Change is a Law of Nature

Sarah Brown, wife of the British Prime Minister took part in the London Pride march. Photograph copyrighted 2009, Marco SecchiLondon July 4th 2009: Sarah Brown, wife of the British Prime Minister took part the London Pride March. This photo is used with permission by photographer, © Marco Secchi 2008.

One of the most beautiful aspects of the Baha’i Writings in my view is that religious law can be flexible and adapt.

“The second classification or division comprises social laws and regulations applicable to human conduct. This is not the essential spiritual quality of religion. It is subject to change and transformation according to the exigencies and requirements of time and place.”

(Address by Abdu’l Baha Abbas before Congregation Emmanu-El, San Francisco, Cal.
(Martin A. Meyer, Rabbi) Saturday, October 12, 1912.
- Star of the West, Vol. 3, No. 13, p. 3)

Abdu’l-Baha places principles such as justice and equality into the first classification, as part of what all religion is concerned with and which does not change. By “second classificiation” Abdu’l-Baha is referring to daily practices that are to some degree related to social conditions while being based on principles in the first classification such as justice and equality.

Times are changed, and the need and fashion of the world are changed. Interference with creed and faith in every country causes manifest detriment, while justice and equal dealing towards all peoples on the face of the earth are the means whereby progress is effected.

(Abdu’l-Baha, A Traveller’s Narrative, p. 87)

While in London last month, I was reminded of the nature of change when I saw this photograph on the front pages of a newspaper and then read the accompanying article, about a public apology by the leader of the Tory party for past support for Section 28.

Section 28 (a ban on councils and schools promoting homosexuality as a valid lifestyle) was axed in 2003, but it was introduced in the 1980s under a Tory government which is why this apology is so significant. The words quoted in various newspapers were: “I’m sorry for Section 28. We got it wrong. It was an emotional issue. We have got to move on and we have moved on,”

Laws and statutes of governments civil and federal are in process of change and transformation. Sciences and arts are being moulded anew. Thoughts are metamorphosed. The foundations of human society are changing and strengthening.

(Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 228)

Seeing this image of the Prime Minister’s wife, Sarah Brown and another photograph of the Prime Minister meeting with Stonewall (they work to reduce homophobic bullying in schools), also part of the UK Gay Pride celebrations, gave me hope to think one day the Baha’i community could change too. Change enough so that gay Bahais wouldn’t lose their voting rights for doing what heterosexuals do: marry. We have a long way to go but that doesn’t mean that I have to give up.

The morals of humanity must undergo change. New remedies and solutions for human problems must be adopted. Human intellects themselves must change and be subject to the universal reformation. Just as the thoughts and hypotheses of past ages are fruitless today, likewise dogmas and codes of human invention are obsolete and barren of product in religion. Nay, it is true that they are the cause of enmity and conducive to strife in the world of humanity; war and bloodshed proceed from them, and the oneness of mankind finds no recognition in their observance. Therefore, it is our duty in this radiant century to investigate the essentials of divine religion, seek the realities underlying the oneness of the world of humanity and discover the source of fellowship and agreement which will unite mankind in the heavenly bond of love. This unity is the radiance of eternity, the divine spirituality, the effulgence of God and the bounty of the Kingdom. We must investigate the divine source of these heavenly bestowals and adhere unto them steadfastly. For if we remain fettered and restricted by human inventions and dogmas, day by day the world of mankind will be degraded, day by day warfare and strife will increase and satanic forces converge toward the destruction of the human race.

(Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 144)

A few months ago my gay Baha’i brother Daniel Orey received a letter from his NSA which began with “It is with deep sadness that the National Spiritual Assembly has learned that you openly married your male companion in a same sex marriage ceremony…” further on the letter states that the National Spiritual Assembly has no choice but to remove his Baha’i membership rights because of his marriage and of his “support of homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle for Baha’is”.

All are one people, one nation, one species, one kind. The common interest is complete equality; justice and equality amongst mankind are amongst the chief promoters of empire and the principal means to the extension of the skirt of conquest. …Times are changed, and the need and fashion of the world are changed… …justice and equal dealing towards all peoples on the face of the earth are the means whereby progress is effected.

(Abdu’l-Baha, A Traveller’s Narrative, p. 87)

So how can I respond to this as a Baha’i myself who believes that homosexuals are as equal as heterosexuals with the same rights and responsibilities? Daniel is one of the few gay Baha’is who has not been afraid to be honest and open. I don’t blame gay Baha’is who have partners in secret and admittedly if a heterosexual couple married as Daniel did, they might lose their voting rights as well, because he didn’t get his parents’ permission and hence couldn’t have a Baha’i ceremony. But I’ll stick to two points made in the NSA’s letter, because they seem to be the reason for his loss of his voting rights: “same sex ceremony” and “support of homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle for Baha’is.”

It should also be borne in mind that the machinery of the Cause has been so fashioned, that whatever is deemed necessary to incorporate into it in order to keep it in the forefront of all progressive movements, can, according to the provisions made by Bahá’u’lláh, be safely embodied therein.

(Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 22-23)

The topic of equality for homosexuals in the Bahai community often ends up with individuals getting emotional on one side or the other and there ends the dialogue. My attempt here is to see what we can do to move forward on this discussion because I do believe that the Bahai Teachings are for all of humanity and so far haven’t found anything in the Bahai Writings to contradict this. So as a Bahai I continue. This is an important issue for Baha’is to discuss, because, for example, in my own country, the Netherlands, it would be breaking the law to discriminate against homosexuals. I’m not suggesting for one minute that Dutch Law supercedes Baha’i Law, but we need to think about the issues involved in applying Baha’i principles in a changing world.

There’s obedience to one’s country on one hand. There’s the principle of equality. There’s the discussion about just what is the nature of marriage in the Bahai Writings? I would like to base this discussion on what is in the Writings, rather than what we have been told or heard is a Bahai Teaching. My attempt is not a protest nor any attempt to change any Baha’i Adiministration’s policy. My goal here is for a debate on this based on the Baha’i Writings because, I argue, if the Baha’i Teachings are so great, then we will find the answer by applying the Baha’i principles of justice and equality. We don’t need to pretend nor see it as a mystery, we can use science as our aid.

In various places Abdul-Baha states science is a way of keeping religion in balance as much as science needs ethics. And so back to my original thoughts on this topic: the theme of change as a principle of nature.

Science is the discoverer of the past. From its premises of past and present we deduce conclusions as to the future. Science is the governor of nature and its mysteries, the one agency by which man explores the institutions of material creation. All created things are captives of nature and subject to its laws. They cannot transgress the control of these laws in one detail or particular. The infinite starry worlds and heavenly bodies are nature’s obedient subjects. The earth and its myriad organisms, all minerals, plants and animals are thralls of its dominion. But man through the exercise of his scientific, intellectual power can rise out of this condition, can modify, change and control nature according to his own wishes and uses. Science, so to speak, is the breaker of the laws of nature.

(Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 29)

Here is my suggestion for a debate on this topic in the hope of creating an atmosphere of consultative dialogue from various viewponts. To break up the discussion on the topic of homosexuality into several topics so we could see what we can learn from each other. Topics I thought I should try for in later blogs are “the nature of marriage” and “science and religion.” Suggestions for other topics are welcome.

This topic is on the theme of “change”, what is the role of this in the Baha’i Teachings and practice? How does this relate to the Baha’i Writings which don’t change (the fact that they are authenticated and written and seen as Scripture)? And other Writings that are important such as Letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi? What Baha’i principles favour the acceptance of same-sex marriage today, and which Bahai principles restrict this?

  • Baquia

    Thank you Sonja for this thoughtful contribution. A bit of synchronicity as a campaign is afoot to get the English government to apologize for the way that it treated one of the greatest minds of our modern era: Turing.

  • guest of today

    According to Abdulbaha, Muhammad the Rasoul of Allah in his 72 raids agains innocent people was defending himself

    How scientific is the writing and thoughts of Abdulbaha Abbas the Son of the Glory of Allah?

  • farhan

    Thanks for these quotes. In underligning the role of the UHj for the process of adaptation, Shoghi Effendi makes this statement (WOB p 14):

    “Such is the immutability of His revealed Word. Such is the elasticity which characterizes the functions of His appointed ministers. The first preserves the identity of His Faith, and guards the integrity of His law. The second enables it, even as a living organism, to expand and adapt itself to the needs and requirements of an ever-changing society.”

  • farhan

    Guest, I am not competent in the history of Islam, but what I can say for sure is that at this time in the history of our planet, whatever can help us towards love and reconciliation is more precious than considerations that will fan the flames of discord between, one sixth of humanity with the other five sixths.

  • timwatts

    To discriminate against me for my sexual preference, something that is outside of my control similar to that of my eye colour seems to me to be an outrage. And not only gay people are going to find it so but all the kinds of people that the Baha’i Faith should be reaching out to.
    The debate (or absence of one) in the faith is mirrored in the majority of Christian churches specifically the Anglican Church. Search the bible from cover to cover and reference to homosexuality as we understand it today is just not there. How could it be? It did not exist as it does today. What did exist was an exploitative relationship where sex was used in a power struggle and not as a manifestation of mutual love and affection.
    Gay Baha’is don’t want to engage in random sexual pleasure and gratification in the absence of a loving relationship what they want and deserve is to be treated the same as heterosexual Baha’is. While we were young I witnessed the straight normal Baha’i friends fornicate and drink and do drugs with impunity and when mention was made of “gays” it quickly turned to revulsion and the quoting of hidden Persian or Arabic texts to which I had no access which purported to forbid gay relationships. I know one should not be put off by the behaviour of the believers but when one is faced with prejudice and hatred by your co-religionists it is unbearable.
    Reason is highly prized in the faith. Men (and women) of intellect have been openly targeted in the past through direct teaching. The faith is fundamentally flawed in that the believers and the Administrative Order insists on the perpetuation of this evil discrimination and ultimately will not prosper and spread as most believers pray that it will.

  • farhan

    Timwatts wrote : And not only gay people are going to find it so but all the kinds of people that the Baha’i Faith should be reaching out to.

    Timwatts, as I see it, the Baha’i teachings are offered like a banquet to all humanity. Those who are enrolled in the Baha’i administrative order, are allowed to do service in the kitchen, but these have to abide by some community rules that have nothing to do with our spiritual value or how we are accepted in the eyes of God. Every one can benefit from the teachings, but not everyone is engaged in the kitchen to do the serving.

    One of the conditions for being accepted for service within the community is having a sexual life restricted to within the marriage bonds and marriages can only take place between a man and a woman with the consent of parties and of the two parents on each side, but the community has no right to pry into people’s lives, so it is a matter between the person and God if he does not abide by God’s prescriptions. If someone insists on an open behaviour that defies the community rules, whether gay or non gay, he forfeits his administrative rights to serve (ad-ministrer = to serve) as a member of that community.

    These rules cannot be changed other than by the decision of the UHJ who at the moment does not believe that gay marriages will one day be endorsed in Baha’i administration.

  • timwatts

    God if he does not abide by God’s prescriptions.

    Yes and here we have it. You beleive that God himself ruler of the universe who made all things and ordained everything who made gay and straight alike would then send messages to say that only the gay ones should have no fulfillment in their lives and shall not know a loving relationship with another human being…

    “These rules cannot be changed other than by the decision of the UHJ who at the moment does not believe that gay marriages will one day be endorsed in Baha’i administration.”

    this is why people will ultimately reject the faith as this is not reasonable and everything must past the test of reasonableness.
    The immutable law of God cannot be changed by anyone least of all the MEN of the house of justice. It is not a matter of belief it's amtter of fact. Gay people exist what are you going to do about them…wanting to marry?

  • christiansiegmund

    Dear Sonja,

    thank you for your article. Despite the fact that I know not much about the Bahá'í faith and hence cannot constructively contribute to the discussion, it still concerns me to see how troublesome a gay marriage appears to the NSA. Instead of, let's say, loving support, the institution even goes as far as to deprive the “trespasser” of his Bahá'í membership rights?
    Well, I have been happily married to my husband for 4 years now and I couldn't help but think of the following quotation by Rudolf Steiner…

    “Leben in der Liebe zum Handeln und Lebenlassen im Verständnisse des fremden Wollens ist die Grundmaxime der freien Menschen.”

    (“To live in love towards our actions, and to let live in the understanding of the other person's will, is the fundamental maxim of free men and women.”)
    (Philosoph of Freedom, Chapter 9)

    Here's to that.

    Big hug from Berlin,

    Christian Siegmund (né Schmidt)

  • http://www.sonjavank.com/ sonja

    Farhan wrote: “Those who are enrolled in the Baha’i administrative order, are allowed to do service in the kitchen, but these have to abide by some community rules that have nothing to do with our spiritual value or how we are accepted in the eyes of God.”

    Farhan can you supply some Bahai Writings to support this viewpoint of yours please? The quotations in my blog seem to contradict this idea, stating that the principles of the Bahai Faith are for all people. Principes such as justice and equality.

  • dco
  • sonjavank

    Farhan wrote: “These rules cannot be changed other than by the decision of the UHJ who at the moment does not believe that gay marriages will one day be endorsed in Baha’i administration.”

    What rules Farhan? The UHJ has not made any on homosexuality but you have assumed that they have? So that's another theme for a topic of discussion. The distinctions between the UHJ as lawgiver and that fact that only Shoghi Effendi's own writing (in his own words) can be considered official interpretation of Bahai Scripture. Baquia if you could make a link here to where this is already discussed on your blog that would be great.

    As far as I know many letters from the UHJ infer that gay Bahais must live celibate lives, but it is an inference not a rule. It is an important point because otherwise then our discussion would be about the rule that the UHJ has made concerning gay Bahais. If you claim that they have made a rule, then please share the ruling with us.

    That is why I'm focussing on what is in the Bahai Writings, first on the theme of the ability of Bahai Institutions and in relation to that, of Bahai communities to adapt, and to have a flexible relationship with a changing world.

    It seems to me that many homophic attitudes stem from Letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi. Those letters, written by various secretaries in the 1930s till 1957 relate to attitudes of the times. Some of these letters clearly cannot be treated as Scripture because it is clear from the content of some letters that the secretary had some limited knowledge of the Bahai Teachings which Shoghi Effendi would have known about.
    But more importantly than my concern with consistency is that Shoghi Effendi himself wrote very clearly that his authority was purely as interpretator of Bahai Scripture and not as law giver. The role of making law is for the UHJ.

    What was common in previous decades was for gay Bahais often to live in a position of not telling and not being asked by their NSAs and not being sanctioned either. One example is of Mark Tobey who lived for decades with a male acquaintance and was a personal friend of Shoghi Effendi.
    This practice of not saying publically one was gay was also an exigency of time and place, but a number of countries have moved on, have changed not only laws but much more importantly attitudes towards homosexuality. What I find sad is that it seems that now the way homosexuals are being treated by the Bahai administration in some countries is moving further and further from “the exigencies and requirements of time and place”

    Times have changed, and while I can understand that the UHJ would be very unlikely to wish to make any ruling, because it could endanger Bahais lives in countries where any statement regarding equal treatment of homosexuals might be used to imprison or kill Bahais, that doesn't mean that by their silence on making a ruling, that the opposite can be assumed as a rule. As Bahais we must obey the rules of the UHJ, but as for interpreting and understanding the Bahai Writings we must use our own reasoning -our own interpretations of the principles of the Bahai Faith.
    And so back to the original theme of my blog. First look at the Bahai Writings and see if any principle there would endorse this inequality, and then return to the practices of current Bahai adminstration to see if there's a way to understand the current practice of removing voting rights in some cases and in other cases not doing this.

  • timwatts

    Where does it say in the Baha'i writings that
    “homosexual relationships are not permitted” are these equated with sexual relationships? Minor point I know but words are important. According to the NSA of the USA relationships between people of the same sex are not permitted…that's surely going to cause a problem….left the faith 20 years back because i fell in love with a man and wanted to be with him…

  • dco

    One more bit of news:

    Obama Disses Marriage Law as Justice Defends It

    http://www.truthout.org/081709V?n

    Devlin Barrett, The Associated Press: “President Barack Obama insisted Monday he still wants to scrap what he calls a discriminatory federal marriage law, even as his administration angered gay rights activists by defending it in court. The president said his administration's stance in a California court case is not about defending traditional marriage, but is instead about defending traditional legal practice.”

  • Concourse on Low

    Should religion adapt to culture, or should culture adapt to religion?

    A conservative would characterize the adaption of religion to culture as abdication of its moral authority. A liberal would characterize it as progress and growth. These two orientations bump heads in every system.

  • dco

    It seems to be that both should be open to the each other, a subtle dance, or check and balance… in the U.S. it was churches who both opposed and supported slavery… it was a federal mandate that ended it. The same goes for mixed marriage.

    One can and does influence the other.

  • dco

    Oh and one more tidbit:

    http://revolked2.blogspot.com/2009/08/great-new

    The Brazilian Government recognizes our marriage, and so I can now receive a permanent visa… it will be a long process, lots of documents and fingerprints involved… but they are saying yes, to gay marriage, and do not discriminate.

    Thanks all for the great discussion (pro/con).

    As I wrote earlier… what is better a gay Baha'i or a gay non-Baha'i? It seems that the AO has answered this… we GLBT folks are not wanted in this Faith.

  • Concourse on Low

    I absolutely agree with you, dco.

    To refine the question, what aspects of Baha'i law are open to adapting to changing cultural norms, and what aspects are not? And why?

    (Not just addressing the question to you, just thinking out loud.)

  • Grover

    “We shrink from very shame the subject of little boys” Kitab-i-Aqdas – a reference to pedophilia, but interpreted by Shoghi Effendi to mean homosexual relationships in general and some letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi saying that homosexuals are spiritually diseased, to love another man is great, but to express that love in a sexual way is not, and homosexuals can be cured with prayer and assistance from doctors. Very 1950s.

    The scientific community has concluded homosexuality cannot be cured, it is perfectly natural, get over it homophobes… The modern Baha'i stance, supposedly informed by science and reason, still very 1950s.

  • dco

    This might be of interest to folks:

    http://www.thisisoz.com.au/

  • antonio del monte

    Islam=Caffe solo
    Bahai=Caffe macchiato

  • Matt

    I don't know how the Baha'i stance on homosexuality is going to change, unless the doctrine of Shoghi Effendi and the UHJ's infallibility is grasped/or changed. If Shoghi Effendi interpreted a phrase from Baha'i scripture that literally meant pedophilia, as meaning all homosexual acts in general, then doesn't that mean that that is the official Baha'i view? Or was that quotation written on behalf of his secretary? But didn't he check what his secretaries wrote on his behalf, to see if it was accurate? This stuff was going out to the Baha'i community, after all. Or was that quotation addressed to a specific individual, and not to an entire community?

    It would be interesting to know when Shoghi Effendi is intending to address the entire community, a specific local community, a national community, or an individual.

  • farhan

    dco wrote : It seems that the AO has answered this… we GLBT folks are not wanted in this Faith.

    Dco, this is a short-cut assumption.

    The vast majority of Baha’i activities today, including study circles, children’s classes, devotional meetings, commemorations, reflection meetings etc are open to everyone, regardless of their being Baha’is or not, or their sexual preferences. Some counties even have more non-Baha’i than Baha’i tutors in study circles.

    Participating in the administration of the community (voting, 19 day feasts, Assemblies, contribution to Baha’i funds…) entails being enrolled and this activity requires some perquisites that include a chaste life. This is equally required from gay and non gay Baha’is; How can we imagine a community that accepts sexual relations outside marriage for gays and not for non-gays?

    The comparison is imperfect, but in some aspects the requirement is comparable to celibacy required from Catholic priests. If they have a private affair, it is between them and God; if they openly decide to live a married life, they lose their position as a priest. The only loss of administrative rights I have seen in France has been for persistence in not conforming to marriage laws, never for homosexuality.

  • farhan

    Sonjavank wrote:What rules Farhan?

    Sonjavank, I see the rules this way:
    1) No sexuality outside marriage, for gays as for non-gays.
    2) No present provisions for gay marriages.
    3) No spying on people
    4) Gays or non-gays not complying with rules privately figure it out with God
    5) Gays or non-gays openly and persistently defying the rules loose administrative rights, which leaves a great many activities, specially all the teaching work, open to them.

    I also, very personally, see another line of though in that gays represent a minority and as such should benefit from some compensation. If I were an assembly member (I haven’t been one for years), this would be an argument I would defend: more leniency to gays than non gays.

  • farhan

    Timwatts wrote: Where does it say in the Baha'i writings that
    “homosexual relationships are not permitted” are these equated with sexual relationships?

    Timwatts, the Baha’i standard of morality excludes all sexual activity outside marriage, and homosexual relations are considered as such; I wonder if Diogenus would loose his voting rights if he publicly exhibited himself? But ofcourse no one is allowed to squint into his barrel ;-)

  • farhan

    Sonja, I will have to give this some thought before I find a quote. To my understanding, Gods prescriptions are clearly are for the benefit of all. It is up to each one of us to apply them or to assume the SPIRITUAL consequences if we reject them, it is between God and us.

    I see participating in administrative functions as something else. I see it not as the direct the law of God, but as community requirements, and each community has its own standard for maintaining cohesion at a given time, depending on the maturity of its members and the requirements of its social environment.

  • dco

    Dear Farhan, I am sure you mean well, so I do not need the fireside list of howthe Faith functions (or dysfunctions). I have been a Baha'i for more then 30 years, I am aware of all the things on your list, but as a married Gay man who is very happily married to a non-Baha'i man, I am not from a prominent Baha'i family and we have not, do not, and never be welcome as a couple, or as a family at any gatherings… at best open honest healthy GLBT Baha'is who are out are removed of their rights, and thereby relegated second class citizenship. This is not a welcome message… the Faith is homophobic and allows bigotry toward GLBT people.

  • farhan

    Dear dco,

    I have gay couples amongst my good friends who visit us for dinner. The Baha'i community is made of individuals who are influenced by the world and the prejudices around them and not entirely impregnated by Baha'i ideals. We obviously do have all kinds of phobia which results from the lack of information. When we meet gay we never refer to our sexual lives. Cant we meet people without referring to their sexual lives at all?

    My idea is that if gay people did participate in activities open to them, for example, just like those non-gays having lost voting rights for cohabitation without having a Baha'i marriage, this would help create more understanding. The subject is worth discussing with the LSA of each community. Their reply will give us food for thought.

  • Craig Parke

    dco,

    I have been a Baha'i for 38 years. I am now completely sick of organized religion. Many people today are far too spiritual to find any meaning in it. I greatly honor and revere the Sufi insight of Baha'u'llah and I will always live by it. It opened many doors of insight to me which i use in life every day. But the Baha'i organization now has narrowed the Faith to the span of the black in the eye of a dead ant. The AO is a trainwreck. No one can take a breath. No one can bring the powers and energies of their own soul to the discourse and the avenues of service. Everything is top down micro managed right into the ground. People like PK run the show lock, stock, and barrel. That approach is not spiritual enough to find life in this World Age and anyone who thinks it does is completely tone deaf spiritually.

    So live your life, dco, with as much individual human grace and dignity as you can manifest. My prayers and best wishes are with you and your companion.

    I am now like Bird. My Faith has no name. I am of the no name religion. The Baha'i Faith was a nice try. The idea was so captivating that it was worth trying to help all those years. But it cannot be helped because it is now just a man made organization of terribly impaired people. If you have to put a label on a spiritual idea to market it, there is already nothing there.

    No name is my religion. So I can be completely free to dwell in Spirit! There are other planets and other worlds with other creatures and other massive planes of the Universe far beyond the limitations of this world.

    No name is my religion! Be happy in your life as you live each day with it's ever new possibilities.

  • dco

    Thanks brother Craig… your words are very kind and supportive. I am fast following your path, a my experience is much the same. MY rights were removed because I dared to talk openly on the internet about my wedding… shame!

  • dco

    This is good to know Farhan, thanks. The enlightened churches and synagogues here in Sacramento at least deal with it, they just welcome and love individuals unconditionally. Let us deal with the rules individually. The current way the Baha'is choose to enforce this is causing far more harm to the faith than folks care to admit. It has chased my son away from religion, and many of my colleagues. The Baha'is seem like some sort of weird wacko cult that talks about nice things, but in reality spends a lot of time looking into and micro-managing people's lives when it should be spending all its energy on creating god's kingdom on earth. A secret… when my friends come to dinner, the topic is never about sex… unless the food is bad.

  • Eric

    “Should religion adapt to culture, or should culture adapt to religion?”

    Neither. I think there is room for diversity of opinion and for separate belief systems coexisting in a society. Why should any of us compromise our beliefs? I am who I am and will not compromise or adapt for culture or religion.

  • farhan

    Dco: The current way the Baha'is choose to enforce this is causing far more harm to the faith than folks care to admit

    Farhan: On the long run we cannot harm God’s purpose but only our own selves. The harm resulting from our actions will be learning procedures for others. The call of God calls us to self-sacrifice, the abandon of advantages of this material world and investment in a spiritual life. People, as Shoghi Effendi pointed out to Marcus Bach develop a consumer attitude to religion: they praise what they can get out of it and consider teaching as a sort of marketing. This is the way Baha’u’llah reprimanded the religious leaders of His time in Iqan:

    “Their hearts seem not to be inclined to knowledge and the door thereof, neither think they of its manifestations, inasmuch as in idle fancy they have found the door that leadeth unto earthly riches, whereas in the manifestation of the Revealer of knowledge they find naught but the call to self-sacrifice.”

    Dco: …spends a lot of time looking into and micro-managing people's lives
    Farhan: I am not sure if the “current way” you refer to is a Baha’i way or a way specific to the culture you live in. Squinting into people’s private lives is not at all a current way in Baha’i communities where I have lived.

    Obviously though, if a person questions and contests openly and insistently the rules of the community he wishes to belong to, the reaction is to say you are saying that I do not belong to that community. Once again, i see a difference between our spiritual lives and community lives, although they are closely linked.

  • timwatts

    I have a number of questions to put into the debate and hope that they inspire someone to explain where I am going wrong in my thinking.

    question 1
    Is it wrong to be gey?

    I don't mean having sexual relations with another of the same sex but just being gay?

    question 2

    Is it wrong to have sexual feelings for someone of the same sex?

  • farhan

    Timwatts asked:
    question 1
    Is it wrong to be gey?
    I don't mean having sexual relations with another of the same sex but just being gay?

    Tim, to my understanding, the Baha'is teachings do not consider a sexual orientation as wrong. They consider that in the interests of society, sexuality whether gay or non-gay has to be restricted to between married couples. At the same time no provisions are made for gay marriages, hence gay sexual relations are considered as not acceptable within the community.

    Tim asked: question 2 Is it wrong to have sexual feelings for someone of the same sex?

    Farhan: IMO, this situation that we meet in about perhaps 10% of the population is a great handicap in a community that does not accept sexuality outside marriage and does not provide for gay marriages.

  • timwatts

    then why do Baha'is think (or more accurately are told) that being gay is a medical condition and that medical treatment should be sought?
    or prayers should be said to overcome this handicap….

  • timwatts

    “We shrink from very shame the subject of little boys” Kitab-i-Aqdas – a reference to pedophilia, but interpreted by Shoghi Effendi to mean homosexual relationships

    This is about child abuse and NOT gay sex…..Shoghi Effendi could not have equated this with homosexuality….it is clearly wrong?

    As for spiritually diseased…..by their fruits ye shall know them?

  • Grover

    Hi Tim,

    Question 1 and 2: Depends which side of the Baha'i camp you're in. Liberal side – fine no problems. Conservative side – it is wrong. Seeing as most communities are quite small, you're probably going to run into trouble as some “well-meaning” conservative Baha'i is going to complain to the LSA, unless you keep it well hidden, then you'll either have the LSA or Arm of the Learned dropping by to “lovingly” educate you.

    If you have sexual feelings towards someone of the same sex and think you might be gay you can either suppress it and probably be miserable, or embrace it and be what God made you to be.

  • Grover

    Because this was the traditional view back in the 30s to 50s, and its a view the UHJ has stuck to today (despite evidence to the contrary). So if you are gay, tough luck, no sex, no getting married, no having a happy life in the Baha'i community. If you are heterosexual however, you can have as much sex as you like (strictly speaking its wrong outside of marriage, but that never stopped anyone), and get married, have lots of kids and get divorced (Baha'is have a high divorce rate – all those closet homosexuals and lesbians).

  • timwatts

    Right because I niavely thought that “wrong” was not a relative term int he same way as 2+2 always = 4 and doesn't depend on anyone person's opinion. It's not an absolute then?

  • timwatts

    Orry for the delay in replying I was out putting my mother to death as she was wearing garments of mixed fibre and according to the bible she should be killed…..the police arrived and were very understanding and asked me to put to death several others on their lists of miscreants…man planting crops of different type … i couldn't of course as I had to give my daughter to be gang raped …… so useful the Bible at times….i try and live by it's teachings

  • farhan

    Tim, my understanding is that overcoming a sexual orientation and adopting away of life contrary to our wishes, whether gay or not gay – for example if you want to marry someone and the parents do not consent – entails efforts and suffering. This is a situation in which prayer and medical attention can help. I have never read a passage from writings saying it is a medical condition, but in some cases, ex for transexuality, there can be a medical solution.

    The knowledge and understanding of the Baha'is in respect to this problem as in others can evolve.

  • farhan

    Tim, the requirement of chastity is binding on all, gay or non gay. If we openly disobey to laws we can be sanctionned by teh community. What happens in our private lives is something between us and God.

  • farhan

    There is obviously a difference between pedophilia and homosexuality, and I have never see a Baha'i writing saying that homosexuality is a spiritual disease.

  • timwatts

    overcoming a sexual orientation and adopting away of life contrary to our wishes

    These 2 things, Farhan joon, are not at all the same. I might wish for an XBOX and summon up the strength with support of family and friends and prayer to “overcome” the wish. To successfully overcome one's sexual preference….again the word implies a choice…i prefer apples to pears……

    Sexual orientation is fixed and immutable and in part of the way gay people are and CANNOT be overcome. Supression just leads to mental illness and other problems…surely this is not what Baha'u'llah wants for me…he he does then I would reject him…..with a happy heart!

  • timwatts

    They consider that in the interests of society, sexuality whether gay or non-gay has to be restricted to between married couples.

    This is indeed scary…how could society be possibly helped by a large proportion of it's population supressing something as basic as their sexuality…..who wants to be part of such a society…..put your hands up!

  • timwatts

    so it's ok to sleep with men if i do it secretly and not tell anyone…..and lie if someone asks me? Making gay sex sordid and hidden and tacitly agreeing it is wrong? Hypercrite I think the term is….I asked God to take away these feelings when I was 16 but he didn't presumeably for a reason unknown to me….perhaps he wants me to be gay..

  • farhan

    Tim, the Baha'is are not marketing their beliefs, trying to comply with the customer's wishes. They are trying to share their faith with those interested and trying to apply their principles in their everyday lives. As a doctor or as an individual Iam on your side. If I were a member of a Baha'i institution trying to uphold community life, i would say that we cannot allow gay relations freely and yet restrict non gay relations to within marriage. I would also say that 10% of the population is a minority that according to Baha'i principles deserves some kind of a compensation.

  • farhan

    Tim wrote: Sexual orientation is fixed and immutable and in part of the way gay people are and CANNOT be overcome.

    Farhan: This is partly true. Sexual orientation can change during our lifetime. People can be more or less exclusive in their orientation.
    Tim: Supression just leads to mental illness and other problems…
    It can, but not necessarily. What about people whom for various reasons live celibacy all their lives? Perhaps 10%; the same percentage as gays ? What about a married person in love with another? Or a couple unable to marry lacking parents consent? All these people suffer and can become depressed, or invest their interests and lives elsewhere.

  • farhan

    Tim, I am not saying it is OK; I am saying that it is a personal issue between a person and God and Baha'is are forbidden to spy on others. If our behaviour openly defies community laws, the community has a duty to protect its unity and intervene and those concerned face a choice. We cannot expect non gays to be chaste before marriage and say it is OK to have gay relations.

  • timwatts

    You would have more chance of interesting people if the faith could be seen as fair compassionate and even handed.and not perpetuating the evils of past predujices.

    At the end of the line of course one can always state that if you don;tlike the rules of the club then don;t join….but there is something fundamentally worng with this as many gays will be growing up in a relgion that rejects them to the very core of their being….

  • farhan

    I agree with you Tim, but to my knowledge these are the community rules for Baha'is at this time. I am not making the rules, but obeying them. I agree others might be having an even harder time than myself.

  • timwatts

    and I bet none of them statistically speaking absent from sex

  • timwatts

    the secualr law changed in most parts of the world and for good reason and it is no longer breaking the civil law for same sex relations…..

    the baha'i LAW seems at odds therefore and seems reactionary and out of date and you may not like the fact but having been a baha'i for over 30 years i know full well which aspects of the faith you don;t tell contacts about at firesides for fear of putting them off. this is marketing by any other name.

  • farhan

    Timwatts, the Baha'i law is a spiritual law, applicable to believers only. The community laws are likewise for observance by those who wish to work in that community; they have nothing to do with secular laws, even though Baha'is believe that society will one day adopt many of their laws.

    I totally disagree with Baha'is who are ready to dissimulate any laws so as to gain enrolments. The outline “Anna's Presentation” has been designed so that those wishing to become Baha'is get a clear picture of what they are adhering to. Of course if they later feel they have made a mistake, they are always free to leave without being in the least stigmatised.

  • timwatts

    maybe you could explain the difference

    spiritual law
    community law

    the law which says that arsonists must be burned alive…..is it spiritual or commuity?

  • farhan

    Timwatts wrote: maybe you could explain the difference spiritual law community law

    Farhan: I am merely opposing spiritual laws with and without a social implication. I see an interaction between the two. Not obeying spiritual laws not only implies a spiritual shortcoming, but can also involve our community life and incur a reaction from the community which has a duty to protect its unity. For example, adultery not only impairs the progress of the soul but, for educative reasons, can incur a reaction from society.

    I see praying, fasting, truthfulness, absence of prejudice, chastity, obeying the laws of God … as examples of spiritual laws. No one will question a believer on his private relations with God. When a behaviour has an incidence on community life, such as a Baha’i marriage, nominating someone during an election, family violence, there is also imply a reaction from the community .
    Timwatts wrote: the law which says that arsonists must be burned alive…..is it spiritual or commuity?

    Farhan: I have not seen anything about being burnt “alive”. These laws are obviously not applicable whenever in contradiction with civil laws and only the UHJ can reply to your question. My personal guess is that pending the election of the UHJ, Baha’u’llah, Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi gave some laws abrogating those of their times and understandable by their contemporaries and in their historical setting. I see laws concerning arson, theft, heritage in case of intestacy, bigamy as community laws adapted to the understanding of an epoch pending adequate application by the UHJ in due time.
    Gods laws are revealed and applied progressively and then adapted to each day and age. Hence the breakaway from polygamy was a progressive process. During Abdu’l-Baha’s lifetime the Baha’is respect towards their Muslim contemporaries practiced both the Muslim and the Baha’i fast and Abdu’l-Baha prayed in the Mosque and wore oriental clothes. This was a temporary practice changed by Shoghi Effendi.

  • Grover

    hahaha, you have a singular wit

  • Grover

    Again, it depends how fundamental you want to be as to how absolute “wrong” is. Society has progressed a lot over the last century to a point where engaging in homosexual activity is longer regarded as illegal – I hope that the Baha'i community will follow suit, but I doubt it would be anytime soon.

  • Concourse on Low

    Hmmm…the Central Figures were very concerned with showing respect for their Muslim contemporaries…sort of like when they dismissed orthodox Muslim understanding of Muhammad being the seal of the prophets and replaced it with a radically heterodox interpretation.

  • Baquia
  • mavaddat

    Hi Sonya,

    As Always, I appreciate your dedication to the principles of justice and fairness in opposition to the current practice of Bahá'í law. However, I must respectfully disagree with the fundamental premise of your argument, which intends to preserve the importance of the Bahá'í law. You apologize with your comparison of Bahá'í law to Dutch law, for example, by stating:

    I’m not suggesting for one minute that Dutch Law supercedes Baha’i Law, but we need to think about the issues involved in applying Baha’i principles in a changing world.

    However, I believe this is a mistake: I would say of course Dutch law supercedes Bahá'í law. Of course. Dutch law is a collection of principles derived by groups of people working together from secular reasoning, anticipating the future by observing historical lessons, and building on that solid foundation by a system of common law that allows for new and dynamic interpretations of these aforementioned principles. Bahá'í law, by contrast (and despite the work of Dr. Nader Saiedi to the opposite conclusion), is a collection of random articles of faith, general principles abstracted from then-current wisdom, and specific behavioral prohibitions and prescriptions that were important from the perspective of one Iranian nobleman a few hundred years ago. They are, in other words, utterly irrelevant by any objective standard of ethical reasoning or any important measure of normative evaluation.

    Don't get me wrong: It's not that the Bahá'í laws are all universally ridiculous, per se, but the authoritarian way in which they are justified most certainly is universally ridiculous. To understand the distinction, suppose you had a political science exam, one question of which asked you what form of government you believed was the most effective, and for the second part, why you think so. For the first part, let's say you put the very respectable answer of “parliamentary democracy.” For the second part, however, you respond, “Yea, verily I am the King of kings, and my decree is binding, such that whosoever will question my judgement has made a mockery of the Noumena, reality as it is within itself, to which I alone have unmitigated access.” Surely you would not only fail your exam, but the teacher would want to see you after class to see if you were alright, wouldn't he?

    So while I absolutely agree with you when you write,

    [I]f the Baha’i Teachings are so great, then we will find the answer by applying the Baha’i principles of justice and equality,

    I must nevertheless deny your antecedent (“the Baha’i Teachings are so great”). They are not great. There is no room for the authoritarianism of the Bahá'í Faith (which we will admit if we understand its writings plainly, without undue bias) within a reasonable, ethical framework.

    As I've written elsewhere, the Bahá'í Faith does not provision for change regarding its homophobic agenda, as the Universal House of Justice unashamedly declares (05 Jun 1993):

    Regarding the question of whether or not same-sex marriages would ever be permitted by the Universal House of Justice, the enclosed extracts indicate clearly that it would not. In addition, it is interesting to note that 'Abdu'l-Bahá says in a Tablet:
    Know thou that the command of marriage is eternal. It will never be changed nor altered. This is divine creation and there is not the slightest possibility that change or alteration affect this divine creation (marriage).

  • fubar

    As an ex-bahai, I wish Sonja's version of bahai was the prevailing one. But it isn't.

    I wish that evolution, psychology and sociology was more important than outmoded bahai/sufi metaphysics. But they aren't.

    I wish that the principles of liberty and equality (and “healthy” pluralism) had precendence in “core” bahai theology, but they don't. What does have precendence in bahai theology is obedience and submission to an image of limited truth that carries the label “God/Allah”.

    I am glad that the voices of non-conformists, critics and dissidents such as Sonja have not been silenced in the bahai community — even though there are a lot of “mainstream” bahais that go along with, or ask for, the kind of authoritarianism and fundamentalism that tries to silence or marginalize nonconformists, critics and dissidents.

    I do disagree with some of the quotes. Yes, I think that abdu'l-baha was wrong about some of this stuff (just as he was wrong about buddhism).

    First of all, the classification of “essential” vs. “social” teachings is crude and muddled. It is simply inferior to the more nuanced scientific, psychological and developmental theories (consciousness studies) that have emerged in the last 100 years.

    re: “Laws and statutes of governments civil and federal are in process of change and transformation. Sciences and arts are being moulded anew. Thoughts are metamorphosed. The foundations of human society are changing and strengthening.”

    Comment
    ======

    The above changes have nothing to do with “progressive revelation”, or any other “revelation” for that matter.

    Those changes began, on a significant scale, in the 1600s, long before bahai's founders were born.

    They are simply part of the unfoldment and evolution of consciousness.

    Religion is a “follower” of evolution (social change), not a driver of it. abdu'l-baha, while probably far in front of other islamic thinkers of his time, badly muffed explaining evolution.

    Thus, the seeds of doom were planted for bahai theology.

    Until bahai culture is capable of accepting the need to simply jettison some major parts of “core” bahai theology, little progress is possible.

    In human culture, there are “ascender” and “descender” religious cultures, “universalist” (absolutist) and “nature” (shamanist/pluralist) perspectives.

    bahai is locked into a “universalist” paradigm, and thus, inevitably will attempt to impose a bahai form of “cultural imperialism” on any “descender” perspective in the world.

    re: “Therefore, it is our duty in this radiant century to investigate the essentials of divine religion, seek the realities underlying the oneness of the world of humanity and discover the source of fellowship and agreement which will unite mankind in the heavenly bond of love. This unity is the radiance of eternity, the divine spirituality, the effulgence of God and the bounty of the Kingdom. We must investigate the divine source of these heavenly bestowals and adhere unto them steadfastly.”

    Comment
    ======

    again, abdu'l-baha gets it exactly backwards by trying to force the existential problems of a modern/postmodern age into a decrepit premodern metaphysical paradigm that contains false structures and partial truths.

    religion is not the source of advancement/evolution, it is the follower. abdu'l-baha attempts a “trick” here by confusing some mystical/mythic force with the evolutionary tendency in the universe for consciousness to advance toward compassion and altruism and enlightenment. the “trick” is necessary because bahai theology has the “albatross” of prophetology and “progressive revelation” around its neck.

    Yogic and buddhist and shamanist (descender) frameworks are simply better than islamo-sufi-bahai in being “open” enough to integrate evolutionary perspective.

    re: “justice and equal dealing towards all peoples on the face of the earth are the means whereby progress is effected.”

    Comment
    ======

    Yes, wonderful. and obvious. however, as you eloquently explain in this article, in actual practice, bahai places obstacles in front of progress, justice and equality, it doesn't remove them. the contradiction is glaring and appalling.

    elsewhere abdu'l-baha states that (paraphrasing) if religion becomes the cause of “disunity” it should be rejected.

    I think that at this sad point in the history of bahai, the kinds of reforms that are needed are mostly impossible, and thus, such a rejection would be the more intelligent, and “spiritual” option.

    However, again, I am very glad the Sonja and other reformers have not lost hope or optimism, or the desire to vigorously call for bahais to correct the worst flaws in their religion.

    Topics: the basic underlying problem is that there is no explicit definition of “spiritually healthy sexuality” in bahai scripture. So, once again, religious “ethics” end up being an obstacle to the project of integrating science and spirit in the context of evolving culture.

    There is simply too much stasis, rigidity and orthodoxy for bahai to be capable of staying current with social advances, particularly when they involve controversy.

    Dr. Orey is one of the most outstanding social activists I have ever known. His commitment to social justice and equality is a great source of inspiration and learning. It is an appalling travesty that bahai administration treated him and his husband with such vile and egregious disrespect.

    bahai administration has become mindless and heartless, and is at the end stage of its collapse as a source of anything human or meaningful.

  • fubar

    bahai law is a joke, and has no integrity to “guard”.

    the kitab-i-aqdas contains a requirement, in the first or second paragraph, for a follower to agree to a bahai system of universal/global cultural imperialism.

  • fubar

    bahai laws are not of benefit to all. they are simply a system of cultural imperialism and authoritarianism.

    the only benefit from bahai law is for fundamentalists and delusionals.

  • fubar

    Rudolph Steiner was the pioneer/founder of one of the main branches of integral theory (the others were Jean Gebser and Sri Aurobindo).

    The people that work to further Steiner's ideas and methods of attaining transcendence are contributing a vastly greater share than the bahai community does to the progress of humanity.

    Sad, but true.

  • fubar

    farhan,

    you are ignorant, or senile. a foolish bufoon in any case.

    a web search, such as http://www.google.com on “shoghi effendi homosexual disease” is easy.

    http://bahai-library.org/uhj/homosexuality.uhj….

    “No matter how devoted and fine the love may be between people of the same sex, to let it find
    expression in sexual acts is wrong. To say that it is ideal is no excuse. Immorality of every sort is really forbidden by Baha’u'llah, and homosexual relationships he looks upon as such, besides being against nature…To be afflicted this way is a great burden to a
    conscientious soul. But through the advice and help doctors, through a strong and determined effort, and through prayer, a soul can overcome this handicap.”
    Shoghi Effendi (or a official letter writer of his)

    “against nature” is the very definition of “disease”.

    “handicap” is the definition of “disease”.

    “affliction” is the definition of “disease”.

    the uhj explains in very clear terms that no change in the guardian's/letter-writer's interpretation is possible.

    the uhj also indicates that since gays are not obeying god's law, they are “evil”.

    the uhj clear states that being gay is in the category of “handicaps or diseases of various kinds” that should be “overcome” by following bahai law.

    you are playing silly mind games and twisting words.

    your disregard for human suffering and injustice is a complete betrayal of the utopian ideals that you endlessly and opportunistically propagandize.

    you are disgusting.

  • dco

    Lutherans To Sanctify Gay Marriages

    The Evangelical Lutheran Church voted today to allow individual congregations to bless same-sex marriages.

    “I’ve been a life-long member at Redeemer Lutheran Church [in Atlanta], and I was never comfortable asking my church to bless my relationship,” said Bob Gibeling, who is at the assembly. “This offers great hope to me that when I find a future life-long partner, my own beloved congregation will want to bless that union.” The change in the Evangelical Lutheran Church does not require pastors or congregations to bless same-sex unions, but allows those comfortable with it to do so. Gay pastors can serve in Lutheran churches, but only if they are celibate. A vote expected later today will determine whether Lutheran churches can call and install gay pastors who are in relationships.

    The Evangelical Lutherans are the largest sect of their denomination with 4.7M members at 10,000 churches. Today's move is opposed by other Lutheran sects and should further splinter the denomination.

    Labels: Lutheran Church, marriage equality, religion

  • fubar

    history clearly shows that religion, according to nature, “adapts” to changes in culture, ESPECIALLY when those changes are driven by changes in the economic mode of a culture system, and a corresponding PARADIGM SHIFT happens (per evolution).

    the first religious laws were invented when irrigation was invented (the dominant economic mode shifted from hunting/gathering to farming) and a ruling elite needed some system to control use of water by all participants in the shared system. “control” (rule/order) was achieved via specialists (priest classes) and religious laws that gave the religious law specialists social privilege (power).

    “revelation” is simply the occurrence of a spiritual and political genius who crystallizes the already evolved zeitgeist before most other people realize what it is.

    authority for the “revelation” is claimed to be from a higher power (God) to get people to adopt the newly emerged reality.

    God/Revelations/Phophets do not “change” history, they are a product of it.

  • fubar

    islamo-sufi-bahai history is a good example.

    modernism began to develop in the 1500/s1600s, long after islam had declined, and long before bahai.

    what “prophet” or “revelation” caused modernism to evolve as a paradigm shift from the 1500s to 1700s?

    answer: NONE!

    it was only 100+ years AFTER the paradigm shift got major “traction”, and caused european geopolitical power to ascend and upset the “legitimacy” the older, weaker, corrupted paradigms in the middle east that the (after-the-fact) “revelations of the bab/baha came about.

  • fubar

    Agreed. Very well said, as usual. Thanks.

  • pey

    Ahh Farhan, here we go again. Trying to make the Bahai community look all rosy for gays, when it is not. The problem as you know Farhan is NOT about sex. You and the Bahai AO want to make it about sex, but it really isn't. If a gay Bahai couple enter the community, married with kids, and NEVER say anything about their sexual lives, then what right has the AO to take away their voting rights? Do you know what's going on in the bedrooms of straight Bahai couples living in Bahai marriages? Maybe they are committing sodomy, maybe the husband is forcing the wife to have sex against her will, maybe they are raping kids, you really don't know do you Farhan. yet these straight couples can live and function and serve in your kitchen without anyone saying anything. We are not supposed to pry in the private lives of believers, now are we Farhan? So why do we automatically kick gay people out of the kitchen Farhan? Oh, I know! Prejudice farhan. That's all. Pure prejudice for a religion that supposedly prides itself on being a banquet for ALL of mankind. Whatever….

  • pey

    Equal rights farhan. We don't want leniancy. We aren't committing any crimes. You don't need to spy, you are automatically kicking someone out if they claim to be gay and have a partner.

  • pey

    Except, a straight couple can leave the Faith, marry, then petition to return into the fold. Right Farhan? A man with a number of wives is not asked to divorce his wifes before he enters the faith, althought polygamy is supposed to be forbidden in the Faith. Righ Farhan? But when it comes to a gay couple with kids, they are automatically not allowed. They would be asked to divorce before they could fully participate in the community. And as far as their being other activities that gays could be a part of in the community, well let's just say as a 5th generation Bahai who has been active in communities on 3 continents, I have NEVER met openly gay people inside the community. They are ALWAYS closeted and hurting- like I was for decades. Sorry farhan, you are wrong again and of course misleading others to paint a rosy picture for the Bahai community. And of course we are here to tell the truth.

  • pey

    How do you know a gay couple with kids isn't being “chaste” as you put it? It's none of your business to pry into their lives, right Farhan? If you automatically assume they being unchaste by being openly gay, then I will automatically assume that straight Bahais in bahai marriages are also being unchaste. I would like to put cams in each bahai bedroom to make sure. It seems fair to me. How about it Farhan? Shall we start with you and your wife?

  • Test

    Test

  • Amanda

    Comments aren't posting.

  • Amanda

    Baquia,

    I got about 10 Disqus notifications for comments posted to Trouble with the World from Fubar and Concourse on Low that never appeared on the actual site within the last 24 hours. Some comments briefly appeared and then disappeared. I also posted a comment I received a Disqus notification for that never posted.

    The Contact form also wasn't working earlier today with multiple attempts- “Fatal Error.”

    Is the comment system broken, or did you get hacked? Everything cool?

    Best,
    Amanda

  • newbahai

    I think ultimately the debate is really over the origin of homosexual feeling and or attractions – is a person somehow born gay? is he/she conditioned for same sex attraction by his/her genes? is it neurological? is it purely social or environmental?

    Once we determine what causes homo/heterosexuality we will be better prepared to deal with the implications of a minority of humans having same sex attraction. However, as believers in a “revealed” religion with a revealed Word of God through the Blessed Beauty and his son and grandson we are bound to accept God's Word through God's Messengers – there has never been a single Messenger/Manifestation of God who has permitted homosexual relations as something that is what God intends for the human family

  • pey

    Ultimately the debate is about justice and treating a minority with prejudice- something the Bahai community is supposed to eliminate in the world. I accept God's Messenger and His Son and His grandson. I just don't elevate them to the level of idol worship as you do. You can choose to be a fundamentalist in your way of accepting Bahaullah- that's your choice. I believe differently. As long as homosexuals are treated as second class citizens inside the Bahai community, then the world needs to know that the Bahai community is NOT just. Btw, there has never been a messenger of God that has permitted people using a curling iron, does using it make it immoral? You argument makes no sense, except to those with a fundamentalist mindset be they hasidic jews, hindu nationalists, Al Qaida, etc etc. …

  • Baquia

    Amanda, thanks for letting me know. I've checked and afaik the comments are not in the spam folder or anywhere else (where I might have rescued them). So I'm not sure what happened. I'm sorry if a comment was not recorded by the system. Unfortunately, other than trying again to post it, there is not much I can do.

  • pey

    Hi Farhan. Your precious 9 men on the Hill said the following to a gay Bahai once: “Both you and your Baha'i friend must first recognize that a homosexual relationship subverts the purpose of human life and that determined effort to overcome the wayward tendencies which promote this practice which, like other sexual vices, is so abhorrent to the Creator of all mankind will help you both to return to a path that leads to true happiness. ” HOW in the world do you continue to deceive people on here into believing that the Bahai community accepts gays and lesbians with open arms, but just doesn't allow them to serve in adminstrative functions. You are so wrong in what you are doing, in yoru deception to make the Bahai community and the AO look good at any cost. Even if that cost means gay youth in the Bahai community continually being fed this BS from those 9 men on the hill. People have died. I know those who have attempted suicide because of this rubbish. I thought of it for decades myself because I believed the crap that people like you fed me as a youth. Shame on you!

  • mavaddat

    The debate is not about the origins of homosexuality, newbahai. This is a combination of the genetic fallacy and the naturalistic fallacy. Identifying causal origin of a behaviour does not tell you whether that behaviour is justified or good. A single causal origin can be the source of good or bad kinds of behaviour. So we have to identify good or bad behaviour by some other measure than origin.

    Likewise, identifying at natural or unnatural does nothing to tell you whether that behaviour is justified or good. There is “natural” behaviour that is completely immoral (most anthropologists agree that cannibalism, rape, incest, genocide, etc. were behaviours to which humans had a natural predispositions until they became regarded as bad only recently); and there is good behaviour that is “unnatural” (e.g., building buildings, wearing shoes, helping the sick, mentally unstable, and the dying, etc.).

    So the argument is not about the origin of homosexuality. In fact, that the Bahá'í writings obviously do not recognize this simple fact about ethical reasoning is itself a good reason to doubt their relevance for effective moral dialogue.

    The fact that there has “never been a single Messenger/Manifestation of God who has permitted homosexual relations” is a manifestation of human prejudices. From a theological perspective, we might say that God doesn't challenge people beyond their capacity, and people have not (until today) had a capacity to accept homosexual relationships as valid. That might be an explanation you prefer. Personally, I take it as more plausible that religions are simply codifications of humanity's most basic prejudices, such that whatever beliefs a tribe has at the time of their religious invention becomes the law of their religion. In that case, it's no mystery that Judeao-Christo-Islamic religions would condemn homosexuality, because it was associated with so-called “pagan” tribes, effeminacy, and womanly qualities in general. Since all these religions generally hold women in contempt (including the Bahá'í Faith, despite all superficial pleadings to the contrary), it makes sense that they'd regard men who took on the role of women (or vice versa) as contemptible. But that's just my understanding. You can pick the one that suits you.

  • Grover

    Yes, well thats what it says in the notes in the Kitab'i'Aqdas: “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” (p. 223).

    “As for spiritually diseased…..by their fruits ye shall know them?”

    Spiritually condemned is the word actually, along with aberration, and against nature… So yes, the wording in the Faith against homosexuality is quite strong.

    Its odd really – why all the angst against sex in general? What is so bad about sex? Are the people who write these things just prudes and never had good sex in their entire lives?

  • mavaddat

    Are the people who write these things just prudes and never had good sex in their entire lives?

    Precisely. Good sex has enjoyed a fairly recent revival after two-millennia of being condemned because of its association with “pagan” practice. But it's unlikely that Bahá'u'lláh, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, or Shoghi Effendi felt an ounce of passion for their wives. They viewed marriage as a means to an end. Ironically, they had a truly perverted conception of human intimacy.

  • farhan

    pey wrote: HOW in the world do you continue to deceive people on here into believing that the Bahai community accepts gays and lesbians with open arms, but just doesn't allow them to serve in adminstrative functions.

    Farhan: the advice you are referring to is a spiritual advice addressing a private life; it would be a similar advice if the person was married and madly in love with another, or someone unable to marry lacking consent of parents, or someone offered a high position in politics and having to decline. How the person overcomes the dilemma between his spiritual engagement and personal life is a personal matter. No Baha’i has any right whatsoever of judging another person or spying on his behaviour.

    Loss of administrative rights is a community decision, if a person does not comply with and even rejects community rules and can concern many aspects of our lives, including political implication.

    How Baha’is in a specific community might welcome someone having lost administrative rights is widely determined by their social experience and background. To my understanding, since the opening up of the community activities to a “community of interest” since 1996, a wide variety of activities outside administrative functions are available to them.

  • farhan

    Grover wrote:

    You haven't answered my question – what evidence do you have? And why are you equating scientific practice with business practice?

    Grover, the Baha’i teachings consider the spiritual issues as being at the root of all our civilisation problems: whether political, economical, social, natural environment, etc; For science, we need is a conscience that allows us to use science for the benefit of humanity and which matches our scientific advances. Don’t hesitate in repeating questions if you feel I have missed one.

    Grover wrote: why all the angst against sex in general?

    Farhan: I think it is merely a means of consolidating the traditional family as the basic unit of society by restricting the sexual drive to within the family. Baha’i teachings even praise sexuality as long as it is canalised to within the couple. Let us have the Baha’i community this way, and the Lutherans another way and scientifically compare the outcome in some years.

  • farhan

    newbahai wrote: I think ultimately the debate is really over the origin of homosexual feeling and or attractions

    Farhan: this might be important to you, to somehow decide if you are to “blame” or not. It is also useful to activists who wish to establish that ALL orientation is genetic and comparable to skin colour. However experience shows that orientation can change in life and many factors can determine a homosexual behaviour: genetics, hormones, opportunities, experience, social setting, etc. There is a site that discuss this in an open and scientific manner: http://borngay.procon.org/

    The Baha’i faith is a belief system that promotes a way of life. This involves spiritual values that are applied to a community life. Teachings might have only a spiritual incidence: prayer, studying the writings, truthfulness, abandoning prejudice, loving our neighbour, fasting… other teachings also have a community incidence: marriage, not participating in political issues… untruthfulness, theft, adultery are hence condemned spiritually, but can also entail a condemnation by the community, if it is felt as a threat to community life, and even in some cases condemned by criminal law.

  • farhan

    Grove, there is a collection of love letters by Abdu'l-Baha to his wife; apparently it would prove to be contrary to what you presume; this having being said, the Baha'i teachings consider sexuality as merely one of the functions in this life, albeit an important one, the fundamental purpose of our temporary life in this world being to advance civilisation.

  • sonjavank

    Various posters have made varying claims about the Bahai Writings from saying that homosexuality is forbidden to that homosexuals cannot have partnerships.

    So what is really in the Bahai Writings? And if not, where do these homophobic ideas come from? And is it possible for the Bahai community to ever treat individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, with equality?

    So to the Bahai Writings as much as I know relying on English translations only here.

    I'm focussing on the Bahai writings because to start with this is what the Bahai Faith is based on and secondly these writings are not subject to change. So anything authentic (meaning tablets or writings with a signature or seal on the original or written by a known copyist of Baha'u'llah or 'Abdul-Baha. And this is a complicated issue because in some cases there are several copies of some tablets that are considered authentic Bahai scripture.

    And then add to this that what we have in English are translations and translations can never be exact for all cases of writing.

    Bahais accept the Bahai Writings as being only that authored by The Bab, Baha'u'llah and 'Adbul-Baha. And Shoghi Effendi's own writing only defines the Bahai teachings where it interpretes the Bahai Scriptures. Shoghi Effendi had excellent English so we can look at his own texts ourselves.

    So let's start with the Kitab-i-Aqdas as we have it in English because it is the only place in a text of Bahai Scripture where there is something concerning homosexuality mentioned.

    In the preface to this book it is written by the Universal House of Justice or the Research department (no author is given in the 1992 edition for the preface) that:

    In 1953 Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, included as one of the goals of his Ten Year Plan the preparation of a Synopsis and Codification of the Laws and Ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas as an essential prelude to its translation. He himself worked on the codification, but had not finished it when he died in 1957. The task was continued on the basis of his work, and the resulting volume was released in 1973. That publication included, in addition to the Synopsis and Codification itself and explanatory notes, a compilation of the passages from the Kitáb-i-Aqdas which had already been translated by Shoghi Effendi and published in various books.

    The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. vii

    Nothing indicates which parts where penned by Shoghi Effendi in his role as interpretator of the Baha'u'llah's Writings and what was not written by him, so we have to take all text apart from what is in the Aqdas as either something the UHJ is interpreting, which we know they cannot do or as commentary open for debate, even should the UHJ then decide that some point in the commentary is now to be law they have legistrated on.

    I make this point, because even should the UHJ make a law to legistrate that, for example, same sex marriage is forbidden by Bahais, we as Bahais would still be free to discuss and debate this. The laws that the UHJ makes one year, it can also change next year. Obedience to laws doesn't mean silence. And of course, if Bahais may not discuss or debate laws the UHJ have made, well, that leaves very little wriggle room for the Bahai principle of independent investigation, let alone the possibility for Bahai communities to address or relate or to understand these laws.

    So now to the text of the Aqdas as it is in the 1992 edition in English:

    We shrink, for very shame, from treating of the subject of boys.

    Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 58

    And now to what is now in the notes to the Aqdas.
    The Research department or the UHJ have written in the notes section:

    134. the subject of boys # 107

    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.
    The Bahá'í teachings on sexual morality centre on marriage and the family as the bedrock of the whole structure of human society and are designed to protect and strengthen that divine institution. Bahá'í law thus restricts permissible sexual intercourse to that between a man and the woman to whom he is married.
    In a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi it is stated:
    No matter how devoted and fine the love may be between people of the same sex, to let it find expression in sexual acts is wrong. To say that it is ideal is no excuse. Immorality of every sort is really forbidden by Bahá'u'lláh, and homosexual relationships He looks upon as such, besides being against nature. To be afflicted this way is a great burden to a conscientious soul. But through the advice and help of doctors, through a strong and determined effort, and through prayer, a soul can overcome this handicap.
    Bahá'u'lláh makes provision for the Universal House of Justice to determine, according to the degree of the offence, penalties for adultery and sodomy (Q and A 49).

    ibid, p. 223

    So let's assume this is the voice of the UHJ of the early 1990s because this publication is considered an official document by the Bahai Administration. That the UHJ state “Shoghi Effendi has interpreted” and then refer a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, indicates that they are treating letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi as if Shoghi Effendi himself wrote them. The letter they quote above does not have a reference to anything in Bahai Scripture and the letter does not state that it is an interpretation. This is very important if we are serious about what really is part of unchangeable Bahai Scripture and what isn't.

    Unfortunately Shoghi Effendi never penned anything himself in regards to the status of these letters written on his behalf, except I assume, when he must have been annoyed enough to ask a secretary to write the following:

    I wish to call your attention to certain things in “Principles of Bahá'í Administration” which has just reached the Guardian; although the material is good, he feels that the complete lack of quotation marks is very misleading. His own words, the words of his various secretaries, even the Words of Bahá'u'lláh Himself, are all lumped together as one text. This is not only not reverent in the case of Bahá'u'lláh's Words, but misleading. Although the secretaries of the Guardian convey his thoughts and instructions and these messages are authoritative, their words are in no sense the same as his, their style certainly not the same, and their authority less, for they use their own terms and not his exact words in conveying his messages. He feels that in any future edition this fault should be remedied, any quotations from Bahá'u'lláh or the Master plainly attributed to them, and the words of the Guardian clearly differentiated from those of his secretaries.

    Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha'i Community, p. 260

    What this doesn't tell us, is whether the 'authority' of the letters by secretaries is an extension of the Guardian's executive authority as head of the Faith — meaning, “it must be obeyed by the addresse” or of the Guardian's authority as authorised interpreter of the writings, meaning “they become part of the sacred text.” What we can say is there is nothing explicit to indicate that a letter by a secretary can share in the Guardian's unique role as authorised interpreter.
    There is also nothing explicit to say that the Guardian's secretaries do **not** share the authority of interpretation. However the phrase “their authority less” seems to suggest this, because an exective authority can be greater or less, direct or indirect, can apply to a local or individual situation or to all Bahai communities, but when the Guardian interprets scripture that interpretation becomes part of the scripture concerned.

    Sen has an essay on this on his blog. Scroll down the list to “COMMENTARY on Seena Fazel and Khazeh Fananapazir´s “Some interpretive principles in the Bahá´í Writings.”

    If something is considered part of the Bahai Writings, it cannot be changed. That is, sex with children can never be OK in Bahai law, because this is part of what Baha'u'llah's text in the Aqdas. All the texts in the notes have been penned by others and unless the texts in the notes refer to quotations from the Bahai Scripture themselves, they are all open to change by the UHJ.
    I would also imagine that if the UHJ were to make a law, that it would clearly state that it was making a law. So in my view, it is unclear to me what the actual status is of the texts in the notes section. I make this point because in 1992 when the Aqdas was first printed in English a list of corrections was distributed about 6 months later. In regards to the Aqdas, the corrections were minor things like typos, but in the notes, sometimes a whole paragraph was deleted, such as in note 108. I can only assume that this paragraph no longer reflects the position or thinking of the UHJ
    whereas at an earlier time it did. The UHJ is free to change the texts of the notes as it wishes.
    Perhaps this could be seen as them making laws? I don't know.
    Rather than debating whether or not the UHJ make law when they make statements in official Bahai documents, I prefer to focus on the principle of Bahai Law as I understand it, in general behind this. That is, anything UHJ decides or states is subject to change by a later UHJ.

    If any statement on the wrongs of homosexuality is by UHJ, then it is subject to change.

  • timwatts

    <<<<it would be a similar advice if the person was married and madly in love with another, or someone unable to marry lacking consent of parents>>>

    I bet they wouldn't have been so insulted by a revoltingly predujiced letter from the UHJ though!!!

