Membership Roll

All research or scholarship questions
choogue
Posts: 0
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 4:54 am

Membership Roll

Postby choogue » Wed Nov 22, 2006 4:19 am

All,

Can anyone get access to the membership roll for the Bahais?

Is their some sort of database where the list of members are kept? If so, is it located with the LSA or UHJ?

Regards
Abbas

Baha'i Warrior
Posts: 753
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 10:07 am
Location: U.S.A.

Postby Baha'i Warrior » Wed Nov 22, 2006 11:46 am

Just curious, why would you want that?

choogue
Posts: 0
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 4:54 am

Postby choogue » Thu Nov 23, 2006 12:29 am

Hey,

Its not that i want it, im just curious whether it is for public eyes.

Also, the reason it came to mind is that there is an email thats going around in Sydney from a Bahai who claims that she is no longer a believer but remains on the roll and she is pleading for everyone to search the truth.

So, i was wondering whether we could find out whether she really is a bahai or not.

The email she sent was to all her friends and my girlfriend got it, but my gf doesnt know who she is, however the email states she will reveal herself when the time is right because she is worried her parents wont associate with her anymore when they realise that she doesnt believe in the faith.

So it came to mind whether the membership roll is accessible for the public to see, and if so, it would be interesting to know whether this girl is really a Bahai or not.

Apparently she still goes to the feasts, meetings, classes, etc and now everytime my gf attends she is wondering which of her friends is the one that sent the email.

There are people, including my gf, who are chatting with her via email and trying to find out why she sent that email and to get her to tell them her real name. So if they are able to get her real name and they dont know her, would anyone be able to confirm that she really is a bahai by viewing the roll or is it only the UHJ that has access?

Regards
Abbas

Baha'i Warrior
Posts: 753
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 10:07 am
Location: U.S.A.

Postby Baha'i Warrior » Thu Nov 23, 2006 1:55 am

Her local assembly would know, they have the list of the Baha'is. Of course, I don't know if they'd release the info to you—Brett or Jonah would know more about this issue. I doubt though that non-Baha'is have access to such information, but I could be wrong.

This girl looks like she just wants attention, and I wouldn't give it to her (doing internet chats with her, etc.). If she doesn't want to be a Baha'i, that's fine, let her go her own way. That's what the Baha'i Faith is about: independent investigation. But it is offensive that she spam Baha'is with anonymous e-mails "pleading for everyone to search the truth." As if they haven't already done that, and she has.

If she keeps sending out harassing e-mails to the Baha'is, and her identity becomes known, I think she should be reported. No Baha'i should put up with that stuff.

All the best...

choogue
Posts: 0
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 4:54 am

Postby choogue » Thu Nov 23, 2006 2:07 am

Oh ok cool.

Ill get my gf to ask the LSA if they would provide a list.

Thanks
Abbas

brettz9
Posts: 1360
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 12:12 pm
Contact:

Postby brettz9 » Thu Nov 23, 2006 8:11 am

It is the National Spiritual Assembly which tracks membership for the country, but as the Local Spiritual Assembly reports this information to them (and is informed by them), the Local Assembly should of course know who their own members are, though there are instructions about them keeping information about membership private.

In the U.S. National Spiritual Assembly's compilation, they state (as far as their own policy at least--not necessarily the case for each country--Australia has its own handbook, for example, and can have its own policies):

The lists
should not, however, be given to individual Bahá'ís outside of the
community without the prior consent of each community member, as the
names and addresses of the Bahá'ís are considered confidential.


and

Mailing lists and directories are to be used for the work of the
Faith only and may not be used for promotional or advertising purposes,
or for business solicitation. Bahá'ís provide their addresses and
personal information to the National Spiritual Assembly with the
understanding that the information they provide will be kept
confidential. The National Spiritual Assembly is obligated to protect
the privacy of those who do not wish to receive unauthorized mail.


Despite the above, it may be possible (I don't know) to inquire of the National Spiritual Assembly (as individuals, non-Bahá'ís, or institutions I don' t know) to confirm whether someone is a member or not, as the above statements (for the U.S. community) are in the context of addresses and lists.

best wishes,
Brett

choogue
Posts: 0
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 4:54 am

Postby choogue » Thu Nov 23, 2006 8:25 am

Cool thanks Brett

brettz9
Posts: 1360
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 12:12 pm
Contact:

Postby brettz9 » Thu Nov 23, 2006 9:08 am

Sure, no problem.

You know, while I agree with BW's sentiments, maybe this situation you describe could present itself as an opportunity for study of the aspects of the Faith which raise questions or are not understood. We here I think would be happy to assist in trying to find quotations for any difficult questions which the local friends there could not address.

