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Is it better to walk away?

August 17, 2014

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caption: Spirituality is less about ‘doing’ & more about ‘being’ our truest most authentic self everywhere we go.- Emmanuel Dagher.


When a gay friend wrote:
My energy could be better served not fighting for inclusion but by focusing on doing good works. I’m starting to see why many people just give up on God completely and decide that, dogma, worship and religious labels get in the way of working towards creating a better world. A world that doesn’t exclude or hurt people.

I was reminded of ‘Abdul-Baha who said that if religion is not a cause of love and unity then it better not to have a religion. [footnote 1] Some have suggested to me that it is always better to walk away, that unity is most important. I don’t think Baha’u’llah nor ‘Abdul-Baha intended their teachings to be a mouthpiece for the majority. I think Baha’u’llah was serious when he said that ” [t]he best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice” [Hidden Words] but more importantly I think any community, religious or not, needs to value diversity because of the fresh inputs diverse people bring. If those from minority backgrounds are to have a voice, those from a majority perspective need to make it clear that there is ‘space’ for them in their community. In my view, it isn’t about tolerance or sympathy or looking good, but about developing a community where diversity is valued. Diversity doesn’t just happen, it needs to be worked at just as many Baha’i communities have and do work at racial diversity.

I think most Baha’is care very deeply about the importance of diversity, except, it seems, when it comes to our gay and lesbian brothers. I am often told that there is no such thing as a “LGBTQ” voice because we are all one. We are all equal. I agree with the sentiment but by ‘voice’ I mean a particular perspective on the world and society that is different to a majority voice.

I am a human being first and this means acknowledging others as equals, acknowledging that their differing perspectives are of value, however odd or ‘wrong’ they might seem to me personally.

So the next time there’s a gay or lesbian at a Baha’i event, do your best to treat that individual not as an ‘other’ – because they might not be there next time – threat them as an equal and a welcome element of diversity. And if there are no gays or lesbians in your community, then ask yourself why? What is it about your community that does not show to a 10% minority or so of humanity, that they are welcome?

A Baha’i recently told me that she felt embarrassed to say she was a Baha’i because she didn’t have the words to counter statements such as Homosexuality, according to the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, is spiritually condemned [footnote 2]. Then a work colleague, an out of the closet lesbian, said she had heard that she was a Baha’i and that it sounded like a nice religion and asked her about it. My Baha’i friend kept the conversation brief because she didn’t want her to find out that lesbians and gays are treated differently. For my friend, this is a huge crisis of faith. Personally she sees nothing wrong with homosexuality, but she knows that the public image of the Baha’i community conflates homosexuality with immorality or disease, and she can’t see how she can do anything to change this. I suggested that she could speak about her discomfort in her own Baha’i community. If others in the community share her views, suggest that they state in their publicity something like: “a Bahai teaching is equality for all regardless of their cultural background, race or orientation.” If these Bahais find such a public statement problematic, then host a study class on the topic to find out why and use the opportunity to find ways to present the Baha’i community that work best while still showing the world that this particular Baha’i community is working at reducing discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Like any form of discrimination, the issue affects everyone, not just those who are being oppressed. Looking the other way means doing nothing to address the public perception that the Baha’i community is not coming “to the defense of those whose fundamental rights are being denied or violated” [Universal House of Justice, 27 October, 2010] of those who identify as GLBTQ.

Back to my question: is it better to walk away?

My gay friend continued: I ask myself “why do I have pain and suffering?” Is it because I want there to be a true Faith that makes existence make sense? I desire God and want a religion. In a way, it is selfish. And the result is pain, because the only Faith that makes sense to me, is just like all the other religions: it divides the world into “us” and “them,” even though it claims it doesn’t.
 
Like a child having a tantrum, I am angry and mad and fighting for this not to be so. But the fact of the matter is … it *is* this way. So, I feel the right way is to stop desiring there to be a God or an afterlife or even a religion or Faith that tries to make sense of existence.
 
I want those things because I’m selfish and want inclusion and want some sense of order. If I abandon my desires for these things and accept what is, then I no longer suffer with the pain that comes with the rejection from the Bahai Faith that is caused by being a gay man. And if I stop worrying about an afterlife and the “why” of existence, I can finally live free and at peace.

Is the anger because of attachment? Or injustice? What is more important – passion, involvement or detachment?

As for myself, if I thought the Baha’i Teachings (Link to a blog outlining ‘Abdul-Baha’s eleven principles) endorsed treating gay and lesbian Baha’is differently, I would have leave the Baha’i Faith and in turn, I would be less sure about the existence of God more than ever, as I am one of those Baha’is whose idea of God borders on the agnostic. I am not sure about the existence of God but the Baha’i Writings ring true as does my belief in spirituality.

I would have to leave the Baha’i Faith because if gays and lesbians are treated differently because of their orientation, then it means that the Baha’i principle of equality is meaningless. It is not possible to preach equality and then add, “except for those people”. Baha’is might say things such as “homosexuality is spiritually condemned” but if it is not in Baha’i Scripture, then as far as I am concerned it is not part of the Baha’i Teachings. I realise it is easier for me. I have the confidence to say this.