    Baha'i according to their own sacred texts should be actively fighting for the relinquishing of their vile predujiuces and should be standing up to such bullying even if they weren't gay…it's truly revolting to hold these ideas…at least fascists and mass murderers didn't hide behind the shameful double talk and double dealings pretending to have the whole of mankind's welfare at heart…

    It will be the BF that will be swept away by an uprising of the masses who are fed up to the back teeth of oppression and bigotry…..there enough of a rant

  • farhan

    Sonjavank, I see you have access to Baha’i writings and other comments about homosexuality which are abundant in Internet

    There is a point I see often overlooked in comments. Beyond the personal and spiritual aspects of Baha’i teachings, there is also an implication regarding community life to which they are of course linked. For example, Baha’u’llah condemns very strongly back-biting and also states that he who uses opium or follows his mundane desires is not of Him, even though he bears His name. These comments refer a spiritual condemnation and consequences of such acts. They do not mean that someone who back bites or an opium user are automatically disenroled from the community, unless the behaviour is a threat to community cohesion.

    Furthermore, an action might also have consequences in respect to the criminal laws of a country where we live. A child molester might argue that his orientation and hence his behaviour were naturally acquired at birth, but beyond the spiritual consequences in the hands of God, he will be facing community and also criminal charges.

  • timwatts

    Well I know who my money is on….do you wnat to set a time limit on this….. by the way this is the first time i have ever heard a baha'i more or less saying his relgion is better than someone else's..

    The fruits of the Baha'i faith are prejudice and division and we should indeed know them by theses same fruits….

  • timwatts

    “Both you and your Baha'i friend must first recognize that a homosexual relationship subverts the purpose of human life and that determined effort to overcome the wayward tendencies which promote this practice which, like other sexual vices, is so abhorrent to the Creator of all mankind will help you both to return to a path that leads to true happiness.

    This can't be real can it…who in their right minds would say such a thing to anothr human being? Go on tell me it's made up surely…

    How can God find anything abhorrrent? It's not as if he couldn't do anything about it….for example just change our natures…there simple…what a revolting thing to say.

  • timwatts

    still waiting for an example of the writings which forbids gay relationships,,,

    we have one so far about child abuse…..where are the others…if God finds it so abhorrent,,,,,it seems sadly missing from his words.

    Did you know that in Persian the word for gay was .. baché baz..
    ie someone who plays in a sexaul way with chidren….so ok we know pedaphilia is condemned what about gay sex…

  • timwatts

    A child molester might argue that he is only doing what comes natural to him/her…the point is that sex must be between constenting adults and childrfen cannot give meaningful consent…

    i see you are lumping gays together with child abusers like all iranians i have met due to the words “bache baz” meaning gay….

    even child molesters realise that they are harming others….and want to stop for the most part….

  • timwatts

    child molster is not a sexual orientation by the way

  • sonjavank

    thanks for your post M:

    You wrote: “You apologize with your comparison of Bahá'í law to Dutch law”

    No, I didn't mean to imply that Dutch nor Bahai law are some sort of hierarchy with each other, but i'll elaborate on this below. I made that comment because when I write here, I see myself as writing to a Bahai audience and wanted to be sure no one would think I was disregarding the relevance of Bahai law.

    As Bahais we must obey the laws of the country. Or put more strictly, Bahai Law states this, so actually it is Bahai Law which places more importance to a law of the country.

    None must contend with those who wield authority over the people; leave unto them that which is theirs, and direct your attention to men's hearts.

    Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 54

    God hath committed into your hands the reins of the government of the people, that ye may rule with justice over them, safeguard the rights of the downtrodden, and punish the wrongdoers.

    Baha'u'llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 188

    So I agree, of course, Dutch Law dominates over Bahai law. Baha'u'llah has stated this himself.
    As to your reasoning for Dutch Law being superior are similiar arguments Baha'u'llah wrote in his tablet to Queen Victoria:

    We have also heard that thou hast entrusted the reins of counsel into the hands of the representatives of the people. Thou, indeed, hast done well, for thereby the foundations of the edifice of thine affairs will be strengthened, and the hearts of all that are beneath thy shadow, whether high or low, will be tranquillized. It behoveth them, however, to be trustworthy among His servants, and to regard themselves as the representatives of all that dwell on earth.

    Baha'u'llah, The Proclamation of Baha'u'llah, p. 33

    And I agree with you, a law is much better if as you wrote: “is a collection of principles derived by groups of people working together from secular reasoning, anticipating the future by observing historical lessons, and building on that solid foundation by a system of common law that allows for new and dynamic interpretations of these aforementioned principles.”

    This is the way social laws work best but I wouldn't too happy if a group people used those same procedures for how we should say prayers. Symbollic values and questions of truth are not decided by majority vote. Culture is an influence and civil law can certainly affect culture. Such as here in the Netherlands where in general there is tolerance towards a diversity of sexual identity. But the political processes has its limits.

    What is religious law for?
    You wrote that Bahai law: “is a collection of random articles of faith, general principles abstracted from then-current wisdom, and specific behavioral prohibitions and prescriptions that were important from the perspective of one Iranian nobleman a few hundred years ago. They are, in other words, utterly irrelevant by any objective standard of ethical reasoning or any important measure of normative evaluation.”

    So we have Bahai principles such as equality, independent investigation of truth, the balance of religion and science and so on and then we have the text of the Kitab-i-Adqas which seems to come out of a medival age.

    Bahai Law has two components: The text of the Aqdas and the “Questions and Answers” and similiar tablets by Baha'u'llah, and then what the UHJ legistrates and the NSAs + LSAs apply and refine, etc.

    In the form and content the Aqdas imitates Islamic law. Because it imitates Islamic law, it can supercede Islamic law in a society. Islamism (the idea that Islamic law is also state law) is a twentieth century innovation. In Baha'u'llah's time religious laws were mainly in the private sphere and state administered. So one way to view this aspect of Bahai law, is as a response to Islamic law. For example, in Islamic law a woman had to have permission from her father to marry. Baha'u'llah changed this so that men had to ask as well, and to have their mother's permission. Instead of abolishing something with deep cultural roots he has used the principle of equality to modify it.

    I think it is likely that Baha'u'llah intended his laws to be used as principles which individuals and institutions could work with.

    Think not that We have revealed unto you a mere code of laws. Nay, rather, We have unsealed the choice Wine with the fingers of might and power

    Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 21

    Baha'u'llah states that he doesn't give just us a code of laws. I would argue that the code of laws he established is the UHJ as legistrator of laws. A UHJ which is flexible and free to change its own laws in a changing world.

    It is fantastic that you end your posting on the question of the nature of marriage because this is going to the topic of my next blog. I'm busy these days, but hope it will be there in a month or so.

  • timwatts

    Sexual orientation is hard wired into our brains..asking people to “overcome it” is not only pointless as it is impossible…but cruel and misleading….society would still be protected if it relinquished this prejudice which is blindly mirrored in the baha'i faith….how could community cohesion be harmed? are you suggesting that hitherto majority orientations will suddenly decide to have same sex realtionships abandoning marriage and procreation? Tell me how denying gays basic rights protects the community?

  • dco

    Simply out: “Both you and your Baha'i friend must first recognize that a homosexual relationship subverts the purpose of human life and that determined effort to overcome the wayward tendencies which promote this practice which, like other sexual vices, is so abhorrent to the Creator of all mankind will help you both to return to a path that leads to true happiness.” Means to most GLBT folks “go away” They want to say it overtly, but BF decorum suggests that they beat around the bush…

  • dco

    I shared this in other forums but it is worth repeating. A number of years my city was rocked by the murder of a prominet gay couple in their home and the firebombing and burning of 3 synagogues by a pair of neo-Nazis. The next evening there were 10,00 of us with candles in protest in front of the state capitol, chanting “not in our city!”. It was beautiful, it was powerful, it was right, and still gives me goose bumps.

    The Baha'is of course were no were to be seen, despite the groups of other religious and human rights organizations. Despite the fact the the masses were meeting on the very spot that the Master himself had once walked and talked to people many years ago.

    With in a week, my local school district (2 of the synagogues were in it) convened a group of community members to meet with the superintendent. I was honored to be asked to participate – as both a gay man and as a Baha'i. My community sent no not of congratulations or even acknowledgment. The group was made up of men and women, a rabbi, a couple of pastors and priests, some lay persons, etc.

    Over the 2 years we met and were charged with dealing with hate crimes and bigotry in the schools. After a few months the rabbi called more one day and asked,

    “Daniel, I have two lesbians who want to be married in the synagogue, tell me your thoughts”.

    I shared with him my experience with bigotry, narrow-mindedness, homophobia with in the Baha'i community. He also told me about similar things n his congregation.

    Finally I asked,

    “what is better a Jewish lesbian couple or non-Jewish lesbian couple?”

    He thanked me.

    A week later I read in the paper that he had married the first lesbian couple in his synagogue. This was by the way long before Gay marriage was even on the horizon here in California. The are now the most welcoming place in town, and are growing.

    Meanwhile the capitol city of the most populous state in the richest country on earth has no Baha'i Center.

    Many of my friend and colleagues keep asking me why I put up with this homophobic religion? To be honest its gets harder to explain it away…

  • dco

    Thank you so much everybody for the dialogue…

  • dco

    Sonja -

    This is really wonderful, and will take me some time to digest.

    In the name of the many silent and fearful GLBT's who read this list, thank you so very much! It obviously took a long time and a great deal of thought!

    You are very dear, not to mention brave. You stand as a great light to many of us who have been thrown out, have left, or stand quietly by in fear.

    Hugs!

    Daniel

  • Grover

    As Sonja just said, Baha'u'llah only mentioned “little boys”, I don't think 'Abdu'l-Baha said anything about the subject, and anything from Shoghi Effendi was written on his behalf – so the best we have is from SE's secretaries and the UHJ… Whats your preference?

  • pey

    I love it. Farhan continues to insult and turns around and says he's just discussing ideas and not insulting people. Farhan, get a clue. YOU have just insulted a married gay couple raising wonderful children by telling them that God's Messenger for this day and age has lumped them together with back-biters, child molestors and opium users. Thanks a lot for “teaching” the Faith! Oh and btw, you are correct, back-biters are allowed to remain in the community (I know of a number of good Persian woman who open up their purses for Bahaullah and continue to back bit in the community; of course the AO would never think of kicking them out or their dollars). Of course on the otherhand, a gay couple with kids would automatically be told they are not welcome unless they divorce and as the blessed 9 men on the hill said “overcome their wayward tendencies”- you know the tendency to love someone and build a family with that person.

  • fubar

    what happened was that DISQUS would briefly post the item, then in a few seconds/minutes (upon refesh of the client browser cache?), it was gone.

    If you can get logs of the interface between DISQUS and your actual blog, you might see what happened. if not, then it seems likeit would have been a glitch more internal to DISQUS.

    as Amanda says, the item was however distributed via DISQUS email.

    my guess is that some kind of server/net maintenance, or overload, was going on (late night) that caused the glitch, but it could have been a security breach.

    i'll try to repost my cr*pola if someone wants me to, but it probably isn't worth the time.

  • fubar

    sonja wrote:
    And I agree with you, a law is much better if as you wrote: “is a collection of principles derived by groups of people working together from secular reasoning, anticipating the future by observing historical lessons, and building on that solid foundation by a system of common law that allows for new and dynamic interpretations of these aforementioned principles.”

    This is the way social laws work best but I wouldn't too happy if a group people used those same procedures for how we should say prayers.

    yes, but this is the problem:

    if a majority in a country converted to fundamentalist-bahai belief, they could simply vote in a dictatorship, rewrite the constitution to make being a critic of such bahai religion punishable by torture/etc.

    there is nothing in the bahai system that could stop such an occurrance, even of the uhj wanted it stopped (short of a war).

  • Baquia

    Farhan, each of the vices that you list (back-biting, opium, child molestation) are self-evident as having a detrimental effect on a community. By lumping them in a discussion re homosexuality, are you implying that homosexuality is also detrimental to a community? If so, can you please provide some evidence?

  • farhan

    Timwatts: by the way this is the first time i have ever heard a baha'i more or less saying his relgion is better than someone else's..

    Farhan: This would be a violation of Baha’i principles; what we can say is that it is the latest update of the same religion.

    Timwatts : still waiting for an example of the writings which forbids gay relationships,,,

    Farhan : I now of no other quote than the ones largely distributed on Internet. My understanding is that sexual relations are only allowed within marriage, and no provisions have been made for same-sex marriages, hence same sex relations are not allowed to Baha’is.

    Timwatts: i see you are lumping gays together with child abusers like all iranians i have met due to the words “bache baz” meaning gay….

    Farhan: Not at all, although I agree that the mistake is common; historically, gay relations have been mentored in young boys, for example by Spartans.

    Timwatts: even child molesters realise that they are harming others….and want to stop for the most part….

    Farhan: this is not always true; some abusers believe that they are playing innocent and even useful games that an uncompromising and puritan society does not tolerate. Their only regret is that society does not allow them to do what they want.

    Timwatts: child molster is not a sexual orientation by the way

    Farhan: I might be misusing the English word. The French word I intended to use is “préférence sexuelle” it can be an exclusive preference, or an occasional one, it can be a homo or heterosexual attraction, it can be with or without enactment, with and without violence, it can be acquired, and perhaps innate, although most aggressors have themselves been victims as a child, which suggests it is more often acquired.

    Timwatts : asking people to “overcome it” is not only pointless as it is impossible…but cruel and misleading….

    Farhan: i have never seen Baha’i writings talking about changing orientation, but behaviour and way of life. They are also only requiring this way of life from those who wish to be active members of the community. Would abstinence for gays be more difficult than for non-gays? In your view, the 15 million French celibates would fall sick if they abstained? However, I do agree that non gays have the choice of marrying that gays do not have.

    Timwatts: how could community cohesion be harmed?

    Farhan: how can we expect chastity from non gay youths and not from gay? And accept unmarried gay couples and not accept unmarried non-gay couples? Some churches are accepting gay marriages. We will see how the experience turns out. Why expect the Baha’is to be pioneers in this field?

  • mavaddat

    Sonja, I present to you the crux of the problem, as I see it:

    You think the Bahá'í Faith's opposition to homosexuality can be changed whereas the Universal House of Justice and Shoghi Effendi both agree that the Bahá'í Faith's opposition to homosexuality is decreed by Bahá'u'lláh himself. Thus, the law of homophobia cannot be repealed. You may protest that Bahá'u'lláh did not actually speak about homosexuality as such, but that is completely irrelevant. I've noticed that Bahá'í moderates seem to have a great deal of trouble seeing how irrelevant this is. The reason why it's irrelevant is that Shoghi Effendi was granted infallible authority to interpret Bahá'u'lláh (by 'Abdu'l-Bahá) and Shoghi Effendi interpreted Bahá'u'lláh as condemning homosexuality. So whether you personally believe that Bahá'u'lláh never condemned homosexuality is as relevant to the faithful Bahá'í as whether women are actually qualified to serve on the House of Justice. They simply couldn't care less what Bahá'u'lláh did or did not say, since Shoghi Effendi clearly tells them what to believe Bahá'u'lláh said and they accept that unconditionally (remember, he was infallible). (At this point, we will do well to remember that the Bahá'í Faith has no clergy, because people blindly followed the clergy in past dispensations. That is to say, the Bahá'í prohibition of clergy is a load of Boole sheet.)

    It seems, however, that I was not clear about my point regarding the superiority of Dutch law to Bahá'í law. You seemed to take my point as one of practice, so that (to you) what I meant was that a Dutch citizen should practice Dutch law above Bahá'í law. Thus, you quoted Bahá'u'lláh praising Queen Victoria for promoting democracy and suggested that this shows “Baha'u'llah makes a similiar argument [to mine].”

    This is not what I meant by saying that Dutch law is superior to Bahá'í law.

    What I meant was that Bahá'í law is approximately worthless by any objective standard. It is irrelevant, not just for practice by citizens of specific countries, but even for consideration by any person anywhere in the world. I want to be clear that I do not merely mean the current Bahá'í Administrative Order. I mean the Bahá'í Faith itself, as authored by the so-called “Central Figures”. The authoritative Bahá'í law is a deluded man's fancy, an empty pantomime of the shadow of justice; it is a charade aimed at mimicking actual equality and wellbeing with the mere semblance of equality and wellbeing; it is, in short, not worthy of the attention of anyone actually concerned about human welfare or justice. If this is similar to an argument by Bahá'u'lláh, I would be surprised indeed.

    The point, however, isn't that the particular laws of the Bahá'í Faith are somehow wrong or immoral — no. Don't get me wrong: I think that racial and gender equality, the elimination of extremes of wealth and poverty, and universal compulsory education are wonderful goals. The point is that there is no justification for these goals within the Bahá'í framework except to fulfil God's will. At best, the Bahá'í writings are ambivalent about whether human happiness has any intrinsic worth, and more often, the Bahá'í dogma considers human happiness is a mere means to fulfilling God's will (lest we forget God's greater plan!).

    So you see, the worth of the Bahá'í Faith is the same as the worth of an elementary school cheater who copies the answers from his neighbour (in this case, Enlightenment philosophy, a thousand years of Islamic jurisprudence, Sufi tradition, social custom, etc.). Even Bahá'u'lláh's lame attempt at an analogy in the verse you cited

    Think not that We have revealed unto you a mere code of laws. Nay, rather, We have unsealed the choice Wine with the fingers of might and power [...]

    is an appropriation of Omar Khayyam's famous literary device, except Bahá'u'lláh wholly mangles it and employs it as a rhetorical trick, without any meaning. (I mean, “fingers of might and power”? What ridiculous imagery. This is the great literary talent we're supposed to admire?)

    If you want to decide procedures for how you want to say prayers, then go ahead. Symbolic values and questions of truth are indeed not decided by majority vote. But to suggest that authoritative decree has any more right to decide such matters is simply to make a mockery of their importance. My point is that we discard the Bahá'í Faith with all its haughty claims of infallibility and assaulting words for those who dare question its decrees, and instead, seek the wisdom that the Bahá'í Faith appropriates from the source itself: human history, science, philosophy, and literature. Not only can we do this safely with no apprehensions of losing anything valuable, a commitment to justice and fairness and equal regard for people of all sexual orientations would demand it of us. So I sincerely hope one day we will all overcome the comfort of dogmatism and be joined together in this endeavour.

  • Baquia

    I think I've found your comments – apparently they somehow fell through the cracks of disqus but are in the main wordpress commenting database. strange :-/
    I'll see what I can do to rescue them from purgatory.

  • farhan

    Baquia, we are discussing Baha'i teachings concerning homosexuality.

    IMO, as a doctor and and individual, I would wish the least possible tension, and the more people have fun, the better.

    As a citizen I would say that the crux of the matter for all religions has been to canalise the sexual drive into marriage; as no provisions have been made for gay marriages, and procreation and upbringing of off springs have been an essential (although non exclusive) aim, gay relations on exactly the same basis as adultery are detrimental to the social structure.

    As a doctor i would say that gays being part of a minority group, they deserve some kind of a protection, just as left-handed people.

    As an individual i would say park your car wherever you want but don't get caught. if I were a mayor, i would say for safety reasons and the common good, parking has to be restricted and offenders sanctioned.

  • mavaddat

    Is this what justice is supposed to hinge on? Are we really supposed to delay granting people such a fundamental right as choosing with whom they spend the rest of their lives without fear of alienation until such exegetical gymnastics performed and interpretative minutiae are brought to light that will persuade those committed to unthinking dogmatism? Really? Is this the best we can do? To fixate on the various meanings of “authoritative,” to engage in correspondence calculus for deciding what letters to whom meant what for the community at large? Are we supposed to take this seriously? These are not the methods of people actually concerned with justice. This is a circus side show, not a way to arrange human affairs (including our most intimate relationships). How can we be expected to take the Bahá'í writings seriously when it doesn't take itself seriously? I commend Hume's instruction to us all for deciding how to regard the Bahá'í writings:

    Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.

  • sonjavank

    Mavaddat:
    So much of what you state in your post as Bahai this or that had me in fits of laughter.

    Incase you are serious, I'll respond to one of your points.

    “You may protest that Bahá'u'lláh did not actually speak about homosexuality as such, but that is completely irrelevant.”

    Well, well, sorry to contradict you, but it is very relevent at least to Bahais!

  • mavaddat

    Sonja, it is a shame you did not take my post more seriously. You cling to a faith that condemns the most intimate part of your brother's relationship, but why? Social justice does not depend on the Bahá'í Faith, but the Bahá'í Faith depends on Bahá'ís to continue to support its dogmatic framework. It's the desire for dogmatism that is the problem here, not the particular prohibition on homosexuality. Even if the prohibition were eliminated, there are other laws that need revision, or some future impediment to justice would arise, and the whole issue of how to interpret would be revived again. It is ridiculous. We are trying to mould the Bahá'í Faith into a respectable religion when it is the dogmatism at its bedrock that keeps it ridiculous.

    Well, well, sorry to contradict you, but it is very relevent at least to Bahais!

    You have a very high regard for Bahá'ís, Sonja. You seem to think that they are committed to independent investigation of the truth, that they question their authorities, and that their religion commends this to them.

    This is, sadly, not the case.

    If Shoghi Effendi tells them otherwise, Bahá'ís really do not care what Bahá'u'lláh actually said. Likewise, if the Universal House of Justice tells Bahá'ís that Shoghi Effendi tells them that homosexuality is forbidden, Bahá'ís don't care to delve into a hermeneutic investigation to determine if this is true. They regard Shoghi Effendi as infallible, they regard the Universal House of Justice as infallible, and they trust that their authorities are telling them the truth.

    There is nothing in all the “independent investigation” rhetoric of the Bahá'í writings which encourages Bahá'ís to question their own religious authorities. Not even one measly verse. All of the admonitions to independent investigation are addressed to those outside the Bahá'í community, while Bahá'ís are told:

    O SON OF BEING! With the hands of power I made thee and with the fingers of strength I created thee; and within thee have I placed the essence of My light. Be thou content with it and seek naught else, for My work is perfect and My command is binding. Question it not, nor have a doubt thereof.

    And:

    Were He to decree as lawful the thing which from time immemorial had been forbidden, and forbid that which had, at all times, been regarded as lawful, to none is given the right to question His authority. Whoso will hesitate, though it be for less than a moment, should be regarded as a transgressor.

    And:

    Let it not be imagined that the House of Justice will take any decision according to its own concepts and opinions. God forbid! The Supreme House of Justice will take decisions and establish laws through the inspiration and confirmation of the Holy Spirit, because it is in the safekeeping and under the shelter and protection of the Ancient Beauty, and obedience to its decisions is a bounden and essential duty and an absolute obligation, and there is no escape for anyone. ('Abdu'l-Bahá, “Rahíq-i-Makhtúm” vol. I, pp. 302-4; also, “Bahá'í News” 426 September 1966, p. 2; also, cited in “Wellspring of Guidance” pp. 84-6)

    It is this attitude that stands in the way of justice. Let us be done with this dogmatism once and for all and finally employ a respectable dialogue.

  • mavaddat

    Sonja, I took your comments seriously. How have I forgone the right to be treated reciprocally? Do I not deserve to be taken seriously? I would hope we can discuss these matters without laughing at one another.

  • sonjavank

    My apologizes Mavaddat, I really thought you were joking.

    In my posting you were responding to, I thought I clearly showed (that's why I used so many quotations – i want get past what people say they think the Bahai Writings are about, to what the Bahais actually say) that Shoghi Effendi never penned anything on the subject of homosexuality either. And the point of my post was that it boiled down to the policies of the UHJ.
    Your response ignored all of that to state that “the Universal House of Justice and Shoghi Effendi both agree the law of homophobia cannot be repealed”

    I don't even know where to start in way of response to this statement as I've already clearly shown that this is not the case. So I assumed you were joking. I was not laughing at you.

  • mavaddat

    In my posting you were responding to, I thought I clearly showed [...]

    No, I wasn't responding to that post in the response you said you laughed at. I was responding to the post with which you begin:

    thanks for your post M:

    You wrote: “You apologize with your comparison of Bahá'í law to Dutch law” [...]

    If you look down this thread, you'll see that I did respond to your post in which you argue that Shoghi Effendi never interpreted Bahá'u'lláh on pederasty, that the letters were from his secretary, etc. Scroll down, and you'll see my response.

    Your response ignored all of that to state that “the Universal House of Justice and Shoghi Effendi both agree the law of homophobia cannot be repealed”

    No. You're confusing my response above with my response below. My statement that “the Universal House of Justice and Shoghi Effendi both agree the law of homophobia cannot be repealed” was before reading your post below.

    I don't (as most Bahá'ís do not) accept the premise that Shoghi Effendi's secretaries did not speak for him. You acknowledge that Shoghi Effendi's secretaries have some authority, but that the authority is not the same as Shoghi Effendi's. That's fine. So you ask, how much authority did Shoghi Effendi's secretaries really have?

    My point is that this cannot possibly matter for deciding how we ought to treat gay people. It's not that “if you're a Bahá'í, then it matters to you.” Objectively speaking, the relevance of such exercises for determining whether homosexuality should be condemned is as relevant as asking whether the stars that comprise Taurus agree with the local street psychic prediction. They're just irrelevant. If a Bahá'í chooses to care about such matters in deciding how to regard homosexuality, then they're choosing to abdicate their moral sense for authority — a means of thinking about morality that has nothing to do with human welfare, happiness, or experience.

  • fubar

    while I agree with you and Hume, *IF* the bahai faith ever changes this specific policy, it will probably be because of the gyrations that reformers like sonja develop.

    or, maybe one morning the baboons on the dump in haifa will all get sick and die, and whoever replaces them will simply decide to exhibit some basic human decency and get rid of all the dunce theology in bahai scripture by declaring it unscientific and thus null/void.

  • Alison Hart

    “These are not the methods of people actually concerned with justice. This is a circus side show, not a way to arrange human affairs (including our most intimate relationships).”

    Mavaddat: you have perfectly identified the source of the problem.

    The inherent weakness of the Baha’i Faith is authoritarianism rather than fundamentalism. The Faith has inherited a literalism of scriptural words similar to the Islamic tradition. The appeal to authoritarianism betrays an obsession with ideological purity and legalistic piety. In the context of late modern or post-modern social and scientific realities, this approach is psychologically abusive and socially toxic.

    As Bob Altemeyer notes about authoritarian followers:

    “They are highly submissive to established authority, aggressive in the name of that authority, and conventional to the point of insisting everyone should behave as their authorities decide. They are fearful and self-righteous and have a lot of hostility in them that they readily direct toward various out-groups. They are easily incited, easily led, rather un-inclined to think for themselves, largely impervious to facts and reason, and rely instead on social support to maintain their beliefs. They bring strong loyalty to their in-groups, have thick-walled, highly compartmentalized minds, use a lot of double standards in their judgments, are surprisingly unprincipled at times, and are often hypocrites.”

    Someone wrote:

    “In the same way that I obey the laws of the land in which I am a citizen of, I as a Baha'i, have no qualms in obeying the House when they set down a law. That is their role and my role as a member of the community is to abide.”

    And that is precisely the problem.

    Is it ever right to violate a law of the land? Some people contend
    that an individual ought to break a human law, provided that it is
    contrary to divine law. What is divine law? Who decides? Shall
    the individual decide, or is that the duty of the community? Or of
    the clergy? Was it right for the Abolitionists to violate the
    provisions of the fugitive slave law? Were this handful of men,
    able and conscientious as they were, as likely to be right
    regarding the welfare of society as the large majority of citizens
    whose representatives had enacted the fugitive slave law?

    Under what circumstances, if any, is it one's duty to disobey a law
    of the state? Would the fact that an individual believed it his
    duty to violate the law justify a judge in declining to punish him?
    Thoreau declined to pay a tax that he believed unjust and accepted
    his punishment, declaring that if he paid the penalty he might thus
    arouse public sentiment and secure the repeal of the law. Was John
    Brown justified in attempting illegally to free slaves by force of
    arms?

    Critical thought and reflective analysis are not a part of submissive obedience. I refer you to this link to further look at this problem:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NL0uxDscjdo

  • fubar

    according to what I remember being discussed at feast, or similar gathering, the sacramento lsa (no geniuses) took a long time “consulting” about the incident, and probably had to wait weeks/months for “guidance” from the auxilliary bored members and/or USBNC.

    (maintaining the purity of bahai laws is more important to risk-averse lsa folk then any spontaneous participation in a real unity movement about civil rights.)

    there was a serious group of people that wanted to form a non-profit group to fund purchase of a bahai center about 10 years ago. unfortunately one of the principles was feared to be so incompetent by people with actual business experience that the whole project was derailed by the secret elite uberpowers hiding behind the curtain.

    bahai = amateur stuff + bureaucratic quagmire.

  • fubar

    some of the officially “untranslated” mystical writings of bahaullah contain descriptions of the state of mystical-transcendent unity as being overtly sexual. “god” penetrates the believer. etc.

    mix opium/hashish and living in caves waaaay too long, and people will think up some pretty wild stuff.

    the theme is apparently borrowed from sufi poetry, which in turn may have borrowed it from bhakti-hinduism and/or buddhism (buddhist merchants had communities along the spice/silk roads through the middle east, at least in the early era of islam).

  • dco

    thanx fubar… if you livein Sac shoot me an email, lets talk

  • dco

    This is interesting.

    If you read the letter they sent me which I posted at:

    http://revolked2.blogspot.com/2009/05/lets-star…… someone must have been offended and reported me for talking about my marriage on the internet.

    It seems that the AO has decided that it is ok to remove the rights of GLBT folks but those of us who are sanctioned have no recourse, rights or opportunity to defend or explain ourselves… this is not justice. This if it occurred at my university, it would be profoundly illegal.

    But of course if you are a Baha'i from a “good” or “prominent” family, all the rules are quite different.

  • dco

    It is indeed offensive, if not old school. that sexual orientation and pedophilia are constantly linked…

  • dco

    Thank you Allsion this is excellent, but I beg to differ slightly, I will come to the defense of Sonja here.

    Sonja has had the guts to come out as a straight woman in the defense of glbt Baha'is. Few if any straight people have gone this far. As well, it is my experience that the glbt folks hide or allow other glbt's to martyred.

    Those of us with activist colleagues in more progressive religious groups, see believers who are untied, open, and fearless… where are you people? Lets spend less time, picking on the messenger, and talking about solutions.

    We should all be horrified that a religion that aspires to be progressive and modern, is behaving alike the lunatic, evangelical fringe… and persecutes its minority membership so. there are good , decent people being thrown out for no reason other than institutionalized homophobia, there are youth committing suicide, and there is ignorance being perpetrated as divinely ordained law… and no one feels free to discuss it, or stand up for those who have been wronged!

  • Baquia

    Farhan, that's what I thought. But then I lived a little. For example, currently a child of an NSA member is living with their boyfriend (without Baha'i marriage). This has been going on for years. Yet the NSA has not sanctioned this person. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that they come from a very well known Baha'i family and that their parent is on the NSA.

    LoL

  • Baquia

    Alison, I already addressed this: Individual Conscience

  • Craig Parke

    Alison,

    Thank you for your terrific post!

    These two below quotes are why I got off the Baha'i train 6 years ago after 32 years of completely dedicated service in the Faith. Have you ever seen these quotes?

    “We have inherited a dangerous delusion from Christianity that our individual conscience is supreme. This is not a Baha'i belief. In the end, in the context of both our role in the community and our role in the greater world, we must be prepared to sacrifice our personal convictions or opinions. The belief that individual conscience is supreme is equivalent to 'taking partners with God' which is abhorrent to the Teachings of the Faith.”
    – Douglas Martin
    Former Member of the Universal House of Justice
    Baha'i Faith

    “The experience of the Ruhi Institute has shown that we do not suppress
    the imagination or the personality of the participants when we refrain
    from posing questions such as, 'What does this mean to you?'; on the
    contrary, we are helping to nurture the development of communities which
    look first to the Writings as the principal basis of consultation whenever they are faced with a question.

    We believe that the habit of thinking about the implications of the
    Writings with the minimum of personal interpretation would eliminate a
    great share of the disagreements which afflict consultation in many
    communities, and would make the activities of our communities more
    effective.”

    “TO THE COLLABORATORS” – Ruhi Book One

    I will not sit in the same room with the incredibly weak and cowardly people who now call themselves “Baha'is” who betrayed their own religion and allowed this to be done to it by organizational sociopaths at the top with deranged and deluded brain chemistry. It is absolutely shameful.

    No critical thought is allowed or permitted in the Baha'i Faith anymore. Period. It is terribly tragic and it is absolutely frightening for the future of the human race if the Baha'is with the current mindset – or ANY unchallenged groupthink organized religion for that matter – ever attain any real power in the world. The system is now so abusive and predatory that I now very deeply regret all the decades I whole heartedly supported it thinking it could do good in the world.

    The final biochemical state of any groupthink organized religion is a very dangerous brain chemistry. that is all that is involved here. A very simple analysis of brain chemistry. The human race must understand this dangerous mechanism in any organization before we can progress to the next step of social evolution. This is why the many voices on the Internet is so very important now.

    Again, thank you for your excellent post!

  • farhan

    Baquia wrote: I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that they come from a very well known Baha'i family and that their parent is on the NSA

    Baquia, in my experience, sanctions are much more regular and severe when involving outstanding Baha'is (not necessarily their kids, I presume…). I know of NSA members sanctionned directly by the UHj for behaviour that would have gone unnoticed in the rank and file.

  • farhan

    dco wrote: It is indeed offensive, if not old school. that sexual orientation and pedophilia are constantly linked…

    No one said they were constantly linked and my response to Timwatts apparently did not appear. I hope you do consider paedophilia as pathological. It can be an occasional or a permanent preference, homo or heterosexual, enacted or only a fantasy; in many cases the abusers have been abused themselves as a child, suggesting that it can be acquired and not necessarily innate.

    What I did say, in distinguishing our spiritual, community and legal responsibilities that they could also be subject to legal action.

  • timwatts

    If left handedness were discriminated against in the same way would this appeal to visitors to firesides…..?it's interesting that you should compare gays to left handed people….i also know that in Iran bizarrely left handed people are forced on occasions to write with their right hands casuing stutters in later life…maybe this too is a spirital abhorrence?

  • timwatts

    If left handedness were discriminated against in the same way would this appeal to visitors to firesides…..?it's interesting that you should compare gays to left handed people….i also know that in Iran bizarrely left handed people are forced on occasions to write with their right hands casuing stutters in later life…maybe this too is a spirital abhorrence?

  • timwatts

    any behaviour can be acquired Farhan….behaviour is a choice……people without pathology can choose…..if people choose behaviours which harm others then this is to be sactioned……

    you must redefine what sex is…..any definition cannot include elements of
    non-consent….

    My iranian friend told me once that it was common in his village for the men to gratify themselves with “melons” or “chickens”…..is this sex?

  • farhan

    Timwatts: if people choose behaviours which harm others then this is to be sactioned.

    Farhan: I agree

    Timwatts: you must redefine what sex is…..any definition cannot include elements of non-consent….

    Farhan: biologically, sex is a great machine for producing diversity through procreation, as opposed to non sexual reproduction that produces a genetically identical individual. Sociologically, sex is also a great machine to get very different individuals from Mars and Venus who would otherwise have a hard time getting along, to make a family together, and mix their genetic and cultural heritage and produce biological and cultural diversity. To compensate such meritorious efforts towards evolution, nature also provides us with gratification. Now as usual, we get smart guys wanting to get all the gratification without making those meritorious efforts and taking all the responsibility, and this somehow defeats the purpose of nature. So religions come and say it’s not natural and clamp down on these poor people and try to bring them back to the path of wisdom.

    To some extent, but only to SOME extent, our bodies do not ONLY belong to us; society invests in us from child hood and can expect to get something back. We are not free to do everything we wish, even if there is consent on both sides.

    Timwatts: My iranian friend told me once that it was common in his village for the men to gratify themselves with “melons” or “chickens”…..is this sex?

    Farhan: It’s bestiality for animals and in some legislation it is considered it as a criminal offence. For vegetables I am not sure.

  • farhan

    Timwatts wrote: left handed people are forced on occasions to write with their right hands casuing stutters in later life

    Farhan: not so sure; it can alos make people much more handy by being ambidextrous. Also, if you have an accident and are obliged to use the other hand, after a while it is difficult to switch back to the original, so lefthandedness can be acquired. Try googling lefthandedness: some stricking similarity with homosexuality; for ex:

    http://www.narth.com/docs/lefthand.html

  • farhan

    We could also say that law is a change of nature

  • sonjavank

    Farhan,

    I am guessing that you bring up lefthandedness because I've done this in the past. Your suggestion that the oppression and suffering I had as a child who was forced to write with her right-hand is somehow 'justified' is as offensive to me as are the comparisions you have made of homosexuality with illness.

    Obviously you do not have a clue. Yes, I am furious! How dare you assume that it is OK to beat a 5 year old because she is born left-handed. Shame on you. And if you didn't realise that kids were beaten for writing with their left-hand, now you know. Even as an adult I still have visions of the strap or the ruler that used to come slamming down onto my left-hand. That as a 5 year old, I had to pretend I was using my right-hand while it covered over my left hand doing the writing, when the teacher was on the other side of the room.

    Just think, a 5 year old learning to write has to watch out for the punishment – either of using her lefthand or because she couldn't make her right hand co-ordinate like the other kids in the room. – imagine it. A kid having to learn to be subversive – while other kids could just learn to write.

    That I was the only kid in the class at 8 years of age who couldn't write, when the nuns decided that it was better to have a kid who wrote with her left-hand after all than one who couldn't write at all. Funnily enough they let me draw with my left-hand and perhaps that's why I draw much better than I write :)

    The idea that an adult uses their other hand for a while is quite a different issue. The disorders come from oppression, supression, the belief that you are wrong (as a young child or as an adult) and the treatment of others (being beaten up by the other kids because of my oddness is no joke).

    -If- you are suggesting in your comparision with lefthandedness and homosexuality that there's no reason in the world why people born with diversity should be discriminated against, ok, yes. Please stop making comparisions of homosexuality with illness in that case. Think about it, being lefthanded is not an illness anymore than homosexuality is. It is not any more 'deviant' than racial diversity.

  • farhan

    Sonjavank, I am not aware of any injustice from which you might have suffered, nor do not remember a post on this subject on which I think I commented here in February.

    I am suggesting, in reply to Timwatts, that there is an interesting debate on about relations between homosexuality and left handedness you can read on Internet; you can try the address I gave or : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-handedness

    I am not suggesting children should be forced or beaten, but that ambidextrous people do not necessarily become sick people and in fact are often smarter than others. I have never suggested that homosexuality was an illness; otherwise I would not have introduced the subject of similarity with left-handedness.

  • Craig Parke

    I believe that any member of the UHJ that gives a speech anywhere in the world on any of their mere personal opinions, should be very severely formally sanctioned and reprimanded by the UHJ.

    To use their high positions to give their mere personal opinions in a speech to Baha'i audiences is the height of selfishness, self centeredness, and egotism and it will be seen that way in the future.

    Giving their personal opinions as members of the UHJ even when they put their standard disclaimer in the speech causes completely unnecessary and needless division because for many weak and thoughtless members of the Baha'i rank and file the personal opinions of the members of the UHJ are Holy Writ and are Sacred Scripture in the Baha'i Faith.

    Why can't these men see this simple fact? Why can't they see the harm they have caused to the Faith by their egotism and excessive needyness?

    The Faith is about the consciousness in the Universe of Baha'u'llah. It is most definitely NOT about the consciousness in the Universe of a man like Peter Khan.

    It is time form them to a man to realize this spiritual fact and act accordingly before they embarrass themselves and their families any further with these displays of excessive egotism.

    Once you are elected to the UHJ you should undergo permanent civil death and be absolutely forbidden to ever speak on your personal opinions to an audience anywhere in Earth both while you are serving and after you retire.

  • timwatts

    What are you NOT SO SURE about, My brothere in law was forced to change his writing hand and he then went on the develop a stutter…he went to a speach therapist who told him that it was becasue he was forced to change hands….what are you not sure of???? Please do tell…..

    Ambidextrous people are born that way Farhan they are not forced…….

  • timwatts

    <<<<<<As a doctor i would say that gays being part of a minority group, they deserve some kind of a protection, just as left-handed people.>>>>

    What does being a doctor have to do with such an assertion…

  • pey

    You don't need to suggest it Farhan. your fundamentalist adherence to the 9 men on the hill suggest it for you. From the UHJ: “A number of sexual problems, such as homosexuality and transsexuality can well have medical aspects, and in such cases recourse should certainly be had to the best medical assistance.”

  • pey

    And as they replied to my letter when I wrote to them, they will not allow the best medical assistance if that assistance means that a gay person is told to accept himself, love himself and find someone to love in a healthy relationship. So much for harmony between science and religion. The 9 men will allow Bahais to drink alcohol if it prescribed as medicine, but not allow someone to love in a relationship. Hypocrisy! (oh wait Farhan doesn't know what that word means)

  • timwatts

    Well Farhan I read the article and can find no similarity between being left handed and gayness.

    In ye olden days left handed people were considered agents of satan and bad luck…try googling that?….is this the similarity you are looking for?

  • dco

    A valuable new resource from the mother of Matthew Shepard:

    http://www.matthewshepard.org/site/PageServer?p

  • farhan

    Timwatts wrote: what are you not sure of???? Please do tell…..

    Tim, it is not because this does happens in some cases that it ALWAYS happens that way. We can break a leg doing ski, but not all those doing ski break a leg and you can break a leg elsewhere than doing ski. Left handedness can in some cases be acquired and not always inborn. Left handed people who practice, can become ambidextrous. A right handed person can learn to become ambidextrous in some situations. I am right handed but do my knots with the left hand, and this helps me operate faster. Beyond what we believe, we need statistical evidence before we can be sure of something and you can find some information on the sites I suggested.

  • Alison Hart

    Sorry this was not meant to attack Sonja. Yes she is a wonderful example and we should wish more Baha'is were like her!

  • Baquia

    It would seem then that we live in two different worlds my dear Farhan.

  • farhan

    Try here: http://www.io.com/~cortese/sinistrality/index.html

    There is a similarity concerning stigma and prejudice. There is a similarity about the different causes, and more if you study the subject.

  • Alison Hart

    Yes thank you that is a very good article and I agree completely with what you have written there.

    I have also found these two articles on another blog:

    hadleyives.blogspot.com/…/picking-and-choosing-in-religion.html

    http://hadleyives.blogspot.com/2009/01/what-doe

    These were very well written and offer some really good counsel.

  • Baquia

    “As a citizen I would say that the crux of the matter for all religions has been to canalise the sexual drive into marriage; as no provisions have been made for gay marriages, and procreation and upbringing of off springs have been an essential (although non exclusive) aim, gay relations on exactly the same basis as adultery are detrimental to the social structure.”

    So if a heterosexual couple can not conceive a child, are they also 'detrimental to the social structure'?
    If not, why not?

  • farhan

    A doctor is supposed to be non judgemental, impartial and neutral in his relations with is patients. As an LSA member, as a mayor, we have a responsibility towards the community and society. We have to act in each function as that function requires.

  • dco

    Thanks Ms A

    We need a whole herd of Alisons and Sonjas right now!

    Keep posting, its good stuff!

  • farhan

    Baquia, when societies have a collective goal, they seek to advance it.

    This does not mean that if there are other natural hindrances towards a general goal like family making that a society will abandon measures that are applicable. It is not because a percentage of individuals are unable to participate in a collective enterprise that the enterprise has to be abandoned, not does it mean that it has to be imposed on all.

    I feel that an important point is to consider individual “pro-choice” arguments on one hand and the social “pro-life” on the other. A just society would be an equilibrium between individual choices and collective choices. When a person is in a position of responsibility towards a society, he has to take both into consideration.

  • timwatts

    Is your role as an LSA member, mayor enhanced by being judgemental, partial and what ever the opposite of neutral is? Don't you think this dualism night lead to double standards …..

  • timwatts

    No one has advocated giving up marriage……you are excluding people from it by denying them equal rights…. you do this because you really do think that homosexualty is abnormal, perverse, not the way things should be…etc…. Letting gays marry would not harm society at all…. i notice you didnt answer my question previously….do you think that if society allowed gay marriages this would open the flood gates and straights will suddenly decide to abandon marriage?….i wish you would stick to one opinion rather that putting different hats on…
    tell us what you really think as you the person….

  • timwatts

    <<<Tim, it is not because this does happens in some cases that it ALWAYS happens that way. We can break a leg doing ski, but not all those doing ski break a leg and you can break a leg elsewhere than doing ski>>>>

    I did not say it always happens….what is the point of this ski analogy

    you first suggested somthing i did not say then find examples disproving it….

    this is typical politician tactics in a debate.

    where did i say that forcing left handed people to write with their right hand ALWAYS causuing them to stutter?>

    where ? where? where

    The rest of your post is very odd.

    Listen I suppose with a lot of promting and effort i could train myself to sleep (have sex) with women….this does not make me straight does it…. Does training yourslef to tie knots with the other hand mean you are ambidextrous….or does it mean that whatever handedness you were born with you manged with practice and no doubt lots of prayers managed to use the other hand? this is not what handedness means to me….

  • timwatts

    Right then in the interests of trying to probe the complete craziness of the Baha'i Faith's views on HOMOSEXUALITY what would be the reation to the following scenarios…

    1> two men holding hands at a feast
    2> 2 men kissing each other on the lips

    are these activities also not allowed…..is it just anal sex that is not allowed? what about between staight couples…..?

  • farhan

    Timwatts wrote: do you think that if society allowed gay marriages this would open the flood gates and straights will suddenly decide to abandon marriage?

    Farhan: Of course not. Nothing like that has happened in places where gay marriages took place. If I imagine that no writings concerning homosexuality existed at all, I doubt if in the present world situation, a member of a Baha’i assembly (of which I am not) or of the UHJ could defend gay marriages that would be against the laws of most countries. Nor could I see how they could liberalise gay relations and yet prohibit non-gay relations outside marriage. This could lead to an irresponsible attitude towards marriage.
    I am sorry you feel confused by different hats. When I work as a physician, I have to observe neutrality and secularity, and to defend the patient’s rights over state laws, for example by protecting confidentiality against state action. When I work as an expert designated by a court, I am serving the state and I have to inform the patient of my mission and not take sides for or against the parties involved, for example the insurance on one side and the patient on the other. If I am an LSA member, I have been elected to protect that community and I have to represent the position of that community, in view of the Baha’i teachings. I cannot say that being a doctor I am neutral.

    We all give our opinions, but social structures that are “regulators” of the social body also have opinions.

  • farhan

    Please explain, Baquia

  • timwatts

    NO we can't. Laws can be made to try and change people's behaviour but not (their) nature(s) Nature is not changeable..it can be hidden and camouflaged and marginalised and ridiculed and legislated against if it happens not to be the majority nature….here i think is what you understand by “nature” you mean it to be the “nomal” majority view…..

    Are you saying that if the law forbids gay relations they will stop doing it?

  • farhan

    Tiwatts wrote: Laws can be made to try and change people's behaviour but not (their) nature(s) Nature is not changeable.

    Farhan: I agree

    As to what a community can accept in a certain social situation, it is up o the LSA of that community to decide.

  • timwatts

    Wearing different hats does not confuse me at all…. what does is your abilty to have several different opnions at the same time….

    compensation for gays===doctor hat
    destroyer of society = baha'i hat
    change our natures like you can change which hand you wirte with = doctor hat
    nothing wrong with being gay= ? hat

    what do you beleive about gay people ##

    <<<<If I imagine that no writings concerning homosexuality existed at all, I doubt if in the present world situation, a member of a Baha’i assembly (of which I am not) or of the UHJ could defend gay marriages that would be against the laws of most countries. Nor could I see how they could liberalise gay relations and yet prohibit non-gay relations outside marriage. This could lead to an irresponsible attitude towards marriage.>>>>

    I can't unpick what the sense here is…
    I don't want to make you public enemy no. 1 but i do think you ought to have just 1 opinion…

  • timwatts

    <<<<There is a similarity about the different causes, and more if you study the subject.>>>>

    You mean the different causes of homosexuality are similar to the different causes for left handedness…?

    no I am not sure what you mean…

  • pey

    So when you become gay Farhan, please give me a call. I'd like to know how exactly your orientation changed. Mine as far back as I remember, has NOT! Oh and I was conditioned by people like you to turn out straight, married and a perfect Persian Bahai. Fortunately I didn't listen to ignorant people such as yourself, I did not marry some poor girl and ruin her life, all because of such ignorance espoused by fools inside the Bahai community. The Bahai Faith is a belief system Farhan- one which I believe in. Things such as equality, unity, peace. love, brotherhood. BUT fundamentalism, idolatry of the 9 men on the hill, and homophobia, naaah that's not the Bahai Faith. That may be what you are espousing, but it's not Abdul-Baha.

  • timwatts

    Is it sex though…?

  • timwatts

    I nearly ruined a poor little iranian girls life..thre was so much pressure to conform and be “normal” goodness me i treated her badly…eventually she asked me if we were going to gt married but of course i wasn't allowed to tell her the reason so i made something up which must have been very hurtful to her….i am ashamed of what i did..but hey the Baha'is made me ……..so I blame them now and not me…i wouldnthave struck up a freindship on false grounds if being gay were accepted…..shameful shameful shameful….to make liars of good people/// how can this be religion…

  • farhan

    Timwatts wrote: I did not say it always happens…. what is the point of this ski analogy

    Farhan: I said I was not sure about the correlation between stuttering and having opposed left-handedness being scientifically established. Some scientists agree, others don’t. Statistics don’t seem to be conclusive. You gave the example of your brother and I argued that we need statistics on a larger scale than one case. You went on to say that ambidextrous people were born that way, again a subject of controversy. It has been alleged that there is a prevalence of left-handedness amongst lesbians; again a subject not completely established. In the link I provided, some seem to believe it, others seem to have proved it contrary; it is a subject of controversy.

    Timwatts: You mean the different causes of homosexuality are similar to the different causes for left handedness…?

    Farhan: Many human conditions are not clearly cut: all genetic, OR entirely acquired. They can be partly this AND that; to me this is also true of mathematics, poetry, music, diabetes, homosexuality and left-handedness. In addition, the stigma and prejudice linked with the two are similar.

    Timwatts: what do you beleive about gay people

    Farhan: I believe our understanding improves with the years, it is a condition met in some 5 to 10% of populations, partly innate and partly acquired, sometimes an exclusive preference, sometimes an occasional one, sometimes enacted and sometimes repressed, a minority that deserves protection, which is unable to live it out in marriage in the present world conditions, which societies are not prepared to liberalise. As a doctor defending my patient I wish it were more easy for them, and would say that it is probable that exceptional talents and gifts are also linked with these conditions. If I were responsible for society, as a mayor, I would say I understand societies which liberalise and those that do not liberalise gay marriages, and this will allow us to compare in later years. I agree to allow those who choose to be Lutherans and those who choose to be Baha’is to experiment different community rules. I disagree to see Lutherans or Baha’is insulted for their choice. As a Baha’i on an LSA I would say that those who choose to be Baha’is choose to comply by community rules, as I strive to do as a Baha’i. TAFN; good night!

  • timwatts

    well i can put you in touch with the speech therapist used to see a lot of stammers and stutters in people who have been coherced into changing their natural handedness……

    remember our duty to consult competent medical advice….
    by the way she wasn't able to cure my gayness although she was only a speech therapist….##

    <<Farhan: Many human conditions are not clearly cut: all genetic, OR entirely acquired. They can be partly this AND that; to me this is also true of mathematics, poetry, music, diabetes, homosexuality and left-handedness. In addition, the stigma and prejudice linked with the two are similar>>>

    You mean the causes of many human conditions are not clear cut?…. and… what's your point here?

    <<<to me this is also true of mathematics, poetry, music, diabetes, homosexuality and left-handedness. In addition, the stigma and prejudice linked with the two are similar. >>>

    I'm not sure again what you mean….the stigma and prejudice are similar? you mean left handedness and being gay??? tthis is not true at all… no one is refused a hotel bed room becasue they are left handed what are you saying?

    And yet again you make your long list of afflcitions and include diabetes in the same list as being gay again given more fuel to the notion that you beleive it to be an illness…..

    Your doctor hat says no… othrwise you'd be sacked as a doctor for holding these views

    but your baha'i hat says it is an illness…. both cannot be right they are mutually exclusive…

  • Grover

    Depends which country you come from. In India guys hold hands all the time in public, even sleep together, spooning, they don't see it as gay, just normal. Heaven forbid if they hold hands with ladies in public though!

    2 men kissing – well, don't they do that in Italy? Or you mean really passionate kisses? Bit racy, probably liven up Feast quite nicely! One friend of mine told me about some guy that decided to come to Feast as a cross dresser as a bit of a joke – you should've seen the flames!

    Anal sex is not permitted full stop for either hetero or gay in the Baha'i Faith :(

  • pey

    He can't tell you what he thinks because independent investigation of truth has ended in his mind once he accepts the “rules” of the community. It reminds me of a Jehova Witness meeting I attended as a Bahai youth once (tryin to learn about other religions and such). In the meeting I was awestruck at how even little kids could answer the elder's questions. Well guess what? The answer was in the back of their little magazine and the parents where whispering it in the kid's ear! That's basically what we have with Farhan- his mind as already been made up for him. It doesn't matter how many gay Bahais get disenfranchised in the community, it doesn't matter if a gay youth tries to kill herself inside the Bahai community… Farhan will continue believing and espousing the party line. BUT, he is just one type of Bahai, fortunately their are others out there that don't agree with his fundamentalist mentality.

  • timwatts

    gay anal sex is therefore doubly wrong as they are doing it out of wedlock……

    is it is the writings …? can we have a quote…..i might read it out in persian at our next feast as a reminder that no one should be doing it….

  • dco

    Thanks Pey, you saved me the electrons… this idea that people can change is rubbish… and seems to my mind perpetrated by those who wish to clothe their homophobia in acceptable terms… if you change, or can change I might say you are bisexual at best… and not gay. But above all, why the constant preoccupation with changing gays? The House has told us that homosexuality is not a sin, we don't need to change, we just have to live celibate, lonely, crazy making lives… or leave.

  • dco

    Pey can you contact me when you can? I have question and I lost your email.

    Daniel Orey

  • Baquia

    How do you manage to use so many words to say so little?

  • Grover

    “You live in a world where it was understood that EVERYONE had to do Ruhi and ONLY do Ruhi those who didn’t do Ruhi suddenly became CB, and all those who did Ruhi suddenly became stupid.”

    Yup, thats the world I live in too.

  • Grover

    You're not alone. My brother had the same problem at primary school – he started writing with his left hand and got punished with the ruler.

  • Grover

    Here's what there is:

    49. QUESTION: Concerning the penalties for adultery, sodomy, and theft, and the degrees thereof.
    ANSWER: The determination of the degrees of these penalties rests with the House of Justice.
    The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 121

    Bahá'u'lláh makes provision for the Universal House of Justice to determine, according to the degree of the offence, penalties for adultery and sodomy (Q and A 49).
    The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 223

    Ye are forbidden to commit adultery, sodomy and lechery.
    Baha'u'llah, untranslated tablet – Compilations, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 57

    And that is it. Baha'u'llah can be surprisingly blunt when he wants to be. The UHJ hasn't set any penalties yet as far as I'm aware.

    I was wondering why. Is it one of those prohibitions that will change with time?

    e.g. circumcision, compulsory back then, nowadays not practiced except in eastern cultures and occasionally in western – reason? We're much more hygenic now.

    e.g. pork, prohibited in muslim culture because pigs are unclean, but modern pig rearing methods are pretty clean, disease is not a problem (except for swine flu) and pork is yummy.

    e.g. oral sex, horror! Well everyone was pretty filthy back in the days, so it probably wasn't the best thing to do. Now standard practice for every good sexual relationship, not even mentioned in Baha'i writings.

    e.g. masturbation, horror! common practice for any enterprising individual or groups (Farhan practices written masturbation everyday), not even mentioned in Baha'i writings, except from SE's sweaty secretaries and the UHJ. God knows why it was prohibited in the first place, apart from sour pus priests not wanting anyone to have any fun if they couldn't have any.

    e.g. anal sex, well, we all know why, but modern day society has condoms, lube, etc. Modern technology has made it possible!

    e.g. vaginal sex, the main reason was and still is kids, but everyone is doing pretty well with modern contraception, so why not let people play a little?

    What other naughty deviant fun practices will modern day technology make possible I wonder?

  • farhan

    Timwatts wrote: but your baha'i hat says it is an illness….

    Farhan: it doesn’t; it says everything is not all black or all white. The quotes say that homosexuality and transexuality might have medical implications. There is nothing about being a disease, spiritual or otherwise.

    I dug this out for your speech therapist: an interesting study cited in Time nearly 70 years ago:

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,917

    The gist: far from causing stuttering, forcing children to switch from left-handedness to right-handedness was associated with less stuttering. Left-handers and ambidextrous students both had more than twice the stuttering rate of right handers and switchers. Of course, those able to successfully switch may have had more developed left brains in the first place (that old problem of correlation vs causation).

    Other sources : http://thestutteringbrain.blogspot.com/2008/08/

    http://www2b.abc.net.au/science/k2/stn/archives

  • timwatts

    <<<<Farhan: it doesn’t; it says everything is not all black or all white. The quotes say that homosexuality and transexuality might have medical implications. >>>>

    To say that transexuality might have medical implications is simply a ridiculous statement…do you mean that a transexual might want to undergo gender reassignement surgery?…well i never you don't say… OR are you saying that the cause of transexauality has a “medical” origin…whatever that means…..

    How is this connected with homosexuality…

    SO to recap Baha'is don't beleive that being gay has a medical origin and they don't advise gay people to seek medical attention……

    As to your reseach re stuttering I will admit that the forcing of children to change hands is largely discredited as an explanation for stuttering nowadays..

    the original point was that it was wring to force change on left handers….because it causes harm (the process) and also it was impossible to change people's sexuality and no lessons could be drawn from the success or otherwise of chnaging handedness

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    It seems clear to me that Baha'is are not on the side of the angels when it comes to GLBT folks. I tried to explain to a Baha'i friend once that the Baha'i stance contributes to an atmosphere which encourages gay bashing and physical abuse (this was around the time of the Matthew Shepard murder). “Oh, I hope not!” she said.

    Because I take seriously the principle of agreement of religion with science, and because I take seriously Baha'u'llah's statement that “the best beloved of all things in my sight is justice” which means that we must see with our own eyes – in other words, pay attention to our own experience in the world, and because I take seriously the principle of unity in diversity, and believe deeply that the more diverse we are as a people, the stronger we are – for all these reasons, I am convinced that the current Baha'i stance on homosexuality is simply wrong. We cannot force change from the top, but we can, as responsible Baha'is, educate ourselves on this issue – this means listening to those who are wronged, and really listen, not with a hidden agenda of changing their view but to listen truly, to another truth.

    Then, after listening, if we feel so moved by conscience, as many of us do, (and yes, conscience is a God-given guide in making moral decisions), we must be willing to speak out, to speak our own understanding, as an essential part of consultation, whether formal or not, involving one other person or many, among Baha'is. We cannot shrink from the truth – we don't have to have a final answer or resolution – we just have to educate ourselves, and then speak the truth we know – things will progress from there.

  • farhan

    Timwatts wrote: To say that transexuality might have medical implications is simply a ridiculous statement

    Farhan: a transsexual is someone who feels that he or she has been assigned by nature with the wrong body and needs gender reassignment, including surgery. Before states accept this, they need the opinion of medical experts. Baha’is submit to medical opinion.

    Timwatts: OR are you saying that the cause of transexuality has a “medical” origin
    Farhan: we don’t really know yet. Some scientists argue that the presence of hormones in used water persist in nature could modify our fertility, orientation and sense of gender. You can find controversial papers on all this through Google. If you provide me with an E Mail address I can send you articles.

    Tiwatts: SO to recap Baha'is don't beleive that being gay has a medical origin and they don't advise gay people to seek medical attention

    Farhan: Baha’is say that science is in it’s infancy. I have seen nothing in the writings saying homosexuality is a disease and in fact even for doctors the definition and implications of a disease are not always easy. Being in a minority situation, whatever the reason, can entail medical and psychological problems that can be assisted by spiritual and medical help.

  • farhan

    Barb wrote: I am convinced that the current Baha'i stance on homosexuality is simply wrong.

    Barb, I totally agree with the harmony of science and religion and the importance of justice. I also agree that the stigma and prejudice involved are totally unacceptable. To come to practical terms, would you suggest liberalising gay relations outside marriage or instating a gay marriage for Baha'is?

  • timwatts

    I would join this religion…….this is the Faith I once knew..very sad..

  • timwatts

    I would have remained celebate if i knew that we were on equal footing with straights…I would have held out and have been proud to do so….

  • timwatts

    What do you beleive

    do you beleive that homosexuality is ABNORMAL?

  • farhan

    Timwatts, as I understand it, the Baha’i teachings speak very little about sin, evil and such concepts which are outdated pedagogical concepts for previous ages. The Baha’i teachings speak in terms of spiritual progress, acquiring of virtues and putting these virtues towards the service of mankind. The accent is not on what not to do, but on what we should gladly accomplish during our short lives in this world.

    It is never too late to undertake this spiritual journey. What counts, is not what we appear to be compared to others, but what progress we have accomplished in compared with what God gave us. In the eyes of God, a person that others might consider as a sinner can be far more advanced than a prominent person who has not advanced from his initial starting point. No misgiving is too great, no shortcoming is insurmountable in the eyes of God.

  • farhan

    Timwatts wrote: What do you beleive do you beleive that homosexuality is ABNORMAL?

    Farhan: The question as I see it is not what is normal or abnormal. The question is what can I do which will be in the best interests of humanity, as an individual, and as a member of society. Christ’s life was not “normal”; it was by far in the best interests of humanity.

  • farhan

    Timwatts wrote: What do you beleive do you beleive that homosexuality is ABNORMAL?

    Farhan: The question as I see it is not what is normal or abnormal. The question is what can I do which will be in the best interests of humanity, as an individual, and as a member of society. Christ’s life was not “normal”; it was by far in the best interests of humanity.

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    It is my understanding that Baha'is are free to choose a life partner – prior to that choice, no one has any right to interference. Once the choice has been made, the parents, whether Baha'i or not, must give their permission to the union. When the requirement of permission has been met, the couple are free to marry each other – no one marries them; they marry each other, reciting a verse to abide by the will of God. Two Baha'i witnesses are required. Am I correct in my understanding?

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    As to the meaning of “abnormal” – it is, I believe, a reference to the deviation from a “norm.” Left-handedness is a deviation from the norm. Genius is a deviation from the norm. And so on, and so forth. In other words, there is no innate connotation of right or wrong in the proper use of this term – there is the “norm,” which constitutes the usual, the common, and there is the “abnorm” which is a deviation from the usual, and is the uncommon. If the “abnormal”, for example left-handed people, were to become more numerous in society than the “normal” (in this case, right-handed people), the “abnormal” would become the new “normal.”

    This is my understanding.

  • ramfar

    This is an open-shut case. The Baha'i Faith, in its current interpretation, is deeply homophobic, just like every other conservative religious group.

  • ramfar

    Well said. Total and utter GroupThink. It would be terrifying if they ever actually got anywhere…

  • peyamb

    Here you again Farhan. Are you sure you aren't a Spin Doctor? How much longer are you going to try to make the Bahai writings (those from the UHJ and the secretaries of the UHJ and the Guardian) as not being against gay people. The Bahai community is not and never will be welcoming as long as we are treated as second class citizens. The Bahais consider homosexuality abnormal, evil, spiritually condemned, etc etc. (all words in the letters of the UHJ; so please stop with your spinning). And of all the garbage I have read from teh UHJ, the following has to be the worst. This came from a letter written to a mother who's son has come out to her and her husband has kicked that poor child out of the house for being gay. So what did the beloved 9 men on the hill advise to the woman? Did they resoundly tell her that she must bring that poor child back home and love him unconditionally? Did they tell her that her husband is wrong for what he had done? No, please read what they said: “Regarding your husband's refusal to permit your son to return home, it is understandable that a parent might feel deeply confused and angry when confronted with such questions which go to the very root of what it means to be a human being and what it means to educate and raise a child.” Spin that Farhan! A child is thrown out and homeless, or your beloved UHJ who is supposedly speaking on behalf of God is telling this woman that yep homosexuality goes against what it means to be a human being! Disgusting!!!

