Sen McGlinn's blog

                                  Reflections on the Bahai teachings

Requesting re-enrolment

In response to a question, I’m posting one of my applications to be enrolled in the Bahai community, and the response. It’s not interesting in itself, but it makes the difference between dis-enrolment and the loss of voting rights clear. When voting rights are removed a definite reason is given, relating to a breach of Bahai law, there’s counseling before hand, and the person knows what to do to get their voting rights back. Being dis-enrolled is something different: so far as I know it is for life, it’s not for breaking Bahai law, and it seems to relate to the kind of person one is, rather than what one has done.

Here’s the 2007 letter of application :

17 March 2007

To: NSA of the Bahais of the Netherlands

Dear friends,

I do not want to burden the National Assembly with repeated requests, but I would like to say again that I would like to be a member of the Baha’i community, and so far as I can foresee that will always be my desire. I hope the Assembly will inform me if this should ever be possible, or if there is anything I can do to speed the process.

I would also like to assure the Assembly that I have no intention, ever, of establishing a caste with ecclesiastical prerogatives that could impose its authority upon the thought and behaviour of the believers.

With best wishes
Sen McGlinn

and the reply:

Den Haag, 30 juli 2007
Geachte heer McGlinn,
In uw brief van 17 maart jl. heeft u gevraagd opnieuw te worden ingeschreven als lid van de baha’i-gemeenschap.
De gronden waarop de nationale Geestelijke Raad de beslissing heeft genomen u het lidmaatschap te ontzeggen zijn onveranderd gebleven. Daarom delen wij u hierbij mij dat uw verzoek niet zal worden ingewilligd.

Met vriendelijke groet,
de National Geestelijke Raad

which translated says, You have asked to be enrolled once more in the Bahai community. The grounds for the NSA’s decision to deny you the membership have not changed. Therefore we will not comply with your request.


A year earlier, a letter I wrote to my NSA on another matter included a postscript:

17 February 2006..
I sincerely hope that I will at some stage be found to meet the requirements of membership of the Bahai community. So long as this is not possible, I hope the Assembly will regard me as friend of the community, and that our relations should be at the very least correct. I have not criticised the National Assembly of the Netherlands, or the Universal House of Justice, in relation to my disenrolment, and I would hope that the Bahai institutions too can refrain from attacks on my character or speculations about my motives

The last part of that was in response to an undated letter, supposedly from the NSA of the Netherlands (I think it is not authentic), which says :

“His immediate request for re-enrolment – only two days after having received the letter of the Dutch National Spiritual Assembly about his removal from the membership rolls – clearly indicates that Mr. McGlinn has no regard for the basic requirements of Bahá’í membership. It further illustrates his lack of regard for the seriousness of the decision of the National Spiritual Assembly. His application for membership is not honored.”

This ‘letter’ was posted on the internet, but by a person who at the time had been conducting an intensive campaign of slander against me (which continued intermittently into 2011): I think it most unlikely that the NSA of the Netherlands would in fact be discussing my disenrolment with an American Bahai with no position in the Bahai community, in English with American spelling and no trace of Dutch sentence structure.


I applied again in March 2010:

from: Sen McGlinn,
Stuyvesanthof 48; 2315 AE, Leiden
The Netherlands
sen.sonja@casema.NL [2013 address:]

To: Universal House of Justice;
Copy to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of the

22 March 2010

Dear friends,

In 2005 I was removed from the membership rolls of the Bahai community by the Universal House of Justice. I would like to apply again to be enrolled in the community, and also to ask for some clarification about the meaning of enrollment and disenrollment. I ask this for myself, and also to assist some the friends who feel some uncertainty on this score. In response to one of those who have asked me about this, I have written:

“So far as I understand it – and this is something the UHJ might
clarify – being on the membership rolls is meant to be like voluntary membership of an association, which is a free choice on both sides. There seem to be no procedures or reason required for taking away membership or not giving it in the first place. No explanation is given. It́s like the coach deciding who doesń’t make the cut.”

I can imagine various other ways of understanding the significance of being enrolled, in relation to being a Bahai. I would like to be able to respond to such questions in terms acceptable to the Universal House of Justice, and I think some clarification of the thinking of the Universal House of Justice would be helpful for the whole community, especially if disenrollment is intended to be a life-time situation, meaning that disenrolled Bahais will be a permanent part of the Bahai scene.

Secondly, could the Universal House of Justice say whether disenrollment is a form of sanction for breaching Bahai law. I think that it is not, since the term `sanction’ has not been used, but a clear statement would be helpful. Bahais have thought that disenrollment is a more severe form of the removal of voting rights, and have been quite imaginative in thinking of what sins might have merited it!

Thirdly, I have asked my National Spiritual Assembly twice, whether the Universal House of Justicés letter of 17 May 2009, which allows “those who are close to the Faith” to attend Feasts where the programme is appropriate, means that I could attend some local Feasts by arrangement with the Local Spiritual Assembly. I have not received an answer, perhaps the Universal House of Justice could make a ruling.

To the best of my knowledge, I fulfill all the requirements for membership of the Bahai community. I would like to renew my previous invitations to the Universal House of Justice and to the International Teaching Centre, initially written in December, 1997, and repeated in 2007: “If the Teaching Centre should have any such concerns in the future, please feel free to request an explanation at the time, on a case-by-case basis.” I have not had a reply to this nor later invitations, so I wish to assure you that this invitation still stands.

With best wishes
Sen McGlinn.

As of today, July 15 2012, I have received no answer, and I no longer expect one.

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3 Responses to “Requesting re-enrolment”

  1. Michael said

    Sen, I’m really sorry that this has happened to you. I wonder if your application for re-enrollment was ever considered. Personally, my trust in the institutions has been totally destroyed by their failure to abide by Baha’i principles and directives from the Universal House of Justice. As long as Assemblies are allowed to “do their own thing”, the Faith will not progress.

  2. Michael said

    When you write to institutions which have formed a negative opinion of you, you should not expect a reply. This applies even if you have followed the appropriate procedure.

  3. Sen said

    Hi Michael; unwise or corrupted Assemblies can do a lot of harm to individuals, which can sometimes be reversed by going to the National Assembly or the ABM. It can take years for the signals to be heard by enough ears for action to be taken. Persevere and hope. In the longer term, I think improvement will come from more opennness in processes and our instutional culture, rather than the better implementation of UHJ directives by the Assemblies.

    In my case, I am not particularly harmed, but my expulsion and the various reasonings offered for it do spread confusion in the community, particularly for those who know me and my work. The credibility and standing of the Administrative Order suffers, which is a loss for the whole community. The prestige of the AO is a “social capital” that belongs to us all. I would like to reverse the situation, and I’ve done what I can.

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