“In signing this card, I declare my belief in Baha’u’llah, the Promised One of God. I also recognize the Bab, His Forerunner, and Abdu’l-Baha, the Center of His Covenant. I request enrollment in the Baha’i Community with the understanding that Baha’u’llah has established sacred principles, laws, and institutions which I must obey.”– Text of the Baha’i declaration card agreement.
Is the US Baha’i declaration card a binding contract?
Definitely there’s a contract here, but is it binding? Is it enforceable?We received enrollment in the Baha’i community. In exchange we agreed to obey “sacred principles, laws, and institutions.” That’s a contract.
I signed a card with this contract when I was only seventeen years of age. Because I was a minor, according to the laws of the state I was in at that time, there was no binding contract. Minors cannot enter into binding contracts.
I’ve also heard of coercion used to get someone to sign a card. If there was any coercion (undue pressure) the card is not a binding contract.
There was also some ambiguity about the sacred principles and laws, and my agreement was based on misinformation.
For example, the “sacred principle” I was taught, of the “equality of men and women” turned out to be a lie.
The Baha’i book of laws, the Kitab-i-Aqdas, was not given to American Baha’is until 1992. When I declared, it was prior to the publication of the lists of laws in Synopsis and Codification of the Laws and Ordinances of the Kitab-i-Aqdas. So while I was aware there were some laws like fasting and obligatory prayers, I was unaware of the dowry, Huququ’llah, and many other laws.
I’d been told some inaccurate information, prior to signing the card. For example, my friend explained that all Baha’is were equal and there was no clergy… that no Baha’i was considered any better than another. That’s so untrue!
As soon as I was enrolled, the story changed. Our community was visited by a “Continental Counselor” and the first Baha’i meeting I ever attended was to listen to this person explain (for about an hour) how dangerous covenant breakers were, and how we should never read their books or listen to them.
Definitely this Continental Counselor was considered more important and respected than other Baha’is. As I continued in the Baha’i Faith over a course of thirty years I realized that a lot of the people chosen as members of our District Teaching Committees and other positions of respect and honor were chosen because of (1) prosperity, (2) education, or (3) nepotism (they were related to someone else who was considered important.) Most of us were not considered worthy of these honors.
Just the fact that there are these “better than you” big-wigs in the Baha’i Faith, is offensive to me, and it wasn’t what I signed up for. I thought I was signing up for a religion without people promoted into positions of authority …no clergy… except for the elected assembly members and Universal House of Justice (UHJ).
Were you told misleading information that led to your signing of the Baha’i declaration card?
What happens if you no longer want to be a Baha’i?
I noted that when Dann May and his wife left the religion, the National Spiritual Assembly (NSA) of the Baha’is of the United States offered to fly someone to Oklahoma to try to convince them not to withdraw. Why? Because they were “important people” – he is a professor of philosophy and she’s a professor of law. The Baha’i Faith wanted to hang onto them, but it was not to be.
When I sent in my letter of withdrawal in 2000 it was ignored entirely by both the NSA and my Local Spiritual Assembly (LSA). Ten years later a LSA secretary phoned to tell me they wanted me to be “active” again, and that I was still on their list.
It is creepy and cultish that the Baha’i Faith makes it difficult to withdraw. Nobody should have to sign a statement that they “no longer believe in Baha’u’llah” or be forced to mail in their membership cards. Anyone who wants to leave should phone the National office and insist on being removed from the list. Request verification that it has been done, and while you’re on the phone, have them delete, shred, and throw away all records they’ve been keeping on you. There may be a file full of information on your activities during your time as a member of the organization. Tell them to toss it – they don’t have the right to spy on you or keep records about you. Anyone could write to them with false accusations, and they would put that letter in your file. I consider this to be very, very creepy.
If you have decided that you no longer want to be enrolled, and no longer agree to obey the “sacred principles, laws, and institutions” – that’s it. The contract ends. You should not be compelled for any reason to remain a member of the Baha’i organization. There is no way to enforce that agreement, and so it is not a binding contract.
Why have membership and records?
The signing of cards, the assignment of numbers, and the keeping of records are all there for one reason: control. The Baha’i Faith is a very controlling organization. This also lends to my perception of it being cult-like.
The numbered card is supposed to identify those allowed into the secretive feasts and conferences. The keeping of secrets is also cult-like.
There are many religious organizations that have no enrollment or formal membership. They do not keep files on their members. Members stay if they want to or stray if they so desire. There’s no control over members. The members are there only because they want to be, not because they’ve been lied to, coerced, or given misleading information in order to get them hooked into a secretive, controlling group. Please think about that.
This was originally posted on another blog, “ExBahai” which I removed from the internet because it is better to focus on this blog which is part of a more permanent archive on WordPress.com.