Archive for August 27th, 2010

Mason Remey and Those Who Followed Him

Posted on August 27, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The article entitled “Mason Remey and Those Who Followed Him” contains much truth, but it also contains a number of half-truths or falsehoods.  Thus, those who are not knowledgeable about which parts of the document are true and which are somewhat off the mark may come to the erroneous impression that the entire article is true.  Such is simply not the case.

It is true that the sans-Guardian Universal House of Justice wrote to explain their new definition of Covenant-breaking on 23 March 1975, which, in effect, abrogated the definition of Covenant-breaking that existed in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s and Shoghi Effendi’s ministries.  That new definition of Covenant-breaking essentially sanctioned the take-over of the Faith in 1957 by the Hands of the Cause, for the UHJ’s definition states that an attack on the Central Institution of the Faith is a violation of the Covenant, and since the UHJ subscribes to the theory that after November of 1957 there were no more Guardians, then, ipso facto, the Hands, as a collective Guardian–a role which is nowhere described for the Hands in the writings of the Faith–were the Central Institution of the Faith between 1957-1963 and they could determine who was Covenant-breaking because they only had to decide who was acting in opposition to them and cast them from the Faith.  Subsequent to its own election in 1963, the UHJ, minus a “sacred head and distinguished member for life of that body,”  ascribed to itself  the role of the “Central Institution of the Faith,”  and, thus, the usurpers of the Cause seized the power to put anyone out of the Faith who questioned their illegitimate authority.

However, prior to 1957 the Center of the Faith could only be identified as the Guardian in asmuch as  the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá identifies the Guardian as the “Center of the Cause.”  The definition of Covenant-breaking at that time was given in John Ferraby’s book “All Things Made New.”  The edition that was published in 1957, prior to Shoghi Effendi’s death, stated:  “These Covenant- breakers profess to accept the teachings of Baha’u’llah but they turn away from the Centre of the Cause–in the day of the Centre of the Covenant, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, and in our day, the Guardian–and thereby they deny what they profess to accept.”


It is true that ‘Abdu’l-Baha stated that Covenant-breakers “do not doubt the validity of the Covenant, but selfish motives have dragged them to this condition.” It is also true that the Master warned that, if unchecked, Covenant-breaking would “utterly destroy the Cause of God, exterminate His Law and render of no account all efforts exerted in the past.”     The article would have one believe that it was Mason Remey and his followers whose selfish motives are to be questioned. But is it not interesting that Mason Remey and his followers, particularly those who follow Joel Marangella today, maintain that to be a true believer one must show “loyal and steadfast adherence to every clause” of the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, whereas those who follow the Haifa organization no longer identify that as a qualification for membership?  How could they, when the UHJ itself has decreed that there are to be no more Guardians, and, in the process, has taken over a function of the Guardian’s which was not within its power to assume: the handling of the Huquq–which the Will says is “to be offered through the guardian of the Cause of God”?

And yet Shoghi Effendi stated on page 4 of “The World Order of Baha’u’llah” that the Kitab-i-Aqdas, Baha’u’llah’s Book of Laws, and the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha “are inseparable parts of one complete unit.”  So who is it, then, that is in the process of exterminating Baha’u’llah’s Law?

Is it those who are abiding by all the provisions of the Master’s Will, or those who are now ignoring what that Will provides?


Yes, ‘Abdu’l-Baha said that “Were it not for the protecting power of the Covenant to guard the impregnable fort of the Cause of God, there would arise among the Baha’is, in one day, a thousand different sects as was the case in former ages.”  So when was the protecting power of the Covenant actually withdrawn?  That action occurred when the first cablegrams went forth from the Hands, calling for the believers to cling to the station of the Hands of the Faith, for when the believers turned to the Hands of the Faith instead of to the Center of the Cause the seeds of violation were planted around the world.


Indeed so is the matter of Covenant-breaking “a spiritual contagion threatening the well-being of the individual believer because of its subtle appeal to the human ego”!  And who is it now that no longer feels that a living Guardian of the Faith is necessary within the Baha’i Administrative Order?  Who is it now that delights in the fact that they no longer have a Guardian over them?  One has only to look at the sans-Guardian organizations across the world to see the ones who have succumbed to  the “subtle appeal to the human ego” that is referred to in the article.


Granted that Shoghi Effendi wrote that the “movements, sponsored by deluded, self-seeking adventurers, find themselves sooner or later, enmeshed in the machinations of their authors.”  That was written, of course, before the Hands of the Faith in 1957 seized upon the words “Chief Stewards of Baha’u’llah’s embryonic World Commonwealth” to mean that they themselves could form a collective Guardianship, thus setting in motion the train of events which found the Hands of the Cause rejecting the rightful successor to Shoghi Effendi and forming their own House of Justice without a Guardian as its “sacred head.”


It is apparently true that the Hands of the Faith, upon the passing of Shoghi Effendi, looked for a will and testament.  But should they have been looking for a will when it is clear from the provisions of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Testament that the appointment of the Guardian’s successor was to be in his own lifetime “that differences not arise after his passing”?  Thus, the appointment will not be made in a will, a document which normally is read after the testator’s death. It should have been obvious to the Hands that ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Will actually foreclosed on the Guardian’s appointment of his successor being made via a will.

Indeed so, the entire body of Hands found themselves at a loss when their brief search for a will proved of no avail.  But was the condition of the Hands that which Horace Holley described when he developed their joint proclamation: “The first effect of the realization that no successor to Shoghi Effendi could have been appointed by him was to plunge the Hands of the Cause into the very abyss of despair”?

Naturally, if it were indeed the case that there were no Guardian, then the Hands, in thinking such a thought, should have been plunged into despair.

