"If religions are radio stations..."
"My psychosis was largely made up of religious delusions..."
"I was converted to the Baha'i Faith at the young age of 16..."
I was a convert to the Baha’i Faith at the young age of 16 and officially joined the religion in 2015. I fell in love with the idea of progressive revelation and very much used my belief in the Baha’i Faith to reconcile my struggle for identity as a mix race interfaith child.
I did not convert in the traditional sense. I had never met a Baha’i before when I did convert. Instead I converted after reading the writings of Baha’u’llah and convincing myself the religion was progressive and afforded equal treatment to all people. I saw it as the ideal religion and it wasn’t long until I contacted the local Baha’i community. Within a week of my conversion, I attended my first feast which I still mark as one of the happiest days of my life sadly. It made me feel like I was apart of a community of like minded people who wanted what was best for mankind. I loved it to say the least, and responded by becoming very active in the youth community.
I joined local ruhi groups and quickly became entrenched in the Baha’i community with a plethora of other activities. I made friends and met people who still stand as some of the nicest individuals I’ve ever met in my life. All while learning whatever I could to spread the faith and teach it to my non-Baha’i friends.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but as I went forward with these activities, I slowly became more and more programmed to embody a cult like mentality. Ideas like excommunication, heresy, homophobia, and sexism were at one time outlandish to me, but eventually became more and more normalized in my brain as I continuously turned to the faith as the monopoly of truth.
By early 2019, I was practically a stalwart for the Faith. I spent the majority of my time going to faith activities, began giving keynote speeches and being in teaching committees by the age of 20. I was doing things most Baha’i youth had no interest in and I truly believed I’d be Baha’i all my life...and it all started to change after I agreed to be a summer camp counselor for a Baha’i camp in Oregon.
Suddenly, I took a step out of my community and saw just how manipulative and corrupt bahai organizations could be. The safety of campers was thrown aside. Counselors were ignored or bullied for voicing criticism of how campers were treated. I found out about gay conversion therapy still being active in the faith and not condemned at all. It just got worse and worse until I left the event to immediately go to ISGP.
And ISGP was even worse. It treated learning in an almost covertly authoritarian way. The facilitators painted it as a Socratic seminar where we arrive out our own conclusions, but in reality we were forced to read nonsense for 12 hours in a classroom ever day for nearly two weeks. I was shamed by facilitators for using the restroom or trying to stretch and our breaks were never properly observed.
All of this sucked, but even then I just passed it all off as individual events being bad or blaming myself for it. What really was the last shred of my faith came in the form of a keynote speech I gave. It was about the state of the world and what we as humanity needed to do to fix it. The speech talked about climate change, corporate greed, and the need for a new societal structure to be built with violence if absolutely necessary.
The ATC surprisingly was okay with my speech for the bicentennial of the Bab originally. They were excited for me to give the speech, but at the very last minute I was told I had to scrap everything and start from scratch. They gave me less than 48 hours to make a new 15 minute speech and what I came up with was ineffectual garbage that was practically shoved down my throat.
This event really did it for me and made me start questioning the faith and the concept of a god a lot. A big thing going on in my head was why people had to live with depression for their entire lives and then be expected to meet the standards of a God when they are programmed to not be motivated to even do so.
I left the faith on December 9th of 2019 and haven’t looked back. I openly identify as a bisexual since leaving and work to help other Baha’is come to terms with the faith being a regressive cult cleverly wrapped as progressive and forward thinking.