As I explained, my reason for the proposed meeting was a desire to assist you in understanding how a number of your postings to the members of . . . [an] . . . internet forum you created last year were in conflict with the Teachings of the Baha'i Faith, and how their persistent promotion by you was becoming harmful to its interests. As you know, a special responsibility for the protection of the Faith is one of the primary functions assigned to the institution of the Counsellors.
While I have not archived your . . . postings, I retained a handful of them which seemed to me particularly inappropriate and disquieting in the context of a discussion ostensibly intended as a serious study of Baha'u'llah's Message. Copies of some of these which illustrate the issues mentioned here are enclosed for your reference.
Essentially, your statements convey an image of the Faith in which the Covenant, although it is fundamental to Baha'u'llah's Message, has little substance beyond a kind of nominal legitimacy and certain very narrowly defined functions assigned to its central institutions. The broad and unique authority explicitly conferred on the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice in the Writings of the Founders of the Faith is systematically whittled down to a point that would, if taken seriously, paralyze the ability of the Cause to carry out the mission laid on it by its Founder.
The issue is not one of your having views which may be incompatible with the Teachings. Baha'i life is a continuing endeavor to understand and implement the truths of the Revelation of God to which we are committed. Nor would expressions of opinion during discussions among groups of Baha'is, however misleading or objectionable some of these comments might seem to many members of the community, normally be matters that the institutions of the Faith would feel responsible to take up. What has aroused the concern of the International Teaching Centre with respect to your . . . interventions, and has disturbed many of your fellow believers, has rather been a pattern of comment that appears to reflect a calculated and determined effort on your part, in the name of detached scholarly discussion, to impose on the presentation of Baha'u'llah's Message a strongly held ideological view that contradicts the authoritative and explicit interpretation of Baha'i Texts.
When I raised some of my concerns with you during our discussions in February, it became clear from your many--and often vehement--reactions that this understanding of your point of view is quite accurate. Indeed, these comments left me with the impression that you feel no compunction in disagreeing with Baha'u'llah and `Abdu'l-Baha themselves when their statements come into conflict with your strongly held personal convictions.
The nature of the problem which your activities were creating for the Baha'i community were clarified when you accidentally posted to the . . . forum a private message apparently intended for a smaller group of participants, identified by you as "Majnun." You cannot be unaware of the sense of betrayal experienced by your fellow Baha'is, who had believed themselves engaged in a scholarly exploration of Baha'u'llah's purpose, when they read a statement which appeared to lay out a cynical "winning strategy" designed to use the . . . forum to spread disinformation, attack the United States National Spiritual Assembly, and bring the administrative processes of the Cause into discredit. Nor should you be surprised at the dismay caused by your readiness, in this same statement, to recognize a parallel between the activities of this inner group and those of the notorious Covenant-breaker Ahmad Sohrab. It was keenly disappointing to all of us who respected both your adherence to the Cause and your professional credentials, that you failed to immediately explain what seemed a disturbing departure from standards which participants in such a forum had every right to expect.
In a statement posted over a year and a half ago--and repeated this past May when you adivised participants that you were closing down the . . . forum--you explained with great frankness the beliefs that motivate you. Please let me be equally candid, then, in expressing my opinion that, if you were today to advance such views in support of an application for enrollment in the Baha'i Faith, no Baha'i Assembly would accept your application or regard you as fulfilling the basic requirements for Baha'i membership set out by the Guardian:
"Full recognition of the station of the Forerunner, the Author, and the Ture Exemplar of the Baha'i Cause, as set forth in Abdu'l-Baha's Testament; unreserved acceptance of, and submission to, whatsoever has been revealed by their Pen; loyal and steadfast adherence to every clause of our Beloved's sacred Will; and close association with the spirit as well as the form of the present day Baha'i administration throughout the world--these I conceive to be the fundamental and primary considerations that must be fairly, discreetly and thoughtfully ascertained before reaching such a vital decision."I regret the bald tone of this necessarily brief and constrained presentation of my concerns as a Counsellor. As I say, it seeemed to me greatly to be preferred if we could have discussed such important matters face to face, in an unhurried atmosphere of respect both for your personal convictions and the integrity of the Faith's Teachings. You are the only one who can know whether in your heart you do indeed believe in Baha'u'llah as the Manifestation of God to our age. Baha'i institutions do not have the right to pry into believers' innermost convictions, but they do have the obligation to counsel individuals whose dissemination of personal beliefs is doing harm to the interests of the Faith.
The International Teaching Centre has asked me--with the knowledge of the Universal House of Justice--to warn you that your promulgation of views contrary to the Teachings was damaging to the Cause. If you were to resume in any fashion this course of action, the effect would be to bring you into direct conflict with the Covenant.
With sincerity and concern,
Stephen Birkland, Member
Continental Board of Counsellors in the Americas
cc: The International Teaching Centre
Continental Board of Counsellors in the Americas
National Spiritual Assembly of the United States