2 September 02003

David Kelly and the Baha'i Faith

Interesting to see the attention given to the Baha'i Faith since it has emerged from the Hutton Enquiry that David Kelly joined the religion in 1999.

I nearly became a Baha'i in 1995, intrigued to learn more after attending a Baha'i wedding, and again in 1999. In crude terms, the Faith is non-sexist, pacifist and internationalist, actively encourages co-operation with all other religions, and its organisation is — in management-speak — flat and fairly non-hierarchical. It's also committed to avoiding what might be called evangelical recruitment methods to grow its numbers: no emotional arm-twisting or moral blackmail.

But it's not post-modernist because it is firmly wedded to what po-mo's would call an Enlightenment Narrative: Baha'i's believe that things are getting better; people are getting better; as time's arrow advances, so do our souls, towards salvation. Jesus, Mohammed, Zoroaster and the Buddha were all manifestations of the one God. The reason their teachings were not fully non-sexist etc was that people weren't ready to hear that stuff back then. But by the mid-19th Century, Baha'u'llah — the latest manifestation of God — was able to give us Release 5.0 of the Word of God. (OK, I'm teasing a bit, but I mean no offence to Baha'i's, for whom I have great respect, through my use of language.)

But herein lay my sticking point: what the Baha'i Faith shares with other religions is a rigid adherence to the Word, albeit a kinder, gentler, more cosmopolitan scripture. I asked what Baha'i's thought of homosexuality, and the answers were hedged slightly, but — from what I could gather — it seemed Baha'u'llah didn't think the Victorian era was ready for gay rights. And the bad news is that it is written that there won't be another manifestation of God visiting us with an update on the Word for at least another 2,000 years.

Oh, I should confess to another little problem I had with the Faith: Baha'u'llah says 'no alcohol.' I wasn't sure I was ready to hear that.

I'm no expert on the Baha'i Faith, so if I've got the wrong end of the stick on any points above, please add a comment below. Of course I will correct inaccuracies.

Posted by David Jennings in section(s) Miscellany, Politics on 2 September 02003 | TrackBack

We tend to think that whatever is in vogue today is the greatest thing since sliced bread. In many ways Baha'is believe that human society as a whole is advancing, however, Baha'u'llah stated that 'belief in God is dying out in every land' and that is a crisis for man of incredible proportions. Baha'is believe that in spite of all the gifts and achievements that have brought us to our present state, we are not the ultimate authority on reality and, in fact, to the degree that we put our whole faith and confidence in our own ability to understand and control our world we are doomed to disaster. The reason that Baha'is have a 'rigid adherence to the Word' is that we believe that man requires God's guidance to progress and that is given through the revelations of the founders of the world's religions. Baha'u'llah's revelation in particular, speaks not only to the 19th century, but to the 29th century as well (no new manifestation for a full 1000 years). It is lays out for us what is required to move to the next stage of our social and spiritual evolution as a species. The next stage is the unification of the whole planet - the Baha'i Revelation stands alone in the world today as giving us the blueprint for that next step.

For us, that is a big deal and if we have trouble with the little stuff like homosexuality, chastity, alcohol, etc. well, we just have to put things in perspective don't we?

Nice talking to you.

Posted by: Myles on 2 January 02004 at 6:36 AM

Thank you very much, Myles, for taking the time to comment on my posting. Reading what I wrote four months later, it seems a bit mean-spirited — so thanks for responding with generosity.

I think perhaps a lot of people would agree that "we are not the ultimate authority on reality and, in fact, to the degree that we put our whole faith and confidence in our own ability to understand and control our world we are doomed to disaster." But not all of these would say they had a belief in God, even though they would like to believe — if you see what I mean.

The Baha'i Faith seems to me like one of the best ways there is to get out of this fix. But my inability to make the leap of faith leaves me in a different fix, a tautologous one: if we are not the ultimate authority on reality how can we know that Baha'u'llah's revelation is the true one?

It's the homosexuality thing that most undermines my confidence in accepting the revelation. Notwithstanding my earlier jibe about drinking, I accept that chastity and alcohol is 'little stuff.' I can change my behaviour in these areas. But I can't change the fact that I am heterosexual and my friend is homosexual (neither can they).

I am suspicious of an authority that says I should hold my friend to be wrong. Accepting that I have no ultimate way of judging, it just doesn't feel like what I would expect the revelation to say.

Thanks for encouraging me to think more about this,

Posted by: David Jennings on 2 January 02004 at 3:39 PM

Regarding your second paragraph, it is correct that the Baha'i Faith is non-sexist and internationalist. It is not correct to say that it is "pacifist." This is a commonly made mistake, even one made by declared Baha'is, but a mistake nonetheless.

While Abdu'l Baha did say that when a thought of war arises, we should oppose it with a stronger thought of peace, he also clearly endorsed the use of military force in the cause of collective security. Careful study of the Faith reveals that it places a premium on law and order, and recognizes that, just as police force is necessary to maintain civil order, some military force is necessary to maintain international order, however restrained.

This is a fascinating area that I encourage you to investigate further. All best, Avrel

Posted by: Avrel Seale on 27 April 02004 at 9:59 PM

Dear friends,

I would like to make some comments about the concerns raised by David re: the Faith's teachings about homosexuality.

