The official response

I figure I should post the letter that the National Spiritual Assembly sent me.  They’ve already had someone lecture me on how I do not keep things private enough, so I am sure they are expecting and eagerly awaiting for me to post the letter.  Congratulations, NSA… you’ll get plenty of fame from this one.  Interesting, though, how after almost two months of waiting, I get a response within 24 hours of being notified that I was in the wrong with my blog.  Without further ado, the letter (anything in bold is for emphasis on my part, not theirs):


Dear  Bahá’ʹí  Friend,     


     We  have  carefully  read  your  letter  of  June  18,  2012,  and  first  and  foremost  wish  to   express  our  grief  that  you  have  endured  the  torment  of  memories  of  sexual  abuse  at  the   hand  of  one  who  you  should  have  been  able  to  trust,  as  he  was  considered  by  many  as  a   pillar  of  the  Bahá’ʹí  community.  We  also  deeply  regret  the  delay  in  our  reply  due  to  the   heavy  burden  of  work  at  the  Bahá’í  National  Center  and  our  intent  to  craft  a  thorough   and  appropriate  response  to  your  heartfelt  comments.

     We  also  deplore  that  you  were  given  ill-­‐‑advised  counsel  from  a  member  of  our  staff   years  ago  when  you  first  reported  an  incident  that  occurred  years  earlier.  Be  assured  that   adjustments  in  staffing  and  oversight  have  been  made  since  that  time  to  ensure  that   complaints  of  sexual  abuse  are  addressed  swiftly,  keeping  the  safety  of  potential  victims   as  the  highest  priority.  For  example,  when  your  story  involving  Dr.  Maani  came  to  our   attention  last  year  we  investigated  the  matter  immediately,  and  though  the  reported   events  took  place  many  years  prior,  we  were  compelled  to  sanction  him  due  to  his   reprehensible  behavior.  The  National  Assembly  took  this  action  despite  the  fact  that  his   advanced  age  and  ill-­‐‑health  lessened  the  threat  of  his  repeating  his  misconduct.    As  you   know,  shortly  thereafter,  Dr.  Maani  expressed  to  the  National  Assembly  deep  remorse   for  his  misdeeds  and  entreated  it  to  restore  his  administrative  privileges.

       Underlying  the  teachings  of  all  the  revealed  religions  of  the  world  is  the  possibility  of   spiritual  transformation  and  the  correction  of  human  conduct.  Thus,  a  primary  purpose   of  the  Bahá’ʹí  Revelation  is  the  reformation  of  character.  When  it  is  evident  to  the   institutions  of  the  Faith  that  a  believer  under  sanctions  has  amended  his  behavior  and   expressed  sincere  regret,  the  way  becomes  open  for  the  sanctions  to  be  lifted.  The  timing   of  the  National  Assembly’s  consideration  of  Dr.  Maani’s  request  was  exceptional  in  that   he  was  dying  of  cancer  and  not  expected  to  live  more  than  a  matter  of  weeks.  Be  assured   that  our  decision  to  restore  part  of  his  administrative  privileges  so  soon  after  his  rights   were  removed  does  not  imply  that  the  National  Assembly  considers  his  transgressions   to  be  inconsequential.  On  the  contrary,  the  National  Assembly  knows  that  the  damage  of   sexual  abuse  is  severe  and  long-­‐‑lasting.  Under  different  circumstances,  the  sanctions   would  have  likely  remained  in  place  for  an  extended  period  not  only  to  correct  his   behavior,  but  also  to  serve  as  a  warning  to  others  and  an  affirmation  to  those  he   wronged  that  such  behavior  will  not  be  tolerated.         

     In  our  review  of  the  matter,  we  determined  that  due  to  Dr.  Maani’s  imminent  death  there  was  little  compelling  reason  to  announce  his  sanctions  to  the  general  community.     However,  you  may  be  interested  to  know  that,  prior  to  receiving  your  June  18  message,   we  had  already  intended  to  address  you  personally,  as  a  victim  of  his  behavior,  to   inform  you  of  our  decision.  

     We  cannot  overestimate  the  detrimental  effect  Dr.  Maani’s  actions  have  had  on  your  life   and  we  know  that  you  will  never  completely  forget  the  incidents  of  abuse.    But  we  pray   that  through  Bahá’u’lláh’s  assistance  and  through  the  support  of  your  loved  ones,  [the same loved ones that I’m not allowed to tell because that would break Baha’i law?] you   will  be  able  to  overcome  the  ill-­‐‑feelings  that  remain  in  your  heart,  so  that  your  soul  may   be  freed  to  experience  the  joy  of  detachment  in  the  path  of  the  love  of  God.  As  part  of   this,  you  may  have  to  find  a  way  in  your  heart,  to  let  go  of  the  justifiable  anger  you  feel   toward  this  man  who  wronged  you  so  many  years  ago.  We  must  consider  that   ultimately,  Dr.  Maani  is  responsible  to  God  for  his  actions,  and  it  is  God  that  judges  and   determines  the  application  of  justice  and  mercy.     

     Most  regrettable  is  that  Dr.  Maani’s  transgressions  against  you  lead  to  your  minimized   involvement  in  Bahá’ʹí  community  life  for  almost  two  decades.  It  is  our  fervent  hope  that   you  will  now  make  every  effort  to  redeem  those  lost  years  by  plunging  into  the  work  of   your  local    community,  using  your  insights  and  capacities,  gained  through  tested   experience,  to  bolster  the  community  and  its  institutions  to  be  ever  more  purified  and   effective  channels  for  the  spirit  of  the  Cause  of  Baha’u’llah.       

     The  National  Assembly  will  offer  prayers  on  behalf  of  you  and  your  family  at  the  House   of  Worship  that  God  Almighty  will  surround  you  with  His  loving  care,  protection,  and   tender  mercy. 

Unfortunately, this only tells half of the story.  But the entire letter is a slap in the face.  And I don’t see mention of spying on me.  Hope they love my reaction.

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