Orthodox Bahá'í Faith

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The Orthodox Bahá'í Faith is a small Bahá'í sect that formed in 1960 by Mason Remey, and subsequently was the name used by Joel Marangella after he claimed to be Remey's successor. The basis of the dispute is over the identity of the Bahá'í Guardian, a term referring to the appointed head of the religion, an executive hereditary office held by Shoghi Effendi from 1921 to 1957.

Other than on the matter of leadership and organization, there are few differences between the orthodox and mainstream Bahá'ís in matters of doctrine. As a group who believe that Mason Remey was the second Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, they are considered heretical Covenant-breakers by the majority of Bahá'ís who follow the leadership of the Universal House of Justice.[1]

Membership data of the Orthodox Bahá'ís is scarce. One source estimated them at no more than 100 members as of 1988.[2] Memorandums from an Illinois court case in 2007 state their membership in the United States at 40.[3][4] Websites claiming to represent the Orthodox community indicate followers in the United States and India. Joel Marangella himself resides in Perth, Australia.[5]

Contents

Background

Following the unexpected death of the Bahá'í Faith's first Guardian Shoghi Effendi in 1957, the 27 living Hands of the Cause, having the responsibility to acknowledge any appointment of a successor, gathered and decided that he had died "without having appointed his successor," and that the Universal House of Justice would decide on the situation after its first election.[6] Charles Mason Remey, one of the Hands, declared himself the successor to Shoghi Effendi in 1960.[7] His claim was rejected by the 26 remaining Hands, on the basis that he was not a descendant of Bahá'u'lláh, nor was he appointed to the position by Shoghi Effendi. Remey based his claim on his being the president of the International Bahá'í Council appointed by Shoghi Effendi in 1951. The result was that Remey was unanimously expelled from the Bahá'í community by the Hands of the Cause.

Under the Hereditary Guardianship

In 1962 Remey asked his supporters in the United States to organize themselves and elect a "National Spiritual Assembly Under the Hereditary Guardianship" (NSAUHG), first elected in 1963. The Assembly of 9 members was incorporated in New Mexico in 1964.[8]

In 1964 the NSAUHG filed a lawsuit against the National Spiritual Assembly (NSA) of the Bahá'ís of the United States to receive the legal title to the Bahá'í House of Worship in Illinois, and all other property owned by the NSA.[9] The NSA counter-sued, and in August 1966 Remey instructed the NSAUHG to withdraw from any action in the matter "regardless of the consequences."[8] Later that year, Remey asked the NSAUHG to dissolve, as well as the International Bahá'í Council that he had appointed with Joel Marangella as president, residing in France. Marangella previously served on the National Spiritual Assembly of France in 1961, and was declared a Covenant-breaker when he accepted Mason Remey as the next Guardian.

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