Also, I hope that care is taken to assure the young Bahá'ís there that we do support independent investigation of truth, and that if the parents in fact were to reject her for any change she might make (though as we know, youth can tend to be extra-sensitive in some cases, and the parents may be quite supportive of her decisions, even if contrary to their belief), that the issue could be brought to the Local Spiritual Assembly or the Auxiliary Board (members of an appointed branch of the Faith, which, though they have no individual authority, are given the role (with the help of their assistants) of protecting as well as propagating the Faith at the grass-roots level) to seek counsel to ensure that the youth is not facing barriers to her independent investigation and that the parents can be instructed to show the utmost tolerance (if they are not already) for her decisions. While parents may be naturally disappointed and may seek to persuade their children otherwise, any kind of forcefulness, much less shunning others is explicitly prohibited in the Faith (except in the very rare case of Covenant-breaking--which is an entirely different matter).

take care,
Brett

brettz9
Posts: 1360
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 12:12 pm
Contact:

Postby brettz9 » Thu Nov 23, 2006 9:47 am

Here is something I dug up from the Australian LSA Handbook which is even more explicit (at least in Australia):

3.6.3. Are membership lists confidential?

Yes. A Local Spiritual Assembly may not share its membership list, or individual names from it, with any other institution or individual, Bahá'í or non-Bahá'í outside its community, without the prior consent of the believers whose names are on the list...Any Local Spiritual Assembly in doubt as to whether it should share names from its membership list in any given instance should contact the National Office for advice.

(Local Spiritual Assembly Handbook, Third edition, bolding and italics added)


However, the above does seem to allow for the people in the community to know; it is in fact common (and described in these administrative manuals as acceptable within the community) for lists of community members to be shared with those in the community. For those concerned with privacy even here (though Bahá'í businesses and the like are forbidden from using these lists), people can leave a P.O. Box as their address and a few might even explicitly request not to be contacted (but by registering, they are of course joining a community and the Bahá'í Writings advise Bahá'ís to be involved in their community life).

I apologize as it seems I didn't pay close enough attention to the circumstances you described. So, in sum, it seems that your friend could find out if she were a Bahá'í in the community, but not you yourself.

take care,
Brett

Baha'i Warrior
Posts: 753
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 10:07 am
Location: U.S.A.

Postby Baha'i Warrior » Thu Nov 23, 2006 7:25 pm

brettz9 wrote:While parents may be naturally disappointed and may seek to persuade their children otherwise, any kind of forcefulness, much less shunning others is explicitly prohibited in the Faith (except in the very rare case of Covenant-breaking--which is an entirely different matter).


I have to say though, that in many cases such as with ex-Baha'is or whatnot (speaking from personal experience and also stories I have heard), the person who rejects the Faith (such as an ex-Baha'i) will tend to speak very negatively about the Faith whenever he is around family members, even though the family members dislike it and ask him to stop. Some people not only reject the Faith, but also seem like they have to convince others that the (Baha'i) beliefs are wrong, and say many hateful things about others' religions. And in the case of this girl, it seems that she is not only deciding to go in another direction—which is perfectly fine, to join another religion—but also bedeviling her community with provocative e-mails, trying to cause strife and to get other Baha'is dissatisfied with their own religion.

So, in conclusion, we shouldn't necessarily blame the parents and make the family member who rejects the Faith look like the victim (I'm not saying anyone here is doing that, I'm just speaking in general terms). I am not saying that in this situation it is necessarily the case that the girl is embittered with the Faith to the extent that some ex-Baha'is or teenagers possessed by fierce identity crises trying to "get back" at their parents are, but there are to be sure many instances where family members will converse only infrequently with another family member because he always tries to bring the subject of the Baha'i Faith up and attack it, though others ask that he not do so. If such unpleasantries occur frequently—whether or not they are of a religious nature—then it is understandable that others would want to distance themselves from such a person who creates great disunity within the family. I believe it is 'Abdu'l-Baha (or is it perhaps Baha'u'llah) who says that if religion is creating disunty in the family, then it should be abandoned. This goes to show one how crucial unity really is (within the family, in this case).

