Why did I leave the Bahá’í Faith?
It is inadmissible that man, who hath been endowed with reason, should consume that which stealeth it away.
More than anything, it was the idea of revelation itself. As a young adult, I began to realize that if one must trust a middleman when it comes to truth, one is in a sorry place indeed. If some angel comes out of heaven and tells me “God says eat each other”, should I obey the angel simply because he has wings? How can I ever know that the angel is from God? And even if the angel were from God, is it necessarily virtuous to reflexively obey one’s creator?
Ultimately, we are left judging truth and virtue for ourselves. We cannot avoid it. Our judgments may be irrational or idolatrous, but we are judges nonetheless.
Mine is not an objection against religion, but against revealed religion. Likewise, I present no argument against the existence of God, but rather, I proclaim a personal objection to the doctrine of obedience to God.
These things being said, it would be unfair of me to fail to give due credit to the Bahá’í religion for being a great part of what I have become. In this sense, I will always be a Bahá’í. An attempt to express this can be found in my Apostate’s Narrative.
Though my primary objection against the Bahá’í religion is against revealed religion and the idolatry (image worship) that naturally results therefrom, I do, nonetheless, have some specific objections to the Baha’i Faith, and I will try to enumerate them here. I find that most of these particulars are manifestations of idolatry, with the sole exception being a couple of examples of sexual prejudice.
- The Covenant: the doctrine of divine micromanagement, or more particularly, the belief that God never leaves man without some incarnate form of divine authority in the world. This aspect of the Bahá’í religion renders it more a matter of authority than belief.
- Subversion of reason. The obvious corollary to the Covenant is that, inasmuch as men are in utter need of guides, men must necessarily be blind.
- Demonism (belief in the existence of demons). Covenant breaking (rebellion against divine authority) is declared a highly contagious, spiritually degenerative disease. Covenant-breakers and their families are dangerous spiritual contaminants who must be shunned absolutely.
- Shunning of the ungodly is a fundamental precaution in Bahá’í religious practice. Bahá’u’lláh explicitly declared atheists to be untrustworthy.
- Infallibility. This is a corollary to (#1), but implies that Bahá’í authorities have authority over science, history, nature, and the future. This defect appears to have been inherited from Shí’a Islám.
- `Abdu’l-Bahá’s contempt for science. `Abdu’l-Bahá’s hubris with regard to science and history. When coupled with his self-pronounced infallibility (#5), this makes for a particularly nasty fault. It constitutes an aggressive violation of the domain of science. I list this separately from infallibility because infallibility is a mere general principle, whereas `Abdu’l-Bahá’s statements have served to define his infallibility to encompass knowledge of science, history, and even the future. `Abdu’l-Bahá could have contented himself with claims to infallibility, as did his father, but he seemed to lack his father’s discretion with regard to talking about things of which he had little knowledge.
- Miracles, prophecies, and other alleged supernatural phenomena. Though the Bahá’í Faith purports to be a rational religion of principles, it is actually a rather conventional religion, rife with accounts of supernatural acts, events, visions, and claims.
- Dissociative Identity Disorder. Bahá’í scripture consists of manifold contradictory pronouncements that leave Bahá’ís wondering just what a Bahá’í is, and just what a person ought to believe, with most submitting to the conformist position that a Bahá’í is one who is obedient to the Bahá’í authorities. This problem is aggravated by the doctrine of infallibility (#5). I have addressed this problem in a tongue-in-cheek enumeration of Bahá’í sects.
- The “Most Holy Book“, AKA “Book of Laws”
- The twin duties of belief and obedience (corollary of #1).
- The worthlessness of good deeds (¶1, 161)
- Revelation cannot be judged by science (¶99)
- Blanket denouncement of non-Bahá’ís (¶39)
- Regard men as sheep (corollary of #1)
- Cruelty and Torture (¶62)
- Unfair penalties and allotments (¶49, 66, 188)
- Gender bias (¶98)
- Prominent omissions (rape)
- Legalism. Superfluous and silly laws and ordinances (¶98)
- Triumphalism. This is the aspect of Bahá’í thought, as with Christianity and to some degree Islám, that represents a threat to the cultural diversity of the world. To whatever extent a triumphalist religion can achieve its aspirations it replaces other cultures, regardless of whatever lip service it pays to diversity.
- Unity. This is perhaps the great ideal—or idol—of the Bahá’í religion. Ultimately, unity as an idol is a threat to diversity and individual expression.
- Theocracy (unity of religion and state). The Bahá’í vision of world government represents the political arm of Bahá’í triumphalism (#10).
- Proselytism. This is driven by triumphalism (#10). One of the core, defining principles of Baha’ism is proselytism, so much so that one wonders what would become of Baha’ism were everyone to become Baha’i.
- Martyrdom. Bahá’í children are raised with stories of how Bahá’í martyrs have chosen execution over recantation of faith. There are less bloody forms of martyrdom such as relocation (next item), but laying down one’s life in the name of Bahá’u’lláh appears to be the most glorious.
- Relocation (“pioneering”). Missionary work, in the Bahá’í Faith, comes in the form of relocation. This is just a form of institutional proselytism (#13).
- Bureaucracy (the “World Order” and “Administrative Order”). Shoghi’s 20th Century notion of organized religion, possibly inspired by the Soviet model, was intended to evolve into a world theocratic (#12) system.
- Doomsday visions. Bahá’u’lláh and Shoghi were particularly blameworthy of inciting fear among the believers.
- Patrilineal succession (the “hereditary principle”). Bahá’u’lláh demonstrated a high esteem for blood succession by choosing successors from among his male descendants. The Guardianship followed that precedent. Though this archaic patrilineal system expired within several generations, it established a strong precedent of …
- Gender inequality. The Universal House of Justice, though not patrilineal, is an exclusively male body. Nothing new, really: the Guardianship was exclusively male as well, but nobody seems to have a problem with that.
- Homophobia. Shoghi Effendi (or at least one of his secretaries) established a precedent of strident homophobia, declaring homosexuality to be a spiritual disease.
- Idolatry. Bahá’u’lláh’s preoccupation with himself and his station. This preoccupation is not merely off-putting, it tends to encourage Bahá’ís to preoccupy themselves with his person, leading them into the bonds of idolatry. This was also the case with `Abdu’l-Bahá, who often encouraged his followers to idolize him, and whose portrait is suspended high in most Bahá’í homes.
- The Wronged One. Bahá’u’lláh’s narcissistic self-pity.
- Sperm Donor Consent. Parents—not the legal parents but the natural parents—are duty-bound to meddle in the life decisions of their adult children.
- The spartan, fundamentalist marriage incantation: “we will all, verily, abide by the Will of God”. That’s it. Nothing about mutual love and loyalty. Bahá’ís will tell you that you can add whatever you like, but the fact remains is that this is all that really matters: obedience to the deity.