In the exBaha’i forum in reddit, several teenagers and others have offered testimonies about losing their faith in their youth, even if they were raised in it. Still others have offered criticisms explaining why they would never convert to the Faith. One actual Baha’i even criticized the Faith in the Baha’i subreddit itself!
I started having doubts at around the age of 14 and remember feeling ashamed of myself for even thinking Bahaullah was mistaken, or the faith has been spinning their tires for the past half century on this “teaching” kick. I noticed that I was thinking differently than everyone else at study circles. I would keep my contrary thoughts to myself. It was around this time the singing was starting to make me cringe. I bottled these feelings and thoughts up until I was in my early 20’s. It got to the point where I couldn’t go through the motions anymore and telling myself that doubts are natural, but this is your home. Being a more quiet and reflective person I sat myself down and made myself answer a few questions honestly.
Do I believe in, agree with or sympathize with the faith’s goals and aspirations? (Global theocracy)
Do I believe the faith at an organizational level is run ethically and competently?
Do I believe Bahaullah, Abdul Baha and Shoghi Effendi to be genuine?
Do I trust the financial stewardship of the faith?
Do I believe the teachings and practices of the faith are beneficial to me?
Is the faith compatable with my personality? (ISTJ)
I isolated myself from the Bahai community while I considered all of these issues, and the honest answer was no to all six. Just like that I rejected the faith, and started cutting myself away from the community. I stopped fasting, attending events, I started drinking socially, spent all of my free time with my secular friends (they were so supportive). Now I’m 25 and somehow have a good job during this crazy pandemic. I have a wonderful girlfriend who I can be intimate with and not fear judgement or reprisal from people who claim to “love me”. As of yesterday I sent my withdrawl letter and couldn’t be happier to have my mind cut free from that cage.
I’m almost 20 now. I was part of the third generation of bahais in my family so it was deeply ingrained. I attended children classes, JY and ruhi. I also facilitated some children and ruhi classes myself. However I wasn’t raised with strict bahai standards, which I am so grateful for.
When I was 14/15 I started questioning many aspects of it (gay rights, reasons for huququllah, forceful “teaching”, the fact that no one is willing to answer any difficult questions). I also started feeling a strong aversion to organised religion of any kind, due to my experiences within the so-called “community”.
The faith rubbed me the wrong way especially, because I saw, first hand, how backwards and hypocritical they were. During the divorce of my parents, the whole community was riddled with gossip about us and it was disgusting. I was quite young and would be approached by middle-aged bahais during feasts, who tried to pry details from me.
I live in an area where 99% of the bahais are from Iran, my family included. I don’t know if that added to the toxicity of the community, but based on this sub I guess they’re all just as bad.
I feel no pressure from my family now, as I am open with my siblings and mother about my feelings towards the faith. My siblings have the exact same views I do (one of them actually introduced me to this sub). My mother and her siblings have had many conversations about these topics and they definitely disagree with many parts of the faith. However I feel that it is harder for them to completely denounce it, since they we’re raised by strict bahais. Not to mention that they have believed in it for much longer than I have. I guess it makes sense why they feel a sense of guilt, while I felt none.
Then there was this incident I described from 2018: A Positive Interaction with a Baha’i on Facebook
And of course, my own story:
New religious movements succeed because they inspire and energize youth, but it seems the Baha’i Faith can no longer do that. So how much longer before the community itself finally falls apart?