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Orthodox Bahá'í Faith


Orthodox Bahá'í Faith

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 died in San Diego, California on Sept 1, 2013.


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.[5] Charles Mason Remey, one of the Hands, declared himself the successor to Shoghi Effendi in 1960.[6] 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.

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.[7]

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.[8] The NSA counter-sued, and in August 1966 Remey instructed the NSAUHG to withdraw from any action in the matter "regardless of the consequences."[7] 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.

Over the years following 1966 the followers of Mason Remey were not organized; with some of his followers concluding that Remey was suffering from dementia, until several of the individuals involved began forming their own groups based on different understandings of succession.

In 1962 Remey gave Marangella a sealed envelope, with instructions to open it when the time was right. In 1965 Mason Remey called for the International Bahá'í Council, of which Marangella was president, to become active. Marangella then opened the sealed letter, which was a hand-written note by Remey appointing Marangella as his successor. Marangella looks upon that time as the time of his official appointment. Remey then changed his mind, deactivated the International Bahá'í Council in 1966, and in 1969 Marangella announced that he was the third Guardian. All of the members of the 1966 NSAUHG accepted Marangella's claim.[7]

In 1970 Marangella appointed members to a "National Bureau of the Orthodox Bahá'ís in New York", which two years later was moved to New Mexico, and subsequently changed its name to "Mother Bahá'í Council of the United States" (1978) and "Provisional National Bahá'í Council" (2000), with all members appointed by Joel Marangella..[7] Marangella died in San Diego, CA on Sept 1, 2013.


  1. ^ Published by the Universal House of Justice
  2. ^ THE COVENANT, Moojan Momen. Quoting Chicago Tribune, 10 June 1988, section 1, p. 9
  3. ^ [1], US District Court for Norther District Court of Illinois Eastern Division, Civil Action No. 64 C 1878: NSA’s Reply Memorandum to the Response of Franklin D. Schlatter, Joel B. Marangella and Provisional National Bahá'í Council, p8 para 2 line 5
  4. ^ [2], US District Court for Norther District Court of Illinois Eastern Division, Civil Action No. 64 C 1878: Orthodox Bahá'í Respondents' Surreply Memorandum to NSA's Reply Memorandum, p2 para 2 line 15
  5. ^ Ministry of the Custodians, pp. 28-30
  6. ^ Proclamation of Mason Remey
  7. ^ a b c d [3], US District Court for Northern District Court of Illinois Eastern Division, Civil Action No. 64 C 1878: Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law by Respondents Joel B. Marangella, Franklin D. Schlatter, and Provisional National Bahá'í Council.
  8. ^ Bahá'ís vs New Mexico Group District Court, N.D. Illinois, E. Div. No. 64 C 1878. Decided June 28, 1966

External links

  • The Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith website maintained on behalf of Joel Marangella.
  • Orthodox Bahá'í Faith National Bahá'í Council of the United States
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