Ex-Baha’i Catholic Robin Peters responded to another poster on the talk.religion.bahai discussion group, describing the way Baha’i religious institutions exert tremendous control over even minor details of life for Baha’is:
Subject: Re: Baha’i Schools of Thought
From: Robin Peters
Date: Feb 26 1999
> I believe you’re onto something that’s very important
> to understand. We’re witnessing this phenomenon all
> the time here on Usenet. There’s a set collection of
> answers and defenses that are repeated over and over,
> coached I’m sure, at times, from the sidelines by the
> Bahai Jesuit Order. In this sense, it has seemed to me
> for a very long time that the Bahai Faith is not a “living
> religion,” but one quite ossified. There’s a text; it’s taught
> at summer schools and by Iranian Bahais and one mustn’t
> depart from it…. Living religions evolve and permit their
> followers to probe its depths, returning with precious
> jewels all may share and benefit from.
It goes further than this. When I brought up the topic of the pilgrimage – I had signed the declaration card only a few minutes prior to this question – I was told about the hotel that all the Baha’is stayed at in Haifa and the airline that they all took. It was strongly implied that I could not search for a cheaper airline ticket or stay anywhere else in Haifa.
Note that it was an implication rather than an outright statement. I also remember reading in the American Baha’i that a part of the preparation for the centenary of Baha’u’llah’s death was the negotiation for air discounts. We were told not to jeopardize what the NSA called the “delicate negotiations” for air ticket and hotel room discounts by getting our own hotel rooms and air tickets even if we could get a better deal elsewhere.
By way of contrast, a Catholic going to Rome can negotiate a discount air fare with any airline he or she chooses. He or she can also go on the pilgrimage tour of his or her choice, take a direct nonstop flight to Rome if that is his or her preference and so forth. Baha’is do not even have this freedom. Every aspect of his or her life seemed to me to be controlled by insinuation – not just the important aspects of belief but the most minor details or corporate existence.
If it gets to the point where the Pope tells me what airline to take, and what hotel to stay at, and how to flush my toilet, I will resign my parish membership. This is the exact level of control I knew was being exerted in my life when I was a Baha’i.
One casualty – my wits, as in frightened out of.
Leonard McCoy, MD, ship’s surgeon, USS Enterprise