Freedom of expression

Dry Bones cartoon
I’m struggling to reconcile the various responses the Universal House of Justice has to the issue of freedom of expression

Here’s part of what it said in 1988 to the US Baha’is:

At the same time, Shoghi Effendi’s advice, as conveyed by his secretary, goes on to stress the point that “all criticisms and discussions of a negative character which may result in undermining the authority of the Assembly as a body should be strictly avoided. For otherwise the order of the Cause itself will be endangered, and confusion and discord will reign in the community.”
Clearly, then, there is more to be considered than the critic’s right to self-expression; the unifying spirit of the Cause of God must also be preserved, the authority of its laws and ordinances safeguarded, authority being an indispensable aspect of freedom. Motive, manner, mode, become relevant; but there is also the matter of love: love for one’s fellows, love for one’s community, love for one’s institutions.

The responsibility resting on the individual to conduct himself in such a way as to ensure the stability of society takes on elemental importance in this context. For vital as it is to the progress of society, criticism is a two-edged sword: it is all too often the harbinger of conflict and contention. The balanced processes of the Administrative Order are meant to prevent this essential activity from degenerating to any form of dissent that breeds opposition and its dreadful schismatic consequences.
Individual Rights and Freedoms

And here’s part of what it recently said in a letter to the Baha’is in Iran:

Undeterred by the voices which insist that you believe but in silence, as if belief and the expression of it can be separated, you are engaged, wisely and unobtrusively, in exchanging views with your friends on themes central to the progress of Iran and its glorification.

At a time when Iranian society is being torn apart by long-standing prejudices of religion, ethnicity, gender, and class, the experience of your community for more than a century and a half can serve as an abundant source of insight to the people of that land.
To the believers in the Cradle of the Faith, 28 July 2008 – Word document
To the believers in the Cradle of the Faith, 28 July 2008 – HTML document

The House spends many paragraphs in its 1988 letter showing how “belief and the expression of it” can and should be separated, particularly when the authority of the Baha’i administration might be undermined. Yet, in its more recent letter, it says the Iranian Baha’is should be undeterred by such talk, particularly when they see their society being torn apart.

Faith, in new Baha’i year, again excludes Baha’is

Baha’is who have sought redress from the Baha’i administration over unjustified removal from membership have been met with decisions containing blanket statements like “cannot properly be considered as meeting the requirements of Baha’i membership” and “his application for membership is not honoured”.
Baha’is who have sought redress from the Baha’i administration over unjustified removal from membership have been met with decisions containing blanket statements like “cannot properly be considered as meeting the requirements of Baha’i membership” and “his application for membership is not honored”.

HAIFA — As the new Baha’i year got under way, Baha’is in the West again found the door to continued membership closed.

Although in its public stance the Universal House of Justice maintains that “individual understanding or interpretation should not be suppressed, but valued for whatever contribution it can make to the discourse of the Bahá’í community”, reports over the past few weeks indicate that the policy of arbitrarily removing Baha’is from membership remains in effect.

Baha’is attempting to regain admittance to membership found that their requests were refused. Baha’is, even those who have been enrolled or accepted as members for years, continue to be removed from membership.

And those who have sought redress through the Baha’i administration have been disappointed, their cases rejected.

“As has been the case for the last ten years, the Baha’i administration continues to use a series of devious ploys to prevent Baha’is from regaining their arbitrarily-removed membership,” said Mr. C. Morant-Baker

The effect of the Baha’i administration’s policies is to arbitrarily close the doors of the membership to certain Baha’is, despite the Baha’i Faith’s supposed commitment to the rule of law, natural justice and due process.

“Our plea to the international community, and especially to leaders and followers of religion everywhere, is that they raise their voices on behalf of Western Baha’i expellees,” said Morant-Baker.

According to reports from Haifa, the principal method this year by which authorities are preventing Baha’is from re-enrolling in the Baha’i Faith is by blocking their applications for re-admittance and declaring their cases “not honored”.

Full story…

Hate couture

Iranian government spokesman Elham talks about Zionist ties and how it's safest just not to wear one at all.
Iranian government spokesman Elham talks about Zionist ties and how it’s safest just not to wear one at all.

Should we give up our Zionist ties?

Due to some kind of wardrobe malfunction in Iran, the Baha’is are in trouble again. Apparently they have Zionist ties:

Iranian government confirms: Six leaders of Bahai community arrested as a result of anti-Iranian activity and Zionist ties.

Iran: Bahai leaders detained over ‘connection with Zionists’

What, you may ask, is a Zionist tie? I’m not sure myself, but I’m guessing these ones from Wild Ties and Judaic.com would qualify:

So how about we just stop wearing those silly annoying ties in Iran, and maybe this whole thing will just blow over?