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.
Second, consider this quote from Baha’u’llah himself:
Consider the pettiness of men’s minds. They ask for that which injureth them, and cast away the thing that profiteth them. They are, indeed, of those that are far astray. We find some men desiring liberty, and priding themselves therein. Such men are in the depths of ignorance.
Liberty must, in the end, lead to sedition, whose flames none can quench. Thus warneth you He Who is the Reckoner, the All-Knowing. Know ye that the embodiment of liberty and its symbol is the animal. That which beseemeth man is submission unto such restraints as will protect him from his own ignorance, and guard him against the harm of the mischief-maker. Liberty causeth man to overstep the bounds of propriety, and to infringe on the dignity of his station. It debaseth him to the level of extreme depravity and wickedness.
Regard men as a flock of sheep that need a shepherd for their protection. This, verily, is the truth, the certain truth. We approve of liberty in certain circumstances, and refuse to sanction it in others. We, verily, are the All-Knowing.
Say: True liberty consisteth in man’s submission unto My commandments, little as ye know it. Were men to observe that which We have sent down unto them from the Heaven of Revelation, they would, of a certainty, attain unto perfect liberty. Happy is the man that hath apprehended the Purpose of God in whatever He hath revealed from the Heaven of His Will, that pervadeth all created things. Say: The liberty that profiteth you is to be found nowhere except in complete servitude unto God, the Eternal Truth. Whoso hath tasted of its sweetness will refuse to barter it for all the dominion of earth and heaven.
I think George Orwell would call this sort of thing “doublespeak”. Of course, if you are a Libertarian, this is total nonsense to you. War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength. NOT!
Third, Baha’ullah himself made many laws in his writings that for Baha’is can never be challenged or overturned, not even by Baha’i administration bodies. Even worse, the interpretation of those laws by Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi also cannot be challenged or overturned. The legislative functions of those bodies, including the Universal House of Justice, are thus extremely limited. Baha’is have NO real freedom!
Consider this testimony from another ex-Baha’i:
I used to be a member of the Baha’i Faith, and though it has some very good points, it ultimately fails to pass the test of independent investigation. Baha’is usually seek an image as being very liberal and open-minded, to attract seekers no doubt. Once within the community however, you are very limited in terms of how you should feel about any aspect of life… it has to be the “Baha’i Way” or no way. In fact, you may find yourself in a ridiculous situation if you have unique family situations…
Are you adopted? Oh, too bad if you were wanting to get married…. Better hope you can track down your biological parents, or you will face a real nightmare, because you need their permission before you can marry if they are still living. If they, let’s say, don’t like “negroes” and you want to marry interracially, then despite the fact that they have never seen you before in their lives (because they dumped you at an orphanage) you are forbidden to marry, and face severe penalities if you do so anyways. Have you, or anyone you know, had an experience where you faced a four fold conflict with: the love of your life, a biological parent you’ve never met (or a hard-headed parent with predjuices against your love’s race), the Baha’i religious administration, and your own conscience.
Nowhere does the injustice and absurdity of Baha’i law become more obvious than on the issue of homosexuality. This statement from Shoghi Effendi about homosexuality is truly moronic:
No matter how devoted and fine the love may be between people of the same sex, to let it find expression in sexual acts is wrong. To say that it is ideal is no excuse. Immorality of every sort is really forbidden by Baha’u’llah, and homosexual relationships he looks upon as such, besides being against nature…To be afflicted this way is a great burden to a conscientious soul. But through the advice and help doctors, through a strong and determined effort, and through prayer, a soul can overcome this handicap.
There is not a shred of evidence for the assertion in the last sentence. Yet, as a Baha’i, one must accept that claim as absolute truth and ignore the evidence that suggests otherwise. Why? Simply because Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, was said to be infallible!
The Universal House of Justice (UHJ) says about the same issue:
The Universal House of Justice is authorized to change or repeal its own legislation as conditions change, thus providing Baha’i law with an essential element of flexibility, but it cannot abrogate or change any of the laws which are explicitly laid down in the sacred Texts. It follows, then that the House of Justice has no authority to change this clear teaching on homosexual practice.
Then why bother to have a UHJ at all? It is toothless!
To regard homosexuals with prejudice and disdain would be entirely against the spirit of Baha’i Teachings. The doors are open for all of humanity to enter the Cause of God, irrespective of their present circumstances; this invitation applies to homosexuals as well as to any others who are engaged in practices contrary to the Baha’i Teachings.
More doublespeak. No thanks, we need better honesty than that.
We need to free ourselves from this sort of dogmatic extremism, not allow ourselves to be led into it once more by idealistic seduction. Do Baha’i teachers tell seekers about their teachings of homosexuality? If I were gay, I would never join any religion that didn’t respect a basic part of my character!