A friend nailed it by saying: I’ve had to recently acknowledge the fact that deep inside me I feel like I don’t have the right to be happy because I’m gay. God hates us, unless we’re celibate. And it affects my relationships, my self-esteem, and it certainly has played a huge part in my history of enjoying various substances.

“Justice and equity are twin Guardians that watch over men. From them are revealed such blessed and perspicuous words as are the cause of the well-being of the world and the protection of the nations.” (Baha’u’llah)

If you are not treated with equality, of course it affects your self-esteem. If you are expected to hide your orientation, of course that creates an imbalance. I think that is why the Baha’i Teachings place such importance on equality, justice, independent investigation, and science and religion being in harmony and why ‘Adbul-Baha wrote: “The divine religions must be the cause of oneness… and the means of unity and love; they must promulgate universal peace, free man from every prejudice, bestow joy and gladness, exercise kindness to all men and do away with every difference and distinction. Just as Bahá’u’lláh addressing the world of humanity saith: ‘O people! Ye are the fruits of one tree and the leaves of one branch.'” [Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 28]

We can use reason to overcome prejudice and hopefully make a conscious effort to improve the state of humanity”. [Bahaiteachings.org]

I do not want my religion to be used to hurt another gay or lesbian and I hope for the day when Baha’i communities demonstrate publicly by action that in their community they treat their gay and lesbian members as equals.

‘Abdul-Baha spoke of the diversity of the flowers in the garden of humanity being diverse as a good thing and as a metaphor for the diversity of humanity (being a good thing). I hate it that public statements present as homosexuality being: an aberration subject to treatment or abnormality, handicap, affliction, problem or an abnormality … a great problem for the individual so afflicted … that he or she should strive to overcome it“. (all these quotations are from the Wikipedia “Homosexuality and the Baha’i Faith” page. See footnote two). Where are the examples of Baha’is showing that within the Baha’i community there are those who value the diversity of those who identify as LGBT?

Although the Universal House of Justice’s current 2010 policy states that a “marriage is a union between a man and a woman” I wish that marriage was the only issue here, but it isn’t. Not only are gays and lesbians expected to live solitary lives while others may raise families and enjoy the support and companionship of a life-partner, this distinction is then enlarged by Baha’is to say things such as homosexuality is a transgression or a disease.

Don’t get me started on gender and how many a Baha’i has tried to justify the absence of female Universal House of Justice members as being based on supposed differences in capacity between women and men. I think it is human nature to look for reasons and the tendency to create them when there doesn’t appear to be a reason. But then the danger is, just as in discussions on gender equality, difference is then used as a means to enlarge on the inequality.

The Universal House of Justice letter states that “The Bahá’í Writings state that marriage is a union between a man and a woman” but it doesn’t state the situation of already married gays or lesbians becoming Baha’is or that unmarried gays and lesbians should be treated differently to unmarried straights. The Universal House of Justice does not give a source in Baha’i Scripture (See my blog on this topic), and if there is nothing in Bahai Scripture that restricts marriage to a man and a woman, a later Universal House of Justice is free to take a different approach. It is not clear to me here whether The Universal House of Justice is making a policy on what is a Bahai marriage or telling us what they think is in Baha’i Scripture.

Of course I do see the catch 22 here for those in countries where it would break the law of the land to discriminate against legally married same sex couples. What can Baha’is do? I guess one day the Universal House of Justice is likely to make a policy on same sex marriage, but until they do, I would suggest that any N.S.A. or L.S.A. to view this as a new phenomenon and deal with this in the way that seems closest to the teachings of Baha’u’llah and the latest policy of the Universal House of Justice, while respecting the right of government to define civil marriage.

But I find it horrific that a Baha’i could say that treating a gay or lesbian differently is based on Baha’i Scripture, because it is not true.

In light of such attitudes, I don’t blame this gay friend for writing: it is religion and my desire to be a part of it and my desire to be loved by the Creator. If the Creator doesn’t love me, what is the point of trying to love the Creator? These are thoughts I usually hold down but I don’t see the usefulness (anymore) in pretending these feelings aren’t there. I’m sure I’m not alone. And I’m sharing with you to process and discuss”.

The very idea that some people are less worthy because of their nature, their race, or orientation is repulsive to me. I can’t match this idea with anything in the Bahai Writings, however another of my gay friends wrote: Lately I have been heavy on fighting for inclusion, perhaps to the exclusion of good works. But it may be time for a recalibration…. As regards your comments about desire producing pain, I have found that detachment from religion and people (even the most well intentioned) helps me maintain my sanity and my faith.
 
My view of humanity is much more melancholic than it used to be as a result. But I find that this detachment combined with a regular prayer/meditation practice works for me. When I get particularly depressed by people I turn to the prayers and writings of ‘Abdul-Baha for comfort.

So why should gays and lesbians have to suffer? What justification is there for prejudice against gays and lesbians to continue in the Baha’i community?

My friend Daniel who runs the blog “Revolked”: wrote in response to having his voting rights removed in 2009 by the American Baha’i community for being legally married in California: The Buddhist sangha really helped me… there was something about total inclusion mixed with a semi-Baha’i administration (all volunteer committee of 12 who coordinate the whole shabang), and 40 minutes of silence… with a short (very firesideesque) talk after… that helped me heal.
 
