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Problems with and because of my associates and the company I keep.

Jim

Nets of Wonder
I want to discuss some problems I’ve had sometimes with Baha’is on the Internet, and because of what some of their behavior has done to the reputation of the Baha’i Faith in every forum where I’ve posted. I’ll confess, all I’m looking for here is sympathy, but then again, discussing it with someone might help me cope with it better.

Many years ago, when there was open feuding among a few dozen Baha’is in various places on the Internet, I became friends with some Baha’is and former Baha’is who called themselves “liberals” and who were continually maligning Baha’i administrators and raking up muck about them. Someone very close to me started making dire threats against me and my family if I didn’t give up those friendships, made false vile accusations against me in a forum, and finally ended up shunning me. It was sad because before all that, I thought we were very close friends and getting closer. Sometimes I think about trying to revive our friendship, but then I remember that in the last years before the crisis, every time I thought he had friendly intentions, it turned out to be a scheme to try to tear me away from the Dark Side.
 

Jim

Nets of Wonder
Later, three of those liberal friends started shunning me. One of them said it was because it would compromise his interests to have any association with me, and for another it was because I failed some kind of purity test. The other one never gave me a reason, he just stopped talking to me.
 

Windwalker

Veteran Member
Premium Member
A classic sign of a cult is to get you separated from others and surround you with the "love" of the group. To leave the safety of that circle is dire, you will be shunned, ex-communicated, threatened, etc. It is not a genuine love, but one created by being of one mind. "We are all the people of the prophet, brothers and sisters", for instance. As long as you conform, you're loved. But step outside that, and you risk being disfellowshipped. That is not genuine love. It is not spiritual love.
 

metis

aged ecumenical anthropologist
Well, if they are that way then they ain't liberal in this context because "liberal" means open-minded ("libre" = freedom), although they could be liberal in some other areas. Hope that they eventually get enlightened and decide to walk-the-walk if they profess to be liberal.
 

HonestJoe

Well-Known Member
I want to discuss some problems I’ve had sometimes with Baha’is on the Internet, and because of what some of their behavior has done to the reputation of the Baha’i Faith in every forum where I’ve posted. I’ll confess, all I’m looking for here is sympathy, but then again, discussing it with someone might help me cope with it better.
Well that’s not a Baha’i problem, it’s a human being problem and you’re be far from alone in suffering it one way or another. The best thing to do is not obsess over it but to learn from it and move on. There are enough decent people out there for us to spend time with and ignore all of the bad ones.
 

shunyadragon

shunyadragon
Premium Member
A classic sign of a cult is to get you separated from others and surround you with the "love" of the group. To leave the safety of that circle is dire, you will be shunned, ex-communicated, threatened, etc. It is not a genuine love, but one created by being of one mind. "We are all the people of the prophet, brothers and sisters", for instance. As long as you conform, you're loved. But step outside that, and you risk being disfellowshipped. That is not genuine love. It is not spiritual love.

I consider it a classic case of fallible human nature. Calling a religion a 'cult,' because of the behavior of individuals smells of the stench of a religious agenda.

I have been a Baha'i for over fifty years, and have experienced the weaknesses of human failings in all the religions I have associated with. I have had problems with a few Baha'is, but my main problem over the years is with alienation and shunning by Christians. The problems I had to deal with Christian tribalism were far greater than anything I had to deal with the fellow Baha'is in the Baha'i Faith.

Example: I raised my son through the Boys scouts, and had continuous problems with Christians after it was known I was a Baha'i. I was even a Scout Master for several years, and yes problems with relationships. The last Scout Troop I was with was a large Methodist Church. It was normal to have the Eagle ceremony in the church. There were delays and I did not understand why, but finally the Eagle Ceremony was held in another community facility away from the church.
 

Vinayaka

devotee
Premium Member
Later, three of those liberal friends started shunning me. One of them said it was because it would compromise his interests to have any association with me, and for another it was because I failed some kind of purity test. The other one never gave me a reason, he just stopped talking to me.

When someone shuns me, I always think, ... 'no big loss'. Don't really need 'friends' like that.
 

Jim

Nets of Wonder
@HonestJoe @Vinayaka Thank you.

All that happened many years ago, and I don’t think about it much, but it came back to me, thinking about some things that have happened more recently. In some forums, when people found out I was a Baha’i, it became impossible for me to have any friendly conversations with anyone because of what some other Baha’is did before I came. I had some trouble like that here too, but not as much.
 
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Windwalker

Veteran Member
Premium Member
I consider it a classic case of fallible human nature. Calling a religion a 'cult,' because of the behavior of individuals smells of the stench of a religious agenda.
That particular practice I mentioned, of isolated people from others and smothering them with brotherly love along with harsh penalties for straying from the group, are not a classic case of fallible human nature. That is a recognized brainwashing tactic of cults that goes beyond normal religious groups. Not all religions do that. Only specific cultic religions do, where they are strong on "we have the only truth", the "pure", authoritative truth from leadership. They view others outside themselves as either lost, or misguided, or lacking the "full revelation" that they have. BTW, I was in such an organization, and I know the difference by experience.

