Neal Chase (born January 30, 1966) is the disputed leader of a small Bahá'í sect known as the Bahá'ís Under the Provisions of the Covenant (BUPC). This sect, mostly concentrated in Montana, never had more than about 200 devotees and membership declined rapidly in the 1990s. Chase claims to be the current Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, as well as the current successor to the Throne of David. Chase and the BUPC fall into the category of Covenant-breakers to members of the mainstream Bahá'í Faith, and are thus shunned.
Neal Chase was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut. After becoming a born-again Christian in his teens, Chase became a follower of Leland Jensen, and a member of the BUPC at the age of 19 while attending Michigan State University. He later moved to Deer Lodge, Montana, and in 1990 he privately published Ezekiel's Temple in Montana, a book on his research into the Morrisites, the Mormon splinter group that pioneered the Deerlodge Valley. He claims that the Morrisites specified August 9, 1969, as the date for the Second Coming of Jesus, which he claimed was fulfilled by Jensen's arrival in prison. Leroy Anderson, the leading expert on the Morrisites, disputes Chase's conclusion and claims the date simply happened to be the last annual Morrisite gathering.
He received attention for a number of predictions he was making about attacks on New York City and nuclear holocaust, and was invited to be a guest on the Art Bell radio show Coast to Coast AM on March 25, 1993, soon after the first World Trade Center Bombing. Chase was also satirized on Michael Moore's TV Nation in episode #5's segment, "Millennialists". His prediction of an attack on February 26, 1993 was discussed in Expecting Armageddon, and mentioned in the February 1995 issue of Harper's Magazine.
In 1960 Mason Remey claimed to be the Guardian to succeed Shoghi Effendi, resulting in his, and all his follower's expulsion from the Bahá'í community. Leland Jensen was among those who accepted Remey's claim. After infighting began among Remey's followers, Jensen and his wife left the group and moved to Missoula in 1964. In 1973 Jensen founded the BUPC on the belief that he was uniquely chosen by God to re-establish the Bahá'í administration after a perceived corruption in the administration after Shoghi Effendi's death. Jensen's beliefs also focused on apocalyptic disasters, and included a specific date in 1980 for a nuclear holocaust. Between 1980 and 1996, four researchers took part in group activities and even stayed the night in three BUPC fallout shelters in 1980. Their research noted the following about Chase,
"One of the most significant events in the history of the BUPC was the recruitment of Neal Chase, a spiritual seeker from Wisconsin who proved to be brilliant at synthesizing Jensen's teachings with other prophetic beliefs. Chase's most notable contribution was to bolster the 'proofs' for Jensen's mission by incorporating the prophecies of George Williams, a leader of an obscure nineteenth-century Mormon sect known as the Morrisites... By 1990, Jensen, then seventy-six, had turned much of the responsibility for interpreting the scriptures over to Chase."
Jensen believed that Remey's adopted son Joseph Pepe was the next Guardian after Remey, a title that Pepe steadfastly denied. The Second International Bahá'í Council (sIBC) that Jensen set up in 1991, with Chase as a member, functioned without the involvement of Pepe. After Pepe died in 1994 Jensen began hinting that Chase might be the next Guardian. After Jensen's own death in 1996, the council remained the head of the BUPC, but without a clear candidate for Guardian, and without Jensen, no new members could be appointed to the council.
This long-running dispute culminated in 2001, seven years after Pepe's death, when Chase announced that he was the Guardian. Chase's announcement caused a division among the council members, with the majority opposing Chase. His exercising the removal of funds and material of the council resulted in an unresolved court case in 2002. Chase declared the other dissenting members to be Covenant-breakers, including his ex-wife.
Domain name dispute over UHJ.net
On February 24, 2005 the National Spiritual Assembly (NSA) of the Bahá'ís of the United States filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Center against Neal Chase for his use of the domain name UHJ.net, which claims to be "The Official website of the Universal House of Justice" - a name for which the NSA has a United States federal trademark registration, issued in 1965.
The case resulted in Chase keeping the domain name on the basis that "uhj" as an acronym is not commonly used in the Bahá'í Faith to refer to the Universal House of Justice. The panel also concluded that the NSA was not attempting a reverse domain name hijacking. All other issues were deemed not necessary to address.
