Criticism of the Bahá'í Faith

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As a growing world religion with its own doctrines and history, the Bahá'í Faith has not been without its critics, who have from time to time found fault with some or all of its teachings and precepts, discovered what they have seen as contradictions and inconsistencies in its history, and even raised controversial questions about specific policies and actions of past and existing administrative bodies.

The common criticisms are sometimes compiled in books and blogs, and there are also common answers to the objections that have been compiled by Bahá'í authors.

This summary list of specific criticisms is expanded on in the main articles linked under each heading.

Criticism of Bahá'í teachings[edit]

Unity of religion[edit]

Bahá'ís believe in the fundamental agreement in purpose of all the major world religions. At the same time it is incontrovertible that there are many differences between the different religions.

Gender equality[edit]

Bahá'ís assert that gender equality is an incontrovertible reality of the human condition. Some critics are opposed to the very idea, while others object that certain teachings seem to compromise the principle, by favoring one gender or the other in education, inheritance, and membership on the Universal House of Justice.

Science[edit]

The harmony between science and religion is an important Baha'i principle, but there are a few statements by its founders that raise some controversy by contradicting some current scientific understanding.

Homosexuality[edit]

Bahá'í teachings only permit sexual relationships between a married husband (male) and wife (female).

Abortion and birth control[edit]

Abortion, for the purpose of eliminating an unwanted child, and permanent sterilization are generally forbidden to Bahá'ís unless there is some medical reason for it. As there is not yet any specific legislation from the Universal House of Justice to determine the conditions under which an abortion would be appropriate, Bahá'ís are encouraged to decide based on their own conscience in light of general guidance found in Bahá'í writings.[1]

Criticism based on historical events[edit]

Family of Bahá'u'lláh[edit]

Although polygamy is forbidden by Bahá'í law, Bahá'u'lláh himself had three concurrent wives.

Bahá'í Faith and slavery[edit]

Bahá'u'lláh very specifically abolished the slave trade among his followers in 1874, but the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh were raised with and owned slaves of African descent.

Babi split[edit]

The Bahá'í Faith identifies itself as the fulfillment of the Bábí Faith. The separation of the two, beginning in 1863, was accompanied by conflict and murders.

Guardianship[edit]

While the Bahá'í scriptures intend for a line of Guardians appointed by their predecessor, the first Guardian left no appointment and the line ended.

Divisions[edit]

Although the Faith emphasizes its own unity, the Bahá'í Faith has had several challenges to leadership, resulting in the formation of breakaway factions. Claimants challenging the widely accepted successions of leadership are shunned by the majority group as Covenant-Breakers.

Criticism of leadership[edit]

Politics[edit]

Bahá'ís have been accused, particularly by successive Iranian governments, of being agents or spies of Russia, Britain, the Shah, the United States, and as agents of Zionism—each claim being linked to each regime's relevant enemy and justifying anti-Bahá'í actions. The last claim is partially rooted in the presence of the Bahá'í World Centre in northern Israel.

Statistics[edit]

Some criticism of the Bahá'í Faith has centered on allegedly exaggerated statements concerning numbers of believers.

Bahá'í review[edit]

Bahá'ís wishing to publish books about the Bahá'í Faith must first submit their work to their respective National Spiritual Assembly for approval through a review process. This process has not been without its critics, some of whom have characterized this requirement as a form of censorship.[2]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]