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!”