Sen McGlinn's blog

                                  Reflections on the Bahai teachings

A list of slanders

The first item here is a compilation from an email posting and my response to it, summarising some slanders about me. The page is here because I need a permanent place to put new quotes and URLs of additional items that come to my attention. Since I have not until now had a system for collecting these, what follows is far from complete.


MM to TK, 9 March 2010:
“… if we ignore the authoritative interpretations which exclude women from the House of Justice what is to prevent us from ignoring the authoritative interpretations which insist on monogamy as well?
Sen, here would even like to see us do that!”

KK: LOL. Would he really? Or are you teasing Sonja.

My response to KK, 10 March 2010, on the TK list:

I do tease Sonja; she’s from a large family and has several unmarried sisters. If one Sonja is good, two Sonjas must be better, no? Besides, Sonjas come in such small sizes, it would be easy to find room for another 🙂

But seriously, the topos of “Sen McGlinn promotes bigamy” actually is circulated, see for example Susan Maneck to Bahai Studies, 2 January 2008; idem to CARM forum 26 March 2009.

There are a number of other stories like this that are circulated; that I challenged the House of Justice, I stole Bahai manuscripts, set “himself up as a person with authority” (Maneck to Bahai Studies 15 July 2007), “categorically excludes letters written on the Guardian’s behalf as valid sources” (MM to TK, 22 Oct 2007); promotes “the idea that there should be a clerical class within the Baha’i community” (Maneck to Bahai Studies Jan 2008); “claiming the authority as a specialist” “to promote positions in opposition to the Universal House of Justice” (Maneck to Bahai_Discuss, 5 Jan 2006, similar on 4 Jan 2006); advocating a “”new organ” of academics” to “be appointed and make its pronouncements independent of the House of Justice” (Poirier to Bahai-Discuss 19 Dec 2005); saying that the rulings of the UHJ should be “subject to challenge by a consensus of the ‘ulama who could issue an ‘official opinion’ as theologians” (Maneck, cited in the previous), wanting to put scholars “in a position where they could *challenge* the House of Justice by claiming that the House’s decision was contrary to the spirit of the Teachings” (Maneck to bahai-discuss 18 Dec 2005); advocating a “Mashriq would be dominated by some clerical class” (Maneck to bahai-discuss 16 Dec 2005); “attempt to the undermine the authority of the House” (Maneck to Bahai-discuss 1 Dec 2005).

I don’t respond to these claims unless there is an indication that someone else is taking them seriously, or what is said has the (usually unintended) implication that the UHJ has been less than honest about its reasons. Especially on a list such as [TK], I assume the members will be astute enough to realise what is going on


Later entries:

“deliberately defying the Universal House of Justice.”
Maneck to news/Bahai list, July 8, 2010 This is just mud-slinging, unless Ms. Maneck were to specify what instruction of the Universal House of Justice it was, that I defied.

‘maintaining “separation of “administration from doctrine”‘ (letter about me, December 2005) – This is not a slander, but it illustrates a problem: those who make it their business to monitor Bahai academics for orthodoxy can be surprisingly ignorant of the Bahai teachings. What they take to be an unorthodox position may simply be an aspect of the Bahai teaching that they have not encountered. The doctrine of the two separate spheres, of administration and doctrine, was explicated by Shoghi Effendi, in ‘The Dispensation of Baha’u’llah’ and the particular terminology I have used is taken from letters written by the Universal House of Justice itself:

Unity of doctrine is maintained by the existence of the authentic texts of Scripture and the voluminous interpretations of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, together with the absolute prohibition against anyone propounding “authoritative” or “inspired” interpretations or usurping the function of Guardian. Unity of administration is assured by the authority of the Universal House of Justice.
(The Universal House of Justice, March 9, 1965, re Appointment of a Guardian)

The Guardian and the Universal House of Justice have certain duties and functions in common; each also operates within a separate and distinct sphere. (The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 156)

… so the idea, propounded in that letter, that the Universal House of Justice expelled me for stubbornly continuing to spread this idea as a personal agenda, is ludicrous.

