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Station of scholars and historians in the Baha'i faith (1999) PDF Print E-mail
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Entries - Baha'i studies
Written by Juan Cole, Talk.Religion.Bahai   
Saturday, 15 November 2014

Many Baha'is from the global South have grown up in dictatorships or their parents did, and they think about the institutions of the faith as like the governmental dictatorship they experienced. Dictatorships typically severely restrict freedom of speech, jail academics, denounce them for undue "pride," practice censorship, and allow no public questioning of announced government policy. Many Baha'is think of the Universal House of Justice as such a dictatorial body, and believe that when they speak all must be silent.

I don't believe, however, that Baha'u'llah much cared for dictatorships, and he strove mightily to challenge the absolute monarchies of his own day, which he consigned to the dust heap of history with the advent of universal reason among the people.

Last I checked, this system does not produce chaos, and everyone seems to know what the actual law is.

There is another model, which is that of the Supreme Court in democracies. The Supreme Court's decisions stand as the law of the land. But in democracies, professors in law schools can write journal articles in law reviews that examine the reasoning of the decisions, re-examine the law, and come to a different conclusion. As long as the Supreme Court does not find these arguments persuasive, they remain nothing more than obscure journal articles. The Supreme Court's decisions define the law. Sometime the court will take up a law review article and incorporate its reasoning into their new decision. But they don't have to. It is the decision of the Court. Nevertheless, they do not seek to prevent the law professors from writing their articles. Last I checked, this system does not produce chaos, and everyone seems to know what the actual law is.

I think this is a much better model than that of the supreme dictator (like the Shah or Khomeini) for the Baha'i community. So, my answer to your question is very simple. The Universal House of Justice has the authority to decide such issues as whether women are admitted to that body, and as long as they stick to their decision that is Baha'i law. But they do not have the authority to prevent the free and conscientious expression of other views, as long as these are advertised merely as personal and non-authoritative opinion. Thus, historians may examine the evolution of the gender issue in Baha'i institutions, and freely publish their results, but these results do not have to be adopted by the House of Justice.

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What does Baha’i Scripture say about homosexuality? PDF Print E-mail
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Entries - The Subject of Boys
Written by Sonja van Kerkhoff, Just a Bahai   
Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Nothing.

Nothing. For Baha’is, Baha’i Scripture is everything penned by The Bab and Baha’u’llah, and the interpretations by Baha’u’llah’s son ‘Abdul-Baha, and where Shoghi Effendi (‘Abdul-Baha’s grandson) wrote in his capacity as official interpreter of Baha’i Scripture. It is a source of pride for many Baha’is to be able to state that we have authoritative scripture. That is to have access to the actual texts (or accurate translations of texts) as the sources for Baha’i Scripture.

“Unity of doctrine is maintained by the existence of the authentic texts of Scripture and the voluminous interpretations of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, together with the absolute prohibition against anyone propounding “authoritative” or “inspired” interpretations or usurping the function of Guardian. Unity of administration is assured by the authority of the Universal House of Justice.”

Universal House of Justice, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Netherlands, March 9, 1965: Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 52-53

The only mention of homosexuality in authoritative Bahai text (not Scripture) is in five letters written by secretaries on behalf of Shoghi Effendi penned between 1949 and 1955.

 
Iran Is Using a Neocon to Hack Its Foes PDF Print E-mail
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Entries - Bahais in Iran
Written by Eli Lake, The Daily Beast   
Sunday, 09 November 2014
John Bolton

John Bolton, the former U.N. ambassador under George W. Bush, is playing an unexpectedly prominent role in an Iranian cyberspying campaign.

In Iran’s intelligence war against America, the regime has a new weapon: “John R. Bolton.”

This is what happened to Kit Bigelow, one of Washington’s leading advocates for the Baha’i...

No, Iran has not turned President Bush’s former ambassador to the United Nations into a sleeper agent. Instead, hackers believed to be connected to the Tehran government are posing as Bolton on social media platforms in a scheme to get human rights activists and national security wonks to hand over their passwords and user names.

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Taking the Diefenbunker PDF Print E-mail
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Entries - Other
Written by The Chronicle Herald   
Friday, 07 November 2014

Debert landmark fully belongs to patient buyer

Businessman Jonathan Baha’i has cleared a final hurdle in claiming sole ownership of the Debert Diefenbunker, an abandoned Cold War fallout shelter, shown in a file photo before the purchase.

Hunkered down inside the Diefenbunker in Debert, Jonathan Baha’i can finally breathe a secure sigh of relief.

“We finally stomped out the appeal,” Baha’i said Wednesday of clearing the final legal hurdle to undisputed ownership of the underground shelter.

The legal wrangling started not long after Baha’i purchased the 64,000-square-foot former military installation in November 2012 for less than $40,000 in a Colchester County tax sale.

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