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    All Baha'is should be treated equally in regard to the requirements for marriage, leaving individuals free to choose their life partners, and understanding that it is a parental responsibility to accept or not accept the choice – no one else has a right to intervene, even in the most subtle way. Should people who are already married come into the faith, of course their marriage should be respected. Baha'is should always respect the institution of marriage, and strive to support in every way possible those who have chosen to marry.

    This would be a step in the right direction.

    I did not say harmony of science and religion – I said the agreement of religion with science. Otherwise we are left with superstition. As for abolishing stigma and prejudice, you cannot expect to do this when you label an adult, loving, committed relationship as spiritually unworthy. One cannot straddle the fence here – you must jump one way or another.

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    It is indeed my experience that Baha'is, many of them, are deeply homophobic, and the current interpretation encourages this. This is, however, open to change and improvement, as is any prejudice. This will require sustained, serious effort on the part of those who care to help the Baha'i Faith achieve its greatest potential. There is not much point, IMO, in just complaining about it. We must work, wherever and however we can, to eradicate this particular prejudice. A sense of humor, of course, is always helpful in nudging the human race along the path of spiritual growth.

  • peyamb

    Actually there is great point complaining about it when the Bahais who are homophobic happen to also be the 9 men leading this religion. They can't have their cake and eat it too as Farhan wants. If you are going to be a progressive community open to all of humanity, then you must allow some wiggle room- even if you don't fully support something. I'm not holding my breath that the UHJ will one day allow gay couples to say “we will all verily abide by the will of God”. That aint gonna happen. BUT, what I do hope is that they won't allow NSA's to do their witchhunt of getting rid of openly gay Bahais. I hope they turn the other way when more progressive LSA's allow gay couples to enter thier fold with their kids and maybe even let them have a commitment ceremony with the blessings of the local LSA members. Liberal Catholic congregations are doing this, so why not the Bahais? Oh I know why, because the authoritarian group-think mentality of the Adminstratie Order would never allow it! Maybe that's complaining on my part, but hey the world needs to know the truth of what it is like inside the Bahai community and administration.

  • Craig Parke

    You wrote:

    “Then, after listening, if we feel so moved by conscience, as many of us do, (and yes, conscience is a God-given guide in making moral decisions), we must be willing to speak out, to speak our own understanding, as an essential part of consultation, whether formal or not, involving one other person or many, among Baha'is. We cannot shrink from the truth – we don't have to have a final answer or resolution – we just have to educate ourselves, and then speak the truth we know – things will progress from there.”

    That, indeed, was what I thought the Baha'i Faith was: affirming the advancement and development of sacred individual human conscience. I honestly thought all these years that was what Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha taught. I thought that was what religion was all about. But now I see that was a mindset from Protestant Christianity that I innocently brought into the Faith from my background. I was WRONG!

    That belief, sadly, is COMPLETE OLDTHINK in the Baha'i Faith of today. It is even quaint. In the NEWTHINK Baha'i Faith of today you do what you are told by the people elected to do all your thinking for you and all the thinking for the entire Baha'i community worldwide. You keep quiet or you will be investigated by an ABM or AABM if your are reported for thought crimes or any thoughts of individual conscience on any matter or issue. You do what you are told and you do not question or ask why or wherefore. You live in fear at all times that your unsanctioned and unapproved thought crimes will be discovered. The same old, same old in “organized” religion. People had genuinely hoped for something better than this. But what you wrote is beautiful and is still how I feel souls should live. But the individual is nothing now in the Baha'i Faith. If you have any individual thoughts or a (gasp) personal conscience still residing in you, you will have to recant for crimes against YEAR ONE or something. It is only sanctioned groupthink that is permitted.

    What these guys say goes. What these guys say as their own personal interpretation to captive Baha'i audiences IS the Baha'i Faith. What the latest social theories of the members of the ITC discuss over lunch IS THE BAHA'I FAITH now. What these people have as their personal opinions is pure, sacred, Divine Revelation. People like PK and his lifetime incumbent brethren completely own the Baha'i faith as their own personal satrap. What they say is the standard. And what they say goes for everyone and no one has the right to as “why” or “wherefore”. Period.

    “We have inherited a dangerous delusion from Christianity that our individual conscience is supreme. This is not a Baha'i belief. In the end, in the context of both our role in the community and our role in the greater world, we must be prepared to sacrifice our personal convictions or opinions. The belief that individual conscience is supreme is equivalent to 'taking partners with God' which is abhorrent to the Teachings of the Faith.”
    - Douglas Martin
    Former Member of the Universal House of Justice
    Baha'i Faith

    So it goes.

  • farhan

    Barb, I agree with most of what you say. I see you implicitly ruling out gay relations, as non gay relations, outside wedlock. Love between all, whatever the gender, is the rule, but not expressed physically. Stigma and prejudice should be abolished and minorities should be protected. This is my purpose for introducing the comparison with left handedness. I remember a colleague who would get into a rage and throw the instruments on the floor because the scissors would not work, instead of buying scissors for left handed.

    What you describe of the Baha’i marriage is the spiritual and essential part, what goes on between a person and God and would be valid for someone stranded on an isolated island. I understand the passage in Aqdas on « livat » translated as « sodomy » referring to homosexuality, whether male or female and not anal penetration. All this is our private deal with God, but Baha’is also interact with a community and need to abide by community laws.

    The crux of the subject would then boil down to social norms and standards within each community and the minimum requirements of the particular community we wish to belong to.

    What you say about norms is valid for blood pressure and body temperature, but norms also refer to a “golden standard” towards which we wish to advance. It is statistically “abnormal” to be well fed, have clean water and access to education on this planet, but the golden standard is to rise above all these limitations of nature and this can only be accomplished through a harmonized community effort. Our aim hence is not to be “normal” but to advance along the path of human endeavour.

    If someone decides to improve his situation by doing a PhD, he doesn’t start asking I am allowed to skip early morning lectures and bring a cell phone, my MP3 and sandwiches to the conference room. His aim is to learn and he will try to see which books he has to buy and where he has to find references. As Abdu’l-Baha says, it is not sufficient to choose the right professor: we have to go to the university, enroll and advance in the path of knowledge and virtue.

    We adhere to a religion to see how we can improve ourselves and the society we live in. This is why I consider discussions as to “norms” of what is acceptable and what is not in order to maintain an ID card as well below the true purpose of religion.

  • farhan

    Peyamb wrote: Liberal Catholic congregations are doing this, so why not the Bahais?

    Peyamb, from what we learn from Sonja, there is a move towards this in some communities. The LSA has much to say in such matters and can decide which activities are open to non enrolled people who have never been considered as second zone citizens, except perhaps by some bigots, but as the “community of interest”.

  • farhan

    Pey, I would be very surprised if the UHJ or any other Baha'i institution approbated the idea of a child being thrown out of home for homosexuality, which is obviously against the rules of parenthood and the prescriptions of the UHJ against stigma and prejudice.

    The minimal requirements for participating in administrative matters is an entirely different matter from our sacred duties towards others.

  • timwatts

    <<<<>>>>

    Anyone know what this means?

    <<<<If someone decides to improve his situation by doing a PhD, he doesn’t start asking I am allowed to skip early morning lectures and bring a cell phone, my MP3 and sandwiches to the conference room. >>>>>

    So Here we see more clearly into Farhan's thinking….being a Baha'i is improving your education….trying to bend the rules for your own private confort is a kind of cheating….I take it from this that you think
    being GAY something which is beyond our control and as a result of being gay wanting to have a relationship with someone you love is a kind of back sliding and anti-social behaviour…..

    I would add to your analogy a little….. imagine the Phd student but theey can't get into the lecture room becasue they are in a wheel chair and as a result cannot manage the stairs…..the lecturer tells her …well with prayer and medical advice and effort grow new working legs….and then you will be welcome…..or put a ramp in…

  • peyamb

    The full letter can be seen here (#10): http://bahai-library.com/uhj/homosexuality.disc
    Yes, they commend the woman for being compassionate and trying to keep unity in the family. But WHERE are the strong words against the Father. There are so many other religions that would take a stronger stance and say the true immorality/evil is a Father who turns his back on his son because of this. We don't see that in the letter. The UHJ is actually trying to be compassionate and understanding towards the parents because that bad child did the horrible thing of telling his parents who he really is. DO you know Farhan how difficult it is to come out to one's parents? Most gay people fear the worse. And add on to that a disgusting letter like this one from the UHJ that tells the parents that it is “understandable” why that sick father would feel the way he does, makes the situation even worse. I am so glad I never came out to my fundie Bahai parents when I was a teenager. Back then I actually believed the crap that you all fed to me. Maybe back then I would have actually killed myself and been yet another pititful statistic inside the Bahai community. Of course none of you would give a them, because a dead gay Bahai is way better than one who is out, happy and telling the world the suffering that goes on inside the Bahai community at the hands of people like you and the AO. I just pray that that child being referred to in the letter did not end up hurting himself when he sees that he is being rejected by his Father and getting lukewarm acceptance by hi mother and the supposedly supreme institution speaking on behalf of Almighty God!

  • peyamb

    Considering me an outsider, a person in the “community of interest” is being discriminatory. I am Bahai with equal standing to YOU. Anything less is immoral and wrong and NOT the Bahai Faith. IT is obvious to all who have any sense of justice. No amount of spin can make it look better. If your LSA welcomes openly gay people who are committed to each other, then you are on the side of justice. If you set them aside into the “other” group, then you are discriminating against them. Period! Don't waste your time spinning with me. Maybe you'll fool some others here, but not me.

  • farhan

    Timwatts wrote : they are in a wheel chair and as a result cannot manage the stairs…..

    Farhan: are you saying that being gay is a handicap? I am saying that it is a minority situation that needs help, and that societies are not tuned to that duty as yet.

    You might believe that the solution is to liberalise gay relations or make provisions for gay marriages, I believe that societies have a right to reflect and hesitate before making such a decision unprecedented in human history.

    Timwatts: being a Baha'i is improving your education….trying to bend the rules for your own private confort is a kind of cheating….

    Farhan: That is not my opinion. My belief is that when we accept a manifestation of God, which no one is obliged to do, we are accepting an ideal towards which we hope to evolve and we come together with others having the same goal; some have an easier time than others who as you say are handicapped.

    We are supposed to help each other, as this is not a competition, but an effort for mutually raising our global capacities. Some people in Baha’i communities have not grasped this fact as yet and they bring about power issues. The handicap might come from our family background, addictions, health problems, or whatever. The handicapped person should be helped and has a greater merit, and is spiritually more advanced than a person without handicaps, but it is not a good idea to lower the standard for everyone.

    Stigma and prejudice towards others is unacceptable and has to be corrected. I consider it as more grievous than not observing community rules, but this does not mean that each community does not have the right to establish it's own regulations within the limits of state laws.

    Now we have to find how to help each other, including the socially handicapped bigoted puritans, into becoming better people.

  • sonjavank

    Farhan,
    You wrote: “I would be very surprised if the UHJ or any other Baha'i institution approbated the idea of a child being thrown out of home for homosexuality”

    Daniel's voting rights were removed because he was married and the reason given by the NSA which I quoted in the blog above was because of 'same sex marriage' and his “support of homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle for Baha’is”.

    Luckily Daniel's son is no longer a child, but surely if I follow your argumentation (which I agree with personally) that Bahais should try and use the Bahai principles to guide their actions. Then removing a Bahai from the membershi rolls because they married is going against the rules and prescriptions of supporting family life. While other Bahais have same sex partners in the same country and do not marry and are not punished. And worse, their children grow up understanding that in the eyes of the Bahai community their parents are not treated with the respect other couples are.

    You state that losing one's voting rights is not a big deal, but it is the intent. The removal and the reason for removal that is extremely important.
    One of the reasons, that obviously, something seems terribly wrong with removing Daniel's voting rights, is because the NSA's letter give his marriage as a reason. A NSA is punishing someone for making the life-long commitment of marriage!

    Change is happening and actually change in attitudes towards Bahai communities accepting all people as equal members with equal responsibilities + rights will come. I do believe this and I do see change happening, but many Bahais then ignore the Bahai Writings or do as Farhan, make argumentation for rules in differing categories, etc. If you follow this argumentation, then the implication is that for gays it would be better not to declare themselves to join the Bahai community. The Bahai Teachings, surely, should be there for all. I do not think Baha'ullah would have intended that the rules for membership would mean, only some types of people.

    What my goal is with this blog is to look and see if there is anything in the Bahai Writings that contradicts an equal acceptance of diverse sexual identities, because, surely, the Bahai Faith shouldn't require Bahais to live with double standards. One for their gay friends and one for their straight friends. It seems to me that Farhan is trying to do this (admirable, b.t.w.) because he sees that – I assume – the homophobic attitudes in the letters written by secretaries on behalf of Shoghi Effendi as part of the unchangeable Bahai Scripture. I don't, so I don't think there is a need for Bahais to create “if” and “but” clauses for the Bahai teachings in order to accept our LGBT brothers and sisters on equal terms.

    That the UHJ seems to treat the letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, also doesn't mean that the UHJ is forever locked into the unchangeable. The UHJ is free to be flexible. Free to make law. Free to change its policies.
    However, naturally, it will only make a policy or change one if it sees a need.
    The practice of how our LGBT Bahais are treated by the Bahai administration is diverse. This is not in itself terrible if Bahais see this as something in transition. So, in some countries openly accepting gay marriage for example might endanger other Bahais or Bahais in other countries, but, to actively remove Bahais from the rolls because they marry is quite another matter.

  • farhan

    Peyamb wrote: Considering me an outsider, a person in the “community of interest” is being discriminatory

    Farhan: back to my PhD analogy, if someone finds it difficult to follow a PhD course because the requirements are inadapted to his choices, why not try something else? You ask a community to change it’s rules to suit you, when other communities offer precisely the rules you are requesting. Some 6 M people elect delegates who elect NSA members who elect 9 members so as to arbitrate on such matters. We cannot stigmatize such a community for its views and values as I see done here.

    If I were not a Baha’i, as a doctor to a Baha’i patient, as any doctor unaware of the Baha’i Faith would do, I would say if this community does not suit you, find one that does and be happy. I would be scientifically interested to see the outcome of these social experiments.

    As a Baha’i I am saying we need to improve our attitude towards gay people, but I believe that that the family structure prescribed by Baha’u’llah is in the best interests of humanity. I cannot, either as a Baha’i, or as a doctor, attempt to oblige a community to change it’s regulations on family structure to suit a minority.

    This is my understanding today; it would evolve: no spin, no obfuscation, no lies.

  • farhan

    Sonjavank: The removal and the reason for removal that is extremely important

    Farhan: I agree; it is very important spiritually, perhaps as a means of informing the community of the importance of rules, but not comparable to a child being abandoned or rejected by his parents.

    Sonjavank: A NSA is punishing someone for making the life-long commitment of marriage!

    Farhan: they would be doing _exactly_ the same if the couple married without consent of parents or if a person got involved in politics. It is an educative action towards whatever might be a threat to the stability of the community and not specifically against gays. That individuals in the community might be homophobic or bigots, is another matter that equally needs attention in our immature communities.

    I see a difference between breaking a rule and publicly announcing your disagreement with a rule. In the first case you are saying I accept the laws of this community, but i am unable to comply; in the second you are saying I disagree with the rules of this community.

    Sonjavank: the implication is that for gays it would be better not to declare themselves to join the Bahai community

    Farhan: a good point. Some youth even wait to have a stabilised life before declaring! My taking is that part of our spiritual education is accepting God’s will above our own. By avoiding this confrontation, we are like a patient running away from a necessary injection. We have difficult choices in our lives; it is by making the right choice that the stumbling block becomes a stepping stone. If we duck all the obstacles we will not progress spiritually, but again, only the one who wishes to undertake that spiritual journey upwards, away from his own will and nearer to that of God can accept such a sacrifice. There is no question of imposing it on others, but whatever the motives of the UHJ, I humbly accept their arbitration and any necessary reforms the decide necessary.

    Meanwhile, we have a duty to reduce the stigma and prejudice in our societies and within our communities towards gays and one way of advancing is in asking our LSA which activities are officially open to them.

  • timwatts

    <<<<Farhan: are you saying that being gay is a handicap? I am saying that it is a minority situation that needs help, and that societies are not tuned to that duty as yet. >>>

    OOOOH NO YOU DON'T ….nice try although being gay in the baha'i faith certainly is a handicap…..as you well know i was likening someone in a wheel chair to being gay in the sense that they are discriminated against through NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN……so please don't put words in my mouth….

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Please note that I said “just” complaining about it – I did not say one should not complain, only that such complaint should be accompanied by some effort in changing the prejudice, such as speaking one's mind on this issue, which you do very well, may I say.

    I would revise my statement to say that “some” Baha'is are deeply homophobic – my experience is not broad enough to say accurately that “many” Baha'is are deeply – and note I say deeply – homophobic. As for the nine men on the hill, I have no way of knowing what their deepest feelings are – I believe that they are supporting, as a body, what they feel it is their duty to support – beyond that I cannot say.

    As for what is possible to achieve and what is not, I believe it is always good practice for our vision to exceed our reach – this is how we move forward. If you're going to reach, reach for the stars.

  • farhan

    Tim, being left handed in a right handed world is a handicap, although nobody's fault. It is not being “sinistralophobic” to point it out. It was ofcourse a still much greater handicap some centuries ago when you might have been burnt at the stake. It so happens that lefthanded people are often smarter than others, so this compensates that ;-)

  • Grover

    Here we go again, Farhan dominating the blog with screeds and screeds of tripe like a run down record. Give up people. There is no point even bothering to debate with him, although it does make Baquia's blog look really really active. Farhan was birthed by Peter Khan himself.

    Baquia, you sure there isn't some hidden conspiracy where you are paying Farhan to do what he does ;P

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Farhan,

    Making provision for gay marriage is hardly unprecedented in human history – have you been paying attention to the world around you?

    And “to reflect and hesitate” is often a euphemism for dragging one's feet while others do the hard, right thing. As in the abolition of slavery, as in giving women the vote, etc.
    Societies do not reflect and hesitate – the individuals who make up those societies do, and what we do as individuals matters.

    I do not wish to be rude, Farhan, but I must say that in general, I find your arguments in support of the Baha'i community's immoral behavior toward the gays in their midst, unconvincing in the extreme. This is, however, fine with me – when you start making convincing arguments in this regard, then I will begin to worry.

  • ramfar

    I think you were right the first time. The entire Baha'i culture is homophobic. What's more, this is not at all specific to the Baha'is. The same is true of ANY conservative religious group. They are all generally homophobic and misogynistic. These are essential elements of religious conservatism, irrespective of which creed or “messenger” is followed.

  • Alison Hart

    Rev. Michael Rinehart, Bishop of the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is in the process of burying his father-in-law. It is from that perspective that he discusses his thoughts on the recent vote to allow partnered gay clergy:

    http://www.ktre.com/Global/story.asp?S=10989715

    He writes: “Are you proposing a Bibliocracy?”

    Are we proposing an Aqdasocracy? Or do we already have it?

    Here is a truly insightful post from a Baha'i perspective:

    http://hadleyives.blogspot.com/2009/01/what-doe

    He writes: “Possibly homosexuality is, as I’ve suggested, a 'good thing' for some people, and a 'bad thing' for others.”

    Now there's a thought!

  • Alison Hart

    Oh, and I thought this remark by the Lutheran bishop, God bless him, really says it all, it really says absolutely everything that needs to be said about the heart of this issue, for Lutherans or Baha'is or anyone else:

    “At the bottom of things, this conversation is about fear and manipulation, not sex.”

    Yes, that's just what it's about! The debate over homo-sex is just a diversion, just a symptom of a deeper problem. Fear. Manipulation. A “literalism of scriptural words.” Authoritarianism.

    Aqdasocracy!

    I can't believe Baha'u'llah would want this. He wouldn't want people “revoked” or forbidden from Feast because they were “openly gay.” He wasn't stupid, he was far-sighted, broad-minded, with a great depth of judgment, he was open to the future, he wasn't some hard-hearted hard-line preacher or strict evangelist, he understood people, he knew how to make concessions for the greater good, he was flexible, not rigid.

    I can only think that the UHJ has come to believe that the Faith will not win any more hearts, that it's basically gone as far as it can go, and so they've decided to consolidate their control so that their subordinates act according to their wishes, so that we have this precious elitist community of “okay” Baha'is (who serve in the kitchen! LOL) and the “not okay” Baha'is who just don't meet the “special specifications” (but that doesn't mean we have clergy! LOL). So it's very sad, and it's the death-knell for this “emerging global religion,” because, as Peter Khan says, “No time scale is given, but it may well be decades or indeed centuries,” so yes, the game can go on forever, the Faith gets smaller, but the tide will turn in only a few more centuries … keep donating!!!

    Well, I plan to visit the local ELCA congregation on Sunday. Good luck to Sonja and dco and others, best wishes.

  • dco

    Thanks… AH… a big hug!

  • dco

    But who is to protect the individual who will be reported by anonymous sources, and is unable to defend themselves?

  • dco

    Barb

    My experience has been the most Baha'is are homophobic, and most of them being the smiling quiet and unable or unwilling to speak out type. As in, “are you married?

    “yes, I am, he is math teacher like myself”

    “Really? Oh how nice!”

    then next thing I know… wham…

  • dco

    Dearest Farhan… they look the other way for prominent Baha'is and their children… I have no name, the persecution my family gives me because I am a Baha'i is matched only the persecution of the Baha'is because I am gay.

    Removal of rights IS a big deal.

  • Baquia

    “We now have a small cohort over some 25 years of gay parenthood studies behind us. We still don’t know how these kids from gay parents are going to cope with parenthood.”

    This sentence is just disgusting. Especially from someone who claims to be educated (a medical doctor).

    No matter. The world is ever evolving and as much as Farhan and others like him would want to tether us to such backward thinking, civilization moves forward. If you want to see the future, just go talk to a group of youth and ask them what they think of homosexuality and if it is an issue with them.

    Every time I read something as pathetic and vile as these words above, I remind myself that such things were also written about the issue of slavery, women's rights and racial equality and many other issues – all under a similar guise of dialogue and scientific debate. But as we all know, such issues have been removed from contestation.

    So my suggestion to you (and myself) would be to not get too upset by looking at such minutia but to cast your gaze to the horizon. The future is good and it is coming. Hopefully we'll be around to see it and be part of it.

  • Baquia

    Grover,

    LoL – yes I pay Farhan to expose himself as a bigot and a fundamentalist without an iota of compassion or progressive thought. It is a pretty penny but worth it.

  • peyamb

    And Farhan we have decades of mixed marriages between religions, we still don't know how confused these poor children of Bahai/Christian will turn out. We have years of mixed race marriages, we still don't know how these poor kids are going to cope with raising their own children. etc etc With every post Farhan you show more and more of your ignorance- and you think you are teaching or defending the Faith? Oyy veyy! But to you dilemma… these kids will be GREAT parents who will raise more loving/tolerant children than any kids raised in some very dysfunctional hetero fortressess of well-being!

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Farhan,

    I know how at least three kids from gay parents are going to cope with parenthood. We just returned from a family reunion. Two of the children of my sister-in-law, who is lesbian and in a long-term relationship, were there with children of their own (her other three children were there as well – one engaged, the other two younger). One of those “kids” is soon to have a second child. Both these “kids of gay parents” are excellent parents to their children. And those children cannot be distinguished in any significant way from the children from “straight families” who were there. They are all healthy and happy, well developed children.

    And it gets weirder, Farhan. My husband, who is gay (put that in your pipe and smoke it, Farhan – figure that out with your black and white theology), raised his son as a single parent, while actively gay, and he did an excellent job of parenting. His son is well adjusted, responsible, dependable, loving, sensitive and generous, has an excellent job. He is now a loving uncle to children of the family and of friends, and he is supremely qualified to be an excellent and loving parent when he and his wife have children.

    You said sometime back, and I may paraphrase a little, “whatever helps us toward love and reconciliation is more precious….”. Yes, Farhan?

    If you will forgive my observation, you try to fit life to your theories and theology, rather than observing life and using that observation to adjust your theories.

    Wake up, Farhan. Please.

    Don't spin this, Farhan – I don't want to hear it.

    Barb

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    dco -

    I see that my reply to you did not post here – I guess because I replied from my e-mail – I wasn't thinking.

    My reply was meant to post for all to see, so feel free to share it if you like. I am minimally adept with technology – I sort of struggle along and do the best I can.

    Barb

  • dco

    Lets see…

    My son is 24, just returned from 8 months as a Fulbright/MTV scholar in Mali, and is going on to grad school. He graduated from the IB program here in high school, and the top of his class at UC Berkeley. His girlfriend, also a Haas Scholar, has a 4 yr old kid (a mistake her freshman year, her family supported her to succeed) is headed to a MFA program at UCLA. My son is a great step parent, and they come and visit our home frequently.

    Interestingly enough, they are disgusted by the Baha'is. They ran into many at school and found them to use his discriptors “weird”, arrogant, insular, overwhelmingly Persian, conservative… and out of touch.

    When I got my letter they all drove over from the Bay Area to hang with me that evening… if that is not family, I don't know what it is. They knew how much I love this Faith and even tho its not their path, they came to support me.

    Interestingly enough, she filmed and produced the wedding video, and my son was our best man… he's perfectly OK with being around gay folks, and doesn't find it a problem. He knows what he is and enjoys diversity.

    Interestingly my ex-wife (his birth mother) also is disgusted by the Baha'is. Never joined when we were married as found the nutty, weird… etc.

    Gay parents tend to produce higher achiever kids, because if they are parents, its because they really want to be…

    a true story…

    when he was in high school, he had some buddies over to study… I brought in some snacks and sodas… when I left, one of his friends said, thinking I couldn't hear:

    “I wish my parents were gay, your dads are cool!”

    he said, ” its no difference, they are assholes just like yours”

    M & I sat in the living room grinning…

    Sorry, but we did something good…

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Excellent, excellent! (big smile).

    You have made me very happy this day, dco.

    The more stories we hear, the better. Whether they are happy or sad stories, or even angry ones – does not matter. They teach us, and we need teaching.

    And for what it's worth, others of us are disgusted by Baha'is as well; that is one reason we speak out. The other reason is that we love the Faith, and we do not believe this is how it was meant to be.

    Barb

  • ramfar

    Agreed. Once more for clarity: the Baha'i Faith is a conservative religious group. All conservative religious groups are, almost by definition, homophobic, misogynistic, and narrow-minded. This is not complicated, people.

  • peyamb

    WHAT?! You mean your son's girlfriend, brought up by straight parents, had a child out of wedlock?! And your son, brought up by a gay dad, is supporting her? Wow, heterosexuals just should NOT bring up children in this world. :o) Just kidding!

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    It would be wonderful if someone would take on the task of collecting the stories of gay Baha'is, whether currently members or not, and of sympathetic friends and family in relationship to the Faith. Has anyone already suggested this? Stories hold the power to bring about necessary change, because they affect us at an emotional level, beyond reason and logic. A story will stick in the mind, will poke and aggravate to thought, can inspire and give hope.

    I have a very wee bit of experience – I spent many years reading manuscripts, copy-editing and proof-reading for Calyx Journal of Literature by Women in a volunteer capacity, while I earned my living as a medical transcriptionist. I certainly would be willing to help if needed, or even to take the task on myself if no one else would step forward.

    Think of it – a collection of stories to encourage and nourish gay Baha'is, and to provoke reflection and self-examination in non-gay Baha'is. Would this not be useful and a joy to behold?

    I wonder if Kalimat would consider publishing such a collection?

    Anyone out there interested?

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    In my enthusiasm, I made a mistake – Calyx is a Journal of Art and Literature by Women…

  • timwatts

    I teach secondary school 11-16 and in a rough sorry challenging area and i have to say the vast majority of kids are fiercely defensive of their gay friends of which we have many….they won't allowed homophopia and are quick to challenge any that they see from the less “educated” kids…

  • Amanda

    Barb, that's a fantastic idea. I know Peyam has expressed a similar thought process in the past, in a different context. A lot of people have posted short statements, including extremely abbreviated personal stories on the peteition I created here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/stop-bahai-ant

    It would be possible to put a call for stories out on YouTube in reply to this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Guidl-7oGn4&feat… and moderate the comments so it isn't a troll-fest, or just ask people to reply by private email to the users YouTube account who want to be involved. Creating it and managing it is beyond my current capacity, but I'd be happy to help you. There are also other forums online people are already tuned into where the word could get spread. Seeing it published would be great. GETTING it published would be tricky, but well worth it.

    Good luck.

    Thanks for all your lovely comments here.

  • dco

    yep…

  • dco

    Thanks Barb… You have made me very happy this day, too!

  • dco

    awesome… just awesome… lets do this!

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Thanks, Amanda, for your encouraging remarks. My greatest handicap is a lack of technology expertise – I definitely would need help, were I to take on such a task. Certainly I am capable to learn and would be willing to take the time to learn necessary skills. Projects like this usually come out best if there is a network of support, I think. Diversity is a great tool, a necessary one.

    So, I wait to see what response there is – are people willing to tell their stories (of course anonymity is possible, always)? Is anyone else willing to spearhead such a project? Or to commit to contributing skills and assistance or advice in some other way? Reading and assessment (huge task) and copy-editing and verification of details and story – I see only the very tip of the iceberg of such a project. But I am willing to begin – in fact I would relish it. And if someone else is willing to take on such a task, I relish helping as much as possible with it. I am retired, I have resources (limited), I have time, I have enthusiasm, and as I said, a modicum of experience with manuscript assessment and preparation. I am certain there must be other people better qualified than I am, however – let's hear from them.

    I have signed your petition, by the way, and was so amazed and gratified to run across it.

    Barb

  • sonjavank

    Yes hetero's should give their kids to gays to bring up. i've got two sons on offer :) Actually they are too useful so I'd prefer to keep them around.

    Barb, I like your idea and I would suggest you try get some stories and write them down. I've some of Bahais who know are dead – and am not sure open I can be about them. But just think about collecting the stories first and worry about how you publish them later. You need the stories first and as you work on this, it'll become clearer. You probably need to garantee anonymity.

    I can't help much because I have jobs and kids + half finished projects (including a book). I focus where I can on blogging.

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Thanks, Sonjavank.

    It has occurred to me as well that the most important thing, for whoever does this, is to just plunge in and call for the stories, and that a way forward will be seen as one goes along. I'm not worried about the publishing part. Perhaps it could even be done completely on line somehow. I don't know what I'm talking about in that regard – just an idea.

    My own opinion is that it be done in such a way as to target two audiences – gay Baha'is or former gay Baha'is for a feeling of solidarity and encouragement, and the non-gay Baha'i community in general – to provoke thought, self-examination, and perhaps discussion.

    As for help – I just realized I have a fantastic resource at my disposal (it's odd how an idea will drop into one's mind and then you only gradually realize the pieces already in place to help realize the idea). A young man who is the son of a Baha'i friend, and who is himself estranged I think from the Baha'i community, though friendly to Baha'is – I don't know if he has ever been a Baha'i himself – is a computer whiz. He is absolutely a genius with computers. I call him whenever I have any question or problem. I am reasonably certain he would be enthusiastic to help with any on-line mechanics of this project, and I would pay him, as I always do, so it would be employment for him. He could help and advise with absolutely anything I wanted to do, and could work closely with me. I think he could advise and help to some extent if someone else took this on, as well.

    Anyway, for now I think I will wait a couple weeks or so and see what develops in terms of response – perhaps that more capable person will materialize and take the lead, and I and others can offer help.

    I would not want people to be put off by my statement about checking details and verifying stories – I certainly don't think anyone should be prying into people's lives. I'm just thinking that there has to be a way to be reasonably certain the stories are authentic – Amanda offered a little advice in this regard. Perhaps we just have to trust each other. I agree that anonymity would absolutely have to be guaranteed for those requesting that, and any confidentiality would have to be scrupulously respected.

    My husband, by the way, is already enthusiastic about this idea – always good to have support at home.

    Thanks for your kind words and advice.

    Barb

  • dco

    count me in… Daniel

  • dco

    again, glad to help

    Daniel Orey
    http://revolked2.blogspot.com/

  • http://twitter.com/SartoriEric Eric Sartori

    I think the quote below says enough for me. Since I've been getting to know some gay and lesbian individuals, one thing has become abundantly clear to me: These people are amazing, wonderful and beautiful people. Many of them are people I want my daughter to know as a roll model as she grows up. If I hadn't made an intentional effort, I wouldn't know this for myself and I'd probably still be in a state of questioning how I feel about the subject. I think the next generation will make great strides in clearing the way for true equality and equal rights in our world. I grew up in a world where “Homo” and “Fag” were derogatory words used to belittle someone in the worst way possible. My fathers generation didn't think about it much, because it wasn't so common for people to be open, but the next generation is seeing things in a very different light. Why? I think they are seeing with their own eyes, and not with the eyes of someone else who's told them that homosexuality is wrong or evil.

    O SON OF SPIRIT!
    The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes.

  • dco

    I just found this on JMG: It is an interview of Friendly Voices – Linda Ronstadt

    “I had moved back to Tucson with my kids because I just thought it was quieter, and my family was there. But Tucson has turned out to be a very conservative place, and I didn’t want my kids coming home from school saying things like ‘That’s so gay.’ So we moved back to San Francisco, and I sent my kids to a school that actively taught that homophobic remarks are just… not OK, and my kids’ attitudes have changed as a result of it.

    “Look, my kids are going to be able to form their own ideas, but at least I wanted them to be able to question things. My son is super pro-gay rights, and even though he has a girlfriend, I wanted him to know that as he emerged sexually, he’d be able to do whatever he wanted to do. You know, that it’s not something you have a choice over.” – Pop and country music legend Linda Ronstadt, talking to Planet Out. It's a great interview.

    I posted it at: http://revolked2.blogspot.com/

  • dco

    Thanks Eric…

  • dco

    This reminds me of the quotes that we used at our wedding, since I am from California and M is from Brasil, it seemed right:

    4. O FILHO DA JUSTIÇA
    Para onde pode ir o apaixonado senão à terra de seu bem-amado? E qual apaixonado poderá ficar tranqüilo longe do desejo de seu coração? Para quem ama verdadeiramente, a união é a vida e a separação é a morte. O seu peito está vazio de paciência e o seu coração está privado de paz. Incontáveis vidas ele renunciará a fim de se apressar para onde se encontra o seu bem-amado.

    4. O SON OF JUSTICE!
    Whither can a lover go but to the land of his beloved? And what seeker findeth rest away from his heart's desire? To the true lover reunion is life, and separation is death. His breast is void of patience and his heart hath no peace. A myriad lives he would forsake to hasten to the abode of his beloved.

    Daniel Orey

  • Craig Parke

    Indeed. Very fine post. It is all about Cosmic Divine Justice in all things now. And one aspect of Cosmic Divine Justice is a Cosmic Courtesy Flush on lifetime incumbents in ANY organization on Earth now whether it be religious, political, or economic where people are never held personally accountable for anything. All Groupthink is now off. The Fierce Cosmic Wrath of Divine Justice has come. It is not going to be pretty and the leadership of both Wall street and the Baha'i Faith had better start paying attention. There are many similarities. Entrenched arrogance will not wear well in the days that are coming.

  • peyamb

    AMEN BROTHER! THAT is my favorite quote from Baha'u'llah. It sums up to me everyting that He that His religion is about- JUSTICE! Not the nitpicky letters written on behalf of someone or some institution to some individual believer by some secretary. When the Bahai community turns its back on justice, then it is no different from the myriad little cults and religious groups out there making absolutely no positive difference in the world.

  • fubar

    farhan – please find a psychiatrist. this blog is not a good place to seek help for your mental health problems.

    thanks for another example of backward thinking and distortion.

    backward religious ideas and rules (such as found in bahai) are unnecessary for “spiritual” transformation.

    backward religious ideas and rules (such as found in bahai) are unnecessary for social progress.

    you yourself are a perfect example of how backward religious ideas/memes inevitably lead to retardation of spiritual development and a lack of social progress.

    you defend bahai because you have been socially programmed to believe in absolutisms.

    in any society where the “center of gravity” shifts toward postmodernism, absolutisms (e.g., many/most bahai beliefs) are seen as backward.

    further, bahai adds little/nothing to the discussion of what is wrong with postmodernism, or solutions.

    farhan wrote:
    “My taking is that part of our spiritual education is accepting God’s will above our own. … If we duck all the obstacles we will not progress spiritually, but again, only the one who wishes to undertake that spiritual journey upwards, away from his own will and nearer to that of God can accept such a sacrifice. “

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    The Gay Baha'i Story Project is going to happen, folks – one way or another. If I take this on (I think I already have) as opposed to someone else, there will be a call for stories relatively soon – sometime after the two weeks are up. I will be traveling for much of the month of October and first week in November so will be mid-November before I can give my complete attention to this, but I will be thinking and working on it some during my travel. Any of you who are interested, please begin to think about your stories related to the gay experience in the Baha'i Faith. Please pass the word to anyone you know who might be interested in offering a story. This includes non-Baha'i friends and family who are sympathetic. I do not know for sure in what way or in what form stories will be requested. There are many details to work out already. I will begin to get advice and investigate how to go about this.

    My greatest thanks to those who have already offered comments and stories – this is so heartwarming – I felt a little weepy last night (happy weepy) and could not sleep at first – my head was swimming with the possibilities.

    You all are the greatest resource – if you give me stories, I will hold them sacred, and the path will unfold.

    Barb

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Thank you, Eric, for a heartwarming and insightful comment. How wonderful that you made that intentional effort – I hope others will be inspired to do the same.

    Barb

  • dco

    great! this should be good! When you get a chance, tell us how you want the stories… posted here first or sent to you and how…

    all my very best!

    Daniel Orey

  • timwatts

    If in this revelation God has allowed things that were previously forbidden like the eating of pock for example then I would like to explore the reason for this….the prohibition was liften because eating pork is no longer presents a health issue (in the richer countires at least) God has allowed us to enjoy the fruits of this world and indeed has provided them for the use of man…..If yolu think gay relationships are now harmful you will have to demonstrate that they are by citing some examples….you say elswhere that it undemines the family and marriage..again you have to provide evidence for this….I am sure in myself that neither Baha'u'llah nor God wants me to be unhappy in this life so what the “ahibah” are doing to their gay brothers and sisters is deeply shameful and I beleive they will have to answer to their maker so you ought to be helping them overcome their views….

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    slight revision – Gay/Lesbian Baha'i Story Project – I have thought of the term “gay” as inclusive of both women and men, but my husband reminds me that some lesbians do not want to be considered under the umbrella term of “gay.”
    Such comment/criticism is welcome – if I am the one to do this, the only way I will make it through is if you all help and comment and give your opinions.

    This is, of course, a working title – who knows what we will end up with – will depend on the material that comes in.

    Barb

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Will do. And if you have an opinion as to the best way to go about this, please offer it.

    Thanks.

    Barb

  • dco

    lgbt or glbt works for most of us

    I am gay, she's a lesbian… etc

  • amishindian

    I can't imagine a Bahai Faith without Bahaullah and AbdulBaha or a world without gay folks. But I can imagine a Bahai Faith where the Guardianship is quietly, respectfully retired, where we can enjoy the gardens and buildings and thank him for that and never once thinking of excommunication. Real Bahais would never do that, even to a Guardian.

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Well said.

  • fubar

    Farhan,

    Again, your views are absolutist. They lead to corruption, ignorance and backwardness. They only appeal to those that are at a low level of development, and thus need the “comfort” of narrow-minded absolutist values.

    You logic is twisted, and is unsatisfactory to people that want real solutions to social justice problems.

    The bahai election system, as has been explained in detail on this blog previously, is manipulated by the bahai leadership elites to maintain the status quo, and structurally flawed.

    The real problem of the world is that postmodern culture has “deconstructed” societies, and people are sitting in a pile of (memetic) rubble trying to figure out what it all means.

    Backward religions like bahai were incapable of resisting being deconstructed, and thus, have no basis for authenticity – from the perspective of those that are trying to find “answers” to the existential problems of postmodern culture.

    bahai = cultural imperialism.

    bahai = absolutism.

    Until bahai theologians discover a basis for the existential problems faced by human beings at the leading edge of cultural evolution, and have it accepted by the leadership elites, bahai will remain a tradition-bound, oppressive project.

    In the last 25 years, the theological innovators in the bahai community have been viciously attacked and marginalized.

    your pathetic utopian apologetics, which ignore people's real problems, are inadequate.

  • fubar

    robots?

  • fubar

    western religion, of the patriarchal variety, is deeply flawed by a basic problem: it is premised on a “middle man scam”.

    the scam “assumes” that priests/prophets are needed for “common man” to experience the divine.

    (Buddhism and Yogic “religion” largely avoids this problem.)

    Priest classes became necessary when people started irrigation farming 5000+ years ago, and needed a social mechanism to make people OBEY the “daddy” figure, and follow rules about sharing the precious water.

    By elevating the “daddy” archetype to something called “god”, the priests could get more people to conform to the water rules, and a bunch of other rules that arose as cities grew, leisure and literacy became the sign of the “refined” classes, etc.

    Slavery was invented. “Obeying” and “submitting” were elevated to a “spiritual” status so that the slaves would be reticent to violate social standards that they had been brainwashed into thinking were somehow connected to the progress of their “soul” in this world and/or the next.

    “Submission” was simply an idea meant to stop slave revolts. There is nothing “spiritual” about it. Other shamanistic (“descender”) religions had developed perfectly good spiritual technologies/practices for stripping away illusions and ego long before the “submission” thing was invented.

    So much for ethics, laws, theology: they all participated in the formation of absolutist empire building projects (which to be fair, did lead, slowly, to advances in civilization that are produced by increasingly wealthy, complex societies that have “beat” their tribal competitors).

    People were having “spiritual” and “transcendent” (mystic, etc.) experiences LONG LONG before “religion” (irrigation laws) ever existed.

    No “religion” is needed for “spiritual transformation”.

    No “middle man scam” is needed.

    No “slave” mentality is needed (since industrial machines were invented by MODERN CAPITALISTS WHO BELIEVED IN “REAL” DEMOCRACY).

    No “prophets” or “priests” or “bahai administators” (spiritual “middle men”) are needed for human beings to access the spiritual energy that exists in everything from human DNA to the far reaches of the first star dust blown out from the big bang at the beginning of the universe.

    “Progressive revelation” is very very very bad science, and is inferior to developmental theory as an explanation of either history, or consciousness.

    Bahai theology very badly explains evolution.

  • fubar

    if they were sayings anything that made sense, it would not matter.

    the probem is that what they say is appalling, stupid and backward.

    an intelligent religion would get rid of such dunce leaders ASAP to minimize the many and various kinds of damage caused them by saying stupid things.

  • fubar

    farhan,

    God recently told me to tell you that in order for you to be “spiritually clean”, you have to spend all your time licking your anus free of detritus.

    (instead of posting stupid comments on the internet.)

    YOU MUST OBEY.

  • sonjavank

    Barb: I lke “The Lesbian | Gay Baha'i Story Project” as a title
    and suggest that you make it as a blog.
    I can help with the practicalities of this if you need it. Certainly with design (one of my jobs).

    I'd suggest you make it a blog with comments turns off, so it functions like a website, but one you can keep adding new stores to – and can keep refining it. I suggest you turn comments off, so that the focus remains on the stories and keep the whole atmosphere as one of celebration (outing). By celebration, I don't mean that sad stories are ignored, of course not, but I what I suggest is that it is a place for gay presence in the Bahai community (and that's a celebration :))

    Perhaps refer people to on Bahairants to a blog made at the time of the first story, that announces and relates specifically to this topic. I'm happy to write such a blog if B doesn't beat me to it. That way the discussion can still go on, and you don't get flooded in comments which might be hard to keep up with – when it is finding and presenting the stories that is important. I can suggest some individuals with stories. You need to give me your email (mine is on my design page).

    It depends on your resourses and goals as to whether you would make it a website, and / or if you use something like wordpress or blogspot.
    Personally I use a website on my own space for anything I consider important because I have full control over this, however using something like wordpress is much cheaper and most likely easier when it comes to management of the location. You can also have full control such as B would have, where s/he uses a wordpress template but hosts it on her/his own space.

    lovely initiative, go for it!

  • a critic

    All religions are inherently divisive. Baha'i's confidently speak about their progressiveness, but it is a sales ploy. Much of the Baha'i faith that is rooted in obsolete ideas, and I Baha'i's are not allowed to question the tenets of the ethos (I've seen Baha'i's question the writings in a group of people, and the response is one of immense surprise and negativity).

    Baha'i's really think they will have a world religion, even though all other religions have failed to do this except by force, and even then, competing religions are practiced in secret. Your machine will never force itself on all people. To think universal government and eternal peace are attainable is to ignore that we are humans. People are selfish by their very nature, and this will inevitably lead to war. To say “homosexuality is not acceptable” suggests there will be those outside of your perfect religion, as there have always been homosexuals and there always will be, unless you exterminate them as they pop out, I suppose (“Arbeit macht frei!”). I can see some Persian Baha'i, like a Grand Wizard of the KKK, “Don't want 'em. Doesn't mean we don't like them, just means we don't want'em. We can round them up, send them all to Brazil and build a fence around it. It's a beautiful place, they LOVE it there.”

    Along with women, alcohol, and whatever else, your savior has decided that homosexuality is evil. Your PR geniuses love to say that homosexuality is a “distortion of spirit” or “a condition to which a person should not be reconciled,” but you are as dogmatic as any other religions.

    There are other, more fulfilling ways to accept life than finding some obscure religion and saying, “Oh, this one is right.” I know it is hip and cool to be a Baha'i since so many Baha'i's are extremely wealthy and educated, but the question of the ages is how these people become (or remain) Baha'i's (or any other religion). You guys are SO GOOD at twisting and redefining word at will to combat any criticism, and I am sure you will have a very kind, modest, rational response to mine. My experience with Baha'i's is that they are convinced of their greatness and superiority – I have not sensed this level of self-righteousness except perhaps in evangelical southern baptist churches. I think what Baha'i's fail to realize is that they are PROTECTED BY THEIR OBSCURITY. If people actually knew half of what you believed, sure, many would say “Ah, they are harmless,” but others would think, “Oh wow, this is the same old crap repackaged – why do we need ANOTHER one of these?”

    Religion indefinitely creates war, and to suggest otherwise is delusional. Since Baha'i's have so many other religions to conquer, maybe you can put homosexuals at the front lines to form a great army to destroy the religions of the world. They won't get to heaven, but at least they will have done something valuable.

    I have seen how you love bomb people and sucker them into fireside chats or devotions only to pressure them into becoming Baha'i's like you are running an Amway convention. Sure, it is all “Oh use independent investigation” until you get into the religion and become overloaded with dogma. I married a Baha'i, so I see all of this constantly. You prey on weak people to expand your empire of boring self-righteous Persians, pseudo-intellectuals, and hippies. I can't stand listening to you all talk about how stupid Christians are, how they are just “devolved” or “confused” or, oh God the worst of all, “They are Baha'i at heart.” Ugh, barf me out. You people gossip more than any others, violating your basic beliefs. You also gamble and drink, yet say you don't in public. I don't know how you can take yourself seriously considering your religion has an ID CARD. I am sure there will be Baha'i splinter groups one day that do not follow the Universal House of Justice and don't think you need so much bureaucracy to be religious. And maybe those people will say, “Man, maybe gay people are just GAY, and not mutants, or misguided… we will allow them to be Baha'i's. Then your obsolete religion may actually be progressive. But seriously, I just can't imagine you people haven't grown up that you have to write these enormous posts trying to reconcile something that is OBVIOUSLY DEPLORABLE (preaching equality while denying homosexuals the same rights) with your religion, when by your very nature you know being a homosexual is just… well, being a homosexual. There is nothing right or wrong with it, it just is. If you think homosexuals choose to be gay, then I think you need to meet some, or some post-op homosexuals. Your savior uses an age old and bizarrely narrow version of humanity, that there are straight men and women and that is it. I have known feminine straight men, butch straight women, and men that look and act like women and prefer other men, and vice versa. I have met men that are bisexual and otherwise completely “normal.” Your conception of gender is so UNprogressive. I don't know how you live with yourselves.

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Thank you, Sonja – wonderful suggestions, wonderful! You will hear from me shortly.

    Barb

  • fubar

    as an ex-bahai (resigned in protest of the kind of stuff you mention which I've seen in several cities/states/countries, over 30 years), I can't find much to disagree with in what you say. I would add that racism and class elitism were common in the USA bahai community from the beginning and for many decades, and the legacy of the unresolved injustices created during that time still haunt bahai culture. A sort of bahai aristocracy has developed of people from “old” (usually “pioneer”) families that expect, and frequently get, preferential status and privileges/information.

    re: “Much of the Baha'i faith that is rooted in obsolete ideas, and I Baha'i's are not allowed to question the tenets of the ethos (I've seen Baha'i's question the writings in a group of people, and the response is one of immense surprise and negativity).”

    Generally correct. It has gotten worse. In the 1960s/70s a lot of “open minded” people became bahais, but by the 1980s, their attempts at finding a real place within bahai were increasingly subject to conformist pressures, if not direct, sometimes, vicious attacks. e.g., a friend of mine with a PhD in anthropology was told by “important” (fundamentalist-idiot) bahais that doing yoga was “spiritually dangerous” (evil) because it was “occult”.

    As you may know, there were a number of attempts by non-conformists, scholars, critics and dissidents to fight the prevailing attitude of bahai narrow-mindedness.

    Some of the more well-known ones (USA) are/were Kalimat Press, Dialogue Magazine (http://www.h-net.org/~bahai/docs/vol2/dialog.htm), and the “talisman” email list, and subsequent web sites/blogs, such as this one.

    Also various mild, internal reform initiatives have taken place, such as
    MDS/ABS, where bahai international development, or aid workers, or bahai scholars, tried to “push the boundaries”. Generally speaking, those that propose ideas in such venues that could potentially lead to deep questions about the validity of basic bahai theology/ideology are studiously ignored (http://bahai-library.com/conferences/common.thr…), marginalized, or attacked.

    There are of course many good people in the bahai community. some doing great things for other people in their communities, or the world. However, unless they “submit/obey” to the prevailing bureaucratic/fundamentalist/authoritarian mindset (and agree to be exploited by bogus “leaders”), they are not “truly accepted” by the mainstream. Some people are willing to give up their brain, but most see no reason to, and start to drift away when they see that nothing much can usually be done to reverse the dysfunctional tendencies that prevail.

    Some of the most innovative bahais I knew started adopting “integral thinking” 10 years ago, and that appears to be the “better thing” to bahai.

    http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/e

    —excerpt—


    Put simply, a theory is a map of a territory, while a paradigm is a practice that brings forth a territory in the first place. The paradigm or social practice itself is called an “exemplar” or “injunction,” and the theory is called, well, the theory. The point is that knowledge revolutions are generally combinations of new paradigm-practices that bring forth a new phenomenological territory plus new theories and maps that attempt to offer some sort of abstract or contoured guidance to the new territories thus disclosed and brought forth. But a new theory without a new practice is simply a new map with no real territory, or what is generally called “ideology.”

    A scientific revolution is the result of new paradigms and new theories coming into accord with each other, both of which are anchored, not in abstractions but in social practices. These revolutions are embraced, at the start, by a handful of individuals at the leading edge, but, if validated, these new exemplar-worldviews (paradigms-and-theories) are accepted by the larger culture or knowledge community, becoming a new “normal” or “legitimated” science, which stabilizes and carries forward until the next set of pesky data arises that refuses to be humbled in the existing scheme of things, and new and heretofore undisclosed territories start to shimmer on the horizon of the possible.

    A similar process is now at play, I believe, in the nascent integral salons spontaneously forming around the world. Before we discuss that possibility in more detail, here is another example of a knowledge revolution, this time in politics.

    The rise of the modern, liberal, representative democracies in the West involved, among innumerable other things, a significant shift in values from traditional to modern, which particularly began in Europe around 1600 and accelerated to something of a crisis pitch by the mid-1770s. Traditional values (e.g., blue, mythic-membership, conventional) tended to be conformist, ethnocentric, hierarchical, mythic-religious, and based on individuals conforming strongly to the present order. Modern values, on the other hand, tend to be egalitarian (not hierarchical), individualistic (not conformist), scientific (not mythic-fundamentalist), and place a premium on equality (not slavery).

    This shift from blue to orange, or from traditional values to modern values, was presaged in the salons or “small gatherings of moderns” (the word salon is French, but these gatherings were also occurring in England, Scotland, and Germany, among others), where the social practice of dialoging according to orange values was carefully exercised. That is, the practice of dialogue geared toward mutual understanding, reciprocal exchange, postconventional equality and freedom was practiced by small groups of leading-edge elites. This was a collective, communal, intersubjective, dialogical discourse at the orange wave of consciousness–a social practice, paradigm, or injunction of dialogical discourse within an elite subculture whose center of gravity was orange or higher.

    This new exemplar or social practice gave rise to a set of novel experiences, insights, data, illuminations, and interpersonal understandings, which new political theories then sought to capture. Most of these new theories of liberal democracy shared the idea that the only way to integrate individual and social is to have the individual feel that he or she is participating in the laws that govern his or her behavior. In the States this was popularly summarized by the phrase, “No taxation without representation,” and it essentially meant that a people have the right to be self-governing. This new practice of dialogical discourse and self-governance (generally called a “social contract”) was conceptualized in different ways by leading-edge individuals ranging from John Locke to Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Paine to Thomas Jefferson, Immanuel Kant to James Madison.

    This self-governance is not a felt requirement of blue (which will follow the law if it is part of tradition), and it is not felt requirement of red (which will follow the law if it issues from the power leader). Only at orange does interiority start to demand a hand in the laws that regulate its own behavior.

    (Of course, there were several other social injunctions that were part of the orange tetra-worldspace, including an industrial base that was one of single largest factors in reducing the need for slavery, and which lessened the demand for physical strength in order to succeed in the public sphere, thus paving the way for, and actually allowing, the various liberation movements, including feminism and abolition. But we are here focusing on the subset of social practices or paradigms within the rising cultural elite that was forging a new and revolutionary form of governance that would tetra-mesh with new techno-economic base.)
    . . .

    —end—

    Clearly bahai contains many backward elements. Some critics have stated that bahai is “being pulled back down into the cultural gravity well of shiism”. (paradigm regression)

    Good luck.

  • amishindian

    To see a Universal House of Justice, unchained from the test of Guardianship, soaring with the full breadth and vision of humanity, male and female, straight and gay.

  • fubar

    re: real bahai reform – the “miracle of rising from the dead”?

    Thanks for the interesting feedback.

    I'm not sure how you would see an “unchained” uhj developing from the current, paradigm regressive, dysfunctional bahai “system”/culture.

    There would have to be something like the “truth and reconciliation” process (used in S. Africa and elsewhere) where the people that run/support the current exploitative system admit their errors, commit to a process of deep improvement, leave “bad” ideas and behavior behind, embrace radical accountability/transparency, and so forth.

    Then, you would see the “miracle of rising from the dead”.

    Here is an example that probably is very close to what most “open-minded/progressive/western bahais” outside the “leadership aristocracy” would enthusiastically embrace:

    (apologies in advance for the length of the material.)

    ===================================

    http://www.beyttikkun.org/fmd/files/FoundingPer

    imagine replacing “Jewish” with “Baha'i” in the following excerpts:

    BEYT TIKKUN

    The House of Love and Healing
    A Jewish Renewal Synagogue

    “Join us as we seek to connect to the ultimate spiritual
    reality of the universe with joy, awe, wonder and
    radical amazement.”

    A Jewish Renewal and Politics of Meaning Oriented Synagogue
    for the San Francisco Bay Area
    Under the leadership of
    Rabbi Michael Lerner

    Jewish Spirituality and the Joyous Commitment
    To Heal and Transform the World

    Many Jews have felt distanced from Judaism because
    their experience growing up in the Jewish world was alienating.
    Instead of encountering a vibrant spirituality, they encountered
    a community that felt spiritually lifeless. Very few
    people today recall moments in their childhood when their
    parents seemed to be excited about going to synagogue because
    they were about to have a spiritual experience that
    would broaden their understanding or deepen their connection
    to God.

    All too often young people found a Jewish community
    that reflected the materialism and selfishness of the larger
    American society. Instead of Judaism being a spiritual and
    political alternative to the ethos of “me-firstism” and “looking
    out for no. 1,” it seemed to be a communal manifestation of
    market-driven values. Despite Judaism’s powerful injunctions
    concerning “tikkun olam” (the Jewish obligation to be
    involved in healing and transforming the world), it often
    seemed as if Jews were only concerned about their own survival.
    While no one can blame Jews for worrying about survival
    after the experience of two thousand years of oppression
    culminating in the Holocaust, the community that emerged
    from this trauma often seemed so bent out of shape, so paranoid
    about those who raised questions or doubts, so intolerant
    of those who challenged Israeli policies, and so joyless, that
    they were unable to open to themselves or their children the
    riches of the Jewish heritage and thus were unable to hold the
    loyalty of many of their young people.

    Welcome to Beyt Tikkun!

    ~1~

    No wonder, then, that many younger Jews have
    sought spiritual nourishment in various Eastern or New Age
    philosophies, or have sought an ethical community through
    their involvement in purely secular political movements.
    Others have given up on community altogether and sought
    solace in the development of an inner life or psychological
    wholeness. From these experiences, many Jews have
    learned valuable lessons that can enrich the Jewish community
    and deepen Jewish spirituality.

    We at Beyt Tikkun are part of a global effort to create a
    Jewish Renewal movement that reclaims Judaism from
    conformism, materialism and spiritual deadness. Among its
    central injunctions are:

    Be Real. We are building a Jewish life in which people
    can be involved in a real way that feels right to them, not just
    to please parents or relatives. We do not believe that one
    should participate in rituals and prayers that feel meaningless
    or oppressive.

    Don’t split spirituality from social change. A central
    message of our Torah is that the God of creation is the God
    of liberation: there should be no separation between our
    spiritual life and our ethical life. No matter how deep our
    inner experience, we are not living a “spiritually realized
    life” when we ignore the pain and suffering of others. Our
    Torah and our Prophets insisted that spiritual life could not
    be separated from political struggle to heal and transform
    the world. So Jewish spiritual life must also explicitly address
    how we as individuals and as a community can participate
    most effectively in the struggles for social justice,
    peace, ecological sanity and a world based on love and openheartedness.

    But I’m Not Sure I Can Believe in God

    As children, many of us learned conceptions of God
    that are unacceptable to us as adults. We heard of a patriarchal
    and authoritarian God who sat up in heaven and inter-

    ~2~

    vened in human affairs at will, sometimes responding to our
    prayers if we were good or said them right, sometimes
    ignoring us when we needed Him. This God was most
    mysteriously absent during the Holocaust.

    You may have to let go of this picture of God in order to
    actually encounter the God of the universe. We are more
    inclined to another conception—God as the Power of healing
    and transformation, the Force in the universe that makes it
    possible to break the repetition compulsion to pass on to the
    next generation the pain that was done to us. In Rabbi
    Michael Lerner’s book, Jewish Renewal, you will find a way
    of thinking about God that does not require you to abandon
    your intellect or subordinate yourself to an arbitrary and
    vengeful father figure.

    Our Jewish Renewal synagogue is a place where each
    of us is encouraged to explore the spiritual realm, and to
    work out our own understanding
    and our own relationship
    with God. In the final analysis,
    one might decide that the very
    word “God” (an English, not a
    Hebrew concept) is too loaded
    and misses the complexity of
    spiritual life. Rabbi Lerner urges
    us to not waste our time trying
    to convince ourselves to believe
    in authoritarian or patriarchal
    concepts of God that we’ve
    never been able to accept.

    As he puts it: The God you don’t
    believe in doesn’t exist

    so please don’t spend your time fighting against the God
    that you don’t believe in, but instead use your time with us
    to connect to whatever spiritual reality in the universe you
    can access.

    Rabbi Lerner’s teacher, Abraham Joshua Heschel, used to
    talk about God as “ineffable” precisely to capture this reality:

    Let us stop fighting
    against the God that we
    don’t believe in. We
    stipulate that the God you
    don’t believe in doesn’t
    exist in order to make
    room for you to encounter
    the God or spiritual
    reality of the universe that
    you might believe in.

    ~3~
    that our language is deeply limited and almost every attempt
    to speak about spiritual reality can become a caricature,
    turning what is a living reality into a lifeless and distorted
    idolatry.

    We welcome you to develop your own spiritual life in
    the context of BEYT TIKKUN. Prayer services combine
    spiritual reflection, meditation, singing and study. You need
    not do what everyone else is doing. Use the time and space
    to deepen your own relationship with the ineffable—and
    then, as it feels comfortable, join us as we seek to connect to
    the ultimate spiritual reality of the universe with joy, music,
    awe, wonder and radical amazement.

    Is This Authentic Judaism?

    This question was first raised against the rabbis who
    wrote the Talmud. They were challenged by those who
    wanted to stick to a more literalistic interpretation of Torah.

    The truth is that Judaism has
    gone through powerful transformations
    throughout history and
    it is precisely those transformations
    that have enabled it to
    survive. Renewing Judaism is an
    authentic process precisely because
    it refuses to allow each
    generation to lose touch with
    God’s healing and transformation
    energies. Jewish Renewal is a process by which we reconnect
    to God by transforming rituals and practices that lack
    meaning and depth in a post-modern context.

    Our Jewish Renewal synagogue is also deeply committed
    to preserving tradition. Our first instinct is to reclaim,
    not discard. There is a great spiritual, ethical, philosophical,
    psychological and political wisdom build into our
    Jewish tradition. As a community, BEYT TIKKUN is committed
    to studying this tradition and exploring its insights.

    Our first instinct is to
    reclaim, not discard.
    There is great spiritual,
    ethical, philosophical,
    psychological and
    political wisdom built
    into Jewish tradition.
    ~4~

    Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, the founder of the Jewish
    Reconstructionist Movement, used to say our tradition has a
    vote but not a veto. A hundred generations have gone
    before us, each making its contribution to tradition. Under
    the guise of interpretation, each changed the Torah it received.
    We will continue this tradition, combining reverence
    and study with our commitment to authenticity and spiritual
    aliveness.

    Open and Welcoming to All

    BEYT TIKKUN welcomes you. Our aim is to build a
    community of people who are forging an authentic Jewish
    Renewal life. You are welcome to join us at whatever level
    of commitment or interest you have. It’s fine to put “one toe
    in” and gradually find a level of involvement that feels right
    to you.

    Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know the prayers
    or melodies when you first become involved with us. Many
    congregants gradually learned them, and you will gradually
    learn them as well. Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know
    Hebrew. We encourage you to ask about words or terms that
    you don’t understand. If you don’t know much about Judaism,
    it’s most likely not your fault, but the responsibility of
    the Jewish community which was unable to turn you on as a
    child and create in you the desire to learn it. Or, maybe your
    parents were not Jewish or had distanced themselves from
    Judaism and never exposed you to the best of it.
    We welcome and honor gays and lesbians into our
    community. We are committed to fighting against homophobia
    in the Jewish community and in American life. We
    welcome and honor single parent families and seek to provide
    them with support. And, we also welcome and honor
    heterosexual couples and traditional style families.
    Because most American Jews derive from European/
    Ashkenazic backgrounds, other Jews have sometimes felt
    excluded from traditional Jewish communities. We welcome
    ~5~

    Sephardic Jews into our community, knowing that we have
    much to learn from them. We hope they will feel honored in
    our synagogue.

    We also welcome Black Jews (who have often been
    ignored in Jewish life) and Jews from South and Central
    America, and hope that they will bring their rich cultural
    traditions into the life of our synagogue. Recent immigrants
    from Russia and Eastern Europe, and Israelis are also invited
    to participate in our synagogue.

    We welcome Jews from all class backgrounds. Jewish
    life is often dominated by those with money, while others
    have been made to feel marginalized. We cannot avoid the
    reality that our community needs money to pay for staff,
    facilities, publicity, etc. While we certainly want to honor
    people who generously donate their money to help sustain
    the community, we will not give unequal attention to gifts of
    money over gifts of time and energy.

    We welcome converts and take an active role in encouraging
    conversion to Judaism. Conversion was discouraged
    in the Jewish world only after Christian societies
    made it a capital crime for Jews to convert Christians to
    Judaism. In many countries of Europe, the entire Jewish
    population could be expelled from a city if even one Christian
    was converted to Judaism. No wonder
    Jews became deeply resistant to
    conversion. From our standpoint,
    converts play a central role in bringing
    new energy and new wisdom into
    Jewish life. We encourage non-
    Jews to learn about Judaism so
    that they may consider conversion.
    We also welcome interfaith
    couples. We believe that every step
    taken to affirm Judaism is positive
    and should be supported.
    ~6~

    Singles

    Our congregation
    welcomes singles and believes
    that our members have a
    special obligation to take care of
    them. Too many people believe
    in American society’s ideal of
    meritocracy which presumes
    that “you can make it if you
    really try” and the corollary
    that “if things aren’t working
    out, you have nobody to blame but
    yourself”. In the economic sphere, this way of
    thinking leads some people to feel perfectly justified
    in taking advantage of the poor and leads some to blame
    themselves for not being more successful. Inevitably, this
    way of thinking seeps into our personal lives so that many
    people come to believe that if they are single and don’t want
    to be, it must be some personal failing on their part. Because
    this self-blame is so widespread, others feel that they might
    embarrass a single person if they were to arrange an introduction
    to someone who may be appropriate.