The Baha'i Faith makes it clear that the world in its present (immature) state places far too much emphasis on sex. As I see it, sex is everywhere - on magazine covers, in music, on the television, in advertising (sex supposedly "sells"), in pornography (including child pornography, which is a multi-billion dollar industry in the States). Our bodies have been reduced to the status of commodities and objects and sex is no longer the sacred, beautiful, mystical and spiritual union of two people in marriage. In the current world, we have debased and degraded sex and ourselves.

Small wonder then, I believe, that we see high rates of sexually deviant and destructive behaviour like rape, date rape, drug rape, rape in marriage, rape in war, violent sexual crime, prostitution, pornography, sexual addiction and child sexual abuse (this includes forcing hundreds of thousands of girls in poor countries into prostitution and pornography).

We live in a sick, profoundly sad and confused world and are desperately in need of healing.

I believe that we have all been created noble. However, so many of us have lost our way.

The Faith tells us:

"O SON OF SPIRIT! Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou wast created."

In the past, people who have been identified as "homosexual" have been persecuted and even killed in some parts of the world. Sadly, this still remains the case today. The Baha'i Faith strictly prohibits the mistreatment, oppression and abuse of any human being, as we are all created in the image of God. We should all therefore love our neighbours as ourselves.

However, like past Messengers of God, Baha'u'llah prohibited homosexuality. Moreover, He has explained that it is possible to heal oneself and change one's sexual orientation. This presupposes that heterosexuality is the normal and natural state for human beings. It also presupposes that, in the future, we will understand more about sexual behaviour and orientation, as well as sexual, physical and spiritual healing.

Obviously, in the current state of affairs, this may be contentious to many. However, there are also many Christians who advocate the same teaching and I have come across Christian therapists who treat Christians who wish to alter their sexual orientation, in order to bring it into line with their understanding of Christian teachings. Indeed, there are many Christians who have done just this.

These are just some thoughts to ponder on.

I think that in the current state of affairs, we understand so little. Perhaps in the future, all of these things and more will become clearer. I hope that this helps. I believe that we all need to keep seeking and learning and talking.

Peace and Love


Posted by: Helen on 24 February 02007 at 9:05 PM

Hi Helen,

I just read your post and I have to say that I am absolutely horrified by what you have to say. I am a former Bahai and I left the Faith because I am gay. Your post is heterosexist and offensive. You somehow manage to lump homosexuality with all of the horrible current day sexual atrocities and abherrations into the most banal of arguments for the spiritualy superior practices of the Faith - you are disgusting. This is pure homophobia and you should be ashamed. You also mention the "reparative" therapy of the Christian right - all mainstream doctors and psychiatrists denounce this form of therapy as dangerous and a total waste of time....but what the heck, it wasn't that long ago that gays and lesbians were lobotomized! Why not? Maybe this is what S. Offendi had in mind when he spoke of medical treatment.

This issue is making the Bahai faith a joke. And this is sad as Baha'u'llah only refers to the practice of Arab/Persian man-boy pederasty and not adult homosexuality in his writings. As well, the Faith prides itself on its embracing of science yet staunchly rejects Western mainstream scientific/medical consensus on homosexuality as being random, genetic and normative for the homosexual. And just to let you know, not all of the past Messangers prohibited homosexuality. I am not an expert but as far as I know neither Buddha nor Christ had anything to say on the subject.

Your posting and opinions are truly pathetic, condescending, dangerously homophobic and sad.


Posted by: Aaron on 22 September 02007 at 9:01 PM

Aaron, All,

Being critical and confronting others' opinions is one thing.

Being directly abusive (as in "you are disgusting") is another. Even if you feel that you have been on the receiving end of implied abuse yourself, I believe it's best not to raise the temperature further by this kind of approach.

I didn't want to block Aaron's comment, because it adds a perspective that hasn't been heard yet on this page. But I would like to be clear in my discouragement of personal abuse.

Posted by: David Jennings on 23 September 02007 at 1:14 AM

Well said Aaron, couldn't agree more. With regards to your post David, I think that Helen's ideas are far more dangerous and upsetting than Aaron's, in my opinion quite justified, use of the word 'disgusting'.


Posted by: Ralph on 6 March 02008 at 5:44 PM

I know that this is quite a while after this discussion originally took place, but I had to add my piece. Unfortunately, in this day and age of the organised Baha'i Faith, I even feel I may be putting myself at risk with what I am about to say - but I feel it must be said! I am a Baha'i and have considered myself one since early in my childhood. Technically, Baha'is are told that practicing homosexuality is against Baha'i law. In other words, you are allowed to be such, but you must remain chaste unless you marry (which apparently is prescribed as a male/female institution). Marriage is said to be for the spiritual growth of the couple and for procreation.

Now, all that said... Baha'is have a book of laws where it is laid out that homosexuality is forbidden. However, when given a closer look from the direct writings of the laws, it reads: "It is forbidden you to wed your fathers' wives. We shrink, for very shame, from treating of the subject of boys. ... Commit not that which is forbidden you in Our Holy Tablet, and be not of those who rove distractedly in the wilderness of their desires."

