Note: this is an updated and expanded version of an original blog entry from nearly a decade ago.
From 1995 to 2004, I was a member of a religion known as the Baha’i Faith. This religion teaches that God is called by various names but is still the same all over the world, that all religions teach the same basic message, and that humanity is actually one race and is destined to unite under the banner of the Baha’i Faith in a new age of peace and unity.
I was eager to see and to achieve the highest goodness in my life and in the world, so this was a Godsend to me! I embraced the faith after attending firesides about it in Bedford, Texas and became an active teacher of it, even attempting to convert others to it. I had been a Christian, specifically a Southern Baptist, in my teens, but had become disgusted with Christianity and left that faith in my early 20s because I saw the errors, contradictions, and failures of it. The Baha’i Faith explained that away by claiming that while Jesus was indeed a Messenger (or Manifestation) of God, His faith had become corrupted over time and thus most Christians were not truly following him, but the doctrines of men. In joining the Baha’i community, I thought I was seeing what the early Christians in the Roman Empire were like, except that unlike them the Baha’is would not split into competing sects and engage in wars against each other. If only everyone in the world became Baha’i, I was told, we would be at peace and prosperity forever. Continue reading
As one who has been highly critical of the Baha’i Faith (and most other religions) for many years, I am usually more than happy to share my words with others for the sake of enlightenment and seeking the truth. So I was dismayed to discover today that a statement falsely attributed to me is being spread around by other critics of the Baha’i Faith.
The statement is:
“I got sick of seeing how women are conditioned to flirt with any possible potential convert around. For the Baha’i administration, most worthy of women values are their bodies – which are conditioned to attract new followers to Baha’i faith”.
Usually when I quote statements by others and they have been publicly made, I include a link leading back to the original statement so others can see that the object of my blog entry has been referred to accurately. As an Honorable Skeptic, I expect everyone to do no less. In each case above, this was not done.
Nowhere on my blog did I make the above statement and I do not remember making it anywhere else. Indeed, when I was a Baha’i, I do not recall seeing any women or girls flirting with potential converts to the Baha’i Faith.
Therefore, I am calling upon my fellow critics of the Baha’i Faith to retract the statement. If I did not make it, it is unethical to say that I did. We need to be better than our bigoted and dogmatic opponents, or we have no business opposing them.
This blog entry is a direct sequel to this earlier one: A Lost History of the Baha’i Faith
The book was put up for sale on Amazon.com, and just as I and Eric Stetson expected, Haifan Baha’is took notice of it and proceeded to attack it, even without bothering to read its contents.
on July 13, 2015
This is NOT a good history of the Baha’i Faith. It is a very biased history. This would be comparable of the history of the message of Jesus Christ written by Judas Iscariot or by Caiaphas, the Jewish priest who organized His death sentence.
If you REALLY want a good and well authenticated history of the Baha’i Faith, you should try “Baha’u’llah & the New Era” by John Esslemont, a British citizen, or “God Passes By” by Shoghi Effendi, the grandson of the founder, who was educated
at Oxford with a particular interest in history.
1. The Violation of Abdu’l-Baha – Baha’u’llah in the The Kitáb-i-Ahd, or Book of the Covenant (his Will and Testament) appointed Abdu’l-Baha as his successor, but also started that Abdu’l-Baha’s younger brother Mirza Muhammad Ali should be below him in rank and also be his immediate successor. Abdu’l-Baha disobeyed this commandment by depriving Muhammad Ali of any rank and replacing him as successor with his grandson, Shoghi Effendi, in his own Will and Testament.
2. The Madness of Shoghi Effendi – Abdu’l-Baha, in the same Will and Testament that appointed Shoghi Effendi as Guardian of the Cause of God, stated that the Guardian must appoint either his firstborn or another branch (male descendant of Baha’u’llah) as his successor in his own lifetime. Shoghi Effendi not only had no children, but he expelled from the Baha’i community every single one of Abdu’l-Baha’s own descendants, making it impossible for him to keep his grandfather’s commandments. He also died in 1957 without leaving a Will and Testament of his own as required by Baha’i law, throwing the Faith into a crisis.
3. Failed prophecy cover up – An early edition of Baha’u’llah and the New Era by J. E. Esselmont stated a prophecy by Abdu’l-Baha that by 1957 “Universal Peace will be firmly established, a Universal language promoted. Misunderstandings will pass away. The Bahá’í Cause will be promulgated in all parts and the oneness of mankind established.” But what really happened that year was Shoghi Effendi’s death. The prophecy was deleted from later editions of the book.