    Throughout Jewish history, the community took
    primary responsibility for making shidduchim (connecting
    people to each other). It is only in a market society where
    each person is forced to fend for her or himself that this
    practice disappears. While we do not want to return to the
    days when arranged marriages coerced people into relationships
    that were stultifying (particularly to women), we do
    want to create a community in which “making matches” is
    encouraged. For this reason, at each of our events we dedicate
    some time to introducing people to each other and we
    encourage each member of our community to take responsibility
    to help singles who are interested to meet one another.
    ~7~

    Couples often find it easier to socialize with other
    couples, but we encourage couples to invite singles to their
    homes for Shabbat and holiday meals.

    Some people are single because they want to be and we
    respect this option as well. We are creating a community in
    which singles feel safe and supported so that they do not feel
    pressured to be in relationships that may not be right for
    them. At the same time, as a community we support longterm
    loving relationships. We do not accept the model,
    rampant in American society, that sees the autonomous individual
    capable of standing alone, as the fundamental building
    block for a healthy world. Rather, we believe the healthy
    individual is one who can acknowledge the human need we
    have for loving relationships, and can allow herself or himself
    to experience the vulnerability that a loving commitment to
    another entails.

    BEYT TIKKUN is a Hallachic Community
    . . .

    ~8~

    The Politics of Meaning
    . . .

    We are building a community of
    people who challenge the ethos
    of selfishness and materialism
    in American society. We work
    to maximize love and caring, as
    well as ethical, spiritual, and
    ecological sensitivity.
    ~9~

    We reject the notion that the only “real oppression” is
    economic oppression. In this society most people suffer
    from a spiritual deprivation of meaning enforced by a competitive
    marketplace which rewards selfishness and materialism
    and encourages a deep and widespread cynicism. The
    deprivation of meaning is just as real as the deprivation of
    economic or political rights—and the resulting oppression of
    middle-income people is central to our concerns. In our
    community, we reject the “comparative victimology” which
    insists that one group is “more oppressed” than another and
    focus instead on our common humanity and on healing our
    common and socially-rooted pain.

    There is a coercive “political correctness” that is
    popular in the Bay Area and that leads people to feel that
    their political work must be involved in the championing of
    “the most oppressed.” Our view is that it is equally important
    to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which
    our own lives have been mis-shaped and undermined by the
    dominant ethos of selfishness and materialism and by the
    systematic denial of our spiritual needs. When people fully
    understand this, they will understand why they personally
    need to live in a society that treats every human being as
    created in the image of God. That understanding leads us to
    a deeper commitment to the healing of our planet and to
    challenging the globalization of selfishness that manifests in
    unfair global economic arrangements, destruction of our
    environment and an unwillingness to share what we have
    with others.
    . . .

    Israel
    . . .
    ~10~

    Yet, we believe both as a matter of ethics and a matter of
    rational self-interest and survival that Jewish national sovereignty
    cannot be secure if it is won at another people’s expense.
    So, we support the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian
    state. As a community, we are engaged in public actions to
    support the forces of peace in Israel.

    It is our obligation as Jews to speak out against Israeli
    policies that violate our best understanding of Judaism’s
    commitment to seeing every human being as created in the
    image of God and as equally valuable and deserving of respect.
    Jewish pain and Jewish suffering is no warrant for the
    oppression of others.

    We are outraged at acts of terrorism against Israelis and we
    condemn all such acts. Whenever an Israeli is hurt by acts of
    violence, our community feels pain. We also
    feel pain at the daily humiliations and denial
    of freedom imposed on the Palestinian people.
    We are outraged at the killing and maiming of
    Palestinians, whether by the Israeli military
    forces occupying the West Bank or by Jewish
    settlers who are unwilling to grant to Palestinians
    the same rights to national self-determination
    that we Jews rightfully claim for ourselves.
    We are critical of the widespread
    violation of human rights that has accompanied
    the occupation and supportive of Israelis
    who refuse to participate in those activities. We believe it is
    the responsibility of American Jews to speak out on these
    issues with the same vigor that we spoke out against violations
    of human rights in the countries where we do not live
    (e.g., Tibet, Chechnya, China, Colombia, Bosnia, Rwanda,
    Iran, Iraq, Syria, etc.).

    We steadfastly oppose the use of state power to coerce
    religious behavior or to privilege orthodox variants of Juda-
    ~11~

    ism over other kinds of Jewish life. We are critical of governmental
    moves that restrict the rights of Reform, Conservative,
    Renewal, or Reconstructionist Judaism within Israel or
    that invalidate the legitimacy of conversions performed by
    rabbis from these strands of Judaism.

    We hope to build people-to-people ties with many
    Israelis, to encourage our own members to learn Hebrew
    and to visit Israel frequently, and to encourage Israelis to
    visit us.

    The Spiritual Practice of This Community

    Our goal is to have every member of the BEYT
    TIKKUN community involved in some arena of personal
    and communal spiritual practice. Here is what we have in
    mind:

    Shabbat (the Sabbath) is not simply about going to
    synagogue. It is a 25-hour spiritual, meditative, psychological
    and intellectual process which involves a withdrawal
    from the normal consciousness
    of domination and
    control over time and space.

    On Shabbat we enter into a
    consciousness that is focused
    on awe, wonder, amazement,
    celebration, pleasure
    (through food, sex and intellectual
    exchange), aloneness and community. We are building
    a community of Bay Area people who support each other
    in experiencing Shabbat.

    The Personal Practice of Our Community

    We foster as many spontaneous acts of love and
    caring as possible—coupled with a compassion for each of
    us and a recognition that most of us will fail to fully embody
    this ideal most of the time.
    ~12~

    We believe that the world cannot be healed solely
    through individual healing. Social transformation is essential.

    Nevertheless, we want to foster
    a community in which we each do
    what we can to embody our
    highest ideals.

    Here are some things
    which we seek to develop in
    ourselves:

    GMILUT CHESED—acts of
    lovingkindness.

    TZEDAKAH—a life of
    selfless giving, letting go of
    attachment to possessions
    and power, and giving not
    for the sake of recognition but because “giving to give, not to
    get” is the best way to live.

    KINDNESS TO ANIMALS—one of the reasons our community
    has chosen to have only vegetarian events.

    CARE OF PEOPLE IN NEED—not just Jews, but everyone.

    SHALOM BAYIT—to make peace in our relationships and
    in the world.

    INTERNAL AWARENESS—of one’s own processes, of
    others’ needs, and of one’s own place in the universe, developed
    through meditation and self-reflection.
    ~13~

    RECOGNIZING GOD IN EVERY HUMAN BEING—and
    acting on that knowledge.

    JOYFULNESS—a life in which we can playfully and happily
    affirm ourselves, each other, and the universe.

    OPENNESS TO PLEASURE—allowing ourselves to experience
    the joy of physical, spiritual, ethical and intellectual
    pleasure.

    Daily Spiritual Work

    We hope our members will take some time each day
    to center themselves and check in with the universe, with
    God, with their own deepest selves, and with the Jewish
    tradition. At some future point we may have a daily prayer
    service. In the meantime, we hope our members will shape
    a time each day in which they can reconnect.

    Fighting Lashon Ha’Ra—Hurtful Speech about
    Others

    One of the most destructive features of contemporary
    life is the way people put each other down. The old ditty
    “words can never hurt me” was decisively rejected by our
    rabbis, who thousands of years ago forbade Jews to engage
    in hurtful speech towards others. Even true statements can
    be needlessly hurtful. Jewish religious law not only forbids
    us from participating in such speech, but from listening to it.
    Indeed, listening to such speech can be just as destructive to
    our souls as actually initiating it. One of the goals of BEYT
    TIKKUN is to build mutual support for each other, and to
    resist the tendency of people to spread negative thoughts or
    feelings about others or about themselves.

    Of course, lashon ha’ra does not preclude us from
    engaging in constructive criticism. This is best done face-to-
    ~14~

    face with the person we are critiquing, and in circumstances
    in which the person has been asked if s/he feels safe and
    ready to hear critical feedback.

    The prohibition against lashon ha’ra does not prohibit
    us from critiquing public officials or leaders of political
    movements for mistakes in their political activity. It does,
    however, suggest that even for these public officials our
    primary focus should not be on the details of their personal
    lives, but only on their political actions.

    If we can create a community which struggles against
    lashon ha’ra, we will be making a real and very concrete
    contribution to the healing of our planet.

    Making our Spiritual Practice Real

    In the first year of BEYT TIKKUN, our central focus was on
    the creation of a regular Shabbat service. Now, the goal is to
    deepen our Shabbat observance and encourage each individual
    to engage in personal spiritual practice. We encourage
    each member to be engaged in these practices:

    Prayer and Meditation

    Our goal is to help our members integrate some form of
    prayer or meditation into their daily lives. We provide
    instruction and resources so members can learn more about
    Jewish prayer, meditation and Shabbat observance. Here are
    some options:

    Pray or meditate for 15 minutes every day. It’s a perfect way
    to begin the day that can give a renewed sense of purpose
    and mission to life.
    . . .
    ~15~

    Community Participation
    . . .
    Education
    . . .
    ~16~

    Children’s School
    . . .

    Our main goal is to teach the following values:

    Awe and wonder at the grandeur of creation
    Gratitude
    Generosity and Hopefulness
    Love and Caring
    Commitment to the Jewish people and to Humanity
    . . .
    Developing an Inner Spiritual Life
    . . .
    Learning the prayers, rituals, and mitzvot of Jewish life
    Learning Torah and the Torah traditions

    Tikkun Olam
    Joyfulness
    . . .
    ~17~
    Bar/Bat Mitzvah Program
    . . .
    Adult Education
    . . .
    ~18~
    Torah Study:
    . . .
    Community
    . . .
    Beyt Tikkun Structure
    . . .
    ~19~

    A Synagogue With a Vision and a Leader

    There are several approaches to building a synagogue.
    In many traditional synagogues the central building
    block is a board composed of wealthy people who hire a
    rabbi and cantor and raise money for the venture. Unfortunately,
    many times this ends up giving excessive power to
    the wealthy and the message gets communicated that what
    really counts is having money. In opposition to this, some
    Jewish Renewal communities have formed around an antileadership
    or ultra-democratic culture that insists on equal
    power for each person in the group in shaping the community.

    Some of these ventures have been wonderful successes.
    But a problem sometimes emerges: people who have
    little knowledge, spiritual experience, or psychological
    sophistication sometimes use the democratic process to work
    out unresolved personal issues. Or, they displace quite
    legitimate anger at the wealthy and powerful elites in the
    larger society, onto people in their own groups with marginally
    more power than themselves. In these contexts, talented
    leaders find themselves the targets of unwarranted suspicion
    and hostility and often withdraw from the community.
    . . .
    ~20~

    We are not creating a community of equals with
    regard to religious matters. We each enter our community at
    different levels of knowledge, psychological awareness, and
    religious education. We are not all equally prepared to
    participate in shaping the community’s spiritual life. Living
    in a progressive culture that privileges democratic forms,
    many people have the expectation that they should get a
    chance to vote on everything and feel resentful or coerced
    when they are not included in decision-making. For this
    reason, we want to make clear that this is not the practice or
    expectation of this community.
    ~21~

    Is It Contradictory to Have to Pay for This
    Kind of Spiritual Life? Shouldn’t It Be Free?
    . . .

  • dco

    this is good, on my website I have collected a couple of dozen sites liek this that demonstrate open, welcoming and loving congregations of all sorts…

    thanks for sharing this FUBAR

    Daniel Orey
    http://revolked2.blogspot.com/

  • dco

    Folks – another

    Corvino: Other people’s judgments

    By John Corvino, columnist, 365gay.com
    08.28.2009 10:54am EDT

    “You don’t just want us to tolerate what you gay people do,” my skeptical questioner announced, “you want us to think that it’s RIGHT.”
    Send / Share
    Add Comment
    Whenever I hear this point–and it’s pretty often–I always think to myself, “Duh.” Of course I want people to think homosexuality is “right.” Why would anyone think I wouldn’t?

    Actually, the latter question is not entirely rhetorical. Even my fellow gays ask me why we should care about other people’s moral approval. Beyond the obvious pragmatic advantages – for example, more moral approval means more favorable voting attitudes means more legal rights means an easier life – why should we give a damn what other people think? And while we’re on the subject, why should THEY care? Why are our lives any of their business?

    There’s a myth circulating among well-meaning people that “morality is a private matter,” and that therefore “we shouldn’t judge other people.” This is nonsense of the highest order. Morality is about how we treat one another. It’s about fairness and justice. It’s about what we as a society are willing to tolerate, what we positively encourage, and what we absolutely forbid. It is the furthest thing from a private matter.

    There’s a story I always tell in my introductory ethics classes about a freshman who wrote a paper defending moral relativism. His paper was laden with references to what’s “true for you” versus what’s “true for me,” what’s “right for you” versus what’s “right for me” and so on. I gave the paper an F. Surprised and angry, the student came to my office demanding a justification.

    “Well,” I carefully explained, “I graded your paper the way I grade all papers. I stood at the top of a staircase and threw a batch of papers down the stairs. Those that landed on the first few stairs got A’s…then B’s, C’s and so on. You wrote a long, heavy paper. It went to the bottom of the stairs. It got an F.”

    “That’s not right!” he blurted out.

    “You mean, that’s not right…FOR YOU,” I responded, grinning.

    The moral of the story (aside from, tenured professors do the darndest things) is this: despite all of our talk of “right for you,” deep down we believe in public moral standards. We may disagree about what those are, and about what actions fall under their purview – but we still believe that right and wrong aren’t entirely relative. (For the record, the grading story is entirely fictional.)

    One might object that grading affects other, non-consenting people, whereas relationships affect only the people involved. There are two problems with this objection.

    The main one is that the latter point is just false. Unless one endorses a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” secrecy, relationships have a public presence and thus public consequences. Gays aren’t waging the marriage battle just so we can all go back in the closet. Like most people, we want to stand up before family and friends, proclaim our love, have it celebrated for the beautiful thing that it is. (At least, that’s what many of us want.)

    We want to send the message to young gays and lesbians that there’s nothing wrong with them; that they, too, deserve to love and be loved, and that there’s nothing sinful or wrong about that. We want to be treated equally in the eyes of the law. All of these aims affect other people in various ways.

    Second, the objection invites the response, “Says who?” Who decides that only actions affecting other people are appropriate targets of moral scrutiny? Who decides that that’s the right way to look at morality? And there’s no way to answer such questions without engaging in a bit of moralizing. Value judgments are inescapable that way.

    Those who claim that they’re not taking any moral stances about other people’s lives are, by that very claim, taking a moral stance about other people’s lives – a “tolerant’ one, though not necessarily a very admirable one. Sometimes, other people’s behavior really sucks, and we should say so.

    “Saying so” is part of the confusion here. There’s a difference between MAKING moral judgments and OFFERING them, not to mention a difference between offering them respectfully and wagging your finger in people’s faces. The latter is not just self-righteous; it’s generally counterproductive. I suspect when people say that “we shouldn’t judge other people,” it’s really the latter, pompous kind of moralizing they’re concerned to avoid. But we shouldn’t confuse the rejection of bad moralizing with the rejection of moralizing altogether.

    In short, we should care what other people think, and do, because the moral fabric touches us all.

    ********************

    John Corvino, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, and philosophy professor at Wayne State University in Detroit. His column “The Gay Moralist” appears Fridays on 365gay.com.

    For more about John Corvino, or to see clips from his “What’s Morally Wrong with Homosexuality?” DVD, visit http://www.johncorvino.com

  • dco

    Corvino's “What’s Morally Wrong with Homosexuality?” DVD, found at http://www.johncorvino.com is an excellent resource. Folks may want to buy it and sent it to their LSA's

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Hmmmmm……..a Baha'i Renewal Feast? Open to all? Radical idea.

    Barb

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Thank you, Fubar, for posting this – it is quite beautiful, and thought-provoking. I hope folks will not be put off by its length, and will take time to read the whole thing. Food for thought for Baha'is, as many of the features of this movement are already a part of Baha'i life…this is the true spirit of Baha'i, I believe. The part about Lashon Ha'Ra is a particularly good reminder for Baha'is.

    Barb

  • fubar

    re: if God=the Void, then God is neither gay or straight?

    Barb & DCO,

    Glad you liked it.

    On a related theme, raised elsewhere in this thread (?), in the following article, a Christian-Buddhist dialogue, there is a discussion of the connection between the original word root for “obey” (“to listen deeply”), and the practice of becoming liberated from ego.

    The article doesn't make it explicit, but I think what both the Christian mystic and Buddhist are saying is that the experience of egolessness in both traditions is basically the same thing. Thus, the “radical” aspect of this is that in Buddhism there does not have to be a “manifestation”, or “prophet” that intermediates between “man” and “God” – the Buddhist meditator can potentially reach the same level of egolessness as Christ did.

    http://www.shambhala.com/html/catalog/items/isb

    In any case, while reading the article, what I thought about was the Beatles song “Let it Be”:

    How could anyone's sexual preferences/orientation have anything to do with attaining awareness of formlessness (the highest goal of “spiritual” people)?

    How could anyone's sexual preferences/orientation have anything to do with being in a state of “egolessness” and awareness of ultimate “emptiness”?

    Any Baha'i meditator can immerse themself in the devotional atmosphere, and practice of detachment, that leads to such “formlessness”.

    iirc, Dr. Juan Cole wrote an article about one of bahaullah's (officially untranslated) “mystical” tablets that has themes that are parallel with buddhist/yogic ideas about the topic of “the ultimate = the void”.

    Apparently the greatest devotional act is NOT devotion to the image of a prophet, or rules, or bureaucracy, or scripture, but devotion to nothingness/formlessness/egolessness.

    Every human being can be liberated into nothingness by giving up ego.

    “Let it be”.

    Devoutly love emptiness. Because it liberates.

    And “let people be”. Don't force them into false constructs or categories such as “good people = straight”, and “bad people = gay”.

    Emptiness is neither gay or straight, and neither is “God”.

    “There is, monks, an unborn, unbecome, unmade, unconditioned. If, monks, there were no unborn… no escape would be discerned from what is born, become, made, conditioned. But because there is an unborn…, therefore an escape is discerned from what is born, become, made, conditioned.”
    ~ The Buddha
    Ud 8:3

    Translator: Bhikkhu Bodhi
    Udana 8:3
    In the Buddha’s Words, Bhikkhu Bodhi (ed), Wisdom 2005, p. 366.

  • farhan

    Good idea, dco; there might already be an advance in statistics i consulted a couple of years ago.

    After quoting religions on gay relations, marriages and parenthood, it would be good to quote scientists and see what percentage of them are better informed than myself.

  • Alison

    Pastor Sylvia Hayward-Harris, who is straight, is in the Process of opening The Vision Church of Bermuda, “a radically inclusive Pentecostal church” which would be open to people of all sexual orientations.

    Hayward-Harris tells the Bermuda Sun: “Often people who are in authority at the church ­demand more of their flock than they do of themselves. I would like to have a place where people feel free to be themselves – to live in their truth, whatever that truth may be. It's very strange to me that in order to be a part of a traditional church you have to live a lie if you are gay or lesbian. That is not Christian to me. Excluding gay people has always been a problem on this island. I know one young man who won't come back ­because he was attacked by a gang of guys with ­helmets. To be fully Christian, we must fully welcome all of God's children to the table of the Lord – women, children, gays, lesbians, ­bisexuals, transgender, those with special needs, those of every race… all have full acceptance into the complete life of our ­fellowship…Our desire for Bermuda is to actualise God's power to transform our often ­divisive and unhealthy ­cultures of hate, self-hate and violence into a community of healing and reconciliation.”

    A true Baha'i!

  • Alison

    Islam recognizes homosexuality

    Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

    Homosexuals and homosexuality are natural and created by God, thus permissible within Islam, a discussion concluded here Thursday.

    Moderate Muslim scholars said there were no reasons to reject homosexuals under Islam, and that the condemnation of homosexuals and homosexuality by mainstream ulema and many other Muslims was based on narrow-minded interpretations of Islamic teachings.

    Siti Musdah Mulia of the Indonesia Conference of Religions and Peace cited the Koran's al-Hujurat (49:3) that one of the blessings for human beings was that all men and women are equal, regardless of ethnicity, wealth, social positions or even sexual orientation.

    “There is no difference between lesbians and nonlesbians. In the eyes of God, people are valued based on their piety,” she told the discussion organized by nongovernmental organization Arus Pelangi.

    “And talking about piety is God's prerogative to judge,” she added.

    “The essence of the religion (Islam) is to humanize humans, respect and dignify them.”

    Musdah said homosexuality was from God and should be considered natural, adding it was not pushed only by passion.

    Mata Air magazine managing editor Soffa Ihsan said Islam's acknowledgement of heterogeneity should also include homosexuality.

    He said Muslims needed to continue to embrace ijtihad (the process of making a legal decision by independent interpretation of the Koran and the Sunnah) to avoid being stuck in the old paradigm without developing open-minded interpretations.

    Another speaker at the discussion, Nurofiah of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), said the dominant notion of heterogeneity was a social construction, leading to the banning of homosexuality by the majority.

    “Like gender bias or patriarchy, heterogeneity bias is socially constructed. It would be totally different if the ruling group was homosexuals,” she said.

    Other speakers said the magnificence of Islam was that it could be blended and integrated into local culture.

    “In fact, Indonesia's culture has accepted homosexuality. The homosexual group in Bugis-Makassar tradition called Bissu is respected and given a high position in the kingdom.

    “Also, we know that in Ponorogo (East Java) there has been acknowledgement of homosexuality,” Arus Pelangi head Rido Triawan said.

    Condemnation of homosexuality was voiced by two conservative Muslim groups, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and Hizbut Thahir Indonesia (HTI).

    “It's a sin. We will not consider homosexuals an enemy, but we will make them aware that what they are doing is wrong,” MUI deputy chairman Amir Syarifuddin said.

    Rokhmat, of the hardline HTI, several times asked homosexual participants in attendance to repent and force themselves to gradually return to the right path.

  • dco

    maybe someone can find the actual quote, but I remember reading something about the Blessed Beauty saying if the Baha`is don´t get it together hew will cause it to be raised from the midmost point of the ocean… or something like that? I wonder if he was talking about Bermuda? hehehe…

  • Craig Parke

    Fubar,

    Thank you for this very timely post for me today. I really needed to bring this to mind due to a recent death. Do not morn those who have returned to the formless because they have been liberated back to the unborn, unbecome, unmade, and unconditioned. In the formless is reunion with the All. This is the true spirituality. The true mindful remembrance. Because we forget this we suffer in life. At any moment we dwell in the formless. Our form here is only temporary. We are as vast as the limitless uncreated in the Universe. This is my grief in the Baha'i Faith that these men made it so small. Something that could have embraced all became nothing more than the black in the eye of a dead ant so without Spirit. What these men did is truly one of the great tragedies of world history and will bring the rebuke of severe Divine Judgment upon their heads because undiminished Spirit is what all are seeking now across the world. They put a roadblock in the path of individual reunion with the formless. Atman is Brahman. When I remember that there is no sorrow. there is no loss. There is only liberation from all false constructs and the delusions of men and their systems of false consciousness. The drum of individual spirit needs to beat of it's own. It cannot be managed or controlled by others and never should be. Individual spirit is sacred to each human soul. Reunion with the formless is what all form seeks and will receive in the end. We must dwell in it now in our individual liberation.

    Thank you for reminding me of that sacred state. My religion has no name once again after decades in the Baha'i Faith. My religion has no name. In that the form can become the formless and the Universe is again vast and limitless.

  • peyamb

    I've read that some Bahais think the king of Samoa becomiing a Bahai was predicted by Bahaullah because of this quote. Hmmmm, does that mean the Bahais have been astray for decades? :o)

  • Alison

    “Should they attempt to conceal His light on the continent, He will assuredly rear His head in the midmost heart of the ocean and, raising His voice, proclaim: “I am the lifegiver of the world!'”

    Definitely Bermuda!

  • dco

    yeah apparently it was the wrong ocean…

  • farhan

    Barb wrote : you try to fit life to your theories and theology, rather than observing life and using that observation to adjust your theories.

    Barb, I have been involved in ethical decision making in these issues for some 20 years now. This involves people who call on medical teams for medical assistance for procreation, and sociologists, psychologists and law makers impartially trying to find the best solution for the would-be parents, the kids and for society.

    I am saying that the people I interact with say they don’t know. You quote stories of successful families and say you know. Law-makers require scientific evidence and there is a huge amount of exchange in Europe as the bioethics laws are being discussed.

    For the moment the studies I have had access to cover a couple of decades and suggest that children raised by gay families are doing statistically better than those raised by non-gay families. The objection to this has been that the gay parents studied were statistically more educated, financially better off, more meticulous since conscious of being observed. Another objection is that we need more time to see how these kids will act as parents.

    If you know of more recent studies I am not aware of, I would be grateful to have access to them. If anyone feels that my comments here have been unscientific, I would be glad to have them assessed by any scientific committee in France or in the US; the reply can be shared here.

    This has nothing to do with my personal opinions as a Baha’i which concern my beliefs and not my professional activities and my patients. My guess, as a Baha’i, is that Abdu’l-Baha would promote love and fellowship amongst gays and non-gays, the same requirements concerning chastity, and encourage marriages between gays and non-gays, and not intermarriage amongst themselves.

    We also have to consider at what pace a society can evolve without creating havoc. A hundred years ago Abdu’l-Baha encouraged mixed marriages in the US but forty years ago the film “Guess who is coming to dinner” was banned in the US, but not in France.

  • peyamb

    So why is it you don't have any objections or obstacles to a Bahai marrying a non-Bahai? Have you already done the research to show that the children turn out ok? Two parents with very different philisophical/spiritual outlook on life can harm a child's upbringing. It is much easier and healthier for a child to have parents that believe the same moral structure and give continuity in the family- is that not right? Yet somewho, you have no problem with these types of marriages- they are not even worthy of your great scientific mind that is, you know, just observing for the good of humanity

  • farhan

    Peyamb wrote: So why is it you don't have any objections or obstacles to a Bahai marrying a non-Bahai? Have you already done the research to show that the children turn out ok?

    Farhan: we have generations of examples before us and we know the challenges, the pitfalls and advantages; there is no ongoing social debate on this subject, and Baha’i teachings encourage them. No one is ranting about them, so why should I waste my time suggesting a new legislation when I am living through them?

    Peyamb: Yet somewho, you have no problem with these types of marriages- they are not even worthy of your great scientific mind that is, you know, just observing for the good of humanity

    Farhan: I observe the laws of society as you do, and I occasionally give recommendations if my opinion is sought. It so happens that gay marriages and parenthood are being discussed in France amongst other subjects for the oncoming revision of the 1994 bioethical laws by lawmakers, biologists, moralists and various associations. These laws are also under discussion as an innovation in the US and elsewhere in the world. Your views are as valuable to me (and perhaps even more so) as many others.

    The fact that Baha’i teachings do not endorse them for Baha’is, does not alter the fact that I am working in a society where they exist, where a new legislation is being discussed for those who do not wish to be guided by Baha’i teachings, so I cannot ignore them. The fact that the Baha’i teachings suggest that science in the future will enable us to cure many diseases through appropriate diets, does not allow me to apply medical treatments other than those now endorsed by present day science. I have to live in the present world with an eye on the future.

  • farhan

    dco wrote: the persecution my family gives me because I am a Baha'i is matched only the persecution of the Baha'is because I am gay.

    Well, this is appalling and an obvious violation of Baha'i principles. This is why we all need spiritualisation through a deeper study of the writings. As to the community requirements, which under no circumstances warrant misbehaviour from Baha'is, I agree that it is not a small deal and a great dilemma for a conscientious soul.

  • peyamb

    “we have generations of examples before us ”
    That's not scientific data. Have you analyzed these Bahai/other religion families to see how the children grew up. Is the divorce rate higher among them? Have they turned to drugs? Are they criminials? You can't say empirical evidence that we offer regarding children from same-sex families is NOT valid, yet apply it as ok (“we have generatinos of families” without any analysis). Seems yet again hypocritical on your part. Have you learned that word hypocrisy yet Farhan?

  • dco

    Thanks Farhan… one needs to take this to the USA NSA… nothing will happen until all Bahaís all stand up to this nonsense…

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    hmmmmm……encourage marriages between gays and non-gays, and not intermarriage amongst themselves.

    I guess you mean gays should not intermarry among themselves, but non-gays should do that. But then there are marriages between gays and gays that are heterosexual – i.e. between gay men and lesbians. There have been such things recorded in history. It gets complicated, doesn't it, Farhan?

    But I catch your drift – according to your beliefs, a man should never enter into a sacred, legal, loving commitment to another man, and a woman should never enter into a sacred, legal, loving commitment to another woman – even if they are interested in providing a safe, loving, legal environment for children, i.e. family. Better they should all just shack up – no point in seeking stability.

    Have I got it right now?

    I think we should agree to disagree, and I am willing to do that. Let's give it a rest.

    Barb

  • dco

    this is very sweet, thanks

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    I apologize to everyone for using the term “shack up” – I was trying to make a point about the importance of giving committed couples the benefit and blessing of marriage – but I chose a poor way to get the point across.

    Sorry. It really is time for me to bow out of this particular conversation.

    Barb

  • farhan

    Peyamb wrote : Seems yet again hypocritical on your part. Have you learned that word hypocrisy yet Farhan?

    Peyamb, You have your experience and opinions, I have mine. I am willing to enter into a dialogue so as to share experiences, and where I might learn and perhaps advance in my opinions. I am not willing to enter into a wrestling match where people throw junk at each other.

  • farhan

    Barb wrote : according to your beliefs, a man should never enter into a sacred, legal, loving commitment to another man, and a woman should never enter into a sacred, legal, loving commitment to another woman

    No, Barb. This is not my belief and in any case I am willing to consider other beliefs in a dialogue but not in a wrestling match.

    Since I chose to live and work in France, I apply the laws here and I participate in discussions about gay marriages and parenthood. My understanding is that what we have seen over the last 25 years is reassuring, but not sufficient at this time for the legislator (which I am not) to promote laws in favour of gay marriages and parenthood. I also consider it necessary to allow all religious communities to apply whatever prescriptions they deem necessary, without putting them under pressure, so that in time we can compare results.

    If I am asked the opinion of Baha’is in this matter, I would say that they have elected delegates who have elected NSAs who in turn have elected an international body that condemns discrimination against gays, requires chastity from its members without distinguishing between gays and non-gays and does not make provisions for religious gay marriages. Being gay is not equated to a separate race or to a form of slavery. My understanding is that if we did wish to separate people with different orientations as different races, the Baha’i principle would encourage interracial marriages and not segregation of gays from non-gays is different communities.

  • farhan

    There is also a quote from Baha'u'llah saying that if the Baha'is dont arise to serve, God would raise the pebbles (or the grains of sand) to serve Him.

  • Baquia

    While peyamb's tone is rather harsh, the point he brings up is valid. What he's asking is that you apply the same standard across the board. Not selectively as you are currently doing.

  • farhan

    Baquia wrote : the point he brings up is valid. What he's asking is that you apply the same standard across the board. Not selectively as you are currently doing.

    Baquia, as I have repeated several times, interracial and interreligious marriages have existed over the ages. No one is discussing a change in religious beliefs or legislation in this respect. If the discussion on this subject comes up, I can provide my own personal experience; I believe that people should not be encouraged towards mixed marriages unless they are willing to face the challenges involved.

    I am being informed of the suffering of the gays unable to live their orientation in a world where the majority of citizens see no need for a change in religious beliefs and in legislation, neither of which I have any bearing upon. I am occasionally invited to give my views which are close to that of the majority of my colleagues who choose tolerance and caution, a position that you find “disgusting” and contrary to your personal understanding of science.

    I agree that many fears expressed 20 years back have been eliminated, but that in many parts of the world, including France, where interracial and interreligious marriages are not questioned, the legislator hesitates to innovate by accepting gay marriages and parenthood.

    Is it so difficult to see the selective difference between continuing an age-old situation and adopting an innovation?

    I am interested in a dialogue on this subject and I am saying that 1) I do not see sexual orientation as a race 2) I do not see sexual orientation as slavery 3) I do not see GLTB as a specific social group or gender, and if did, I wonder if we should not promote unity by encouraging intermarriage between gays and non-gays or between gays and lesbians. 5) Within the framework of civil laws, we should let religions apply their principles without pressuring them so that we can compare results. 6) Efforts should be made at improving dialogue between gays and non-gays and avoiding that it becomes a source of further misunderstanding and resentment through harsh and scatological language.

  • peyamb

    Thank you for considering what I said throwing “junk” at you. My point stands though- YOU are a hypocrite. You keep trying to fool others here with your facade of understanding and tolerance, when all you are trying to do is show a kind/gentle side of the Bahais towards gays. This side DOES NOT exist. I can see through all the smoke and so yes, I will call you out on it, even if it means with harsh (but true) comments. You represent what I see among the fundamentalist minded inside the Bahai community. I can't let you fool the world with your words. Sorry!

  • peyamb

    If asked that opinion, please also include that the 9 men also have said that:
    1) gays have a disorder that we believe can be cured through prayer and determined effort
    2) that they can sympathize with an angry parent that has refused their gay child to come back to the house and did not condemn that parent in the letter
    3) that they believe that some day genetic manipulation of a fetus could possibly get rid of the disease of homosexuality
    4) that an openly gay person (like Daniel) will be kicked out of the Bahai community and have no equal rights as other Bahais; when absolutely no one knows what he is doing in his bedroom and it is no one's business
    shall I go on? Will you also be fair and mention all these things or will you continue to be a hypocrite and try to fool people into believing how sweet the Bahai AO and the community is towards the LGBT community. Yes Farhan, “LGBT COMMUNITY”. We are a community by default because of the ignorance that exists in the world. Oops sorry, am I flinging junk again?

  • farhan

    Peyamb wrote: all you are trying to do is show a kind/gentle side of the Bahais towards gays. This side DOES NOT exist.

    Peyamb, who said I represented the Baha’is ? I am just one Baha’i, and I share my understanding that is subject to change. I am trying to dialogue on issues, and not you, me or other Baha’is.

  • dco

    Not to worry…. GLBT people shack up with style… a little paint, some curtains, a table, some flowers and the shack is a palace…..

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    (Big smile) Thank you.

    Barb

  • Grover

    Awwwww, Farhan, playing the martyr! My heart bleeds! It is amazing how you've never considered, despite everyone on this blog telling you, that you might actually be arrogant, biased, prejudiced, bigoted, patronizing, condescending, and blinkered. If you want to improve humanity's lot, and as you say “improving dialogue between gays and non-gays and avoiding that it becomes a source of further misunderstanding and resentment” maybe you should look in the mirror.

  • farhan

    Grover wrote : you might actually be arrogant, biased, prejudiced, bigoted, patronizing, condescending, and blinkered

    Thanks, Grover, for your definition of anyone expressing an opinion that insistently differs from yours. Once again, you are addressing your views of a participant in a dialogue, and not providing your views on the subject being discussed.

  • AH

    Here's a piece you might like found about marriage by the above writer:

    http://www.365gay.com/opinion/corvino-always-an

  • AH

    Also friend just sent this link to great piece about Julian Bond:

    http://pamshouseblend.com/diary/12797/julian-bo

    He quotes Mrs. King who said “Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood.”

  • Grover

    I love it how you try and turn it round and pin the blame on someone else for your own failings. Farhan, almighty God, perfect in everyway, can't handle it when people point out your shortcomings and the reasons why your “dialogue between gays and non-gays” “becomes a source of further misunderstanding and resentment”.

  • Baquia

    It would be good if we would respect Sonja's work in this article by actually paying attention to what she has written. However, personally I don't think that those who are against equal rights for LGBT will somehow be convinced through proofs or arguments.

    As Max Planck said: “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

    This is already happening, as it has happened with so many other social advances. It is only a matter of time, of life, of death and of a new generation replacing the old. An ever advancing civilization moving forward by throwing aside the shackles forged by past errors.

  • farhan

    Baquia wrote: It is only a matter of time, of life, of death and of a new generation replacing the old. An ever advancing civilization moving forward by throwing aside the shackles forged by past errors.

    I totally agree, Baquia, and as we say the proof of the pudding is in the eating. This is why we should allow various trends to develop or to die down by themselves and let smart people throw in their lot with the trend that seems to them the most appropriate. The process of integration and disintegration repeatedly described by Shoghi Effendi confirms your view. As one example:
    “Such simultaneous processes of rise and of fall, of integration and of disintegration, of order and chaos, with their continuous and reciprocal reactions on each other, are but aspects of a greater Plan, one and indivisible, whose Source is God, whose author is Baha'u'llah, the theater of whose operations is the entire planet, and whose ultimate objectives are the unity of the human race and the peace of all mankind.” (Advent of Divine Justice (3:1, page: [73])

  • farhan

    Grover wrote: you try and turn it round and pin the blame on someone else for your own failings. Farhan

    Once again Grover, we are here to share views, not to compare or blame those holding views. When people have no further argument to present on the subject being examined, they start to make comments on those holding the views.
    Sonja has suggested that the Baha’is might change their position towards gay marriages; I find this improbable in a foreseeable future. You disagree with me. As Baquia wisely pointed out, time will tell who will have made the right guess. There is no need to call each other names.

  • farhan

    Grover wrote: you try and turn it round and pin the blame on someone else for your own failings. Farhan

    Once again Grover, we are here to share views, not to compare or blame those holding views. When people have no further argument to present on the subject being examined, they start to make comments on those holding the views.
    Sonja has suggested that the Baha’is might change their position towards gay marriages; I find this improbable in a foreseeable future. You disagree with me. As Baquia wisely pointed out, time will tell who will have made the right guess. There is no need to call each other names.

  • peyamb

    “This is why we should allow various trends to develop or to die down by themselves”
    This is the root of the problem Farhan- you are ignorant and pompous in your “innocent” remarks. The love and commitment that two people finally want to show towards each other, the respect they expect from society, the confirmation they finally want from decades and centuries of oppression… YOU call a mere “trend”. It is not a trend Farhan. It is a freeing from the shackles of hate and injustice that ignorance such as yours has inflicted on gays and lesbians for so long. The process that is set in motion is about justice and you, the Bahai AO, no one can put a stop to it. How would you feel if the Bahai Faith was looked at as just a trend to allow to die down or develop? Your words constantly, in a subtle manner insult.

  • farhan

    Peyamb wrote: How would you feel if the Bahai Faith was looked at as just a trend to allow to die down or develop? Your words constantly, in a subtle manner insult.

    I would feel that being in a minority group of hardly one in a thousand citizens of this planet, others are fully entitled to holding views very different from mine. I would not feel in the least insulted, and by sincerity, and fleeing hypocrisy, I would continue to give my views next to theirs, as I am doing here, next to the vast majority of those on this blog whose views differ from mine. Perhaps I should be more careful and add IMHO before each sentence to avoid appearing pompous?

    You express the views of perhaps 10% – a hundred times more numerous than Baha’is – on this planet, and express the views of the vast majority of contributors of this blog, and you feel “subtly” insulted if my views differ from yours. Would I become a “nice” person and no longer a hypocrite if I lied and gave the views you hope to hear, or are you interested to see me appear as a bigot and hear what I might have to say on the subject?

  • peyamb

    No you should stop pretending to be here for dialouge and understanding when all you are trying to do is give the straightforward fundamentalist party line of the present AO. I don't want you to give me the views I want to hear, that's between you and God to decide. I just want to be honest about who you are- not just some simple Bahai here for dialouge and understanding. You are not.

  • farhan

    Pey wrote : I just want to be honest about who you are- not just some simple Bahai here for dialouge and understanding. You are not.

    Pey, I have been here under my true name, and all my messages have been truthful and honest; I have certainly not been participating with the intent of hurting anyone’s feelings. I intend to invest more time elsewhere and I am grateful to those who by contradicting me have helped me towards a better understanding of this problem here.

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Well, talk about a hypocrite – here I am again when I said it was time for me to hang it up – we all have trouble with our deeds matching our words occasionally.

    Farhan, I hope we can agree that when you step on sensitive toes, someone is going to say ouch!, probably loudly, and probably say a good deal more as well. For example, during the struggle for justice for blacks in the USA, segregationists certainly had a right to voice their opinions, and they did. And there was a loud cry in response to some of those opinions from those who had suffered, and in some cases from their friends who were not black, but were working toward justice.

    This is not a usual Baha'i discussion of what color paper we should use for our flyers for Race Unity Day – with everyone giving their opinion and some people abhorring the color red, and being offended when others disagree. This discussion is a discussion toward Justice, and comes out of a long history of discrimination, physical abuse, and punishment toward gay folks. And those folks have friends, and family. So when you step on sensitive toes, they are going to respond vehemently.

    Of course you have a right to your opinion, and I trust that you are sincere in your opinion, and seeking to learn from the opinions of others. But don't be shocked when people say ouch! loudly and a good deal more. A lot of emotion goes along with the history of any significant discrimination, and it may be hard for someone who has never experienced that particular discrimination to understand the emotion. But trust me, there's good reason for it. And it is oh, so wrong to blame people for having that very justified emotion and speaking out accordingly.

    Barb

  • fubar

    A case can be made that things have gotten worse as people have died. “Bad memes” tend to survive in the collective unconscious and re-emerge (sometimes in morphed form) regardless of the individual leaders/followers.

    Anyways, the whole point of the western system of social equality is to have “rule by law”. Historically, this has been incremental. (Currently, the problem is that law is being subverted by corrupt/wealthy/corporate interests. Presumably some populist uprising is called for.)

    In order for there to be an expansion of equality via law, a process of social/political change has to happen. Various theories of social change have been proposed, and I'm not aware that there is any broad agreement that people have to die in order for collective transformation to happen. I personally find that idea (change via death) to be bleak, and contrary to abundant evidence of individual intellectual/spiritual transformation (or other paradigm shifts).

    Also consider that some futurists predict that the wealthy will have access to life extension medical technologies that will result in average lifespans of 120 to 150 years.

    Just because bahais are (generally) inept/incompetent at (or resistant to) transformation doesn't mean that other people are similarly inept.

    bahais are like people that stand around and talk about the need for a grand structure, who lack either the tools or talent to actually build much more than an outhouse. after the outhouse is built, the first person to sit on the throne falls into the pit upon completion of their business. anyone that dares to point out that the person seeking relief has fallen into a stinky hole is accused of “disloyalty” to the grand scheme.

    for the few that do have talent (e.g., sonja), the inevitable frustration over the lack of “tools” in the bahai system leads to an understandable, and well intentioned, desire to “make stuff up”.

    the reality is that bahai culture is currently incapable of the kind of transformation required to adapt to social change. the very scripture that sonja hopes can be used to inspire forward progress contains too many other “backward” elements that “check” the hoped for forward movement. specifically, there is a lack of a mechanism to jettison, or fundamentally rework, outdated metaphysics, outdated organizational practices, and so forth so that the religious culture can provide meaning as existential problems and needs change/evolve.

    indeed, what appear to be the case is the opposite, the organizational culture is capable of creating an atmosphere of amnesia about social progress and justice and “real” transformation, via the manipulation of public opinion (Ruhi, etc.). any semi-organized attempt to create alternate, critical, nonconforming, or dissident perspectives (Dialogue, Kalimat, Talisman, H-Bahai) is attacked and marginalized.

    by the time bahai culture does change, and adjust to a new paradigm that others create, the rest of the world will have long since “moved past” the issues.

    the crucial issue at play is about methods of transformation. the spiritual “roadmap” that exists in bahai culture was designed for a process of transformation that had no awareness of evolution or postmodern culture.

    “lack of awareness” = “two missing tools” = “outhouse religion”

  • fubar

    farhan, you are a liar and distortion artist. the record of your comments on this blog provide an abundance of evidence. please see a competent psychiatrist for help.

  • Pingback: Why I made this blog « Just a Bahai Blog

  • Craig Parke

    I agree Baquia. That is the lesson of history. It is the evolution of ideas taking root and advancing in the hearts and minds of human beings in generational cycle after cycle that is the cause of advancement. This process is most dynamic among thinkers who know how to think and then take direct action in opportunities around them by every means possible. The Baha'i Faith has no thinkers so this process of life and death cycles of perception, evaluation, and advancement with be very rapidly outdistanced by other more intelligent and courageous people and other much more free, open, and dynamic spiritual communities. To get the most insight on the true depth of the Teachings a spiritual seeker must understand the secret that Baha'u'llah was NOT a PERSON. Baha'u'llah was a A STATE OF CONSCIOUSNESS. His followers flunked the test in record time again in human history as all the Abrahamic religions have in the past before this one too. People worship the lamp and not the light and as a consequence miss the system of spiritual insight over and over in human history. It is the same old, same old. The huge neurotic Mommy/Daddy psychological system projection of the Ages in franchise groupthink “organized” religion. Here we go again. Already we have clergy. So many people had hoped for something much better this time out. So many people had hoped for the liberation of esoteric spiritual understanding. It certainly is there in the Kitab-I-Iqan. The mission of the Baha'is was very, very simple. Spiritualizing the planet is child's play if you understand basic cosmic principles. These principles are all around us and can be discerned by intelligent observation.

    The first thing in life is to understand the psychological dynamics of your own family and develop a support system around you starting with your family. He seems to not have grasped this at all. Maybe it was something in the drinking water of the 1930's but Shoghi Effendi made something essentially very easy mind bogglingly incredibly complicated. He seems to have not understood the principle of natural force multipliers in human endeavors. If you want to understand that, study the dynamics of rock music, and system of psychological resonance in human beings.

    So there must be some Divine Message in this that the Faith as it was shaped carries within it the hermetically sealed phased cognitive dissonance that will insure that it falls further and further behind with each death and re-birth cycle of just social advancement with each new generation as the new World Age unfolds. It is a quite remarkable Catch-22 to behold.

    As the energies of the New World Age progresses which I still honestly believe were inaugurated in the 19th Century by the Bab and Baha'u'lla's souls going through a space-time cosmic spiritual vortex, those same energies will outdistance the Faith. The spectacular failure of the Baha'i Faith up until now is truly a wonder and a prodigy! People like PK being elected to anything whatsoever in the Faith is the ultimate cherry on top. It is amazing, amazing stuff as an outcome. I think the organization of the Faith will become the final autopsy on the 3,000 years legacy of the dysfunctional organizations we now know as the Abrahamic religions. I think the final autopsy report will bear much fruit in the final demise of organized religion in terms of brain chemistry, major human personality disorders, and organizational theory. I think this final analysis at some point over the next 300-500 years will be the final gift of the Abrahamic religions to mankind. They will have proven how ABSOLUTELY NOT to do anything as an organization if you want to truly be effective in any field of endeavor. I think we must learn this scientific observation regarding organizational theory before we can have a world civilization. We have to solve it.

    Shoghi Effendi did not seem to understand the true dynamics of human progress in the cycle he often pointed out. When it come to human organizations the issue is not about “non involvement in politics” the issue is about “non involvement in mental illness.” For the time being it appears less prayer and more Prozac is in order in the BAO. There has to be a better way to get neurotransmitter levels up than filling out Ruhi workbooks 1,000 times with the same people in one's lifetime cradle to the grave over and over until insanity or welcomed death occurs. There just has to be a better way to achieve progress like letting people be creative under their own energy to think freely and come up with their own bottom up empowerment.

    Meanwhile, with each generational cycle of death and re-birth the Baha'i Faith will look more and more like the dust bowl of Oklahoma in the 1930's. It is now a very curious Grapes of Wrath with one too many a John Steinbeck on LSD writing the narrative. Just one too many a Tom Joad appearing everywhere out of the haze.

    The UHJ has essentially told the Baha'is to get off the land of their own hearts. If you can't make the paper payment to the bankers get off the land.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGky0q2j_78

    So it goes.

  • Craig Parke

    Just a quick weekend note to everyone on the importance on the Ruhi Book 1929 Full Sequence of Courses. Unless people wake up worldwide and start to understand the game being played on them, it doesn't matter if you are a Baha'i or an atheist or who or what your God is or what your sexual orientation is. You will die broke in the gutter living as a perpetual slave with your entire life saving flushed every 70 years over and over and your sons and daughters sent to endless war by the Military Industrial Complexes of the world…forever.

    The history of the entire human race is the history of the psychological needs of unchallenged and unchecked criminal elites. This is true of all of the Abrahamic religions over the centuries which is open for study. They are a 3,000 year old textbook history of this organizational and social phenomenon. The great religion of today is the religion of money and it's clergy is the unchallenged financial elite bankers of the world. Educate yourself by studying the links of the Ruhi Book 1929 Full Sequence of Courses.

    Unregulated OTC Credit Default Swaps are STILL LEGAL everywhere in the world after they took down 150 year old financial institution(s) a year ago! It is like a nuclear reactor blew up killing millions of people with radioactivity and we just keep building them. It is amazing, amazing stuff. There is still no serious financial regulation ANYWHERE in the world. Zero. Nada. Zippo. These boys play to win. Once bailed out by the governments they control, they will just keep the insider game going and not give up one inch of their control over the wealth of the entire world. That is the situation we are in. Absolutely nothing whatsoever will be done. Nothing. Until people educate themselves and rise up.

    It is clear that it may take 100-500 years using Internet technology, but a new political party will have to be formed in the United States it we all do not want to die as slaves and take the entire world with us. And somebody eventually will start a free and open bottom up global religion based upon Cosmic Divine Justice. It is only a matter of time.

    Meanwhile, educate yourself as to the long term worldwide situation developed over the last 500 years so you try to tip the scale that you do NOT die along the road living out of your car.

    CRASH COURSE IN ECONOMICS 101 – 21 VIDEOS (4 HOURS)
    edit link h t t p : // www . chrismartenson .com/crashcourse

    ELLEN BROWN EXPLAINS THE LAST 350 YEARS – 5 VIDEOS
    edit link h t t p : // www .youtube. com/watch?v=QU0XiklHPMc
    edit link h t t p : // www .webofdebt .com/
    edit link h t t p : // webofdebt .wordpress .com/

    DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF EXPLAINS THE LAST 500 YEARS – 1 VIDEO
    Life Incorporated: How The World Became A Corporation, And How To Take It Back.
    by Douglas Rushkoff
    edit link h t t p : // lifeincorporated .net/

    STUDY THE HISTORY OF THE 300 YEAR OLD FRACTIONAL RESERVE BRITISH BANKING SYSTEM MODEL THAT STILL RULES US TODAY – 5 VIDEOS
    edit link h t t p : // www .youtube .com/watch?v=vVkFb26u9g8

    And remember, as Shoghi Effendi wrote, the Baha'is have NO GUIDANCE WHATSOEVER on ECONOMICS except for a few general principles. The members of the current UHJ are academics at the level of high school teachers who essentially traffic in other peoples writings and ideas. There will be NO ORIGINAL THOUGHT OUT GUIDANCE OF ANY KIND FOR 1,000 YEARS on what to do about endless derivatives in the world economy. You are going to have to figure out what to do YOURSELF.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNq8LoYjG2E

    Good night and good luck.

  • AmadodeDios

    Re: “While we were young I witnessed the straight normal Baha’i friends fornicate and drink and do drugs with impunity”. Maybe that selective lenience was partly like Shoghi Effendi's delay in letting Western Baha'is know about not drinking alcohol – giving priority to the basics first, and (frankly) not scaring people away. (Dr. Muhajir told us NOT to mention not drinking, because people will run away and never learn about Baha'u'llah!)
    Couldn't this same reasoning justify being decent to people with different preferences, even for people who are not fully sure whether homosexuality is all right or not?

  • peyamb

    Oh yes Dr. Muhajir. And some say he was comfortable not mentioning homosexuality too! His ex-wife on the otherhand… I had the pleasure of listening to a speec of her's when I was teen where she said “And everybody here asks for freedom, freedom. Even the gays! What do THEY want freedom for?” And then she goes off on a rant about the excesses and immorality of the West. Yeah, it didn't do much for helping me come to terms with my issues back then. It just helped push me farther back into the closet created for me by the Bahai community. But I'm sure she had issues with her ex-husband. :o)

  • Craig Parke

    Does anyone know what the UHJ's guidance is on the next big thing of the “securitization” of life insurance policies? Did the Bab, or Baha'u'llah give guidance on this? Did Abdu'l-Baha or Shoghi Effendi comment on this kind of new proposal?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/06/business/06in

    At the very least does the UHJ members-in-waiting from the ITC have an opinion on this? Does anyone know if they are even now discussing it over lunch? Or does Peter Khan, most of all, have guidance on this since he has personal opinions of guidance on every known and unknown topic in the Universe? Does anyone know if the Writings say this is a good idea?

    Does anyone know if anyone on Wall Street or the UHJ has ever read Laurie Garrett's famous book of the 1990's that would seem to say that this really is not a good bet to make with other people's money?

    http://www.lauriegarrett.com/index_coming.html

    Does anyone know what the guidance is or do we all have to figure this out on our own for ourselves?

  • Kurt

    Craig you're such an alarmist. Banks have been failing since banks began. Markets have cycled through booms and busts since mankind took up agriculture back whenever. And yes real people get hurt in the process. When has it ever been otherwise? Will it really ever change?

    I would add to your list “The Predator State” by James K. Galbraith and “The Ascent of Money” by Niall Ferguson, two fine works that put the current situation into much needed policy and historical perspective.

    Is it not strange that corporations and other entities chartered by a government of the people should be so contemptuous of their maker? Something to ponder.

    Derivitives in the world economy are probably here to stay at least for the time being. I am not sure what counsel on their usage the UHJ could give except to remind us that Baha'u'llah prohibits gambling and games of chance (speculation), encourages us to expend our wealth on our families and bretheren in the faith, and to carry on a trade or profession. Baha'u'llah's advice to treat tradesmen with deference sounds like a fair wage standard to me. He gives permission to charge interest on personal notes but not to engage in usury (as creditor or borrower) as is practised with credit cards or some home equity lines of credit. Those few general principles carry a lot of weight I think and have helped me personally keep my head above water. And I didn't need the UHJ to tell me what is what in other words and have a hard time understanding why some do.

    You may be interested to discover that Pension Funds are at present buying up Iowa farmland which is surprising since returns on land are not that great. Iowa has 10 percent of prime agricultural land in the nation. Another bubble in the making?

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    I have a question – probably this has been already covered long since, but I'd like to know others' thoughts.

    If the UHJ and the Guardianship had existed at the same time, Shoghi Effendi said, I believe, that he had the obligation to ask the UHJ to reconsider any decision he felt should be considered again – but that he had no right to change their decision – their decision after consultation had final sway. And that they had the responsibility of legislating on anything not specifically revealed in the writings of Baha'u'llah.

    If the Guardian's opinion would not be binding in this instance, but could be overridden by the considered opinion of the UHJ, does this say anything about the weight of the Guardian's statements in relationship to the UHJ decisions, regarding anything not explicitly revealed in Baha'u'llah's writings?

    I'm too lazy right now to go pull the quote regarding this – it's in WOB, I believe, but I know where to find it easily enough, and reviewed it recently.
    It seems a little bit of a fuzzy area, and I'm just wondering how others see this. I think this question relates to the possible mechanisms for change in the Faith, and the possibility for the UHJ to move with the times, when it deems this wise.

    Thanks.

    Barb

  • Craig Parke

    You have some good points. I have not read the two books you mention but I have certainly heard of both of them. I plan on reading them soon.

    I think derivatives on the scale they have now attained are financial nuclear weapons. They are out and out gambling. But there appears to be no political will yet in the world to strictly regulate them. We'll see what happens at the G20 in Pittsburgh this month. I have no trouble with Credit Default Swaps between the actual holders of the debt. But Naked Credit Default Swaps are pure gambling and how such a thing was ever allowed to exist is absolutely amazing. When they permitted them in the law changes of 1998 and 2002 they were well aware of the history of the Panic of 1907 and the changes were specifically made exempt from New York state gambling laws against the “bucket shop” practices of that time. It was just amazing stuff to ever be allowed to happen.

    Meanwhile, I say this time it is different. This is not a standard “business cycle”. Not by any means. This is very, very serious. We are in a place no one has ever been before.

    But I guess as Peter Khan says, if you are going door to door for the Faith you are “safe.”

    Yep. That's the ticket.

  • Craig Parke

    Barb,

    You bring up a very interesting point. I have seen the specifics of this discussed at times on several underground sites as to how can this important check and balance power of the Guardian simply does not exist now with no Living Guardian and the possible catastrophic consequences. The clear fact is it indeed does not exist. No one, therefore, can ever stand up to have a check and balance “moment” of any kind to ask for a “reconsideration” on the power of the UHJ. But I don't think anyone has brought it up from this other viewpoint yet you point out here in any discussion I have seen so far. I think everyone feels the Faith will always be fundamentalist and authoritarian from here on out for a full thousand years until the next Manifestation completely pulls the plug on everything within the first five minutes of the next Revelation way down the road. Meanwhile, nothing will go anywhere within the Faith as it cannot adapt to anything in the organic advancement of free and open advancement and discussion within human society and it falls further and further behind stuck in the mindset of a very tiny group of completely insular mind bendingly impotent and ineffective “Admin-o-centric” community of people in 1957.

    I have always seen the “completely missing Living Guardian” factor as a very curious kind of cosmic “bank shot” over the next 1,000 years. It is a factor guaranteed to keep the Baha'i Faith permanently hamstrung from ever being able to achieve any kind of effective thesis-antithesis-synthesis dynamic. there is just no way around this permanent situation which is now set in stone. The Faith is permanently held back, The same with no women allowed on the UHJ. The world will, therefore, very quickly outdistance the Faith. It will never be a player as the planetary civilization is built by the souls truly immersed in the free and open energies of the New World Age. Many other people and many other spiritual communities will be much more noble from their own innate spiritual connections with the Cosmos. But there has to be some Cosmic meaning why the Baha'is will never attain any real power in the world for the next 1,000 years. What could the cosmic meaning be to be destined to always be a bridesmaid and never a bride? As the last Abrahamic religion it truly makes me ponder the wonder of such a profound mystery. Hamstrung with no real bottom up structure to safeguard a consultative dynamic of any kind or a dynamic system of consultative checks and balances, It will always be playing with doll babies instead of a real living child decade after decade for a full thousand years. Why?

    Why did Shoghi Effendi apparently purposely decide to allow it to become completely hamstrung by not appointing a Livine Guardian in his lifetime as he was required to do by the specific text of the W&T of Abdu'l-Baha?

    I have thought and thought about this during all my years in the Faith and I just can't understand what message he was trying to send to the future?

  • Kurt

    Barb,

    The quote you are looking for in WOB is in Dispensation of Baha'u'llah, pg 150. Sen McGlinn wrote an essay on this question last December entitled “He Cannot Override…” and it can be found at senmcglinn.wordpress.com. You will have to scroll down the main page to find it. I think you will find his discussion satisfactory. Best of luck.

  • Baquia

    Here is Sen's article: He Cannot Override

  • fubar

    You are welcome. Sorry to hear that you lost someone close to you. May their spirit dwell in the warm and safe embrace of light and be at one with the good, the true, and the beautiful.

  • fubar

    re: the general discussion of social change and “nature” (evolution, or whatever).

    In the following book, there is a fascinating linkage between integralism, multiculturalism, spirituality and democracy.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=7KX4JQevUsAC

    “NURTURING THE SOULS OF OUR CHILDREN: EDUCATION AND THE CULTURE OF DEMOCRACY “

    Paperback: 352 pages
    Publisher: AuthorHouse (June 27, 2005)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 1420823728
    ISBN-13: 978-1420823721

    excerpt:
    | To devise a theory of education is to address the questions of culture,
    | cultural values and cultural identity formation in the child. In this
    | original study, Robert Mitchell gives us a scholarly overview of cultural
    | education in America's schools. He demonstrates how the public trust
    | of universal education fails our children and our democracy. He then
    | advocates reframing our concept of education in terms of a sacred
    | trust that teaches the culture of democracy. Turning to the question
    | of the role of the teacher, Mr. Mitchell weaves together anecdotal
    | evidence of a teacher archetype with advanced theories in archetypal
    | psychology. This compelling work breaks new ground to provide us
    | with a refreshingly new and visionary approach to K-12 education.
    |
    | Limited preview – 2005 – 352 pages

    About the Author

    Robert Mitchell was born in 1945 and raised in California and Illinois. He
    studied architecture at the University of Illinois for two years before
    receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Troy State
    University. He is a veteran who served in the Vietnam War and was
    honorably discharged in 1970. He then lived in Europe, North Africa and
    Mexico, working as a freelance writer and designer for eight years before
    becoming a teacher in a small private American secondary school in
    Mexico. In a career spanning nearly 30 years, Mr. Mitchell has taught
    English, history, art and mathematics in both public and private schools
    in the United States and abroad. He currently lives in Maryland and teaches
    mathematics in a small private secondary school near Washington DC.

    ———————————————————-

    Comment:
    In the section on developmental psychology, the author specifically points out the psychological problems, which become social problems, of denying the “magical” and ritual stage of human development in modernist (rational) cultures.

    Because of the secular nature of schools and culture, there is a “missing” element of ritual, specifically a “missing” ritual of transformation from “childlike” magic consciousness to “rational” modern consciousness.

    This results in a “non-integrated” personality and culture, where “rational” consciousness has marginalized magic and ritual consciousness.

    If Mark Turner and George Lakoff's work in cognitive linguistics is valid, then the human brain best operates as a “metaphor machine”, not as a machine to only work in a rational manner. Forcing “rationalist”models on human nature causes big problems, amongst which are “too much bureaucracy” (e.g., the rise of transnational pedagogues, therapists, planners – as described by Ivan Illich in “Vernacular Values”)

  • fubar

    With respect, it seems to me that the bigger structure of bahai belief is the real problem here. Prophets, 1000 year cycles, and all that stuff (if taken literally) IS THE PROBLEM. (“middle man scam”) NOT THE SOLUTION.

    No prophets are needed, no progressive revelation is needed, because “evolution happens”. Consciousness unfold/infolds, the impulse to seek “the good, the true, and the beautiful” is eternal. The impulse to experience transcendence is eternal (both the “ascender” and “descender” paths – via egolessness or body experience). It existed before religion. Please note that bahai scripture appears (officially untranslated) to contain descriptions, borrowed from suf poetry, of the “ultimate” state of spiritual bliss and mysticaly unity (“descender” spirituality) as being metaphorically sexual: God “penetrates” the “seeker”, etc.

    (To put it into crude context, imagine god “penetrating” the 9 uhj men with “spirit” during a particularly “infallible” moment – while they are “legislating” about homosexuality. The irony seems considerable.)

    Great archetypal leaps forward probably happen long before some so called “prophet” recycles some old story from ancient culture that mapped an archetypal template out, and “predicted” how the newly emerged appearance (reconfiguration) of such an archetype would change people and culture, cause large scale paradigm shifts, etc.

    The great civilizations (slave systems) were imperial projects that required “universal” (mythic) religion to impose conformity (more efficient if the goal is to beat down other cultures). Once humanity passed from a medieval world to a modern (and postmodern) world, such mythic religion lost out to rationalism.

    The only way to get back the original spiritual/transcendent elements that are missing from modern/postmodern culture is to cast off the imperialist elements of religion.

    The idea that only “prophets” can act as intermediaries between “god” and human beings is something that needs to be cast off.

    Humanity needs spiritual geniuses as much as it ever has, just not ones that are instruments of the archetypal images of faded slave civilizations.

  • fubar

    economic failure led to fascism/nazism. being alarmist is good.

    I personally think that thousands of “those bastard up on wall street” (Richard Nixon) should be hung for treason (corrupting the legislature).

    Anyways – the basic bahai principle is simple: avoid extremes of wealth and poverty.

    implementing the idea is the hard part.

    the current system (protestant capitalism, natural law) originally assumed that religion would provide an ethical structure to check greed and excess (and the inevitable corruption of the political structure).

    that was a modernist assumption.

    a new set of laws (accountability/incentive structures) need to be put in place that are more holistic, and reflect postmodern and integral values.

    until then, the old system will grind on, generating regressive behavior amongst the economic-political elites, which will lead to social-economic instability.

    people have been dumbed-down so much that they do not know what is being done to them (exploitation/inequality), but if things get bad enough, some wil relearn how to “work against the system” in order to survive.