There are notes to help us understand a lot of the laws and the note for this particular section is as follows: "the subject of boys (title) The word translated here as "boys" has, in this context, in the Arabic original, the implication of paederasty. Shoghi Effendi has interpreted this reference as a prohibition on all homosexual relations." Now there's plenty more to help with understanding this particular passage. First of all, Shoghi Effendi was Baha'u'llah's great-grandson and someone that Baha'is are strongly encouraged (perhaps even required) to trust fully and wholly in his translating and interpreting abilities. (in case one does not know the term paederasty, it is defined as a sexual relationship between a full grown man and a boy less than the age of maturation) Here's where I fall short on doing as I am supposed to.

My PERSONAL belief is that sometimes humans are wrong. And I honestly see how Shoghi Effendi would be the best expert at the time to interpret his great-grandfather's words. However, I still see him as human with the capability to have made what could be seen as minor mistakes.

How can I be so bold as to think this way? Well, I believe Baha'u'llah was sent with God's message for this time. And honestly, I cannot see how forbidding homosexuality would be more important than forbidding pedophilia. Yet, there is no other mention of pederasty. I understand other religions have made such prohibitions, but in the majority I have seen (and I am not educated well enough on this), it almost always seems to refer to extra-marital homosexuality or homosexuality between one superior and one inferior partner (such as adult and child or master and servant). I have yet to be convinced that God's intention is to alienate people who identify themselves as homosexual.

Maybe some day I will find that I am wrong, and that will be a great lesson to me in my post-death era. But as for now, I don't buy it yet. One thing I know for certain. We, as Baha'is, are not allowed to make judgment upon anyone for any reason. And that any "shortcomings" a person may have is between them and God (minus a few fineable offenses). I can guarantee, as with any religion, there is not one Baha'i who has followed every letter of every Baha'i law. But isn't that the point of religion? To help us be better humans and try to overcome a lot of our human flaws.

As a Baha'i, I would like to apologize for anyone who was made to feel less than honorable and worthy in the presence of a Baha'i. I am sorry.

Posted by: Beck on 10 March 02009 at 6:28 PM

Thank you for your beautiful post. I loved everything I read about the Baha'i faith until I read the view on Homosexuality. I am not homosexual however, I cannot follow a God who feels that love can only be defined between male/female. I believe love knows no bounds and I believe that God made everyone different, not to mention the science behind it. Why would God create so many people to live in shame? I cannot agree to that. Your point on humans being able to make mistakes are true. It could also be that Shoghi Effendi applied his personal opinion as well.
At this point I will leave behind the Baha'i Faith. It breaks my heart to think of all the people feeling turned away by a faith that is supposed to be so open and all encompassing and loving. Maybe I'll be around to see the nest update. Thank you for your post Beck.

Posted by: Cherie on 16 March 02009 at 3:56 PM

"Baha'u'llah has drawn a circle of unity
He has made a design for the uniting of all the people and for gathering of them all under the shelter of the tent of universal unity, this is the work of the divine bounty, and we must all strive with heart and soul until we have the reality of unity in our midst, and as we work, so will be strength given unto us"

are your actions, talents, energy, passion, prayers, meditation, motion, vision, stillness, family, loves, and relationships building enduring bonds which will not disintegrate like every other thing in this world?

our well trained minds know how to divisively dissect to the minutest detail any movement or belief, how to divest any person, group, community, or institution of its force by our critical analysis. But what can we build? Have you built unity today?

Is this thread building unity?
Baha'u'llah said if religion was not building unity, it was worthless.

He also said,
"the betterment of the world can be accomplished through pure and goodly deeds, through commendable and seemly conduct".
do you agree? do most people?
What are the core issues at stake in the world today? Which of my talents am I putting to service to the world of humanity, irrespective of my sexuality/sexual identity? Is my sexual identity ALL that I am?
What if I joined in the service of the world of humanity, and through me, ten kids were able to see themselves as servants of the unity of the human race? and what if these kids (of whatever sexuality, race, religion)saw themselves as a thread in a pattern of switching humanity on? As a cell, curing the sick patient of the human race? What if these ten spread their faith and belief in integration and unity to ten others?
Wouldnt we solve every problem on the planet? What are we waiting for?

Posted by: Jeff on 6 April 02009 at 8:09 AM

Cat Stevens was too, I believe, then he became a Muslim. Now *there's* an interesting journey.

Baha'i teaches that we ought to be able to make a rational decision on these matters. For me, it gets into trouble the moment you have this "royal" line. Abdul-Baha, then Shoghi Effendi. So SE was Baha'u'llah's grandson. How does that make it right that he should extend the writings? And if you want to argue some sort of special person, what happened to other members of that family? Why weren't they all special? To me, that isn't rational.

What about monogamy? Was Baha'u'llah a monogamist? Does it matter? What's marriage, anyway, if divorce is allowed? What's the difference between parallel polygamy (i.e. a man having more than one wife at the same time), parallel polyandry (i.e. a woman having more than one husband at the same time), a married man or woman splashing out and having affairs, and serial polygamy or polyandry (i.e. a man or woman using divorce to end one marriage before starting out with a new partner).

