Someone made a comment below one of my oldest blog entries here and it ended up in my spam folder. I not only pulled it out of that folder and approved it, I wish to respond directly to it here to make sure that it gets maximum exposure, because I found it to be sheer nonsense! The original parts of the statement will be in red italics and my responses will be in green bold.
The Baha’i Faith claims to support the ideal of equality of men and women as a basic teaching. Equality implies that members of both genders, all else being the same, have the exact same rights and opportunities in society.
Consider this statement from an official Baha’i website:
Two Wings of a Bird: The Equality of Women and Men
A Statement of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States
The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality between the sexes, is essential to human progress and the transformation of society. Inequality retards not only the advancement of women but the progress of civilization itself. The persistent denial of equality to one-half of the world’s population is an affront to human dignity. It promotes destructive attitudes and habits in men and women that pass from the family to the work place, to political life, and, ultimately, to international relations. On no grounds, moral, biological, or traditional, can inequality be justified. The moral and psychological climate necessary to enable our nation to establish social justice and to contribute to global peace will be created only when women attain full partnership with men in all fields of endeavor.
Nice words. But does the reality measure up to them?
Women on the Universal House of Justice
by Universal House of Justice
To: National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand
We have been informed of a paper, presented at a recent New Zealand Bahá’í Studies conference, which raises the possibility that the ineligibility of women for membership on the Universal House of Justice may be a temporary provision subject to change through a process of progressive unfoldment of the divine purpose. We present the following points as a means of increasing the friends’ understanding of this established provision of the Order of Bahá’u'lláh that membership of the Universal House of Justice is confined to men.
The system of Bahá’í Administration is “indissolubly bound with the essential verities of the Faith” as set forth in the writings of Bahá’u'lláh and Abdul’ Baha. A unique feature of this system is the appointment of authorized interpreters, in the persons of Abdu’l Baha and the Guardian, to provide authoritative statements on the intent of Bahá’u'lláh’s revelation. Writing in The Dispensation of Bahá’u'lláh, Shogi Effendi stated that “Abdul’ Baha and the Guardian ” share . . . the right and obligation to interpret the Bahá’í Teachings”. In relation to his own function as interpreter, he further stated that “the Guardian has been specifically endowed with such power as he may need to reveal the purport and disclose the implications of the utterances of Bahá’u'lláh and of Abdu’l Baha”. The significance of this important provision is that the religion of God is safeguarded and protected against schism and its essential unity is preserved.
With regard to the status of women, the important point for Bahá’ís to remember is that in the face of the categorical pronouncements in Bahá’í Scripture establishing the equality of men and women, the ineligibility of women for membership on the Universal House of Justice does not constitute evidence of the superiority of men over women. It must also be borne in mind that women are not excluded from any other international institution of the Faith. They are found among the ranks of the Hands of the Cause. They serve as members of the International Teaching Center and as Continental Counsellors. And, there is nothing in the text to preclude the participation of women in such future international bodies as the Supreme Tribunal.
Not only are women excluded from membership in the Universal House of Justice, but this body has absolute power over the rest of the worldwide Baha’i community, by its being considered infallible, like Baha’u'llah, Abdu’l-Baha, and Shoghi Effendi before them. All of them were also men, by the way.
Bahá’u'lláh revealed the basic laws for His Dispensation and ordained the Universal House of Justice to pass subsidiary laws “regarding those things which have not outwardly been revealed in the Book”. (TB 68) With these words, Bahá’u'lláh promises divine guidance to the Universal House of Justice in the legislative process: “God will verily inspire them with whatsoever He willeth, and He verily is the Provider, the Omniscient.” (TB 68) Likewise, `Abdu’l-Bahá promised in His Will that the Universal House of Justice would be under “the care and protection” of Bahá’u'lláh, and under “the shelter and unerring guidance” of the Báb. (WT 11) In the Second Part of His Will, `Abdu’l-Bahá promised that the decisions of the Universal House of Justice functioning with only its elected membership, whether unanimously or by majority vote, would be “the truth and the purpose of God Himself,” (WT 19) a subject which is more fully discussed here.