However, by the time the proclamation was written, most of the Hands were not distraught.  Rather, the majority of the Hands had already decided that the Will and Testament, and thus the Guardianship, was no longer operational, and they could now take over the Faith.

Since most people have not read Mason Remey’s Proclamation of 1960 or his “Daily Observations”, they may not realize  that he had had a vision some years prior to Shoghi Effendi’s passing in which he saw himself as the Guardian of the Faith.  However, at the time of Shoghi Effendi’s death he did not realize the manner in which he had succeeded to the Guardianship.  That realization did not come until  some two years later when he perceived the connection between his presidency of the International Baha’i Council, the

embryonic Universal House of Justice, and his accession to the Guardianship of the Faith.  It was on the basis of the vision he had had some few years before and on his own thought “that there be nothing of the kind for me in that vision” that he signed the first letter put out by the Hands following their conclave in Akka.

Inasmuch as Mason Remey signed on with the other Hands and went along with the majority who had decided that the Will was “Bada”, remaining in Haifa as one of the so-called “Custodians of the Faith” (and remonstrating with his fellow-Hands on an almost daily basis not to violate the Covenant and the Will and Testament by abandoning the Guardianship–all to no avail), he was enabled to observe the other Hands and to realize over the course of two years that most of the other Hands did not want another Guardian. Talk about violation!  ‘Abdu’l-Baha wrote in His Will that the Hands were to be “ever watchful and so soon as they find anyone beginning to oppose and protest against the guardian of the Cause of God” they were to “cast him out from the congregation of the people of Bahá.”  Yet it was the Hands themselves who were in opposition to there being another Guardian!


It should be accepted as true that when the Hands decided to form their sans- Guardian UHJ they thought that “all the conditions of the Faith [could] be examined anew and the measures necessary for its future operation determined in consultation with the Hands of the Cause.”  Yet where in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha is the authority for the Hands of the Cause to determine the future operation of the Faith in consultation with the UHJ?

It’s not there!


The article indicates that Mason Remey “himself laid claim” to the Guardianship of the Faith in his Proclamation of April 1960.  Those who have not read Mason Remey’s Proclamation may feel that such a statement is true.

However, Mason Remey did …


It is clear that the article refers to “divisions” among Remey’s followers.

In all justice, though, the article could just as readily have  referred to “divisions” from the organization directed by the Hands and the sans-Guardian UHJ, for the individuals that are identified as the followers of Mason Remey were, first of all, members of the Faith under Shoghi Effendi and then were within the Faith usurped by the Hands.  Suffice it to say, that such individuals as John Carre, Reginald King, and Leland Jensen had their own agendas, and in their efforts to carry out their agendas they eventually violated the Covenant. But their violation had nothing to do with whether they followed Mason Remey or not, for Mason Remey was not a Covenant-breaker.

Finally, the manner in which  Mason Remey’s appointments of Donald Harvey and Joel Marangella were made is a matter of historical record, and those who are willing to investigate the facts can see why those who followed Donald Harvey went their way and why those of us who follow Joel Marangella now call ourselves Orthodox Bahá’ís.  But to characterize Joel B. Marangella as a “forlorn survivor” of those who followed Mason Remey is to underestimate the power of the Covenant and to exaggerate the importance of the number of adherents of the Faith.

The article’s author seems to derive strength and comfort from the fact that so few of the members of the Baha’i Faith at the time of Shoghi Effendi’s passing had recognized Mason Remey, and even fewer of those believers ultimately had the insight to recognize Joel Marangella’s appointment. The author’s implicit assumption is that the number of followers of the Guardian is the criterion by which to  judge the veracity of his claim to the office. Does it follow that because most of the Baha’is of the world have rejected the Guardian of the Faith that he therefore must be an impostor?

The history of religion informs us that a religious movement is not to be judged by the number of its adherents. The history of the people of Israel, as recounted in the Books of the Old Testament, is replete with references to this basic truth. One particularly good example is found in the story of how God delivered the people of Israel from the oppression of the Midianites in chapters 6 and 7 of the Book of Judges. Gideon’s army was reduced from thousands of soldiers to a few hundred: “And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying Mine own hand hath saved me.” Judges 7:2. Then God tested them, and the few that remained in the army defeated the enemy through the “sword of the Lord.”

Of course, we, as Baha’is, have the example of the defenders of Shaykh Tabarsi, who, at the outset, numbered some 300 Babis untrained in the art of war who remained undefeated, even though regiment after regiment of soldiers were dispatched to conquer them. The enemies of the Faith were only able to bring about their surrender after ignominiously making an oath on the Qu’ran to permit them safe passage and then slaughtering them when they came out of the fort.

The Covenant of Baha’u’llah is not dependent upon the Baha’is. Rather the success of their efforts to establish His Administrative Order is dependent upon the power of the Covenant. The Hands and those who followed them vainly believe that they can change the principles and institutions of the Administrative Order as outlined in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, as if this Order belonged to them. But the World Order of Baha’u’llah does not belong to the Baha’is, and they do not have the power to change it, no matter how many people join with them. As Shoghi Effendi makes abundantly clear in “The Dispensation of Baha’u’llah,” the Administrative Order of Baha’u’llah is divine in origin. It is not a manmade system, and it is not dependent upon the peoples of the world for its authority or power.

Like Gideon’s army, the faithful supporters of the Third Guardian, Joel B. Marangella, will be victorious through the power of the Covenant of God. Those who vaunt themselves against God, believing they have the power to establish God’s Kingdom after their own fancies, will perish.

The future will undoubtedly record who are the past and present-day violators of the Covenant.  All of us who live in the present, though, especially those of us who consider ourselves to be Baha’is, would be well-advised to investigate this matter thoroughly and to seek out the truth for ourselves.

Frank Schlatter

The Mother Bahá’í Council of the United States


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