And then there's the question of homosexuality, between men AND between women.

In respect of non-sexism, there is the question about the international assembly being composed only of men. It's sad to see otherwise very intelligent and good people tying themselves into knots to explain that one.

I admire and support a huge amount of what Baha'i is about but consider Baha'is generally over-state the uniqueness of what Baha'u'llah said and did, and I am not particularly keen to see how they would run a world government.

I would be interested to know what Baha'is are saying we ought to do about climate change and overwhelming population growth -- the most horrifying results of both of which are becoming evident already.

Apart from pray, thank you.

Posted by: Jon on 23 July 02009 at 1:29 PM

Well, Baha'u'llah came in the 19th.century. For his time, his thoughts were the most advanced particularly in the Muslim world from which he rose. I do not expect this great and spiritual man to be aware of the issues and problems of today. In his Most holy Book, he has many laws which are quite backward for our time. Examples are, allowing bigamy, capitol punishment, live burning of the arsons, a man taking a second wife when his first can’t bear a child, banning drinking of alcohol even moderately, the man being the breadwinner of the family, dowry for marriage etc. etc.

Baha’u’llah was the best prophet for the 19th. Century but for now, I think we need a new one – jus a joke of course.

Posted by: Sheela Baxter on 16 September 02009 at 7:11 AM

Dear Friends on the Planet Earth !

First and foremost I would like to appreciate the dilemma faced by many across the globe who still have trouble understanding the new school of thought and spiritual garment unveiled by Baha'u'llah The manifestation of God for this dispensation. Through His earthly mouthpiece on earth Today God has given Baha'u'llah the latest prescription for Humanity to take for all its ailments. The choice is ours ! God has the overall authority over his creatures ! This is why that Authority is unquestionable. So for the friend who was not ready to hear that God says "NO" to alcohol You have a choice over that ie to follow instruction or choose what please thee, the good thing is we suffer or enjoy the consequences of the choice you make. I have been a Bahai since 1982 and still enjoying the teachings of this Great Religion. Its true that humanity is still in its infancy and evolving towards perfection and as it does so it discovers new realities and verities through the education brought to it by these Great Luminaries from God. The wisdom of prophets of God cannot be measured by human standards because they are infallible. To begin to question their wisdom and inscrutable judgement is not only unwise but inclines more towards blasphemy and disregard of their Master who has bestowed upon them the responsibility to teach them His word and instruction. God is The All Perceiving and has imposed limitations upon our intellect- in brief whatever we can imagine is limited due to the imposition of limitations on our mind.God's divine will therefore will be done without the need of humanity's assistance.
Greetings -Ken from Harare Zimbabwe Africa

Posted by: Kenneth Chivizhe on 7 November 02009 at 8:52 AM

Bahai faith is copy of islam and persian culture. it is not uniting at all unless you accept dominancy of Baha'i faith. I never understood how prophet hood can be paased from father to son and grand-son. Bahaullah married 3 times himself I thouth he was a choosen one from birth , he knew right from wrong. how it is explains taking dominant oppressing role of middle eastern man and having 3 women same time. I don't care man following this religioun but women who accepth to be oppressed by a religoun , thats what I don't understand. equality between women and men is clear in Baha'i fait. universal 9 are men as far as I know wome you need to wake up and reject all oppression. God is loving loves his/her daugthers as much as son's 4 inch diffrence not mena we need to wait behind men. WAKE UP .

Posted by: tayra on 10 November 02009 at 1:56 AM

The Baha’i’ faith accepts Mohammad, Christ and Moses as manifestations of God. In my search I have found no logical/human/scientific basis to accept these historical figures other than clever – and at times tricky - leaders of their time. To me, it is strange to see that a God that stones an adulteress to death allows unlimited number of concubines – Islam - and the prophet himself benefits from this law and even declares himself above it and exempt from its limitations. If one of the prophet’s concubines got frustrated and committed a mistake, though she would be subject to stoning to death – which is a very harsh and inhumane type of punishment. This law seems quite unjust and unfair to me. Mohammad copied many of his laws from the Jewish and Christian religions. He had no idea that there were other prophets too (Zoroaster, Buda Krishna etc.). We know enough about Christianity, Judaism and other religions. Let’s forget about them all and love GOD and humanity.

Posted by: Sheela Baxter on 17 November 02009 at 11:26 PM

I have a couple of good friends who are Baha'i. To be frank, I find their devotion to it very sad, as they are clearly capable of making up their own minds about more or less everything and really don't need to follow a religion.

What everyone has to understand is this crucial point - that all religions were right for the people that they were introduced to...at the time. Which means that they have all had their part to play. The trouble is that religions invite control, invite someone or some people at the top to say "This is it, this is how it is and that's that!"

There are so many people who feel the need to be told what to believe, rather than to work it out for themselves. Like my two friends.

And so with the Baha'i faith we have a situation where Baha'u'llah introduced the Baha'i belief systems to an audience which was predominantly Moslem; to a grouping which was great at condemning others. Now the big thing as I see it (probably one of them, I'm sure!) about the Baha'i faith is its insistence on not condemning others. So the Baha'i faith was a major advance...at the time.