    “transpartisan” politics is one possible direction.

  • fubar

    great question. the basic themes in the bahai writings that pertain involve trying to prevent the usual “worse case scenarios” seen in human history:

    1) having an imamate (guardianship) to “prevent schism” (disunity), and
    2) having a quasi-democracy (houses of justice) to “prevent orthodoxy”.

    (Organized religion has a giant problem: it can be used to do very good things, or exploited to justify very bad things. bahai tries to address the problemm by building on islamic solutions, but the “solution” came apart because of the weirdly narrow inheritance thing with the guardianship.)

    Also: if the “international tribunal” and other “secular” governmental structures are to co-exist w/ bahai to deal with the “non-religious” aspects of life (???), then the problem under discussion takes on a somewhat different characteristic than if bahai governing bodies were “supreme” social institutions.

    In terms of checks & balances and the use of “public opinion”, if a uhj starts doing crazy/corrupt stuff, a guardian could potentially lead a “PR” campaign to pressure the uhj (or change election of members).

    similarly, a uhj could use “public opinion” (and perhaps “legislation”!?!) to thwart a “crazy/corrupt” guardian.

    Assuming that such a system “makes sense” (note that another thread on this blog made clear recently that it DOES NOT, since it has common historical origins in the archeology of ideas in iranian culture that produced the iranian theocracy-dictatorship that rules the country), it is apparent that when there is no imam, the legislative branch becomes “dangerous” since it has to take on the role of “enforcer” by imposing doctrinal “unity” (conformity).

    Thus, the slide into rigid “legislative” orthodoxy becomes inevitable, and rapid, without an imam/guardian.

    the problem with this whole discussion isn't the uhj's reticence to toss out the dumb stuff that shoghi effendi said about homosexuality. it is that the american fundamentalists and iranian authoritarians that are the ruling elites know that “liberalizing” ANY aspect of bahai would create even more demands for further “reforms”, and undermine their pathological grip on power.

    their agenda now has to be to stop any and all discussion of reform (or “real accountability”), of ANY SIGNIFICANT KIND.

  • Grover

    Hey everyone, David sent me a fascinating article. I'll just quote some of it here:

    “In conversation,” noted Smedslund (1970, pp. 217-218), “we always assume that the other person is logical… When our expectations are not fulfilled, we normally attribute it to a lack of understanding on our part… but not to genuine illogicality on his part… logic must be presupposed, since it is characteristic of any activity of any integrated system
    and is a part of the very notion of a person.”

    So what happens when a person is not logical or doesn't possess our kind of logic? I always wondered why all our discussions with Farhan and people similar never ever went anywhere. We do our bit in the assumption that they have a similar logic and rationality to us. And they probably say whatever makes sense to them and whatever we say just washes over them because their sense of logic and rationality is different to ours.

  • sonjavank

    Hi Grover,

    re: “So what happens when a person is not logical or doesn't possess our kind of logic?”

    I don't see this in such black and white terms.
    For example, I brought up the issue of the status of the Letters of Shoghi Effendi as being an aspect of what is changeable because these are not part of Bahai Scripture, but in response to me various posters continued to quote these letters as if they were scripture. For me, this seemed illogical. Obviously to those posters, they either didn't see my point or ignored it or for them my idea that they are not part of scripture is illogical.

    That's part of the reason I've been silent (I'm also extremely busy). I didn't know where to start because it seemed logical to me that Bahai Scripture were the writings of Baha'u'llah, 'Abdul-Bahai, and the official interpretations of Shoghi Effendi and that all other texts, while not necessarily less important, have the potential for change because they are not in the former category which is not subject to change.

    So, Grover, my point here. If you want to communicate with Farhan in a different manner, take another approach or try to find some common ground and work from that. Farhan, I don't agree with most of what you have written but I thank you for continuing with your comments because some other Bahais might share your views and more importantly, in airing our diverse views and discussing these we can all learn how to express ourselves better and I've found that I've been able to develop a lot of my ideas from those I've disagreed with.

  • fubar

    “logic”? lol. yes, every system of culture has its own “internal logic” that imparted some kind of “survival value” at some point ni the evolution of the culture system.

    farhan is a polemicist, advocating the “mainstream” pro-administration party-line. this is tribal stuff, or at least cultural imperialism. think “absolutism”.

    question: is iranian bahai culture PTSD? (internalized persecutions)

    bahai culture should contain some kind of “ritual” process for cleaning out the “bad spirits” of what happened to bahais in iran. instead, the bad stuff has been internalized within the “we have perfect assemblies” mindset, and bahais have regressed to the point of absorbing the paradigm of oppression. can someone find any positive reference to “liberation” in any recent, major official bahai communication? probably not.

    it would be nice if the current ruling elites of bahai could “see” the logic in what sonja is saying. but they won't because the entire paradigm that they operate from is based on “false unity” (M. Scott Peck).

    “honesty” and rational “logic” are difficult.

    it is best to study how the other primates that are close to humans in the evolutionarty scheme behave: alpha male protects the harem. alpha female dictates who gets their fur groomed and who gets the food, in which order. most of the primate brain, including human, is devoted to social bonding (via magic/myth structures). which translates into conformism. and its opposite, the exclusion of nonconforming individuals.

    as sonja insightfully states, the “rational” thing to do would be to promote real “tolerance”, “inclusion” and understanding of varying perspectives about controvesial issues.

    however, the bahai establishment doesn't take that stance, they take the stance that only conformists will be accepted. it's all about “in-group” and “out-group” dynamics, and “monkey brain” domination stuff.

    I suppose that a cynical view might be that some of the “progressives” that are currently excluded are trying to gain acceptance into the
    “in-group” again by promoting “innovations” in bahai theology.

    if so, the current politics of the in-group are increasingly resistant to such innovations. perhaps that will change, but it doesn't seem likely in the near future.

    the larger question is “is bahai in a death spiral?” incapable of working out solutions to issues such as doctrinal inflexibility? being pulled down into a “gravity well of shiism”?

    my experience is that innovations only survive in bahai culture if they reinforce the status quo, and support the eternal process of bureaucratic reinvention that all dysfunctional, failed organizational cultures engaged in.

    as such, acceptance of glbt will only happen when it serves the larger interests to do so (the “internal logic” of bahai tribalism/imperialism). again, given the current, increasingly absolutist mindset amongst the ruling bahai elites, it is hard to imagine how they would ever see such acceptance as being beneficial.

  • Grover

    Maybe I should say instead of different kind of logic or rationality, they possess a different set of starting assumptions.

    Eg: Farhan – letters written by or on behalf of Shoghi Effendi = Shoghi Effendi speaking for God because AB's will and testament says so, yada yada yada = authentic Baha'i scripture – therefore cannot be ignored and not subject to change (sorry Farhan I'm putting words in your mouth).

    Actually, Sonja, why would you argue that Shoghi Effendi writings has less validity or applicability than 'Adbu'l-Baha or Baha'u'llah? Or would you argue that their validity and applicability depends on their context (which is what I would do). I just can't see how, if you were doing what AB's will and testament asked, you could disregard them (sorry, me being fundamentalist – lol, and I'm not even a believer anymore ;P).

    For me belief is like a house of cards. I've found personally that the danger of having such an absolutist belief system is what happens something comes along that cause you to question what's going on – e.g. Ruhi, cluster meetings and so on – you start questioning what the UHJ is doing, and then suddenly the whole house of cards that is your belief system collapses, and suddenly you don't believe in the Faith anymore and suddenly Baha'u'llah and so on have no more weight or credibility than a door to door salesman (which is where I'm at at the moment).

    So unfortunately, with regards to conversations with Farhan, I'd say most of us have had bruising experiences with the Faith and are operating from a state of either cognitive conflict or outright disbelief (and we're actually thinking about what we believe), whereas Farhan is operating from a state of happy go lucky faith and belief (and got his head buried in the sand and is not questioning the tenants of his belief – which is a happy status quo position for any believer because it doesn't cause any undue distress).

  • sonjavank

    NO! I did not and have never written that the writings of Shoghi Effendi have less validity than 'Adbu'l-Baha or Baha'u'llah.

    Please read my post again: I said that
    “it seemed logical to me that Bahai Scripture were the writings of Baha'u'llah, 'Abdul-Bahai, and the official interpretations of Shoghi Effendi and that all other texts, while not necessarily less important, have the potential for change because they are not in the former category which is not subject to change.”

    The 1000s of letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, not Shoghi Effendi's own writing are what I'd put in the category that is not Bahai Scripture.

    In my <a href=”http://bahairants.com/change-is-a-law-of-nature-666.html#comment-15258238″post of 2 weeks ago on this same thread I quoted one of the Letters of Shoghi Effendi which spoke of the status of these letters:

    “I wish to call your attention to certain things in “Principles of Bahá'í Administration” which has just reached the Guardian; although the material is good, he feels that the complete lack of quotation marks is very misleading. His own words, the words of his various secretaries, even the Words of Bahá'u'lláh Himself, are all lumped together as one text. This is not only not reverent in the case of Bahá'u'lláh's Words, but misleading. Although the secretaries of the Guardian convey his thoughts and instructions and these messages are authoritative, their words are in no sense the same as his, their style certainly not the same, and their authority less, for they use their own terms and not his exact words in conveying his messages. He feels that in any future edition this fault should be remedied, any quotations from Bahá'u'lláh or the Master plainly attributed to them, and the words of the Guardian clearly differentiated from those of his secretaries. “

    Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha'i Community, p. 260″

    Shoghi Effendi never considered his own station nor writings to be the same as that of Baha'u'llah or 'Abdu'l-Baha:

    “Though the Guardian of the Faith has been made the permanent head of so august a body he can never, even temporarily, assume the right of exclusive legislation. …

    Exalted as is the position and vital as is the function of the
    institution of the Guardianship in the Administrative Order of
    Bahá´u´lláh, … its importance must, whatever be the language of the Will, be in no wise over-emphasized. The Guardian of the Faith must not under any circumstances, and whatever his merits or his achievements, be exalted to the rank that will make him a co-sharer with `Abdu´l-Bahá in the unique position which the Center of the Covenant occupies-much less to the station exclusively ordained for the Manifestation of God. So grave a departure from the established tenets of our Faith is nothing short of open blasphemy.”

    World Order of Baha'u'llah page 150-151
    written by Shoghi Effendi
    http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/se/WOB/wob-40.h

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Hi Grover -

    Your comments remind me of a quote I copied down a long time ago: “Belief is a wound that knowledge heals.”

    Re faith and loss of it, in relationship to Baha'i Faith – I think the Faith is a tool, only a tool, and its usefulness will depend on how well we learn to use it. The problem, I think, comes when our faith is in The Faith, rather than in what lies much deeper, beyond it. There is always this tension between the eternal faith of God and the outer forms with which we humans attempt to capture, contain, confine it – which we never can, of course – thank goodness.

    This is just my take on things. Best wishes to you.

    Barb

  • Grover

    My apologies, I had skimmed over:

    “it seemed logical to me that Bahai Scripture were the writings of Baha'u'llah, 'Abdul-Bahai, and the official interpretations of Shoghi Effendi and that all other texts, while not necessarily less important, have the potential for change because they are not in the former category which is not subject to change.”

    Goes to show it pays to read all of the post and not just get carried away with one part :)

  • Alison

    The eternal faith and the outer forms … a beautiful dance!

    This was forwarded me earlier today and feel it shows so beautifully how other faiths move forward light years ahead of Bahai:

    http://pamshouseblend.com/diary/12903/ma-rev-ir

    So beautiful. Bahai has become like evangelicalism … just out of touch. Not for the future, but for the past, in a comfy chair.

  • Anonymous

    Type your reply…

  • Badhras

    Dear Farhan:

    You try so hard. You really do. I don't know whether to applaud your efforts or to have pity or to simply offer some prayers.

    Please give some thought as to whether your efforts here are fruitful. You are clearly a Baha'i of reasonable intelligence and capability. I can't help but wonder if your talents would be better spent trying to reach out to different people.

    Dear Everybody Else:
    Carry on, I suppose. It's clear that you enjoy this way too much, and whose to say you're not doing the Lord's work. As the writings go… “all are His servants and all abide by his bidding.” People have postulated that the world is a stage, and what if God is a director and his casting sheet required all kinds of villains and heroes and anti-heroes… and honestly, who really knows which role you've signed up for. I sure as heck don't, but I'm sure God does.

    On a serious note though, ever consider that the people that need to hear your interpretations of justice and compassion aren't here?

    Either you're here to vent and complain or you're here to effect change. I can see this forum being useful for the former. I'm not sure how it enables the latter. I suppose you're sharing ideas, but it strikes me as effective as an institutionalized debating society with no real power. But hey, quite the intellectual and spiritual exercise, right? Believe me, I know that forums like this are fun.

    But seriously… if you don't like the Baha'i Faith… then fine. Point taken. You win. 9 male homophobes live under the delusion that they rule the world. The rest of us are weak and dumb and are complacently propping up the other 9. End of discussion. You win!!!

    With that established, now what? Does anything else you have to say really matter? Seriously. Does it? Does your identity need acceptance from other “mainstream” Baha'is? And seriously, why would you want the acceptance of such shallow rank-and-file?

    Or are you just pissed off that the awesome club that you belong to has changed or perhaps you've changed in ways and you find that it no longer suits you. Are you too weak to just say, “I relinquish my membership in The Baha'i Faith. I simply do not have the passion to believe what I am expected to believe.”

    Hell… you can even dump the AO and the Baha'i Faith. Most of us have had to use these words for a different scenario, but it'd probably work for this scenario, too: “I just don't feel that spark, anymore. I'm just not in love with you. Sorry. I'm sure we can be friends though. I'm sure we'll run into each other at some social gatherings.”

    Oh… and if it's that hard because your closest family and friends are in the Baha'i Faith and they don't believe like you, then they obviously need the in-depth discussions with you. The ones that love you the most are obligated to give you that time, for your benefit as well as theirs. You carry a fire to which their faith ought to be tested… and who knows, maybe with enough exposure, they might realize they're the crazy ones.

    And if you and your family and friends are getting forced out… sheesh. IT'S AN UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIP. Thank God for the opportunity to be forced out. Staying would imply that the comfort of familiar abuse is better than a chance to have a happy life elsewhere.

  • peyamb

    With that established, now what? Does anything else you have to say really matter? Seriously. Does it?
    ————-
    Yes it does Badrhas. It matters because that scared 14 year old Bahai kid who's growing up believing that he is diseased, that the God speaking through those 9 men is telling him that he needs to overcome his sexuality in order to please not only his family, but Almighty God as well… that kid Badhras may actually be reading this blog. He obviously won't be able to turn to his family or his Bahai community, but maybe he can see online that there are Bahais who understand, who have been there. From another venue (youtube) I met countless people who thought that they were alone inside the Bahai community, who felt trapped. When they read our words, they broke down in tears, knowing that they were not alone all those years. Maybe in your eyes you see nothing but useless banter and feel sorry for Farhan trying to tell us how all is rosy in the Bahai community for everyone. It isn't. And we are here to share the truth with the world- good and bad. Because if the world turns to the Bahai community, all they will get is the sanitized good in order to swell the ranks.

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Badhras

    Of course sharing ideas is important – it's called consultation. It is one of our first and most sacred obligations as Baha'is. Of course what we say matters – all of us – Farhan, you, everybody. This is a fundamental principle of our faith.

    Ideas exert power – they are indeed one of the most potent forces for change. This is why governments sometimes ban them.

    Forgive me, but it appears from your comments that you have not been paying close attention to the conversation here.

    As for the rank and file – I would hardly call them shallow. We are all, after all, created in the image of God – this is why speaking our heart is a sacred obligation and a precious right.

    You seem not to have caught on that at least some of us here love the Baha'i Faith, and because we love it, we expect the best of it. That is why we are here. That is why we speak.

    Barb

  • Baquia

    And the world marches on: Uruguay is the first Latin American country to legalize civil unions.

  • fubar

    Badhras,

    Any group – but especially reformers, dissidents, critics and nonconformists – should always welcome alternative perpsectives, engage in profound self-examination and questions its assumptions (and tendencies toward “group think”), no matter how difficult or painful that may be.

    (but please respond with something other than more trite drivel.)

    re:
    [you said]
    | Farhan … Please give some thought as to whether your efforts here are
    | fruitful. You are clearly a Baha'i of reasonable intelligence and capability.
    | I can't help but wonder if your talents would be better spent trying to
    | reach out to different people.

    Why? conformist bahais already agree with Farhan (which is to say, they accept bahai administration's hideous, backward, dehumanizing approach to the issue). Very few other people in the world care about the convoluted official bahai position on homosexuality.

    The bahai purity/perfection myth is what drives most attitudes, not real, personal experience with the issue.

    The reality is that anyone that stands up in most bahai communities and speaks out against homophobia, especially as it relates to bahai rules/roles/policies (medieval) will be marginalized, and if they persist against the stupid advice of people like Farhan in the bahai ruling elites, they will eventually be attacked by the bahai thought police (BTP). If they fight the BTPs, they will be more viciously attacked. I've seen it over and over for 30 years.

    you said:
    | Dear Everybody Else:
    | Carry on, I suppose.

    Arrogant and condescending. boring.

    | It's clear that you enjoy this way too much, and whose to say you're not
    | doing the Lord's work. As the writings go… “all are His servants and all
    | abide by his bidding.” People have postulated that the world is a stage,
    | and what if God is a director and his casting sheet required all kinds of
    | villains and heroes and anti-heroes… and honestly, who really knows
    | which role you've signed up for. I sure as heck don't, but I'm sure God
    | does.

    ok, so you insult nonconformists, critics, dissidents, victims of bahai bureaucracy, then admit that you don't even know who is right or wrong.

    “Have you no human decency?”
    (to quote the judge in “Bonfire of the Vanities”)

    | On a serious note though, ever consider that the people that need to hear
    | your interpretations of justice and compassion aren't here?

    How do you know who is here, and why?

    The people in bahai administration/aristocracy are, as you seem to imply, probably not generally paying attention, but there are presumably some AO thought police monitoring everything.

    | Either you're here to vent and complain or you're here to effect change. I
    | can see this forum being useful for the former. I'm not sure how it
    | enables the latter.

    Correct. You may not know it, but people seek consolation, and sense of belonging, compassion from others, and so forth, outside of the narrow context of bahai bureaucracy.

    And, you attitude is a good example of how (according to bahai conformists) everything in life has to be bent to the purposes of the great project of clutural imperialism that is bahai culture.

    In that “system” of thinking, nothing has intrinsic, human worth, unless it is on a image of “submission” to the imperial myth/ethos.

    (Bahai followers are expected to be intellectual and spiritual “slaves”.)

    | I suppose you're sharing ideas, but it strikes me as effective as an
    | institutionalized debating society with no real power. But hey, quite the
    | intellectual and spiritual exercise, right? Believe me, I know that forums
    | like this are fun.

    Ok, now that you have puffed yourself up by putting people down, we now have another example, of the thousands of mindless, shallow, dehumanizing, conformist statements encountered in bahai community.

    | But seriously… if you don't like the Baha'i Faith… then fine. Point taken.
    | You win. 9 male homophobes live under the delusion that they rule the
    | world. The rest of us are weak and dumb and are complacently propping
    | up the other 9. End of discussion. You win!!!

    Shallow. This is typical of why bahai culture lacks meaning. How old are you? Where do you live? How much money do you, or your parents, have?

    | With that established, now what? Does anything else you have to say
    | really matter? Seriously. Does it? Does your identity need acceptance
    | from other “mainstream” Baha'is? And seriously, why would you want the
    | acceptance of such shallow rank-and-file?

    Matter to who? It doesn't seem that it mattters to you. Have you ever known homosexual bahais that have had their lives wrecked by the homophobia that is widespread in the bahai community?

    Sonja's theory of bahai change is fascinating, she worked hard, and thought about it for a long time. Many of the people that disagree with her, on both sides, have also thought about the issue for a long time.

    You however, seem to have arrived with a shallow viewpoint, and are just being disrespectful. A punk.

    | Or are you just pissed off that the awesome club that you belong to has
    | changed or perhaps you've changed in ways and you find that it no longer
    | suits you. Are you too weak to just say, “I relinquish my membership in
    | The Baha'i Faith. I simply do not have the passion to believe what I am
    | expected to believe.”

    I'm an ex-bahai, so that does not apply to me. My personal opinion, which you seem to illustrate, is that bahai belief is what is weak. Conforming to stupid rules that are theologically inconsistent (at best), and refusing to protest the social injustice involved, is what is “weak”. Being afraid of the bahai thought police is what is weak. Not caring enough about real human beings to protest a stupid religious system is what is weak. Not fighting against the conformism of the “bahai comfort zone” is what is weak.

    | Hell… you can even dump the AO and the Baha'i Faith.

    Done.

    | Most of us have had to use these words for a different scenario, but it'd
    | probably work for this scenario, too: “I just don't feel that spark,
    | anymore. I'm just not in love with you. Sorry. I'm sure we can be friends
    | though. I'm sure we'll run into each other at some social gatherings.”

    Some people get bored with the meaninless features of bahai “community”.

    Some people are more deeply troubled by the deeply ingrained patterns of dysfunctionality in bahai culture, and its resistance to improvement.

    What you have done is to reduce meaning, not add to it. You also fail to demonstrate ANY of the good things about bahai belief. You lack compassion, empathy, and a sense of the depth of life. You are a typical uncaring person who pays superficial lip service to human values, while investing little or nothing in understanding, or living, what those values actually are.

    What you are doing is called psychological “projection/transference” – you are attributing (via reversal) the things that are wrong with bahai to the very people that have dared to speak the truth about those wrongs.

    This is an old, tired, rhetorical tactic of people that are weak, and lack passion for the truth. Is is the beginning of scapegoating, which is a disgusting and pernicious form of intellectual and spiritual laziness.

    Unlike most of bahai culture, this blog is UNCENSORED. You could, if you cared about anything real, actually learn something about what that means instead of just engaging in the usual cultural imperialism, being hurtful, lacking any sense of appreciation for the eternal, transcendent aspects of life.

    | Oh… and if it's that hard because your closest family and friends are in
    | the Baha'i Faith and they don't believe like you, then they obviously need
    | the in-depth discussions with you.

    Can you please explain on what basis you have any right to glibly demean the experiences of gay bahais that have been trashed by their homophobic families, friends, bahai community?

    | The ones that love you the most are
    | obligated to give you that time, for your benefit as well as theirs.

    Are you a social worker, or therapist? If not, you might want to be VERY CAREFUL giving advice about a incredibly sensitive topic to a group of people that might turn out to be STUPID and WRONG for some of those people.

    |You
    | carry a fire to which their faith ought to be tested… and who knows,
    | maybe with enough exposure, they might realize they're the crazy ones.

    The only people that haen't already realized that conforming to stupid bahai rules are mostly authoritarians/fundamentalists. This is deeply entrenched, dysfunctional pattern amongst bahai leadership elites.

    | And if you and your family and friends are getting forced out… sheesh.
    | IT'S AN UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIP. Thank God for the opportunity to be
    | forced out. Staying would imply that the comfort of familiar abuse is
    | better than a chance to have a happy life elsewhere.

    I personally think bahai is unhealthy for almost everyone. Being forced out is not a great opportunity for most people, it is a dehumanizing experience that leave deep scars. You inability to see that is, unfortunately, typical of the ignorant attitudes in the mainstream of bahai culture.

    The utopian rhetoric of most bahais is clearly vacuous. It is a highly dysfunctional religion that hurts far more people than it helps.

    Thanks for making that “reality” even more clear than it already was.

    Thanks for presenting the opportunity to vent.

    Have a NICE DAY.

  • Craig Parke

    Since the ITC will some day rule the entire world (they currently run the Baha'i Faith – definitely NOT the UHJ), does anyone know what they are now discussing over lunch on Mt. Carmel regarding Volker's recent paper on regulating financial markets?

    http://www.group30.org/pubs/reformreport.pdf

    The ITC are the Jesuit's of the Baha'i Faith. Their ever budding theorist insights trump all. They are, in essence, the authors of a continuous New Refried Revelation ALL day EVERY day in the Ministry of Truth. The Ruhi Courses are just the beginning. So I think their views on future economic policy in the bureaucratic Baha'i World Theocratic Computerized Super State that will top down run EVERYTHING on Earth is very important to learn now so every one can figure out what to do with their pay check.

    Does anyone know what their policy will be on the as of yet unregulated world wide OTC credit default swaps market? Is there anything in the Kitab-I-Aqdas about liquidity in securitized investment instruments? Does anyone know what their views are on these important issues? If they are not solved TODAY, there may be no TOMORROW as all the money on Earth may be vaporized? Does anyone know what the “guidance” is on this?

    Remember the balance as to whether this market has a legitimate financial purpose or is mere gambling is in the accuracy of the mathematics. Does anyone know if our guys have been through the C/C++ code used in these risk/pricing models to make sure they are in compliance with the laws of the Universe? Does anyone know?

    .h t t p : // http://www.scicomp. com/derivativesmodeling/pricingcreditderivatives

    There is also some Open Source code out there on this too. Have our guys been through it to make sure it is in compliance with the Kitab-I-Aqdas regarding C/C++ algorithms as to all assumptions and logic states?

    .h t t p : // www. isda. org/press/press012909.html

    Peter Khan says we are all “safe” if we are just doing what the UHJ says going door to door teaching the Faith and taking the Ruhi Courses over and over and filling out the blanks perfectly over and over. But I still have an uneasy feeling with the anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers coming up. Are any of our guys going over these macro economic and micro economic issues? Especially the mathematics in the computer code? Just say'in.

  • dco

    Viva Uruguay!

  • dco

    Gay-friendly church launches anti-discrimination campaign.

    A liberal church movement based in Texas has launched a campaign that is “designed to ask people whether Jesus would discriminate against others,” according to PinkNews.

    The Would Jesus Discriminate? movement launched its campaign on the web by quoting a series of Biblical passages suggesting Jesus never discriminated against gays.

    The DFW Metropolitan Community Churches, which have five chapters in the Texas area, say they provide an alternative to the perceived discrimination and intolerance from “religious institutions [which] have used their interpretation of the Bible to justify discrimination against women, ethnic minorities, and people with a different sexual orientation and/or identity issues.”

    see: http://www.whywouldwe.org/

    and

    http://www.365gay.com/news/gay-friendly-church-

  • dco

    This Church is a homophobic monster mega church in our suburbs, it probably has more people in its congregation that there are Baha'is int he USA, never the less I was moved by this. I have long felt if the UHJ and NSA wrote to every person on the roles, the same message… ti would trigger the long awaited entry by troops… but alas… the arrogance we have!

    In the spirit of peace, church apologizes to those it has hurt

    By Jennifer Garza
    jgarza@sacbee.com
    Published: Monday, Sep. 14, 2009 – 12:00 am | Page 1A
    Last Modified: Monday, Sep. 14, 2009 – 8:36 am

    The Rev. Rick Cole stepped onto the podium Sunday and into the Sacramento church's troubled past.

    In front of a packed and stunned congregation, the senior pastor of Capital Christian Center apologized to anyone who had been hurt by the church, acknowledging pain that church leaders may have caused individuals and the community.

    The pastor then mentioned two people “whose stories attracted national media attention and caused a lot of pain.”

    Both were in the audience of 2,400 people.

    One was Christina Silvas. In 2001, church officials asked Silvas to withdraw her daughter from the church-run school because Silvas was working as a stripper. On Sunday, Silvas sat with her daughters during the worship service.

    Ben Sharpe, who had been banned from his eighth-grade graduation in 1995 after getting a buzz cut, sat with his mother and family friends during the service. School officials had prohibited Sharpe, an African American and a star student, from participating in the ceremony because his haircut violated school policy.

    The church's action set off a media firestorm, with many accusing church leaders of racism.

    Fourteen years later, Colemade an emotional plea to Sharpe.

    “On behalf of leaders who did not intend to betray Ben Sharpe and his family, but by our actions much pain was caused, I want to publicly ask forgiveness,” said Cole, struggling to control his emotions. “I also want to apologize to our community for the seeds sown of racial division.”

    Cole left the podium, walked over to Sharpe and embraced him and his mother, Faye. The congregation rose in a standing ovation, many people reaching for tissues.

    Cole's apology is the latest and most high-profile one to date by a Sacramento-area pastor.

    In recent months, other church leaders have apologized and made efforts to reach out to people who may feel hurt or betrayed by religion and have left the church.

    At Impact Community Church in Elk Grove, congregants made gift baskets and dropped them off at gay civil-rights organizations and strip clubs with attached notes apologizing for the words and actions of some religious leaders. On Good Friday, Flood, Restoration Life and Vineyard Christian Fellowship posted apologies at downtown kiosks. Under a picture of Pat Robertson someone had written, “He doesn't speak for me.”

    Cole said he decided to apologize while preparing for this week's sermon.

    “This has been weighing on my heart,” the pastor said in an interview before the sermon. “This should have been done long ago, I don't want to let any more time go by.”

    After the sermon, Silvas, teary-eyed, called Cole's heartfelt apology amazing. “For so long all I felt was shame – people whispered about me, calling me the stripper mom,” said Silvas, 31.

    She said she had been urged by friends and attorneys to sue Capital Christian but had declined.

    Now working for the state, Silvas quietly returned to the church about a year ago. Last year, she said, Cole and other church leaders offered a full scholarship to Silvas' two daughters.

    “Coming back to church and my girls going to school here is more valuable than what any settlement would have bought,” she said.

    Sunday was the first time Sharpe has stepped into the sanctuary at Capital Christian Center in 14 years.

    Church leaders at the time had said Sharpe's haircut violated school policy, which had been written to discourage students from adopting a skinhead look.

    Cole does not want to criticize school leaders at the time. His father, Glen Cole, was pastor of the church-run school.

    “The letter of the law was applied instead of the spirit of it,” said Cole during his sermon. “The letter of the law kills, while the spirit gives life.”

    The Sharpe family later reached a legal settlement with the church.

    Sharpe said he had put the incident behind him long ago. He agreed to attend Sunday's service because he said church officials seemed sincere.

    “The power of those two words, 'I'm sorry' – it's incredible.” Sharpe said. He said watching and listening to Cole “was something I'll never forget.” “Fourteen years ago, I would never have imagined this would have happened,” said Faye Sharpe. “He didn't have to do this….It's wonderful that he did.”

    Sharpe, who will be 28 on Wednesday, went on to have a stellar academic career. In 1999, he graduated from Jesuit High School as valedictorian.

    He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in civil engineering from Stanford. He is working on his doctorate at UC Davis and is a researcher at a nonprofit group, the International Council on Clean Transportation, in San Francisco.

    Four years ago, Sharpe, who was working in Texas as an engineer, was walking on the street when he was struck by a car. He has undergone 16 surgeries and has since recovered.

    Sunday, more wounds were healed.

    “Finally,” Sharpe said, his voice catching. “After all these years, closure.”

    original at: http://www.sacbee.com/topstories/story/2180746….

  • Amanda

    “The power of those two words, 'I'm sorry' – it's incredible.” Sharpe said.

    This is beautiful.

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Hi everyone -

    The Gay/Lesbian Baha'i Story Project is ready to go, sans a few celebratory graphics which will be added soon. In your address bar, go to gaybahai.net. (If you just put that in your search engine, you may reach another gay baha'i web site which is not related – will take the search engines a while to catch up with us, I think.)

    For those who are interested, please pass the word in whatever way you think will be effective. At least a couple of stories are “in the works” already and will most likely come along in a few to several weeks. I expect this to be a gradually unfolding path. We have done our part – now it's up to you!

    Stories may be short or long, spontaneous or well thought out – I hope the mood will be one of sitting around a campfire together late at night, and we begin to tell stories…

    Barb

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Eric Sartori – if you're listening here, your experience of your own “intentional effort” at self-education about gays/lesbians was quite beautiful – it could be re-posted as a story, just as is, on GLBSP if you are so inclined….

    And dco, your “vignette” of experience with the children could also be re-posted as is, as an “appetizer,” if you wish to do so.

    Barb

  • dco

    Anothr coule that would not be welcome in the Baha'i Faith… unless they devorced.

    Posted on Sep 15, 2009 @ 08:20AM
    Random Things

    The Game Show Network’s Newlywed Game will make history this year–by adding same-sex celebrity pairs to their format.

    The network is in the midst of producing special Celebrity Newlywed Game episodes, one of which will feature the first gay contestants ever: George Takei (Sulu from the original Star Trek series) and longtime partner Brad Altman.

    The duo married in September 2008 in Los Angeles, Ca., just before the state's Proposition 8 approval banned same-sex marriage.

    While Takei and Altman will mark the groundbreaking game show moment, they weren't the first asked. GSN approached Ellen DeGeneres and her partner Portia de Rossi to participate, the blondes turning down the offer as they did their own version on Ellen's talk show in March of '08.

    Other celebrity couples featured in upcoming episodes this year will include, first America’s Next Top Model winner Adrienne Curry and Brady Bunch star Christopher Knight, Bachelor Bob Guiney and All My Children actress Rebecca Budig as well as Baywatch babe Brande Roderick and former NFL linebacker Glenn Cadrez.

    The Takei episode will be taped next week and air in November. A newlywed couple is defined by having been married in the past four years. The show is hosted by Carnie Wilson.

  • peyamb

    I just saw this exchange on the youtube clip regarding the Bahai Faith and homosexuality. It really is the mainstream Bahais (like the one offering his/her analysis on homosexuality below) and the AO that are bringing shame to the Faith because of their rigid and insulting stance regardning LGBT people:
    A Bahai says: “What you are putting forth here is really a surface analysis. What is homosexuality? Is it an inherent identity (for that matter, is heterosexuality an identity?). Since our physical bodies do not continue with us after death, defining oneself in this way seems distinctly non-spiritual.
    People who, voluntarily and through independent investigation, have decided that Bahá'u'lláh's words are true, try to follow his teachings, with help from communities and institutions; that's not prejudice. “

    A disgusted seeker resonds: “Uh, yes, a person's sexual orientation is largely an inherent identity as, while we are in the body, sex, love, romance, and relationships are at the core of our being.
    Moreover, it is innate and not changeable, according to science, which is supposed to be accepted by the Baha'i.
    If the Baha'i Faith excludes gays and lesbians, then they have denied the unity of humanity and are utter hypocrites, and that sort of behavior is precisely what turns people away from religions in the first place.”

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Thanks so much for sharing this, Peyamb. It's an uphill struggle, I would say, with the Baha'i community, but I feel strongly that it is a struggle worth pursuing, to educate Baha'is. There are some who will be open-minded and receptive, and it's worth it even if only one person begins to recognize and lessen their own prejudice – and most certainly more than one will.

    The Baha'is need to learn something of gay history, and that folks in history they may have admired, were gays, and they never knew before that they were. They need to learn that some of our most intelligent and creative and gifted human beings have been gay – and that this is true of Baha'i history as well.

    Silence betrays us all. People are free to come to their own conclusions, but let's give them some facts on which to base their conclusions. Space for such information is expected to be added to the GLBSP website, I hope soon. That is the plan. And who knows, maybe even some of our stories will be about people in history some of us never suspected were gay.

    Barb

  • peyamb

    You are doing a great job Barb. When I have more time (hopefully in Oct), I will check out your site and add something. I am sometimes amazed at some of the rigid Bahais on here and on youtube who so innocently insult gays and lesbians. I wonder if they really are that ignorant as to what they are doing. They celebrate straight unions in holy matrimony making a big deal about the “spiritual” union and how the two individuals will be connected forever, blah blah blah. But when it comes to gay individuals, suddenly it is just merely about sex, our love is not spiritual, etc. That's why I don't think they are being ignorant. I think these fundamentalist Bahais, just like in all other religions, know exactly what they are doing. Demonize LGBT people ever so slightly by focusing on sex/physical stuff, ignoring that love and spirit is actually involved in gay relationships.

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Yes, you have a point, Peyamb – it's always hard to know the heart of another person, but certainly it seems that for those of limited vision, gay relationships are often seen as sex, sex, sex – it's like an obsession on the part of those who cannot see a loving, spiritual relationship when it's right in front of them. And a few people are malicious, knowing exactly what they are doing. I think we must be hopeful, though, and try to give people the benefit of the doubt in terms of our believing in their ability to overcome prejudice – hard to do, but essential if we're ever going to get anywhere. We have to expect the best of people, and hope for it, at the same time that we're doing the difficult work of rooting out prejudice, and often making people very uncomfortable, and perhaps angry, as they begin to recognize the ugliness of their “spiritual” behavior and attitudes. It's not work for the timid of heart. But we have to do it – we have to believe deeply in the possibility of grace to change a human heart. Because some of them will change – not all or even most, by any means, but some, and every one that changes, that begins to change, is like shining a light into the darkness. And slowly other folks begin to recognize the light.

    Thank you for the compliment – I consider it high praise, coming from you. I look forward to, and appreciate, any contribution you can make to the website.

    Barb

  • Baquia

    Barb, let me know if you need any help with this project (in terms of setting up a site, etc.). You can contact me using the contact form on this blog (look at the top menu).

    I look forward to featuring it here to give it more exposure, as I'm sure are other Baha'i bloggers like Steve over at BahaisOnline.

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Thanks, Baquia. I tried to reply via the box at the top of this blog, but it wouldn't work for me. I must have done something wrong?

    Anyway, all I wanted to say was thanks, and that I am fortunate to have a computer whiz as an assistant, but I happily add you to our list of people we can consult if we run into a snag or have question. And any help you can offer in passing the word about the website is most appreciated!

    Thanks – Barb

  • Badhras

    Sorry for the late reply. I missed the email notification.

    My point is this. You've already made your point. The banter has been made and its purpose can be realized. I'll concede that you can make more points for the purpose of elucidation and clarification, but really… end game. You win, right?

    If there's a new discussion post, perhaps a new debate could start… but again, the cycle would probably repeat, right? You win.

    Farhan could continue debating, but to what end? I suppose he could inject his thoughts on a new discussion topic, continue to apologize or reach out or whatever… continue to confirm that those who subject themselves to the interpretation of the 9 are fundamentally rank-and-file drones, despite their intelligence and stated intents of compassion.

    And if Farhan and others like him stopped coming here, you'd still be here to make your points. I don't begrudge you making those points. I apologize if my post came across as STFU message.

    I'll concede that forums that welcome complaints are a wonderful place for those who feel disenfranchised to find some solace from loneliness. Still, I would encourage something more actionable. Advice on how to leave the Faith while maintaining some civility with family might be a start… or how to find happiness as a self-hating closeted individual… or even something more along the lines of how to organize and file a formal complaint at a national or international level such that people might notice. Heck, why not organize to have some new studies done that show gay people who try to “pray away the gay” are usually apt to commit suicide and suffer other mental issues. Whatever it is… shoot for something actionable.

    I have no interest in “swelling the ranks” for the sake of others. From my vantage point, either the Baha'i Faith calls to you or it doesn't. The conflict (or the sucky part) is when one finds themselves conflicted in that decision. I'm in no position to judge whether joining or leaving the Baha'i Faith is good for an individual. Each of us has a rational soul to figure that out.

    These types of decisions are the hardest that we face, but honestly, the decision is fundamentally an issue between that person and God, right? The rest, relationship to self, relationship to family, relationship to Baha'i community, relationship to world at large, is a matter of how the individual frames their understanding of the first. Sometimes, these other relationships mean more than our relationship to God, but sometimes we go there and gain a better understanding of the supremacy of the former.

    My sense is that we're all on our way to God. Some of us have a more scenic route through “hell”, but we'll find ourselves in His presence eventually… and who's to say they know anybody's judgment at their time of death.

  • Badhras

    If the goal is to share ideas with people that feel alone, I presume this forum succeeds in that regard.

    If the goal is to share ideas with the people who are probably responsible for the status quo such that they might think critically of the religion to which they subscribe, probably not so much.

    If the goal is to share ideas with like-minded people and organize thoughts and refine tactics, then I'll concede that there's probably something here.

    I have waded through a lot of “debate”… I see very little gained. There's a lot of other material that's interesting… it doesn't take the form of debate.

  • peyamb

    You hit on the spot in the first comment you made. Don't presume. YES, this forum does indeed help those of us who feel alone, rejected and ignored in teh Bahai community wether it is that gay kid suffering in silence, the academics who are threatened with expulsion, etc etc. You don't see much gained, because well…maybe none of this pertains to you. You probably have a content, sheltered life in the bubble of a Bahai community that you live in where the biggest concern ever brought up is wether to have chips or pretzels. And if you are happy with this type of community… well then this is not the place for you. But there are many, many frustrated ones in the Bahai community who wish they could make real constructive change inside the Bahai community, but they keep hitting a wall. At least they have places online where they can feel at home.

  • peyamb

    Still, I would encourage something more actionable. Advice on how to leave the Faith while maintaining some civility with family might be a start…
    ————–
    Hmmm, or better yet, creating Bahai communities where the individual doesn't feel their only option is to “politely” leave the community. How about unity in diversity for a change?

  • sonjavank

    And what about the straight Bahais who want our gay Bahai input into making our communities more colourful?

    I don't think Baha'u'llah was referring to only some types of flowers or to just the straight leaves on the tree of humanity.

    In fact, I'd argue that any Bahai who thinks that gays need to 'leave' are going against Baha'u'llah's teachings of equality and diversity. The unity is already there as we come from the same tree, right?

  • Badhras

    Fubar:

    Your post is humorous, as you attack me rather viciously. I suppose my tone invited it, but I think you missed my intent. Still, I'm very serious about the idea that “all are His servants”… including you, and I don't mean that in the trite, “God sent you to be evil so that the rest could be tested” kind of way. I mean that in the way that you are reflection or a side-effect of what the the Baha'i Faith has produced.

    I also find it funny that you've linked me with Baha'i aristocracy.. wow, if only. How about “missed the last 5 or 6 Feasts, married to a closet atheist, Catholic parents, other Christian denomination in-laws, 1 facebook friend that is Baha'i, 4 Baha'i email addresses in my address book, left the community for almost a decade” kind of Baha'i? Yeah, I'm quite the well-connected, self-appointed Baha'i thought-police kind of guy, aren't I? I'm not sure why it matters how much money I make, but I don't have the luxury to sit around and police people for the AO, if that's what you're suggesting.

    My goal is more to diffuse the rancor over mainstream Baha'i beliefs that aren't going to change anytime soon. There exists a momentum with regards to mainstream Baha'i culture/doctrine, and it ought to be factored to effect change. It's a tactical point, and I apologize for not making it clear. I waded through so much debate/arguments/apologies and by the time I posted my statement, I felt like I had read many variations on a theme, which is why I took a reductionist approach in my original message. The disputes back and forth over doctrinal stuff just started to annoy me…

    Change takes time… and if acceptance of LGBT in the Baha'i Faith is going to change, I wager it changes because the scientific and the reliable sociological data continues to grow and new converts will bring that perspective into play. Right now, there are enough people outside of the Baha'i community that support the status quo employed by Baha'is. I'm not suggesting it is fair; it's simply my observation.

    That said, I'm not God… so I don't even know if acceptance of LGBT is really part of the plan? What if it really is a genetic thing and gene therapy can “cure the gay”? (pardon the phrase) Perhaps this unpleasantness and societal discord is moreso for us to understand the urgency of finding such a cure. (gawd, i already hear the flamethrowers getting ready…) And who knows, maybe we go there and conclude “bad idea, too many side effects and the creation of psychotic heterosexuals just isn't worth it. let's just settle with just being nice to gay people”…

    …And whose to say it's a completely genetic thing? This tendency to reduce behavior to binary outcomes based on genetics is irritating. Many of the lesbians I've met have huge trust issues with men, thanks to abuse… but there's no way I would suggest all are like that.

    …and yes, I know you want to end-game it at: let's just be inclusive with gay people. I understand why that option makes sense. I understand why it's just. I understand all of the good things… I just don't think it can take hold given the current context of the Baha'i Faith and the world it is in.

    And as for Farhan, it's not my goal to reduce him to an idiot or a thoughtless uncaring a-hole. I think he's rather articulate and I commend him for trying to reach out and explain his viewpoints, but honestly… I just see a lot of people beating up the doctrinal thinking. I've lurked around a variety of places… I just don't see it leading anywhere, and I don't at all sense that serves the interests of the Baha'i Faith. But hey, if Farhan wants to stick around… that's his call! It's quite possible that he's seeing something I'm not.

    I find your transference accusation, humorous, too. I make no apologies for the Baha'i Faith, of which I've had little to do in its making or current state, nor do I suggest that it's current form is ideal. At most I would wager that it might be ideal only in that God permits it to be in its current form that we might learn from it. Still, for me to say that it is a religion full of crap and evil seems wrong to me.

    In some ways, I've had the inverse experience of you… I had every reason to not be a Baha'i, but the Writings and my conscience called. Not my wife, not my friends, not my neighbors, not my ex-GF from over a decade ago with whom I'd had little contact, not my child… NOBODY close to me facilitated the decision to reinstate myself a member of the Baha'i community. The process was hardly fun and it was emotionally painful because it really just between me and God. My only explanation is that God just wanted it that way, maybe for the benefit of my kids, or somebody else… or even me. I don't know. I certainly didn't ask for the call, but who the hell am I to argue.

    And please, don't reduce me to some trite addict who found God because he destroyed his life in some terrible vice. I was husband to my wife long before, was father for over a year, was employed longer than married, financially stable, no arrest record, functional member of society, etc. etc…. oh yeah, I have some moving violations on my driving record, and I got a parking ticket recently for using multiple spaces. That said, my mostly functional existence continues today, after I chose to rejoin the Baha'i Faith.

    That said, I apply this concept of “the call” to others… who the hell am I to judge if they don't get the call?

    Still, I maintain that the ones closest to you are the ones who owe you their time. Whether they act properly or with compassion is another thing, but the Writings speak of patience and kindness, right? There is little achieved in parents trashing their kid who has a hard enough time coming out… and maybe that's just because if one of my kids came out to me a decade from now, I would give them my time and my thoughts because I'm obliged to do so… but also because I want to do so. That's my job, and it's a job that I love. As to what they should do, that's up to them. Why? For me to decide anything, is really to impose my ambition. I can only give them my sense of things, and it might not jive with what they want to hear, but they can always rely on the knowledge that I love them. That said, I'd probably be a bit sad if one of my kids was gay, much in the same way I'd probably be sad if they had down syndrome. There's no reason to not love your child in either scenario, but there are definitely some disadvantages to both. (and please, i'm not even suggesting either conditions are equivalent in terms of difficulty or severity or even from a perspective of genetic certainty… it's very imperfect comparison)

    If the Baha'i Faith presents itself, as you see it through the people around you, as a bunch of a-holes, then leave. It seems better to leave on your terms than to be told to leave, but that's just my take. Still, why would you want to surround yourself with that? If your family turned out to be a-holes… major suckage, but that doesn't change the fact that leaving was the right thing to do. I know it's painful, and it's not my intent to ignore that. But in the end, leaving is sometimes the healthy thing, right? Like you did, right? Do you regret your decision? I reduced the discussion to such fundamental terms because that's where things usually end up.

    And let's just suppose my kid grew up in that “institutionalized” Baha'i stuff and was active in the faith… and then one day declared LGBT, and I did what I claimed I would do. If the rest of the community saw the loss of a valuable member, then great. Let them feel that pain, and let them feel that conflict. If my kid turned out to be more rebellious and never quite fit in the community, and then eventually said “this Baha'i thing is crap,” I wouldn't begrudge the community if they said “good riddance”. Where I would take offense if my kid decided to leave and they replied with “good riddance” rather than a more polite, “we're sorry to see you go.”

    … and if my kid was LGBT and wanted to be a defiant dissident in the community, then I'd warn them of the possible repercussions and I would stay out of their way. It's really not my ambition to fight on either side of the LGBT question because I see validity on both sides, and I make no claim to have the certitude for either viewpoint. For me, I sense there's something balance, in-between, something different… but I haven't figured it out yet.

    I've got no problem with change in the Baha'i Faith; I invite it. I'm not sure others are ready, but hey… change is the law of nature, right?

    And as for change, there's something to be said about knowing when and where you can effect it. Sometimes fighting gravity is just dumb and suicidal… but sometimes you can use gravity in your favor.

  • Badhras

    Quit hitting the wall :)

    It just reminds those behind it there's somebody outside.

    I'm not suggesting you surrender, either. Enough people and sometimes the right people need to want change in order for change to happen…

  • Badhras

    …as to the chips or pretzels. I much prefer cheesecake, but that's usually not an option so I don't worry about it. I usually go and get what I want or need from Feast and then I leave. If this place makes you feel at home, so be it.

    as for communities… I'm reminded of some lyrics from Sting: (oh god, heresy. using pop culture to make a point.) “men go crazy in congregations, we each get better one by one.”

    It's not a universal truism by any measure, but it rings true in some cases for a reason.

  • Badhras

    I've never been a fan of rainbows… and pink? Pink is so gay. (haha, wah wah. snark snark. it's a joke.)

    Seriously, I'd never tell anybody to leave, but I suspect there are others who embrace that ambition.

    That said, I'm not yet convinced that condoning homosexual marriage/activity is really part of the “bigger plan”. There may be something to be said about tolerating it right now given circumstances, but I don't know.

  • peyamb

    Thanks. I have. I haven't been to a Feast or Fireside in,hmmm a decade I think. My heart just goes out to the lonely ones inside the Bahai community. I remember what it was like to be gay, Persian, 14 years old and scared to death that anyone finds out. Fortunately times have changed. If the Bahai community is not willing to change, I at least watn that 14 year old to know there is hope, they can leave that horrible environment and still be a Bahai. But I just wish more Bahais, including YOU, would help make the Bahai community the welcoming environment it was meant to be. Instead of just saying “well just leave”.

  • Badhras

    Diversity to what extent?

    The Baha'i Faith has a long history with Covenant Breakers. Those closest to the top have sometimes found themselves on the “breaking side”.

    I really sense there's something much bigger here… something longer than my lifetime. This won't get resolved anytime soon, but I sense it will get resolved because of the momentum around being fair with gays… not to mention the growing body of scientific and sociological data.

  • peyamb

    Sorry then what did you mean by: “Still, I would encourage something more actionable. Advice on how to leave the Faith while maintaining some civility with family might be a start… ”
    Instead of advise on how the family could accept their gay son as a fully funtioning part of the Bahai community. We are not the ones with the problem. The fundamentalist, rigid Bahais are the ones that need to change. Please help that happen in the Bahai community. In the end it is between you and God if you decide to make a difference. Peace!

  • Badhras

    I promise never to ask somebody to leave.

    I might advise them of that option. I might warn them that others might do so. Offering other assistance, sure. I'll do much in the spirit of service, but I'll never be the one to ask somebody to leave.

    Honestly, the decision to leave should be between the individual and God. I believe that context is everything, and the combination of circumstances in somebody's life can make the difference in how one chooses their path. I can only offer the thoughts of my very imperfect conscience.

    That said, I understand why some are forced out, but I really view it as a last resort option because said individual's activities are simply drawing too much attention.

    With regards to the rest of the community, the only thing I can do is to inject doubt into certitude and inject certitude into compassionate. I have my reasons for not “rattling the cage” so to speak, but it has nothing to do with wanting to suck up to any AO or individuals of reknown. It's a genuine, inner motivation… it just doesn't resonate with my sense of dharma… and equally so, I'm simply not in any position to effect meaningful change that way. I sense my role is very different from that…

    … call it a quiet, unassuming, port in a storm.

  • Badhras

    My suggestion is more in the context of the person wanting to leave but not knowing how.

    Long-lived, cultural prejudices die hard.

    With regards to homophobic parents, sometimes it's a matter of starting smaller. How about just accepting your gay son. Forget Baha'i for a moment. Problem exists in gay and even agnostic or atheist families.

    Once they get that concept, they become better advocates for the concept of inclusion to the community.

    For what it's worth, if I encounter a gay kid in the community, I promise to be nice… life affirming…

    I can't change the fundamentalists because they don't see you as a casualty of the Faith. It's my belief that some changes occur because the assaults on one's conscience are too much to bear.

    If you look at the way things have changed since the beginning of this Dispensation, some of the most meaningful changes come from people tasting the bitterness of their own hate and less from the sweetness of compassion from others.

    I am sorry that you have had to endure what you've endured, but that is chance and circumstance and status quo that is beyond my control.

  • peyamb

    Thanks Badhras. Don't worry about me. I turned out fine, regardless of the fundies in the Bahai community. Just do what you can do to make your community more open/understanding and accepting. It doesn't mean you have to advocate gay marriage among the Bahais. But it does mean what you promised ” tobe life affirming”. I hope that includes when the gay kid grows up and brings his partner to feast. You will continue to make sure that he has home in your community and not allow him to be expelled by the ignorant ones in your community. cheers!

  • dco

    from: http://www.elon.edu/pendulum/Story.aspx?id=2060

    Religious intolerance cuts deep in gay community, Gold says
    by Laura Smith, April 14, 2009

    Mitchell Gold speaks to the Elon community on injustice of religious persecution toward the gay community.

    On Tuesday, civil rights activist, Mitchell Gold spoke to the Elon community at the Elon School sharing what he described as “such an incredibly painful memory.”

    Gold is the current CEO of the Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams furniture business, founder of Faith in America (a non-profit organization aimed at educating people about how religious-based bigotry is used to justify discrimination against homosexuals) and is now the author of his book, “Crisis.”

    “Crisis” was published in September 2008 and is a compilation of stories from those who have experienced religious intolerance and persecution as a result of growing up gay in America, something Gold felt quite a bit himself.

    “People use the Bible to marginalize and dehumanize people,” Gold said.

    Growing up Jewish, Gold knew what it meant to be an oppressed minority. He also saw the discrimination towards black Americans that took place in the 1950s and 1960s.

    He did not know how much he would one day experience that same intolerance for being gay.

    “It's a problem because it's not acceptable,” Gold said on realizing he was gay as a young teenager.

    Gold described how he lived in fear every day of how his family would react if they knew he was gay. He feared getting beaten up at school, being seen as an outcast and not getting a decent job.

    “I don't want one more kid to go through what I had to go through during my teenage years,” Gold said.

    He even contemplated suicide and saw a psychiatrist for help, who helped him learn to live being gay.

    “I was lucky,” Gold said of being able to get help and gain happiness.

    Gold later moved to New York City, where being gay was commonplace and openly accepted. He got a job at Bloomingdale's, where several of the employees were gay. He even met someone he could settle down with, his current business partner, Bob Williams.

    He even got to meet actor Richard Chamberlain, whom he discovered was gay as well.
    “I got really comfortable,” Gold said.

    But all of this changed in 1988 when he moved down South to North Carolina.

    “It's interesting to see how being naïve can be a good thing,” he said of not realizing the difference of homosexual social acceptance in the South.

    Gold began hearing conversations from co-workers and employees who described marriage as only being between a man and a woman.

    “I started realizing there was a real movement afoot,” Gold said of seeing how large of an intolerant sentiment there was toward gays.

    He then realized this persecution was no different than what he had seen as a child.
    “The same kind of discrimination that was used so horribly against black people was being used against gay people,” he said.

    Gold began his personal movement to create awareness of religious intolerance towards the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community.

    “This country has a sad history of segregation,” Gold said. “I wanted to go out and teach people and remind them of that. Most decent people in America don't want to be a part of that history. Most decent people don't want to continue that hatred.”

    “Crisis” was compiled with contributors such Chamberlain, U.S. Congressman Barney Frank, Major League baseball player Billy Bean, TV actor Alec Mapa and former tennis champion Martina Navatilova. All are gay and openly talk about the struggle and pain of being a gay teenager in the book.

    Gold is happy to be living in North Carolina, where there is currently no federal ban on gay marriage.

    “In the state of North Carolina, we have the chance to be the shining light of this country,” Gold said.

    Gold said he hopes Americans will see the harm that intolerance toward the LGBT causes.

    “Anybody who is oppressed has the right to confront their oppressor,” he said.

    Proceeds from “Crisis” go toward seven national gay advocacy programs for teens.

  • dco

    I just ordered this book, it looks interesting, and might be of interest to folks here

    Crisis: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay in America

    Product Description (from Amazon):

    A mental health crisis faces American teens right now–and it is one we can solve. Hundreds of thousands of gay teens face traumatic depression, fear, rejection, persecution, and isolation–usually alone. Studies show they are 190 percent more likely to used drugs or alcohol and four times more likely to attempt suicide. Homophobia and discrimination are at the heart of their pain. Love, support, and acceptance–all within our power to give–can save them.

    This book is for: clergy, parents, educators, and politicians who cause harm with their words and actions; parents of gay teens; teens navigating this difficult time; and fair-minded people who want to help end the harm. Here are revealing stories by forty diverse Americans, some well known and some not, plus insights from straight clergy and parents explaining their support of gay people as whole human beings guaranteed equal rights by our Constitution.

    Daniel Orey

  • peyamb

    It is a great book. It was a gift to everyone attending our HRC dinner this year. Mitchell was there signing them. He is a good guy. The most amazing stories in there were of the fundamentalist minded parents who changed their hearts. Unfortunately it took a child committing suicide before this happened. That's why I think Barb's online book is going to be very important. I hope we can find the stories of those gay Bahai teens that did hurt themselves and are not now with us to tell their stories. Maybe their parents/friends will speak for them. We have to shake the Bahais out of their comfort zone… no more worrying about wether to have pretzels or chips at Feast; there are more important things in your community!

  • artistvictoriaoneill

    very thoughtful. thanks for posting. this is such a hot topic……

  • dco

    I am curious about folks reflections on The Dallas Principles. Which are eight guiding principles that underlie a call to action. In order to achieve full civil rights now, the principles avow:

    1.Full civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals must be enacted now. Delay and excuses are no longer acceptable.

    2.We will not leave any part of our community behind.

    3.Separate is never equal.

    4.Religious beliefs are not a basis upon which to affirm or deny civil rights.

    5.The establishment and guardianship of full civil rights is a non-partisan issue.

    6.Individual involvement and grassroots action are paramount to success and must be encouraged.

    7.Success is measured by the civil rights we all achieve, not by words, access or money raised.

    8.Those who seek our support are expected to commit to these principles.

    for more info see: http://www.thedallasprinciples.org/The_Dallas_P

  • la checca

    wow 365 commenti

    Tante checche nella fede bahai?? o di piu'

    culattoni unitevi

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Thanks for posting these, Daniel.

    My own take on this statement, is that its usefulness lies in individual response to it. In other words, when I read it, I consider that there is no excuse for further delay ON MY PART, but I do not wish to use it in an accusatory way toward others who may or may not be doing their part, in my view. For those of use who care, there is some small (or not) thing we can do in our own day to day lives, to help bring about justice for GLBTs, and it's time to get moving – even if it's something as small as speaking up in a personal conversation with someone. If each one of us who cares took this statement as a call to action on our part, and did whatever we could, from day to day, that would make a huge difference. But I don't want, myself, to use it as a challenge to others I know, to whack them over the head with it. I will act from conscience in response to it, and perhaps someone I interact with will, as a result, be moved to act in a way that will make a difference – but I am primarily concerned with my own response to it, my own responsibility before God.

    Does this make sense?

    I guess what I'm saying is that words are just words, until they are manifest in action, and the only person whose action I can control is myself. I do not wish to force others, but hope to move them toward action by what I choose to do myself – deeds, not words.

    And I guess I'm also saying that, for me, #6 is the most important part of this statement.

    Barb

  • Baquia

    would you feel the same if one of the 'checche' were your son or daughter?

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Baquia -

    I've been waiting for someone to translate the above message, for those of us who are “monolingual” – could you please…..?

  • fubar

    http://www.freetranslation.com/

    Italian to english:

    “Much checche in the belief bahai?? or of more'”

    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/checche
    -
    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/checca

  • fubar
  • fubar

    stupid and rude.

  • fubar

    Badhras,

    You do not seem to be a “good listener”. Or you are confused. In either case, thanks for the details, and I hope you find whatever “answers” it is you are seeking.

    I've repeatedly said I'm an ex-bahai. The typical concept of “god” has much validity for me (I tend toward buddhism), but I repect other people's faith as long as it isn't the cause of injustice/etc.

    I personally think bahai is too backward to change in a significant way in the near future. I do however continue to support reformers, and hope that in whatever small way, their faith in the good side of human nature, and in basic human decency, will have an effect on the world far greater in proportion to superficial appearances.

    From Rabbi Michael Lerner's web site:

    Our Jewish Renewal synagogue is a place where each
    of us is encouraged to explore the spiritual realm, and to
    work out our own understanding and our own relationship
    with God. In the final analysis, one might decide that the very
    word “God” (an English, not a Hebrew concept) is too loaded
    and misses the complexity of spiritual life. Rabbi Lerner urges
    us to not waste our time trying to convince ourselves to believe
    in authoritarian or patriarchal concepts of God that we’ve
    never been able to accept.

    As he puts it: The God you don’t believe in doesn’t exist

    so please don’t spend your time fighting against the God that you don’t believe in, but instead use your time with us to connect to whatever spiritual reality in the universe you can access.

    Rabbi Lerner’s teacher, Abraham Joshua Heschel, used to talk about God as “ineffable” precisely to capture this reality:

    Let us stop fighting
    against the God that we
    don’t believe in. We
    stipulate that the God you
    don’t believe in doesn’t
    exist in order to make
    room for you to encounter
    the God or spiritual
    reality of the universe that
    you might believe in.

    that our language is deeply limited and almost every attempt
    to speak about spiritual reality can become a caricature,
    turning what is a living reality into a lifeless and distorted
    idolatry.

    —end quote—

    There are many other religious communities that offer “something better” than the narrow/rigid version of bahai that I've seen in numerous cities, states and countries for 30+ years.

    Most bahais tolerate lies/deception. That is a sure sign of dysfunctional organizational culture. The world is poorer because of lies and injustice.

    The larger “missionary scheme” of bahai is at a dead end, but the leadership is keeping the “slave mentality” going amongst the followers, and oppressing demands for freedom/democracy with predictable/absurd/reactionary arguments.

    The postmodern version of bahai culture is still largely an unknown, but this blog is probably a good place to see the “good” version of the future of bahai. if the sheeple wake up.

  • fubar

    correction, I meant to say:

    “The typical concept of 'god' DOESN'T HAVE much validity for me”

    eeeks.

  • Baquia

    as fubar shows, it isn't really worth repeating or translating [sigh]

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Thank you, Fubar. I didn't realize I could translate this online myself – thank you for educating me! (Remember, I am on the bottom rung of the “low-techie ladder.”)

    Barb

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    true, sadly true – but I did learn something in the process….

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    If I could re-phrase just a bit:

    Baha'is use the Faith to marginalize and dehumanize people.

    Thank you, Daniel – you're posting a lot of really useful information.

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    sheeple? Oh, I do love that….

  • dco

    I really liked this quote from Larry Krammer I found on the blog: Joe.My. God:

    We get what we fight for. And we are not fighting. Every single one of us is not fighting. They fight better than we do. There is a concerted and never ending vein of hate in this country and in this world dedicated to keeping us in our place. It is evil to force people to be what we are not — free. We are not free.

    “I love being gay. I love gay people. How can I say this without offending everyone else, I think we're better than other people. I think we are smarter. I think we are more talented. I think we are more aware. I think we make better friends. I think we make better lovers. I think we're more tuned in to what's happening, tuned into the moment, tuned into our emotions, and other people's emotions.

    “Yes, I think that gay people are better than other people. I think the only thing we are not so good at is fighting back. I hear talk of the new generation of gays and the old generation of gays, and how different we are. That is not true. We are all one generation. We are all related. We are all each other's brothers and sisters. We are all one family, the gay family. And I passionately and desperately want all my brothers and sisters to stay alive and well and on this earth, with total equality with every straight person. Being gay is the most important thing in my life. I love being gay. I hope you do, too.” – Legendary gay/AIDS activist and author Larry Kramer, telling the audience at Dallas Pride to fight harder.

    Daniel Orey
    Sacramento

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Thanks again, Daniel -

    The eternal question for me is, how do you fight the opposition without joining them on the low road? This is a question Gary and I toss around every once in a while, and I'm not sure we've ever come up with a really good answer. Optimist that I (sometimes) am, I insist in believing that it's possible to fight a clean fight – though when someone is hurling lies and insults, the temptation is definitely there to hurl a little mud myself. Righteous anger is a good thing, I think – a very useful emotion – but how do we go about setting standards for ourselves about how to express it most effectively?

