Sexual Abuse in the Baha’i Community

This is a re-post from an older blog of mine. It has nothing to do with my Christian/Bible focus on this blog, but I’m re-posting it for a Baha’i I met on YouTube who doesn’t seem to realize these things have happened in the Baha’i community. There are several examples of sexual abuse in the Baha’i community related in this blog posting. Here’s the link to the YouTube video where we’re discussing whether or not the Baha’i Faith is a cult: Never Quit – From a Baha’i to a Christian. (I am not the woman who made that video; I’m just participating in the comment section.)

This Is a Product of the Baha’i Faith

There’s a lot of bad language in a series of videos, “Baha’i PDX Witness” about child sexual abuse in an Oregon Baha’i community in the 1970’s and 1980’s, so if you don’t want to hear a traumatized man ranting on and on, using filthy language, you might want to avoid watching.

This is a moving testimony of child sexual abuse apparently hidden and covered up by Baha’is who could not face the truth about what was happening to children in their community. The man this happened to is understandably traumatized and distressed. Who can blame him for his anger?

Though I don’t like the bad language, I post this here because the man’s anger is a product of his experience in a Baha’i community.

See the video series here: Baha’i Witness

His Blog: Baha’i PDX Witness 1984

I post this here as an example that the Baha’i Faith failed to respond to abuse, causing trauma to people unfortunate enough to be caught up in it and abused by other members. The man who made these videos is a prime example of a traumatized former Baha’i.

I don’t mean to imply that child abuse is endemic to the Baha’i Faith, because it is not. Most Baha’is are decent and well-meaning people.

Unfortunately, any accusation of abusive behavior on the part of other Baha’is is unlikely to be well-received. Baha’is like to think of their religion as perfect. They are heavily invested in the task of “safeguarding the reputation of the Faith.” Also, Baha’u’llah himself discouraged the free sharing of negative information about other members of the Baha’i Faith.

“O SON OF MAN! Breathe not the sins of others so long as thou art thyself a sinner. Shouldst thou transgress this command, accursed wouldst thou be, and to this I bear witness.”

– Baha’u’llah (The Hidden Words, Arabic #27)

These words of Baha’u’llah teach people to shut up and take it when they are sinned against. Baha’is believe that if you talk, you’re the guilty one, spreading rumors that nobody wants to hear.

During the time I was a Baha’i, I was also abused by a cruel, self-serving and sexually abusive Baha’i man. I was afraid to tell anyone because I didn’t want the reputation of the Faith to be affected. Also, I was too embarrassed to speak out. I thought nobody would believe me and that I’d be blamed for saying anything about it.

He was not the only Baha’i man who attacked and sexually abused me. The other was a more minor incident but still very abusive and unpleasant. That time, I told another Baha’i, and she said he was like that with other women in the local Baha’i community, and that nothing could be done about it.

Since I left the Baha’i Faith fifteen years ago, I no longer feel bound by the dysfunctional family rule of silence.

Victims may be considered to be the sinful ones when they talk about the sins of others, but also victims are embarrassed, stigmatized and traumatized by sexual abuse, and often cannot report properly because of that. Add to the trauma, the fear of being “accursed” by Baha’u’llah, and the result is repressed trauma and silence.

If they are traumatized and speak as trauma victims, they may be considered annoying nutcases, ignored because nobody wants to hear people talk that way. They don’t want to hear these things. Abusers apparently have the edge in the Baha’i Faith.

“Everything was about preserving the outward appearance of the faith not protecting and supporting victims.”

Gina, who posted her statement about sexual abuse in the Baha’i community here: Baha’i Faith is Hypocrisy personified

The man in the video said that Baha’is in his community “buried their heads in the sand.” The Baha’i Faith teaches that Baha’is should not speak of the sins of others – they should look only at the positive and ignore the negative.

Since Baha’is are not supposed to breathe anything negative about others, it has been easy for sexually abusive Baha’is to operate within the Baha’i community. Add to that, the natural reluctance of rape victims who are notoriously unwilling to report the abuse they experience because they are embarrassed and don’t think they’ll be believed.

Those who complain may be considered evil for saying evil things about the perpetrators. The perpetrators may be well-respected local Baha’is and no Baha’i Local Spiritual Assembly wants to believe one of their respected cronies could be a sexually abusive person.

The man who made these videos says a lot about the polygamy of Baha’u’llah, using extremely rough language. Baha’u’llah married multiple wives but Baha’is are expected to be monogamous and must get their parents’ permission to marry.

“I was told to keep the situation quiet. I was to avoid him in social gatherings if I felt uncomfortable. She told me that I shouldn’t confront him or make him uncomfortable for fear of destroying “unity” within the community. Basically, I was to respect HIS needs, not mine – and never speak of it.”

Anonymous teen victim, regarding a prominent Persian Baha’i, posted here: Revelation, The Infinite Dozen

I disagree that Baha’u’llah had only three wives. He also married Jamaliyyah, his fourth wife, in his old age, after the Kitab-i-Aqdas was written. She was the young niece of one of his followers. I have, on more than one occasion, heard this suppressed information related, accompanied with the caveat that he never actually had sex with this young woman.

Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous? While it is true that there were no children born from Baha’u’llah’s marriage to Jamaliyyah, there’s no proof that he didn’t have sex with her. The fact that he married her indicates that sex did happen.

This is hypocrisy: he had four wives but his followers were allowed only two. He didn’t follow his own laws. (That was changed to one wife only, per Baha’u’llah’s son, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, who was trying to market the Baha’i Faith to Europeans and Americans.) Baha’is rationalize that he married the first three wives before writing that law, and many Baha’is don’t realize there was a fourth wife later on. She is not even mentioned on the Wikipedia page about Baha’u’llah’s family.