I felt listened to, and I am talking about listened to by Baha’u’llah/Buddha for the first time…
 
I needed (still do) help with dealing about my anger related to organized religion, how the Baha’is treated me, and my overall distaste for any organized spiritual anything…
 
It really helped … sitting every Sunday with really nice, good, smart people who don’t push, nor judge … other folks will find other ways to heal.
 
But I have come to realize that at least for me, Baha’i doesn’t work. It’s a nice idea, and I desperately love and accept Baha’u’llah… but the community … they reject people like me

This is the first case I know of in which a legal same-sex marriage was the reason for applying a Baha’i administrative sanction. I hope it is the only case and that one day that Daniel receives a letter of apology, because it is a Baha’i principle to follow the laws of one’s country. Shoghi Effendi was very firm about this when he wrote “they will, unhesitatingly, subordinate the operation of [Baha’i] laws and the application of [Baha’i] principles to the requirements and legal enactments of their respective governments.” (The World Order of Baha’u’llah) To me, this principle implies that the assemblies – local as much as national – must do their best to avoid any actions or statements that might be misconstrued as a rejection of the rights of government and the legitimacy of civil laws.

As far as I know this applies as long as a Baha’i law or teaching is not transgressed and even then, such as in the case of apartheid in South Africa, Baha’is were encouraged not to confront the law of the land. As far as I know the Universal House of Justice has not made a ruling on same sex marriage, only statements concerning homosexuality outside of marriage and the statement that a Baha’i marriage “is a union between a man and a woman”. So I assume that until the Universal House of Justice makes a ruling on same-sex marriage it is up to local or national Bahai communities to decide what is best in light of the Baha’i principles for those who are already Baha’is as much as for married couples who choose to join the community.

Some days I think the fight is worth it because I hope my actions help Baha’is to be more tolerant and for Baha’i from diverse perspectives to feel equally welcome. I am selfish about this. I want the Baha’i community to be more inclusive. Other days, I think it is better to be more involved in the art world (I am an artist) because it is so diverse and energizing. Perhaps in the end I can do more as an artist to help my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters than trying to work for tolerance and openness within the Bahai community. Who knows? It’s odd though, each time when I think this might be my last blog on the topic of gay rights, it feels as if Baha’u’llah is pushing me – as if this can’t be the last word.

I dedicate this blog to all my gay and lesbian friends who given me the honour of sharing their voices with me for three decades.

Footnote 1: The passage “If religion becomes a cause of dislike, hatred and division, it were better to be without it, and to withdraw from such a religion would be a truly religious act. For it is clear that the purpose of a remedy is to cure; but if the remedy should only aggravate the complaint it had better be left alone. Any religion which is not a cause of love and unity is no religion.” is often quoted by Baha’is but the source here, Paris Talks, consists of notes made by an interpreter of the talk given in French by a translator, which in turn were translated into English.

An authentic source in Abdul-Baha‘s own wording is: “Third: religion is the foundation of harmony and love, of solidarity and unity. If religion is made the cause of enmity it yields not solidarity but rather troubles, and the absence of religion is better than its existence. The abandonment of religion is preferable to this.” [A provisional translation by Sen McGlinn from notes in Persian that had been checked by Adbul-Baha

Footnote 2: In footnote 8 on the “Bahai Faith and Homosexuality” Wikipedia page (Last accessed 17 August 2014) is the statement Homosexuality, according to the Writings of Baha’u’llah, is spiritually condemned. Admittedly this page is currently dominated by the opinions of two Baha’is (Back in May 2014 I failed to get them to modify their opinions because they were not backed up by the sources they referred to). And so like any Wikipedia page that deals with a sensitive topic, those with the most friends with the skills and time, win. It is a weakness of the Wikipedia system that, like the worst aspects of party politics, majority voices are able to drown out other voices. But just because a system can be misused doesn’t mean it is bad system. I love Wikipedia!

Anyway if most Baha’is believe that somewhere in Baha’i Scripture same-sex marriage is excluded then that is an accurate picture of the state of play in the Baha’i community, regardless of whether it is true or not. Wikipedia is a fabulous resource which is flexible, and one day when the current views are minority views, this page will be changed.
So I hope this explains why quite a few of the statements [as accessed on August 17th, 2014] on this Wikipedia page are inaccurate. I hope the day is sooner rather than later when these inaccuracies are removed. However it is a fight, that for now at least, I have chosen to walk away from. Here is what I am referring to as being inaccurate:
The Bahá’í Faith teaches that the only acceptable form of sexual expression is within marriage, and Baha’i marriage is defined in the religion’s texts as exclusively between one man and one woman (Wikipedia, accessed 17 August 2014)
I had replaced the text: “in the religion’s texts as exclusively” with “in Bahai law as being” because the UHJ creates Bahai law or policy. If there is a religious text stating this, then it needs to be found or shown. All Wikipedia references used by these two Baha’is either led to statements made by the Universal House of Justice or references to marriage as a monogamous relationship between a man and woman [click on p. 147 + ”In the Glory of the Father: The Baha’i Faith and Christianity, p. 100”]. Bahai’s would not call policy made the Universal House of Justice ‘religious texts’ because that would confuse the Universal House of Justice’s authority with that of Baha’i Scripture. Saying that a marriage is between a man and woman is not the same as saying this is exclusive.

