When researching the Bahá’í Faith, please do not limit yourself only to the officially-sanctioned literature of the Bahá’í Administrative Order. Here are a few observations…
1) The Bahá’í Faith exists solely to perpetuate itself, 99% of its focus and activities are toward this one goal, growth in membership. Throughout their history they have been preparing their members for the “entry by troops” of new converts, which has yet to materialize. They do a minimal amount of humanitarian or charity work.
2) Bahá’ís use terminology in ways that was not intended. Bahá’ís don’t have censorship, they have “review.” They don’t proselytize, they “teach.” They don’t have missionaries, they have “pioneers.” They don’t have prophets, they are called “manifestations.” And so forth.
3) Bahá’ís have a “lo is us” sense of historical persecution. If you look at their history, though, most would call it just fruits. During the founding of the religion, the forebear Babi sect led a violent, apocalyptic revolution in Iran, and some of their members later attempted to assassinate the Shah. Their leadership were exiled to the Ottoman Empire where schismatic violence within the group later led to house arrest. Of course, this is all billed as being persecuted.
4) Bahá’ís lament how others view them in a conspiratorial light, when in fact, again, this is based on historical reality. In Iran the Babis had the protection of the Russian ambassador (Russia being an imperial power that had seized wide swaths of territory from Iran and at one point the Russian ambassador had to approve Iranian cabinet ministers). In the Ottoman Empire, Bahá’ís conspired with the Young Turks, who deposed Sultan Abdul Hamid II in a coup. Later, they would assist the British, and their leader `Abdu’l-Bahá earned knighthood, being designated KBE. With their headquarters in Haifa, Bahá’ís have cooperated with the state of Israel, to the extent that some of the Bahá’í World Center buildings are built on land expropriated from absentee Palestinian land owners.
5) Bahá’ís inflate their membership numbers. Comparing census data of various nations to self-reported data confirms this. The outside data Bahá’ís often cite, like from the Association of Religion Data Archives, only uses self-reported data, creating a circle.
6) In the community I was a member of, even in the lifetime of Khomeini, there were Persian Bahá’ís who would regularly travel to Iran during their summer holidays to visit family. When I would ask them how that was possible, their response was always along the lines that the arrested Bahá’ís were those who were administratively and politically active, almost to the point of referring to them as “troublemakers.” The Bahá’í Administrative Order uses these news stories of alleged persecution very astutely to generate media attention. A Google News search for the term “Bahá’í” shows a predominance of news stories regarding Bahá’í temples and discrimination. Otherwise, the Bahá’í Faith generates little to no interest.
7) Bahá’ís initially hide from members some of the more unsavory realities of their religion. Men and women are equal, but women are barred from serving in the highest organ of the religion, the Universal House of Justice, and will presumably be barred from the local and national Houses of Justice that the current LSA’s and NSA’s will one day evolve into. The hierarchy is billed as being democratic, but only in the sense of council democracy as it still exists in Cuba where individuals elect local committees, who then elect national committees, who then elect the Universal House of Justice. There is a parallel appointed hierarchy. With no politicking or partisanship allowed, elected members in the higher ranks serve for life until they die or retire, and are subsequently replaced by nomenklatura.
8) Bahá’ís hide from members some of the more unsavory realities of their history. After Bahá’u’lláh their leader was ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and then Shoghi Effendi. By the time Shoghi Effendi died, all the living descendants of Bahá’u’lláh had been excommunicated from the religion for various offenses, including marrying a “lowborn Christian girl,” a term he would later defend. Shoghi Effendi was also designated the “Guardian,” by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The Guardian was supposed to designated subsequent Guardians, but did not do so, although the entire Bahá’í administrative structure depended on it.
9) Ignoring failed prophecies, like `Abdu’l-Bahá declaring the peace of the world to come by the year 2000. Those of us around in the 1980’s and 1990’s remember the crescendo, and the anticlimactic ignoring of reality and denial of the build up.
10) Many Bahá’ís books have been posthumously rewritten to remove references to to failed prophecies and prominent individuals who left the Bahá’í Faith for various reasons. These rewrites are more than minor edits and constitute a different process than “Bahá’í review” which the euphemism used for pre-publication censorship.
11) Bahá’ís claim earlier religions are valid, but in reality they only do this in an Islamic sense (i.e., the earlier revelation was perverted over time). For example, they deny the parts of Bible written by Paul. Or when Muhammad says he is the last prophet, Bahá’ís say that was true only for the Adamic Cycle, but now we are in the Bahá’í Cycle.
12) The Universal House of Justice has noted that only “A fraction of the total numbers of unique works have been published in the original languages or translated into Western languages.” The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the central book of the Bahá’í Faith written by Bahá’u’lláh, was only officially translated into English in 1992, by which time other translations, such as one by the Royal Asiatic Society, were becoming increasingly available through dissemination via the internet. My personal opinion is that the material in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas is so objectionable that the Bahá’í authorities wished to shield Western believers from its contents, as they do from Bahá’u’lláh’s other works by not publishing the originals or providing translations.
I could go on. If you’re wondering why I am sending you this message, it is because of my personal experience with the Baha’i Faith. If years ago I knew what I know now, I would have avoided years of commitment and devotion, not to mention financial contribution, to a religion that was presented inaccurately. In the final analysis, I do not believe the Baha’i Faith to be true. For over ten years I did “leave it alone.” But a couple of years ago I went on Wikipedia, just to browse, and sure enough the same canards and lies were being repeated. I had never been to Reddit before, but a Google search on a topic brought me here and, sure enough, the same material was being presented. That motivated me to “set the record straight.” At some point, I felt like I needed to call people on their bullshit. My only intention is to present an unbiased truth as documented in the historical record, most of it from Baha’i sources no less.