The trouble is that the Baha'i faith was introduced 150 years ago into a society that was very different to present-day society. So, for example, homosexuality wasn't given much consideration at all.

Clearly the Baha'i faith is shown to be way behind the times by its attitude towards homosexuality. And in my opinion, that is great. Because for anyone with the intelligence to do some research of their own into the faith before they get too close and too drawn in to it, it gives them ample opportunity to realise that, let's face it, they can do better.

Better? Yes, no religion. Belief? Absolutely. Thankfully, religions are fading away and in the next few years, that will become obvious to all. Do I believe in the events that took place around the life of Jesus Christ? Absolutely. Am I Church of England, Roman Catholic, or any other Christian religion? No way.

Posted by: R-bo on 23 November 02009 at 11:18 AM

Now I would like to be fair. There are many mysteries in religions including the Baha’i’ Faith which keeps the believers to these religions going on. For instance in the case of the Baha’i’ Faith’s the number of mysterious phenomena is quite a bit.

Baha’u’llah could not see the social developments of our society but he could see the Nuclear Power well before it was discovered. Baha’u’llah could see the Great Peace coming for humanity. Many of the Baha’u’llah’s teaching including the necessity for a “COMMON AUXILIARY LANGUAGE” for all mankind are still beyond our prejudiced MODERN minds. Baha’u’llah introduced – for the first time ever – the concept of infinite MULTIVERSE. Scientist now predict that there could be 10**500 other universes. Baha’u’llah said that there is actually no limit.

This man spent two years in the mountains of Kurdistan meditating. I think he got something out of it which kept him going to suffer for the next 40 years under the tyranny of the Turkish and Iranian dynasties. Let’s be fair to Baha’i’s. It’s not all non-scientific and illogical. There are many things there which keep us thinking about it.

Posted by: Sheela Baxter on 27 November 02009 at 4:41 AM

Baha'u'llah was channelling. He was given snippets of things which could occur in the future (nuclear) and of those which might be desirable (one language).

But Sheela, be sensible, please. Was it that he married three times or that he had several concubines? And anyone who wishes to follow the Baha'i faith must only have sex within marriage and that marriage should be for life?

Get real! Aside from the hypocrisy, this doctrine fits well with those who have had really bad experiences in relationships, but it does not mean that it fits well with everyone or with everyday life.

And now the homosexuality angle. I had a discussion with two Baha'is about this. One of them likened my homosexuality, which is fundamental to me, to a situation where someone loves smoking marijuana. A drug can be given up. As if I could give up my sexual attraction to those of the same sex. Sheela, this suggestion is deeply offensive and demonstrates not only a total lack of understanding of human nature, but a slavish following of the prejudices which Baha’u’llah did not do enough to stamp out and which were very much alive and well then.

There are those who have been drawn into the Baha'i faith by those who should know better (often their parents, for goodness' sake!) who are in agony over that fundamental part of them, their homosexuality, and its incongruence with the anachronistic Baha'i faith.

We are now living in the 21st Century. Society has developed since the mid-1800's, thank God. Understandings are much greater. Life is more complex, and as we rise in consciousness we should all be to handle more.

Posted by: R-bo on 8 December 02009 at 3:33 AM

I want to ask the supporters of homosexuality one question. You say you feel you attraction towards a person of same sex is natural, and because of that you have to indulge it. Does that mean everyone has to indulge every natural feeling that they have? Almost every man has a natural feeling of getting aroused when he sees a young woman: does that mean he has to go ahead and have sex with every young woman he sees? We as a society have a natural tendency to have it all( I mean to say, we want to be the richest, the most famous,....). does that mean we have the right to go after everything we want with no limitations? I think that's where religion(or faith, or belief in God) comes. As of me, religion is what lets us know how to control our urges, and show us the ways that are acceptable to God. We have 2 natures, one of animalistic and another of spiritual. Gods messengers teach us that we have to strive towards reaching our full spiritual qualities, and subduing our animalistic nature. It's true that we can't fully control it, especially our sexual needs(it is also necessary for the continuiation of our species). So, God gave us marriage. With marriage, we can fulfill the necessities of our sexual needs and guarantee our species will continue. We can love a person of the same gender as much as we want, but the line is drawn at sex. If the urge is there, I think God wants us to fight it as any of the other urges we have which we should not indulge, and find a way of prevailing over it. By the way, this is my own opinion. I think if God planned for a man to have sex with another man, or a woman with another woman, He would have provided us organs to be used for that purpose. As it stands, what we are given shows that He didn't intend that to happen. so, what homosexuals are doing is against God's or the natural laws.

Posted by: ashenafi on 26 December 02009 at 7:45 PM

I do not wish to be one side of a dual debate on this website and hence I stayed quiet for a while so that others could comment too. In the meantime, I tried to enter a couple of paragraphs in the Wikipedia pages on the Baha’i’ faith. The Wikipedia rejected my comments on the basis that they were “non-constructive”. I wonder who is in control of the Wikipedia? Wasn’t it supposed to be a free platform open to all? Is it yet another plot by those who want to control your minds? Please help me. I’m lost

Posted by: Sheela Baxter on 29 January 02010 at 6:31 AM

It's amazing to see how this discussion has evolved over the last six years. I haven't played any part in it, until now, other than approving the comments that were submitted. I have approved them all -- as they all seemed to have genuine and sound intent. However, I had a long pause before ahenafi's comment made in December, as, for the first time, I felt there was something objectionable about the way it was expressed. I've approved it now, as I thought it better to let everyone judge the comments for what they are than to reserve that right for myself.