I know this must sound crazy to anyone not in the Baha’i Faith. They probably wonder why Baha’is would believe in a leader who marries four women while telling his followers not to. The Baha’is accept this kind of thing because they are absolutely convinced he is God’s messenger and a “manifestation of God,” and that God can “do as he pleases.” The ability to accept this kind of thing is considered a test of faith for Baha’is.

Here’s one more statement I found online about the non-response to child abuse from Baha’i Administration.

“You must understand that in 1992, I formally withdrew from the Baha’i religion and stopped all contact with anyone in that faith because when I went on pilgrimage in 1989 to Haifa, I lodged a FORMAL COMPLAINT with as high an official as I could get to at the House of Justice about the vicious cases of sexual abuse and other child abuse going on in the Portland area community. And what I suspected was throughout the Baha’i community worldwide.

1st. Because of the complete lack of oversight of caretakers exactly as you experienced.

2nd. Because when a complaint, such as I made over and over – not in your case as I didn’t know about it, but in an actually more horrific case in Portland that I had to try and help with — not only was nothing done about it, I was told not to report it to the authorities! I can’t tell you the outcome of that case but it was awful.”

A.F. – from a file posted on the website of the man who made these videos: 5th of March 2015 Addendum

Can This Be Forgiven?

In his addendum message this man who was sexually abused as a child wrote, “A clear message to the world needs to be sent, in cases of child abuse, I DO NOT FORGIVE, I DO NOT FORGET. These terrorists do not deserve forgiveness nor to be forgotten, at least not in my lifetime. [Not on my watch.]”

A decision not to forgive may be detrimental to healing. Forgiveness is not an easy process, but it does help toward eventual emotional healing in situations like these.

There are no perfect human beings. “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

An Official Baha’i Response to Sexual Abuse Came in 1993

The Universal House of Justice published a response to sexual abuse situations on January 24, 1993, which was probably after the sexual abuse situations described above.

That statement can be found here:

Letter on Violence and Sexual Abuse of Women and Children written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice

A slow response is better than no response.

Two exerpts from that statement:

“One of the most heinous of sexual offences is the crime of rape. When a believer is a victim, she is entitled to the loving aid and support of the members of her community, and she is free to initiate action against the perpetrator under the law of the land should she wish to do so.”

“It is difficult to imagine a more reprehensible perversion of human conduct than the sexual abuse of children, which finds its most debased form in incest. At a time in the fortunes of humanity when, in the words of the Guardian, “The perversion of human nature, the degradation of human conduct, the corruption and dissolution of human institutions, reveal themselves … in their worst and most revolting aspects,” and when “the voice of human conscience is stilled,” when “the sense of decency and shame is obscured,” the Bahá’í institutions must be uncompromising and vigilant in their commitment to the protection of the children entrusted to their care, and must not allow either threats or appeals to expediency to divert them from their duty. A parent who is aware that the marriage partner is subjecting a child to such sexual abuse should not remain silent, but must take all necessary measures, with the assistance of the Spiritual Assembly or civil authorities if necessary, to bring about an immediate cessation of such grossly immoral behaviour, and to promote healing and therapy.”

More Videos From the Same Victim of Baha’i Sexual Abusers

In these videos you’ll hear the same man, but his anger is toned down. He has by now found an online community of people with similar experiences, and is able to share his angst with them.

The ability to speak his truth with others who understand and care – seems to be part of his healing process. If Baha’is had been willing to listen and help him earlier in life, when the sexual abuse situation first came to the attention of adults in his Baha’i community, perhaps he would have found healing sooner.

Instead they apparently did a Baha’i cover-up to protect the reputation of the Baha’i Faith. That may have seemed more important to them than the spiritual and emotional well-being of the young boy who had been violated.

To conclude, the man who made these videos was not in control of his anger. His language is deplorable. He seems psychologically damaged from his childhood experience in a Baha’i community. Because of situations like this, the Universal House of Justice issued a response in the 1990’s, however by then, a number of people were traumatized and their issues poorly handled in their local Baha’i communities.

You may also want to read these articles about domestic violence affecting members of the Baha’i Faith:

Senior Citizen Raped by a Baha’i; the LSA Covers It Up and Blames the Victim – so typical. They think “protecting the good name of the faith” is more important than comforting and helping the victim.

He Was the Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of His Country; She Was My Best Friend – “The violence had escalated in three months from exclusively verbal and emotional to just on the living side of homicide.” – Priscilla Gilman

The story of a Bahai incest victim whose father was a NSA member at the time – “According to Shirin, two Bahai Counsellors, and an NSA member who headed up the special commission set up to deal with her case tried to persuade her to return to her fathers home.” – Karen Bacquet

Ten year old girl molested at Baha’i devotional meeting in the USA – Grandmother says, “I don’t believe it’s a faith, but an evil organization that uses religion as a front to gain power.”

Iran hangs Baha’i man for raping daughter – 2009 – “A follower of the Baha’i faith has been executed after his daughter complained he had raped her…”

Story of Online Sex: Sexual Repression by a Medical Student – sad testimony of an encounter with a sexting medical student, raised as a Baha’i.

More Baha’i lawbreakers…….

Slain woman had tried to support abusive husband – 2015 – “Friends of Leila Alavi say the 26-year-old hopelessly tried to support her troubled and abusive husband right up until he allegedly murdered her with a pair of scissors.”

Walmart Attacker Was a Persian Baha’i – here’s a discussion on this article: Walmart Attacker … this was a national news story about a man going postal in the Walmart when he didn’t get a promotion. It was originally blamed on a Somalian in the news. It was actually an Iranian Baha’i who snapped and took hostages at gun point.

Baha’i Scandals – a blog all about Baha’i scandals like the ones on this page.

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