By now you might be wondering why I am putting all of this into a footnote here. Well, should a Baha’i feel uncomfortable about the phrase defined in the religion’s texts or anything else in that Wikipedia article, this might help. Opinions expressed as if they are supported by secondary literature when in fact they are not [my major argument with these two] is one thing, but these opinions create the impression that Baha’i Scripture is prejudiced against gays and lesbians, when it is not. It might seem petty, but for me it is an important distinction because Baha’i Scripture cannot be changed while statements by the Universal House of Justice can be changed by a later policy of the Universal House of Justice.
You might say, but, there is much more on that page, such as the assumption that homosexuality is a transgression [accessed 17 August homosexuality over other transgressions in the second paragraph] when in fact current Universal House of Justice policy since 2010 is that “to regard those with a homosexual orientation with prejudice or disdain would be against the spirit of the Faith.” Well, I thought I’d just start with the first sentence on the Wikipedia page and see how that went before going any further. Perhaps I should write a blog about the exchanges I had on the ‘talk’ behind the scenes page, because until then I had not realised how easy it was for the views of just two individuals with the skills, to dominate a Wikipedia page. I was used to an academic environment where if a reference is made, then it relates to the statement. These two repeatedly added material where in some cases marriage wasn’t mentioned at all. Admittedly they removed most of these when I pointed this out, but it took a lot of time to look up the books. In the end they won because they just kept deleting my edits. It was not pleasant so I understand perfectly why Baha’is might walk away from that fight as I have.

32 comments

  1. You are a borderline Covenant Breaker in my view. Your site and your energies are devoted to convincing people you are right and that Baha’u’llah, our laws and our beliefs are wrong. There is no dialogue clearly in this site, its myopic and one way, your way not God’s way. I am done with you and this site. I say this honestly and in God’s love, turn to the light and away from the darkness before its too late, you will not regret it. Yes, your energies as you will see at on your judgment day as we all must go through, are misdirected. If you choose God’s laws you will be happy and if you don’t it only leads to absorption in the Satanic self. God will help you overcome your sex addiction, get treatment and live a happy life, that is His promise IF you follow His laws. In the U.S. we have a 12 Step program for homosexuals called, What is Sexaholics Anonymous?
    Sexaholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover.

    The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop lusting and become sexually sober. Sober is that there is no sex outside of heterosexual marriage–this includes no masturbation outside of being in the presence of your marital partner. These bottom line requirements fit into the Baha’i, Catholic and most Christian framework of laws and beliefs. There are no dues or fees for SA membership; they are self-supporting through contributions.SA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization, or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any causes. The primary purpose is to stay sexually sober and help others to achieve sexual sobriety. Sexaholics Anonymous is a recovery program based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous and received permission from AA to use its Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions in 1979. You need to try it. You will be in my prayers.


  2. Anyone else who reads the comment above, please don’t get angry and I suggest you do not respond. Bahais come in all shapes and sizes. I leave Dr J’s comment stand as it is an example of the sorts of things some Bahai’s do write. He is not the first Bahai to state or suggest that I am a “borderline covenant breaker” as a form of put down.


    • I think Dr J August has Sexaholics Anonymous confused with various ex gay reparative therapy groups. There are also Sexual Compulsives Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, as well as the cotroversial Homosexuals Anonymous. Despite the name, Homosexuals Anonymous does not follow the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of legitimate Anonymous groups.


    • http://www.sa.org/

      No confusion, here is their website, the other groups have smaller numbers in terms of members and less sobriety. Cheers, Dr. J


    • http://www.sca-recovery.org This is the website of Sexual Compulsives Anonymous for comparison and contrast. Sexual sobriety is itself a controversial concept. Just read the Wikipedia articles.


    • http://www.sca-recovery.org How can the other groups have less sexual sobriety if it is a nebulous term that each indidual defines for oneself?


  3. Justabaha’i my advice is start living like a Baha’i–at this point you need honest frank advice. Many Baha’is have kindly and patiently put up with your rants and futile attempts to adjust the faith to your sex addiction needs on your blog, sorry it will not happen so give it up. This site is absolutely only going to cause division and strife in our community and all because of you. The truth is your satanic self will cannot and will not submit to God’s will, instead you want to enforce your will upon Baha’u’llah. Are you kidding me? I assure you, that my friend will not happen. You don’t know my intentions, so don’t blame me for offering you loving and frank advice as a PhD licensed counselor and licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Baha’i. Nothing will change your thinking other frankness and honesty, sorry if that troubles you but its the absolute truth from 65 year Baha’i who has treated Sex Addicts like you who are Baha’is and want the laws to be changed or interpreted to fit their lust and their needs for carve out their own lifestyles versus Baha’u’llah’s diagram which is fixed and not going to change.


