Few things are so confusing as the situation of having multiple claimants to the Guardianship of the Bahá'í Faith. It is straightforward enough to understand that the larger Bahá'í organization has done away with the Guardianship after the death of the first Guardian. It is very confusing, however, for those who believe that Shoghi Effendi did not fail in his duty, under the explicit provisions of `Abdu'l-Bahá's Will and Testament, to appoint his successor during his lifetime. There are a number of present claimants to the Guardianship. The only thing to do is to carefully consider and assess the arguments put forth by these claimants in a reasonable and rational manner.
In this article, I will discuss the claim to the Guardianship by Neal Chase of the group known as Bahá'ís Under the Provisions of the Covenant ("BUPC).
The BUPC believe that the Guardian must be an Aghsán (that is a son of Bahá'u'lláh). While they recognize that there were no bloodline Aghsán available to serve as the Guardian, they claim that the Guardianship now passes by adoption by the present Guardian of his successor. The BUPC do not insist upon a formal legal adoption for their purposes, but instead rely upon some objective manifestation of intent to adopt such as the passing of relics, i.e. a medallion, hair or blood, or other indication of intention. The BUPC accept Mason Remey as the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith on the basis that he was grafted into the Aghsán line when he was allegedly adopted by `Abdu'l-Bahá (He often referred to Mason as His son and the BUPC claim that `Abdu'l-Bahá gave Mason Remey (through Shoghi Effendi) relics of Bahá'u'lláh's blood and hair (symbolic of being grafted into the lineage).
While the Orthodox Bahá'ís accept Mason Remey as the second Guardian, they do so solely on the basis that Shoghi Effendi appointed him to be the head of the International Bahá'í Council during his lifetime, in accordance with the explicit provisions of the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá.
Upon Mason Remey's death, the founder of the BUPC, Dr. Leland Jensen, rejected both Joel B. Marangella's claim (appointed by Mason Remey in 1961 by written letter and again in 1965 by activating the Second International Bahá'í Council with Joel as its head) and Donald Harvey's claim (appointed by Mason Remey in writing on May 23, 1967). Instead, Dr. Jensen looked to Joseph (Giuseppe) Pepe, Jr. (Pepe Remey), the legally adopted son of Mason Remey, as being an Aghsán and Guardian of the Faith upon Mason Remey's death. Dr. Jensen insisted that Mason's failure to adopt either Joel B. Marangella or Donald Harvey made them ineligible to serve as Guardian. Using the same reasoning Neal Chase claims to have been adopted by Pepe Remey and on this basis he presently claims to be the Guardian.
Pepe Remey, in a series of correspondence with Dr. Jensen after Mason's passing, completely repudiates the arguments of the BUPC. Pepe accepted Donald Harvey as the Guardian, considering himself an inactive Bahá'í, and even then he barely considered himself a Bahá'í at all. He unequivocally stated to Dr. Jensen his belief that Mason did appoint and intended Donald Harvey to be Guardian, having come to know Mason's mind from living in close proximity with him for many years (Pepe claimed he lived with Mason Remey since 1950 although this is clearly an error since Mason lived in the Holy Land at that time; the correct year was probably around 1962 after Mason Remey returned from the Holy Land following the coup organized and carried out by his fellow Hands). There is little doubt that Mason Remey did in fact appoint Donald Harvey in 1967, but by then it had no effect since Joel B. Marangella already had become the Guardian in 1965 when Mason Remey turned over the affairs of the Faith to Joel B. Marangella, as more fully explained below.
Pepe insisted that his claim with respect to Mason Remey only was as his legal heir but that no spiritual office passed to him. He urged Dr. Jensen to not involve him in any campaign that might cause even greater confusion over the successor to Mason Remey. He expressly repudiated himself as Guardian, stating that he was neither prepared mentally or spiritually to assume the Guardianship, that his inner conviction was that he did not personally feel that it was his mission to be the Guardian, and he called on Bahá'ís to rally around Donald Harvey.
Dr. Jensen insisted to Pepe that he considered Pepe to be the Guardian regardless of how Pepe felt about it, on the basis of the adoption and also his inheritance of a medallion that he claimed Mason had announced would be gifted by him to the third Guardian. Pepe rejected Dr. Jensen's suggestion that any of the several medallions he inherited had anything to do with the Guardianship. Pepe also completely rejected Dr. Jensen's claim to be the Promised Joshua, equating himself with Jesus, and believing he was the Establisher of the chosen 144,000 on Mount Carmel. Pepe specifically corrected Dr. Jensen by saying that he believed that Bahá'u'lláh was the return of Jesus.