4. Attack on Kalimat Press – In 2005 and 2006,The National Spiritual Assemblies of the Baha’is of the United States and the United Kingdon issued orders to Baha’i communities under their command to stop selling books published by Kalimat Press, a small Baha’i owned book publishing company, for publishing a few books that they happened to disapprove of. As a result, the company was crippled in its operations.
5. Dr. Hossein Danesh, sex offender – A member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Canada, Danesh was stripped of his psychiatric license in the 1990s after being accused by several of his patients of sexual abuse. Instead of being expelled from the Baha’i community, he was sent to the Baha’i Landegg “university” in Switzerland, a private school which failed in 2005. Returning to Canada, he was hired by the NSA of Canada as a marriage and family therapist for fellow Baha’is.
6. Italian Baha’i financial scandal – Franco Ceccherini, a longtime member of the Italian National Spiritual Assembly, was found in 2007 to have stolen over 360,000 euros over 14 years while serving as the Assembly’s treasurer. This was discovered only when the Italian government audited the Baha’i community and then charged it 275,000 euros in back taxes, crippling financially the entire Italian Baha’i community.
7. Stephen Birkland, Baha’i secret police detective – In the 1990s, as a member of the Continental Board of Counselors for North America, Birkland led an investigation of Baha’is running an internet forum known as “Talisman” where members could openly question and debate issues regarding the management of the Baha’i communities. Birkland’s abusive tactics drove several Baha’is, including Juan Cole and John & Linda Walbridge, to resign rather than be condemned as covenant-breakers for taking part in Talisman, which was then shut down. Birkand was later rewarded for his zeal by being appointed to the International Teaching Center in 2008 and eventually he was elected to the Universal House of Justice in 2010.
Note: This is a guest entry by Eric Stetson.
Dale Husband, a fellow Unitarian Universalist and former Baha’i, invited me to write a short summary of a book I edited which has recently been published, A Lost History of the Baha’i Faith: The Progressive Tradition of Baha’u’llah’s Forgotten Family.
This book tells the story of the Baha’i faith through the writings of some of the children and grandchildren of its founder, and others who knew Baha’u’llah personally. They called themselves “Unitarian Baha’is” and stood for a broad-minded faith based on reason and individual freedom of conscience. Because of their liberal views and skepticism of absolute religious authority, they were excommunicated and shunned as the Baha’i faith developed into an organized religion. In fact, all but three descendants of Baha’u’llah – totaling dozens of people – were excommunicated by their own relatives who led the religion after its founder’s death.
The Baha’i faith was founded in the mid 1800s by a Persian nobleman in exile who claimed to be a new messenger of God. Baha’u’llah taught that all nations, races, and religions should come together to build a global civilization of peace and justice for all. Although Baha’i began as a pluralistic, reform-oriented offshoot of Islam, it quickly relapsed into a form of fundamentalism based on claims of infallibility by its leaders.
The Baha’i organization expects its members to believe that Baha’u’llah’s successors were perfect and infallible and that their interpretations and decisions can never be changed. A Lost History of the Baha’i Faith offers a different perspective on what Baha’i could have become – an Islamic-inspired faith with similar progressive values as Unitarian Universalism – if the Baha’i prophet’s own descendants had not been ostracized and expelled as heretics.
This book reveals how even liberal religious movements can be hijacked by dogmatic thinking. A cautionary tale for people of conscience of any faith.
Read this about a certain Baha’i leader:
Mr. Stephen Birkland is currently serving as a member of the Universal House of Justice, the supreme governing body of the Bahá’í Faith. Before his election to the House of Justice, he was a member of the International Teaching Center. Prior to his service at the World Center, Mr. Birkland served as an Auxiliary Board member beginning in 1976 and a Counsellor from 1993. He also served on the board of Trustees for Huqúqu’lláh in the United States for 10 years.
1. State that religion no longer needs clergy……and replace them with leaders that are as authoritarian as the clergy ever was.
2. Claim that men and women should be equal……but then deny women membership in the all-powerful leadership council of the religion.
3. Condemn as heretics those who believe in your religion but dare to challenge the claims of your religion’s current leadership, while at the same time claiming to welcome as friends the followers of other religions.
4. Claim there is harmony between science and religion, but also claim that anything your leaders say is absolutely true, even if on topics science is expected to address.
Any one of these makes a religion not worth following, but what do you do if you find a religion that has all four such contradictions?