I totally agree that the Baha’i Administrative Order would be a terrible form of government. That’s because it is not designed to be a form of government, it is an administrative system for running a religious community that does not have any clergy. So it has elected councils, called Spiritual Assemblies or Houses of Justice, at the local, national and international level.
These are not, and never can be, a form of government. Shoghi Effendi writes:
“Theirs is not the purpose,… to violate, under any circumstances, the provisions of their country’s constitution, much less to allow the machinery of their administration to supersede the government of their respective countries.”
(Shoghi Effendi, in The World Order of Baha’u’llah 66.)
“Should they place in the arena the crown of the government of the whole world, and invite each one of us to accept it, undoubtedly we shall not condescend, and shall refuse to accept it.” ( Tablets of the Divine Plan 51)
The signature of that meeting should be the Spiritual Gathering (House of Spirituality) and the wisdom therein is that hereafter the government should not infer from the term “House of Justice” that a court is signified, that it is connected with political affairs, or that at any time it will interfere with governmental affairs. … (Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha Abbas vol. 1, page 5).
“One of their many calumnies was that this servant had raised aloft a banner in this city, had summoned the people together under it, had established a new sovereignty for himself, … and, God forbid, had purposed to cause the gravest breach in the mighty power of the Crown.
May the Lord protect us from such atrocious falsehoods! According to the direct and sacred command of God … We must obey and be the well-wishers of the governments of the land, … With these final and decisive words, how can it be that these imprisoned ones should indulge in such vain fancies; incarcerated, how could they show forth such disloyalty!” (Will and Testament of Abdu’l-Baha, pages 7-8)
“The one true God, exalted be His glory, hath ever regarded, and will continue to regard, the hearts of men as His own, His exclusive possession. All else, whether pertaining to land or sea, whether riches or glory, He hath bequeathed unto the Kings and rulers of the earth. From the beginning that hath no beginning the ensign proclaiming the words “He doeth whatsoever He willeth” hath been unfurled in all its splendor before His Manifestation. What mankind needeth in this day is obedience unto them that are in authority, and a faithful adherence to the cord of wisdom. The instruments which are essential to the immediate protection, the security and assurance of the human race have been entrusted to the hands, and lie in the grasp, of the governors of human society. This is the wish of God and His decree…. .” (Gleanings, CII 206-7)
“He Who is the Spirit (Jesus) — may peace be upon Him — was asked: “O Spirit of God! Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or not?” And He made reply: “Yea, render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.” He forbade it not. These two sayings are, in the estimation of men of insight, one and the same, for if that which belonged to Caesar had not come from God, He would have forbidden it.
(Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 89)
etc.. etc… The separation of Church and State is one of the core Bahai principles, and the absolute impossibility of the Administrative Order is fixed in the texts above and many similar ones. There’s a compilation of these scriptural texts at:
As for the question of liberty, Juan Cole has dealt with this in his Modernity and the Millenium. Towards the end of Baha’u’llah’s life, the anarchist movement was taking off, and he reacted to it. But he is a clear advocate of civil freedoms (as distinct from liberty): freedom of religion, of expression, of the press, and also freedom of trade. Abdu’l-Baha likewise was very enthusiastic about the freedoms he found in America. The difference, I think, is that liberty refers to a freedom from law and government, whereas freedoms are created by law and guaranteed by government (government in the broad sense: usually freedoms are guaranteed primarily by the constitution and courts).
As for the laws that cannot be changed: all the laws to do with acts of worship have to be observed according to the Book, and the houses of justice have no say in them. This contrasts to the situation in most churches, where the church administration (eg papacy, chief pooh-bah, Lambeth Council etc..) decided on liturgical matters. In the Bahai Faith, the church administration has no say on these matters, which places them squarely in the hands of the individual, who reads what the scriptures say and decides for him/herself how to apply it.
On the other hand, the House of Justice and National Assemblies can decide on and change other areas of law. For example, is a common law marriage are “marriage” recognised by the Bahai Administration? The answer may well be different in Brazil (where they are the norm) and in Germany.
The point you make about marriage permission from actual parents is also not so simple: even if you do know your actual parent, you do not necessarily need their permission. The situation that comes up most often is where a father has abused his children – doing so is considered as effectually renouncing the claims of parenthood, and children of such a father are – generally speaking – not required to get his permission. Abandoning an infant would fall in the same category, but in each case the assembly or House of Justice has to decide, and the rights of parents are not lightly set aside. The rights of a natural parent are not *automatically* voided by legal adoption, but they can be voided and renounced.