I don't want to get drawn into the details of the exchanges -- I don't know much about the Baha'i faith beyond what I wrote at the top of this page -- and I wonder if the time is coming to draw this to a close (sorry, Sheela, to say this at the point where you're feeling lost, but the protocols of Wikipedia are quite a long way from where this discussion started). But I'll leave it open for a few weeks yet, and if enough people disagree I'll reconsider.

Posted by: David Jennings on 29 January 02010 at 10:07 AM

One problem I have seen several people is put labels such as "liberal" and "conservative" on the Baha'i Faith, when neither of these terms adequately define something as organic as the Baha'i Faith. Ironically, I know of one former Baha'i who left the Faith because we were not “liberal” enough, and I know one former Baha'i who left because we were not “conservative” enough. The truth is that you're not going to please all the people all of the time, but you can still show love and compassion to all.

As Baha'is, we're taught, by Abdul-Baha, that if a part of religion goes against science it is merely superstition, and should be abandoned. Another point people seem to be tripping up on are the stations of Baha'u'llah, Abdul-Baha, and Shoghi Effendi. Baha'u'llah was a prophet or divine messenger the same as Christ, Buddha, Zoroaster, Krishna, Mohammad, and so on.

Abdul-Baha was the Perfect Exampler, and through his life, he gave an example how Baha'is should live. He, also, was given authority in the Covenant, which is central to maintaining unity amongst such a diverse group of people as Baha'is, and to expound upon the teachings of Baha'u'llah. He did such in both the Paris Talks and Some Answered Questions, and in numerous other talks and writings. As regarding Shoghi Effendi, he was an ordinary human being who was given the authority to lead the Baha'is until the Universal House of Justice could be established. The truth is that Shoghi Effendi felt over burdened, at first, with this unexpected responsibility thrust upon him. But it should be noted that there were two sides to Shoghi Effendi (at least, this is my own limited understanding ... correct me if I'm wrong): 1.) Shoghi, the preserver of unity in the Faith and interpreter of the teachings, and 2.) Shoghi, the ordinary human being. It was not the role of either Abdul-Baha or Shoghi Effendi to add new teachings (and they never did this, although they did elucidate on many points made by Baha'u'llah). In short, Baha'u'llah said it all. Therefore, a lot should be left up to the conscience of the believer. Yet, Baha'is should not be engaging in flagrant behavior which tarnishes the image of the Faith. As Baha'is, we are all imperfect, and we are all working on our own challenges, and as such, we should not be prying into other peoples' business, unless it is causing great harm to the Faith: and I'm pretty certain such cases are few and far between, although they do exist. Correct me if I'm wrong, but being gay is not one of them.

Baha'u'llah states:

O Son Of Being!

How canst thou forget thine own faults and busy thyself with the faults with others? Whoso doeth this is accursed of Me.

Baha'u'llah (The Hidden Words)

Also, Baha'is are taught that “backbiting” is the worst of all sins. Unfortunately, or fortunately, several former Christian and Moslem Baha'is (or those coming from such backgrounds) have brought the vigilance of their preceding dispensations into the Faith. I say “fortunately” as vigilance is needed for anything to move forward in this world. I say “unfortunately” as many of these vigilant Baha'is apply their own personal standard to those around them. Sorry, but we're not all there yet.

Of note, Baha'u'llah forbade the confession of sins, as it is done in the Catholic church, as confession only brings shame and humiliation to the confessor, and Baha'u'llah wishes shame for no one. So if Baha'u'llah does not want us to “backbite” about one another or create “shame” for others, why is it that some of the most stalwart members of the Faith engage in such activity?

On that note, what I am going to say next is not to be taken as a confession, but as an example. Here it goes: I am an alcoholic Baha'i. Always have been! Always will be (whether I ever drink again or not)! That's my challenge. I look at a bottle the same way most people look at someone they are sexually attracted to, and I doubt the situation will ever change. But I've learned a way to deal with it. To be honest, I was dry for more than two decades, and never imagined that I'd fall back on the bottle again. But some things happened in my life and one thing led to another. I then drank for three years straight without any other Baha'is, excluding my wife, knowing about it. I never got drunk. I never drank in public. I never experienced a hangover. I just needed my one shot at night to help relax me and get me to sleep. I kept trying to quit for a long time, all to no avail. Then about a year ago I went to the doctor who said I had liver damage, and that if I didn't quit immediately I would probably be dead within 10 years. Still, that was not enough to take me off the bottle. Then about six months ago I devised a means to stop drinking. I started making 1 month plans to keep me off the bottle, and each month I would renew my 1 month plan for another month. So far, this has been going on for six months and I’m going strong. Can I commit that I will never fall off the wagon again? I don't know. All I can do is try my best. But by making my goals realistic (1 month at a time), I don't need to feel overwhelmed by the height of the whole mountain. After all, Baha'u'llah's standard is too high for anyone to adhere to completely, but is laid out for the progress humankind. And it’s going to take a mighty high standard to turn this ship around, whether some parts of that standard fit into our own personal scheme of things or not. It’s not all easy. Being a Baha'i can be very challenging, indeed, yet very joyous when we arise for the occasion. I feel great joy being dry right now, but not one day goes by without feeling tempted, at least once, to go back on the bottle. I hope and pray that the fast, which I'm now doing, will make me stronger and more detached (but each day I have to make an extra-concerted effort that I'm sure some Baha'is do not have to deal with).