    Maybe this isn't a problem for most people – but for me, it is. I have as sharp a tongue as any when I want to. When I told a Cherokee spiritual leader that Gary and I had joked that my Indian name should be “Snapping Turtle,” he looked at me very seriously and said, “Then you should be very careful how you choose your words.” So I try to do that.

    So how to be compassionately combative? How to fight the good fight?

    I am definitely open to suggestions.

    By the way, is there something missing from this quote – he is saying it is evil to force people to be free? What does he mean?

    Barb

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    I will say that I think part of the answer to my own question, is to stick to the facts – to demonstrate the facts of ordinary, and not so ordinary, gay lives, for instance. And to use emotion in a dramatic, positive way that is hard to forget – hence the importance of storytelling, drama, song, dance, the theatre…

  • dco

    Not sure, it stuck me as odd… but I think he is saying that it is evil to force peopel into being what they are not

  • amishindian

    When I think of the history of the Guardian I am reminded of the story of Jesus when the disciples were repulsed by the sight of the dead carcass of a dog but Jesus instead pointed out what beautiful teeth the dog had. Yes we have the excommunications, women not on the UHJ, the anti-gay positions etc. But I still love the beautiful buildings and grounds in Haifa. And most especially the beautiful message that the days of the Guardian demonstrate – that in this day God chose not to work through Popes, Imams and Guardians but instead through a democratically elected Universal House of Justice made up of men women, gay, straight and dare I say transgender of all ethnicities that make up the human race.

  • Craig Parke

    amishindian,

    In reading your post this morning I saw your note to me from a year ago on your Disgus log list! I really don't know if we met back then but maybe send me an e-mail craig (at) craigparke (dot) com if you want to touch base a bit!

    I went on Pilgrimage in 1982. It was basically good in the generally positive and informative sense but I had a mystical experience that kind of foreshadowed your experience in 1980. I sensed something was very right and I also sensed something was very wrong all at the same time. Perhaps this conflict in my subconscious resulted in the mystical experience in 1982 in Haifa. The meaning didn't kick in until I saw Peter Khan speak in person in early 2001 in Milwaukee months before 9/11. I had never heard of the guy. I was astonished at his sneering arrogance and naked brutality. Then I remembered my mystical experience in 1982 in Haifa while standing and meditating alone in the unfinished shell of the room in the super structure that would become the consultation chamber of the Universal House of Justice.

    Peace be upon you and everyone here.

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    amishindian,

    I always feel refreshed by your beautiful words – they mean a great deal to me. I have a deep love for the Guardian and the sacrifice he made for the Faith – what a burden he must have felt when he realized his beloved grandfather was dead, and the mantle had fallen upon his shoulders, at his young age, with his whole life before him!

    I too have that odd paradoxical feeling that Craig mentions, of things being right and wrong all at the same time – I trust somehow things will come out right in the end. Your words remind me, too, of one of my favorite quotes from Abdu'l-Baha:

    “At the gate of the garden some stand and look within, but do not care to enter. Others step inside, behold its beauty, but do not penetrate far. Still others encircle this garden, inhaling the fragrance of the flowers, and having enjoyed its full beauty, pass out again by the same gate. But there are always some who enter and, becoming intoxicated with the splendor of what they behold, remain for life to tend the garden.”

    I have been largely inactive in the Faith for many years, and even resigned for several months at one time, not long ago. But it didn't feel right to be outside the Faith, and I re-entered. I have still been mostly inactive because I feel uncomfortable with the tone of things in my community, and in the Faith at large, and since I have trouble holding my tongue, it seems best to step back and let things proceed without me. The Story Project is my way, I guess, of trying to be of service by attempting to lessen some of the prejudice among the Baha'is, something I can do from a quiet corner.

    You must continue to speak, we need to hear you.

    Barb

  • fubar

    the buildings at the BWC no longer contain much that is authentic, they only contain a shallow reflection of the memory of something authentic (deeply human, honeest, just, decent, compassionate, altruistic, and so forth).

    what is important are the people, not the system.

    however, the status quo in bahai privileges the “system”. as habermas says “systems colonize lifeworld”.

    anyone that asserts that people are more important the the system will be marginalized and attacked, and if they persist, viciously so.

    the changes you are advocating, which I support, could easily been seen as a (near) “CB” agenda by the reactionaries/fundies/authoritarians in the bahai system (the dominant leadership mode).

    bahai belief has become belief in an increasingly soulless, dysfunctional and psychopathic “system”, not faith in the good, beautiful and true in the human soul.

    back to the original topic, of change being a law of nature:

    the paper at the following link does a good job of summarizing several of the main ways of thinking about the current problems with postmodern “transformation” in global culture.

    (predictably, there has been almost no real, significant discussion of those topics in the bahai community. at least not much discussion that transcends the usual glib “missionary” mentality, self-referential “bahai” logic that utterly lacks objectivity, etc.)

    http://www.cejournal.org/GRD/neville.htm

    excerpts:

    Out of Our Depth and Treading Water: Reflections on Consciousness, Culture and New Learning Technologies

    ——————————————————
    Bernie Neville
    Graduate School of Education at La Trobe University
    Australia

    ——————————————————
    Copyright authors and Journal of Integral Studies.

    … In this paper I start with the premise that at the turn of this century we are in the midst of profound cultural and psychological change. During the past half-century we have had some of our species’ sharpest minds trying to get to grips with the evidence that something significant is going on in the evolution of human consciousness and culture. I want to rehearse something of what they have said, before reflecting on what this might mean for our work as teachers in an information-rich society. Specifically I want to look at our age from four different perspectives:

    [] postmodern social analysis,
    [] the history of consciousness,
    [] constructivist developmental psychology and
    [] archetypal psychology.

    Each of these perspectives is represented in the work of a group of thinkers. While the thinkers in each group share ideas, there is no indication that they are influenced by people from the other groups, or even that they are aware of their existence. Yet, as you will see, their conclusions about the kind of consciousness which is emerging in what we now conventionally call the information age have a great deal in common.

    The information society is guided by a fantasy of the marketplace, in which exchange is an end in itself – a fantasy of deregulation, free interchange, commodification. Knowledge, like wisdom, health, pleasure, law, spirituality and relationship, is now a commodity whose only value is its market value. Economic rationalism is only one manifestation of this kind of thinking. The consciousness of the marketplace permeates all areas of life.

    A further characteristic of the postmodern condition, which Lyotard sees as another consequence of the information revolution, is the decline of orthodoxy. The “grand narratives” of the modern, industrial era – Marxism, Rationalism, Christianity – have been set aside in favour of an increasing relativisation of values, ethics and beliefs. Even conventionally religious people are no longer inclined to make claims to absolute truth.

    Meanwhile modern science, having failed to construct a paradise, is being supplanted by a postmodern science characterized by incomplete information, catastrophe and chaos, indeterminacy, paradox, discontinuity, and a tendency to uncover new questions rather than new answers, a tendency to complexify rather than to simplify.

    In a postmodern consciousness the significance of the image is magnified to a point where we are floating in a sea of images which are no longer expected to represent any reality or truth.

    If teachers have a sense that there is a gap between the way they sense the world and the way their students sense it, and that tried and true methods of teaching do not seem to work so well any more, they may be right.

    Kegan argues that the shift from third to fourth to fifth order thinking in not simply a matter of individual cognitive development. We are dealing here not only with personal development but with cultural change. In pre-scientific societies third order thinking was perfectly adequate to meet the demands of the environment. Fourth order thinking both enabled and was demanded by the Age of Science. The culture in which we find ourselves at the end of the twentieth century demands that we be capable of dialectical, post-ideological, transpersonal, fifth order thinking. When we were at school we may not have been taught to think like this, and we may use this skill rather clumsily. It may, indeed, be beyond many of us much of the time. But our children and students may be more capable of it than our parents and teachers ever could be, and if we ignore this we will not make much contact with them.

    The evolution of consciousness: emerging integrality
    The observations on culture and consciousness which Lyotard was making in the seventies and Kegan has been making in the nineties had already been made by Jean Gebser (1949) in the forties.

    As a student of European language and literature Gebser became convinced that language was being used in quite new ways in this century, and that this new use of language represented a change in the way the world was being experienced. His original insight came through his discovery in the poetry of Rilke of a mode of experiencing which is no longer perspectival, dualistic and time-bound. He sought and found the same phenomenon in other European poets (notably Eliot and Valéry). His reflections on this led him to look across a wide range of arts and sciences for clues to the nature of this change. They also led him to years of research into archaeology and history, in an attempt to determine whether there was a trajectory in the evolution of human consciousness and culture which might explain the transformation which he thought he could discern in his own time. Out of these researches he developed a theory of what he called structures of consciousness.

    In Gebser’s model of structures of consciousness he distinguished between four discrete mutations of consciousness: the archaic consciousness of primal human beings, the magical consciousness of the stone age, the mythical consciousness which developed after the ice ages, and the mental consciousness which emerged with the great classical civilizations and which has dominated European culture since the middle ages. These evolutional mutations are fundamentally different ways of experiencing reality. The central premise of his work, however, was that a new structure of consciousness was beginning to emerge in the twentieth century, a structure which he called integral consciousness.

    While Gebser’s major work, The Ever Present Origin (1949), sets out these structures in evolutionary sequence, he did not wish to imply that they are historical developments leading to integral consciousness as the ultimate human achievement. He maintained rather that they are intertwined and ever-present, and that it is the dynamic interplay between them which constitutes culture. While he presents his theory as a theory of the evolution of consciousness, he is adamant that he is not doing so within a fantasy of historical “development” or “progress”. Our tendency to think in such terms is an artifact of our dominant mental consciousness, in which our experience of time is linear and quantified. Rather, reality is unfolding process, and the archaic, magic, mythical, mental and emerging integral structures are all valid ways of apprehending it. In Gebser’s understanding we are shaped and determined not only by the present and the past but by the future. Most significantly, all of the structures have both “efficient” and “deficient” forms and we have no basis for being romantic about either past or future. We have no assurance that we will experience the emerging integral structure only in its “efficient” form.

    For Gebser the rational consciousness which has dominated European civilization since the enlightenment was not the supreme achievement in human development but rather the deficient form of the mental structure which emerged about three thousand years ago. He saw the deficiency in the rational consciousness of the past four centuries as deriving from its arrogant devaluation and suppression of the earlier structures. In the thirties and forties it was clear to him that the rational structure was collapsing and that European civilization was slipping back into a deficient magical-mythical structure. At the same time he found indications that a new structure was emerging. He suggested that this new structure involved the integration of the four older structures

    With or without assistance from the analysts of postmodernity we can find in our literature, science, cinema and the daily news a dominant narrative of complexity and chaos, of the vanishing of boundaries, of deceit, denial and delusion among our leaders, of the preference for image over substance, of the loss of familial and tribal bonds, of the disappearance of our conventional grounds for moral judgments, of an unwillingness to confront reality, of the abandonment of rationality, of the proliferation of information, of the slipperiness of ideas and ideals which once seemed solid and graspable, of a market-place so ubiquitous and noisy that we cannot escape it.

    So what is the “old story” in this?

    In The Political Psyche (1993) Andrew Samuels has explored the myth of the Greek god Hermes as an approach to understanding contemporary economic and political culture and to dealing with our splits and confusions about capitalism and the market economy. I have argued elsewhere (Neville, 1992) that “the postmodern condition” may be construed as an inflation of late twentieth century European consciousness (wherever it is found) by the image and energy of Hermes. Taking seriously Hillman's dictum that we are always in one archetypal fantasy or another, I have argued that post-industrial society is caught in a Hermes fantasy.

    The Homeric Hymn to Hermes (Hesiod, trans. Athanassakis, 1976) tells us how, to avoid the gods, Maia, the nymph who was Zeus' lover, hid in a deep cave, where she bore a son

    who was a shrewd and coaxing schemer,
    cattle – rustling robber, and a bringer of dreams,
    a watcher by night and a gate-keeper, soon destined
    to show forth glorious deeds among the immortal gods.

    Archetypal psychology suggests that we can find the images of the Hermes myth dominating our culture in the recent past and the present time. We can argue that the complexity of our planetary situation and the unwillingness of political leaders to admit their inability to manage it belong to this pattern, as does the pervasive tendency to deal with crises through “image control” rather than effective action, the dominance of the stock market and the collapse of consensus ethics. I suggest that eco-feminism, in its challenge to the anthropocentricity and hero-pathology of the modern age, belongs to the same pattern as postmodern science, the information superhighway, the multicultural society, the “end of enclosure” and the worship of the unregulated market, for Hermes is very much Mummy’s boy.

    If our culture is possessed by one god rather than another, we have to point to Hermes, the god of information and communication, the friendly god who constantly deceives us.

    The Greeks did not distinguish between “good gods” and “bad gods”. The nasty or pathological aspects of behaviour were shared out among all the gods. Hermes has his good side and his bad side. However, Hermes himself makes no distinction between good and bad. We might not like some characteristics of the Age of Hermes: the deceit, delusion, irresponsibility and amorality; the collapse of boundaries, the substitution of image for substance, the attack on rationality, the groundlessness, the destabilization, the commodification; the restlessness of the god of travelers who never stays in one place. However, they go hand in hand with other Hermetic qualities which characterize our age: the pluralism, the flexibility, the capacity for transformation, the inventiveness, the relativism, the playfulness, the magic, the tolerance, the invitation to escape from psychological and cultural prisons, the acceptance of paradox, the acknowledgment of process, the concern for Mother Earth.

    Hermes is not the only god dominant in our culture. There are other more oppressive gods demanding our worship. But I suggest that it is Hermes’ story, rather than any other, which currently says who we are.

    I am beginning with Kegan’s third level because I don’t wish to complicate this argument any further by discussing the early years of schooling.)

    Teachers in such a context (third order, mythical structure) assume that schooling should be aimed at engendering dependence and conformity in students. Teaching focuses on transmitting to students what is already known in the community. Learning need not be passive, but it is essentially receptive rather than creative. The function of the school (or university) is to enculturation the next generation into the values, ethics, knowledge and customs of the family, tribe, church or nation. The child needs to learn and accept what is acknowledged as truth by the community and to learn also how to behave in a manner which the community approves. The school exists within a narrative where certain values and purposes and truths are taken for entirely for granted.

    Education in such a society is essentialist. The curriculum is content-centered. Those in authority know exactly what should be taught and learned.

    On the other hand, if schooling is constructed by the mental consciousness of a modern-scientific society, it assumes a capacity for fourth order thinking. Such a schooling aims to produce students who are autonomous individuals, who take responsibility for their own behaviour, who take nothing for granted but critically examine their own society and the truths it presents to them. Teachers believe that the best learning is self-directed and active, rather than receptive and conformist. There is an underlying assumption that human beings are able to discover the truth about the universe if they observe it carefully enough and think about it hard enough.

    Such an education looks critically at the principles which guide its own and other societies, in a search for universal principles for human behaviour. It is non-essentialist because we cannot yet confidently state the truth. It is student-centered because the individual student is the best judge of what he or she needs to learn right now in order to deal with the world as he or she finds it.

    Kegan argues that many of us have difficulty in achieving and maintaining fourth order consciousness. Gebser warns us against privileging mental consciousness over mythical consciousness. Our consciousness is multi-layered, and it is the taken-for-grantedness of our deepest assumptions and culturally embedded narratives which give our lives meaning and direction, even though our mental consciousness may take a critical stance towards them and even though others may find them simply wrong.

    However, the point of this paper is to address the question of what sort of schooling is demanded by fifth order thinking, integral consciousness, the postmodern condition, the information society and the Age of Hermes.

    May I suggest the following.

    Where third order schooling aims at dependence and fourth order thinking aims at independence, fifth order thinking aims at interdependence.

    The role of information technology is central to this. It both enables and demands the dissolution of boundaries, the development of transegoic consciousness, the transcendence of rational, linear, dualistic thinking and the constraints of quantified space and time. It both enables and demands the emergence of an holistic, eco-centric, process-oriented, constructivist curriculum. It both enables and demands a new way of thinking both from students and their teachers.

  • dco

    The new battle in California

    Society protects and defends the rights of prisoners, who have been stripped of most of their civil rights, to enter into a civil marriage. Those who argue that homosexuality is a “lifestyle choice” are willfully ignoring the American Psychological Association and of the science of psychology, that homosexuality is an orientation. It is not a choice anymore than being heterosexual is a choice. On which calendar date did you sit down and chose your sexual orientation? Most of us discovered our orientation when we went through puberty. Some of us experienced discrimination, hatred, verbal, emotional and physical abuse in addition to the general angst, which marked that stage of development. Prop 8 legalized discrimination against a minority group into the California State Constitution and in so doing, promotes bigotry and social stigmatization of persons who have a same sex orientation.

    Being a Christian is a choice, yet no one would dream (so far) of placing the rights of people to freely choose their religion up for a public vote. Regardless of one’s religious views, we all live in a pluralistic civil society. The only way that such a society can function peacefully is for all citizens to respect each other’s civil rights. Stripping any minority of its civil rights, which is precisely what Prop 8 accomplished, threatens the civil rights of every minority group in our society.

    Several religions, many theologians, the APA and almost all international Psychological Associations agree that homosexuality is not a choice, but like heterosexuality, an orientation. Laws, such as Prop 8, which target a minority group and strip away their civil rights, are born of ignorance, prejudice and they promote discrimination and bigotry. I am honored to be one of the proponents of a ballot initiative, which will restore the right to a civil marriage to all Californians regardless of their sexual orientation. This new proposition will also write into our State Constitution the right of religious groups to deny religious marriage to same sex couples. This new proposition restores and protects civil marriage for all Californians while simultaneously protecting the rights of religious groups to deny religious marriage to same sex couples.

    see original at: http://fathergeofffarrow.blogspot.com/2009/09/n

  • http://twitter.com/masuds19 Masud Samandari

    Hi everyone,

    I recently came across this music video by the Icelandic band Sigur Ros called Viðrar vel til loftárása and I really liked it, so I wanted to share it with all of you, although I suspect that many of you have already seen it.

    I don't want to spark a debate, but I just found the video to be quite moving and powerful.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34ZtT4Th9Ys

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Indeed, the fear and ugliness of the father's emotions are quite striking – who would want to be like that?

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Good for you, Daniel, for helping initiate this proposition – everybody should be able to support this.

  • dco

    ps… this isn't me, I forgot to clip in the author (Fred Karger) its in the link… my bad!

  • Baquia

    Same sex couples equally fit as parents as heterosexual couples… in other news, the sky is blue.

  • Amanda

    For anyone looking to put their money where their mouth is and support the human rights of ALL Iranians in need- the Iranian Queer Railroad is a non-profit organization that helps LGBTQI Iranians gain asylum and/or avoid deportation back to Iran… and they need your financial support:

    http://www.irqr.net/aboutus.htm

  • peyamb

    And how would the UHJ respond to such a father? Maybe with quotes such as this:
    “The House of Justice was sorry to learn from your letter that your son has recently informed you that he is a homosexual. ” “You will, no doubt, want to urge your son to seek appropriate counselling; “(aka reparative therapy; maybe even shock treatment, who knows). “Regarding your husband's refusal to permit your son to return home, it is understandable that a parent might feel deeply confused and angry when confronted with such questions which go to the very root of what it means to be a human being and what it means to educate and raise a child” (so it is understandable for a father to throw his child out because that child is now so anti-human and such an uneducated child; instead of what the father has done is completely wrong and he should immediately welcome his son back into the home because THAT is what Abdul-Baha would have wanted!!!).
    Sorry Masud, not trying to foster any debate here, justr trying to tell the truth of what gays face in the Bahai community if they turn to our beloved UHJ!

  • dco
  • dco

    thanks!

  • sonjavank

    Someone sent me this link:
    http://letters-of-the-living.blogspot.com/2009/

    which is your blog A and I love the sharp “let deeds not words be your adorning” reference for Bahais :)

    and now I realise you made this film which I”d seen somewhere else (sorry don't remember the context now):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Guidl-7oGn4&feat

    It is beautifully made …
    but
    you mis-attribute quotations.
    Shoghi Effendi never wrote any of those things.

    I realise many Bahais do like-wise but I prefer to stick what is actually in the Bahai Writings. I kinda wish you'd remake the movie with these things corrected because the point is fantastic. Making poeple aware and trying to get Bahais to stand up for equality and human rights.

    This blog blew me away:
    http://www.moralcourage.com/get-involved/moral-

  • dco

    Father Geoff is one of my heroes
    see original at: http://fathergeofffarrow.blogspot.com/2009/10/y

  • Amanda

    Thanks, Barb.

  • Amanda

    DCO- :)

    Sonja-
    Thank you. I had previously addressed the misattribution of the two passages (that were written on BEHALF OF Shoghi Effendi and not BY Shoghi Effendi) in the comments section of the video. But it's certainly hard to find there now, and conveniently YouTube now has an Annotations function, so I just had my secretary add the corrections on my behalf. (The correction still reflects my own agency and point of view, however- not a rogue departure from my instructions.)

    Thanks,
    Amanda

  • dco
  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    I have to say one more thing here, after reading elsewhere a comment by a gay Baha'i that “the UHJ can't change this” in reference to the Baha'i stance toward homosexuality and gay Baha'is.

    I say nonsense. The UHJ re-interpreted Shoghi Effendi's comment about Baha'is going door to door with pamphlets being undignified and undesirable. Now it's fine for Baha'is to go door to door, just like the Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons do, no matter how offensive it might be, because it now seems useful for them to do so. The UHJ CAN CHANGE the current stance toward gay Baha'is – they simply do not have the will to do so, perhaps because of their own unacknowledged prejudice in regard to homosexuality. If they wanted to change it, they could – trust me. I am reminded of that old joke that, if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.

    The people with the real power, however, to change the current stance toward gay Baha'is are the gay Baha'is themselves, and their friends and families. As long as gay Baha'is accept a bogus excuse for the administration's “inability” to change things, nothing will change. Gay Baha'is must have enough dignity and self-respect and yes, courage, to effect change, to set in motion events that will result in a change of attitude. This can happen; there is absolutely no doubt in my mind about that. But it won't happen unless gay Baha'is who love the Faith, and those who love them, find within themselves the conviction and strength to take this issue on. People's lives, literally, are at stake, and I hope and pray that this will happen, but I am not holding my breath.

    Barb

  • dco

    Yes… “The people with the real power, however, to change the current stance toward gay Baha'is are the gay Baha'is themselves”

    YES!

    This is so true… if GLBT people were as united as the folks united against us we would move mountains.

    We have such friends such as Desmond Tutu, President Obama, and yet we hide, live in fear, are silent, and do not reach out to each other.

    I am sitting here in Sacramento, sad that I could not make it to Washington to march ($$$), and listening to the religious leaders speak and thinking once again…

    WHERE ARE WE?

    Folks the moment we are even 1/2 as united and strong as the forces arrayed against us will be the moment that they WILL have to listen to us.

    May God forgive them for the harm they are causing to GLBT youth and their friends and family…. because right now, I just cannot.

  • peyamb

    http://www.hrcbackstory.org/2009/10/president-o… wow, REAL leadership. Now I just wish the 9 men on the hill would do something similar for LGBT people in the Faith. More than just the facade of saying to the Bahai community “don't be prejudice towards gays in your midst” and at the same time telling parents that they should get help to change their kids orientation and saying it's ok to kick good people out of the Faith for being in a loving committed relationship.

  • Anonymous
  • Baquia
  • dco

    M & I watched this together, it was so moving, it brought us both to tears. I am so proud of this president. I noticed, that once again, the religious leaders at the march, were missing a Baha'i on the platform… may God forgive their homophobia, I can't.

    Daniel Orey

  • dco

    awesome… thanks for this wonderful fit of irony…

    Daniel Orey

  • dco

    Another family unwelcome in this religion:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlmL66UNjnQ&feat

    Daniel Orey
    Sacramento, California

  • peyamb

    Oh no Daniel. They are welcome. They'll just be told that they are “friends” to the Faith, not really a part of the community. They wouldn't be able to vote, give to the fund, attend Feast and help make any decisions in the community- you know minor things like that according to Farhan. But oh yeah, they are so welcome to deal with the stares, the letters from secretaries telling them that their love is wrong, their children being taught in Sunday school that chastitiy means marriage between a man and a woman only, etc. etc. But yeah, they are welcome just like every one else.

  • peyamb

    Hey UHJ. Hey National Spiritual Assemblies. Hey all you people who use tradition and old age, or your homophobic culture to justify discriminiation against LGBT people, while pretending you are not being prejudiced – please listen to this guy:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrEbJBFWIPk&feat

  • http://www.sonjavank.blogspot.com sonjavank

    Yes friends and family need to stop treating their gay members as anything less than equal. P, in response to your previous comments, you and any other gay are more than just 'friends' – you are part of my community of spirit.

    More Bahais need to be out about treating gays as equals!
    This man in the youtube film is wonderful. Dare I say it, so Abdul-Baha like.

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Thank you, Peyamb – this is wonderful. Every single Baha'i should listen to this, in particular the nine men on the hill.

    And consider this – if a lie repeated often enough comes to be revered as truth, how much more powerful is the truth repeated again, and again, and again – we must keep repeating it until people get it – they will, eventually.

    Barb

  • LBCesu

    I think the problems people of the Baha'i faith are going through with accepting homosexuals is the same as any Christianity faith. I enjoy many ideals of Baha'i, being a Christian man with an open mind I can relate. Many religions are not accepting of homosexuality, why do you think that is??

  • peyamb

    I would disagree that many religions are not accepting, but rather many conservative/traditionalists in those religions are not accepting. There is a difference between Jesus and the Pope. Jesus loved and accepted all. He said nothing about a man having to only be with a woman in marriage. Human beings made up all the discriminatory agenda against gays later on.

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    I'm about to leave on another trip, and I don't have time to form an extensive answer to this, but I think the reason has to do with an underlying fear of the potential power of women and of the feminine. Consider the attitudes that fundamentalist, patriarchal religions have in common in regard to women in authority, gays, abortion, birth control and women's sexual behavior, independent thinking, and a tendency toward wanting religion to have the power of the civil state. Even Baha'is, who boast of equality of women and men, do not give women the power of making policy – only of carrying out the policies determined by men (the Universal House of Justice and the Central Figures). Lesbians represent women who tend to be independent of men in their thinking and behavior, and can form a powerful unit when they are connected and united, while still enjoying the friendship of men. Gay men do not need to control and dominate women in the way that many straight men do – and men taking what is considered a feminine role in lovemaking are very threatening to many straight men. The ultimate insult for a boy is to be considered “girlie.” Men do not know if children are their own, if they cannot in some way control women sexually – thus the prohibitions regarding sexual behavior. Women have the power to bring forth life; that's not nothing. Some men have Venus envy, you could say. And a woman kept very busy having lots of children and tending to “woman stuff” like taking care of men and children often don't have time and energy left over to be messing about in a troublesome way in politics and government and law-making. Fortunately, this is changing rapidly, in some countries more than others.

    This is a very superficial answer – I am aware of that. Nevertheless, I think that patriarchal religion, of whatever sort, expresses an underlying fear of the potential power of women. I'm not saying that is all there is to religion – not at all. I am talking about the way that religion has been used by men in power to keep women “in their place.” This has nothing whatever to do with the goal of the Prophets in regard to the spiritual behavior of all humans – it is an appropriation of legitimate spiritual teaching in order to carry out a patriarchal goal.

    As I said – very superficial answer, and one not well thought out at this point – but I am convinced that this is at least part of the answer, and I would be interested to know what others think.

    Barb

  • peyamb

    >>”In all the Divine Dispensations,”
    >>He states, in a Tablet addressed to
    >>a follower of the Faith in Persia,
    >>”the eldest son hath been given
    >>extraordinary distinctions. Even the
    >>station of prophethood hath been his
    >>birthright.”
    If I had live in His time, I would have asked Abdul-Baha “So what? So what if partriarchial people from the past made the first born male and males in general such distinction? Isn't this supposed to be a new age where women and men are equal?” And guess what? I bet Abdul-Baha would have been loving, understanding and maybe even have changed His mind. Who knows? I seriously doubt he would have taken the fundamentalist, closed, “my way or the highway” approach of the present Bahai administration and it's mindless followers.
    No Barb, you are not being superficial- you are hitting it right on the mark. When fundamentalist divorce these people (including Bahaullah) from their human side- the side that actually lived in a historical period with it's biases and traditions, then you end up with a religion that continues being out of touch. A religion that will stay stagnant as the world progresses.

  • dco

    what a sweet, dear man… thank you for posting this

  • dco

    thanks Barb

  • peyamb

    Next time you go by that red tin can and the ringing bell, think twice about throwing some change in there: http://www.zimbio.com/Gay+and+lesbian+rights/ar
    Just as thinking twice about giving to the Bahai Fund. Better yet, do as Abdul-Baha did, and just give some money direct to a deserving soul.

  • dco

    Haggis leaves Scientology
    “Crash” director Paul Haggis has severed his ties with the Church of Scientology, in part because of what he alleged as the organization’s stance against gay marriage.
    Haggis wrote a letter addressed to Tommy Davis, the head of Scientology’s Celebrity Centre. In it, Haggis said he was disappointed by the church’s tacit denial of gay rights in the debate over California’s gay marriage ban.
    The 56-year-old Haggis, who won an Oscar in 2005 for co-writing “Crash,” said he was quitting the church after 35 years. “I could not, in good conscience, be a member of an organization where gay-bashing was tolerated,” wrote Haggis, who also wrote the Oscar-winning “Million Dollar Baby.”
    The letter, dated Aug. 19, was published in a blog about Scientology and has since been circulated online. Ziggy Kozlowski, a publicist for Haggis, confirmed the director wrote the letter. He said it was intended to remain private.
    Davis said Haggis’ complaints were based on misunderstandings and that he has since spoken to the filmmaker. Davis strenuously disagreed with Haggis’ claim that the Church of Scientology is anti-gay.

  • dco

    Tomorrow Obama signs the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill…

    play this loud!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_NpxTWbovE&feat

  • j_s_bach

    Nice blog. Thanks.

  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco

    A list or religious GLBT positive action in California this next week:

    http://revolked2.blogspot.com/2009/10/keeping-f

  • http://www.sonjavank.blogspot.com sonjavank

    some beautiful stories of marriage here:

    http://www.whiteknot.org/stories.html

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Thanks for this, Daniel. I do LOVE! this song. I'm traveling, so don't have a lot of time to respond, but I'm paying attention.

    Barb

  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco
  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco
  • Brian

    Can you provide the date of that letter? I have never seen this and I am very familiar with the UHJ letters on this topic. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    http://bahai-library.com/uhj/homosexuality.discussion.html
    It’s in #7. Also read #2. Pretty scary stuff that these 9 men leave open the possibility of genetically altering a fetus in order to fix its homosexuality. Fun stuff they don’t teach a seeker at firesides, huh?

  • Anonymous

    http://bahai-library.com/uhj/homosexuality.discussion.html
    It’s in #7. Also read #2. Pretty scary stuff that these 9 men leave open the possibility of genetically altering a fetus in order to fix its homosexuality. Fun stuff they don’t teach a seeker at firesides, huh?

  • Anonymous

    http://bahai-library.com/uhj/homosexuality.discussion.html
    It’s in #7. Also read #2. Pretty scary stuff that these 9 men leave open the possibility of genetically altering a fetus in order to fix its homosexuality. Fun stuff they don’t teach a seeker at firesides, huh?

  • peyamb

    http://bahai-library.com/uhj/homosexuality.disc
    It's in #7. Also read #2. Pretty scary stuff that these 9 men leave open the possibility of genetically altering a fetus in order to fix its homosexuality. Fun stuff they don't teach a seeker at firesides, huh?

  • Anonymous

    Sorry about the multiple replies. I inadvertantly hit the button a few times when it stalled

  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco

    Folks in the USA

    please take a moment and consider adding your name to the petion:

    http://gay.americablog.com/2009/11/dont-ask-don

  • http://www.sonjavank.blogspot.com sonjavank

    There's a wonderful interview here Ellen Degeneres on ‘Oprah’ – fantastic
    http://networkedblogs.com/p17264062

    in particular Ellen discusses her coming out, her ideas on the purpose of life and her marriage.

    Ellen continued with, “Anybody who’s married knows there is a difference. It feels like you’re home. There’s an anchor, there’s a safety. I’m going to be with her until the day I die and I know that.”

  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco

    Thanks!

  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco

    thought this might be of interest to soe:

    “I increasingly see organized religion as actually my enemy. They treat me as their enemy. Not all Christians, of course. Not all Jews, not all Muslims. But the leaders. . . . Why should I take the judgment of a declared celibate about my sexual needs? He's basing his judgment on laws that would fit life in the Bronze Age. So if I'm lost to God, organized religion is to blame.”

    - Sir Ian McKellen, speaking to the Los Angeles Times.

  • peyamb

    Listen up Universal House of Justice:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJ0IgECXE18

  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco

    From JMG: HomoQuotable – John Corvino

    “I have long advocated using the term 'bigot' sparingly when referring to gay-rights opponents. It’s not that I don’t think bigotry is a serious problem. On the contrary, it’s vital to identify bigotry for what it is and to expose its tragic effects. It’s also important to learn the lessons of history, including the ways in which bigotry can hide behind religion, concern for children’s welfare, and other seemingly benign motives.

    “But there’s a difference between identifying bigotry, on the one hand, and labeling any and all people who disagree with us as bigots, on the other. Such labeling tends to function as a conversation-stopper, cutting us off from the 'moveable middle' and ultimately harming our progress. It’s also unfair to the many decent people who genuinely strive to understand us even where, for sincere and complex reasons, they cannot accept our position. [snip]

    “Many of our opponents are fundamentally decent people. For both principled and pragmatic reasons, we don’t want to saddle them with an identity that suggests their being beyond redemption. In other words, we don’t want to label them 'bigots' prematurely. At the same time, we don’t want to shrink from identifying the evil of anti-gay bigotry, wherever and whenever it occurs. And so, we can distinguish. We can point out the sin of bigotry forcefully while using the epithet of 'bigot' sparingly (though that epithet, too, has its uses). Because, in the end, we do know it when we see it.” – John Corvino, writing for Independent Gay Forum.

  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco

    This is great… thanks Pey!

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Thanks for this, Daniel. There's altogether too much name-calling in the world, imo. It seems a fine line to walk, to work for gay rights, and oppose false charges and assumptions about gays, and at the same time try to work according to Baha'i principles of social interaction. One must be bold, but not mean-spirited, must point out the often unpalatable truth without being self-righteous, must always hope for the potential for change and believe such change is possible, even in the most prejudiced. I find this very difficult, but most worthwhile tasks are not easy.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing this.

  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco

    It is tough… John Corvino´s resources are excellent, and are recommended see:
    http://www.johncorvino.com/

    His DVD is great, and shoudl be seen by Bahaí admistrators

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Thanks for reminding me of this, Daniel. I have watched this clip before and was quite impressed by it, but never followed up. I may order his DVD for local use – I agree, all Baha'i administrators should see this, and they should see “Inlaws and Outlaws” as well. We just received this one in the mail and it is supposed to be shown by one of our local universities, and perhaps a local theatre as well. We hope to share it at least with a few friends and a local church, and to encourage local Baha'is to see it.

    Barb

  • peyamb

    Anti gay bill in Uganda: http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=49189
    So where does the Bahai community stand in all this? It's time for the UHJ to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to Human Rights. The Bahai community has a House of Worship in that country. Will the Bahais be silent? Last year they demonstrated with others in Uganda against gays. Now what? Will the Bahais in Uganda support such a horrible bill? Or just sit idly by while homosexuals are discriminated against and even murdered by the government? If the UHJ doesn't stand up and say something, given that there is a significant percentage of Ugandas who are Bahais, then those 9 men's letters are not worth the paper they are written on. Don't come crying about the persecution of Bahais in Iran if you are not willing to say anything about this bill in Uganda. Do the right thing!

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    I have been waiting, and waiting, to hear the UHJ say that the work of Baha'is in Uganda against gays (and their support of the “interfaith rainbow coalition” – which should win some kind of award for euphemism of the century) is wrong, wrong, wrong – I haven't heard a thing yet. The Baha'i Community cannot expect any further recognition from the rest of the world in regard to support for human rights if they do not renounce what is happening in Uganda. Remaining silent in this case is not an option. Baha'is like to straddle the fence when convenient, I think – it's time to take a stand on this particular issue and let the world know where they stand.

    Barb

  • peyamb

    I wouldn't hold my breath Barb. This whole article was posted by Baquia in regards to an apology by the Tory party for Section 28 (a ban on councils and schools promoting homosexuality as a valid lifestyle). Did you know that the NSA of the UK wrote a letter in support of this ban? http://bahai-library.com/?file=nsa_statement_ho
    Where is the apology from the present UK NSA regarding this asinine letter written back in 1996. We would all long be dead from lack of air if we had waited.

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Thank you, Peyamb. Yes, I have been aware previously of activity of the UK NSA in this regard. These folks always want to equate chastity and fidelity with heterosexuality – now there's a joke. What I want is for the Baha'i institutions to shout to the world – from the rooftops – what their true and complete positions are in regard to gays, birth control (their ultimate goal – not the present temporary compromise), abortion (i.e. women's reproductive rights), the principle of separation of church and state, their violation of their own basic principle of equality of women and men, and freedom of Baha'i academic scholars of religion. I just want the world to know what the Baha'is stand for, in addition to all the nice-nice stuff that gets publicized all the time. Some people will like and admire their stance (The Family might, for instance), a lot of people will not. The Baha'i world is drifting, imo, into very dangerous territory in regard to human rights. I just want people to know the facts, and then they can make their own judgment about those facts. I particularly want BAHAI'S to know the facts – because altogether too many of them don't – they haven't done their homework, and perhaps a lot of them don't really want to know or to have to think about it. The Baha'i Faith is what we, the Baha'is make it – it's time for us to wake up and think hard about what we want to support. The Baha'i Faith doesn't belong only to the institutions; it belongs to the Baha'is, to all of us – we are responsible for what it becomes in the world. It might be worthwhile for folks to look up Paul Deardorf's resignation letter (written in the 90s, I believe) – he was a very active Baha'i, and worked with ABMs, as I recall. It's easily available online. Whether he ever rejoined the Faith, I do not know, but he certainly brought up some points worth considering.

    Barb

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    oops, my mistake. The name is Paul Dodenhoff, not Paul Deardorf – I didn't double-check the name before posting. Sorry about that, and my sincere apology to Paul Deardorf – should he be out there somewhere….we oldies do get a bit muddled in our thinking from time to time. Time for my nap now.

    Barb

  • peyamb

    I think you mean this letter Barb: http://www.bahai-faith.com/ex-Bahai-6.html

    Yeah, it was that horrible letter published in the American Bahai that made me write to National and tell them to stop sending me such awful propaganda. Oh and I told them to consider my cancelation to the American Bahai as my last “donation” to the fund (since they no longer had to waste stamps mailing it to me!)

  • peyamb

    I read a little bit about Mark Tobey's life here: http://www.gaybahai.net/notable-individuals/
    It used to anger me to read about these closeted gay men that served and praised the Bahai community. But now I realize that they were just a product of their times. What other choice did they have? The Bahai Faith was convenient. As was becoming a priest in the Catholic church. A religion of Don't ask don't tell was better than a religion of “we'll hunt you down and kick you out”. But times have changed and the current “mark Tobey's” inside of the Bahai community have to make a choice. Continue your hypocrisy or stand up on the side of justice. God is watching.

  • Lili

    this was really thought provoking.
    thank you for posting this, and i'm sorry to hear how difficult this situation is for your brother and yourself.

  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco
  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco

    I thought this was hilarious:

    http://revolked2.blogspot.com/2009/12/conversio

  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco

    Or they just leave… and join a community of honest, good, decent, creative and talented people who contribute to the world around them.

  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco

    Interesting article re: fundamentalism:

    http://fathergeofffarrow.blogspot.com/2009/12/w

  • AmadodeDios

    I just noticed the two “ex-”. Did Iran Muhajir divorce Rahmatullah Muhajir? Or do you mean “ex-” because he is dead and she is not?

  • peyamb

    I'm not sure if they officially divorced. A fellow Bahai told me at the conference that they lived most of their lives seperately because she could not deal with living in rural areas and traveling the world like he did for the Faith. But after hearing her ugly speech against gays at a Summer school, years later I wondered if there were other reasons why she didn't stay with her husband.

  • AmadodeDios

    I'm not original – this is a novel thought for me! Of course, they must have been somewhere on a continuum between secretly divorced / dysfunctional and an incredible love story that survived all the differences and distances! Now I feel like a gossip for wishing I knew! (Thanks for the insight!)

  • peyamb

    I could be wrong. But it was a Bahai who had no malicious intent who told me this bit of information at a conference when I was younger. If they weren't divorced, then they were seperated because she could not continue living the life that he had chosen (traveling the world and lviing in rural areas). But if you have different information. I'd love to know. Thanks!

  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco
  • fubar

    re: John Corvino on using “bigot” for anyone that doesn't agree with pro-gay politics

    Thanks for the excellent material.

    Corvino has made a very good start in recognising the well-known problems with “identity politics” (that can apply to gender issues, racial issues, green issues, etc.).

    My argument last year, during the heated debate about the anti-gay marriage vote in california, was that identity politics are counter-productive not only to the GLBT's movement's valid long-term objectives, but also to the larger process of social movement toward increased tolerance.

    Rationale: identity politics tend to be paradigm-regressive. In other words a tribal (“us vs. them”) attitude tends to set in amongst the members of a identity group. Then the thought police come out of the woodwork and “punish” (or marginalize) anyone that doesn't conform to group norms/ideas.

    (hmmm,….. sounds exactly like bahai administration?)

    Extremism and radicalism tends to set in on both “sides”, and more moderate, pragmatic solutions are rejected or ignored.

    However, there are obviously some short-term benefits to identity politics. Otherwise they wouldn't have any appeal. An increased sense of solidarity and validation of grievances (usually early in a movement, or stage of a movement) being the main ones I can think of at the moment.

    The problem is that a transition usually has to be made to a bridge-building strategy, and the group-think that tends to set in from identity politics works against those that advocate such outreach.

    On a individual psycho-spiritual level, I think the issue has to do with unconditional acceptance and compassion.

    People need healing around all sorts of issues, including this one. A healing approach, based on compassion, should include aceptance of the basic human decency of both those that agree and disagree. Otherwise, the tedency to dehumanize people is reinforced, hardly something that seems consistent with the higher sentiments and aims of the wider tolerance movement.

    Bye!

  • peyamb

    I understand what you are saying, but many gays (and supporters believe) that the transition has come and compassion towards someone who is blatantantly bigoted is not always a good approach. We reached this mark with race issues years ago. Take for instance the stupid magistrate in the South who wouldn't issue a marriage license to a black man and a white woman. In his mind he had legit reasons and felt he wasn't discriminating against anyone, but guess what? HE lost his job and got some angry responses. I give it a couple of more decades and soon no one will dare discriminate against us either without feeling the wrath of society.

  • AmadodeDios

    What can I say? I feel like an astronomer, trying to figure out what a galaxy somewhere is made of, by what I can see from here!
    I have known Baha'i couples who got along enviably well and supported each others' service; all the way to the other end, those who served heroically because home was not an option. I have heard Irán Muhajir tell anecdotes of marital harmony – but no one can maintain terror 100% of the time, so that is still “anecdotal” evidence. I really liked Dr. Muhajir…

  • fubar

    in case you haven't already seen it:

    http://exchristian.net/testimonies/2009/12/from

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Thanks, Fubar. This is exactly on target. EXCEPT I think one should not have to choose between faith – of whatever kind – and being true to one's self. Indeed, true faith necessarily entails being true to one's self. Why let others define one's faith? Gays/Lesbians are spiritual by nature as much as anyone else, and often more so IMHO. It doesn't have to be a case of either-or; it can be both-and…. It angers me that people are made by “religion” to feel they have to choose between their gay identity and their identity as spiritual beings of faith. This is not true religion. It is a false choice – doesn't have to be that way at all. It may be easier to choose one or the other – but that doesn't mean that choice is what speaks to our deepest needs as human beings. The majority defines most religions – but that's only because those who are in the minority let them. God is not white, male, or straight unless the believers make God that way. We say God is all-encompassing, but our actions say otherwise. We put God in little neatly arranged and labeled boxes that suit our limited vision. Though I understand the temptation to flee religion with a limited vision of the eternal, I would like to see more people stay and fight the good fight within, so that we can have whole lives and learn the meaning of community. What a dreamer, huh?

    Barb

  • Craig Parke

    It looks like the Talibangelicals are doing a re-think on supporting the death penalty legislation on gays in Uganda.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/04/anti-g

    Does anyone know if the NSA of Uganda is doing a re-think too on formal Baha'i participation in the death penalty legislation “rainbow of death” coalition?

  • Guest

    I was just reading through some of these comments and I felt compelled to write something here. Overcoming homosexuality is possible. This isn't my guess, I personally know this to be so. There are signs as to the causes of them and treatment for these causes continue to be discovered and effectively prescribed. The scientific community has stopped the treatment of homosexuality in the early 70's because of pressure from political interest and activist groups. But in fact, sufficient evidence exists for the effective treatment of same-sex attractions. As one brief example, though not universally applicable, it is understood that same-sex attractions, in sincere truth, serve as a reparative drive for us to fulfill the unmet needs that remain from our childhood. There is loving and professional assistance out there that will guide us to look into these experiences in our lives in an effort to help us overcome our difficulty. Change is possible; it is my hope that you will be willing to consider this. In the light of the Teachings, I believe the journey is very rewarding when we try to live by the supreme standard that is set out for us. There is love and support out there, but we may have to look for it.

    With love,

    p.s. If you would like to talk with me more about this, please feel free to email me, as I'm not on this website much. I just happened to stop by for the first time today.
    Thanks –

  • peyamb

    Please enlighten us. What were the unmet needs that I did not receive from my loving, straight parents who were firmly lived their lives according to the Bahai faith (Persian with ancestry back to the Letters of the Living). So what was I lacking that made me gay? The scientific community knows exactly what it is doing. It is saving young lives from the distress, suicidal thoughts and unnecessary pain that is inflicted on them by religious communities that preach reperative therapy. The last thing that the Bahai community is another Exodus type of organization that will lead people into the wilderness of false hopes. Change is not possible. Control- maybe (but why control something beuatiful that God made?). The journey is just as rewarding to love your soulmate of the same sex and build a family together. Love is the supreme standard- don't confuse it with your dogma.

  • Guest

    Hi peyamb,
    Unfortunately, I cannot give you an answer regarding your life, because I don't know you, and I won't pretend I can be of assistance the way someone with the know-how knowledge can. But if you are interested, please allow me to privately provide some references to you that may be helpful along those lines. I do know, however, that the work involves looking at our relationship with our same-gender and also opposite-sex gender, and understanding and/or redefining the relationship or boundaries that would have otherwise kept us from having our needs met and growing into our full potential. I know that sounds like a really risky statement, but I don't know how else to say it.. and I don't mean sound disdainful in any way, but rather to offer some additional insight.
    Personally, regarding anything I have looked into, I have felt that I should always independently investigate the claim of any practice or treatment with careful attention to discern its validity, even though it may often be difficult and scary to do so. Often, I have felt the result of the attempt to be confirming. This is my personal experience. Also, I often think of what an ideal community would look like that is there to understand and provide endless and unconditional love and support. I believe we will get there.
    Much love.

    p.s. I don't feel comfortable leaving my email here, perhaps there is another way?

  • peyamb

    No need to leave me your email address. I know more than you might think. There is a vast array of information online. You can google Exodus and find it. None of it has impressed me. Please also independently investigate the claims of happy gay couples and ask yourself if dissuading a young, confused person from entering into such meaningful relationships is really what God wants. Maybe talk to the many Bahai men that lived lies for decades, being forced to deceive their opposite sex spouse in order to be a Bahai. Yeah, I also dream of a community that provides endless and uncoditional love to ALL people, including gay couples. Unfortunately the Bahai community is not there yet and it never will be if it dares promote reperative therapy to vulnerable souls. I'll pray that you see with your own eyes on not the eyes of others. Peace!

  • Guest

    Well, I just think it's fair that those who want to overcome shouldn't feel oppressed and should equally be given the chance to do so if they wish. It's not for everybody, but those who desire to should have the freedom and support to do so. It's just a matter of choice and free will, no? I'm not here to talk about right or wrong, I'm just here to offer support. Let's not make it something else, aye?
    Regards -

  • timwatts

    Yes and while you're at it try to get treatment for being black or white if you are not happy with your colour there are several methods that truly work (cf Micheal Jackson) I hear drugs can darken or lighten your skin. Plastic surgery for racial charateristics you'd like to change….

    Even it it were possible to change someone's sexual preferece (I'd like to know how you would prove that it has worked by the way) why would youwant to there is nothing wrong with being gay and that's what you should be telling people who express a desire not to be so. Tell them God wants them gay.
    It's the interpretation of religion by humans who want god's will to be the same as our human predujuces that is the true horror. Don't you dare be so insulting to gay people with your ridiculously evil, bigotted and ignorant comments. Just because gay people are peaceful by and large don't push it as we are getting mightily fed up at having to justify our very existance to a bunch of bigots like you…there are many buses in this world but we are not going to sit at the back do you hear? To take advantage of someone gay and suggest that it's ok to try and change if they don't want to be that way is an evil act. If people tried to understand more and not ram their predujice down their throats it would me living a gay life much easier….

  • peyamb

    Will you take the responsibility when that individual commits suicide because he couldn't, just couldn't “overcome” like you promised him? Will you take responsibility when for the broken family that occurss because a man no longer can keep up the farce of having “overcome” his sexuality? It is free will to choose how to live our lives. If a gay person, for positive reasons (love; not religious pressure) decides he wants to be with someone of the opposite sex- then great. That is a “choice”, but recognizing that they will have to live with the reality that his feeligns for men will never go away. What you are offering are lies- snake oil. So yes I AM here to tell you that you are wrong for preying on vulnerable people that hate themselves so much that they have to become straight in order to feel accepted and “normal”. You are wrong for suggesting what you are suggesting and I have no problem telling you so.

  • Guest

    timwatts

    “Don't you dare be so insulting to gay people”

    -Well, I didn't want this to turn into a negative discussion. Like I said, I don't mean to insult anyone; I don't believe I've used any incriminating words here. I'm also hoping we can have mature dialogue with no insults. Anything I've said that was insulting, please accept my apology. But also please accept my words simply as a different perspective. Please don't bash my opinion.

    “It's the interpretation of religion by humans who want god's will to be the same as our human predujuces that is the true horror.”

    -If it were human interpretation I wouldn't be here in the first place. As I'm here to discuss matters of overcoming, not religious politics, I don't have any further comment here.

    “Even it it were possible to change someone's sexual preferece (I'd like to know how you would prove that it has worked by the way)”

    -timwatts, if you are interested in opening this dialogue, I would be more than happy to discuss this with you. We can arrange for private discussion if you would like to continue the dialogue.

    peyamb,

    Same-sex love is an absolutely beautiful thing. To some degree it is more important than opposite-sex love. :) Not only is same-sex love healing, but it is essential. Because of our generally homophobic society here in the West, what we are lacking is support and understanding in the community and family-unit of the need for this type of love. Without it, it would be an inhumane injustice to us humans, as we all have a need for it.
    Being “gay” (I'll also use that term for now), is a beautiful thing, and yes I believe God loves us for it. I don't think anyone should become “straight” (again term used in quotes). It's a gift to be gay and we have only to better understand the rewards from that fashioning. He is the Fashioner, after all. In general, our society needs to become aware of how deeply sexual it has become in all matters of everyday life, from TV, to movies, to billboard ads. Are we not constantly called upon to detach ourselves from this world and to rely our focus on the worlds of the spirit?
    Not to imply this in a condescending way, but I believe (and know) change is possible. By the way, I realize how this is all online and completely faceless and ineffective I'm sure. So I'm sorry about that.
    I'll look forward to staying in touch if you like.

  • peyamb

    Ok, I'm a little confused now. If you think same-sex love is a beautiful thing and essential; and being gay is a beautiful thing- then why offer some poor soul the false hope of overcoming those feelings to become straight? Why? If has Tim said you offer some black person who hates his skin color the opportunity to become white, so he feels better about himself, then whole world would see it as wrong. Instead of asking that person to learn to love themselves as God created them. Unfortunately, you don't see that when it comes to gays. By promoting reperative therapy in the Bahai community- you have started a negative discussion. You are hurting people- especially a vulneable youth in the community. And THAT is why we are so upset. You might have the greatest intentions, but it doesn't matter. And you are right- society has become sexual- just look at mockery that television has made of straight relationships. Does that mean that being straight is wrong? Should straight people stop having sex and building families? Maybe you should go teach EVERYONE (straight or gay) to overcome their desire for sex. At least then you are not being a bigot. You keep saying that you know change is possible, but you have no proof. There are so many stories of people who claimed they hand changed, only to come out (again) later in life. Our sexuality is ingrained in us. You can use drugs/therapy/shock whatever to make someone listless and asexual, but that does not mean that you have helped them overcome their orientation. All you've done is destroyed a soul.

  • timwatts

    Pey..joonam. Let's face it. Women had to throw themsleves int he front of horses and chain themselves to government buildings. Blacks had to use force to gt their civil rights and slaves had to be freed by force. Slavery abolished by wars. When we look back people who held the views that women had no rights along with slaves and blacks are considered backward and bigotted. No doubt gays will have to follow the same path to freedom and justice. It will be intersting to see what mealy mouthed pathetic reason Baha'is will then give for why it used to be considered an abonination and use such gymnastics as ” well it was a mystery..all will be known in the fullness of time…etc ect ad nauseum crap” I am so angry at the posts here (except yours of course) they pretend to be all reasonalbe and liberal and tolerant but really they are as ravanous wolves….worse that down right homophobes at last i can understand why ignorant uneducated people can be lead to fear things they have not experience of. But in my experiences homophobes are afraid of some aspect of their own self that they have been taught to despise. Sometimes I fantase that gays are like angels and that our place in the kingdome is assured as we hav suffered and overcome so many trials in our lives. We are here for the purpose of testing the staights who have to work for thier place in the after life and if they fail to understand that gays are just as good as anyone else then they will find themselves at a disadvantge in the next world. Of course we will challenge homophobia and ignorance…and we will defend ourselves from haters and detractors and liars…yes liars most baha'is that i have met…..

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    To Guest:

    I cannot deny your experience, since I'm a big believer in respect for others' experience. However, because of what is known about “reparative therapy” and what science tells us about sexual identity, I think it is likely that somewhere down the road you will “slip” and then you will feel you have failed, and you will be disappointed in yourself. The disappointment in that case should be directed toward the theory of “reparative therapy,” not toward yourself.

    If you are bisexual, then you might fool yourself into thinking you have successfully repressed the expression of your gay side (and incidentally I don't know why you are hesitant to use the word gay – it's a beautiful word – I do know that homophobic people are reluctant to use it); if you are at the far end of the sexuality spectrum on the homosexual side, then it is less likely you would be able to fool yourself in that way.

    If you are happier, because of religious pressure, thinking that you have been “cured,” then blessings to you. But do not make the mistake of assuming that other gays would share your happiness at such a thought. Many gays, thank God, are happy and well adjusted these days, having learned to accept their sexual identity and find joy in it. They would perhaps say that religious gays who are unhappy with their sexual identity would find happiness and fulfillment not in “reparative therapy” but in acceptance of who they are, and in seeing what they are as a gift to their community.

    If in future your experience of “reparative therapy” fails, do not blame yourself. Remember what Peyamb and Tim W. have said. Consider the possibility that religion may be wrong on this question – God knows, religions have been wrong before.

    Barb

  • peyamb

    The problem Barb is the premise that a gay person is sick and needs help. That's a bunch of B.S. and it's no wonder it makes us angry. Guest can sugar-coat anyway he likes, but it will make many people angry. As I've said before, I have no problem with a gay man wanting to marry a woman. If a gay person has fallen in love with someone of the opposite sex and they want to try to make it work, with all the hurdles- then hey go for it. Who am I to tell someone to give up on love? But the B.S. that the individual will ever get rid of their same-sex feelings and that THAT is the goal is wrong. The sooner Guest figures this out- the sooner he can have a true conversation with gay people.

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    I agree completely, Peyamb. There have been societies in the past that have been more wise and skilled in integrating “the different” into the social culture. Many Native American tribes did this, for instance, before the arrival of the Europeans. Homophobia, not homosexuality, is the illness which needs healing. It is possible to honor and make sacred the role of GLBT folks in society, rather than demonizing them, as our culture has done for so long. I have heard prominent Baha'is say they are not homophobic – how silly, of course they are not afraid of gays! “Some of my best friends, etc.” “I even invite them to dinner!” Homophobia is deeply ingrained in our culture, as is racism, as is sexism – and homophobia and sexism are deeply related. Native American tribes which were more woman-centered were able to integrate GLBT people into their society – they were given a special role, sometimes sacred, and were honored and accepted for who they were. There have been other cultures able to do this. Patriarchy is very much related to homophobia. It is hard to see sexism, racism, homophobia when you are so immersed in it. Baha'is seem to see (at least to a limited extent) the existence of sexism and racism and seek to address those issues, but homophobia is still off their radar – they cannot even acknowledge they they are immersed in it. Change is possible, but it must start at grass-roots.

    If, as Baha'is are told, we are in a transition period, changing from a more masculine culture to a more feminine and balanced one, we have an excellent opportunity to begin to heal the illness of homophobia, and to provide a sacred space for those among us who are GLBT. I feel as if we are at a fork in the road, and we can go either way. Thus far, we seem to be traveling back down the path of patriarchy and homophobia, but I still believe change is possible, if enough people educate themselves on this issue, and begin to speak up, rather than just turning their heads aside.

    I guess the problem makes me more sad than angry, though I certainly experience flashes of anger – generally I try to cool down before speaking, which is easier to do online than in person. Love is a complicated thing, and love and sexuality are two separate issues, though certainly related.

    I may be wrong about the possibility for change of religion – homophobia is a great and powerful evil, and when allied with religion, also a very powerful entity in our lives, it does seem quite an uphill battle. I have to keep taking steps toward change, and encouraging others to do so, even if I am wrong in that hope. I can't believe that those steps taken forward in darkness, without the assurance that anything will rise up to assist us, will not have somehow some effect that will be beneficial to someone, somewhere.

    Barb

  • fubar

    I was just reading through some of these comments and I felt compelled to write something here. Overcoming religiosity is possible. This isn't my guess, I personally know this to be so. There are signs as to the causes of them and treatment for these causes continue to be discovered and effectively prescribed. The scientific community has stopped the treatment of religiosity in the early 70's because of pressure from political interest and activist groups. But in fact, sufficient evidence exists for the effective treatment of religiosity. As one brief example, though not universally applicable, it is understood that religiosity, in sincere truth, serve as a reparative drive for us to fulfill the unmet needs that remain from going to too many spiritually dead firesides and feasts in our childhood. There is loving and professional assistance out there that will guide us to look into these experiences in our lives in an effort to help us overcome our difficulty. Change is possible; it is my hope that you will be willing to consider this. In the light of the Teachings, I believe the journey is very rewarding when we try to live by the supreme standard that is set out for us. There is love and support out there, but we may have to look for it.

  • fubar

    Barb & all,

    I agree, but for GBLTs dealing with a fundamentalist church, things are probably even more bleak than in “mainsteam” bahai culture?
    (Is that possible? lol.)

    As you might know, I'm an ex-bahai for other reasons than because of sexual preference. (I'm a libertarian heterosexual male.) I think some basic points in bahai theology are wrong (manifestationology is a bogus, culturally narrow framing of spirituality), and bahai administration is hopelessly inept, if not corrupt, and probably incapable of reform in the next 1,000 years.

    I do generally support bahai reformers, dissidents, nonconformists, and critics, they inspire me about what “faith” is really about – being liberated from clinging/ego, being better human beings, reaching for transcendance, equality, justice, compassion, altruism and unconditional loving acceptance of the difficulty of striving for beauty, goodness and truth. Right thought, right action, right speech, right feeling, etc.

    Bless your dear soul, and keep up the good work!

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    hee, hee – always good to get another point of view. comic relief, I believe it's called…thanks, Fubar.

    Barb

  • fubar

    O—M—G. Talibahaigelicals? lol.

  • fubar

    On somewhat of a tangent, but vaguely related:

    re: Women dominating the ranks of college graduates – What’s the effect on America?

    http://fabiusmaximus.wordpress.com/2009/07/08/w
    (also see: http://fabiusmaximus.wordpress.com/2009/07/07/w… )

    excerpt:

    “Women are pleased by their successes, their new opportunities, their agenda, their moral superiority. But underneath everything lies the more or less conscious awareness that they are still dual beings by nature, capable of doing most things men do and also wanting to have children. They may hope otherwise, but they fully expect to pursue careers, to have to pursue careers, while caring for children alone. And what they expect and plan for is likely to happen.

    The men have none of the current ideological advantages of the women, but they can opt out without too much cost. In their relations with women they have little to say; convinced of the injustice of the old order, for which they were responsible, and practically incapable of changing the direction of the juggernaut, they wait to hear what is wanted, try to adjust but are ready to take off in an instant. They want relationships, but the situation is so unclear. They anticipate a huge investment of emotional energy that is just as likely as not to end in bankruptcy, to a sacrifice of their career goals without any clarity about what reward they will reap, other than a vague togetherness.”

  • shinjinsoul

    “vaginal sex, the main reason was and still is kids, but everyone is doing pretty well with modern contraception, so why not let people play a little?”

    Written just like a man, lol. No, dear, the main reason for vaginal sex is that it feels good because it's designed that way.

    “anal sex, well, we all know why, but modern day society has condoms, lube, etc. Modern technology has made it possible!”

    Just because something's possible doesn't make it good or desirable. I've seen the damage caused by anal sex, and to me that's a clear indication that it's something we're just not supposed to be doing!

    Let me just clarify, I don't have a problem with gay couples, think they should be members of the community just like anybody else, etc. That said, I do think we will eventually discover the cause of homosexuality to be some kind of genetic abnormality, and I think it's realistic to expect that when we have the technological resources, most people will probably elect to have “gay testing” in utero just like they do now for Down's Syndrome etc. I know this sounds bad to gay people, because the gay community has spent so long struggling for acceptance that they have had to invest themselves in the idea that being gay is not only NOT wrong/bad but actually a positive thing. Yes, gay people should be accepted and loved and allowed to be who they are, just like anyone else with a genetic difference. Big deal. But in the future, I don't think being gay will actually exist, at least not in the numbers it does now.

  • timwatts

    It is not accurate to state that vaginal sex is designed that way thus being the reason it feels good. This is childlike in its reasoning. That human beings derive pleasure from orgasm seems to be related to evolutionary adaptations to encourage the propagation of genes. The pleasure being a reward of sorts…like animals responding to a treat when they perform a certain way. To suggest that some power has designed vaginal sex to be pleasurable is nonsense.

    You say you have seen the damage caused by anal sex. This again is ridiculous as vaginal sex can cause damage to both man and woman. You go on to then say you have not problem with gay people. It is quite obvious that you are swirling around and a sludge of your own prejudice with hazy unsubstatitatd comments which only illustrate your ignorance. Surely anal sex is not the preserve of gay men but is a common activity amongst heterosexuals. You assume that anal=gay. This is wholly incorrect. The rest of your comments are so very offensive as to not deserve a reply. Genetic differece is the driving force in a heathly and sustainable population. Your comments are HITLERIAN and you should be cured of your views. Maybe you should have been aborted shame there wasn't a test for your views maybe they are genetically linked like stupidity…how do you like that? That's how you make gay people feel with your remarks. DISGRACEFUL

  • timwatts

    By the way downs syndrome is a genetic abnormailty that causes disease. Please look up this word as it is important. Genetic abnormalities are so common that the human rac3 could not have survived without them. How dare you place yourself in the position to decide which abnormalities should be terminated. Being gay is NOT a disease. It is only the way society is organised that makes being gay a problem. (Something the baha'is are quick to critise about the world is the way the world is set up) they seem to want it both ways. Predujice of the old world order to bolster new predujices in the new. These need sweeping away if the most Great Peace will come.

  • peyamb

    Really? Many of my female friends have told me how painful vaginal sex can be if they are not prepared. Not being crude, but stick to big an object in any hole when you are not prepared- and you will have damage. I also believe ignorant people are deficient genetically, but I accept that they should be loved and allowed to post online. :o)

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Shinjinsoul dear,

    I do hope you are not a Baha'i?, for you make Baha'is look very bad here if you represent them – and I assume that is not your intent.