Clearly, the idea that the sexes are equal in the Baha’i Faith is an outright lie. When a body that has absolute power excludes women from its membership, that means the women of that community have NO power of their own and any appearances of authority from any Baha’i woman is merely phony window dressing. Indeed, the whole concept of equality of men and women in the Baha’i Faith is an insidious form of doublespeak.
Doublespeak is language that deliberately disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words. Doublespeak may take the form of euphemisms (e.g., “downsizing” for layoffs, “servicing the target” for bombing ), making the truth less unpleasant, without denying its nature. It may also be deployed as intentional ambiguity, or reversal of meaning (for example, naming a state of war “peace”). In such cases, doublespeak disguises the nature of the truth, producing a communication bypass.
And any religion that engages in such dishonesty must be condemned!
“You women are equal because we men say you are equal, but NO, you cannot have the same authority over others that we men do…..BECAUSE WE SAY SO!”
This ironic title above refers to the incestuous relationship that has recently been established between two major bodies of the Baha’i Administrative Order (BAO) : The Universal House of Justice (UHJ) and the International Teaching Center (ITC). The former is the supreme governing body of the BAO, while the latter’s membership is appointed by the UHJ. The bureaucratic nature of this system is illustrated by the “alphabet soup” I used here, much like that of American governmental institutions. Note also that the buildings of the Baha’i World Center look a lot like the governmental buildings in Washington, D. C. Would you call this spiritual?
When the UHJ was first established in 1963, its membership included former members of the International Baha’i Council (these had been appointed by Shoghi Effendi) and members of various National Spiritual Assemblies. Later, the UHJ established the ITC, intended to take the place of the dwindling Hands of the Cause of God. Over several decades, however, more and more members of the UHJ have tended to come from the ITC, until today, ALL the UHJ members were elected from the ITC’s membership, which was appointed by the UHJ previously. This is known as a “feedback loop”. The result is a system that is by nature extremely conservative and not open to new ideas that could allow it to adapt to changing circumstances.
This is truly no better than the Roman Catholic Church, in which the Popes are elected by the College of Cardinals, and these Cardinals are themselves appointed by the previous Popes!
I just read something interesting in this article:
I participated for a time in a Los Angeles-area peace and justice group, an interfaith group filled with good and righteous people. Following the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, it was decided that we should be reaching out to area congregations to ask if we could provide them with guest speakers who would then tell the members of those congregations just how wrong and pointless the war and occupation was. There were few takers. Meanwhile, but on a separate track, this same group was establishing relationships with returning soldiers and military family members who opposed the war. I suggested that we might ask congregations whether they would care to hear from a service member or a military family member, someone who would simply tell their story, rather than hear from one of the well-briefed peaceniks. My suggestion was rejected, as this would have deprived the peaceniks of a chance to sound off about how wrong (how very wrong) George W. Bush and Don Rumsfeld had been in regard to principles of international law. I withdrew from the group shortly thereafter.
One of the greatest disappointments in my life as a follower of the Baha’i Faith (1997-2004) was observing a couple I’d been close to go through a bitter divorce and the fallout that resulted from that. First, read this for a general background:
In the summer and fall of 2004, I gradually came to the conviction that the Baha’i Faith was no longer worthy of my allegiance. Realizing that I had to remove myself from that community outright as a matter of honor, I wrote the following letter:
To the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States,
After years of investigation and soul-searching, I have finally come to the sad understanding that I can no longer bring myself to believe in Baha’u’llah or any of the institutions established in His name, including the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice. I am totally convinced that the Baha’i Faith is doomed to fail in its mission to bring peace, unity, and a Golden Age to humanity and I therefore resign from my past membership in the Faith. Goodbye.
Someone put the most annoying comment on my blog for me to moderate, and after I read it (and rejected it) , I found his own blog and saw that his comment on mine was nothing more than a copy and paste job from one of his blog entries. Actually, the ONLY entry he made on his blog, at least so far. Here’s a link to it:
You can go there to read his nonsense, but you won’t find it here. Indeed, I don’t intend to approve ANY comments from this pest.