    • Homosexuality and sex addiction are not the same. As a therapist, you should know this. If you are confusing these, you should have your license reviewed as your understanding of an addiction and sexuality is not correct.

      This does not mean you do not have a right to express your point of view, but to call yourself a licensed counselor but not understand what you are taking about and to use that misunderstanding to support your view is unethical.


    • Dr J is Dr Chris Johnson who has commented on my blog many times over the years. In 2012 he wrote:
      “I am a retired Professor and psycho therapist in private practice in the U.S. I am a Baha’i who specializes in treatment of sex addictions. Homosexuality is a form of sex addiction and many gay in recovery go to 12 Step programs with Sexaholics Annoymous. I have treated many gays who want treatment through either inpatient and/or outpatient treatment plans.”
      Link to his comment is here – https://justabahai.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/choosing-to-be-gay/#comment-839

      From his later comments it appears that he has since moved to Scotland. I deduced from his comments that in the end he attempted to treat two clients who “did not want to go through the tough work of changing”? … more about my deductions of Dr Johnson’s claims of who he cured are here https://justabahai.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/choosing-to-be-gay/#comment-929

      I agree with you Joe, a professional therapist should know the distinction between homosexuality and sex addiction. I point you to another blog of mine on Stephen Fry’s BBC documentary where in particular he interviews a therapist who claims to cure gays. https://justabahai.wordpress.com/2013/10/26/stephen-frys-docu-out-there-being-gay/


    • ***note from “justabahai” – Stephen I have removed your first sentence here because while I allow attacks on my own character onto the blog, I do not allow attacks on the character of others here. This is also the reason I will not allow your second blog sent just after this one through***

      People like you make me glad that Bahaism is no longer my religion for six years now. Islam, Sikhism, and Bahaism as well as some denomitations are too big for religious law and oppositional sexism to be any benefit to anyone. I reccomend Unitarian Universalism, Universal Life Church, Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis, A Course in Miracles, Urantia Brotherhood, Self Realization Fellowhip, Eckankar, Soka Gakkai, Shinto, Tenrikyo, Ecclesia Gnostica, Discordianism, Ethical Culture Society, Religious Humanism, etc as all good things to study even if just to learn stuff. Getting Bahais to become ex Bahais is better than futily trying to make it any good. The dwindling Bahais will have no division and strife and will cease to exist due to exit by troops. Exit counseling is just an interest of mine that may become a hobby or pursuit or even a course of study.


  4. How does one seek to edit WikiPedia? I’ve never done it, am not gay, and don’t know all the sources being referred to. But if I can be shown there are invalid sources being referenced (which I’m inclined to believe), I’d be happy to advise other Baha’is about how we can work together to correct the postings.


    • Thanks for the offer to go to try and correct any inaccuracies. I suggest you first look at the “talk” page which is a page behind the scenes for discussion about improving each Wikipedia page. This page records all edits. You can only view this page if you have the exact url.
      Wikipedia is a transparent system so anyone can view things, and the histories of interactions are preserved too.

      If you are registered as a wikipedia editor then there will be a way to edit, but I suggest first just read the material and see if you want to go further than this or not. Do not feel bad if you see it is too technical or complicated. Please read the wikipedia rules for the page at the top first. I am “huianui” and the material I am referring to starts with the subject I titled “etiquette for undoing items?” on May 2nd 2014 which is near the bottom of this page.
      AND of course, if you read this and feel that I have misrepresented something, please bring it up here as my aim is not to misrepresent. Please do not go there thinking you will support my perspective. You will see that the individual (jeff) brought in his friend to support him but I do not wish to do the same as this is a misuse of the Wikipedia system.
      So if you or a friend of yours registers, I suggest you only do as a I did and only edit the first sentence and see how that goes. In my case it was just the phrase “in the religion’s texts as exclusively”.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Homosexuality_and_the_Bah%C3%A1%27%C3%AD_Faith


  5. JJ wrote: Two points, first the personal, then the general: I self-identified as “queer” before becoming a Baha’i (there is no point in hiding this, as I was quite public about it), and I still experience all of the feelings and dispositions which can lead to that label being ascribed. However, I found discarding that socially-constructed label (of “bi”, or “queer”) a tremendously *liberating* and *empowering* experience.

    I could work for unity alongside diverse people, rather than isolating myself into increasingly-retrenched identity politics. I no longer needed to take a single facet of my being and accept that as a definition of my entirety as a person. I no longer fit into a well-defined marketing demographic. I found queer culture to be immensely hegemonic and controlling, with its own tacit but nonetheless powerful laws. I felt pressure to participate in forms of consumerism which, under the guise of liberation, served only corporate marketers who saw me as a target demographic.
    This posture is far different from the existing dichotomy of “queer-affirming” vs. “homophobic”, since both are predicated on incomplete understandings of the human being.

    Moreover, the Baha’i Faith does not need to confirm to any existing socially-constructed political alignment (whether “liberal”, “conservative”, or any other label) because it is an entirely new Revelation which cannot be contained within our current political structures. Likewise, I have not rejected “queerness”, rather I have found that my new found identity as an eternal spiritual soul cannot be contained within that label, and continually overflows it.