    About vaginal sex equaling pleasure – I assure you, vaginal sex is far from being necessarily the most pleasurable for either men or women. What about oral sex? Mutual pleasuring with hands, lips, tongue, skin on skin? And besides, lesbians might feel a bit left out when you equate gay sex with anal sex, which is one variation of sexual technique, used by both heterosexuals and homosexuals. I suggest you read a good sex manual.

    It may be that some folks might take offense at your implication that Down Syndrome might be a good reason to have an abortion. As for your advocacy of abortion as a means of getting rid of other babies with a genetic variation, are you sure this is what you want to say? There are endless genetic variations, after all, and depending on who has the power to say what variations are undesirable, all sorts of things could be eliminated. Are we ready to play God in that way?

    As for your specific advocacy of using abortion to get rid of gay folks – you apparently have no idea of the contributions made over centuries of GLBT folks to human culture and accomplishment. It may be that whatever makes a person gay, may also make them gifted – has that occurred to you? Besides which, to advocate “getting rid” (good Nazi thinking) of folks who displease you, is very nasty.

    Your statement here is so appalling as to leave one speechless and stunned. Please reconsider.

    Barb

  • His Mom

    As usual, Baha'is fill pages and pages of Internet space steeped in their annoying intellectualism, avoiding the very simple and direct truth: God loves gays and lesbians. He created them. I was a deeply committed and deepened Baha'i for 21 years when God threw me a loop: He gave me a gay son. When my highly spiritual, kind, loving and devoted son came out to me at the tender age of 12, I did what Baha'u'llah asks and went to “consult on all matters” with my LSA. I asked for advice and support. In short, they rejected us. It was then I realized that the child whom never let me forget to pray with him every night, whom always upheld justice and racial equality, whom fought for the underdog amongst his peers and was the finest host at every meeting…THAT child…would one day establish a loving and monogamous partnership with a terrific guy and I WANT TO BE THERE. I want to meet that young man and make him a part of our family. And yes, they will have sex, as any loving couple should, and God bless them. Leaving the Faith has been devastating. I found a terrific blog directed to Gay Christians, met the owner, read his book, and now I am following Christ. 'Abdu'l-Baha, in particular, had profound love for Christ so I know I am on a good path. I doubt I will ever join a church, however. The reaction my son and I received has left him fearful of religionists. My main job now is to convince him that God never left his side.

  • His Mom
  • peyamb

    Thank you for posting. And yet another wonderful, dedicated spiritual person shut out from the Bahai community because of the fundamentalists. I hope the UHJ is listening. Of course if you write to them like I did, you'll just get back a standard response letter from a secretary telling you the party line and that you are not a true Bahai- so basically “good bye; don't let the door hit you as you leave”.

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    This is a very touching story. It might be helpful to other gay Baha'is and their family members/friends to have it shared on the Gay/Lesbian Baha'i Story Project website. Please consider posting your story there for others to read – a lot of folks check in there periodically. Or I could post your comment there on the website, but only with your permission.

    I'm not ready yet to give up on the Baha'is, because I believe there are a good many of them who question Baha'i policy on gays, but they mostly don't speak up, or they do so anonymously, fearful I suppose of retribution from Baha'i authorities. And what does that say to us about the Faith?

    I hope that some day all Baha'is realize that gays are one of God's glorious variations of the standard model of human being, and that their presence in a community is a gift to be cherished, not an abnormality to be shoved under the rug and hidden from sight.

    I feel at times that there is an impenetrable wall of prejudice among the Baha'is, and why try to pierce it? To hear of a courageous, wise, and loving Baha'i like you is indeed solace to the soul. Lucky son to have a mother like you. Shame on the community which failed you, and continues to fail gays and their families.

    If you are interested to share your story, or just to see the website that has been set up for gay Baha'is and their friends/families to share their stories, google Gay/Lesbian Baha'i Story Project.

    Best wishes to you and your son – I'm glad you have found a loving spiritual community. My husband and I have also been attending a church sunday school class where there is a much more accepting and understanding attitude toward gays. I doubt I will ever join either, as I am still officially a Baha'i, and estranged from the official Baha'i community, though I have good Baha'i friends.

    Barb

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    And I should add to my note above, lucky you to have such a son – he sounds like a gem, as gay kids so often are…

    Barb

  • shinjinsoul

    Ok, this is why coming at something from a defensive position is dangerous, because it makes you prone to misunderstandings.

    1. Why is it nonsense to think that God made vaginal sex pleasurable? I don't see any reason to believe otherwise, unless one is an anti-sex prude who thinks God hates sexual pleasure. I believe God likes it when we are happy and enjoying His gifts. If you don't, that's your prerogative.

    2. Vaginal sex can cause damage, certainly, if it is not done correctly. I was not talking of damage from one or two instances of anal sex, because clearly if done “correctly” and carefully, that will not result in any more damage than vaginal sex. What I was referring to was the damage caused by long-term, repeated engagement in anal sex, by either men or women. No matter how careful one is, the anus is simply not made to take this kind of abuse long-term on a repeated basis, and whether you like it or not, the fact remains it causes considerable damage. The unfortunate “receiver” can end up with chronic pain and a range of rather undignified health problems.

    3. I never stated that anal sex is the exclusive preserve of gay men whatsoever. Clearly people in all kinds of relationships engage in anal sex on an occasional basis. The caveat applies to all who engage in it frequently and routinely, which is far more likely to be gay men than other types of partners.

    4. I did not at any time express approval of the concept of genetic manipulation of human beings in utero. I'm inclined to be extremely hesitant about such things and have a natural repugnance for them. I am a futurist; I was simply speculating on what may occur in the future, not saying whether I think it's wrong or right. Nor did I say being gay is a disease. Please don't put words in my mouth. I do not think there is anything wrong with being gay. I have bisexual tendencies myself, tho I'm married so it's moot. My speculation on the future of homosexuality was simply drawing a logical conclusion from the newest research which indicates that homosexuality is caused by a genetic mutation, and extrapolating from that with the probable attitude many parents would hold, faced with the ability to manipulate their children's genes, that although there's nothing inherently wrong with being gay, most would not actively wish it on their child; and most also wish for (genetic) grandchildren.

    5. Your other personally insulting and in fact outright nasty comments, I will not deign to answer, knowing that those who are deeply entrenched in their battles tend to see attacks in everything and to be somewhat irrational and savage in their responses thereto. Peace to you, I hope things get better. shinjinsoul.

  • shinjinsoul

    “We have inherited a dangerous delusion from Christianity that our individual conscience is supreme. This is not a Baha'i belief. In the end, in the context of both our role in the community and our role in the greater world, we must be prepared to sacrifice our personal convictions or opinions. The belief that individual conscience is supreme is equivalent to 'taking partners with God' which is abhorrent to the Teachings of the Faith.”
    - Douglas Martin
    Former Member of the Universal House of Justice
    Baha'i Faith

    This quote is wrong on so many levels, it makes the mind boggle. It seriously baffles me how this man, Douglas Martin, can say such a thing with a straight face, without a fuse blowing in his brain or something. Can't he see that since the conscience is God-given, and in fact extolled by Baha'u'llah himself, that it is not abiding by one's conscience that is “shirk” (taking partners with God), it is rather NOT doing so, and thereby abdicating one's spiritual responsibility to an *authority figure*, that is “shirk”! So, so backwards….!!!!!! This is the perfect example of Orwell's Newspeak/Doublethink… “hate is love”, “war is peace”… and now “shirk is not shirk.” Wow.

  • peyamb

    “The unfortunate “receiver” can end up with chronic pain and a range of rather undignified health problems.”
    You really don't know what you are writing about, do you? That's ok…rant on.

  • edgrover

    “I've seen the damage caused by anal sex, and to me that's a clear indication that it's something we're just not supposed to be doing!”

    Are you a doctor? As with anything else, if people are rough there will be damage, but i imagine the recipient will be screaming bloody murder and probably not have sex with that person again unless they're a masochist.

    Homosexual activity is prevalent throughout the majority of mammalian species on the planet – I don't think it will disappear anytime soon amongst humans – scientists still haven't pinned down any specific reason for it, genetic, hormonal, environmental or otherwise – why bother testing for something that isn't bad?

  • edgrover

    1. Why is it nonsense to think that God made vaginal sex pleasurable? I don't see any reason to believe otherwise, unless one is an anti-sex prude who thinks God hates sexual pleasure. I believe God likes it when we are happy and enjoying His gifts. If you don't, that's your prerogative.

    Some people like anal sex, some don't….and as you say God likes it when we are happy and enjoying His gifts….

    “No matter how careful one is, the anus is simply not made to take this kind of abuse long-term on a repeated basis, and whether you like it or not, the fact remains it causes considerable damage. The unfortunate “receiver” can end up with chronic pain and a range of rather undignified health problems.”

    Usually because they've been shoving something much larger than a penis up there….

  • AmadodeDios

    May I share some information I think is meaningful? I have been chatting with an old Baha'i who was a personal friend of Ruhiyyih Khanum. She said that one of Shoghi Effendi's administrators was gay.
    This has, I think, several interesting repercussions for us. If we wish SE and RK (as his secretary) had not said / interpreted non-modern ideas, this can help us see them as a bit more reasonable. We have a “precedent” for peaceful coexistence. And my informant noted that SE “had no problem with letting the gay man handle SE's money!” and never touched the man's administrative rights. So, our precedent includes respect and apparently gratitude.

  • timwatts

    To be brutally honest I can't remember what you said and what is more I don't care. I do remember being very offended by your remarks.

    Answer me this. What is a “futurist”?
    As to your speculation and logical conclusion from the enewest research…well what research is this pray tell…provide it?
    By mentioning Downs syndrome in the same breath as Homosexualty you imply that it is a desease and regarded as such when you say that parnts wouldn't want to “wish it” on their children. And why wouldn't they ? becasue of homophobes like your goodself maybe? Deeply entrenched in their battles? goodness you mean a life lead fighting for your rights….

    and lastly wow what an insight to state that doing too mcuh of something till it damages you is a bad idea…well knock me down with a feather you don't say? If you are a bah'ai then you MUJST beleive it's wrong. Don't start using posible harm as your justification for it's prohibition..the anus isn't designed for it after all….

  • Alison

    Shinjinsoul, Shinjinsoul. Your lack of awareness is truly astounding.

    Homosexuality is an essential and constitutive part of homosexuals. Like all conservative Baha'is, you conflate sexual orientation with sexual preference.

    So sad. Especially among the (apparently) educated. In the so-called information age. Sigh.

    This is for those who are obsessed with same-sex anal intercourse:

    *******************

    Tops and Bottoms

    by John Corvino

    (Yes, this column is about exactly what you think, so readers squeamish about such topics should find another page.)

    Years ago I lived next door to a young born-again Christian rock singer (I know—it sounds like the premise for a sitcom). While Jason strongly disapproved of my being gay, he was also fascinated by it, and he constantly asked me questions.

    One day I revealed to him that I had never had anal sex. His face brightened. “That’s awesome!” he shouted.

    “Why, pray tell, is it awesome?” I asked.

    “Because maybe you’ll try it, and then realize you don’t like it, and then you won’t be gay.”

    For Jason, being gay meant liking anal sex. He found it strange that the equivalence had never occurred to me. For me, being gay means that I like guys. It means that I like guys—I have crushes on them, I fall in love with them (one in particular), I want to “get physical” with them. It doesn’t specify how I should do this.

    I suppose the mistake is understandable. Most people would find it odd for a heterosexual not to desire penile-vaginal intercourse. It’s “standard.” For some gay men, anal sex is functionally similar—it’s what they might call “the real thing.”

    But that’s not true for all of us. A guy who’s into other guys but prefers oral sex or mutual masturbation or frottage (look it up) is still gay. Sorry Jason.

    If such confusion were limited to callow born-again Christian rock singers, I could ignore it. But the assumption that we all want anal sex is shared by many gays. Here’s a familiar conversation from my single days:

    Interested Guy: “Are you a top or a bottom?”

    Me: “No.”

    Interested Guy: “What do you mean, ‘No’?”

    Me: “I mean I’m neither a top nor a bottom.”

    Somewhat Less Interested Guy: “That means you’re a bottom.”

    What—so “bottom” is the default setting now? As the saying goes: “If he says he’s a top, he’s versatile. If he says he’s versatile, he’s a bottom. If he says he’s a bottom, he’s honest.”

    So why not just say that men who don’t identify with either category are “versatile”? The answer is simple: because it ain’t so. As one similarly oriented friend put it, “Versatile? Hell no. I’m a total bore.”

    Besides, this suggestion just feeds the myth that every gay male organizes his sexual identity around anal sex. The point is that some of us don’t—which doesn’t mean that we’re naïve or inhibited. (Quite the contrary: those who “think outside the box” may be quite sexually skilled.)

    The myth that other kinds of sex aren’t “real” reflects heterosexual practice. A lot of straight people insist that oral sex doesn’t “count” as sex—it’s just foreplay. I used to think that this was merely a rationalization for clinging to the title of “virgin” or denying having sex with White House interns. I’ve since realized that, in many people’s minds, “real” sex requires a man sticking his penis into some orifice below the waist. No wonder some people have such a hard time conceptualizing lesbianism.

    Another way of putting my point, borrowing from a longstanding academic controversy, is to say that people are “essentialists” about the top/bottom dichotomy: if you’re a gay man, you are “naturally” one or the other, and your job upon coming out is to figure out which. (It’s a job some people undertake with great relish; I, by contrast, keep calling in sick.)

    I’m not denying that these categories can be useful for those to whom they actually apply. They can be a handy way of communicating and identifying preferences—for example, in personals ads (“Hot and hung power-bottom seeks friendship, maybe more”). Nor am I denying that people ought to explore new territory, provided that they take the usual sensible precautions. I’m simply denying that certain territory is a required checkpoint.

    A related myth concerns associated personality traits: tops are supposed to be manly, assertive, and dominant, whereas bottoms are supposed to be effeminate, passive, submissive. I’ve interviewed a lot of gay guys over the years, and I’ve done more direct—shall we say—“research.” I’m here to tell you: not true.

    It’s funny to watch people’s expectations shattered on this point. Once at a bar I overheard a guy expressing disappointment that the object of his interest was, like him, a top. “But that can’t be!” he exclaimed. “He wears too much hair product to be a top!”

    Personally, I would imagine that tops especially need hair product. It keeps their bangs out of their eyes. But as I’ve said, I’m no expert.

    *******************

    Also check out his columns at:

    http://www.johncorvino.com/columns.html

    See especially his “Homosexuality and Morality” series toward the bottom of the page.

    Another sigh.

  • peyamb

    Of course it was easier to be gay and Bahai back then, because almost every gay man was closeted. So if you kept to yourself and no one talked about it, then sure you were accepted. Ruhiyyih Khanum was overall accepting of gay people too, but she also made comments about how it was wrong. The problem today is that gays no longer want to live in the closet. Don't Ask Don't Tell doesn't work for us in the military, nor should it in our religious communities. Period! So what will the Bahai community do? Accept us fully or not?

  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco
  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco

    Friends… this is really moving… I pray that at some day in the great hopeful future that the Blessed Beauty has promised us all, that He will encourage our leadership to see the light like these good people have:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDiYeJ_bsQo

  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco

    thank you so very, very much… a great big hug from Sacramento for you and your son. We need more parents to stand up and fight for their kids openly like this! All my love and support to you!

  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco

    Why the Aqdas does not adress homosexuality?

    http://revolked2.blogspot.com/2010/01/from-jmg-

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Daniel – I don't understand what you are saying/asking here. Homosexuality is addressed in the Book of Laws, because of the Guardian's interpretation of the word translated as “homosexuality.” The word translated “homosexuality” has the meaning of pederasty, and the Arabic term used referred to boy “sex slaves,” but the Guardian interpreted this to mean all homosexual relations, and homosexuality is criminalized in the Aqdas – it is not distinguished from pederasty, a mistaken understanding based on ignorance and prejudice. It is an offense with penalties, just as are arson, theft, murder, adultery, etc. The penalty is, as I understand it, left to the UHJ, and for now they choose to at least deprive people of their administrative rights, if people are “blatant” in their practice of homosexuality. There is nothing to prevent them from in future implementing a much more severe penalty.

    Anyway – I don't understand your question?

  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco

    I believe it literally says something about “boys”…

    the Prop 8 court case is using ugly anti-gay stuff re: pedophilia… which those of us in the disbanded Gay Bahaí Fellowship were trying to get the powers to be to rethink the interpretation…

  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco

    this add has been rejected by CBS as being too controversial

    http://revolked2.blogspot.com/2010/01/rejected-

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    This is the text from the Book of Laws (Kitab-i-Aqdas):

    “It is forbidden you to wed your fathers' wives. We shrink, for very shame, from treating of the subject of boys. Fear ye the Merciful, O peoples of the world! 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.”

    The Synopsis and Codification, which was published in English before the complete text of the Most Holy Book (Aqdas), lists under prohibitions a number of things, including “homosexuality.” The S&C was begun by Shoghi Effendi and was one of the goals of his ten-year-plan. Incomplete upon Shoghi Effendi's death in 1957, the S&C was continued and completed by the Universal House of Justice, and was made available in 1973. In 1986 the Universal House of Justice decided that the time had come for publication and release of the entire Kitab-i-Aqdas, and such accomplishment was made a goal of the six-year-plan 1986-1992 (the copyright is 1992). Under the explanatory notes (not part of the text by Baha'u'llah), note #134 regarding “the subject of boys” states the following:

    “The word translated here as 'boys' has, in this context, in the Arabic original, the implication of pederasty. Shoghi Effendi has interpreted this reference as a prohibition on all homosexual relations.

    The Baha'i teachings on sexual morality center on marriage and the family as the bedrock of the whole structure of human society and are designed to protect and strengthen that divine institution. Baha'i law thus restricts permissible sexual intercourse to that between a man and the woman to whom he is married.

    In a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi it is stated:

    'No matter how devoted and fine the love may be between people of the same sex, to let it find expression in sexual acts is wrong. To say that it is ideal is no excuse. Immorality of every sort is really forbidden by Baha'u'llah, and homosexual relationships He looks upon as such, besides being against nature. To be afflicted in this way is a great burden to a conscientious soul. But through the advice and help of doctors, through a strong and determined effort, and through prayer, a soul can overcome this handicap.'

    Baha'u'llah makes provision for the Universal House of Justice to determine, according to the degree of the defense, penalties for adultery and sodomy.”

    In the Questions and Answers section of the published Kitab-i-Aqdas, is the following question (#49):

    “Question: Concerning the penalties for adultery, sodomy, and theft, and the degrees thereof.

    Answer: The determination of the degrees of these penalties rests with the House of Justice.”

    The term translated “adultery” covers both fornication (between unmarried individuals) and adultery as we think of it (between a married person and a person he/she is not married to). The Arabic term translated as “adultery” is “zina.” Rape is considered a form of zina, not an act of violence toward another person, as we think of it. Baha'u'llah's only prescribed penalty for fornication is a fine to be paid to the House of Justice. Punishment for other forms of sexual offense is to be left to the Universal House of Justice. It is unclear to me whether homosexuality is considered a form of zina, or is in another category altogether. But as stated above, reference is made to penalties for adultery and sodomy, to be determined by the House of Justice, so I assume “sodomy” is not considered under “fornication.” I see nothing which prevents use of extreme punishments for either adultery (involving a married person) or “sodomy,” i.e. homosexuality.

    At any rate, homosexuality has definitely been equated with pederasty, which is outrageous. The term Baha'u'llah used had the meaning of pederasty – the Universal House of Justice says so, according to the notes to the Kitab-i-Aqdas. It is, as far as I can see, only statements made on Shoghi Effendi's behalf regarding homosexuality, which determine that the word used in the Kitab-i-Aqdas translation is “homosexuality,” and not “pederasty.”

    I'm far from an expert on this matter, but this is how it appears to me. Baha'is are stuck with equating homosexuality with pederasty – a very difficult point to explain to modern minds. Perhaps in determining the “degrees” of offense, there will be some distinction made by the Universal House of Justice between pederasty and consensual same-sex activity – I don't know. Nevertheless, the fact is that “homosexuality,” in whatever degree, is criminalized according to Baha'i law. No mention is made, as far as I can tell, of pederasty other than in relationship to homosexuality – never mind that most sexual abuse of children is committed by heterosexuals. There is so much wrong with this picture that I'd best stop before I really “go off” – don't get me started.

    Barb

  • peyamb

    I somewhat disagree with you Barb. Does the present Bahai community under the leadership of the present UHJ condemn homosexuality and believe it should be punished? Yes. Does a future UHJ have to judge the same way? No! The present UHJ also allows for door to door teaching – something which was explicitly condemned by a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi. It is the UHJ's right to pick and choose how they will look at something. It is my right to express my conscience. The UHJ makes mistakes- the sooner they realize that, the sooner the Bahai community can become more tolerant and accepting. Their infalibility has nothing to do with what most Bahais believe. Anyway, I digress. Basically what I am saying is that the present UHJ has chosen the narrow, literalist application regarding homosexuality based on letters written on behalf of SE, but they choose a more liberal view when it comes to other matters such as door to door teaching. I have Faith that a future UHJ will have a different view.

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Well, I hope you are right, Peyamb, but I don't think so. Door-to-door teaching was never listed as a punishable offense in the Book of Laws. Homosexuality is. Now, maybe a future UHJ could re-translate the Book of Laws and come up with a different term here? I don't know. Because the statements of Shoghi Effendi are considered authoritative, the UHJ feels it cannot interpret the words of Baha'u'llah otherwise – indeed, interpretation is not their province, is it, on matters already delineated by Baha'u'llah, Abdu'l-Baha and the Guardian? It is true, however, that the Guardian, had he lived, would have been in a position to ask the UHJ to reconsider a position if he thought it was wrong, but he could not overrule them, so perhaps you have a more valid point than I thought. I have made essentially the same argument you are making myself, perhaps here – I don't remember where I said it. But after further research and reading what the UHJ has to say about it, I don't think that the criminalization of homosexuality is something that any Universal House of Justice can change. They could implement a token, very slight penalty, perhaps, but I don't think they can change Shoghi Effendi's interpretation of what Baha'u'llah meant in this regard. I think I was guilty of wishful thinking to believe a future UHJ could do this. On the other hand, if the Guardian himself, as head of the UHJ, could not force his interpretation on them once they had been formed as an official body…maybe there is hope.

    I would be interested if someone could get the present UHJ to say that it is POSSIBLE that a future UHJ could change the interpretation regarding homosexuality, even though the present UHJ doesn't see it that way. I don't think they will ever say this, because I think it is not possible, and is not just a matter of their interpretation.

    Whatever the case, I think it is important for Baha'is to be knowledgeable and well informed on points such as this, and work actively for what they see as justice. We should never just sit back and accept without thinking for ourselves, and voicing our opinions.

    There are other points, too, such as considering rape a form of zina, for which a fine might be levied on both parties, rather than considering it a violent crime, that are troublesome. A fine, even if it were just on the rapist, would hardly be adequate punishment for such a crime of violence. As I said, I am about as far as can be from being an expert on such questions in regard to Baha'i law – I would be happy to hear of others' thoughts in this regard. There is nothing I would like better than to discover that the criminalization of homosexuality is something that could be whisked away by a future House of Justice. It is an embarrassing stance for Baha'is to have, and a dangerous one.

    Thanks for your thoughts, Peyamb.

    Barb

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    well, gee, it is a pretty scary thought, isn't it?

  • Alison

    “I don't think they can change Shoghi Effendi's interpretation of what Baha'u'llah meant in this regard.”

    There is no interpretation per se by Shoghi Effendi: only a letter written on his behalf by one of his secretaries. But the UHJ treats it as authoritative, as if it were actually written by S.E. himself.

    “I think I was guilty of wishful thinking to believe a future UHJ could do this.”

    It is possible, but not probable; it's possible for the Vatican to change its discipline about priestly celibacy in the West and the practice of ordaining only men to its priesthood, but it's not very likely. Same with the Baha'i system: It is a very conserving system, a sort of democratic centralism: what the top level says goes. So yes, it's possible for the UHJ to change this, but not very likely, especially since there's been so much invested in upholding the current practice. Fifty, a hundred years from now, the situation will be the same as it is now, if not worse. Grady Means, in his book “The New Enlightenment,” forecasts (correctly, I think) that authoritarian, doctrinaire religions will tend to become more fundamentalist in the future, not less, as they continue to lose influence (market share). So yes, no matter how much “faith” one has that a future UHJ will have a different view, this is wishful thinking taken to the point of delusion. Hope I'm wrong, but doubt it. The direction and restrictions of the Baha'i Faith under the UHJ has, I think, been pretty much set in stone for the next few centuries, at which point it will probably be a museum piece, or an obscure sect of millenarians …

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    If I am quite honest, Alison (and I try to be, though don't always succeed), I think that the fact that the letter was written by Shoghi Effendi's Secretary is not important. Shoghi Effendi reviewed these letters – they were not sent out without his approval. I think that the view represented regarding homosexuality was indeed the view of Shoghi Effendi, even if he didn't pen the letter himself. (And there are other sources, I believe, for his understanding of homosexuality – not just the one letter.) He was a product of his times – could not help but be. And he was a product of the environment from which he came. If his opinion in this regard has not withstood the test of time (and it has not, in my opinion), then that fact needs to be dealt with. The patriarchal bent of the Faith, however, makes it unlikely that the interpretation will be significantly changed, because homophobia is intimately connected with patriarchy (again, in my opinion).

    I do agree with Peyamb, I think, that if the Universal House of Justice were ever to have the WILL (i.e., much more than a mere inclination) to change this interpretation, they could find a way to do so. The will, however, is quite unlikely to appear for a very long time, if ever in this Dispensation. I do think that there is energy invested by the present Baha'i authorities in making sure that people with the wrong convictions do not ever get into a position which might cause them to be considered as possible future members of the Universal House of Justice. As you say, the attitude toward homosexuality is pretty much set in stone, and is likely to become more, not less so.

    Barb

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    I should add that there is always the remote possibility that God could cause the heart of the present Universal House of Justice to be touched by the stories of GLBTs, that the UHJ could have a conversion of understanding so powerful as to bring about a will to change. Remote, perhaps, but still – it is possible, and it is that for which we work. No use sitting around feeling hopeless, is there?

    Barb

  • Alison

    “I should add that there is always the remote possibility that God could cause the heart of the present Universal House of Justice to be touched by the stories of GLBTs, that the UHJ could have a conversion of understanding so powerful as to bring about a will to change.”

    It's possible. Granted, it's unlikely in the extreme, but possible.

    All accredited American medical and psychological institutions agree there's no medical, psychological, or social reason to believe that sexual conduct between persons of the same sex is immoral or unhealthy. That includes the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychoanalytic Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the National Association of Social Workers to name only a few. Only religious dogmatists think it immoral.

    “No use sitting around feeling hopeless, is there?”

    Not at all! Some like to cling to suffering, but I'm very hopeful, not about the “real” Baha'i Faith, but about this initiative by Eric Stetson:

    http://unitarianbahai.org/

    “The Unitarian Bahai Fellowship accepts openly gay and lesbian Bahais – including those in committed same-sex relationships – as fully equal members of our organization.”

    No excuses, rationalizations, justifications, explanations, qualifications, rebuttals, quibbles, or spiritual window dressing: they openly accept single and partnered gay men and lesbians. That's it, period.

    Well, we all have choices. Some people prefer to belong to a community or organization that relegates them to second-class status (psychological self-sabotage). Others prefer not to. Gays and lesbians can change their community affiliations and embrace different constructs on how they frame their understandings of religion, but they can't change their orientation which, as one of my more knowledgeable friends tells me, is “constitutive of their experience,” by which he means (I think) that this distinction between “orientation” and “behavior” is false and artificial. So yes, I'm hopeful, but hopefully realistically hopeful. I think the writing is pretty much on the wall.

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    In response to Alison's post about Eric Stetson's project, I think what Eric is attempting to do is interesting, but it is not the answer to difficulties regarding Baha'i policies toward GLBTs. I think this problem will be addressed at some point by Baha'is. It will involve thinking outside the box – a feat that may take Baha'is a long time to come round to, but I do not believe that organizing a new “denomination” involving the Unitarians will appeal to many Baha'is, for obvious reasons.

    The discussion Eric is beginning, however, is interesting – I see no harm in it, and am interested to see what people have to say, and I expect some Baha'is will be interested in joining in.

    Barb

  • Alison

    Barb, I don't think Eric's project is really designed to appeal to those Baha'is who are already members of the mainstream, so to speak. I think it's designed to appeal to people who are drawn to Baha'u'llah and the Baha'i Faith, but want no truck with the Baha'i International Community, the Administrative Order, etc. It's not thinking outside the box, it *is* outside the box. After all, if you believe in Baha'u'llah, you already *are* a Baha'i; you're free to join whichever community you wish, even if the mainstream, the “true” Baha'i faith, doesn't “recognize” your community of choice.

    What Eric is doing is questioning and challenging some of the fundamental assumptions around the “received history” of the Faith which, again for obvious reasons, most Baha'is will likely find very threatening, and highly undesirable. As Eric himself acknowledges on his site, people will choose. I doubt his venture will ever gain the millions of members claimed by the A.O., but I imagine that for many people, that's not particularly relevant anyway. But I do expect that his project will probably attract far more adherents than many of the “Covenant-breaker” groups have managed to attract, for a whole number of reasons. I think it's a worthwhile venture, although it's still in its early stage. Time will tell.

  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco
  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Alison,

    I have trouble understanding why any Baha'i, of whatever ilk, would want “no truck with the Baha'i international community.” I do understand why someone might have difficulty with the way the A.O. is functioning these days, and some of the precedents that are being set. I think such difficulty can be dealt with by Baha'is (by which I mean members of the Baha'i Faith), if they choose to do so. Do not misread my meaning here – only God knows who is a Baha'i and who is not. I mean merely that those who have a voice (vote) can exercise it. This does not mean that others who have no such voice cannot do their part as well, as they see fit, to assist the believers to bring Baha'u'llah's vision for humanity to fruition.

    I think Eric's venture may be a worthwhile one, and may start some dialogue on certain issues. As you say, time will tell. If his intent is sincere and his heart pure in this endeavor, some good will come of it.

    Barb

  • Alison

    “I have trouble understanding why any Baha'i, of whatever ilk, would want 'no truck with the Baha'i international community.'”

    Yes, I can see that you have trouble with this, Barb, but presumably, there are those who don't.

    “This does not mean that others who have no such voice cannot do their part as well, as they see fit, to assist the believers to bring Baha'u'llah's vision for humanity to fruition.”

    Yes, well, that's all very well and good, I suppose, but for some people these days it seems, or perhaps for many people, that's just “not good enough.” At least, not anymore. Or, as one of my sainted aunts used to remark, “Yes, my dear, it's lovely, isn't it, but I'm afraid it just won't wash.”

    I think, in the final analysis, it's really about allowing the voiceless to, you know, actually have a voice, and a choice; rather than just “assisting” the “believers.” (Evidently, those who have no such voice cannot be counted among the believers?)

    Also, and this might be worth considering, maybe the Unitarian Bahais, as part of an emergent spiritual movement within the Unitarian Universalist Association, are helping, or perhaps will help, to bring Baha'u'llah's vision for humanity to fruition.

    In any event, I'm sure the Unitarian Bahais will evolve quite independently of any other organization, so no need to worry. And, as you say, if the intent is sincere, really sincere, and not just oppositional, or reactive, but really, truly inclusive, then yes, I think some good will come of it.

    There is a lot, quite a lot, really, of interest in it now it seems, and of course, a few attempts to derail it as well. But Eric, judging from his comments, is aware of these things anyway, and makes provision for them. But again, you know, time will tell. It all comes down to intent, doesn't it?

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Alison,

    Forgive me for not making myself clear. My intention was that yes, indeed, “believers” are people who believe in Baha'u'llah – period. And yes, I intended to make the point that “believers” of any kind might contribute to bringing Baha'u'llah's vision to fruition, just as you say the Unitarian Baha'is may do. I was simply saying that change within the Baha'i Faith is pretty much up to its members, since they are the only ones who can vote, and even all its members cannot, if they have been deprived of their administrative rights. Of course the public in general, which could include anyone, believers or not, can bring pressure to bear, even without the right to vote.

    I think you assume I am more mainstream than I am – I doubt that Baha'i authorities consider me mainstream in the least, though I am a committed Baha'i. I don't condemn you for working outside of the body of the Baha'i Faith to bring about change – please do me the courtesy of not condemning my similar efforts within. We all work to achieve change in whatever way or place we can – let's support each other and not divide ourselves against each other. It is, of course, easy to misunderstand each other using electronic communication.

    Peace and Blessings -

    Barb

  • Alison

    Oh yes, of course, please accept my apologies if I misconstrued what you were saying. I can see that you are a sincere, honest person of integrity, and I have enormous respect for that.

    But, I really feel I must add that I just don't accept the notion that I'm working outside the body of the Baha'i Faith because, you see, in the first place, I'm not actually a member of the Unitarian Baha'i Fellowship, although I do think I might be at some point in the future, and also, because I have this view of the Faith as an actual world religion, not a static bureaucratic organizational structure called the Administrative Order, to which everyone who wants to be a Baha'i must belong. Yes, it's a testament to unity that most Baha'is are united under the UHJ, but there are many kinds of unity, a thousand Baha'i ways to kneel and kiss the ground, and I think this is what Eric Stetson and his friends are trying to promote, that history (and that includes Baha'i history) must always be open to revision when new facts, or new arguments, indicate that previous beliefs or theories are incomplete or just plain wrong. So yes, it's wonderful that people can tell their stories on your website, and I also think it's wonderful that the Unitarians welcome those who identify as Baha'i, and that gays and lesbians are welcomed by them, without being counseled to be, oh, “discreet,” because this is, in my opinion, just another form of abuse, really. It feeds into the internalized shame of so many, that they feel they must hide their lives away, and join a faith group that wants them to do just that, and told to “just wait” until a decision is made, which it probably never will be. I don't now wish to enable that sort of thing by supporting a religious community or organization that teaches these things, or “understands” why gay Baha'is keep their partners secret, this is just a form of enabling abusive power relationships, I think. So, this is just where I'm at. I see the A.O. as a very conserving system, a sort of democratic centralism: what the top level says goes. So I'm not optimistic about this ever changing within the mainstream community, but I really do wish you well in all your efforts, it's very noble work.

  • peyamb

    Ok I had to investigate this door-to-door teaching thing. Yes you are right Barb that teaching the Faith in a bad way is not considered a crime in the Bahai Faith, but there is guidance direct from Bahaullah on how we are to teach the Faith. One example is this quote “It behoveth every one in this Day of God to dedicate himself to the teaching of the Cause with utmost prudence and steadfastness. Should he discover a pure soil, let him sow the seed of the Word of God, otherwise it would be preferable to observe silence.” Then we have a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi in regards to door to door proclamation of the Bahai Faith and if this is in accordance with Bahaullah: “..to distribute Bahá’í pamphlets from door to door … is undignified and might create a bad impression of the Faith” [the Guardian] “does not think the best interests of the Cause are served by such a method.” However, the UHJ in 2007 sends out a letter that softens (re-interprets) this very direct admonition from one of the Guardian's secretaries: “Cultures differ, and what may be considered dignified in one locality may not be so in another….In general, the institutions of the Faith should be flexible in such matters and avoid restricting unnecessarily the efforts of the believers to teach the Faith.” So my point Barb is basically that when convenient (to help increase numbers or funds), the UHJ is willing to ignore/modify/explain away a letter written by a secretary of Shoghi Effendi. However when it is controversial topic such as Homosexuality and modifying it may not help increase ranks for now (aka piss off traditionalists in the Faith who are the majority that are probably supporting the Fund right now), then the UHJ follows the course and says their hands are tied to do change this “LAW” of Bahaullah. So again, there is NO law in the Kitab-i-Aqdas against homosexual relationships and families. All we have are letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi. Letters that the UHJ at times considers official interpretation that they can not change and other times disregards when convenient.

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Peyamb,

    I agree with most of what you say, except that “homosexuality” is prohibited in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, and unlike other things (backbiting, for example) which are prohibited, it is stated that the penalty for “sodomy” will be determined by the House of Justice. This equates to a “law” against “homosexuality,” doesn't it? If you can show me how it does not, I would be most happy – I much prefer for “homosexuality” to not be a punishable offense (listed along with adultery) according to the Kitab-i-Aqdas, but I just don't see how what is there can be interpreted in that way. Am I missing something?

    The only way out of this that I can see is that perhaps the word translated “homosexuality” should have been translated as “pederasty,” which has no more to do with homosexuality than with heterosexuality. But as the Kitab-i-Aqdas stands now, with the translation of the Arabic term as “homosexuality” rather than as “pederasty,” and the penalty for “sodomy” there is indeed a “law” against homosexuality.

    I would like to know more about the Arabic term involved – could it, for instance, have referred to male/female child abuse, rather than just male/male? And what about the term which is translated as “sodomy?”

    I really do want to understand this, but because I cannot read the text in the original language, I find it very difficult to understand exactly what is going here regarding the subject of homosexuality. I do agree with you that the UHJ finds a way to do what it wants to do, just as any religious authority does.

    Barb

    Barb

  • http://www.sonjavank.blogspot.com sonjavank

    Hi Barb,

    5 months ago I wrote a long post dealing with what is in the The Kitab-i-Aqdas in regards to homosexuality here with various references to quotations etc:

    In summary the only parts of the 1992 English edition of The Kitab-i-Aqdas that are clearly authored by Baha'u'llah, and hence not open to change is the text of the Kitab-i-Aqdas + the Questions and Answers.
    The notes, which is where homosexuality is mentioned could have been authored by the UHJ or by Shoghi Effendi who started work on the notes before he died. However to quote from my post:

    It is unclear to me what the actual status is of the texts in the notes section. I make this point because in 1992 when the + the Questions and Answers was first printed in English a list of corrections was distributed about 6 months later. In regards to the Aqdas, the corrections were minor things like typos, but in the notes, sometimes a whole paragraph was deleted, such as in note 108. I can only assume that this paragraph no longer reflects the position or thinking of the UHJ whereas at an earlier time it did.

    The UHJ is free to change the texts of the notes as it wishes. Perhaps this could be seen as them making law? I don't know.
    Rather than debating whether or not the UHJ make law when they make statements in official Bahai documents, I prefer to focus on the principle of Bahai Law as I understand it, in general behind this. That is, anything UHJ decides or states is subject to change by a later UHJ.

    If any statement on the wrongs of homosexuality is made by a UHJ, then it is subject to change.

    Bahai Law has two components: The text of the Aqdas and the “Questions and Answers”
    (Not the preface and editorial notes. The letters penned by secretaries on behalf of Shoghi Effendi mentioning homosexuality are in the notes.)
    and similiar tablets by Baha'u'llah, and then what the UHJ legistrates and the NSAs + LSAs apply and refine, etc.

    In the Questions and Answers, #49, is the text: “Concerning the penalties for adultery, sodomy, and theft, and the degrees thereof”
    Baha'u'llah's answer: “The determination of the degrees of these penalties rests with the House of Justice.” (The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 121, 1992 edition)

    The question asks about:
    zinaa' (= adultery, fornication) and
    liwaat (= sodomy, paederasty) and
    sariqa (= theft)

    Liwaat is the word used meaning both sodomy and paederasty in Arabic and Persian so it will be up to the UHJ to determine whether this includes homosexuality or not.
    In the notes (note 134, page 223) the UHJ at the time of the publication wrote that “the subject of boys had the implication of paederasty.” and state that Shoghi Effendi interpreted this as a prohibition on all homosexuals but further down the only source they give is a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi. As I read this there is no source penned by Shoghi Effendi in his role as interpretator of the Bahai Writings.
    However, unless (or until) a future UHJ makes a differing statement this connection made with homosexuality as a prohibition should be seen as their policy (at least that is the case 18 years ago), but this is not the same as a prohibition on homosexuality being penned by Baha'u'llah which is not subject to change.

    Another thought on Question #49: In those times the punishment for those crimes was stipulated in Islamic law and not left up to the judge or ruler. So it seems that in Baha'u'llah's answer he making the punishment for these things at the discretion of the UHJ.

    I think it is likely that Baha'u'llah intended his laws to be used as principles which individuals and institutions could work with.

    “Think not that We have revealed unto you a mere code of laws. Nay, rather, We have unsealed the choice Wine with the fingers of might and power”
    Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 21

    Baha'u'llah states that he doesn't give just us a code of laws. I would argue that the code of laws he established is the UHJ as legistrator of laws. A UHJ which is flexible and free to change its own laws in a changing world.
    (The above comes from a longer posting I wrote some months ago which is here)

    And on that note while travelling homeward through the U.K. a few days ago was this headline in the papers:
    Anger at Pope's attack on British equality laws“.

    The Pope's argument being that it was against natural law. Interestingly one commentor wrote: “How can the sexual nature of 6-10% of humans be unnatural? How can something which occurs across the world in practically every culture and has been recorded since history itself began to be recorded be unnatural?
    It would make more sense to suggest that mountains are unnatural, as they occur far less commonly than gay people.

    It is not homosexuality which is unnatural, but the irrational hatred of it…”

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Thanks so much, Sonja, for your reply regarding Arabic terms translated as sodomy, etc. I have to say that when I look up “liwaat” I am discouraged by what I read, in reference to the Islamic background and understanding of the term. All the prohibitions regarding sexuality just seem so nutty and obsessive to me, and it seems this nuttiness has been retained to a degree for the Baha'is. Evolution of thinking in regard to matters such as homosexuality (and other sexual “offenses”) which has long since taken place elsewhere seems absent in Baha'i law. Sexual behavior between consenting adults should not be a “punishable offense,” period – in my view. And rape should not be considered as just another sexual offense – it is a crime of violence. Pedophilia is an altogether different subject from homosexuality, and should be a punishable offense, religion or no, and of course it is more often heterosexual than homosexual.

    Regarding “sexual offenses,” for a religion to offer guidance regarding sexual behavior is admirable, in my view, but to criminalize consenting sexual behavior for adults is just bizarre. One can only hope that there is never a Baha'i state capable of carrying out punishments for “crimes.”

    This whole topic is making me crazy – the Baha'is, while forward-looking and progressive in so many ways, seem very backward in their thinking in some areas. Is this what Baha'u'llah intended?

    It seems very dangerous to me to have sexual behavior criminalized, with “punishment” to be determined by a body of people who are accountable to no one on earth, and who feel they speak for God and thus can begin to feel self-righteous about their views. I see nothing in the Kitab-i-Aqdas to prevent extreme punishment in future for sexual offenses such as sodomy or adultery, if the UHJ happened to believe that such punishment was necessary, and if they happened to have the temporal power of a State. That bothers me a lot. I don't think Baha'is are immune to the corruption and self-righteous cruelty that has often been a part of religion. It bothers me that many Baha'is seem to think we don't need to worry about that – that Baha'is are somehow protected against such evil in future. It would be nice if we were – but I don't think so!

    And yes, we elect indirectly the UHJ, but changes are taking place, such as the expectation that UHJ new members will be elected from a group appointed by the UHJ, and the overriding of votes cast in regard to some regional councils, which makes change from the “grass roots” less likely.

    Well, forgive me for ranting. As I said, this is making me crazy.

    Barb

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    The article “The Provisions for Sexuality in the Kitab-i-Aqdas” is informative. One can “google” this title.

    Barb

  • timwatts

    I googled and read and re read and well it makes sense to me….this would be the basis for me to re join the faith sadly I doubt that the views expressed in the scholarly work will receive wide spread accceptance amoung the “I hate Gays bah'ai mainstream”

    The whole issue for me rest on who interpreted LIWAT to mean gay? If it was SE then we are doomed to live in the closet ot out of the faith,,,

  • http://www.sonjavank.blogspot.com sonjavank

    The article by Jackson Armstrong-Ingram,
    “The Provisions for Sexuality in the Kitab-i-Aqdas in the Context of Late Nineteenth Century Eastern and Western Sexual Ideologies” is here: bahai-library.org/conferences/sex.aqdas.html

    In the Questions + Answers section of the Aqdas, liwaat is translated as sodomy. In the Aqdas the section referring to 'boys' is translated as pedaesty which correlates with Jackson's argument that “Both zina and liwat are sexual relations that take place outside of a context in which the long term rights of both participants are regarded. Unlawful sex is literally unprotected sex — it takes place in relationships that are not associated with social supports and long-term obligations. Lawful sex, as defined in the Aqdas, takes place in marriages, which are relationships embedded in a network of familial support and providing for the mutual development of the partners.”

    In all my searching around the only texts I have found that refer to homosexuality have been penned by secretaries writing Letters on behalf of Shoghi Effendi.

    When Shoghi Effendi was writing in his role as official interpreter of the Bahai
    Writings he cites the scripture he is interpreting. Sen's essay “More interpretive principles” bahai-library.org/articles/interpretive.principles.html gives some examples of this.

    In the Aqdas there is no source given in the section of the Letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, so I can only assume that it is not the case that the secretary who wrote that letter actually could read Baha'u'llah's mind, rather the writer wrote this assuming, based on his or her own's knowledge of the Bahai Faith, that this was a Bahai Teaching.

    “A clear distinction is made in our Faith between authoritative interpretation and the interpretation or understanding that each individual arrives at for himself from his study of its teachings.
    While the former is confined to the Guardian, the latter, according to the guidance given to us by the Guardian himself, should by no means be suppressed. In fact such individual interpretation is considered the fruit of man's rational power and conducive to a better understanding of the teachings, provided that no disputes or arguments arise among the friends and the individual himself understands and makes it clear that his views are merely his own. Individual interpretations continually change as one grows in
    comprehension of the teachings…”

    (From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual
    believer, May 27, 1966) (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 311-312)

    That leaves us with the question then, when is something penned by Shoghi Effendi to be considered interpretation, hence unchangeable, and how can we treat the status of the ten of thousands of Letters Written on his behalf.

    Sen has written a few posts on these topics. One is here:
    “anything Shoghi Effendi said is Baha´i doctrine”

    The world has changed a lot since the times of Shoghi Effendi but even in his own time this Letter was written on his behalf.

    “He has also said that whenever he has something of importance to say, he invariably communicates it to the National Spiritual Assembly or in his general letters. His personal letters to individual friends are only for
    their personal benefit and even though he does not want to forbid
    their publication, he does not wish them to be used too much by the
    Bahá'í News. Only letters with special significance should be
    published there.”

    (Letter Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi 1932.)

  • timwatts

    This is also an interesting essay one which I suspect is more othodox in its thinking. I get the feeling that the author knows absoltely nothing about Gay people. Have a read and I would be very interested in your comments

    http://bahai-library.com/?file=hakim_notes_aqda

  • http://www.sonjavank.blogspot.com sonjavank

    Tim, if by orthodox you mean 'most Bahais', I'd disagree because the article is so shallow. The author looks up a few diverse references to 'sodomy' in religious history – throws these together as if this is an argument and then throws a sentence in the middle stating that sodomy of the past = homosexuality of the present, without bothering even to give a single reason why he states this. Then the article continues about sodomy at which point I gave up reading it. Don't ask me if the article has a point. If this where a recipe, the cake would be a disaster.
    So someone saying sodomy = homosexuality is just someone who hasn't done any research on what these two terms mean.

    If anyone on this list has any queries about the article written by Jackson then we could discuss this.

  • timwatts

    When I read this “work” I felt I had been abused, I had to read it all but I got angrier all the time, glad it's not me…it is utter crap…and compard to the work of Jackson I lknow who was guided by the holy spirit in their work…if that's not too creepy

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Sonja,

    I am sorry to ask you to repeat what you must have said many times, but I want clarification.

    1. What do you think that the term translated as “homosexuality” under prohibitions in the Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas referred to? What behavior did this encompass in the original term? Who made the decision to use the word “homosexuality” here?

    2. What do you think the term translated as “sodomy” in Questions and Answers #49 of the Kitab-i-Aqdas referred to (as in, the determination of the degrees of penalties for sodomy and adultery being left to the House of Justice). What behavior did this encompass in the original term? Is it different from the subject of “boys” (male/male pederasty)? Does Baha'u'llah define any penalty at all for adultery (involving a married person) and sodomy, or is the punishment left entirely to the Universal House of Justice? Who translated this term as “sodomy?”

    3. Were the letters regarding homosexuality sent on behalf of the Guardian sent out without the approval of the Guardian? If so, how do we know this?

    Thanks.

    Barb

  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco

    Jackson was such a great guy, very helpful with us in writing the letter to the NSA from the Gay Baha'i Fellowship… he is dearly missed (he passed away a year or so ago).

    Daniel

  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco

    I love both you and Sonia for your lovely and supportive rantings… beside, let us not forget where we post…

    rant on ladies! you are both angels!

  • fubar

    no one that is sane is going to propose that sexuality, of whatever form, in the medieval muslim world, is universally applicable as cultural context for “the now”. the question is: what is spiritually healthy sex? and what is spiritually unhealthy sex?

    contrary to stoopid, and mostly unhelpful bahai dogma, it has nothing to do with medieval issues, the degenerate practice of slave boys, jokes about arabs and beautiful camels on long caravans, etc.

    shoghi effendi prohibited homosexuality, via secretaries, because he was worried (as in so many other things) about “appearances”, and wanted bahai to seem as “establishmentarian” as possible, to avoid controversy, avoid offending victorian/puritan attitudes in the west, and so forth.

    really, this just demonstrates how little value human decency and social justice have in the bahai admin paradigm.

  • fubar

    Barb,

    A lot of the “progressive” stuff in bahai was designed as “bait-n-switch”.

    e.g., shoghi effendi clearly states that the bahai NWO was going to be a hybrid christian-islamo imperial project.

    things like democracy were very “expendable” in that model.

  • fubar

    Jackson's book about the Mashriq gives some insight into the nasty factional infighting that existed in the early usa bahai community, in which the rich socialites become dominant over working class and social justice (race unity) factions.

    most old “big” money in the northeastern usa originally came from financing the slave trade in the south. NYC's financial foundation is laid on the slave trade. Without the financiers of NYC, the southern slave trade could not have existed.

    Horace Holley was very involved in old money church stuff in NYC, while running the NSA. For DECADES.

    Connect the dots.

    The view of “world peace” that these people wanted was pretty sick.

  • peyamb

    Yes, I enjoy the discussion too. I wish the local Bahai communities were this open- then maybe the Bahai Faith would be thriving today. I am more on Sonja's side though. I see these letters from secretaries being the “hadiths” of the Bahai Faith. The only weight that they carry is what the individual Bahai wishes to give them. They are not direct interpretations by Shoghi Effendi telling the Bahai world that A means B. Abdul-Baha gave a direct interpretation saying that Bahaullah meant monogomy when Bahaullah actually said polygamy is allowed in the Faith. You can say what you want about the actual “law” in the Faith, but because Abdul-Baha clearly stated in His own words that the law is monogomy, then that is the law. If Shoghi Effendi had done the same (or AB) in regards to homosexuality, then I would give up the fight. But they didn't. Bahaullah condeming sodomy could mean sex with a child slave, or a myriad of things (anal sex, homosexual sex even masturbation being punishable). Anyway, my two cents worth.

  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco

    50 pts to Peyamb… you are spot on. thanks!

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    I have to say that I don't think it matters whether Shoghi Effendi penned the letters regarding homosexuality himself or not. It was undoubtedly his understanding that the sexual expression of same-sex love was not desirable or approved by Baha'u'llah. It would be surprising and somewhat amazing if he thought otherwise, considering the time in which he lived and functioned as Guardian, and the cultural background which so heavily influenced not only Iran, but much of the civilized world during his lifetime. He was obviously sympathetic toward those experiencing same-sex love – “No matter how fine the love…” , and “to say it is ideal…” – this is not the voice of a rabid homophobic. I have often thought that his concerns about his own sexual orientation must have influenced to at least a degree, his expression on this subject, and perhaps that has something to do with why he never apparently wrote himself definitively, rather delegated this task to his secretaries. That is just supposition on my part, but certainly his own concerns about his orientation must have affected how he dealt with this subject.

    Now, having said that I think what was said on behalf of the Guardian was probably indeed what he thought at the time, I will say – so what? Do we think the Guardian could not possibly have made a mistake, considering his background and the time during which he lived? Would he have had any concept of the possibility of a loving, committed relationship, a monogamous sexual relationship, between men or between women, of gay marriage? When you read the scholarship of gay/lesbian historians relating to the time during which he lived, it is remarkable that he spoke as sympathetically as he did regarding homosexuality.

    Which leads me to the real problem (I think). We are talking as if the Guardian and the UHJ were/are oracles, in the sense of being a person or persons through whom a deity speaks, rather than seeing them as ordinary people who were/are doing their best to do their job, and who are not perfect, and who may make mistakes.

    As someone else has said here a while back – if the UHJ is incapable of making any mistakes, why have elections every five years? I mean, why mess with a sure thing? Baha'is are guilty of a dangerous kind of magical thinking in regard to Baha'i leadership. I have heard Baha'is in responsible positions within the faith say the equivalent of “if the UHJ tells me to jump off a cliff as if I were a lemming – I will do it! Instantly! Unhesitatingly! He who hesitates is lost!” Is this really what the wise Baha'u'llah intended for us? I remember Ruhiyyah Khanum saying in one of her writings – I think it was The Priceless Pearl, that the Baha'is were so silly (I am paraphrasing here) in regard to the Guardian. They thought as if it were just a magical thing – he just knew the right thing to do, always! And then she told how the Guardian agonized over decisions, as any of us would do – have we done the right thing, etc., and how this responsibility burdened his heart.

    The fact that were the Guardian to have been alive when the UHJ was formed, he would have from time to time been expected to rein them in a bit, if he felt they were getting far afield, and that they in turn had the right to consider his intervention and reject his opinion – all this means that neither entity – neither the Guardian nor the UHJ – were perfect automatons, simply opening their mouths and letting the words of God pour out, without a thought in their heads. They were meant to be checks against one another.

    We have been given a system of governing (the Baha'is) by groups of people elected by ourselves, and if things go seriously awry, we have a system of self-correction through the election every five years of a new UHJ, and every year of a new LSA and NSA. As I have said before, I think this system is being warped a bit, in that UHJ members seem to be coming more and more exclusively from a body appointed by the UHJ – hardly a system of self-correction. And in some cases votes cast by Baha'is can be overruled, as in the election of some regional councils. And there is apparently an effort to keep Baha'i homosexuals from any office of great responsibility in the Faith, even though they have been present in the very highest positions in the past.

    It seems to be a human tendency for us to want something magical – an edict from on high that makes our difficult decisions for us, so that we are absolved of that very human responsibility. It is a tendency in the same league as the one that causes us from time to time to do great harm in the form of mobs. It seems to me that Baha'is are all too willing to sit and wait for edicts from on high, unerring guidance, so that they don't have to think too hard or feel responsible for their own decisions.

    We think that the principle of agreement of religion with science will keep us from superstition – yet when it comes to the subject of homosexuality, the principle doesn't seem to be doing its job. We pride ourselves on our promotion of unity in diversity – except that one kind of diversity is not valued, no matter that it is represented by good, intelligent, gifted people doing good in the world, people the Baha'is are, or would be, lucky to have in their midst.

    The Baha'i system will fail if we do not recognize that it requires of each and every Baha'i constant vigilance, use of our God-given intelligence, and the responsibility of making decisions rather than just waiting for someone to tell us what to do, or not do. I have had it “up to here” with the credulity and gullibility of many Baha'is, and with their lack of interest in and knowledge about the world in which they live, unless it is Baha'i teaching, or sanctioned in some way by Baha'i authorities. Baha'is need to educate themselves about, among other things, gay and lesbian history. They need to acquaint themselves with gays and lesbians. They need to reason their position out for themselves, based on facts and experience, not dogma. The Baha'i system, though it may survive (as I am sure it will) will fail in that it will fall far, far short of the vision of Baha'u'llah, if we do not do this.

    I also do think, as Peyamb has said, that if the UHJ ever develops the will to change the Baha'i position regarding homosexuality, they will do so. However, we must recognize our own necessary role in promoting the development of that will – we can't just passively wait and hope for it to happen.

    Barb

  • peyamb

    Barb I undestand what you are saying. And I don't believe the scenario you describe is what Bahaullah intended. But at the same time there are very strict/clear words from Abdul-Baha stating that we must be obedient to whatever Shoghi Effendi interprets. This we can not water down or brush aside. That is why I say 'IF' Abdul-Baha or Shoghi Effendi in their own words stated that Bahaullah meant A when he said B, then I will accept it. Either accept it and try to work with it inside the community, or just say “f” this and move on. We have the freedom to do that. But to argue that I don't really need to accept their interpretations while remaining a Bahai, just doesn't make sense to me. But again, I don't see those letters not penned by Shoghi Effendi the same way that you do. There are many hadiths in Islam that some Muslims believe came direct from the Prophet's mouth. They are equal to whatever was recorded in the Quran according to these people. But there are many other Muslims (and all Bahais) who believe that these Hadiths have no real weight. These letters penned by secretaries, in their own words, usually as responses to individual Bahais are not to me (or Sonja or many others) the actual words of SE interpreting A to mean B. What SE may have thought, felt, etc is all speculation on your part. You might be right, you might be wrong. But what is not speculation is a direct announcement by SE himself to the Bahai World that homosexuality is not to be openly allowed in the Bahai community. That I have not seen. Actually all I have seen is a long letter from the UHJ a few years back explaining the position of the Faith on homosexuality- which is something that can be changed with a new UHJ some day.

  • http://senmcglinn.wordpress.com/ Sen McGlinn

    Hi Barb,

    you ask “Were the letters regarding homosexuality sent on behalf of the Guardian sent out without the approval of the Guardian? If so, how do we know this?”

    The question is, what is the meaning of the Guardian’s approval? Did Shoghi Effendi himself want us to treat the letters by his secretaries as equivalent to his own words? Did he want us to treat them as authoritative interpretations of scripture? Would he want us to treat them as Bahai Law?

    If we took the letters written by the Guardian's secretaries to be equivalent to authoritative interpretations of the scripture, how would we deal with the secretary's letter that says that “'this is the day which will not be followed by the night” (a prophecy of Baha'u'llah, in The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 34) refers to a never-ending line of Guardians:

    “The Guardians are the evidence of the maturity of mankind in the sense that at long last men have progressed to the point of having one world, and of needing one world management for human affairs. In the spiritual realm they have also reached the point where God could leave, in human hands (i.e. the Guardians'), guided directly by the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh, as the Master states in His Will, the affairs of His Faith for this Dispensation. This is what is meant by 'this is the day which will not be followed by the night'. In this Dispensation, Divine guidance flows on to us in this world after the Prophet's ascension, through first the Master, and then the Guardians. If a person can accept Bahá'u'lláh's function, it should not present any difficulty to them to also accept what He has ordained a divinely guided individual in matters pertaining to His Faith.”
    (From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 25, 1948: Bahá'í News, No. 232, p. 8, June 1950) ditto Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, p. 34)

    The UHJ itself has NOT taken the above as a definitive interpretation of this prophecy – it says that the prophecy refers to the Administrative Order:

    “The Bahá'í Dispensation is described in the words of its Founder as “a day that shall not be followed by night”. Through His Covenant, Bahá'u'lláh has provided an unfailing source of divine guidance that will endure throughout the Dispensation. Authority to administer the affairs of the community and to ensure both the integrity of the Word of God and the promotion of the Faith's message is conferred upon the Administrative Order to which the Covenant has given birth.
    (The Universal House of Justice, 1992 Dec 10, Issues Related to Study Compilation)
    ditto in (The Universal House of Justice, 1997 Jul 20, Scholarship and Related Subjects)
    ditto in (The Universal House of Justice, 1998 Mar 19, Complete Compilation on Scholarship)

    But Shoghi Effendi says that it refers to the appointment of Abdu'l-Baha:

    The continuity of that unerring guidance vouchsafed to it since its birth was now assured. The significance of the solemn affirmation that this is “the Day which shall not be followed by night” was now clearly apprehended. An orphan community had recognized in 'Abdu'l-Baha, in its hour of desperate need, its Solace, its Guide, its Mainstay and Champion.
    (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 245)

    Or what about the letter from a secretary that says “He (the Guardian) does not feel that the friends should make a practice of saying grace or of teaching it to children. This is not part of the Bahá’í Faith, but a Christian practice,…” – when in fact it is ordained by Baha'u'llah, and Abdu'l-Baha said grace himself and gave us a number of prayers to use for the purpose (and Shoghi Effendi also said grace himself, at least sometimes) – see
    http://senmcglinn.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/grace/
    for the sources on this.

    Or what about the secretary's letter that says “Regarding your question whether there is any special
    ceremony which the believers should perform when they wish to “name” a baby; the Teachings do not provide for any ceremony whatever on such occasions. We have no “baptismal
    service” in the Cause, …”, when in fact Abdu'l-Baha has given us a form for the “spiritual baptism” of a newborn child, in Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha pp 149-50.

    Or the letter from a secretary that says “”The words Israel, used throughout the Bible, simply refers to the Jewish people, and not to the Chosen ones of this day.” (From a letter
    written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 21, 1939; Lights of Guidance, p. 498)

    Whereas the Guardian writes :
    “Turning to Bahá'u'lláh and repeating his request, he was honored by a Tablet, in which Israel and his children were identified with the Báb and His followers respectively … (God Passes By, p. 116)

    Or what about the letter that says: “In regard to the question as to whether people ought to kill animals for food or not, there is no explicit statement in the Bahá'í Sacred Scriptures (as far as I know) in favour or against it.”

    Is this expressing the Guardian's ignorance, or the secretary's? There are tablets from Abdu'l-Baha on this topic. The letter goes on:

    “It is certain, however, that if man can live on a purely vegetarian diet and thus avoid killing animals, it would be much preferable.”

    If we take this as the Guardian speaking as interpreter, he is offering an interpretion on something which he himself thinks is not in the Writings – and therefore is in the province of the UHJ not the Guardian. But he says in the Dispensation of Baha'u'llah that the Guardian will not do this. But it gets more puzzling, because the next sentence says

    “This is, however, a very controversial question and the Bahá'ís are free to express their views on it.” – so the writer (the secretary in my opinion) does not think this defines Bahai belief. But aren't the authoritative interpretations of the Guardian supposed to do that? Finally, note that the letter is written on a Holy Day: 9 July 1931. What are the chances that the Guardian was working on a Holy Day, and requiring his secretary to do the same! You can find the letter in The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 475)

    Or what about the letter that says “All Divine Revelation seems to have been thrown out in flashes. The Prophets never composed treatises. (The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha'i Community, p. 453)

    Is the Bisharat not an organised treatise? the Iqan? The Epistle to the Son of the Wolf? Other lines in the same letter suppose that prophethood is the perfection of the human station, whereas Bahai teaching is that revelation is transcendent, even if the place-of-revelation is human. And the letters' idiom is English, warning: “We can never afford to rest on our own oars, …” (The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha'i Community, p. 454) Persians do not rest on their oars since they have few flowing rivers, or boats on them. The letter is written in 1949 but refers to coming trials – so far as I know, only pilgrim's notes take that line at that time. The letter contains nothing to indicate that the person writing thinks they are reflecting the Guardian's direct instructions – it appears simply as personal opinions.

    All this is not to say that the Guardian's letters can all be disregarded. That would be just as simplistic as supposing that all these letters are the words of Shoghi Effendi, and his authoritative interpretations of scripture, which can never be changed.

    Shoghi Effendi himself wanted the Bahais to make a strong distinction between his writings and those of his secretaries. One of his secretaries warns

    “Although the secretaries of the Guardian convey his thoughts and instructions and these messages are authoritative, their words are in no sense the same as his, their style certainly not the same, and their authority less, for they use their own terms and not his exact words in conveying his messages.” (Unfolding Destiny 260)

    If these letters had doctrinal authority, it would not make much sense to say they had ‘less authority.’ I think the meaning here is that they share in Shoghi Effendi’s authority as Head of the Faith, they have to be followed by the assembly or individual to whom they are addressed, and we may suppose that they were the right thing to say, to the assembly or individual concerned (since Shoghi Effendi checked them, with very few exceptions). That’s doesn’t mean they are still the right thing for assemblies and individuals to be following now, when we have a different Head of the Faith and different issues and opportunities before us.

    In fact the Bahai community today does not follow everything written in letters by or on behalf of Shoghi Effendi. Sometimes the instructions are contradictory, for example:

    “…it is not compulsory that a ballot paper should contain necessarily nine votes. The individual voter may record less than 9 names, if he chooses to do so.” (Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 23.)

