Prediction Attempt for Universal House of Justice election 2023


Everyone knows the UHJ is stocked by the ITC but I think there are a few additional factors which allow for the elections to be even more closely predicted.

The first is what dictates when UHJ members resign (no incumbent has ever been unseated). In politics "pressures of age" or "wanting to spend time with family" is a euphemism for secret scandal but I think the internal House politics are much more mundane than that. If one looks at the ages of outgoing House members before 2005 all House members resigned at the next International Convention after turning 80 (with the exception of Fatheazam who retired at 78 presumably as he would have passed 80 by serving another term).

Where this takes a turn into internal politics is with the 2005 by-election. This was the first time UHJ members resigned during a term and was basically unprecedented. Both Borrah Kavelin and Lutfullah Hakim were on the brink of death and were still asked to serve out their terms to avoid having to serve a by-election, so one wonders why the sudden urgency?

This is purely my speculation but I believe that the retirement age of the House was lowered to 70 in 2005. Furthermore I believe this was done to allow Farzam Arbab to seize control over the decision making process. Ian Semple was an inaugural member of the House giving him seniority over Arbab and a special place in the hearts of the Baha'is and Douglas Martin was likewise notable as he ruled Baha'i studies in North America with an iron fist and had headed the Office of Public Information which meant he liaised with NSA's regularly for years before getting elected giving him considerable influence in the community (such was his influence he managed to achieve the impossible and get voted onto the House without serving on the ITC).

I believe both Semple and Martin would have adamantly opposed the Ruhiization of the Faith in light of the fact Martin wanted to academicize the Faith (see the uni textbook he authored) and Ian Semple was radically liberal (by the standards of Baha'is in the hierarchy) in his outlook on the Faith. Both had also been elected without serving on the ITC and being inundated with statistical propaganda and molded by the pressure of the multi-level marketing mentality and corporate ladder climbing required to make ones way up the ranks of the "Appointed Arm". However as true believers once being expelled from the consultation chamber they would not have ever disclosed their misgivings.

Think I'm crazy? In December 2005, immediately after Martin and Semple were 'retired' Ruhi was made mandatory: https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/the-universal-house-of-justice/messages/20051228_001/1#069472713

Glenford Mitchell retired after reaching 70 in 2008, however Hooper Dunbar and Peter Khan stayed on only to suddenly retire in 2010 again in the middle of a term. These three were extremely well beloved by the community for various reasons, had considerable influence, and strong opinions and interests in Baha'i development outside of the "institute process" and were also legitimately competent in their fields outside of the Faith. Khan did pass away in 2011 so health reasons are plausible, but Dunbar is still going strong and regularly criticizes the Institute Process and laments the decline in the community in talks which are shared on his youtube channel.

Obviously cannot prove it, but I believe the 2010 by-election confirms that through "loving consultation" Arbab lowered the retirement age to 70 forcing everyone off the House who was not a diehard true believer in his crusade to Mormonize the Faith.

With all that waffle out of the way, on to predicting!

Of the current House members Stephen Birkland and Stephen Hall will be 70 in 2023 and will almost certainly retire. I do not know the ages of the others but based on pictures I think Lample is the only other member who might be reaching 70 so there may be three vacancies on the House. How many male members of the ITC are there you ask? Four.

So my speculation is in 2023 Birkland, Hall, and Lample will retire and Dinesh Kumar, Albert Nshisu Nsunga, and Navid Serrano will be elected.

Hall and Birkland are both US Baha'is but will be being replaced by an African Baha'i and a Central American Baha'i. Kumar is also Australian so will be a like for like replacement of Hall. Andrej Donoval is also a male on the ITC, but he is European so I don't think he will make the grade as my impression is the Faith isn't really doing anything in Europe.

As a bonus prediction I hazard a guess that in 2023 at least two male Counselors from North America will be put on the ITC with Payman Mohajer perhaps retiring in 2028 to allow one of them to be elected to make sure there is a North American on the House to babysit USA and Canada.

DISCLAIMER: With Arbab now passed on there is a power vacuum in the Faith and the functioning of Haifa may radically change so this may not come to pass!!

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