I have been a Baha'i for over fifty years, and have experienced the weaknesses of human failings in all the religions I have associated with. I have had problems with a few Baha'is, but my main problem over the years is with alienation and shunning by Christians. The problems I had to deal with Christian tribalism were far greater than anything I had to deal with the fellow Baha'is in the Baha'i Faith.

Example: I raised my son through the Boys scouts, and had continuous problems with Christians after it was known I was a Baha'i. I was even a Scout Master for several years, and yes problems with relationships. The last Scout Troop I was with was a large Methodist Church. It was normal to have the Eagle ceremony in the church. There were delays and I did not understand why, but finally the Eagle Ceremony was held in another community facility away from the church.
These are examples of classic tribalistic mentality. Cults deliberately isolate others, smother them with love, alienate them from their families, and threaten members with shunning for not toeing the line, threats of hell or annihilation, or in some cases even physical threats. That is about taking power away from individuals, making them wholly surrendered to the group. Is that related to tribalism? Yes, but a really perverse distortion of the normal mechanisms of maintaining normal group cohesion. They inflict harm psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually on members. It is a spiritual rape.

I am not saying I see the Baha'i faith this way as a whole, but some groups within it may be engaging in cultic practices of isolation and brainwashing like this. You'd have to see what an ex-member is describing to judge. How were they treated when they questioned authority? What was the response to them like? How severe was it? You can hear plenty of these sorts of reports from groups like the JWs, for instance. Any Ex-member forum will have plenty of stories of former members discussing the practices and tactics. All of that betrays the lack of authenticity of that group and the potential dangers to present members being controlled by them that way.
 
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George-ananda

Advaita Vedanta, Theosophy, Spiritualism
Premium Member
I want to discuss some problems I’ve had sometimes with Baha’is on the Internet,
Jim, I definitely feel I can shed some light on this problem as a once very involved Baha'i (now ex-Baha'i but thankfully not anti-Baha'i).

I strongly believe many Baha's do not at all fully understand their religion. No offense, but I think you are in that class.

Basically what I see in modern western recruits to the Faith is a very watered-down understanding of what the Faith is to be about. What these new recruits embrace is a presentation of Baha'i that seems quite palatable to those raised in modern liberal western culture.

I do not know that these recruits understand that officially the Baha'i Faith is intended to be a new world religion that is intended to replace the current religions and the current world order. We are to have a Baha'i Age where the teachings of the Faith are the foundations recognized by the peoples of the world. The Baha'i Administrative Order will in due time replace the crumbling institutions of the old world order.

All beliefs expressly stated in the Baha'i scriptures and also the interpretations of the Guardian of the Faith are mandatory beliefs for Bahai's. Dissenters are to be judged as Covenant Breakers and are to be shunned by the community. The Kitáb-i-Aqdas is to be the official religious law book of this future era.

The official Baha'i teachings are not particularly palatable to those raised in modern liberal western culture that typically believes in things like the separation of Church and State but the surface palatable Baha'i teachings have been accepted by many who are not fully aware of the depth of the full teachings.
 

Nakosis

Non-Dual Physicalist
Premium Member
I want to discuss some problems I’ve had sometimes with Baha’is on the Internet, and because of what some of their behavior has done to the reputation of the Baha’i Faith in every forum where I’ve posted. I’ll confess, all I’m looking for here is sympathy, but then again, discussing it with someone might help me cope with it better.

Many years ago, when there was open feuding among a few dozen Baha’is in various places on the Internet, I became friends with some Baha’is and former Baha’is who called themselves “liberals” and who were continually maligning Baha’i administrators and raking up muck about them. Someone very close to me started making dire threats against me and my family if I didn’t give up those friendships, made false vile accusations against me in a forum, and finally ended up shunning me. It was sad because before all that, I thought we were very close friends and getting closer. Sometimes I think about trying to revive our friendship, but then I remember that in the last years before the crisis, every time I thought he had friendly intentions, it turned out to be a scheme to try to tear me away from the Dark Side.

Kind of sad that folks allow their religious beliefs to come between them.
 

Jim

Nets of Wonder
George, your post warmed my heart. Thank you.

I do know all about all that. I know that there are Baha’is who think that way.
 

Spiderman

Veteran Member
Follow your heart. God has a unique plan for you. Your spirituality should be unique.

God speaks to your heart. Follow The Inspirations and pray for guidance.
 

Jim

Nets of Wonder
@HonestJoe @Vinayaka @George-ananda @PopeADope

I’m partly venting, partly looking for sympathy, and partly actually open to the possibility that this might do me some good. I want to put it in the context of what I’ve been trying to do and hoping to do on the Internet. I’ll start from now and go backwards from here. I’m still hoping to wean myself away from Internet discussions for now and possibly forever. If and when I do continue my online initiatives, I might do it more on social networks rather than discussion forums. What I’m dreaming of now is building better personal friendships with more people, find online initiatives that I want to help encourage and support, and continue spending some time with some of the people whose ideas and interests seem most contrary to mine. I’m confident that some day there will be some kind of online parallel to a kind of community development that I’ve seen offline, that I like better than anything else I’ve ever seen. I’ve searched for that online, and searched for people who might like to help it happen. I have seen some small beginnings of it happening in my Facebook neighborhood, and I’m hoping to help it happen there.