Throughout the 1990s Chase made a total of 18 predictions, with Jensen's approval, which pertained to small-scale disasters that he claimed would lead step-by-step towards apocalypse, as well as dates for a nuclear attack on New York City by middle Eastern terrorists. Researchers from the University of Montana led by Robert Balch studied Jensen, and later Chase, extensively between 1980 and 1996, using them as a case study in cognitive dissonance. Their report claimed that Chase based these predictions on Biblical prophecies, evidence from Hopi prophecies, planetary conjunctions, dreams, numerological coincidences, Nostradamus, and psychics.
Balch was observing Chase and the BUPC when he made his first prediction that the bombing of New York City would be on Nov. 29, 1992. Nothing happened in New York until the World Trade Center was attacked three months later on 02/26/93. Chase later cited Daniel 7:12, which says, "their lives were prolonged for a season and a time". Claiming that a season is three months, he announced that "the predicted day of Nov. 29 plus the prophesied season of three months brought us to Feb. 26, 1993, the day the World Trade Center was bombed" (August 4, 1993).
Another of Chase's predictions didn't pass without incident, though not the nuclear attack by terrorist that was expected. On 11/01/93 Chase wrote, "March 23rd, 1994 the veils will be rent asunder with the fiery holocaust of New York's millions of inhabitants. Forty days later the Battle of Armageddon will begin...". At about 11:55 P.M. on 23 March 1994 a 36" diameter gas pipeline exploded in Edison, NJ across the Hudson River from New York. Chase used the eyewitness accounts comparing the explosion to a nuclear blast to buttress the claim that the prediction came true.
Balch noted that Chase responded to the 18 disconfirmed prophecies with a number of "face-saving strategies", including drawing a distinction between prediction and prophecy, claiming miscalculation, reprieve, and tests of faith. Chase later proclaimed "We didn't make a mistake," and that they have "a 100 percent track record!"
- Chase, Neal (1987). Lazarus the Sick World. Self-published.
- Chase, Neal (1990). Ezekiel's Temple in Montana. Self-published.
- Chase, Neal (2003). Foreword to Nostradamus Prophecy! by Victor Woods. Self-published.
- "The End is Nearish!". Harper's Magazine. February 1995.
- Lapham, Lewis H. (1997). The Anthology, The End of the World.
- Chase, Neal (1992). "Killing People to Get Elected" (PDF). Phoenix Liberator.
- Robbins, Tom (1997). Millennium, Messiahs, and Mayhem: Contemporary Apocalyptic Movements.
- Stone, Jon R. (ed) (2000). Expecting Armageddon: Essential Readings in Failed Prophecy. London & New York: Routledge.
- "Bahá'í Faith Center". Harvard University, Committee on the Study of Religion. Retrieved 2006-12-11.
- Stone 2000, pp. 271
- Stone 2000, p. 272 note 3
- Stone 2000
- Missoulian article September 16, 2002
- Taherzadeh 1992, p. 432
- Stone 2000, p. 269
- Stone 2000, pp. 270
- Stone 2000, pp. 271–272
- Stone 2000, p. 280 note 6
- Opinion/Order, Montana Supreme Court, 2/15/2005, No. 04-214
- Appellant Brief, p. 8, 4/23/2004. Respondent Brief, p. 9, 5/21/2004. Montana Supreme Court, Case No. 04-214. Cases are accessible online at State Law Library of Montana.
- See WIPO document
- Balch states: "All eighteen predictions in the 1990s were made by Chase…. Chase's predictions pertained to small-scale disasters that he claimed would lead step-by step toward the apocalypse. Some of his predictions focused on upheavals caused by meteors, asteroids and comets, but most pertained to the destruction of New York City by a nuclear bomb that would be placed by Middle Eastern terrorists." (Balch et al., cf. Stone, p. 272)
- Stone 2000, pp. 278–9
- Stone 2000, p. 274
- Stone 2000, p. 275
- Chase, Neal (1990). "Ezekiel's Temple in Montana". Baha'i Center, Missoula, MT: Self published.
- Stone, Jon R. (ed) (2000). Expecting Armageddon, Essential Readings in Failed Prophecy. New York: Routledge. pp. 269–282. ISBN 0-415-92331-X.
- UN WIPO Decision - Ruling in domain name dispute
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- BUPC.org The Bahá'ís Under the Provisions of the Covenant