What has brought the Baha’i Faith to this juncture?

This place where several Baha’i sects vie to be recognized as the one and only true Baha’i sect? Where the Haifan Baha’i sect refuses to even recognize the very existence of other Baha’i sects, claiming that because those sects have so few adherents they are insignificant and virtually non-existent.

How is it that the lofty ideals and concepts that are supposedly central to Baha’i belief have been left in the dust in a blind pursuit to raise one version or another of a supposedly inviolable Baha’i covenant over the several other versions of that Baha’i covenant which are all held to be sacrosanct by those Baha’is who hold to those particular versions?

Why is it that respect for the diversity of religious interpretation is missing amongst all Baha’i sects? Why? Because a respect for the diversity of religious interpretation was not held or practiced by the founders of the Baha’i religion.

Although the founders of the Baha’i religion gave lip service to the principle of the oneness of religion they failed to recognize that they themselves were responsible to apply such principles in their own lives. Mirza Husayn Ali – Baha’u’llah failed to do this in regards to the Babi/Bayani faith and it’s followers, Abbas Effendi – Abdu’l-Baha’ failed to do this in regards to his own half brother Muhammad who chose to hold to a more unitarian interpretation of Baha’ism.

When exceptions are made to the oneness of humanity it is no longer true oneness, it is the same old same old religious exclusivity that has been practiced by religionists since the beginning of organized religion. When there is no respect for a true diversity of religious interpretation religion falters, it then becomes more of a source of disunity than it is source of unity; more of a bane to humanity than a boon.

The present situation amongst Baha’i sects is a case in point. Of course Haifan Baha’is will discount this reality stating that all other Baha’i sects are insignificant and unimportant. While each Baha’i will blindly cleave to their own religious interpretation all along allowing those interpretations to make a mockery of any pretense of a true belief in the oneness of humanity, the oneness of human spirituality.

What is the source of this profound dysfunction? The founders of the Baha’i religion themselves. Men who had words stating that shunning had been abolished, that humanity should no longer see others as their enemies, drawing lines, that the former religious practice of dividing humanity had been removed; while all along out of the other side of their mouths came contradictory words, hypocritical words, counseling their followers to engage in the very religious practices they had supposedly left behind. What you see is the result of these contradictory and hypocritical religious teachings and religious practices.

If Baha’is of all sects truly believe in the oneness of humanity, truly believe in the oneness of human spirituality, they will have to leave the immature, ignorant, and contradictory religious practices of the founders of their religion behind them. They will have to truly embrace religious diversity, as well as diversity of religious interpretation and not see such diversity as a threat to their chosen orthodoxies but as genuine and healthy expressions of human spirituality. Until this occurs the Baha’i Faith as a religion will continue to be more of a source of disunity than it is a source of unity and humanity would be better off without it.

Larry Rowe

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