack try and recreate
the Faith in their own image. It is a pity that Paul and his wife did not see fit
to consult with the House about the meaning of this letter and clarify any
> misunderstanding before taking such a grave step.
> Susan Stiles Maneck
> History, Stetson University


Dear Susan,

I have been fairly quiet the past couple of weeks as we are in the
throes of opening a new business and I have only a limited amount of
time to read posts or post responses. But I do have to say again, as I
have said before, that having been involved in the discussions between
the Institutions and the Baha'i academic community the past couple of
years, I am well aware of the standard type of response the House has
given to various individuals regarding questions of academic
methodologies, the "proper" use of scholarship in the Faith and the
manner in which an increasing number of individuals, quite apart from
Juan, have been treated with suspicion, investigation of their belief,
etc. and how the House has merely given a slap on the wrist to ABM's
and other AO leadership who have overstepped their authority.

After the persecution of Terry Culhane by Dan Freeman and Hoda
Mahmoudi, who I still believe acted with the consent if not at the
instigation of Steve Birkland, what was the House response?
To say "Gee,
maybe you should examine the way you say things, Mr. Culhane." I am
paraphrasing here, but you know as well as I that that was their
response to Terry's letter. Terry I am sure still has the letter.

Further, where is Freeman now? He was not removed from his position but
simply moved to another area. This is akin to the moving of a Catholic
priest who abuses children to another parish instead of kicking his
butt out and turning him over to the authorities! You know as well as I
do Susan, the disgusting manner in which Terry was treated by Freeman
and Mahmoudi. In fact, *you* called me up on the phone at 11:30 p.m.
and said, "We have a problem" referring to Birkland, Freeman and
Mahmoudi's actions.
You sent me all of the info that night. You asked
me to write a letter in support of Terry. As far as waiting, I took
four days to think and pray about the letter I wrote in support of
Terry, so I am not one to act in a reactionary manner. The same is true
of my letter of resignation. I felt, after reading the April 7 letter
and taking the time to pray about it, that I had no reason to ask for
further "clarification" because I don't believe they will ever clarify
anything! They have been very clear: it's their way or the highway. No
discussion. Consultation, in this situation, is a joke as it *must*
ultimately result in agreement with their decision.

Also, your memory seems to be rather selective. As I recall, I first
heard about this crisis between academics and the AO at the Irfan
Colloqium in Wilmette a couple of years ago. At that time, you were
irate at the treatment Juan and others were receiving. That anger
continued and was *very* evident in Teaneck at the meeting I helped
arrange between Counselor Abdu'l-Missagh Ghadirian and ABM Gene Andrews
and you, me, and a few other Baha'i academics. You expressed as loudly
as anyone your disdain of the way the AO was treating Baha'i academics
and the resulting scholar bashing among the friends.

Now, it may be that since then you have reconciled yourself to some of
these things or have received some sort of spiritual insight which has
calmed all your fears, and allowed you to condone such practices or at
least live comfortably with them. Well, the opposite is true with me. I
find the AO's actions reprehensible on many levels.
Have Baha'i
academics always been open and honest? No, and I have stated that
clearly many times. But the actions of the AO, including the House, are
all the more wrong since they are entrusted with the care of the Baha'i
community, of whom Baha'i academics are a part. Investigations??? Yes,
they *do* happen and they are no better than religious McCarthyism.

You have accused me elsewhere of not continuing to dialogue. I am a
firm advocate of dialogue, and you know this. *But* there comes a time
when one must recognize that dialogue is monlogue. In this case, the
House and the AO do not listen as you believe they do. They smile
benignly, nod their heads, and say, "You're wrong. We're right. Too
bad. You either do it our way or you don't do it." That's not dialogue.
Review??? You may be able to live with it, Susan, but I call it
censorship. It was one of the things which I could not honestly accept
and obey, and one which was a deciding factor in my leaving the Faith.

I won't rehash here my entire letter nor will I begin a debate on yet
another list with you about whether or not I have been "clear" about my
issues with the AO and specifically the April 7 letter.

But I will say that I don't think you have been forthright in your own
presentation of your own opinions of many of these issues and how you
have made a 180 degree turn from what you were saying not so long ago.
At that time, you had little respect or love for Steve Birkland and his
shenanigans yourself as I recall.

So please Susan, come down a little from the high horse you're on these
days! If you've had a renewal of your Faith, that's great. But please
don't presume to be able to explain to others what I or Lisa or any
other individual should have done or what we think or believe. And,
yes, that is exactly what you have been doing.