  6. GG wrote “I do think you should distinguish more clearly between Bahá’í in the sense of a follower of Bahá’u’lláh and Bahá’í in the sense of member of the Bahá’í community.

    Homosexuality is an ethical issue, just like consumption of alcohol (from binge drinking to the enjoyment of a restaurant dessert which happens to have a tiny squirt of cointreau in it), prayer and meditation, or indeed any other aspect of morality or `ibádát.

    Ethical issues are a matter of one’s own personal “social contract” with Bahá’u’lláh and are no-one else’s business, least of all that of the Bahá’í community at large. I draw the line when I am pressed into taking an open stand on such issues.
    I am just as much annoyed by Bahá’ís who go around gloating about their exemplary virtue as I am about those who challenge me with their own divergent attitudes concerning the validity or non-validity of any or all individual ethical standards, Bahá’í or otherwise. I refuse to be bound up in other people’s “take” on such issues and to be provoked into taking a stand. Because my “stand” is also no-one else’s business.

    Contemplating whether there are any gay friends in my or anyone else’s local community is something which wouldn’t even occur to me. I also don’t keep a list of how many are left-handed or have brown hair or prefer laced shoes to slip-ons. These issues are also not my itch, and I don’t intend that they become such.”


    • I totally agree, that’s why this website is such a waste. Trying to persuade others to get the Writings or UHJ to change their position on this issue is absolute nonsense, this site is simply wasted energy which could be used to teach the Faith. What justabahai does is between himself and God UNLESS he promotes the gay lifestyle publically and politicizes for stances that are contrary to our Faiths beliefs.


  7. Dr J,
    I will allow comments on my blog which attack my own character but I will not allow comments on my blog when the characters of others are attacked. This is why your other comment will not appear here.


    • Nobody is attacking anyone, that is not my intention justabaha’i but if using Writings and the words of Baha’u’llah directed toward people who deny Him is labeled “attack” or counter views of YOURS considered attacks, you intentions become totally transparent. Your propaganda and no opposition, that’s it.


    • Dr J, I think most Baha’is would consider this statement “You are a borderline Covenant Breaker in my view” an attack on their character Dr J. I mention it here in case you might be unaware that calling anyone a “a borderline Covenant Breaker” is name-calling and in my view it is the character of the person who chooses such words that makes a negative impression. You do not offend me when you use such terms, but you do the name of the Bahai community no good. I also suggest that in the future you focus on the content of what I write rather than throwing out generalizations about what you think of my blog.
      You wrote “you have no idea of the magnitude of giving up your faith in Baha’u’llah but you will at your judgment–that I assure you.” about the character of someone who commented here. This is a threat, so this is why I rejected this. This has nothing to do with quoting Baha’u’llah. I assure, it is your words that I am rejecting here. No individual has the right to judge the value of another’s life. I assure you this is NOT a Baha’i teaching to threaten others with these types of phrases.


  8. Interesting piece. I have been on the path of becoming a better baha’i since 2009 and this topic has always struck a chord with me. I have always believed that every person deserves his or her happiness and fulfillment in life, why not someone who loves just as sincerely and as dedicated as anyone of the heterosexual preference? We are all fr the same essence. I find that there is a big difference that that faith does welcome friends to partake in the development of the world versus many faiths and traditions completely curse and judge them to be of Satan. This is so harmful and i believe that it is exaggerated by those who claim to be extremely well-versed and wise in all affairs of the Holy. I sincerely have much respect for the wisdom of the text of many faiths. I really feel for those undergoing the tests that friends of the LGBT community and I find it very disheartening to hear the pain and confusion of not being included in so many areas of life. I don’t believe that the friends facing these difficulties need such an oppressive heavy handed response or treatment. There is so much work that needs to be done in any community in this world and we welcome all hands to help and learn with us to create a better community life and grow together. The Baha’i Faith is devoted to the service of unity in mankind. We are all on our journey to investigate our personal truth and I really encourage everyone to do so regardless of anything that could characterize you. I am sorry that some of the friends responding to your piece are not being LOVING & JUST or tactful. I feel that we can never stop growing as beings of God and I hope that you find peace within yourself that we are all on a path and that I don’t see you as being just a person from the LGBTQ community but as a fellow friend looking for a better and happier life. “Let deeds not words be your adorning.”


    • First I want to thank justabahai for this site. I find it thoughtful, inclusive and welcoming.
      I am a fourth generation Baha’i and I am also a lesbian. I am not in a relationship, not because I don’t want to be, but more because there doesn’t seem to be anyone available in my neighborhood. I don’t live in the USA, although my mother was an American. I live in the Arctic (Greenland) and we have a thriving Baha’i Community here. Several of the Bahai’s here know I am gay and nobody has ever harassed me for it.
      Our general society at large has legalized same-sex marriage and like in any societies we have people who support gay people and those who are against.
      How the Bahai Community would respond if I found someone and married that person I’m not sure. It would be a good bet, though that I’d probably lose my voting rights. But that is not a given. Baha’i Communities are made up of people who come in to the Faith with all their “baggage”. They are also products of the society and culture that surrounds them. Compared to the USA our society is far more easy going on personal issues, such as marriage, cohabitation, children born out of wedlock etc etc. This is also reflected in our Bahai Community. Our B.C. works hard at being welcome and inclusive.

