Judge: Baha'i believers can call themselves Baha'i

November 23, 2010 9:11 PM
http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/2010/11/judge-bahai-believers-can-call-themselves-bahai.html

A federal court in Chicago has ruled a group of self-proclaimed orthodox Baha'i believers can keep calling themselves Baha'i despite a 1966 court decision that stopped an offshoot organization from using the Baha'I name.

Today, the federal 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the 1966 decision does not apply to a different offshoot known as the Orthodox Baha'i Faith.

Though the judges criticized the ruling from more than four decades ago as wrongfully trying to resolve a question of religious authority, they determined it was amoot point since the original defendants led a denomination that no longer exists.

Tuesday's ruling sidestepped any questions about whether a religious organization can trademark its name or icons.

North American Baha'is have been based in Chicago ever since believers came to the U.S. about 90 years ago.

Adherents of the Orthodox Baha'i Faith--about 50 strong in the U.S.--believe the mainstream Baha'i faith -- about 5 million strong in the world -- has strayed from the religion's original teachings.

-- Manya A. Brachear

1 comment:

  1. Opinion of US 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Case No. 08-2306 - November 23, 2010
    http://www.fglaysher.com/bahaicensorship/US_7th_Circuit_Court_of_Appeals_11-23-2010.html

    Baha'i Faith & 7th Circuit Court of Appeals
    http://bahaifaith7thcircuitcourtofappeals.blogspot.com

    7th Cir: Public online 08-2306 case documents as PDF and oral argument MP3
    Opinion in case# 08-2306, Judge Sykes:
    "When a district judge takes sides in a religious schism, purports to decide matters of spiritual succession, and excludes dissenters from using the name, symbols, and marks of the faith (as distinct from the name and marks of a church) [boldface added], the First Amendment line appears to have been crossed."
    http://www.ca7.uscourts.gov/fdocs/docs.fwx?caseno=08-2306&submit=showdkt&yr=08&n\ um=2306

    p 14-15: "Considered in light of these First Amendment limitations on the court’s authority, certain aspects of the 1966 injunction are troubling. The decree declares that “there is only one Baha’i Faith,” that Shoghi Effendi was its last Guardian and none has come since, and the National Spiritual Assembly was its representative and “highest authority” in the United States and was “entitled to exclusive use of the marks and symbols of the Faith,” including the exclusive use of the word “Bahá’í.” Declarations of this sort push the boundaries of the court’s authority under Kedroff and Presbyterian Church. In church property disputes (trademark suits obviously qualify), the First Amendment limits the sphere in which civil courts may operate. When a district judge takes sides in a religious schism, purports to decide matters of spiritual succession, and excludes dissenters from using the name, symbols, and marks of the faith (as distinct from the name and marks of a church) [boldface added], the First Amendment line appears to have been crossed."

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