You can write an entire novel of crap and it will still be crap, just as much as a comment of only one or two sentences that are stupid. If you cannot deal with the actual issues I raised about the Baha’i Faith, then a story about you falling in love with a Baha’i and converting to her religion only proves you are shallow-minded!
Take a look at this latest message from the Universal House of Justice, the supreme governing body of the (Haifan) Baha’i Faith, addressed to the Baha’is of the world:
As critical as I am of the Baha’i Faith, I am equally critical of orthodox Islam, which the Baha’i Faith evolved from. The reason is simple: If you truly believe in an all-powerful and sovereign God, then the very idea that anything, like the Quran, can be the final revelation of God for all time is blasphemy. It is man telling God to be silent forever. So why not become atheist, then? I addressed this before:
Kalimat Press is a small Baha’i owned book publishing company that was recently at the center of a huge controversy, one that shocked me and apparently was the primary reason for Dann May and his wife Phyllis Bernard to leave the Baha’i Faith.
When I was a Baha’i, I spent a summer at the home of an elderly Baha’i couple, and I looked at their Baha’i books. One thing I noticed was a copy of the classic introduction to the Baha’i Faith, Baha’u'llah and the New Era by J. E Esslemont. It contained a reference to 1957, the year Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, died, yet it had been published before that year. After searching online, I finally found a reference to this older edition.
I just saw this blog entry which shocked me:
First, look at this entry in Wikipedia:
First, take a look at this:
We see clearly that this high ranking official of the Baha’i Faith is willing to deny someone who is a citizen of Israel membership in the Faith and actually says that Baha’u'llah commanded this.
It appears that someone is using hacking techniques to suppress the expression of Unitarian Bahaism on the internet.
A few hours ago, it was reported that the Unitarian Universalist Bahai blog’s web address was somehow redirected to a Universalist Christian web page made by Eric Stetson, who also leads the Unitarian Bahai movement:
Now I have learned that the Yahoo group of Unitarian Bahais has also been cut off:
No coincidence, I suppose, that this was done the day after Eric Stetson said he was taking a break from moderating that group.
In attacking the new Unitarian Baha’i movement, Sen McGlinn made the following absurd declaration:
Do not be deceived: the latest attempt to rehabilitate Muhammad Ali is not due to some universal love and progressive ideas, or any great knowledge about Muhammad Ali: it springs from a desire to avoid the straight line that leads from authenticated texts by Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha, through inescapable reasoning, to the conclusion that the Universal House of Justice is the head of the Bahai community today. To avoid that conclusion, some people will bring forward anything, however implausible, that seems to offer an alternative.
Anyone who actually reads the Baha’i Faith section of this blog would know, if they were intellectually honest, that this claim is simply bogus postering. And there’s more:
Indeed, like most Baha’is, McGlinn takes at face value the profoundly one-sided narratives favored by the Haifan Baha’i Administrative Order about the conflict between Abdu’l-Baha (AB) and his brother Mirza Muhammad Ali (MA), never questioning them; never asking why, if MA was such a despicable man and AB was indeed so perfect in his ways, why nearly all the descendants of Baha’u'llah, even those descended directly from AB, would reject the claims of AB and Shoghi Effendi and find themselves expelled from the Baha’i community rather than submit to the Covenant AB established in his Will and Testament. Also odd is that the mansion of Bahji, in which Baha’u'llah spent his last years, was lived in by MA after Baha’u'llah died, not AB! I’d think if AB was as highly favored by Baha’u'llah as the official Baha’i history claims, he would have been living in Bahji with Baha’u'llah and would have inherited it, but in fact, AB never lived there at all! Such logical gaps should be debated and worked over, not ignored and swept under the rug.
People who operate like McGlinn have no business claiming to be reputable scholars on religion, unless they are promoting a scam.
And what is really ironic about this, is that McGlinn was actually expelled from the very Haifan Baha’i community he is still defending:
In late 2005 I was removed from the rolls of the Bahai community, following a decision of the Universal House of Justice. I have put up some of the documents on a page here, in response to speculations about the reasons for the decision. I have applied to be re-enrolled periodically, and in the meantime continue as a believing and practising unenrolled Bahai. There are some informal reflections on being unenrolled in an email in my archive called ‘who belongs.’