Still, some of the more stalwart Baha'is (and I honestly mean “stalwart” in a good way) could show a little more love and compassion with those who are struggling, but trying their best. We’re not all there yet, and probably never all will be. After all, it’s starting the process that counts first and foremost, and then the flame must be kindled afterward. We’re all trying within our own capacity. But we do not all have the same backgrounds and/or capacities.

As a note, and getting back to the original intent of this thread, I do have a gay friend who left the Faith upon his return to North America. He declared his Faith in Asia where the community was very open and accepting of him. We knew of his orientation, but it was never an issue. Then upon returning to North America, he was hounded by some local Baha'is to the point that he left the Faith (a terrible shame, and complete lack of understanding on part of the local Baha'is). Another friend of mine once put it this way "As Baha'i we are stalwart, yet tolerant". I feel very sad that my friend’s community in North America were not so open. I hope I'm not stepping on any proverbial toes, but just my own humble opinion here, but I believe Baha'is could demonstrate a little more tolerance before they stifle the growth of their own Faith. After all, we pride ourselves in "Unity in Diversity". I could be wrong, but just my take on things here.

In all fairness, the challenge that some Baha'is have towards acceptance of gay people is endemic in society as a whole and is not limited to just Baha'is. Hopefully through such fruitful discussion and dialogue as you have started here, David, we can all become a little more educated on the issues. Thanks!

PS...I’m fasting right now, and I have prayed and meditated that this posting will not be taken in the wrong way. Please enlighten me if I'm off the mark.

Posted by: John W. on 3 March 02010 at 2:51 AM

Thank you John W. for your thoughtful and inspiring comment. It echoes many of my own sentiments on this topic.

Posted by: Lynn on 5 March 02010 at 1:45 PM

One person’s opinion and encounter is not that of the Baha’i’ faith in total. There, is the Universal House of Justice with 9 quite HUMBLE MEN who love help to rescue the Jews and Gentiles from hating and killing each other. I love to support them. Please don’t use personal encounters as a measure of the Baha’i’ doctrine in total.

As for homosexual tendencies, I personally think that with the progress in the genetic engineering field, we will soon have the possibility to choose the sex of our children well before birth. Homosexuality may therefore be not an issue in the future. As for now, I shall respect the homosexuals and the lesbians. They are as human as the rest of us. I do also think that when it comes to adoption rights. We should respect the right of a child not to be subjected to our sexual orientation. Children should have a right to know and choose who their adoptive parents are going to be. In that sense, the adoption rights should be threaded a lot more carefully.

Everyone approaches the Baha’i’ faith from a different angle. I have come to realise that the Baha’i’ total ban on alcohol was based on an Islamic tradition. Muhammad the Muslim prophet did not ban it for the first ten years of his prophethood until his followers killed each other while drunk. Baha’u’llah perhaps never drank himself but he enjoyed having sex with three women and suffered from the problems amongst his children. Yet, he allowed having two wives in his Ketabi Aghdas (The most holy book). His son Abdul-Baha who had suffered from the enmity of his half brothers, abandoned his father’s allowance and banned bigamy - allowed by his father - and polygamy in total for ever. Do you see? Muslims and us both are subjects and victims of the PERSONAL EXPERIENCES of the so known as "HOLLY MEN". I think Christians suffer in the same manner.

Let’s wake up.

Posted by: Sheela Baxter on 10 March 02010 at 3:37 AM

Hi, Sheila,

You have mentioned some factual points on both the Baha’i Faith and Islam, which have some truth to them. However, I would just like to correct a few minor elements, and give some context to others. Firstly, Baha'u'llah never had any concubines although His father did. Secondly, yes, you are absolutely right that Baha'u'llah had three wives. But it should be remembered that Baha'u'llah was married all three times under Islamic Law – not Baha’i Law – as the Kitabi-Aqdas had not been revealed yet. During the dispensation of Mohammad, polygamy had a very important societal function. In Arab society, before the time of Mohammad, the Arabs were engaged in bitter tribal warfare and women were given very few rights. Therefore, polygamy was a way to elevate the rights of women in context of those times. Men were often dying early while they engaged in fighting. Correspondingly, men who did not die were often left to provide social security for widowed or outcast women. It should be noted that one of Baha’u’llah’s wives was in fact a widow. Baha’u’llah’s stating that bigamy was permitted in the Kitabi-Agdas was conditional on whether a man could treat two women completely equal and just or not. This was meant as a transition from polygamy towards monogamy as Abdul-Baha later indicated that no man can possibly treat two women completely “justly” and “equally”, Baha'u'llah's law indeed was stating that polygamy was now outmoded, although it served a clear function in the days of Mohammad.