“Mr. McGlinn asserts that there is a wide range of issues which lie outside the scope of authoritative guidance. He then proposes that an “organ” of “learned” individuals should emerge, acting apart from the institutions of the Faith, which will serve, through the use of contemporary academic methodologies and scholarly debate, to clarify the meaning of the Text.”

~ this is largely bunkum. For my ideas on methodology, see the various postings on theology on this blog. Much as I appreciate the contribution of “contemporary academic methodologies,” Bahai theology (i.e., Bahai scholarship relating to the Bahai teachings) is a faith-based activity that addresses the questions that follow from belief. Furthermore, there are limitations on the scope of authoritative guidance, specified in the Writings and in Shoghi Effendi’s correspondence, for example: “Administrative affairs should be referred to the House of Justice, but acts of worship must be observed according as they are revealed by God in His Book.” (8th Ishraq, Shoghi Effendi’s translation) and “The infallibility of the Guardian is confined to matters which are related strictly to the Cause and interpretation of the teachings; he is not an infallible authority on other subjects, such as economics, science, etc.” (Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, p. 33). Once again, the critique seems to reflect the authors’ lack of familiarity with some aspects of the Bahai teachings.

Mr. McGlinn asserts that the interactions of such a body of academically trained individuals are necessary to “maintain the clarity and vigour of any and every conception against the cliché, fatuousness, simplification, and the erosion of time”
. I maintain no such thing. This is misdirection by selective quotation, taken from a letter I did write. However the phrase “a body of academically trained individuals” has simply been put into my mouth. What I actually wrote was just the opposite: “Just as there are standards appropriate to Baha’i scholarship, (in the sense of disciplined thinking within and for the community of belief), there are standards appropriate to the academic study of religion, and one cannot take the standards of one context and impose them on another.” The full text of the letter is on this blog. I do not know how extracts from a letter (not e-mail) that I wrote to a Counsellor in 1990 came to be distributed electronically, in 2005, but those communicating with Counsellors might take this example as a caution.

He disobeyed the House many years ago and tried to manipulate the Baha’is around the world with his book. (KG; January, 2014)
This is a fairly typical example of gossip, perhaps intended to be private, but the recipient tweeted it. It asserts I disobeyed the UHJ, without saying what the UHJ asked me to do or to stop doing, so it is irrefutable. Like most of the putative explanations, it begs one question: I was disenrolled, it was not hundreds or dozens of people who were disenrolled. So what is so exceptional about me that leads to my disenrollment? Are my ideas, or behaviour, or character really so different to yours, dear gossiper, that I deserved disenrollment and you did not? If writing a book (in a limited edition, as a university dissertation) is a form of manipulation, why was I disenrolled when other authors whose books are more widely distributed have not been? It is the vanity of authors that they hope their books may make a difference to their readers. Is this wrong?

… he did try to do an end run around Baha’i institutions to get his book published. … There are a few other problems with his views of the Baha’i Faith, problems that led to his being expelled. … He knows what he needs to do to recover his good standing. So far he hasn’t done it, (JM, January 31, 2014)

Church and State was exempted from review by my NSA. I questioned that decision, pointing out that I was intending to print 400 copies, and suggesting the names of Bahais outside the Netherlands who would be able to do the review. The NSA did not reply, so I went ahead in line with the last decision they had communicated to me. The House of Justice knows this, and has stated that issues of review were not the basis for my removal from the Bahai rolls.

As for “problems” with my views, what are the views imputed to me, are they actually my views, what is the problem with them? As for “He knows what he needs to do to recover his good standing.” I do not. The UHJ has not given me a contact person to talk to, or any indication that there is any route to re-enrollment. I have applied to be re-enrolled several times, and have asked whether there is anything I can do to speed the process. The responses have been in the negative, and have given no further information. On the last occasion (2010) I received no reply. I think those silences can only be understood as a statement that I never will be re-enrolled.

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