Why would anyone continue to defend an organization that no longer even wants him around? To me, that is idiocy, and I do not respect idiots.
Several years ago, philosophy and religious studies Professor Dann May and his wife Phyllis E Bernard, current Robert S. Kerr Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law, Oklahoma City University, were devoted Baha’is. They were prominantly featured in this article about a private Baha’i School:
(Note: This is a copy of an entry on Wikipedia that was deleted by one of its admin after a determined effort to get it banned by Haifan Baha’is. This is an example of the thought control and censorship that is subjected to anyone who stands up to the bullies that run or serve the Baha’i Administrative Order. Damn them!) Continue reading
Vernon Lawson sent me this via e-mail, and it is one of the best statements about the Bahai Faith I’ve ever seen:
There are limits to the expansion of the Baha’i faith, as currently practiced, and arguments can be made that the administrative order is not appropriate. However, if the Baha’i faith is ever going to grow beyond its current numbers, it is Baha’u’llah, and not Abdu’l Baha, Shoghi Effendi or the Universal House of Justice, who will reach the majority of people that currently have no knowledge of the Baha’i faith. He will reach them through the current believers. Yes, the majority of the current believers have great loyalty to a particular administrative order. However, their approach to spreading the word has proven particularly ineffective. If those more open minded people, who recognize that Baha’u’llah’s message is the message for today, spread the word more effectively that their administrative oriented breathren, then some day, maybe soon, the majority of Baha’is will not have this loyalty, or any concern about administrative orders. The ancient beauty is what matters here, not anything else. If we can reach just .2% of the human race, not exactly a tall order, then two thirds of Baha’is will not follow the current administrative order, and there could be some major changes in the way things are done. At 150 years into Christianity, the word had not gone far, primarily because they had not learned how to effectively market the faith yet. There is still hope for a significant growth of the faith. Go to any bookstore, and you’ll see more space dedicated to “New Age” than all the other religions combined. What else you’ll notice is NO Baha’i literature. That’s because the boys in Haifa are determined to control this thing. Fine, they have complete control of an insanely small order. If, and when, we ever get entry by troops, it will be because we blow this thing wide open. Nobody controls who, how, what gets translated, nobody controls distribution of the word. The word is for everyone. That’s when things can and will change.
Ever since I came out as opposing the Baha’i Faith headquartered in Haifa, Israel, I have been a lighting rod of criticism from a few of those zealots associated with it.
Let me clarify my position for those who may be confused about where I stand.
1. By theological conviction, I am an agnostic, meaning I consider the issue of God’s existence to be beyond the ability of humans to know. By some definitions, I am also an atheist, except I consider atheism to be only the claim that there is no God. As a strict empiricist, this is not an option I accept for myself.
2. By religious affiliation, I am a Unitarian Universalist.
3. As far as Christianity is concerned, I consider the Baptist wing of Protestanism to be the “true” form of it, and see all others as deviating from the original Gospel in various ways and degrees. But if the teachings of Jesus were literally true, then he should have returned to establish his kingdom by AD 100. He did not, so any further claim that he will eventually return is bogus.
4. As far as the Baha’i Faith is concerned, I see the Faith as having been vitually ruined by the concept of the “Covenant” established by Abdu’l-Baha in his Will and Testament. No Baha’i sect which claims to follow the directives of that document is legitimate, because no one actually follows it consistently. NONE OF THEM!
Those who encounter the title “Orthodox Bahá’í” for the first time, especially those who are followers of the sans-Guardian Universal House of Justice, may wonder why people would identify themselves as Orthodox Bahá’ís if, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has stated, the Bahá’í Covenant makes it “impossible for any one to create a sect or faction of belief.” Why, then, would those who identify themselves as Bahá’ís find it necessary to add the word “Orthodox”? Aren’t they, by doing so, going against the Covenant and what ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said? Aren’t they attempting to make a schism in a Faith that carries the promise of never experiencing division? Shouldn’t they, instead, identify themselves with the majority faction of the Cause so that the Bahá’í Faith continues to convey the promise of never splintering into differing sects?
