Is the Baha’i Faith becoming like the Roman Catholic Church?

I just saw this blog entry which shocked me:

Published by Baquia on May 24, 2010

I’m sure that everyone is by now aware of the sex abuse scandal plaguing the Catholic church. What was once talked about in hushed tones, if at all, is now openly and hotly debated in the media and the pews.

The image and reputation of the Vatican and the Catholic church lies in tatters as evidence has come to light that there was a systematic and methodical process in place to protect the Church and priests instead of protecting the innocent and helpless victims of the heinous crimes being perpetrated.

Many are even pointing out that Ratzinger’s nomination was motivated by the legal trial in the US. Of course, now in his position as the Pope, he claimed immunity from appearing as a witness.

The effect of this has been nothing short of devastating for the Church, especially in the Pope’s home country of Germany.

I was aware of that already thanks to the mainstream media covering the scandals. But further down the blog entry, there is this:

The Baha’i Faith has its own, albeit small, share of these sort of public scandals. In the 1990′s Dr. Hossein Danesh, a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Canada (and a long time secretary of the body – from 1985 to 1989) lost the right to practice psychiatry as a result of charges of sexual abuse brought forward by a handful of his former patients.

Far from being sanctioned and sent away in shameful seclusion he was soon given a plum job at the new Baha’i Landegg university in Switzerland. He then proceeded to run that institution into the ground. The university closed its doors in 2005.

Recently Danesh’s “old boy” network connections at the NSA got him a heavily promoted gig in Canada. With the full backing of the national Baha’i institution, he conducted a $50/person seminar on “Healthy Marriage and Family Life”.


They key element in this is to ask whether Danesh would be able to slink back to Canada and receive such a warm welcome had he not been a long-standing member of the NSA. Would the NSA have gone out of its way to promote the workshop of a regular Baha’i who had a checkered past?

The other question is why other Baha’is who are infinitely more qualified in this field and have a stainless reputation are not being given the same platform? The only distinction is the personal connections that Danesh made through his many years of membership on the NSA. This is what leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Rather than being loyal to virtues and principles, the NSA has betrayed itself as being loyal to personal connections.

There was another scandal a few years ago involving a young Baha’i in the developing world who alleged that she was being sexually abused by her father. It turned out that her father was a member of the country’s NSA (and its chairperson). Instead of considering her physical and mental health as the highest priority, the institutions instead focused on how to mitigate any fallout this might have on the Baha’i administration and the image and reputation of the same.

Obviously we cannot expect such institutions to police themselves. There is no reason whatsoever why similar allegations which involve the Catholic church or the Baha’i administration must be submitted to them for internal deliberation. Refreshingly enough, from what I’ve read of guidance from Baha’i institutions, they are in agreement with this and encourage victims to approach the proper authorities and seek legal recourse through appropriate channels. The best panacea for such tragic crimes remains transparency and public scrutiny.

OK, this just blows my mind! Actually, if a Baha’i leader had been abusive, that should be reason enough to totally expel him from the Faith completely. But the only ones that get expelled are those who merely dare to disagee openly with the leadership! What a self-serving process that is!

As Jedi Master Yoda would say, “Destroy the Roman Catholic Church, and the Haifan Baha’i Faith, we must!”

3 thoughts on “Is the Baha’i Faith becoming like the Roman Catholic Church?

  1. Consider how difficult it has been to reform the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). Martin Luther thought at first he could reform the Church from within, but the Pope rejected most of his ideas, so he was forced to establish the Lutheran Church…. The result was the destruction of the unity of Christians in western Europe. A “counter-reformation” only made some modest changes to the RCC, but not enough to heal the divisions that had already occured. Then in the 1960s we had the Second Vatican Council that made further modest changes. Had those changes not been made, I suspect the RCC would have collapsed decades ago, just as it seems to be collapsing now.

    By nature, the RCC is a mostly top down organization, with the Pope appointing the Bishops and Cardinals. The Cardinals, in turn, elect the Pope when the previous one dies or retires. Thus, there is almost no chance for a truly progressive …movement within the RCC to make significant changes. Likewise, the Administrative Order of the Haifan Baha’i Faith also is structured to prevent reform. The Universal House of Justice (UHJ) is elected by the National Spiritual Assemblies (NSAs). But the elections of the UHJ and the NSAs are designed so that the established leadership cannot be openly challenged; there are no nominations, campaigning is forbidden, and elections are by plurality vote. Thus the incumbents have an obvious and overwhelming advantage at every level, without exception. Indeed, recently it has been established that ALL the current members of the UHJ were former members of the International Teaching Center (ITC), the membership of which is appointed by the UHJ. Thus a convienent feedback loop has been established and reform is not a viable option.

  2. Pingback: Baha’i Scandals | Dale Husband's Intellectual Rants

  3. Pingback: Some Interesting Baha’i Scandals | The Bahai Insider

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