Mostly what I’ve been doing here has been exploring the possibilities for all that in Internet discussions, and I’ve seen confirmation that all that is possible. It just will take a lot of time and effort, and I have other priorities offline that need a lot more attention.

One recurring problem for me has been seeing Baha’is discrediting the Baha’i Faith more than any of its detractors could ever do. It’s always been hard for me to resist trying to work with them to resolve our conflicts of interests, and often what Baha’is have done before I came into a forum has undermined, and a few times completely ruined, some possibilities for me in that forum. Fortunately those possibilities in these forums were not completely ruined. Nothing ever ruins my possibilities for freeing myself from unconscious prejudices and delusions, which has always been part of my purpose in Internet discussions.

It’s also always been a struggle for me to practice the same attitudes and behavior towards Baha’is, that I’ve been trying to practice towards everyone else. Now that I think of it, I might want to focus all my attention on that for a while. Some of what I’ve done here has already been for that, but I might want to give it a lot more attention for a while. So it has helped me to talk about it here!
 
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shunyadragon

shunyadragon
Premium Member
That particular practice I mentioned, of isolated people from others and smothering them with brotherly love along with harsh penalties for straying from the group, are not a classic case of fallible human nature. That is a recognized brainwashing tactic of cults that goes beyond normal religious groups. Not all religions do that. Only specific cultic religions do, where they are strong on "we have the only truth", the "pure", authoritative truth from leadership. They view others outside themselves as either lost, or misguided, or lacking the "full revelation" that they have. BTW, I was in such an organization, and I know the difference by experience.

What was described here is the behavior of "individuals" and not an institutional belief, policy, or advocate of the Baha'i Faith. I believe you jumped the gun with a generalization about the Baha'i Faith
 

Jim

Nets of Wonder
@Windwalker @shunyadragon I’ve seen all the same social problems in the Baha’i community that I’ve seen in the rest of society, including the kinds of behavior that people associate with cults. That’s one of the most important things I want people to know about the Baha’i Faith. Saying that, suddenly I see a lot more value in denunciation campaigns against it than I ever saw before.
 

shunyadragon

shunyadragon
Premium Member
What was described here is the behavior of "individuals" and not an institutional belief, policy, or advocate of the Baha'i Faith. I believe you jumped the gun with a generalization about the Baha'i Faith

I would like to add that the experience of "shunning" that I experience with the Boys Scouts and the Methodist Church would be an institutional "shunning" that anyone with my non-Christian belief would not have been allowed to have the Eagle ceremony in the ;church.' Most people incuding myself would not call the Methodist Church a cult.
 

Spiderman

Veteran Member
@HonestJoe @Vinayaka @George-ananda @PopeADope

I’m partly venting, partly looking for sympathy, and partly actually open to the possibility that this might do me some good. I want to put it in the context of what I’ve been trying to do and hoping to do on the Internet. I’ll start from now and go backwards from here. I’m still hoping to wean myself away from Internet discussions for now and possibly forever. If and when I do continue my online initiatives, I might do it more on social networks rather than discussion forums. What I’m dreaming of now is building better personal friendships with more people, find online initiatives that I want to help encourage and support, and continue spending some time with some of the people whose ideas and interests seem most contrary to mine. I’m confident that some day there will be some kind of online parallel to a kind of community development that I’ve seen offline, that I like better than anything else I’ve ever seen. I’ve searched for that online, and searched for people who might like to help it happen. I have seen some small beginnings of it happening in my Facebook neighborhood, and I’m hoping to help it happen there.

Mostly what I’ve been doing here has been exploring the possibilities for all that in Internet discussions, and I’ve seen confirmation that all that is possible. It just will take a lot of time and effort, and I have other priorities offline that need a lot more attention.

One recurring problem for me has been seeing Baha’is discrediting the Baha’i Faith more than any of its detractors could ever do. It’s always been hard for me to resist trying to work with them to resolve our conflicts of interests, and often what Baha’is have done before I came into a forum has undermined, and a few times completely ruined, some possibilities for me in that forum. Fortunately those possibilities in these forums were not completely ruined. Nothing ever ruins my possibilities for freeing myself from unconscious prejudices and delusions, which has always been part of my purpose in Internet discussions.

It’s also always been a struggle for me to practice the same attitudes and behavior towards Baha’is, that I’ve been trying to practice towards everyone else. Now that I think of it, I might want to focus all my attention on that for a while. Some of what I’ve done here has already been for that, but I might want to give it a lot more attention for a while. So it has helped me to talk about it here!
Just be the best version of yourself, not the best version of someone else
 
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