Posted by: samandal | February 7, 2011

Bahá’í Unitarianism, III: The Shadow Charade

Díyáfat-i-Mulk, the Feast of Dominion

Unitarian spirituality has been characterized by the principles of pluralism, humanism, and secularism. Unitarians generally believe that doctrine needs to develop in order adequately to address the needs of contemporary thought. However, for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, secularism flourished because people denied religion, while materialism advanced. Ultimately, the basic contradiction between liberal ideals and exclusionary practices—concomitant with the claim that there is a clear chain of authoritative succession in the Bahá’í Faith—has resulted in the formation of the Unitarian Bahai Association, an oasis of spiritual liberalism in a desert of religious conservatism.

The rigid insistence on obedience to the Bahá’í administration in Haifa—along with the deprivation of administrative rights of those who breach Bahá’í law—fundamentally distorts the significance of Bahá’u’lláh for the community that claims to believe in him. Bahá’u’lláh cannot be reduced to the role of lawgiver and rulemaker; he is also the prophet and the proclaimer of the reign of God. But obedience to those in authority has become the absolute virtue in the hegemonically-dominant Bahá’í Faith, and this insistence on obedience and conformity at the expense of self-awareness leads to a complete denial of the shadow, which is then dissociated and projected outward onto the Covenant-breaker, who is consequently viewed as infected, depraved, vicious, cruel, and inhuman. This cultual practice is justified by the belief that it is because of division within themselves that the religions of the past have not fulfilled their purpose to unify mankind.

The institutional unity of the Bahá’í International Community is held as a guarantee that a completely unified world—under world law—will inevitably be established and maintained in the face of all opposition to the contrary. But authentic unity is attained only in depth, and is impossible without the full presence of its members; all else is charade and illusion.