I have been writing critical pieces about the sans-Guardian Bahai organization that is presently headquartered in Haifa and Wilmette, and some of its critics have tried to make the point that the paranoia and oppression exhibited by that organization had its source in the actions of the first Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, and even the founders of the Faith.
I disagree with this. Although I don't agree with everything Shoghi Effendi did, and I think he had his personality quirks just like everyone else, I don't see any concrete evidence of Shoghi Effendi taking the kind of oppressive actions that the headless UHJ presently commits on a regular basis.
Critics say that Shoghi Effendi exhibited paranoia when he explained Baha'u'llah's teachings that this is the day when the forces of darkness will do battle with the Army of Light. Larry Rowe recently had this to say on talk.religion.bahai:
Whenever I read the following from the UHJ I get the willies:
The need to protect the Faith from the attacks of its enemies may not
be generally appreciated by the friends, particularly in places where
attacks have been infrequent. However, it is certain that such
opposition will increase, become concerted, and eventually universal.
The writings clearly foreshadow not only an intensification of the
machinations of internal enemies, but a rise in the hostility and
opposition of its external enemies, whether religious or secular, as
the Cause pursues its onward march towards ultimate victory.
Therefore, in the light of the warnings of the Guardian, the Auxiliary
Boards for Protection should keep "constantly" a "watchful eye" on
those "who are known to be enemies, or to have been put out of the
Faith", discreetly investigate their activities, alert intelligently
the friends to the opposition inevitably to come, explain how each
crisis in God's Faith has always proved to be a blessing in disguise,
and prepare them for the "dire contest which is destined to range the
Army of Light against the forces of darkness".
(The Universal House of Justice, The Institution of the Counsellors,
The Stasi-like mentality that is advocated by the UHJ in the above
has no place in a system deserving of the name spiritual. What such
paranoia which councils coreligionists to:""keep constantly" a
"watchful eye" on those "who are known to be enemies, or to have been
put out of the Faith", discreetly investigate their activities",
inevitably does is create an elite who begin to believe that their
personal religious interpretations are the all in all and that each
and every one of their coreligionists who holds to religious
interpretations which are diverse from their own orthodoxy should be
A person needs to investigate what the source of this paranoia is
It was Shoghi Effendi that the UHJ was quoting when they referred to
an Army of Light.
The Lord of Hosts, the King of Kings has pledged unfailing aid to
every crusader battling for His Cause. Invisible battalions are
mustered, rank upon rank, ready to pour forth reinforcements from on
high. Bahá'u'lláh's army of light is standing on the threshold of the
(Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Baha'i World - 1950-1957, p. 44)
I also get the "willies" when I read the chilling words of their headless UHJ about how it sees enemies all around it, from within and without, and it must keep a watchful eye. I don't get the same feeling about Shoghi Effendi's messages because he is talking about a spiritual battle while the headless UHJ is talking about physically opposing its enemies (and of course, it considers me as one of its enemies and it is indeed presently doing battle against me and my colleagues in a federal district court in Chicago).
I believe we are in the midst of spiritual warfare. I am not talking about any of the physical wars going on in the world, although they are obvious symptoms of this greater fight that is going on in the spiritual world for the soul of humanity. In brief, this spiritual war is for the hearts and minds of every human being on this planet. The forces of darkness wish to enslave humanity in a materialist hell of hatred and passion. The Army of Light, on the other hand, seeks to free humanity so that it may achieve its destiny and evolve into spiritual beings of light and truth. This battle is being waged on all fronts throughout the world and it is absolutely essential that all of us engage the enemy and fight for love, truth, and justice in this world. When I say fight, I am not talking about physical or material violence in any shape way or form. I am talking about being prayer warriors, and fighting in the spiritual world for the redemption of our fellow men and women. This is difficult for many people to grasp because their vision is limited to the physical world. They have no real concept of a spiritual world, much less a spiritual battle.
It is ironic, of course, that the large Bahai organization headed up by the headless UHJ has already succumbed to the forces of darkness. Its paranoia about the sinister enemies comes far too late, because that organization lost its soul some 40 years ago and it already serves the forces of darkness. It already has a material view of the world, seeks power and prestige on the earth, and greedily hungers for money and to grow itself into a large force in this world. It is not concerned about matters of spirit. It has no regard for truth, justice, love, compassion, brotherhood, or peace. It gives lip service to them as it engages on a daily basis in behavior that betrays all of these ideals. It truly is a dangerous organization because it masquerades as the true Cause of God, borrowing the prestige and ideals of Baha'u'llah's Revelation, in its nefarious efforts to destroy the truly faithful ones and to trick and enslave the masses of humanity in its fascist vision of controlling the world.
"O ye friends of God! Today is the day of union and this age is the age of harmony in the world of existence. 'Verily, God loveth those who are working in His path in groups, for they are a solid foundation.' Consider ye that he says 'in groups,' united and bound together, supporting one another. 'To work,' mentioned in this holy verse, does not mean, in this greatest age, to perform it with swords, spears, shafts and arrows, but rather with sincere intentions, good designs, useful advices, divine moralities, beautiful actions, spiritual qualities, educating the public, guiding the souls of mankind, diffusing spiritual fragrances, explaining divine illustrations, showing convincing proofs and doing charitable deeds. When the holy souls, through the angelic power, will arise to show forth these celestial characteristics, establishing a band of harmony, each of these souls shall be regarded as one thousand persons and the waves of this greatest ocean shall be considered as the army of the hosts of the Supreme Concourse."
Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 401