    Versus

    “Concerning the question you have asked as to whether in elections for Spiritual Assemblies the electors should cast exactly nine votes, … no electoral vote can be effective unless it is cast for exactly [nine]” (Unfolding Destiny, page 138)

    If we had a general principle that “anything Shoghi Effendi said or published officially is Baha’i doctrine,” and included his secretaries' letters in that, we would have problem here! But such matters are not doctrinal, they fell to Shoghi Effendi to decide as Head of the Faith and he decided different things at different times, for different communities. Another example is the areas of LSA jurisdiction. One letter says that the principle can be determined by the National Spiritual Assembly (On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Extracts from the USBN), another says the principle “laid down by the Guardian” is that “within a municipal area, where the people resident in the area pay taxes and vote, the Assembly can be elected, and holds jurisdiction.” (Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, 130).

    If the Guardian acting as Head of the Faith could change such matters, then it is not surprising that they also change when we have a new Head of the Faith. Shoghi Effendi says “the ruling is quite definite, that an Assembly must be elected on the first day of Ridvan, April 21st.” (Messages to Canada, 50) The Universal House of Justice later changed this, and more recently has changed it back.

    Take away the three suppositions that what the secretary writes has the same authority as what Shoghi Effendi writes; that everything Shoghi Effendi writes is Bahai doctrine; and that doctrine is just another word for Bahai Law, and there is a better chance that the Bahai Faith will maintain that flexibility that will keep it in the forefront of progressive movements (World Order of Baha’u'llah, 22).

    Sen

  • Guest

    Hi Barb, you ask “Were the letters regarding homosexuality sent on behalf of the Guardian sent out without the approval of the Guardian? If so, how do we know this?”

    The question is, what is the meaning of the Guardian’s approval? Did Shoghi Effendi himself want us to treat the letters by his secretaries as equivalent to his own words? Did he want us to treat them as authoritative interpretations of scripture? Would he want us to treat them as Bahai Law?

    If we took the letters written by the Guardian's secretaries to be equivalent to authoritative interpretations of the scripture, how would we deal with the secretary's letter that says that “'this is the day which will not be followed by the night” (a prophecy of Baha'u'llah, in The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 34) refers to a never-ending line of Guardians:

    “The Guardians are the evidence of the maturity of mankind in the sense that at long last men have progressed to the point of having one world, and of needing one world management for human affairs. In the spiritual realm they have also reached the point where God could leave, in human hands (i.e. the Guardians'), guided directly by the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh, as the Master states in His Will, the affairs of His Faith for this Dispensation. This is what is meant by 'this is the day which will not be followed by the night'. In this Dispensation, Divine guidance flows on to us in this world after the Prophet's ascension, through first the Master, and then the Guardians. If a person can accept Bahá'u'lláh's function, it should not present any difficulty to them to also accept what He has ordained a divinely guided individual in matters pertaining to His Faith.”
    (From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 25, 1948: Bahá'í News, No. 232, p. 8, June 1950) ditto Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, p. 34)

    The UHJ itself has NOT taken the above as a definitive interpretation of this prophecy – it says that the prophecy refers to the Administrative Order:

    “The Bahá'í Dispensation is described in the words of its Founder as “a day that shall not be followed by night”. Through His Covenant, Bahá'u'lláh has provided an unfailing source of divine guidance that will endure throughout the Dispensation. Authority to administer the affairs of the community and to ensure both the integrity of the Word of God and the promotion of the Faith's message is conferred upon the Administrative Order to which the Covenant has given birth.
    (The Universal House of Justice, 1992 Dec 10, Issues Related to Study Compilation)
    ditto in (The Universal House of Justice, 1997 Jul 20, Scholarship and Related Subjects)
    ditto in (The Universal House of Justice, 1998 Mar 19, Complete Compilation on Scholarship)

    But Shoghi Effendi says that it refers to the appointment of Abdu'l-Baha:

    The continuity of that unerring guidance vouchsafed to it since its birth was now assured. The significance of the solemn affirmation that this is “the Day which shall not be followed by night” was now clearly apprehended. An orphan community had recognized in 'Abdu'l-Baha, in its hour of desperate need, its Solace, its Guide, its Mainstay and Champion.
    (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 245)

    Or what about the letter from a secretary that says “He (the Guardian) does not feel that the friends should make a practice of saying grace or of teaching it to children. This is not part of the Bahá’í Faith, but a Christian practice,…” – when in fact it is ordained by Baha'u'llah, and Abdu'l-Baha said grace himself and gave us a number of prayers to use for the purpose (and Shoghi Effendi also said grace himself, at least sometimes) – see
    http://senmcglinn.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/grace/
    for the sources on this.

    Or what about the secretary's letter that says “Regarding your question whether there is any special
    ceremony which the believers should perform when they wish to “name” a baby; the Teachings do not provide for any ceremony whatever on such occasions. We have no “baptismal
    service” in the Cause, …”, when in fact Abdu'l-Baha has given us a form for the “spiritual baptism” of a newborn child, in Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha pp 149-50.

    Or the letter from a secretary that says “”The words Israel, used throughout the Bible, simply refers to the Jewish people, and not to the Chosen ones of this day.” (From a letter
    written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 21, 1939; Lights of Guidance, p. 498)

    Whereas the Guardian writes :
    “Turning to Bahá'u'lláh and repeating his request, he was honored by a Tablet, in which Israel and his children were identified with the Báb and His followers respectively … (God Passes By, p. 116)

    Or what about the letter that says: “In regard to the question as to whether people ought to kill animals for food or not, there is no explicit statement in the Bahá'í Sacred Scriptures (as far as I know) in favour or against it.”

    Is this expressing the Guardian's ignorance, or the secretary's? There are tablets from Abdu'l-Baha on this topic. The letter goes on:

    “It is certain, however, that if man can live on a purely vegetarian diet and thus avoid killing animals, it would be much preferable.”

    If we take this as the Guardian speaking as interpreter, he is offering an interpretion on something which he himself thinks is not in the Writings – and therefore is in the province of the UHJ not the Guardian. But he says in the Dispensation of Baha'u'llah that the Guardian will not do this. But it gets more puzzling, because the next sentence says

    “This is, however, a very controversial question and the Bahá'ís are free to express their views on it.” – so the writer (the secretary in my opinion) does not think this defines Bahai belief. But aren't the authoritative interpretations of the Guardian supposed to do that? Finally, note that the letter is written on a Holy Day: 9 July 1931. What are the chances that the Guardian was working on a Holy Day, and requiring his secretary to do the same! You can find the letter in The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 475)

    Or what about the letter that says “All Divine Revelation seems to have been thrown out in flashes. The Prophets never composed treatises. (The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha'i Community, p. 453)

    Is the Bisharat not an organised treatise? the Iqan? The Epistle to the Son of the Wolf? Other lines in the same letter suppose that prophethood is the perfection of the human station, whereas Bahai teaching is that revelation is transcendent, even if the place-of-revelation is human. And the letters' idiom is English, warning: “We can never afford to rest on our own oars, …” (The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha'i Community, p. 454) Persians do not rest on their oars since they have few flowing rivers, or boats on them. The letter is written in 1949 but refers to coming trials – so far as I know, only pilgrim's notes take that line at that time. The letter contains nothing to indicate that the person writing thinks they are reflecting the Guardian's direct instructions – it appears simply as personal opinions.

    All this is not to say that the Guardian's letters can all be disregarded. That would be just as simplistic as supposing that all these letters are the words of Shoghi Effendi, and his authoritative interpretations of scripture, which can never be changed.

    Shoghi Effendi himself wanted the Bahais to make a strong distinction between his writings and those of his secretaries. One of his secretaries warns

    “Although the secretaries of the Guardian convey his thoughts and instructions and these messages are authoritative, their words are in no sense the same as his, their style certainly not the same, and their authority less, for they use their own terms and not his exact words in conveying his messages.” (Unfolding Destiny 260)

    If these letters had doctrinal authority, it would not make much sense to say they had ‘less authority.’ I think the meaning here is that they share in Shoghi Effendi’s authority as Head of the Faith, they have to be followed by the assembly or individual to whom they are addressed, and we may suppose that they were the right thing to say, to the assembly or individual concerned (since Shoghi Effendi checked them, with very few exceptions). That’s doesn’t mean they are still the right thing for assemblies and individuals to be following now, when we have a different Head of the Faith and different issues and opportunities before us.

    In fact the Bahai community today does not follow everything written in letters by or on behalf of Shoghi Effendi. Sometimes the instructions are contradictory, for example:

    “…it is not compulsory that a ballot paper should contain necessarily nine votes. The individual voter may record less than 9 names, if he chooses to do so.” (Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 23.)

    Versus

    “Concerning the question you have asked as to whether in elections for Spiritual Assemblies the electors should cast exactly nine votes, … no electoral vote can be effective unless it is cast for exactly [nine]” (Unfolding Destiny, page 138)

    If we had a general principle that “anything Shoghi Effendi said or published officially is Baha’i doctrine,” and included his secretaries' letters in that, we would have problem here! But such matters are not doctrinal, they fell to Shoghi Effendi to decide as Head of the Faith and he decided different things at different times, for different communities. Another example is the areas of LSA jurisdiction. One letter says that the principle can be determined by the National Spiritual Assembly (On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Extracts from the USBN), another says the principle “laid down by the Guardian” is that “within a municipal area, where the people resident in the area pay taxes and vote, the Assembly can be elected, and holds jurisdiction.” (Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, 130).

    If the Guardian acting as Head of the Faith could change such matters, then it is not surprising that they also change when we have a new Head of the Faith. Shoghi Effendi says “the ruling is quite definite, that an Assembly must be elected on the first day of Ridvan, April 21st.” (Messages to Canada, 50) The Universal House of Justice later changed this, and more recently has changed it back.

    Take away the three suppositions that what the secretary writes has the same authority as what Shoghi Effendi writes; that everything Shoghi Effendi writes is Bahai doctrine; and that doctrine is just another word for Bahai Law, and there is a better chance that the Bahai Faith will maintain that flexibility that will keep it in the forefront of progressive movements (World Order of Baha’u'llah, 22).

    Sen

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Thank you, Peyamb. Your words, and those of Sen and Sonja, are helping me to understand this concept of hadith better. I think that the opinion of Shoghi Effendi, at the times these letters were penned on his behalf (in the 1950s), was most likely accurately expressed in the letters (that Baha'u'llah had forbidden homosexuality). However, I also think that if the mind/spirit of Shoghi Effendi were to speak with us today, his opinion might very well be different as far as defining exactly what is meant by homosexuality, what it is that is forbidden. He would be, as he always was, very aware of what is happening in the world. He would be aware that many states and countries are now recognizing the right of gay folks to have a legally sanctioned union that would protect both parties to the union (resulting in “protected sex,” as opposed to unprotected.) This is a subject altogether different from advocating promiscuous, “unprotected” sex for either heterosexuals or homosexuals. I don't know what Shoghi Effendi would say, were he speaking to us today on this subject, but I am reasonably certain that he would surprise the Baha'is, as he so often did when they thought they knew his thinking on a subject.

    Were I an individual receiving one of those letters, in answer to my question at that time, I would have had to abide by that understanding, unless I had some guidance otherwise from Shoghi Effendi himself, directly, or unless I left the Faith. There would not have been any question of the possibility of gay marriage, of “protected sex” for homosexuals. It would have been a choice of “protected sex” in the form of a heterosexual marriage, or of “unprotected sex” in the form of a union of some kind with another person that did not constitute marriage. Of course I agree we cannot just go off willy-nilly and do whatever we want, regardless of what a legitimate Baha'i authority with the right to interpret says. However, then was then, and now is now. I do not at all think that a letter that Shoghi Effendi might have approved then, in any way defines what he might have to say on the matter now, given the evolution of thinking in much of the world regarding homosexuality and the rights of gays and lesbians, and the legalization of gay marriage in many places, and the quandary this poses for Baha'i communities when someone who is legally married to a person of the same sex wishes to become a Baha'i. This is not a hypothetical far-fetched question, but a situation that could come about at any time, or perhaps already has – I do not know.

    The Universal House of Justice apparently presently looks at these letters on behalf of Shoghi Effendi as authoritative, since they quote at least one of the letters in the Notes of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, to back up the interpretation that the subject of “boys,” while admittedly having the implication of pederasty, really includes homosexual relations of any and all sorts. It also seems apparent that this acceptance of the letters as authoritative is a choice, not an unavoidable interpretation, since as Sen I believe points out, all such letters are not accepted in that way, and the letters written by secretaries are themselves contradictory at times.

    So, as a result of being better informed than I was, I am now more hopeful that there is room for the Universal House of Justice to come to a different conclusion regarding this matter. However, I still think that things are being “set in concrete” so to speak, and we can't just relax and wait for them to come to a different conclusion. We must keep educating ourselves, and our fellow Baha'is, while still being obedient to the current interpretation (if we are to remain Baha'is) – we must keep the pot stirred and not be silent, and be confident that if we do our utmost to seek truth in this matter, some kind of evolution in thinking will occur among Baha'is.

    Barb

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Thank you, Sen, for taking the time to make such a detailed reply to my questions. It is most helpful to me! Bless you for all that you do for all of us in helping to understand various questions.

    Barb

  • http://senmcglinn.wordpress.com/ Sen McGlinn

    You're welcome. My apologies to all readers that it appeared twice, as I fumbled with the Disqus interfaces. As for the far future, who know? But there is room now for Bahai communities to welcome same-sex couples whose marriages are leaglly recognised into the community. This would hardly cause a scandal in the societies where the state allows homosexuals to marry.

    I have one more example of a letter written from a secretary which is no longer regarded as binding. In 1947 the principle was:

    “The feasts are really for the believers only, but if a non-Bahá'í happens to come, we should not ask him to leave and hurt the person's feelings” (The Light of Divine Guidance v II, p. 57)

    in 1954 it is tighter:

    “The beloved Guardian has instructed me to write you concerning an action recently taken by your National Assembly, … that non-Bahá'ís may attend 19-Day Feasts if “the earnestness of their interest in the Faith” is vouched for by a declared believer.  

    The Guardian wishes me to direct your attention to the fact that none of the institutions of the Faith nor its cardinal principles may be changed under any circumstances.

    The 19-Day Feast is an institution of the Cause, first established by the Báb, later confirmed by Bahá'u'lláh, and now made a prominent part of the administrative order of the Faith. These 19-Day Feasts are for the Bahá'ís, and the Bahá'ís exclusively, and no variation from this principle is permitted.” (Shoghi Effendi, The Light of Divine Guidance v I, p. 211)

    That led to the compromise of not holding the administrative part of the Feast when non-Bahais were present. This compromise is outlined in the first part of a letter from the UHJ dated 17 May 2009:

    “… unanticipated visitors, who were by and large infrequent in the past, have been welcome to join the devotional and social portions of the Feast, but either they were asked to absent themselves during the administrative portion or that segment of the programme would be eliminated entirely.
    Now, … The House of Justice has decided that, in such instances, rather than eliminating the administrative portion completely or asking the visitors to withdraw, those conducting the programme can modify this part of the Feast to accommodate the guests. The sharing of local and national news and information about social events, as well as consultation on topics of general interest, such as the teaching work, service projects, the Fund, and so on, can take place as usual, while discussion of sensitive or problematic issues related to these or other topics can be set aside for another time …
    A similar approach to the administrative portion may be adopted when the Feast is celebrated in the home of a family with some members who are not Bahá’ís.”

    I can remember a time when such an adaption would have been unthinkable, in light of the 1954 letter. The “software programme” of the Bahai Faith has a good deal of flexibility and options; its operators are often unaware of the options available, fearful of doing something wrong, or unwilling to adapt to changes in the world that — from their own socio-political agenda — appear to them to be degeneration rather than progress. The process of change is bound to be slow and frustrating, but I don't believe it is impossible

    Sen

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Excellent! Thank you very much, Sen.

    Barb

  • lostvotingrights

    Hallo there.. it is not about sex..I choose my same gender Partner being fully aware of Abdul baha's guidence to finding a partner..She forfilled everything he said..kind to family ..moral ..good with money ..looked after herself spiritually etc…I could not find these qualities in a male.. it was a womyn that finally halted my search for a love worth giving

  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco

    I say well played, Fubar is awarded 10 pts for irony

  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco

    and I am inclined to award our dear Barb 10 pts for having listened to Dr Ruth so well… again, well played.

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    I have a vague notion of who Dr. Ruth is, but I don't have a t.v. and rarely see it (she is on t.v., right?) so I'm a little in the dark here – but I'll just take this as a compliment…(smile)

    Barb

  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco
  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco
  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    In addition to welcoming an individual (or couple) legally married to a person of the same sex, into Baha'i membership, I think the Baha'i community has the following scenario to look forward to, in the not far distant future:

    In some local Baha'i community where same-sex marriage is legal, the LSA will be approached by a same-sex couple, at least one of whom is a Baha'i, who wish to marry. This couple will have fulfilled all the requirements of Baha'i marriage, including obtaining the permission of parents, at least some of whom may be Baha'is. The LSA will make a decision to quietly witness the marriage of this couple, with no trumpet or fanfare, and issue them a Baha'i marriage certificate. Then their NSA, and the UHJ will have to decide how to handle this event, and whether or not to sanction everyone involved – LSA members, parents or participants who are Baha'is. This is a prediction – the future will reveal its accuracy.

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    ADDENDUM: its accuracy, or lack thereof, I meant to say.

  • http://senmcglinn.wordpress.com/ Sen McGlinn

    The LSA is not required to witness a Bahai marriage: any two witnesses suffice, and the witnesses do not need to be Bahais. The other requirements are legal recognition, and permission from living parents (with certain possible exemptions). The question the LSA will face is whether to sanction a Bahai for getting married. If voting rights are removed, the person is normally informed of what he/she would have to do to get them back. Would an LSA or NSA be willing to put it in black and white, 'you have to get divorced' ?

    It'll be interesting, and I expect it will happen several times with varying outcomes before things settle down

  • peyamb

    What is currently done with a straight couple (Bahais) who get a non-Bahai marriage ceremony? Let's say they marry against the parent's wishes. How will the couple be given back their voting rights? Would they need to divorce? Or a time has to pass and they say they are sorry, and the LSA accepts their apology. I'm curious about that. I'm sure this situation has happened in the past with straight Bahais.

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Thank you for this clarification, Sen. My understanding was that a LSA had to approve the two witnesses, whether they were LSA members (or Baha'is) or not, and that the LSA had to obtain the necessary paperwork to prepare the Baha'i marriage certificate (or appoint someone to do so), so that they were necessarily involved in some way. Do you mean that a couple could have a Baha'i marriage without any action or approval at all from the LSA, so that the LSA could say they were in no way culpable? An LSA does not have to verify the parents' permission?

    This was certainly not the case with my Baha'i marriage, but perhaps they were just doing the customary things, without being required to do so?

    This is most interesting, if this is the case, and casts quite a different light on the picture.

    Barb

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Hi again Sen -

    I have searched Ocean admittedly very superficially, but I found quickly at least one letter from the UHJ in 1985 which stated that the Assembly involved had to ascertain the permission of parents, approve of the witnesses, and issue the marriage certificate. It is also apparent from other references that they are responsible for ensuring that all civil and Baha'i legal requirements are met. Perhaps there is something more recent which contravenes this?

    I suppose the question would be, what are the Baha'i legal requirements? In my hypothetical situation, the Assembly would be deciding that one of those requirements was not that one person be male, the other female, if same-sex marriage were legal in their jurisdiction.

    Barb

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Having watched the stunning rendition of Hallelujah! by k.d. lang at the Olympics, and reflecting on how great it is to have an out lesbian performer so honored, and so embraced by the audience, I was reminded of a funny story I read recently, in the book Out of the Past – Gay and Lesbian History from 1869 to the Present, by Neil Miller.

    The story is from the section “The Age of McCarthy,” when hysteria reigned in the U.S. regarding homosexuality, and gay witch-hunts were conducted by the government.:

    “Panic about homosexuals in high places spread north to Canada, where the new 1952 immigration act explicitly barred homosexuals from entering the country. At the same time, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (the Mounties) established a special investigative unit called A-3 that concentrated exclusively on identifying and rooting out homosexuals in government jobs. Like their American counterparts, the A-3 investigators watched gay bars and public parks; they also recruited informers among gay men. The force soon had a list of 3,000 names, according to Canadian journalist John Sawatsky who investigated the Mounties' Security Service for his book, Men in the Shadows.

    In one bizarre incident, Sawatsky writes, the A-3 unit attempted to plot groupings and gathering places of homosexuals on a map of the Canadian capital of Ottawa. Every area of the city with a concentration of homosexuals was identified and marked with a red dot. Soon, the map contained so many colored dots that it became an indecipherable mass of red ink. The investigators purchased another map – the largest one available. It, too, became a one {sic} great red smudge. Finally, a Mountie approached the Department of National Defence with a request that it fly over the city with high-resolution cameras in order to produce an even larger map. The Defence Department refused – it was experiencing a financial crunch at the time. At that point, the mapping of Ottawa's homosexuals came to an end.”

    Out of the Past is a great book – a highly entertaining and informative read.

    Barb

  • http://senmcglinn.wordpress.com/ Sen McGlinn

    You're right Barb, I found the 1985 letter too. “”… The couple themselves perform the ceremony by each saying, in the presence of at least two witnesses, the prescribed verse 'we will all, verily, abide by the Will of God.' This ceremony is performed under the authority of a Spiritual Assembly which has the responsibility for ensuring that the various requirements of Bahá'í Law, such as obtaining the consent of the parents, are met, to whom the witnesses must be acceptable, and which issues the marriage certificate.”

    That is presumably the current policy. It's not specified by Abdu'l-baha or Baha'u'llah, for the obvious reason that most Bahais lived in places without Spiritual Assemblies. So they don't even give the Assembly jurisdiction over marriages, as far as I know. I've been searching to see if Shoghi Effendi said the two witnesses had to be approved by an assembly: so far I haven't found anything.

    I assume this policy would apply in any country where there is a functioning administration. Clearly the Bahais in Iran cannot get their witnesses approved by an Assembly, nor those in several other countries where there are no Bahai Assemblies.

  • http://revolked2.blogspot.com/ dco

    Indeed thank you, this is really very helpful

  • peyamb

    http://www.arktimes.com/articles/articleviewer….

    Wow! Why doesn't the Bahai community produce kids like this? Oh that's right, because they would be brainwashed into believing that loving gay couples are nothing more than individuals performing lechery.

  • http://www.sonjavank.blogspot.com sonjavank

    Tsk, tsk, so our kids don't count, eh? They are most certainly for equality for all. We don't need to make this sort of stand here in the Netherlands, but I know of another Bahai family who's kids participate in pro-Gay rallies. We might not be in majority, but we are there.

  • peyamb

    Dear Sonja. You are definitely the exception to the rule- at least from what I have experienced here in the US. The Bahais are in no way, shape or form in the forefront of gay rights here.

  • http://www.sonjavank.blogspot.com sonjavank

    the family that I know of lives in new mexico, that's part of the U.S. right?

    of course, i agree, most Bahais don't bring up their kids to be so aware of issues, but I just felt I had to disagree with you for the sake of it :)

  • peyamb

    Cool! I'm moving to N.M.!

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    The core of this interesting article, for me, is Will's definition of what it means to be American: “Freedom of speech. The right to disagree.” This ought to be at least part of a definition of what it means to be a Baha'i, considering the principle of independent investigation of truth, and the sacred right of individuals to their own opinions. But my experience in the Baha'i community is that even the bravest souls, and those most supportive of gay rights, are at least occasionally, if not routinely, afraid to speak up loud and clear about gay rights, or any other controversial issue within their religious community, or in any public forum, for fear of consequences. There is not, among Baha'is, that easy feeling which I am used to as an American, of being free to speak my mind. Yes, there are, as Sonja makes clear, individual Baha'is who will speak up or take visible action toward justice for gays, but they are by far in the minority, in my experience, even though I believe there are many, many more Baha'is supportive of gay rights.

    My question is, is this fear of speaking out publicly in disagreement justified, or is it simply a free-floating fear with no real basis? Is someone really monitoring online forums and keeping track of those who disagree with official Baha'i policy, with a view to possibly sanctioning such people if they get too vocal, or if they say the wrong thing?

    This is, as I said, the root of the problem for me – whether the Baha'i Faith is a living, growing faith because of the fresh ideas and thoughts of individuals constantly being fed into the pool of the community, or is it a stagnant faith because Baha'is feel constrained in their thoughts and speech and actions? The issue of gay rights is only one issue of many – the question is, how free do most of us feel to think and speak out without fear of possible consequences for doing so? Perhaps our fears are unfounded? Obviously this wonderful forum is tolerated, and thank you to Baquia.

    Barb

  • http://www.sonjavank.blogspot.com sonjavank

    response to Barb's comment below:
    yes, i agree 'the freedom to disgree' is important. I'd state it more strongly, I think we need freedom to be able to be human, because to be human is to make choices (including bad ones, as long they don't harm others) and to learn from our choices.

    Recently I finished a video for a EU competition
    (shameless plug >>http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xckhmz_360-clockwise-around-europe_creation)

    and i've been very impressed by the quality and the diversity of the various videos submitted and was thinking, why don't we see Bahais make such creative stuff and I realised that part of the reason that there are so many interesting videos here was that word 'freedom'. Makers were invited to make a video using footage in anyway they wished. Most videos celebrate but they are not preachy nor full of propaganda and having the freedom to be expressive, I think the message of diversity and celebration is much stronger. Wouldn't it be fantastic when in the Bahai community we have artists and gays celebrating their freedom and diversity?

  • peyamb

    I have a question that I wonder if anyone here can shed some light on. We know that in the Synopsis and Codification of the Aqdas there is a broad prohibition on homosexuality. We also know that it was a committee of the UHJ that put this Synopsis out- it was NOT under the guidance of Shoghi Effendi. On another site, one individual told me that the Synopsis was based on an outline done by Shoghi Effendi, so therefore the Guardian himself interpreted Bahaullah's passage to mean a prohibition on ALL homosexuality. So my question is this- has anyone ever seen the actual outline, notes, anything left by the Guardian regarding the Synopsis and Codification of the Aqdas? You'd think this document would be out there, if it existed. Because if it does not exist, then that means the committee under the guidance of the UHJ just basically had to research ALL of SE's letters, notes, whatever he wrote in order to come up with the Synopsis and Codification of the Aqdas. And if that is the case, then we are back to square one with the prohibtion against homosexuality. It actually isn't an interpretation at all, but instead something produced under fallible Bahais pickign and choosing letters written by secretaries of Shoghi Effendi.

  • laliluleulz

    Shoghi Effendi wrote the Synopsis and Codification. not a committee. Are you suggesting that the UHJ has decided to make homosexuality forbidden and are actively trying to manipulate the sacred writings? why would they do that? what intensive do they have to do that?

  • peyamb

    Lali dear. I'll just reiterate what Baquia said to you: ” I humbly suggest that you please read and inform yourself of the basic tenants of your Faith otherwise, not only are you depriving yourself, you are also spreading misinformation and confusion to others who may be searching and attempting to learn about the Faith.”
    Now, for those who actually know the history of how the Synopsis was created and know that it was put together and released in in 1973- years after the passing of the Guardian, can anyone please tell me if the actual notes of the Guardian or an outline in in existance for the Synopsis. I know that they include in the Synopsis 20 some passages that were actually translated by Shoghi Effendi- the rest was done by a committee of the UHJ. So if they did not have an outline for the Synopsis, how did they come up with the general prohibition against ALL homosexuality forever? My guess is that there was no direct interpretation by Shoghi Effendi. The committee basically had to look at whatever they could find to make a decision. And all they could find regarding the topic of homosexuality from Shoghi Effendi were personal letters written to questions of individuals- letters as we all know written by secretaries and NOT Shoghi Effendi.

  • Baquia

    Peyam, this is a good question and not surprisingly, I have no idea. You can check with Sen McGlinn, he may have an idea. You can also write to the Research Department at the BWC via the Secretariat: secretariat@bwc.org

  • peyamb

    Yeah, I shoudl write to the Secretariat, but I have bad taste in my mouth from the last time I wrote. But someone emailed me a note that made sense…if such an outline existed, surely the UHJ would have published it with the Synopsis. They published the actual translations that SE made, so it would make sense they would publish any notes/scribbles anythign that was penned by him in regards to such an important piece of work. I seriously think what you have is a situation of translating text, then going back and finding letters, notes, anything to try to decide what Shoghi Effendi may have thought regarding that particular passage.

  • http://www.letters-of-the-living.blogspot.com/ Amanda

    When and if people write to the Research Department in Farsi, are they more liberal in replying with untranslated texts, directly from the original sources? Is there any kind of compilation of Baha'i writings/correspondence on homosexuality in Farsi or Arabic, drawing from original texts? I am thinking of the few official places the anti-gay policies get officially corralled in English for Western believers, and wondering if a similar “corral” exists in Farsi or Arabic. It might provide interesting context. Anybody know?

  • laliluleulz

    I refer you to the copyright page of synopsis and codification which says,
    Synopsis and Codification of the Laws and Ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas
    by Bahá'u'lláh and Shoghi Effendi
    Translated by Shoghi Effendi.
    Edited by Shoghi Effendi.
    Haifa: Baha'i World Center, 1973

    © UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE 1973
    COPYRIGHT UNDER THE BERNE CONVENTION
    ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

    First edition 1973
    Seems clear that Shoghi effendi wrote translated and edited it. All the UHJ did was publish it In 1973.
    And you did not answer my question are you suggesting the UHJ would openly manipulate the writings to oppose homosexuality? why would the UHJ do that? What incentive do they have?

  • http://www.sonjavank.blogspot.com sonjavank

    laliluleulz wrote:

    “Synopsis and Codification of the Laws and Ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas
    by Bahá'u'lláh and Shoghi Effendi
    Translated by Shoghi Effendi.
    Edited by Shoghi Effendi.
    Haifa: Baha'i World Center, 1973″,

    and then concluded:
    “Seems clear that Shoghi effendi wrote translated and edited it.
    All the UHJ did was publish it In 1973.”

    but on page 6 of this same document the UHJ states:

    “Shoghi Effendi, towards the end of his life, adopted as one of the goals of the Ten Year Crusade the codification of the laws and ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, and he himself worked upon it, leaving an outline of a synopsis and codification in English, and notes in Persian. This constituted a great part of the task which the Universal House of Justice included as a goal of the Nine Year Plan and which it then completed according to the patten he had set.

    (Baha'u'llah, Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 6)

    So the question Peyam asks, which passages did Shoghi Effendi write and which passages the UHJ write, remains open?

    The notes and translations produced by the UHJ represent their understanding at the time. No one has said that the UHJ is manipulating the Writings. The whole point of the UHJ is that they are flexible and can change what a previous UHJ has written.

  • laliluleulz

    this excerpt is from the introduction of the Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas and was written by the UHJ this is why it says.

    THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE
    Haifa
    Ridván 130
    (April 1973 A.D.)

    at the end at the end of the introduction. as you know it is common for other authors to write introductions to books.

    this passage clearly affirms that Shoghi Effendi “himself worked upon it, leaving an outline of a synopsis and codification in English.”

    so to clarify the UHJ wrote the introduction to the Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas and Shoghi Effendi wrote the Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas.

    a pretty simple answer to Peyam's question.

    and i am glad that nobody is sugesting that the UHJ is openly manipulating the writings. and i still don't know what you mean buy change and flexibility as you haven't responded to my last post to you.

  • http://www.sonjavank.blogspot.com sonjavank

    “an outline” is not the same as all the details that are in the Synopsis. I'll leave it to the other readers of this blog to see this distinction. The question is how much of an outline did Shoghi Effendi make?

    I don't understand your statement that I haven't responded to you.
    Paste the link to the comment in a response so I can find it. I don't have time to search for it and obviously I didn't get it if I am asking you for this.
    In your response to not understanding what I mean about 'flexibility'
    read the blog at the top of these comments.
    The following might help:

    “Inasmuch as the House of Justice hath power to enact laws that are not expressly recorded in the Book and bear upon daily transactions, so also it hath power to repeal the same. Thus for example, the House of Justice enacteth today a certain law and enforceth it, and a hundred years hence, circumstances having profoundly changed and the conditions having altered, another House of Justice will then have power, according to the exigencies of the time, to alter that law. This it can do because these laws form no part of the divine explicit Text. The House of Justice is both the initiator and the abrogator of its own laws.”
    (Abdu'l-Baha, The Will and Testament, p. 20)

    “…the Universal House of Justice is not omniscient; like the Guardian, it wants to be provided with facts when called upon to render a decision, and like him it may well change its decision when new facts emerge….
    (The Universal House of Justice, 1977 Aug 22, Clarification on Infallibility)

    “In the Bahá'í Faith moderation, which is so strongly upheld by Bahá'u'lláh, is applied here also. Provision is made for supplementary legislation by the Universal House of Justice — legislation which it can itself abrogate and amend as conditions change. There is also a clear pattern already established in the Sacred Scriptures, in the interpretations made by 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, and in the decisions so far made by the Universal House of Justice, whereby an area of the application of the laws is
    intentionally left to the conscience of each individual believer.
    This is the age in which mankind must attain maturity, and one aspect of this is the assumption by individuals of the responsibility for deciding, with the assistance of consultation, their own course of action in areas which are left open by the law of God.”
    (The Universal House of Justice, 1988 Jun 05, Detailed Legislation on Moral Issues)

    PS:B, on this computer I am unable to respond to L.
    This happened last time to me too. I think technically, after so many replies to replies, the system stops, or at least on my computer it does. So B, like you did last time, please re-insert this response in the response below this. thanks.

  • peyamb

    Lali the reason I didn't respond to your question is because I was trying to IGNORE YOU. But ok, I'll answer you to calm you down. NO, I don't think anyone was manipulating anything. I do believe however that they did have to go back and find anythign they could to decide what exactly would Shoghi Effendi think about this or that passage in the Aqdas so they could make a decision. You say “seems clear that SE wrote, translated and edited it and UHJ just published it” But from the preface of the actual Aqdas we have this: http://en.bahaitext.org/Kit%C3%A1b-i-Aqdas/Preface
    “In 1953 Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, included as one of the goals of his Ten Year Plan the preparation of a Synopsis and Codification of the Laws and Ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas as an essential prelude to its translation. He himself worked on the codification, but had not finished it when he died in 1957. The task was continued on the basis of his work, and the resulting volume was released in 1973.”
    So what I am asking is: “What parts of the codification this Shoghi Effendi work on himself before he died? Where are his notes?” The title having Shoghi Effendi's name on it does not mean that he wrote it, edited it and completed the work himself, when it has been made clear that some committee did years later. Thank you!

  • laliluleulz

    1. Just to add reality check to Laliluleulz's comment “the rest of the Bahais”, which I guess means me then. I do not agree with anything you have written. So much so, I don't even know where to start with the various assumptions you have made about what you say is in the Bahai Writings. So all I can say is to state clearly and LOUDLY, as one of the 'rest of the Bahais', I do not think it is a good thing to go around claiming that diverse views are “disobedient” or “misinformed” – that is a very childish statement to make.
    I never claimed diverse views were disobedient. I was just riffing on his statement about the supposed dwindling of the Bahá’í faith. I was taking about those Bahá’ís that have openly and actively opposed the administration. I wasn’t talking about you or him. I don’t even know you or him. And you seem to value diverse opinion but just not mine which is strange. But for some reason you won’t show me how my opinion is wrong I give peyamb all the respect in the world for at least trying. I’ll admit I’m not right all of the time only a fool does that. I am completely willing to admit I’m wrong if you can show me how.
    2. A Ruhi mindset is someone (as written in the quotation you quote) who accepts the status quo as correct (I guess from their viewpoint, not realizing that there are other viewpoints) and focus on following Ruhi by route (that's how the whole system works, learn it by heart and repeat it – and don't, God forbid, ask any questions or have doubts or a different answer to the one provided by the tutor.)
    It sounds like you have had some bad experiences with Ruhi. Sorry for that. For future reference a tutor is only supposed to facilitate the group and not prevent or resist the asking of questions or suppress people’s viewpoints or questions or act as an authority. If this happens you should report it to this to your LSA. As for your resistance to memorization of the sacred writings meditate on this from Bahá'u'lláh.
    They should memorize phrases and passages bearing on various instances, so that in the course of their speech they may recite divine verses whenever the occasion demandeth it, inasmuch as these holy verses are the most potent elixir, the greatest and mightiest talisman. So potent is their influence that the hearer will have no cause for vacillation. (Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 200)
    And there’s no set way to run Ruhi I’ve been is sessions were we strictly adhere to the Ruhi books and don’t indulge side conversations. I’ve also been to sessions were we only manage a page a day because we go off in tangents and side conversations. If you don’t like a particular tutor find one you do like or become a tutor yourself and do it the way you think it should be done.
    3. So L, I'm one of “the rest of the Bahais” and i'm all for nuance, diversity, open debate, change, and going to the source of the Writings (as much as is possible and in ways which will always involve flexibility and change) till the day I drop.
    Im for open debate as well, that’s what this is. I’m curious buy what you mean buy change? I know that’s a trendy political buzzword today but I’m a details oriented person I’m wondering what you mean by and change. I hear this and flexability a lot from this community, and honestly what to know.
    4. In a nutshell, what I think we lost with not having the guardianship, is flexibility. Look at Shoghi Effendi's own writings, how one of his main missions seemed to be to limit and to spread power.
    That’s interesting limit and spread power? Can you give me an example of this?
    5. Getting back Qaquia's original blog here, I think one of the problems of the elected becoming more and more, it seems, a consequence of being appointed is a loss of flexibility that comes with new blood and differing views. Locally, what is happening is that now individuals appointed by the NSA or by cluster things or by the Ruhi system, are managing things where previously elected bodies such as the LSAs did this. I haven't done my homework on this, so it would be good hear from others of their experiences on this change from the elected to the appointed at local community levels.
    Not sure what you mean. The LSAs sponsors (ie run) clusters and I don’t know what you mean by the Ruhi system. If you complete Ruhi u can be a tutor. Those tutors are still under the authority of the LSA. And the rest the core activities are administered by the LSAs
    6. And finally, when the first UHJ was to be elected, the Hands of the Cause (who had been appointed) informed everyone that they were not eligible for election, thus keeping in the spirit of openenss and new blood. The UHJ could easily announce that members of the ITC cannot be elected onto the UHJ if they wanted to. It could help keep a balance of the appointed and the elected distinctive. A feature I think Abdul-Baha and Shoghi Effendi intended.
    Interesting idea could you support it?

  • http://www.sonjavank.blogspot.com sonjavank

    I wrote: “The UHJ could easily announce that members of the ITC cannot be elected onto the UHJ if they wanted to. It could help keep a balance of the appointed and the elected distinctive. A feature I think Abdul-Baha and Shoghi Effendi intended.”

    L wrote: “Interesting idea could you support it?”

    My response: The differences between the appointed and elected institutions, and ways they complement each other, have been worked out in many UHJ messages, but they derive ultimately from the fact the Will and Testament refers to both the Guardianship and the Hands (appointed), and the Houses of Justice (elected). That already indicated a complementary relationship with different roles, which Shoghi Effendi then detailed in his World Order letters. For
    example:

    “It must be also clearly understood by every believer that the institution of Guardianship does not under any circumstances abrogate, or even in the slightest degree detract from, the powers granted to the Universal House of Justice by Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, and repeatedly and solemnly confirmed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in His Will. It does not constitute in any manner a contradiction to the Will and Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, nor does it nullify any of His
    revealed instructions. It enhances the prestige of that exalted assembly, stabilizes its supreme position, safeguards its unity, assures the continuity of its labors, without presuming in the slightest to infringe upon the inviolability of its clearly-defined sphere of jurisdiction.”
    (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 8)

    “An attempt, I feel, should at the present juncture be made to explain the character and functions of the twin pillars that support this mighty Administrative Structure — the institutions of the Guardianship and of the Universal House of Justice. … these twin institutions of the Administrative Order of Bahá'u'lláh should be regarded as divine in origin, essential in their functions and complementary in their aim and purpose. Their common, their fundamental object is to insure the continuity of that divinely- appointed authority which flows from the Source of our Faith, to safeguard the unity of its followers and to maintain the integrity and flexibility of its teachings. Acting in conjunction with each other these two inseparable institutions administer its affairs, coordinate its activities, promote its interests, execute its laws and defend its subsidiary institutions. Severally, each operates within a clearly defined sphere of jurisdiction; each is equipped with its own attendant institutions — instruments designed for the effective discharge of its particular responsibilities and duties.
    Each exercises, within the limitations imposed upon it, its powers, its authority, its rights and prerogatives. These are neither contradictory, nor detract in the slightest degree from the position which each of these institutions occupies. Far from being incompatible or mutually destructive, they supplement each other's
    authority and functions, and are permanently and fundamentally united in their aims…. ” (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, 147-8, )

    and lots more, see
    http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/se/WOB/wob-40.html

  • laliluleulz

    hum… if the master was against the appointed serving on the UJH why did he make the Guardian (an appointed person) a life time member of the UHJ? it seems that he had no problem with a member of the appointed serving on the UHJ. and none of the experts provided suggest otherwise. Im sorry but no where do they say that the appointed should not be elected to the UHJ in these quotes provided. Could you post some that do please?

  • fubar

    I think sonja's point is that the uhj could rule in that manner (prohibit election of a particular group of appointed persons), if it became apparent that it was a good idea to do so.

    the current mentality in the haifan bahai mainstream is to resist necessary reforms that are common sense (which “really means” resist any move away from literalism/fundamentalism, either symbolic or practical).

  • fubar

    lali wrote:
    ” I was taking about those Bahá’ís that have openly and actively opposed the administration. I wasn’t talking about you or him. I don’t even know you or him. And you seem to value diverse opinion but just not mine which is strange.”

    Is your opinion actually “diverse”, or just parroting that same ol', usual stuff?

    As far as I know, virtually all the people that “opposed administration” , from Dialogue Magazine to Talisman, and since, were really trying to overcome persistent patterns of abuse of authority that arose FROM WITHIN BAHAI ADMINISTRATION in reaction to dissent, nonconformism and criticism from individuals and groups that tried to improve existing practices and understandings.

    There are at least two “high level” cases of abuse of authority that established precendence early on:

    1) the Mazandarani history project (abuse of authority by the Iranian NSA, which was not reversed by S.E.), and,

    2) presecution of Louis Gregory by the dominant/white/racist faction of the USA NSA is failure to support the NSA's undermining of “Race Amity” activities.

    In some more recent cases, such as the Omaha mashriq, it was simply the act of trying to realign community practices to “authentic bahai scripture” that unleashed a storm of vicious attacks, orchestrated by people WITHIN ADMINISTRATION who were AFRAID that tolerance of REFORM would threaten the “existing paradigm”.

    After personally seeing 30+ years of a consistent pattern of dysfunctional organizational practices in the haifan bahai organization, and having assisted with a local community history project (usa bahai community), and having read other related commentary by scholars studying the history and sociology of the haifan bahai community, there is no question that whenever the typical “defenders” of the administration state their viewpoint, it is because they are incapable, or unwiling, to admit the rot and corruption that exists, and the vast pattern of lies that are used to maintain the status quo.

    So, what this thread is really about is how you are in DENIAL, and can't even follow your own religion's rules about detachment, seeking truth, and protesting INJUSTICES.

    Do you really expect people that have been involved in fighting against the lies and corruption and dysfunctional nature of bahai administration for years/decades to LIKE the way that you repeat those lies and demean their attempts at reform?

    Do you see any parallel between your DISLIKE of critics/reformers and the dislike of critics/reformers in other literalist/fundamentalist tending religious communities run by authoritarians?

    Have you EVER seen ONE *REAL* example of the history of abuses of authority in the mainstream haifan bahai community cited in ANY training material used to prepare people for administrative service?

    The reality is that haifan bahai administration is replete with a pattern of intolerance, narrowmindedness and deception.

    Don't expect people that are disgusted by that kind of thing to LIKE it when you repeat it (for reasons that you probably haven't even bothered to reflect on).

    Bye!
    (ex-bahai, 30+ years)

  • fubar

    are you really incapable of seeing the difference between someone like S.E., that was a heriditary “appointee”, and some daft bureaucract and suck-up/conformist that has floated to the top of the cesspool of bahai administration?

  • fubar

    (trying again, sorry if this is a duplicate)

    lali said:
    “… The LSAs sponsors (ie run) clusters and I don’t know what you mean by the Ruhi system. If you complete Ruhi u can be a tutor. Those tutors are still under the authority of the LSA. And the rest the core activities are administered by the LSAs”

    —response follows—

    Ok, so you have described perfectly how the system of conformity, via rigid “top down” [anti-democratic] authority structures, usually works in the haifan bahai community:

    Little can escape the scrutiny and “control” of a LSA, at least over the long run.

    In my 30+ years of experience, including participation in a number of “non-authorized” activities, most of which involved attempts at “reform” and “protest of injustices” that would NEVER have been tolerated within the haifan bahai mainstream (believe me, many people tried “internal protest” and were viciously attacked), what became apparent was that it is invariably true that *innovative practices* are either attacked, or infiltrated/misappropriated by conformists in administration.

    If you are ever able to research, or talk honestly to the tribe of people that cooked up Ruhi, you will see how specific cultural/organizational biases, values and preferences were “baked in” in such as way that other forms of practice and thinking are MARGINALIZED.

    [the lack of "meta knowledge" and information about how Ruhi was formulated is a very interesting case of how "secrecy" is used in bahai administration to destroy "bottom up" innovation and local community initiative in favor of "corporatist" bureaucracy.]

    (e.g., please find one example of a “nonconforming” idea about biological evolution in Ruhi. evolution is a far more important idea than “progressive revelation” to humanity, but Ruhi has nothing about it.)

    In comparison to other methods/experiments in spiritual community building, Ruhi is extremely and DANGEROUSLY unsophisticated, backward and narrowminded:

    http://fce-community.org/mission/
    -
    http://www.context.org/ICLIB/IC29/Peck.htm
    -
    http://www.vastsky.org/Home.html
    -
    http://www.scottlondon.com/interviews/hillman.html
    -
    http://www.cejournal.org/GRD/neville.htm

    Anyways, in several cases, including “mass teaching” using non-traditional, methods the mainstream community simply can't tolerate allowing any kind of TRULY independent thought or practice that either directly or indirectly exposes the failures and dysfunctional patterns that are deeply imbedded in mainstream haifan bahai culture.

    It is only by ignoring and covering up the reality of a consistent pattern of abuses of authority (especially suppression of reforms, nonconformism, and dissent) and failures in the haifan bahai mainstream that the status quo dysfunctional administrative culture can be maintained.

    The problem is that most bahais are perfectly happy to be ignorant and brainwashed into worshipping authority and institutions even though it is *clearly against their own religious scriptures* to do so.

    bahai folk culture represents spiritual and intellectual laziness.

    even amongst the elites and scholars, where more “talent” is required, a bizarre code is maintained to discourage openness and transparency.

    these organizational “codes” are very similar to those well understood in corrupt corporations, governments and other public institutions.

    Bye!

  • peyamb

    Lali did bring up a good question, “Are you suggesting that the UHJ has decided to make homosexuality forbidden and are actively trying to manipulate the sacred writings? why would they do that? what intensive do they have to do that?;
    As I said before, I don't think there was any conscious decision by the UHJ's committee woring on the Synopsis to do this, or even for that matter the secretaries' who wrote on behalf of Shoghi Effendi. BUT, they were constrained by the prevalent attitudes of society when writings these letters or pulling together the Synopsis. ONly very recently have gay relationships been given any status of legitimacy with more and more countries accepting them as legal entities. During the 70's when the Synopsis was being put together, this was not the case. And definitely it wasn't during the time of Shoghi Effendi. So the thought that these secretaries or this UHJ committee would take the honest approach and say that there si no definitie guideline on homosexuality. That all we have is some writings from Bahaullah against the padaestry. To do this would have made the Faith look very bad in the eyes of the world. The majority of religions and people at that time saw homosexuality as only one thing- a lecherous, disgusting act that perverts engaged in. It was considered dangerous and in many places still very much punishible with fines or worse imprisonment. So for the Bahai Faith to take even a neutral stance on such a topic would have been looked really bad on the Bahais. So these secretraries and committees went with the mainstream mentalitly on the subject at that time. I don't see it as some type of conspiracy or anyting like that. It just was what it was. But times have changed (for the better). And many gays have proven that their love can build as strong a family unit as anyting that straight couples can produce. So the Bahai Faith has a choice, to keep elevating these letters as Bahai doctrine and be stuck in their dogma for the rest of Bahai history OR take a fresh look at what Bahaullah actually said. And always putting the Bahai principles of justice, love and equality in the forefront.
    “O SON OF SPIRIT!
    The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes.”

  • laliluleulz

    OK lets follow this logic too, how come the ban on pederasty only covers boys and not girls too? and what about Baha'u'llah's ban on sodomy?

  • http://www.sonjavank.blogspot.com sonjavank

    Steve Marshall's post covers this here >>

  • peyamb

    Great article: http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/04/06/granderso
    I like the part where he says “Too often, discussions about gay people and gay rights focus on sex, as if a person's entire being is defined by his or her Hollywood crush.:
    This is so true, especially when religious zealots (including many “devout” Bahais) fight against accepting gays in their communities. One thing that no one has really discussed on this thread is what rights would LGBT people have in a future Bahai state? Bahais like to say that all minority rights would be protected, but I have a hard time seeing that when it comes to LGBT people. Would we be allowed to marry, adopt kids and live our lives as equals in society? I've given up forn now having that option WITHIN the Bahai community, but what about outside of it? Recent history (Bahais in Uganda, UK NSA's letter against teaching homosexuality in schools, the resistance of the Guyana Bahais against anti-discrimination laws including gay marriage) tells me that a future Bahai society would be very bleak for me.

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Peyamb -

    I think a religious state is never a good idea, particularly when it involves the notion of infallibility of religious leadership. We already see, if we look at attitudes in Baha'i communities today, how things can begin to go awry in people's thinking, and Baha'is don't even have any real worldly power yet. “Give unto God what is God's, and unto Caesar what is Caesar's” (a paraphrase) was pretty good advice. Anyone who thinks that Baha'is are not susceptible to possibly, in future, repeating the patterns of abuse we have seen in the past in other religions, and see today, is dangerously naive, IMO.

    Just putting in my two cents' worth. Baha'i government should be only for Baha'is, and not applicable to anyone else, and Baha'is should be free to leave without consequence if/when things get out of hand.

    “There's some dark seed
    in ideology
    that takes it so quickly
    from being a light in the world
    to a darkness,
    from being the hand that uplifts
    to being the fist that oppresses.”

    – Anonymous

    Barb

  • Harri_J

    Barb, this is not direct reply to your post, but a way to join the discussion. I have not yet read thru all the posts to get a precise idea of the subjects of the discussion. — I stumbled on this site, after many years of spiritual inactivity, after joining and leaving Finnish Bahai community many many years ago when I was young. But I still both feel and am intellectually convinced that Bahaullah is the Prophet of our time. And that the way Bahai Communities function(ed many years ago), was somehow not the inspiring, empowering way to function. I do think Bahai Communities evolve, as all communities which last, do. — Next things are hard to say shortly: I'll elaborate later. First: Aim of Life: Individuals are to learn to use their skills to do work to advance civilization. We only can do it in Communities: family, workplace, school, municipality, state, and voluntary organisations like Church or Bahai Community or this website. We are bound to work together. What is hardest in Collaboration: communication! But Bahaullah (and Jesus etc) say that communication should be our Joy. ( As you see, I definitely want to use my own words, to convey the meaning as I understand (we all know the Citations from different scriptures). ) Without Disagreement, there is no Communication. And to learn from disagreement, we need long-lasting exchange of feelings and thoughts, and that is Love, I suppose. — Are you not amazed at the world-changing inventions by God-inspired individuals like Tim Banerjee-Lee, Bill Gates, Linus Torvalds, Thomas Watson, who have made our website possible. So, it is hard to find anyone who doubts the civilization-advancing power of Materialistic Science (attitudes were different say 300-500 years ago). Why then is not the Community-building Sciences (psychology, organizational studies) seen as inspiring as materialistic science? Not even amongst Bahais??? I'll come back later, thank you all for your posts, I'll continue reading them…

  • Harri_J

    Seeking the spark of truth again. I realized to advance, I must look beyond names. I truly think the names of a Jew carpenter, an Indian prince, an arab merchant or a persian nobleman do have significance. What they did, how they did it, what they hinted at with their words is significant. And the same goes for any religious or societal group: do they really really inspire? Do they help all participants to progress in spiritiual as well as social path? And how could that be possible without equal sharing of thoughts, feelings, lively discussion of people's “here and now” experiences, both spiritual and social – and both allowing and progressing on differences, disagreements.
    So In short, I must completely forget anything beginning with B or C or M, or funny symbols. Just realized that it was no Church nor Islamic organization that abolished slavery, or nobilitys tyranny – to fulfill the Jew carpenters visions. God works mysteriously, mine is just to live seeking Him everywhere and in everyone…

  • thelasthonestguy

    For the sake of equality your right. Gay's are people too so they shouldn't be discriminated against or kicked out of a religion. What we as a people need to do is help support the gay community emotionally. Don't get me wrong my belief is that it's wrong for a man to be with another man or women with another women but who are we to alienate and persecute them? We should be inspired to help them in finding them selves and God, if he gave us free will who are we to walk into someone's life and pressure them into what we think is right. God has made it clear that it's sin, if the individual chooses to drift away from God, as much as that hurts us IT'S THEIR CHOICE!!!! God bless!!!!!!

  • timwatts

    I can see that you are a decent person and that you are trying to be supportive of a group of people you can see are being badly treated and I for one as a gay man appreciate it…But I have a few remarks to make to put you clear on a few matters. You say “We need to support the gay community” and “ “..it’s their life..” It seems to me that there is too much “them” and “us” in what you say. Gay people are not infiltrators or insurgents living in the margins..we are in fact everywhere and anyone. Parents, siblings, grandparents, children. Partners, lovers, teachers and politicians you name it gay people are it. You mention God and his giving people free will. This issue is at the heart of the debate in Christianity since at least the reformation and has not in my view been resolved to any degree of satisfaction so it’s best avoided especially in the context of sexuality. That I choose to sleep with men is in reality a fact but how much of a choice so I have? I didn’t choose to be sexuality attracted to men anymore that a straight woman is. Would you advise gays to remain celibate and not act in a way that conforms to the very essence of their natures? Is it cruel of the Almighty to make lions eat straw and horses eat zebra? Why, if people’s sexuality is pre-programmed would he then declare it an abomination if gay people so what straight people do? I.e. Act in accordance with their natures. Gays may choose which individuals to sleep with, of course but think about it, it’s not really a choice.

  • timwatts

    Now you have to expalin the reasons behind why you think it wrong for a man to be with another man…if it is based on your reading of the bahai writings and or the bible i think you ought to study them a little more and certainly in more detail…or would you rather continued with your understanding based on the interprestion of others….is it to save you time to choice off the peg opinions…so much quicker than forming your own…..Gays are not mentioned in either the bible or the writings of the bahai faith …if you find a place please do post…i'd be pleased to tell you what it really means…bless you in your ignorance..i am sure god made you that way for a purpose…however hidden

  • fubar

    tim,

    as you know, the idea (many variations) that sex is evil is a culturally and historically limited (non-universal) metaphysical construct that is outdated with reference to modernist and postmodernist culture.

    the more that people express (fundamentalist) religious reasons for discrimination against gays, the more backward those relgious people seem.

    haifan bahais will try to “cover up” their religious bigotry with references to authority and “”

    bigotry against gays, nonconformists, dissidents and critics is a form of ritualized abuse and psychological violence meant to reanimate specific archetypes and images that serve to maintain a rigidly orthodox paradigm.

    that is ironic given the (culturally and theologically) “revolutionary” origins of the bahai religion, e.g., in the stories presented in “Dawn Breakers” by the founders of the religion.

    the “disconnect” from social justice and progress themes is stunning, and indicates the great extent to which haifan bahai has become dominated by abusive authoritarianism and paradigm regression.

    in short, bahai has become more similar to the original oppressive cultural structures that it was an alternative to than dissimilar. haifan bahai has “absorbed” the “bad memes” of the cultures that it grew out of.

    such absorbsion can only take place when there is a vacuum of meaning within the community.

    there is specific, concrete evidence (artifacts of culture) that religious and social dynamism and innovation became increasingly unwelcome in the haifan bahai tradition as the memory of early charismatic leadership faded (mystical worship model), and was replaced by institutional relationships (administration/bureaucracy worship).

    http://bahai-library.org/resources/sociology.bi

    Warburg, Margit.[1] —-. 1990. “Units of Analysis and the Study of Religious Minorities.” A paper presented to the International Association for the History of Religions. Rome. 3-9 September. 11pp.
    —-. 1990. “Conversion: Considerations before a Fieldwork in a Bahá'í Village in Kerala.” in A. Parpola and B. Smidt Hansen, eds. South Asian Religion and Society. Scandinavian Inst. of Asian Studies. Studies on Asian Topics No. 11. Curzon Press. London: 223-235.
    —-. 1991. “The Circle, the Brotherhood, and the Ecclesiastical Body: Bahá'í in Denmark, 1925-1987.” in Armin W. Geertz and Jeppe Sinding Jensen, eds. Religion, Tradition, and Renewal. Aarhus University Press. Aarhus: 201-221.
    —-. 1992. “Denmark.” Bahá'í Encyclopedia. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust Forthcoming.
    —-. 1992. “Citizens of the World: Power, Organization, and Identity-Making in the Bahá'í Religion.” Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. Washington, D.C. 6-8 Nov. 28pp.
    —-. 1993. “Economic Rituals: The Structure and Meaning of Donations in the Bahá'í Religion.” Social Compass 40 (1) (March): 25-31.
    —-. 1993. “The Religious Metropolis: The Bahá'í World Centre in Israel.” Presented at Religion Forum, Committee on the Study of Religion. Harvard University. 30 Nov. (also presented at the International Society for the Sociology of Religion, 19-23 July 1993). 18pp.
    —-. 1993. “An Old, New Religion in Europe: Growth and Development of Bahá'í in Western Europe.” Presented at the Conference, New Religions and the New Europe.” London School of Economics, 25-28 March. 14pp.
    —-. 1994. “Restrictions and Privileges: The Legal and Administrative Practice Towards Minority Religions in the USA and Denmark.” Presented at the RENNORD 94 Conference on New Religions and New Religiosity, 22-25 Aug. 13pp.
    —-. 1995. “Growth Patterns of New Religions: The Case of Bahá'í.” in Robert Towler, ed. New Religions and the New Europe. Aarhus University Press. Aarhus: 177-192.
    —-. 1995. “Globalization and the Bahá'í World Centre.” Presented at the Department of Sociology, University of Exeter. 25 Jan. 20pp.
    —-. 1995. “A Multi-Dimensional Approach to Religious Self-Definition in the Bahá'í Community.” Presented at the International Conference of Sociology and Religion. Quebec, 26-30 June. 15pp.
    —-. 1995. “Religious Definitions and Religious Polemics: Bahá'í in Popular Handbooks of Religion.” Presented at a Conference on Anti-Bahá'í Polemic, Religious Studies Department. University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. 8-10 Dec. 18pp.
    —-. “Religious Innovation in Denmark: The Establishment and Growth of the Danish Bahá'í Community, 1925-1987.” in Peter Smith, ed. Bahá'ís in the West. Studies in Babi and Bahá'í History. 8. Kalimat. Los Angeles. 58pp.
    —-. and David Piff. n.d. “Restrictions and Privileges: The Legal and Administrative Practice Towards Minority Religions in the USA and Denmark.” In Eileen Barker and Margit Warburg. eds. New Religions and New Religiosity. [few pp. on Bahá'í Faith]
    —- and David Piff. n.d. “Enemies of the Faith: Rumours and Anecdotes as Self-Definition in the Bahá'í Religion.” in Eileen Barker and Margit Warburg, eds. New Religions and New Religiosity. 15pp.

  • fubar

    Harri,

    That is exactly what transpersonal psychology and other postmodern movements developed over the last 40 years or so. Even before that, pioneers in Integral Theory, such as Rudolf Steiner, Sri Aurobindo and Jean Gebser (_Ursprung und Gegenwart_ – in english “The Ever Present Origin”) were trying to understand the enormous changes that paradigm shifts would bring about as the lack of spirituality in “western liberal democracies” increased.

    Unfortunately the haifan bahai tradition has mostly been absent in contributing to progress, rather it has become obsessed by rigid orthodoxy, authoritarianism and internal conformism.

    See Danish sociologist Margit Warburg's publications for her research on the haifan bahai community.

    bye!

  • fubar

    http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=co

    Shambhala Sun | July 1999
    Liberalism and Religion – We Should Talk
    By: Ken Wilber


    The way it is now, the modern world really is divided into two major and warring camps, science and liberalism on the one hand, and religion and conservatism on the other. And the key to getting these two camps together is first, to get religion past science, and then second, to get religion past liberalism, because both science and liberalism are deeply anti-spiritual. And it must occur in that order, because liberalism won’t even listen to spirituality unless it has first passed the scientific test.

    In one sense, of course, science and liberalism are right to be anti-spiritual, because most of what has historically served as spirituality is now prerational, magic or mythic, implicitly ethnocentric, fundamentalist dogma. Liberalism traditionally came into existence to fight the tyranny of prerational myth and that is one of its enduring and noble strengths (the freedom, liberty, and equality of individuals in the face of the often hostile or coercive collective). And this is why liberalism was always allied with science against fundamentalist, mythic, prerational religion (and the conservative politics that hung on to that religion).
    But neither science nor liberalism is aware that in addition to prerational myth, there is transrational awareness. There are not two camps here: liberalism versus mythic religion. There are three: mythic religion, rational liberalism, and transrational spirituality.

    —end excerpt—

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-lakoff/a-g

    Posted: February 21, 2010 03:26 AM BIO Become a Fan Get Email Alerts Bloggers' Index
    A Good Week for Science (Or, What Eating Worms Reveals About Politics)

    Over the past couple of weeks, the New York Times has been reporting on results from the cognitive and brain sciences that confirm past research in those fields partly by me and partly by my community of colleagues. What makes this of general, not personal, interest is that the scientific results are especially important for understanding what has been going wrong for the Obama administration and for liberals generally, and what has been going right for conservatives. I'm going to start out with some science, and get on to the politics after brief discussions of three important NY Times articles and what they mean scientifically.

    Those of you who've read my Don't Think of an Elephant! and The Political Mind will be familiar with the basic results of frame semantics, developed by my Berkeley colleague Charles Fillmore and others within the cognitive and brain sciences.

    The first basic result: The meaning of every word is characterized in terms of a brain circuit called a “frame.” Frames are often characterized in terms of the usual apparatus of mental life: metaphors, images, cultural narratives — and neural links to the emotion centers of the brain. The narrow, literal meaning of a word is only one aspect of its frame-semantic meaning.

    The second basic result is that this is mostly unconscious, like 98% of human thought.

    On the inherent link between semantic and emotion, see my discussion in The Political Mind (Chapter 1) and the excellent books by Antonio Damasio (Descartes' Error) and Drew Westen (The Political Brain).

    “Homosexual” is simply defined via a different frame than “gay men and lesbians.” Professor Geoffrey Stone of the U. of Chicago, writing in the Huffington Post on February 14, describes the difference:

    “Homosexual” conjures up dark visions of filthy bodily acts that arouse deeply-rooted feelings of disgust and ancient fears of Sodom and Gomorrah and hell and damnation. “Gay men and lesbians,” on the other hand, increasingly reminds us of people we know — sons and daughters, cousins and classmates, nieces and nephews, coworkers and neighbors.
    In short, there is a big difference in meaning — the framing difference between the thought of gay sex and the idea of the civil rights of people in your community. The consequences are political, as Professor Stone observes:

    When we hear religious leaders or politicians referring to “homosexuals in the military,” “homosexual marriage,” or “special rights for homosexuals,” we must recognize what they are doing. Especially for the 15% of Americans who react so viscerally to the term “homosexual,” they are trying to chew their way into the worst parts of our psyches in order to manipulate our beliefs and values and make us worse people than we really are.

    I've been writing for years about how effective the right wing has been at framing, and how progressives often use right-wing language, even in polls. I have had numerous discussions with well-known pollsters who did not get the point and could not distinguish commonplace language from commonplace language that activated right-wing frames.

    The cognitive science matters here. The CBS/NYT poll results were to be expected given our current understanding of how words get their meaning by being neurally linked to frame-circuits.

    Conservative Populism and Tea Partiers

    After the Goldwater defeat of 1964, conservatism was a dirty word and most Americans wanted to be liberals, especially working people, who were highly unionized. Lee Atwater and colleagues, working for the 1968 Nixon campaign, had a problem: How to get a significant number of working people to become conservative enough to vote for Nixon.

    They intuited wha