When you start off like that, you already look rediculous, and you make it worse when you continue with a ton of doublespeak. Why not just say Abdu’l-Baha was wrong and be done with it? Oh, because then the Orthodox Baha’is’ own claim to be following the true Guardian would be invalidated. LOGIC FAIL!
There is absolutely NOTHING in the Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Baha to indicate that anyone outside the male descendants of Baha’u'llah (defined in that document as “branches”) could succeed Shoghi Effendi. Charles Mason Remey, who tried to claim the Guardianship even before the Universal House of Justice could be established, was not a “branch”. There was no explicit statement from Shoghi Effendi in his lifetime that Remey was intended to be his successor. And nine elected Hands of the Cause of God would have had to approve Shoghi Effendi’s choice anyway. That certainly was not done! Instead, Remey was declared a “Covenant-breaker” and expelled from the Faith by his fellow Hands. And likewise, Joel Bray Marangella has no rightful claim to the Guardianship either. He is a fraud, just as much as the Universal House of Justice in Haifa. The only “true” Baha’is are those who recognize that even Baha’u'llah was not totally sinless and infallible and allow for him to be as human as the rest of us, respecting him as their Faith’s founder but also being willing to think for themselves to allow the Faith to evolve according to the needs of the modern world. To some extent this evolution has occured even within the Haifan Baha’i Faith, but the assumption of infalliblity of the Faith’s leadership remains. That is a lie and we need to deal with that lie constantly until its credibility is destroyed completely.
In previous blog entries, I have stated in many ways what has gone wrong with the religion known as the Baha’i Faith. After carefully considering the movement called the Unitarian Bahai Association, I have reached the conclusion that the only way to save the Baha’i Faith from ultimate destruction is to completely reject the concept of the Guardianship. And here is why:
Baha’u'llah left a Will and Testament known as the Book of the Covenant. Its sole purpose was to define who would be the leaders of the Faith after his passing. Continue reading
Yikes! Reading this testimony, I wonder how many people lost their faith in Baha’u'llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith, because another religion accepted as valid by it, such as Christianity or Islam, was also debunked in the eyes of the now ex-Baha’i.
Over the past two decades, I have gone from being a member of a Unitarian Universalist church, to being a member of the Haifa based Baha’i Faith, to returning to the Unitarian Universalist church. Now, it seems there has been found a way to merge the two religions and to use the internet to break the power of the “mainstream” Baha’i Faith and allow religious freedom to be a genuine concept for Baha’is to embrace among themselves.
Introducing the Unitarian Baha’is:
I googled the phrase “independent investigation of truth” after remembering that it was supposed to be a basic teaching of the Baha’i Faith. Among the references I found on the internet, was this:
The Baha’i Administrative Order, developed by Shoghi Effendi, and derived from the writings of Baha’u'llah and Abdu’l-Baha, is a badly flawed and ineffective mode of government, which would naturally take over an area if the Baha’is ever became the majority of any place on Earth. Here’s why that must NEVER happen:
First, Baha’i elections are run in such a way that there are no nominations, campaigning is forbidden, and the top nine members that get the most votes are elected. As a result, incumbents are virtually guaranteed to win, turnover is extremely low, and the policies of adminstrative bodies cannot be challenged by outsiders at elections. There is no freedom in such elections.
There are four religions in the world that are classed as “Abrahamic”, being descended from the original work of Abraham. Abraham himself left no writings of his own and he may have been only legendary, as much as Greek myths are thought to be. He founded no religion that survives today.
Judaism: Considered to have been founded by Moses. He was credited with writing the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament), but this is incorrect; He may have written the laws detailed in the Torah, but not the Torah itself, since his death is recorded at the end of it and it is implied that it was made several centuries after Moses’ time. So the foundation of this religion is uncertain.
Christianity: Considered to have been founded by Jesus, but he himself wrote nothing that we have and the stories and quotations of him are entirely second-hand. In addition, most Christian doctrine was formulated by Paul, who was not even an original desciple of Jesus, but joined the Christians later after being their enemy. Thus the foundation of this religion is highly uncertain.
