Stephen Hall

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Stephen Hall was re-elected to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Australia in 2002. [1], and is currently serving as a Counselor with the International Teaching Centre of the Baha'i Faith, located in Haifa, Israel. In 2003, Mr Hall also served on the Executive Committee of Soheil Abedian's Sunland Group as CEO of their Childcare centre development project. [2]

Correspondence on Behalf of the National Spiritual Assembly with Member of the Australian Baha'i Community

In 2003, whilst serving as Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of Baha’is Australia, Stephen Hall participated in a story broadcast on the ABC Television religious affairs program,'Compass', during which time he discussed the role of the various institutional bodies administering the Baha'i Faith, including the Universal House of Justice.[3]

Transcript follows:

Narrator:
"Called The Universal House of Justice, they meet here, near the shrine of the Bab in Haifa, Israel. They have the power to make decisions on spiritual issues and to legislate on all matters not explicitly addressed by Baha’ullah himself. Individually members have no power or authority but collectively they are held to be divinely inspired and, as such, infallible. Based on his own experiences, Stephen Hall does not equate their infallibility with heavy handed orthodoxy."
Stephen Hall, Secretary of National Spiritual Assembly of Baha’is Australia:
"Essentially its role is to govern the affairs, the international affairs of the Bahai community, which incidentally tends to do in a very hands off way. And I'm yet to see any guidance coming from that institution which ascribes the answer, rather it tends to identify the principle that need clarifying, but puts the ball very much back in the court of the individual or of the institution to work out its own decision based on that." [4]

However, a series of correspondences between Mr Hall (acting on behalf of the National Spiritual Assembly), the Universal House of Justice, and a member of the Australian Baha'i community, Hamid Taheri, demonstrates a number of instances of highly coercive and authoritarian behavior enacted by the governing bodies of the Baha'i Faith in influencing the freedom of expression and association of its members.

"NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF THE BAHA'IS OF AUSTRALIA INCORPORATED
In reply please quote ref no:
OPM/CD
3 April 2002
Mr Hamid Taheri
19 Dunbar Rd
CLAREMONT WA 6010
[(08) 938-45246]
Dear Baha'i Friend,
The National Spiritual Assembly understands that you are involved in a weekly Iranian television programme in Perth, sponsored by an Iranian Muslim.
As you would undoubtedly be aware the House of Justice calls for Baha'is to exercise great caution in their relations with the Iranian community. The National Assembly has determined that your involvement in this programme is not wise. In the best interests of the Faith you should immediately cease your participation in this television programme.
Due to the need to protect the Faith in Australia the National Assembly feels it necessary to warn you that failure to comply with this instruction will result in the removal of your administrative rights. The National Assembly looks forward to receiving confirmation that you have discontinued this activity.
We take this opportunity to recommend that you re-familiarize yourself with the guidance of the Universal House of Justice in its letter dated June 18, 1999. A copy of this letter is enclosed.
With loving Baha'i greetings,
NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY
OF THE BAHA'IS OF AUSTRALIA INC.
Stephen Hall
Secretary"[5]


In follow up correspondence from Stephen Hall in August 2002, Mr Hall stated that Mr Taheri's failure to comply with instructions given by the National Spiritual Assembly had resulted in the loss of his "administrative privileges".

"The National Spiritual Assembly refers to its previous correspondence with you, in particular your signed assurance of obedience 31 May, 2002. The National Assembly was distressed to learn that you had not adhered to your assurance, and has consequently decided to remove your Baha'i administrative rights for a minimum of two years. Reinstatement will be conditional upon evidence of sincere remorse, good behavior and an assurance of obedience to instructions of the National Spiritual Assembly."[6]

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References

  1. University of Woolongong Baha'i Society Page, accessed September 27, 2009
  2. Sunland Group Limited- Annual Financial Report for the financial year ending 30th June, 2004, pg 16, accessed September 28, 2009.
  3. Baha'is: Followers of the Light, transcript of 'Compass' program, ABC TV, broadcast Sunday May 11, 2003. Accessed September 28, 2009.
  4. Baha'is: Followers of the Light, transcript of 'Compass' program, ABC TV broadcast Sunday May 11, 2003. Accessed September 28, 2009.
  5. [1], link to scan of original correspondence, accessed September 28, 2009.
  6. [2], link to scan of original correspondence. Accessed September 28, 2009.

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