Monday, December 05, 2005

Sen McGlinn's Disenrollment

Again, I'm running late with the big story, having been busy with work all last week, then sick all weekend. But Sen McGlinn has been disenrolled for "statements" he has "published", as well as the usual "behavior and attitude" charge that regularly reappears in UHJ disenrollment letters. Sen has responded by submitting another declaration card and attempting to re-enroll.

Baha'i fundamentalists are responding by either saying that it's none of our business, that Sen must have done something more wrong that what's apparent, or to actually enumerate his supposed sins. The letter from the Secretariat about his book, that I posted previously only, as Sen reminds folks, mentions the introduction of his book, where he calls himself a "Baha'i theologian" implying that this is the key issue. However, I find it hard to believe that the actual content of his book isn't at issue as well.

While you're sifting through these events, it might be a good idea to actually read
*Chuch and State: A Postmodern Political Theology*. My own copy's on order. There have been fears expressed that Kalimat Press will be next on the hit list, or that some action has already been taken against them, but I have not yet heard anything solid.

Juan Cole has made a rare venture into his old stomping-ground, Baha'i cyberspace, in order to comment. Alison, besides putting up Juan's post has also commented in her weblog. Baquia at Baha'i Rants has also commented.

The key issue, the one which ties all the disenrollments together, is lack of belief in UHJ infallibility where doctrine is concerned. Sen's book flies in the face of the interpretation of a body that openly says it has no scriptural authority to interpret, yet it insists on things that it calls "fundamentals" -- which now appears to include a belief that separation of church and state are depicted in a negative light in the Baha'i teachings. Juan's analysis, especially, pointed up this shift from a rather freewheeling enthusiastic religious group, as many experienced it in the early 70s, to one concerned with proper doctrine. Of course, the Baha'i Faith has experienced such shifts before, as in the late teens in the American Baha'i community. And, as in the earlier shift, it is accompanied by stagnant growth, disillusionment, and a shake-out of those who joined the Baha'i Faith believing it was an escape from the rigidity of older traditions.


Baquia said...

There have been fears expressed that Kalimat Press will be next on the hit list, or that some action has already been taken against them, but I have not yet heard anything solid.

Well, unfortunately, they were rather predictable in this case.

Hiram said...

How sad that the religion of 'unity' and oneness has become a burocratic mess of an organized religion instead of an emancipating and liberating ideology. The same was intended of Christianity, and it ended up in the same pit.

Anonymous said...


I'm starting to suspect that, while the Bab and Bahaullah were indeed who They said that They were, there is a profound lesson to be learned in the Covenant. For, I suspect that, while the Bab and Bahaullah were indeed infallible reflections of God's will on earth for this age, the members of the Covenant (Abdul Baha, Shoghi Effendi, and the UHJ), while very wise, were and are mere mortals. In this sense, while their judgement may be sharp, it is not Infinitely sharp like that of the Bab and Bahaullah's (et al Manifestations). I therefore hold that, while registered Bahais are not Scripturally incorrect in supporting Bahaullah's Covenant, the most important lesson to be learned is that, whenever mere mortals are in charge, unity and consistency with the spirit of the Scriptures are VERY difficult to sustain (even when we TRY to do everything to the letter)...

Anonymous said...

I agree, Truth27. I don't think the UHJ is as wise or as great as the manifestations themselves. Power does corrupt... I think it's not important to be enrolled. Being on the UHJ list doesn't make you a bahai. You're a bahai if you think you are.

Keyvan said...
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Keyvan said...
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Anonymous said...

I disagree with the other comments.

If one does not accept the Infallibility of the institutions, they thus deny a component of the Baha'u'llah's Dispensation - let alone such a key component.

Such a denial involving open criticism and dissent is detrimental to the faith.

Enrollment does not mean accepting the Baha'i teachings a la carte.

Anonymous said...

also to truth 27. No one has ever said that the mortals themselves are the infallibles. It is their output as the institutions which is Infallible.

I feel the writings are very clear in making that differentiation

MrDonut said...

A big thank you for this post. There are prophecies in the Writings concerning a day (now, I beliieve) when the enemies of the Faith will be within the Faith. Which is why I had no trouble leaving. I have seen that after thirty years of boot-licking by the rank and file, no one from the Assistants to the men of the House can claim to have clean boots - on the contrary, they seem to want a slavishness from anyone they can dazzle, a slavishness that exceeds that demanded by the more undesirable elements of Islam.

I was thinking just last night what a plum of a job being on the UHJ is. and how anyone could expect a human being to NOT fall into the habits and traps anyone in a position of power and wealth (no poo' boys there, I suppose)inevitably falls into. The Baha'is are getting what they deserve.

My blog titled "Baha'i Fantasy News Service". It's sometimes satire and sometimes not.

Thanks for allowing the comment, from first-time reader.

Keyvan said...

Karen, you know its interesting. i simply wanted to express my viewpoint, but apparently my posts were deleted.

isn't that hypocritical?

if your whole point here is that people should be able to say whatever they want without consequence...maybe you just mean your own viewpoint.

im sure youll delete this...or maybe keep it just to make a point - since i called you out.

Karen said...


What's interesting is that you think it worth your while to come back, nearly three years after this post was published, to "call me out". The only reason I'm even aware of it is because I have the blog set to notify me when there are comments.

As for removals, the blog says that the posts were removed by the author -- that means you. Two other posts remain. It has been so long ago that I don't even remember -- but Blogger says you deleted your own posts.

So, Kevyan, to what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?


Anonymous said...

This is all rather silly stuff. The Faith holds that God is both unknowable but also posits that God can be known by scripture and some human reps on earth. It also posits that man should have freedom of thought but then it forbids certain kinds of thoughts, books, and art forms.

Anonymous said...

I am an enrolled Baha'i. I have to say it is heartbreaking to realize that the Universal House of Justice wouldn't consider me a Baha'i. Since I am willing to be secretive about my beliefs, the UHJ says what I have is a "spiritual disease." It is a real inspiration to me that Sen McGlinn keeps reapplying from time to time. I have faith Baha'u'llah can bring this around to the world he promised to us. From a material and historical point of view it is profoundly worrisome. I wonder how many other Bahai's share this "spiritual disease". The Baha'is in my community would never guess. Although I didn't consider them infallible, I always advocated doing what the UHJ wanted because if we were were all going in different directions that wouldn't be good. Someone needs to be in charge. When I was on an LSA, I was always disturbed by the way creativity and good ideas were squashed because they were not in perfect alinement with some narrow interpretation of a UHJ letter. However, finding out about the intolerance of the UHJ, and how the UHJ handpicks it's future members, I really am heartbroken and worried about my religion. As long as they have no control of the internet, they just can't stop the spread of thought. They can, for now, drive it underground. I only pray the day Baha'is have the political power to control the internet they will have more tolerance. I don't think there is anything that could have happened that could have shaken my faith any more deeply. Yet, I believe in Baha'u'llah and remain completely devoted to Him. From what I can tell Sen and I share that. I hope he knows what an inspiration he is to some of us. I respect him so much. I hope he keeps reapplying as an example to the rest of us. As long as he does that he hasn't given up on the vision of unity that Baha'u'llah and a few of His followers still have. I just hope that someday people like us are not persecuted worse than we are today.