Re: Repression of ideas?

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Posted by Jim ( on August 13, 2003 at 18:38:50:

In Reply to: Repression of ideas? posted by Jim Habegger on August 13, 2003 at 05:43:08:

Do any Baha'is hesitate at all, in the conduct of scholarship, to promote views that seem contrary to those of the Universal House of Justice, or to present counterarguments to the reasoning in its messages? Is there any stigma at all attached to contradicting the Universal House of Justice, in the conduct of scholarship? If so, I think there's a misunderstanding that urgently needs to be cleared up.

If anyone could show me evidence that there is *not* any inhibition among Baha'is, in the conduct of scholarship, about contradicting the Universal House of Justice, it might save me a *lot* of trouble. For example, I might be satisfied if I could find recent articles on this Web site, arguing in favor of women on the Universal House of Justice, or proposing views of its role, authority, and functions, contrary to what it has said.

If I don't find enough assurance that people are not repressing themselves, then I will continue what I've started. Below is a copy of a message I posted at Beliefnet, describing my project.

I'm currently helping some Baha'is who think it's wrong to exclude women from the Universal House of Justice, find safe and healthy ways to promote their ideas and try to get the policy changed. The ideas I've been exploring include educating counselors about counterarguments to what the House of Justice wrote in response to the paper, and bringing the issue before the UN. Also, I'm promoting the idea that information we offer to the public about the administrative structure of the Baha'i Faith should always mention the exclusion of women from the Universal House of Justice, and I'm writing a letter to the assistants for my auxiliary board member with my questions about our public statements on equality between women and men mean, precisely, in the light of that exclusion.



I think some Baha'is might be feeling inhibited about promoting some of their ideas. That might be depriving us of some wonderful possibilities for advancing the cause of Baha'u'llah. One of my ideas for helping people overcome their inhibitions is to discuss safe and healthy ways of promoting ideas that some people say are being censored by the Universal House of Justice.

I'll use the ideas that some Baha'is seem to equate with the "campaign of internal opposition" described in a message from the Universal House of Justice:

1. ". . . seeks to recast the entire Faith into a socio-political ideology . . ."

2. ". . . promotes a kind of interpretive authority which those behind it attribute to the views of persons technically trained in Middle East studies."

3. "- while purporting to accept the legitimacy of the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice as twin successors of Bahá'u'lláh and the Centre of His Covenant - attempts to cast doubt on the nature and scope of the authority conferred on them in the Writings."

4. ". . . calling into question the soundness of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's own judgement and perspective."

5. ". . . that Bahá'u'lláh Himself was not the voice of God to our age but merely a particularly enlightened moral philosopher, one whose primary concern was to reform existing society."

6. ". . . Bahá'u'lláh's limiting of membership on the Universal House of Justice to men . . . as merely a 'temporary measure' subject to eventual revision if sufficient pressure is brought to bear."

7. ". . . that the modern political concept of 'separation of church and state' is somehow one that Bahá'u'lláh intended as a basic principle of the World Order He has founded."

8. ". . . that the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar should evolve into a seat of quasi-doctrinal authority, parallel to and essentially independent of the Local House of Justice . . ."

I imagine that each of those views is endorsed by some Baha'is who have never had anything to do with internal opposition. Regardless of how accurately those represent anyone's views, I want to discuss my ideas about safe and healthy ways for a Baha'i with those views to promote them.

More concretely, how can a person with those views, promote them without contending with the Universal House of Justice, without being branded as a Covenant breaker and/or physically assaulted by other Baha'is, and without losing her membership, assuming she wants to keep it?

I'll also be discussing safe and healthy ways for a person who disagrees with our policies towards Covenant breakers, to promote her ideas.

Here are two ideas that I would apply in all cases:

1. Follow Abdu'l-Baha's counsels about teaching with wisdom.

2. Participate in some kind of learning process endorsed by Baha'i institutions, with a genuine willingness to learn something. I don't think that anyone who wants to be a member, and who participates in a learning process, with a willingness to learn something, is in any risk of losing her membership.

I've already informed the assistants for my auxiliary board members about what I'm doing.


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