The end of an era…and another part of my childhood disappears…
Baquia, over at Baha'i Rants, has posted some very insightful comments on the recent election of officers to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States, as well to the Canadian NSA. For those of you who aren't aware of the nature of Baha'i elections, the demotion of Robert C. Henderson to the status of mere mortal—I mean, regular NSA member—from his previously exalted position of Secretary-General has the air of a palace coup.
Incumbents are rarely voted out of office in Baha'i elections, unless it's to get kicked upstairs, and while the esteemed Dr. Henderson didn't get voted off the NSA, it's noteworthy that he didn't get automatically returned to the Sec-Gen's position, as would normally be the case. There's been some speculation about a possible split on the NSA, with some members ready to admit that things haven't been working out so well lately, while others are dutifully lining up behind the banner of Ruhi. We'll probably never know the full story, such is the secrecy behind which so much in the Baha'i administration is hidden. It may, however, signal coming changes to the way the Baha'i Faith in America is run.
The really interesting thing is that this shakeup follows a visit to the Baha'i National Convention by Dr. Penelope Walker, a member of the International Teaching Centre. The ITC has become the training ground for the Universal House of Justice, the international Baha'i governing body. Dr. Walker isn't eligible for the all-male UHJ, but it's fairly clear she was sent there to reinforce the party line, which is generally "redouble your efforts, have faith, work harder, and give sacrificially to the Fund." If the NSA has voted out Henderson despite that show of force, things in the American Baha'i community may get very interesting indeed—and not a moment too soon.