      Personally I am a strong supporter of same-sex marriage and I have no qualms about voiceing it either. I find it heartbreaking that people who are married in a loving, monogamous relationship maybe raising a family are asked to split up if they wish to become Baha’is. I find that to be a gross injustice. Family unity is a core element in the teachings, so I find such a demand counter to both the teachings and the spirit of the Faith. I have never heard of any Bahai losing their voting rights for merely being gay, and I am totally shocked to learn that this seems to have been the case in the US. While my Baha’i Community accepts me without reservation, I feel that my Faith does not and that saddens me profoundly. My response has more or less been inactivity. My heart is not in it as much as it should be. How can I honestly support a Cause wholeheartedly when I feel this Cause does not accept me or those of my sisters and brothers who are like me?
      It is a conundrum and not an easy one.

      Now I want to comment on Dr. J’s remark “you are a borderline covenant breaker” to justabahai. I find this accusation extremely offensive, in fact liables, and justabahai’s gentle response speaks more to the nobility of his character than it does of Dr. J’s.

      You’d better have your documentation in order, Dr. J, before accusing someone of being a covenant breaker as it is the most serious thing in the world.
      A covenant breaker is someone who actively works against the Faith from the inside f.ex wanting to set up his or her own branch of the Faith. People have tried and failed, thanks to the power of unity in the Cause.
      I see NO signs of this on justabahai’s blog.

      Only the UHJ has the authority to proclaim anyone a covenant breaker and it is most certainly not something that is done willy-nilly, only after much consultation with the individual in question.

      Disagreeing with another Baha’i about certain aspects of the writings is certainly not that. And most of it comes down to how one understands the writings. There is nothing wrong with an open and frank discussion about difficult issues, and trying to shut another Bahai up by calling him or her “a borderline covenant breaker” because you don’t like to hear what he or she has to say, is an unacceptable attempt at censorship.

      Thank you justabahai for setting up this blog. God bless you.🙂


  9. Actually, according to the writings of Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, Only the Guardian may declare someone to be a Covenant Breaker. It is NOT in the prerogative of the UHJ to do so.

    ***note from “justabahai” – Michael while I allow attacks on my own character onto the blog, I do not allow attacks on the character of others here. This is the reason I will not allow your second comment sent just after this one through. Also please do not use my blog for soliciting contact with others. This why your third comment will not be published on my blog.***


    • The story is reminiscent of the 10 blind men whose sight was restored and only one of whom came back to thank Christ. This continuing human deficiency remains true even for self-serving prayers for benefits and blessings. What about the higher use suggested in the Bahá’í Writings? In the words of the Guardian, “that through them they may enter into a much closer communion with God, and identify themselves more fully with His laws and precepts.” How many people passively agree with the Bahá’í ideals, even after registering as Bahá’í? How many people are eager to live in the world envisioned by the Bahá’í teachings, but turn their attention to other things? How many thousand of acorns are needed for one to take root and grow into a mighty oak?

      God’s great lament as He responds to Bahá’u’lláh in the Fire Tablet is, “Dost Thou wail, or shall I wail? Rather shall I weep at the fewness of Thy champions…” Even with the metaphor of the blind men going beyond a physical healing to spiritual insights, there are relatively few enrolled Bahá’ís who become “Champions”. The angel tending that room would be extremely busy delegating the 100 martyrs promised as a reward to assist the “champions” in their efforts. But, there would be oh, so few, even enrolled and sincere believers, who venture far enough to take up that angel’s time.

      A special thought:

      WHAT HAPPENS IN HEAVEN WHEN WE PRAY?

      This is one of the nicest e-mails I have seen and is so true:

      I dreamt that I went to Heaven and an angel was showing me around.

      We walked side-by-side inside a large workroom filled with angels. My angel guide stopped in front of the first section and said, “This is the Receiving Section. Here, all petitions to God said in prayer are received”

      I looked around in this area, and it was terribly busy with so many angels sorting out petitions written on voluminous paper sheets and scraps from people all over the world.

      Then we moved on down a long corridor until we reached the second section..

      The angel then said to me, “This is the Packaging and Delivery Section. Here, the graces and blessings the people asked for are processed and delivered to the living persons who asked for them.”

      I noticed again how busy it was there. There were many angels working hard at that station, since so many blessings had been requested and were being packaged for delivery to Earth.

      Finally! At the farthest end of the long corridor we stopped at the door of a very small station. To my great surprise, only one angel was seated there, idly doing nothing. “This is the Acknowledgment Section,” my angel friend quietly admitted to me. He seemed embarrassed.

      “How is it that there is no work going on here?” I asked.

      “So sad,” the angel sighed. “After people receive the blessings that they asked for, very few send back acknowledgments.”

      “How does one acknowledge God’s blessings?” I asked.

      “Simple,” the angel answered. Just say, “Thank you, Lord.”

      “What blessings should they acknowledge?” I asked

      “If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead, and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.”

