Here's something that I wrote some time ago, but was holding on to until after the Fast -- I generally make an effort to stay out of controversy during that period:
Ever since Moojan Momen's paper "Marginality and Apostasy" came out, George Wesley Dannells of Baha'i Views has become inordinately fond of the term "apostate", and has posted several times about how terrible we all are. But you know who else is fond of that term? The Iranian government, who applies it to all Baha'is. Google "Baha'i apostates" sometime and see what comes up. Yes, the term can be used in a social science context; it is also a vicious epithet on the lips of the orthodox. Baha'i Views is not a social science journal and George is not studying us. He is using "apostate" in the exact same sense that an Iranian mulla would -- as a way to condemn and to warn others about the people in question.
In any case, some of the things he says seem to indicate a profound ignorance of who we are, and what we're saying. So, at the risk of putting myself in the middle of the maelstrom, I think some corrections are in order:
Claim: The "apostates" don't teach the Faith.
False. Alison Marshall has a teaching website. Baha'is Online and Baha'i Rants have a variety of positive stories about the Baha'i community, as well as critical ones.
Claim: "Have you noticed they never post about children?"
False. I have a lot of posts here about education -- I am. after all, a teacher. This critique seems particularly bizarre to me, because the lack of resources for my kids is one issue that greatly frustrated me when I was enrolled. No use talking about "core activities" now -- childhood passes swiftly; they can't wait years for the local community to get its act together. Our children's classes here were active when my kids were infants, then largely dropped out of sight. It's true my kids aren't Baha'is, but most of the kids that attended those long-ago classes are estranged from the community now. So, it's not like the Baha'i community has done such a stellar job at retaining these children after they grow up. The old saying about people who live in glass houses not throwing stones come to mind.
Claim:"Death to Baha'is" is being scratched on doorways even today in Iran. And yet the Internet Anti-Baha'i Society is not moved, and is focused instead on its own apostate narratives and mythology."
False. Both Baha'i Rants and Baha'is Online, the two main websites that George complains about, are replete with stories about what the Iranian Baha'is are suffering -- almost every news story that comes out finds its way to one or the other. Several on the list of Moojan's "apostates" have made public statements about the Iranian government's shameful violation of human rights and religious freedom that Baha'is must endure in that country.
There is also another jab, that while not exactly false is exceedingly silly: George put both "Baha'i" and "unenrolled Baha'i" into a search, and found that the latter had an infinitesmal percentage of the "Baha'i" total. I'm not sure what this is supposed to prove, but search engines look for words, and even on unenrolled sites, the word "Baha'i" is likely to be used far more often than the specific term "unenrolled Baha'i" -- so a comparison like that tells you nothing. Not only do I use the word "Baha'i" much more often, I also use the abbreviation "UB" which wouldn't be picked up on a search. In any case, not all religionists are as obsessed with numbers as the administrative Faith is. For example, nobody knows how many Sufis there are in the U.S., because they simply don't keep those kinds of statistics; trotting out numbers to prove their progress just isn't important to them. I don't see why it ought to be important to unenrolled Baha'is, either -- I wouldn't even try to hazard a guess at the numbers.
Besides, the whole premise of this kind of numbers game is wrong: I don't view unenrolled Baha'is as being in competition with the Baha'i Faith organization. Why should we be? We're all believers in Baha'u'llah, after all. But not everyone's a joiner -- as the growing number of unaffiliated religionists in this country indicates. It would be nice if Baha'is took the approach that Christian churches do towards unchurched Christians -- they ask themselves how they can attract such people into community activity, instead of sneering about how "insignificant" they are.
There are other things I could get into -- it seems that George feels the need to mention the apostates/marginals/opposition about twice a week. But one thing I will agree with him on: The Internet is changing; people have backed away from the turmoil of debate that seems almost inevitable on forums. It's one reason I started blogging, and I'm sure that's true for others as well. I'm sure that's all to the good -- may we all generate more light than heat!