Withdrawal of Administrative Rights
by / on behalf of Universal House of Justice1986-10-26
Dear Bahá’í Friends,
Your circular letter of 5 September 1986 addressed to all Local Spiritual Assemblies was drawn to the attention of the Universal House of Justice which has instructed us to clarify what seems to be a misunderstanding.
The text of this letter, according to a translation prepared for the House of Justice, is as follows:
... [text of translation deleted by recipient] ...
The Universal House of Justice appreciates the wish of your National Spiritual Assembly to make it clear to the friends that those Bahá’ís who have been deprived of their administrative rights should not be shunned and are, spiritually, still Bahá’ís. However, it feels that you have gone too far in the other direction and will need to correct the balance. It has, therefore, instructed us to send the following comments.
Deprivation of administrative rights is a very severe sanction, applied only in instances of serious violations of Bahá’í law and thus, as you say in your letter, is resorted to with reluctance by Spiritual Assemblies. Its seriousness should in no way be minimized. It is equivalent to expulsion from the Bahá’í community; in certain of the beloved Guardian's letters we see it referred to as “administrative excommunication” as contrasted with the “spiritual excommunication” to which Covenant-breakers are subject. Thus a Bahá’í who has been deprived of his administrative rights is a believer who is not a member of the Bahá’í community. Not only may he not attend meetings that are confined to Bahá’ís, he may not contribute to the Fund and he may not marry a Bahá’í.
The attitude of the Bahá’í to such a person should depend upon the circumstances of each case and the seriousness of the offence for which the penalty has been imposed. Sometimes it is desirable for the individual believers to try to foster contacts with him in an attempt to help him to overcome the problems which have been the cause of the trouble. Sometimes the institutions themselves should attempt to keep in touch and help in whatever way they can. Sometimes it is better to let the person go his own way, but greet him cordially and courteously whenever a meeting occurs; in other words, being open to friendly relations but not pursuing them. Sometimes it is better for the institutions and the friends as a whole to hold somewhat aloof, leaving it to those who are close to the person for family or other reasons to maintain the link.
As for restoration of the rights, although it is not prohibited for an Assembly to make the approach, it is normal for the individual to be left to put his own affairs to rights and to turn to the Assembly when he truly recognizes the gravity of his offence and wishes to apply for reinstatement.
With loving Bahá’í greetings,
For Department of the Secretariat