The letter about homosexuality you attribute to the Guardian is in fact from his secretary. In any case, the Guardian says explicitly that the Guardian cannot legislate, that is, that what the Guardian says does not become Bahai law. He even says that a Guardian cannot override an enactment made by the UHJ.
So the UHJ’s hands are not tied: how much they may change is a question of the understanding and will of the elected members (except for matters of worship). Change takes time, but that’s what you would expect in a global religious community. Look at the issue of homosexuality in the Anglican church: what seems enlightened and self-evidently right in San Fransisco may be a step or six too far to go in Uganda or Samoa. The more widely spread a community is, the longer it takes to get consensus on culturally sensitive issues.
~~ Sen McGlinn
“I totally agree that the Baha’i Administrative Order would be a terrible form of government.”
You really should have stopped there, for then you would have been honest.
I am not so naive as to think that Baha’is, once they become the majority of the people in any part of the world, will not violate the civil rights of any remaining non-Baha’is. The references you made to the Central Figures denying any ambition to soverignty is the sort of thing they would say to keep them from being arrested and executed for treason by the authorities of their time. Remember, Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha were prisoners for many years, and the threat of execution hung over their heads. So of course they would deny publicly what they may have intended privately!
Just as Christianity and Islam has caused so much evil in the world by people taking statements out of context made in their scriptures, so will people of the Baha’i Faith. It is human nature, sadly.
It does not matter who actually wrote the Guardian’s statement on homosexuality, for it was written in HIS NAME and it has been quoted as his statement, therefore it is Baha’i Law! Shoghi Effendi was acting as the INTERPRETER of Baha’ullah’s writings when he defined the prohibition of homosexuality, not a legislator. But his word is still absolute according to Baha’is.
I would encourage you highly to post this blog and any additional thoughts you might have on the subject to the site http://www.iranian.com. Currently the Baha’is are opportunistically using the occasion of the implosion of the theocracy in Iran to advertise their own brand of theofascism to a largely secular Iranian crowd. Since you are not an Iranian it would be nearly impossible for you to be accused by the Bahais of being an agent of the Islamic Republic.
Please open an account over there and offer your views.
I was unable to create an account at the website in question, but Wahid Azal was still able to post a copy of my blog there:
There was one positive response so far:
Dale Husband: I agree with this. Baha’is’ rights should never be violated by an Islamic government or any other.
The denialist responses from Baha’is were about what I expected:
Dale Husband: So this is what Baha’is do when they are confronted with the absurdity of their dogmas: Personal attacks, innuendo, and parroting the talking points instead of dealing with the real issues I raised! I’m glad I’m no longer one of them!
Thanks, Dale. Me too, i.e. glad not to be one of them.
Keep fighting the good fight.
Yours in appreciation,
There’s a couple of words omitted in my posting above — it should read
The separation of Church and State is one of the core Bahai principles, and the absolute impossibility of the Administrative Order BECOMING A GOVERNMENT is fixed in the texts above and many similar ones. There’s a compilation of these scriptural texts at:
From the iranian.com website:
Are you admitting that Baha’is are not destined to become the dominant religion anywhere, and thus the Administrative Order would have no potential to replace the governments of the world? Otherwise, why keep secular governments intact if those non-Baha’is who created and are loyal to them eventually end up in a small minority in most places?
Sorry, but that makes no sense to me. The whole premise of the Baha’i Faith is that the world is corrupt and that the Baha’i Faith can bring in a New Age for humanity. It can’t really do that if it remains a small, insignificant minority in all parts of the world. And if the Baha’is ever do dominate the world, they will take it upon themselves to nullify any secular laws and governments in their zeal to “purify” the world. Shoghi Effendi’s denials that Baha’is should do this are nonsense, because they flatly ignore human nature. Thus it is clear to me that Baha’is are doomed to fail. Most people will not join them when they see how it is run, or they will leave it, as I eventually did.
Shoghi Effendi wrote:
In other words, isolate yourselves from the real political world out there.
I consider this to be an outright contradiction to the earlier quote.
In other words, the Baha’i Faith and its communities are completely useless at changing the world, since to do so it would have to eventually change the political structure of the societies they are part of, and the Guardian is denying that Baha’is are to do this.
Good question! I doubt there is a realistic answer.
The Baha’i Faith has LAWS, and the Universal House of Justice has the authority to LEGISLATE, and that is what a government does, period! How the hell can the Baha’i Writings contradict themselves so rediculously?!
Sen McGlinn, you are either totally brainwashed or totally dishonest, but you are NOT credible here!
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More damning evidence that the Baha’i Faith can be compared with authoritarian types of governments, like Communism, can be found here:
Compare that with this:
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