Wednesday, April 30, 2008

No Surprises

International Teaching Center members Gustavo Correa and Shariar Razavi have been elected to the Universal House of Justice in their recent election -- something that was not only predicted by Baquia, but some quite conservative Baha'is were joking about the fact that it was patently obvious who would be elected. The problem is that there are probably few other Baha'i officials that would be known to all of the members of the world's National Spiritual Assemblies. In a Baha'i election, where any sort of campaigning is forbidden, and you can win by plurality, name recognition is everything. And the ITC deals directly and frequently with the NSAs -- in fact, I've been told that it never corresponds with ordinary individuals, only institutions and appointed officials. NSA members may not know much about NSA members in other countries, but they all know the Counsellors in Haifa.

As Baquia notes, this is the first year where all members of the UHJ are former ITC members -- the House, in essence, appoints its own future members. It's a closed system. Now, I've heard some hardliners venture the opinion that the composition of the House doesn't matter -- but this is utterly foolish. You have nine men consulting on the direction of the Baha'i world and making decisions about it -- of course the attitudes of the individuals matter, their experience and background. They aren't sitting around a table in Haifa taking dictation from God; they talk about things, and express their own opinions in those discussions and through a vote. And now, all of them come from a background where they engage in "protection" i.e. heresy-hunting, and are appointed to their positions instead of being elected .

I've heard it, only half-jokingly, suggested that the only way out of the dilemma of the international Counsellors being the only ones well-enough known to be elected is to make the ITC all-female, so that the members of that body would be ineligible to be elected. But I wouldn't hold my breath. . . .

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