Reply of Steven Scholl
From Tue Jan 7 12:32:32 1997
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 1996 13:23:43 +0100
From: White Cloud Press
Subject: Re: Cole, Maneck, Birkland, & Co.

Interestingly, in the letters I have written to the NSA and UHJ appealing their decisions and protesting their actions, I do not recall them ever questioning the truth content of my accusations of corruption. They simply ignore the facts and weave ever more ingenious conspiracy theories. I attach Birkland's letter to me for your perusal. Please note that in this letter he never strays into countering the facts which are the basis of my charge of institutional corruption, but fumes that I lack civility by discussing the corruption of NSA members, and even chastises me for quoting Abdu'l-Baha on the danger of corruption within the Baha'i community due to the egotism of Baha'is in leadership roles. Somehow it is evil for me to document in public a clear pattern of misbehavior and lies on the part of NSA members while it is fine and dandy for the Counsellors, NSA and UHJ to post on Talisman stating that David Langness is a liar, to print false statements in The American Baha'i on "dissident" Baha'is who create false impressions via a "stream of negative criticism." The attacks on David, Juan, and the Walbridges was the straw that broke my back and was the reason I challenged the Baha'i institutions to deal honestly with those they have slandered and abused. For the sake of brevity, I kept my list of NSA abuses short. I can assure you that the list goes on and on, which was one reason I urged the UHJ to launch a serious investigation of the NSA.

I disagree strongly with Susan's language. She asks me: "Isn't it true Steve, that Couns. Birkland contacted you immediately after you had made a posting denouncing the administration?" Susan, I do not believe I denounced the administration in the post in question. At that point I was still a Baha'i with some hope that justice and honesty might still play a role in the deliberations of the House of Justice. And with Bill I would ask you, why does it matter that Birkland included my alleged theological thought crimes along with my supposed heretical actions? In the letter he makes it very clear that if a Baha'i does not accept the UHJ/ITC version of Baha'i doctrine on God and the soul, then they are not truly Baha'is living up to Shoghi Effendi's membership criteria statement. And I believe that such attempts to legislate theology is in violation of the Baha'i covenant in principle and is a mean-spirited act of dirty politics when used to threaten Baha'is with Covenant-breaking.

While a Baha'i I attempted to keep focused on the basics in my appeals: who was being truthful, who was lying. As an ex-Baha'i I will speak out on these issues when I see Baha'is attempting to distort what took place in the recent past and in the present hour. Susan is correct that the Baha'i faith is undergoing the same types of difficulties with these theological, scholarly, and institutional frictions that other faiths have gone through and are going through. It's just that when I signed my card in 1971 I did not think I was joining Scientology or some authoritarian cult but rather a religion that sought to embrace diversity and to work for justice.

The Constitution of the UHJ states that the House of Justice is to protect Baha'is from wrongdoing by Baha'i institutions and to preserve human honor. In many, many cases the House has violated their constitution by protecting immoral and unethical agents of abuse, with the rationale appearing to be for the sake of protecting the "dignity of the institutions." It has become evident to me that the UHJ has taken the road of all ruling elites and cares more about image and power than about the unity that can only come from justice. It is no big thing that individual members of an NSA are pathological liars, unethical cowards and morally unfit to hold any office except perhaps corporate office for a tobacco company, where lying and deceit are part of the job description. But the terribly sad news is that the UHJ is part of the problem, part of the corruption. They know of the abuse and they are protecting these hyporcrites. They send House members such as Peter Khan to the US to whip up an anti-intellectual climate by declaring that "intellectuals" are "lukewarm" internal enemies of the faith and plead with an increasingly alienated rank and file to trust the scoundrels.

Finally, with the hope of keeping the door open between myself and the rest of the Talisman list, I will note that Rick is way off the mark when he says that I think "moderate" Baha'is are misguided at best and adding to the problem by remaining Baha'is. I would just note that my wife, children, and closest friends are Baha'is and I hope that they will try to understand why I left and why I speak out when I read or hear things that I disagree with. Also I hope that my Baha'i family and friends will continue to work of constructive change *within* the system.

Baha'is may be upset by what some of us ex-Baha'is have to say, but those feelings run in both directions. I am sure some would prefer that we just go away, but since the Baha'i institutions want to have outsiders come in and examine the Baha'i community as a model of unity, I think that the Baha'is are just going to have to put up with having some hard questions raised by outsiders, be they ex-Baha'is, feminists, homosexuals, Buddhists, etc.

So, to my Baha'i friends I say, "Enjoy your emergence from obscurity!"

Best wishes to all,


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