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Division amongst the followers of Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi

One of the biggest controversies in Bahá'í history was rapidly fading out of the memory of the mainstream Bahá'í community. But thanks to the internet and its vast repository of free-flowing information and the court case done by the Haifa-based Bahá'í Faith on two of its denomination, the Haifa-based Bahá'í Faith will never be able to cover up what happened in 1957, despite their best efforts to ignore it and minimize its importance. In that year, The Bahá'í Faith lost what was supposed to be its unending chain of infallible spiritual authority when the first Guardian of the faith died without clearly designating any successor.

Bahá'u'lláh had appointed his son Abdul-Baha to succeed him as leader of the religion and inspired interpreter of Bahá'í scriptures and teachings. Abdul-Baha continued this successorship by establishing a position called the Guardian of the Cause of God, to which he appointed his grandson Shoghi Effendi Rabbani in his will and commanded him to appoint his own successor during his lifetime. Shoghi Effendi developed complex theories of a "world order of Bahá'u'lláh" and appointed two main institutions of Bahá'í leadership, the International Bahá'í Council and the Hands of the Cause.

When Shoghi Effendi suddenly died, childless and without leaving any known will, a power struggle ensued. The Hands of the Cause, led by Shoghi Effendis widow Ruhiyyih Khanum, asserted a claim to be some form of temporary collective Guardianship. The Council President, Charles Mason Remey, claimed to be the second Guardian using arguments from the first Guardians writings on Bahá'í religious administration to support his case. The Hands used other arguments from Bahá'í sacred texts to repudiate him, and they ended up convincing a majority of Bahá'ís in the world to follow their own claim of authority rather than Remeys.

In 1963 they established their Universal House of Justice (UHJ) as the international ruling body at the "Bahá'í World Center" in Haifa, despite questions about whether this institution could be legitimately constituted without a Guardian as the head member.

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of France, Pakistan, India and a couple of more countries followed the claim of Mason Remey to be the second Guardian. All its members were summarily excommunicated by UHJ. In Reaction Mason Remy ex communicated all the Hands of Cause calling the Wife of Shoghi Effendi as ARCH COVENANT BREAKER

A lot of Bahá'ís simply left the faith in disappointment, realizing that a major leadership dispute ruins the credibility of a religion that prides itself on unity and seeks to rule the world. Among those Bahá'ís who remained committed to their faith, a schism developed, and the minority of Bahá'ís who followed Remey and rejected the "Haifan" UHJ persist to this day. They have had limited success attracting new converts, though the advent of the internet has helped their efforts somewhat in recent years. They are commonly known as Guardianists, emphasizing their belief in the continuation of the living Guardianship as an essential part of Bahá'í Faith. " Most of them currently follow Joel Bray Marangella, who claims to be the third Guardian. Some others follow Guardian-claimant Jacques Soghomonian instead.

The Haifan Bahá'í Faith stigmatizes the Guardianist Bahá'ís as "Covenant-breakers" and demands that all members of their organization should shun them, Then there is a pain of shunning if they refuse to shun. Haifan Bahá'ís can be severely punished just for reading Guardianist literature. Both the Haifans and the Guardianists believe that membership in their group is the only way to be a true Bahá'í; both assert that their leaders are infallible, despite the lack of solid evidence from Bahá'í scripture to support their claim; and both teach that one day the whole world should be governed by a Bahá'í theocracy led by their particular organization, even though their own religion is not unified under one authority.

Some writings of Mason Remey

  • Daily Observations Made to the Hands of the Faith in the Holy Land
  • Appeals to the Hands of the Faith
  • Announcement to the Hands of the Faith from the Second Guardian
  • Proclamation of Mason Remey to the Bahá'ís of the World

    Joel Marangella runs the Orthodox Bahá'í Faith. There are many interesting documents and materials on his website, Bahá'í-Guardian.com, as well as the site run by the National Bahá'í Council of the United States, which leads the Orthodox Bahá'ís in America. To get a good sense of Orthodox Bahá'í doctrine, check out these articles by Marangella:

  • Announcement to the Bahá'í World
  • The Essentiality of the Guardianship to the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh
  • Multiple Failures of the Hands of the Cause after the Passing of Shoghi Effendi
  • If Only They Had Taken the Time
  • An Appeal to the Heterodox Bahá'ís
  • Proclamation of the Third Guardian. Marangella explains how he assumed this office.

    Some Guardianist Bahá'ís believe that Donald Harvey was the person Remey really wanted to succeed him in the Guardianship. Both Marangella and Harvey received an appointment, but Marangellas came first, and he attempted to take over the Remeyite movement claiming that Remey was going senile in his old age and had abdicated his position. Remey later changed his mind and appointed Harvey, but by then Marangella had already consolidated his support and Harvey was unable to gain a significant following. Harvey appointed Jacques Soghomonian of France to be his successor, and Soghomonian is now trying to attract support with the help of Brent Reed, an American who has been excommunicated by both the mainstream Bahá'í Faith and the Orthodox Bahá'í Faith. Reed runs a discussion group to promote Soghomonians claim, called Journey to the Heart of the Bahá'í Faith. There are files posted there which explain Soghomonians view that he is the fourth Guardian.

    Regency Bahá'ís belong to an organization called the Tarbiyat Bahá'í Community, which was founded by Rex King in 1973. King argued that Mason Remey was not a full-fledged Guardian because, according to the traditional interpretation of Bahá'í law, only a hereditary descendent of Bahá'u'lláh can hold this office. Nevertheless, due to Remeys appointment as President of the International Bahá'í Council, King understood Remeys position as that of a "Regent" who should have been obeyed as the legitimate leader of the Bahá'ís but who should never have gone so far as to claim the Guardianship. King announced himself as the second Regent, and he prophesied that sometime in the future a man descended from the bloodline of Bahá'u'lláh will arise and restore the Guardianship and usher in the golden age of the Bahá'í world order. Regency Bahá'ís are now led by a Council of Regents appointed by King in his will. It looks that the Regency Bahá'ís to be somewhat more sensible than other Bahá'í sects simply because they admit that there can neither be a Guardian nor a Universal House of Justice currently in existence which satisfies all the requirements for these scripturally defined institutions.

    Dr. Leland Jensen is the founder of Bahá'ís Under the Provisions of the Covenant. Jensen declared that Pepe Remey (Masons adopted son) was the Guardian, but Pepe denied this; finally telling Jensens followers that Jensen was false, corrupt, and a liar. Some of Jensens followers discovered these letters from Pepe Remey and then left Jensen and followed Jacques Soghomonian. Neal Chase, a firm disciple of Jensen, was in communication with Pepe Remey, and Pepe Remey (being an old man by this time) once referred to Chase as "my son" (or on several occassions). This made Chase to claim that Pepe was his spiritual father; just as Abdul-Baha was the spiritual father of Charles Remey, calling him "my son". So, while Pepe Remey said "I am NOT the Guardian of the Faith, Jacques Soghomonian is the Guardian", Neal Chase said, "Oh, well, of course Pepe Remey was the Guardian, and he called me son so Im his successor and the third Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith". The current Bahá'ís Under the Provisions of the Covenant have 5 "Communities"
     


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