I think a similar comparison could be made with the wearing of chadors and veils. Rape of women was rampant in traditional Arab society, so the wearing of chadors and veils was a way to discourage rape in those days. But eventually the wearing of such constrictive clothing also became outmoded. When Tahireh first removed the veil, she said she was doing so for the "emancipation of all women".

So times change, and the social teachings change, too. But the spiritual teachings or truths remain the same and are actually expanded upon as human understanding increases. I hope this explanation makes sense.

Also, I realized I said something in my initial posting that was not fair. In re-reading my post, I realized I was a little bit harsh on so-called stalwart Baha’is, and saw that my posting could be taken the wrong way. Baha’is should never look to people around them to define their standard as they will always be let down and discouraged. Also, we should not set the bar too high for ourselves, either, as we will eventually reach a breaking point ourselves. Baha’u’llah mentions that the first Taraz (effulgence) is “knowing oneself” – knowing and accepting oneself and one’s limitations is very important – but he also goes on to mention recognizing that which leads to “loftiness and abasement”. Everything in this world is temporal and is meant for the progress of the soul. Thus, our ultimate standard (if we accept Baha'u'llah, of course) should be the standard set by Baha’u’llah, although we should realize that such a lofty goal is in its entirety beyond the grasp of any human. The first step is recognizing Baha’u’llah, and if we accept Him, follow His laws and ordinances (which implies respecting the Central Figures of the Faith and its institutions). But we should never become too hard on ourselves when we fall short of Baha’u’llah’s lofty ideals: we ALL do. I guess it comes down to taking the first step, and the rest will follow.

Hear no evil, and see no evil, abase not thyself, neither sigh and weep. Speak no evil, that thou mayest not hear it spoken unto thee, and magnify not the faults of others that thine own faults may not appear great; and wish not the abasement of anyone, that thine own abasement be not exposed. Live then the days of thy life, that are less than a fleeting moment, with thy mind stainless, thy heart unsullied, thy thoughts pure, and thy nature sanctified, so that, free and content, thou mayest put away this mortal frame, and repair unto the mystic paradise and abide in the eternal kingdom for evermore.”
(Baha’u’llah – Hidden Words)

“O My servants! Sorrow not if, in these days and on this earthly plane, things contrary to your wishes have been ordained and manifested by God, for days of blissful joy, of heavenly delight, are assuredly in store for you. Worlds, holy and spiritually glorious, will be unveiled to your eyes. You are destined by Him, in this world and hereafter, to partake of their benefits, to share in their joys, and to obtain a portion of their sustaining grace. To each and every one of them you will, no doubt, attain.”

(Baha’u’llah – Gleanings)

Respectfully, John

Posted by: John W. on 16 March 02010 at 1:41 AM

It looks like we are going round the one circle here. Well above, in this posting it was outlined that Baha’u’llah declared himself as the “the Revelation of God himself” well more significant than all previous revelations. i.e. the summation, the conclusion and the promised one by all previous revelations. What is the difference then? If Baha’u’llah like Muhammad had to wait for the “word of God” to come to him later in his life in Akka in the Kitabi Aqdas - then what makes him different to Muhammad? What does the “Full Revelation of God” mean then? His son and successor Abdul-Baha later said that the actual revelation happened to him when he was in the Dark Pit prison in Tehran/Iran.

Muhammad didn’t bother to go through such trouble. He declared himself above the LAWS he had set for his followers, so he could do what he wanted.

Baha’u’llah himself said in the Tablet of Ahmad – revealed in Aderneh Turkey 1865 – that he was abiding by the rule of Bayan as set by the Bab.

Well, the Bab allowed bigamy but not three-gamy. Why did Baha’u’llah marry three women then? Wasn’t it a disobedience to the law of Bab as set in the Bayan? Abdul-Baha was trying to justify everything that his father did. But it does not fit the logical mind.

Posted by: Sheela Baxter on 22 March 02010 at 5:34 AM

In the so much vehemently dark background of the Shiite Islamic oppression in Iran – during the 19th century and afterwards - I think the Baha’i’ Faith is like a shining lump coming from the darkest corner of our suffering planet. The problem is that this lump used some of the contaminated oil which existed in the background Shiite Muslim oppression in Iran. I sadly feel sorry for the lump.

Posted by: Sheela Baxter on 31 March 02010 at 7:27 AM

Dear Moderator
Corrections inserted;Please replace [moderator note: in keeping with blog conventions of maintaining a full history of discussion, I'm posting the corrections, but not 'destructively editing' the past comments]



In the vehemently dark background of the Shiite Muslim oppression in Iran – during the 19th century and afterwards - I think the Baha’i’ Faith came up like a shining lamp coming from the darkest corner of this planet.

The problem is that this lamp used some of the contaminated oil which existed in the background Shiite Muslim oppression in Iran. It's a pity to see the lamp got so contaminated that today, membership of the supreme body i.e. The Universal House of Justice is allowed to men only.

Posted by: Sheela Baxter on 20 April 02010 at 6:51 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?