      “And if you get this on your own computer, you are part of the 1% in the world who has that opportunity.”

      “If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the many who will not even survive this day.”

      “If you have never experienced the fear in battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 700 million people in the world.”

      “If you can attend a church without the fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are envied by and more blessed than three billion people in the world.”

      “If your parents are still alive and still married, you are very rare”

      “If you can hold your head up and smile, you are not the norm. You’re unique to all those in doubt and despair.”

      “Okay. What now? How can I start?’

      If you can read this message, you just received a double blessing in that someone was thinking of you as very special, and you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.

      Have a good day.Count your blessings. And if you care to, pass this along to remind everyone else how blessed we all are

      ATTN:Acknowledge Dept.
      “Thank you Lord for giving me the ability to share this message and for giving me so many wonderful people with whom to share it.”

      If you have read this far, and are thankful for all that you have been blessed with, how can you not send it on? I thank God for everything, especially all my family and friends.


  10. P.S. Note the UHJ says “When a person wishes to join the Faith and it is generally known that he or she has a problem such as drinking, homosexuality” which states its a PROBLEM. Sex addiction 12 Step programs I have offered to you as one option. My point to you all along is this is a chosen lifestyle which can be treated by science of psycho therapy and more importantly spiritual transformations. This lies in the realm of prayer and study of the Writings to overcome this lust. Even IF it were biological and it isn’t, so are a number of psychosis but we have treatments for them. WAKE UP before its too late for you.


    • Dr J, it might shock you but I lead a very happy life and so do many of my gay and lesbian friends who are tax payers, parents and people who go out to help others in the community. My motive for writing the blogs that I do write here is, hopefully, to have a space for discussion and debate.

      I am not allowing the private email sent to you by Moojan Momen through because you need to ask him to give you permission to do this. Moojan has my email address so he can inform me if you do have permission.


    • Its not private I was just asking for writings on the subject not personal opinions from him. He gave a very public statement from the UHJ to all Baha’is. I suggest you ask him for such writings as well it would do you good to reflect upon them, the UHJ is an infallible source of guidance.


    • It is unprofessional and rude to refer to private emails without that person’s permission to do so. I will not allow this on my blog unless you get his explicit permission.


  11. I find that moralistic religious people have several if not all of the following traits that I got from the F Scale. The F Scale is a test to determine how fascist people are.

    Conventionalism: Rigid adherence to conventional, middle-class values. 1, 2, 3, 4
    Authoritarian Submission: Submissive, uncritical attitude toward idealized moral authorities of the ingroup. 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
    Authoritarian Aggression: Tendency to be on the lookout for, and to condemn, reject, and punish people who violate conventional values. 2, 3, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16
    Anti-intraception: Opposition to the subjective, the imaginative, the tender-minded. 3, 4, 17, 18
    Superstition and Stereotypy: The belief in mystical determinants of the individual’s fate; the disposition to think in rigid categories. 5, 6, 19, 20, 21, 22
    Power and “Toughness”: Preoccupation with the dominance-submission, strong-weak, leader-follower dimension; identification with power figures; overemphasis upon the conventionalized attributes of the ego; exaggerated assertion of strength and toughness. 8, 11, 12, 20, 23, 24, 25, 30
    Destructiveness and Cynicism: Generalized hostility, vilification of the human. 26, 27
    Projectivity: The disposition to believe that wild and dangerous things go on in the world; the projection outwards of unconscious emotional impulses. 18, 22, 25, 28, 29
    Sex: Exaggerated concern with sexual “goings-on.”

    Conventional values can be replaced by religious values for religious minorities as a subcultural example. Uncritical submission to religious law is another trait you can see that goes along with that. Looking out for, condemning, rejecting, and punish people that don’t uncritically submit to religious laws follows from the previous two. I could go on and on for each trait, but you can see the picture.


    • I don’t agree with your categorizations as they strike me as judgmental and subjective but I leave your comment here in case another reader might wish to engage with you. More to the point I don’t see the point in the creation of these arbitary boxes. Human beings are complex, at least the ones I associate with are🙂


  12. Dr J, This is the last time I will warn you about hurling insults to someone else posting on this blog. If you have critique to make about someone else here, use words that are neutral and not rude. So, this is why your comment will not be allowed here and to save me time, I am not going to repeat myself the next time you write a comment that is offensive or rude about another person’s character. Your comment will just not appear.


  13. You grasp for straws to label me as rude or sanction me on your site while letting others pretty much be as rude as they want with me, thats a double standard. I have been frank with you at times but never rude but you like to portray yourself as a reasonable and polite person and demonize those of us who happen to disagree with your views. Your site promotes opposition to the firm view on the subject of homosexuality by the UHJ but you think thats just fine. You allow ex Baha’is to come on this site and attack me which is fine with me but what isn’t fine attack the Faith. What a hypocrite you are!


    • Dr J, I don’t think that I need respond to your comments above. Anyone can look at the comments themselves and make their own judgements. And yes you are correct, I will not let through your two previously sent comments because I will not allow you to hurl insults or threats to others who comment on my blog. Engaging with the comments and disagreeing is another matter.



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