Islam: Founded by the Prophet Muhammad. He was said to be illiterate, and dictated most of the Quran to various scribes rather than write it directly. It wasn’t until after his death that the Quran was assembled in its final form, and it was not assembled in chronological order.
The Baha’i Faith: Baha’u'llah, the founder of this religion, is said to have written his own books. But he too relied on personal secretaries to do most of this, including Mirza Aqa Jan, who later would be condemned as a “Covenant-breaker” for opposing Abdu’l-Baha, the son and immediate successor of Baha’u'llah.
The credibilility of the Baha’i Faith is dependent on Islam, the credibility of Islam is dependent on Christianity, and the credibility of Christianity is dependent on Judaism. Yet all these religions also claim that the earlier ones were corrupted over time, making the new ones necessary. Does this make sense? What if all four religions were flawed from the beginning, because their means of recording their teachings were flawed? Their founders could have written and edited their writings all by themselves and not allowed others to make unauthorized editions after their time. Thus any possible errors or contradictions in those teachings would have been prevented. Outsiders could have been prevented from polluting the original faith with foreign concepts. Disputes between followers could have been settled without assuming blindly that the leadership was never to be questioned and that others could “agree to disagree” without being treated as traitors.
None of these were done, except by the most liberal branches of these faiths, and thus they have been sources of tyranny and ignorance rather than liberty and enlightenment. And as this essay shows, there is really no reason for ANYONE to be certain that any of them are absolutely true, especially since modern science has completely debunked the creation myth that was said to be the very root of all of them.
This is the direct sequel to my first blog entry on the Baha’i faith:
The basic problem of authority in the Baha’i Faith, with its false claim that those authorities are infallible, really becomes obvious when you consider the issue of the Guardianship, which Shoghi Effendi held from 1921 until his death in 1957. He was appointed to that position by his grandfather, Abdu’l-Baha.
Considering that most of the opposition to evolution is based on religious bias, it is ironic that evolutionary concepts are most useful for explaining the history of religion. It is common knowledge, for example, that Christianity evolved from Judaism, Buddhism evolved from Hinduism, the Baha’i Faith evolved from Islam, and that Christianity has diversified into hundreds of sects including Roman Catholicism, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Thus religions themselves illustrate the concepts of common ancestry, mutation, and adaptive radiation as well as mass extinctions (many pagan religions died out as Christianity and Islam expanded, leaving behind “fossils” in the form of published records that are today dismissed as “myths”).
And now I wish to dispel one of the most common misconceptions about evolution: That because humans evolved from ape-like animals, that humans are by nature superior to their ape cousins. And that evolution is a ladder of progress in which all decendants are by nature superior to their ancestors. It is ludicrious to suggest that fish are inferior to mammals. Both fish and mammals are animals well adapted to their environments. If they were not, they’d become extinct. Most fish cannot breath air and thus cannot survive out of water, but the reverse is true of most mammals, which would die if they could not breath air. So from a fish’s point of view, a mammal must seem inferior, even the whales, which must also rely on their lungs to breath, not gills. Evolution is all about change, not progress. A fish is merely different from a mammal, period.
Likewise, Judaism is different from Christianity. There is no reason for Christians to think themselves or their faith superior to the Jewish faith, except by their own arrogance. Judaism has been in existence longer than Christianity, but it has also evolved just as Christianity has. For a Christian to convert to Judaism is not to take a “backward step”, merely to adopt a different set of teachings.
Thus, I totally reject the Baha’i concept of “Progressive Revelation” that implies that the Baha’i Faith is the supreme religion because it came after all the others, and that other religions are valid but destined to be replaced by the Baha’i Faith. Must we assume that because mammals came later than fish, they are destined to replace all fish? NO, that is nonsense! In my view all religions must be seen as equal because all of them have evolved and adapted to their environment. Until this is understood by nearly everyone, wars and discrimination based on religious bigotry will remain a serious threat.
A decade ago, I was a member of a religion known as the Baha’i Faith. This religion teaches that God is called by various names but is still the same all over the world, that all religions teach the same basic message, and that humanity is one and is destined to unite under the banner of the Baha’i Faith in a new age of peace and unity.