Who are Orthodox Baha’is ?

Those who encounter the title “Orthodox Bahá’í”
for the first time, especially those who are followers of the sans-Guardian
Universal House of Justice, may wonder why people would identify themselves
as Orthodox Bahá’ís if, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has stated,
the Bahá’í Covenant makes it “impossible for any
one to create a sect or faction of belief.”
Why, then, would those
who identify themselves as Bahá’ís find it necessary to add
the word “Orthodox”? Aren’t they, by doing so, going against
the Covenant and what ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said? Aren’t they attempting
to make a schism in a Faith that carries the promise of never experiencing
division? Shouldn’t they, instead, identify themselves with the majority
faction of the Cause so that the Bahá’í Faith continues to
convey the promise of never splintering into differing sects?

An understanding of the position of Orthodox Bahá’ís
might well begin by studying carefully the complete statement of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
from which the words “impossible for any one to create a sect or
faction of belief”
were taken. That statement reads as follows:

As to the most great characteristic of the revelation
of Bahá’u’lláh–a specific teaching not given by any of the
Prophets of the past–it is the ordination and appointment of the Center
of the Covenant. By this appointment and provision He has safeguarded and
protected the religion of God against differences and schisms, making it
impossible for any one to create a new sect or faction of belief. To insure
unity and agreement He has entered into a Covenant with all the people
of the world including the Interpreter and Explainer of His teachings
so that no one may interpret or explain the religion of God according to
his own view or opinion and thus create a sect founded upon his individual
understanding of the divine words. The Book of the Covenant or Testament
of Bahá’u’lláh is the means of preventing such a possibility,
for whosoever shall speak from the authority of himself alone shall be
degraded. Be ye informed and cognizant of this.
(Emphasis added.)

Central to the issue of the safeguarding and protection
of the religion of God is the individual who is appointed as the interpreter
of the teachings, for, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states, the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh
includes “the Interpreter and Explainer of His teachings.”
All Bahá’ís are aware that in His Will and Testament, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
conveyed to Shoghi Effendi, the first Guardian of the Faith, that self-same
interpretative authority with which Bahá’u’lláh had invested
Him, identifying Shoghi Effendi as “the expounder of the words
of God.”
The Will of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá also made it “incumbent
upon the guardian of the Cause of God to appoint in his own life-time him
that shall become his successor, that differences may not arise after his

However, on the passing of Shoghi Effendi in 1957, the
world-wide community of Bahá’ís failed to recognize that
the first Guardian had appointed his successor in his own life-time. Instead
of recognizing and turning to Shoghi Effendi’s successor, all accepted
the interim leadership of Shoghi Effendi’s appointed Hands of the Cause,
even though, according to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will, they are only to
serve “under the direction of the guardian of the Cause of God,”
who, the Will says, “must continually urge them to strive and endeavor
to the utmost of their ability to diffuse the sweet savors of God, and
to guide all the peoples of the world…”

With the Hands in command of the Bahá’í
Faith, the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh became a heterodox organization,
for the administration of the Faith was no longer in line with the provisions
of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Document that Shoghi
Effendi has called “the Charter of the New World Order.” When
the second Guardian of the Faith found it necessary to make a proclamation
of his Guardianship to the Bahá’í World in order to set matters
aright, the leadership of the heterodox Faith rejected him and called upon
their followers to do likewise. Those who accepted Mason Remey’s claim
to the Guardianship, based upon his appointment by Shoghi Effendi to be
the head of the embryonic Universal House of Justice (which they maintain
is synonymous with the Guardianship, since ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Will calls
for the Guardian to be the “sacred head” of that institution),
first called themselves “Bahá’ís Under the Hereditary
Guardianship” but eventually identified themselves as “Orthodox
Bahá’ís” because they ascribe to all the basic tenets
of the Faith.  More

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