Anyone may feel free to disagree with me. I sincerely hope that my opinions are in accord with the spirit of the Baha'i teachings, so if someone disagrees with the above based on the Writings, please provide a response. We are all learning. :)

Sean H.
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:25 pm

don't rule out abuse by Baha'i families/institutions/leaders

Postby Sean H. » Fri Nov 24, 2006 12:13 pm

Baha'i Warrior wrote:...
I have to say though, that in many cases such as with ex-Baha'is or whatnot (speaking from personal experience and also stories I have heard), the person who rejects the Faith (such as an ex-Baha'i) will tend to speak very negatively about the Faith whenever he is around family members, even though the family members dislike it and ask him to stop. Some people not only reject the Faith, but also seem like they have to convince others that the (Baha'i) beliefs are wrong, and say many hateful things about others' religions. And in the case of this girl, it seems that she is not only deciding to go in another direction—which is perfectly fine, to join another religion—but also bedeviling her community with provocative e-mails, trying to cause strife and to get other Baha'is dissatisfied with their own religion.
...


Yes, and Baha'is also trash ex-Baha'is and reformers on a regular basis, including engaging in horrifying abuses of administrative authority in order to silence critics.

Anyways (I don't know the specifics of this case), there are a range of possibilities as to what is going on in this case, including:

1) the complaining person may be emotionally unstable with little or no good reason

2) the complaining person may be emotionally unstable with good reason due to abuse, injustices, etc. within their Baha'i family and/or Baha'i community.

3) the complaining person may have been cynically manipulated by people on the "Bahai left" (my term) who tend to prey on the weak-minded in order to propogate their own grudges and ideological agendas in the guise of "protests" or "reforms".

Abbas or anyone else that wants to know about the issue can, as suggested, of course go the a LSA or the NSA of that country to seek information. In these kinds of cases, they are unlikely to ever hear the "real complete story" because Baha'i institutions are suposed to do as much as they can to maintain a discrete position on personal/family matters.

If there is any legitimacy to the person's complaints, some information might be available on the web sites/blogs of "dissidents" and people on the Baha'i left, but I hesitate to mention any specifics given the highly biased and distorted ideological nature of much of the material on those sites/blogs.

Regards,
Eric

Baha'i Warrior
Posts: 753
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 10:07 am
Location: U.S.A.

Re: don't rule out abuse by Baha'i families/institutions/lea

Postby Baha'i Warrior » Fri Nov 24, 2006 12:37 pm

epierce wrote:Yes, and Baha'is also trash ex-Baha'is and reformers on a regular basis, including engaging in horrifying abuses of administrative authority in order to silence critics.


Define "trash."

And can you give any examples of the alleged "horrifying abuses of administrative authority in order to silence critics"?

Sean H.
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:25 pm

Re: don't rule out abuse by Baha'i families/institutions/lea

Postby Sean H. » Fri Nov 24, 2006 1:06 pm

Baha'i Warrior wrote:
epierce wrote:Yes, and Baha'is also trash ex-Baha'is and reformers on a regular basis, including engaging in horrifying abuses of administrative authority in order to silence critics.


Define "trash."


You used to term "negativity".

In addition, lies, distortions, impugning the intentions and motivations of critics or reformers, accusing them of being spiritually unworthy, infirm, and so forth.

All of the above are tactics of fanatics, extremists and people that have unhealthy desire for power and ego gratification.


Baha'i Warrior wrote:And can you give any examples of the alleged "horrifying abuses of administrative authority in order to silence critics"?


Yes. I resigned because of one of many of such examples.

Regards,
Eric

Baha'i Warrior
Posts: 753
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 10:07 am
Location: U.S.A.

Re: don't rule out abuse by Baha'i families/institutions/lea

Postby Baha'i Warrior » Fri Nov 24, 2006 2:40 pm

All of the above are tactics of fanatics, extremists and people that have unhealthy desire for power and ego gratification.


That's all very vague.

Baha'i institutions that don't like recusants attacking their Faith are "extremists" and "fanatics"? You make it sounds like Baha'is (and Baha'i institutions) who don't agree with subversives are setting off car bombs or something like that.

epierce wrote:
Baha'i Warrior wrote:And can you give any examples of the alleged "horrifying abuses of administrative authority in order to silence critics"?

Yes. I resigned because of one of many of such examples.


Still vague. Apparently there are only an infinitesimal amount of Baha'is (including those who eventually withdraw) who feel that Baha'is and Baha'i institutions are "extremists" and "fanatics," so there's no problem (that is, with the Baha'is).

Regards.

Jonah
Site Admin
Posts: 409
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2003 1:25 pm
Location: St Catharines, Ontario (near Niagara Falls)
Contact:

Postby Jonah » Fri Nov 24, 2006 5:26 pm

It seems to me that this thread has been "hijacked" (the slang term online for when someone/s with an agenda changes the topic of a discussion for their own purposes). Begging everyone's forgiveness, I'm going to lock it now.

Further discussion of the "membership rolls" is welcome, just start a new thread to do so.

Thanks, -Jonah


Return to “Discussion”