It is apparent from the historical record that both Leland Jensen and Neal Chase made repeated attempts to manipulate Pepe Remey for the purpose of establishing the BUPC with Neal Chase as its Guardian. Despite this effort, Pepe Remey steadfastly repudiated the claims made by both Dr. Jensen and Neal Chase. Pepe specifically repeatedly mocked and denounced Neal Chase for his manipulative attempts to become Guardian and for being one of the "dreamers" to the Guardianship. He often referred to Neal Chase as "my boy" jokingly asserting that Chase would use these words to justify his claim to the Guardianship (just as Neal Chase did after Pepe's death). Interestingly, it was Dr. Jensen who earlier had rejected as feeble and flimsy the "my boy" phrase used by Pepe as signifying "adoption" when someone known as "Danny S" also claimed to be the Guardian on that same basis.
The facts are that Mason Remey, neither in his Proclamation, or anywhere else, did not claim to be Guardian on the basis of heredity or by adoption. In the Proclamation, Encyclical Letters, and his other writings, Mason explicitly stated it was by appointment as President of the International Bahá'í Council (by the terms of the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá the office is appointed and not hereditary; and the appointment explicitly must be made during the lifetime of the Guardian and therefore not by inheritance or Will). Not once did Mason Remey ever claim to have been adopted by `Abdu'l-Bahá. Even if `Abdu'l-Bahá had adopted Mason, there is no evidence to suggest that Mason Remey had the slightest knowledge of this or he would have surely mentioned it in his Proclamation or Encyclical letters. In none of Mason's writings did he claim to be qualified as Aghsán or was grafted in to the Aghsán line. He specifically asserted that the line of succession by birth had been broken (and expressed the hope that a descendant of Bahá'u'lláh would in the future be chosen in the line of Guardians). In his Proclamation or any other writing, Mason Remey never made reference to receiving a token of hair and blood as a symbol of his being Aghsán or the Guardian. All of these things clearly are the fabrications of Dr. Jensen and Neal Chase made to further their own purposes.
The only time Mason apparently discussed the idea of leaving a medallion to signify the next Guardian was in a casual dinner party. The only time Mason ever wrote about this, however, was at a later time and perhaps to correct his careless casual talk about it. He specifically denounced this as the means for identifying the next Guardian because a medallion could easily be fraudulently obtained.
The Orthodox Bahá'ís assert that the succession of Guardianship must be analyzed strictly under the provisions of the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá, the Document that is the Charter of the New World Order and which Shoghi Effendi stated was "the inevitable offspring resulting from that mystic intercourse between Him Who communicated the generating influence of His divine Purpose [Bahá'u'lláh] and the One Who was its vehicle and chosen recipient ['Abdu'l-Bahá]." In other words, we must go to the divine Document that establishes the Institution of the Guardianship for guidance on this central issue.
In that holy Document, there is simply no mention that the appointed Guardian must be Aghsán (by blood or adoption) or that the succession would be signified by possession of holy relics or a medallion. It is also important to realize that had the Master intended for Mason Remey to be an Aghsán and Guardian, it would have made perfect sense for the Master to appoint Mason Remey directly in the Will and Testament and to explicitly identify Mason as His son. If that had been His intention, it is inexplicable why `Abdu'l-Bahá would have skipped over his adopted son to instead appoint Shoghi Effendi who was a small child when the Will and Testament was first written (and who technically was not Aghsán because he was the grandson of `Abdu'l-Bahá through a maternal line).
The Orthodox Bahá'ís assert, as Mason Remey himself states in the Encyclical Letters, that Mason Remey became the Guardian upon the death of Shoghi Effendi by virtue of being the president of the International Bahá'í Council (the embryonic Universal House of Justice) a position that is synonymous with the Guardianship according to the Master's Will and Testament. They further believe that Mason's written appointment of Joel B. Marangella in 1961 became effective in late 1965 when Mason Remey instructed that the Second International Bahá'í Council be activated while Joel B. Marangella was its president. Once activated with Joel as its head, Joel was the Guardian by the explicit terms of the Will and Testament. From that point forward, Mason was no longer the Guardian and therefore his subsequent appointment of Donald Harvey had no effect. Joel B. Marangella was then and remains still the third Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith.
None of the arguments for Neal Chase to be the Guardian have any legitimacy and, as Pepe pointed out time and again, were the result of a manipulative campaign by Neal Chase to claim the Guardianship even though he never was appointed by a prior Guardian in accordance with the Will and Testament.
The claims of the BUPC, as asserted by Dr. Jensen and Neal Chase, have no rational or legitimate basis. As any serious student of the Bahá'í Faith can readily confirm, the arguments put forth for Neal Chase's Guardianship claim have no support or basis in the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá and therefore these arguments must be rejected in their entirety.