You know it!
Back by popular demand, here is the third installment in this series. For those of you who don’t know what this is all about, its basically a fact or trivia that for some strange reason, 99.99% of Baha’is don’t know of.
Now, I’ve been getting some feedback which goes something like this: “Meh, I knew that.” I think those that respond like that don’t really get what this is all about. It isn’t about what you may know or not know; its about something which the vast majority of the Baha’is out there don’t know. Oh, and if you do know, then good on ya mate! We’re all very proud of you.
So without further ado, lets get down to business:
Its a little known fact. . .that Baha’is are not forbidden from reading covenant-breaker material.
Shocking! Scandalous! Get my oxygen mask! Where’s that thorazine drip? Nuuuurse!!
Once you are appropriately medicated and are ready to go on, I will tell you that indeed this is true. See for yourself:
To read the writings of Covenant-breakers is not forbidden to the believers and does not constitute in itself an act of Covenant-breaking.
(Universal House of Justice — October 29, 1974)
The House of Justice has instructed us to say that, as you are no doubt aware, it is not prohibited for Baha’is to read the writings of Covenant-breakers…
(Secretariat — October 12, 1978)
And yet there is a persistent myth that Baha’is are forbidden or not allowed to (according to Baha’i law or authoritative instructions) to read material which was written by a covenant-breaker.
That this myth exists and is perpetuated is inexcusable – hence our shattering of it. But it is understandable once you remember two things. One, that the UHJ strongly discouraged Baha’is from reading such material (many individuals misinterpret this to mean that they are not free to decide for themselves) and two, that covenant-breakers aren’t looked upon too kindly. Well, that’s putting it diplomatically. In the minds of most Baha’is, they are categorized, in terms of attractiveness, somewhere among psychopaths and lepers (or a psychopathic leper). In short, they are to be shunned and avoided, at all costs.
A rather extreme measure, I’m sure you’ll agree. So why not then go one step further from discouragement to outright banning if covenant-breakers are so nasty?
I think the answer is that to do so would be to go against the most fundamental principle of the Baha’i Faith: individual and independant investigation of truth. And it is telling just how much this verity is prized that when it goes up against such a charged facet of the Faith as covenant-breakers, it comes out on top.
Interestingly enough I had a conversation a while back on LJ’s Baha’i forum on this very topic. One of the moderators (who finds it vital to their existence to correct me – especially when I’m not wrong) piped in and screamed:
And then went on to post quote after quote (like the above) which actually showed that Baha’is are not forbidden from reading covenant-breaker material. I don’t have a link to that because my comments as well as others’ were censored by the same moderator. But this moderator also ‘corrected’ me in this other thread. I mentioned that the UHJ only has legislative authority and then I was told ‘incorrect’ by the moderator and given quotes which shows that the UHJ only has legislative authority. Another person did something similar in this thread (here it is without censorship). If you need to go lie down after reading that, I don’t blame you. It seems that this whole topic evokes such a strong emotional reaction from Baha’is that they enter a state of temporary insanity. But I digress.
So the next time some Baha’i implies or says that they are forbidden from reading covenant-breaker material, you can show that this is patently, categorically, and absolutely false.
Just be ready to duck in an alley to escape the shrapnel as they explode in a hot flash of indignant (or is that ignorant) rage.