Who Is a Baha'i Apostate? Are Ex-Baha'is Obsessive, Hateful and Vengeful?

Responses to the Claims of Baha'i Author Moojan Momen

Dr. Moojan Momen is a well-known Baha'i who is the author of an introductory book about the Baha'i Faith, and has also published some academic papers and other writings. In an article published in the academic journal Religion in 2007, Momen makes some inaccurate and inflammatory assertions about ex-Baha'is and Baha'is who have left the organized Baha'i community. In this article, "Marginality and Apostasy in the Baha'i Community," Momen identifies 12 individuals as the most noteworthy "apostates" from the Baha'i Faith in modern times. I, Eric Stetson, am on that list.

Some of the people Momen discusses in his paper (Karen Bacquet, Alison Marshall, and Frederick Glaysher) still consider themselves Baha'i but have publicly expressed disagreement with the leadership and policies of the Baha'i Faith organization based in Haifa, Israel. Others, such as myself, no longer consider themselves Baha'i at all. All of them are considered "apostates" by Momen, and all of them are accused of having a hateful and vengeful spirit and obsessively attacking the Baha'i Faith.

Neither of these claims are accurate. First of all, one who leaves a religious organization but still claims to follow the prophet who founded the religion can be fairly called a "reformist," a "dissident" or even in some cases a "schismatic," but not an "apostate." There is a big difference! Just because some self-professed Baha'is do not conform to the rigid fundamentalist views of the Haifan Baha'i organization to which Momen adheres, does not mean they have left the religion of Baha'ism and become apostates. Momen's claim that anyone who criticizes or rejects the Haifa-based Baha'i organization is by definition a non-Baha'i is just as absurd as to claim that anyone who follows Jesus but disagrees with the Roman Catholic Church is a non-Christian.

Secondly, the vast majority of the 12 people Momen mentions in his article, although ex-Baha'is, do not exhibit the signs of an obsessive, hateful spirit of revenge against the Baha'i Faith or its community of believers. Only in perhaps two or three cases out the 12 could this be considered an accurate assessment, and it is certainly not true in my own case!

The following are responses to Moojan Momen's article, beginning with my own: -- Beyond the Baha'i Faith: An Ex-Baha'i Perspective founded November 2002. This page last updated November 11, 2008.