by Jeffrey Goldberg
I was recently contacted by one of my brothers in the Baha’i Faith who is a member of the organization whose leaders presently sit in Haifa and Wilmette. Let’s call him “Bill”. That group considers me an enemy simply because I do not accept the authority of its leaders, I have been shunned and sued by this organization to try to silence me and prevent me from calling myself a Baha’i (and it is obvious that it did not work). That is why it was surprising to hear from Bill.
As the Master taught us, we must not regard anyone as our enemies. We must show kindness to everyone. People need guidance and education; not condemnation. I do not consider Bill my enemy simply because he believes otherwise than me. I don’t think Bill considers me an enemy either.
In his communication to me, I received condemnation, but I think he was trying to help me. He wrote that I was “out of touch”. I had fallen for “this complete garbage” referring to my conviction that a Guardian only can lead the Baha’i Faith (one of the fundamental tenets of the Faith according to Shoghi Effendi).
Bill concludes with this warm blessing: “Thank God you and your small, tiny nothing of a group will never last and you'll be only be a small obscure footnote in some dusty book in a forgotten section of a small library in Missoula, Montana, or where ever it is you and the 10 other crazies hang out...Wake up!!!” (Bill seems to be unable to distinguish between the Orthodox Baha’i Faith of which I am a member, and the Baha’is Under the Provisions of the Covenant that originated in Missoula). Bill obviously takes comfort in the larger numbers of his group despite the fact that his group is miniscule too, compared to other religions, and despite the false inflated numbers released by the group. I have nothing to do with the BUPC, but do not confuse Bill with the facts. I care not how many people agree with my beliefs, and Bill doesn’t get this. Truth is not subject to a democratic vote, It is Truth regardless of how many believe, and falsehood is still error no matter how many people spout it.
Again, I believe Bill sincerely is trying to help me awaken, and his evident lack of kindness is derived from frustration that I do not see things as he does. It has been my experience that the ones who are always trying to convert others, like Bill is trying to do for me, are not sure themselves. They do not have a firm conviction of the truth of their beliefs. As a result, they take comfort from the fact that others believe the same as they do, and it is intolerable for them to see someone else who believes in “error.”
It is so intolerable for them, in fact, that they must constantly attempt to convert them or condemn them as heretics. I do not share this feeling. I am totally satisfied in my own religious beliefs and I care not at all what anyone else believes. I am willing to share what I know and what I believe with others, but what they ultimately believe is none of my business. This is because my faith does not need validation from any other person.
The fanatical venom displayed by the heterodox Baha’is against the Orthodox Baha’is is mirrored perfectly in how the Muslim leaders in Iran regard the Baha’is.
This article about the holocaust of Baha’is in the Republic of Iran quotes Khamenei on this oppression: “All the members of the deviant Baha’i Sect are infidels and unclean (1), all should avoid food or other items that have been touched by them. It is incumbent upon the believers to combat the deception and fraud of this misguided sect… In case they have come into contact with anything, the proper cleansing process must be observed… All believers should confront the trickeries of the misguided Baha’i sect and prevent others from becoming misguided and joining them… any sort of interaction with this deviant sect should be avoided.”
How interesting that Khomeni, as the leader of the Shi’ite Muslims in Iran, expresses a similar sentiment to how Bill feels about me and my fellow “crazies”. Just like Bill, Khomeni cannot tolerate the fact that people believe differently from him, and he feels compelled to oppose and demonize the Baha’is on trumped up charges. The article details the outrageous atrocities committed by the fanatical Muslims in Iran against innocent Baha’is. The difference between Bill and Khomeni is largely on the power they have to influence people. The heterodox Baha’is tried hard to silence us with their shunning tactic, and many years of battle against us in federal court, but they were powerless to silence us. If they had the power, they would do anything to stop us.
Their desperate need to obtain validation by converting others and condemning the infidels is a common archetype in religious history. I submit to you that both Bill and Khomeni are suffering from a spiritual aridity that equates religious belief with spiritual attainment, which seeks to control and convert others into that same belief, and which rejects true spirituality and free thinking in others as dangerous. It is time now for all of us to grow up and be civil.
Here was my response to Bill:
“All the Haifan Baha'is ever have done is to meet my questions and statements with derision and personal animosity and attack. Just as you are doing. Is this the proper attitude of a Baha'i? Whatever happened to independent investigation of truth?
“No member of your organization has displayed the courage and integrity to question the source of the authority claimed by the people in charge of the organization. If they had authority, nobody would have any problem responding. But because they have no authority and have hijacked the Faith from the true authority, any evaluation of their authority is forbidden and so you accept them blindly.
And then you have the audacity to contact me and tell me I am out of touch!”
I would say the same thing to Khomeni. The evil he attributes to the Baha’is is nothing more than a mirror projection of his own darkness. He is more dangerous than Bill because he has power, but they are the same in their irrational and fanatical hatred and intolerance.
All of us, whether Muslim or Baha’i, and whatever religious organization to which we belong, are the children of the same God. If we are loving to one another, despite our differences, we are living as servants of God. If we show hate to one another, this is simply satanic. Hatred is not of God and we must put this behind us.