Expulsion

Chronology of events leading to Alison's expulsion

This is a comprehensive chronology of events leading up to Alison's disenrollment from the Baha段 community. It gives background into the small, separate events, occurring over a period of years, that together created the context for the disenrollment. In almost all cases, relevant documents are quoted to provide evidence for what happened.

The events that the New Zealand National Spiritual Assembly relies on as evidence of Alison's counselling are marked.

------------------

December 1996

Derek Patton, a member of the Baha段 community living in Auckland, visited Dunedin Baha段 community and paid a personal visit to Alison and Steve. He was on a personal holiday and had combined this with his work as an Assistant for Institutes. In this capacity, he promoted the concept and development of institutes in the community.

19 January 1997

Alison wrote to Heather Simpson, in her capacity as Continental Counsellor for the New Zealand Baha段 community. Alison informed Heather that she had heard from a Dunedin Baha段 that Derek told him not to associate with Alison and Steve. Alison understood from this conversation that Derek intended to "report" Alison and Steve to Heather. Among other things, Alison asked Heather if Alison and Steve were being investigated by the counsellors.

An e-mail dated 19 January 1997 from Alison Marshall to Counsellor Heather Simpson:

Dear Heather

How's counselling for the Faith? Bedlam, I imagine. They only give it to the toughies, I hear :)

Unfortunately, I'm not writing to make life any easier for you, but I suppose you have already guessed that.

As you no doubt know, Derek Patton did a tour of the South Island in December 1996 in his capacity as assistant for institutes. We don't know who appointed him an assistant, which is partly the reason we are writing to you. You'll find out anyway! Derek arranged to visit Steve and I, ostensibly to pick our brains about institutes. As it turned out, he did most of the talking (and we figured not much has changed), but what small amount we did say, Derek didn't like.

A little birdie told me, some days after Derek's visit, that a report on our undesirable views was passed on to you and to the ITC. Derek felt that the situation was sooo grave that he took it upon himself to counsel some members of the Dunedin community not to associate with us.

What I want to know is:

1. Are Steve and I being investigated by the ITC/counsellors?

2. On what authority did Derek counsel some Dunedin believers not to associate with Steve and me?

3. If he had no authority, will he be required to clear our name to the people involved?

Thanks,
Alison

28 January 1997

Heather e-mailed Alison to say that Derek had been asked by someone involved in the development of institutes to help her and he had visited the South Island in that capacity. Derek had told her about his visit with Alison and Steve, but she was not investigating them. Heather said she would be in Dunedin in March and suggested that she could discuss the matter further with them if they wished to.

From an e-mail dated 28 January 1997 from Counsellor Heather Simpson to Alison Marshall:

It is correct that Derek told me about his visit with you but I am not conducting an "investigation" into your activities. I will be visiting Dunedin in March and I hope to catch up with you at that stage. We can then discuss any further concerns that you may have.

March 1997

Heather visited Dunedin; she was travelling with Counsellor Joy Stevenson, who Alison recalls was on holiday. Heather had coffee with Alison and Steve at a café in town. Steve and Alison told Heather about how much being on the Internet had changed them and increased their knowledge of the Faith. Heather said she imagined that it was like a person from a village who obtained a university education and then found themselves unable to fit in with the people of their home environment. Steve and Alison complained about the Dunedin local assembly. Heather suggested loving and patient encouragement.

[This get together is cited by the New Zealand National Spiritual Assembly as constituting part of Alison痴 祖ounselling prior to her disenrollment.]

19 May 1997

Alison e-mailed Heather a chatty message saying that it was good to see her when she was down and telling her of her planned activities in the Baha段 community.

An e-mail dated 19 May 1997 from Alison Marshall to Counsellor Heather Simpson:

Ever since your visit, I have been meaning to say how good it was to see you and that it really helped me a lot to have that long chat in the cafe. There aren't many Bahais who look at the Faith in an analytical way, and I'm just going to have to get used to that, and be patient!

Work is increasingly chaotic, as our marketing takes hold and the work comes in. This means that much of my personal energy is focussed there, and that there isn't much left for the community. I have decided to focus what energy I do have on things that I can offer the community but others can't. So for example, my next project is to co-edit (with Sen McGlinn) a book on the House of Worship and its place, and that of worship, in the pattern of Bahai life. It will contain a compilation, and scholarship that hasn't been done before. Many of the ideas will be new to the community. I'm very excited about it.

Better dash
Alison

22 May 1997

Heather e-mailed a chatty message back, encouraging Alison in her activities and commenting that not everyone will have the same understanding of the Faith and that we must be patient.

From an e-mail dated 22 May 1997 from Counsellor Heather Simpson to Alison Marshall:

As you observed during our discussion in the cafe, there is so much to learn about everything that we could all study 25 hours a day and still never cover it all. It follows that everyone will be in a different place in their understanding of what is going on so huge amounts of patience will continue to be necessary for the forseeable future

25 July 1997

Michael McKenny was expelled from the Canadian Baha段 community by the House of Justice.

26 April 1998

After repeatedly contacting local protection assistants and getting no result, Steve Marshall e-mailed Auxiliary Board Member, Mina Moayyed, about his concerns over the expulsion of Michael McKenny and asked her about the sanction of removal from membership. Steve understood that Mina would be visiting the Dunedin community in the next few days.

An e-mail dated 26 April 1998 from Steve Marshall to ABM Mina Moayyed:

Hi Mina,

I hear you'll be in Dunedin this friday, and thought I'd give you some background information about a question I've been trying to get answered through the local protection assistants

I'm interested in knowing whether the current practice of removal of Baha'i membership has been formalised

I'm also interested in finding out whether the community has been informed about the apparent change in policy regarding resignation/removal of membership. Most Baha'is I speak to still believe that a person must deny the station of the central figures in order to resign, and have not heard of Baha'is being expelled or removed from Baha'i membership.

ka kite,
Steve

Mina replied the same day saying that she had begun investigating the use of removal from membership in the community. She suggested getting together with Steve on the Friday and discussing the matter.

An e-mail dated 26 April 1998 from ABM Mina Moayyed to Steve Marshall:

Thank you for your e-mail message sharing with me some of your concerns. I've started investigating this matter and am wondering if you and I could get together to discuss this issue while I am visiting your community. I have Friday morning and/or afternoon free to meet with you If that is convenient.

Steve agreed to meet with Mina. He explained that Alison would like to come too, given that she was also interested in the issue.

An e-mail dated 26 April 1998 from Steve Marshall to ABM Mina Moayyed:

Hi Mina,

Sure, pretty much any time on Friday is fine. Alison would like to come along too, since it's a shared concern. Alison works in town and I don't work at any fixed place. We could meet at a coffee bar, at the Baha'i centre, at our place, or somewhere that suits you. I'll leave it up to you to set the time, although Alison may find it a little easier to come around midday/early afternoon. Her work day is very flexible, though.

Hear from you soon,

ka kite,
Steve

1 May 1998

Mina visited Steve and Alison in their home. She explained her understanding of removal from Baha段 membership. As Alison recalls, she said it was a very unusual action taken by the institutions, taken only in rare cases. Mina said she was unable to discuss the details of Michael痴 case because she was not at liberty to disclose personal information. After that, Alison remembers the discussion moving on to other matters such as the meaning of infallibility. Mina gave her understanding of it.

[This meeting is cited by the New Zealand National Spiritual Assembly as constituting part of Alison痴 祖ounselling prior to her disenrollment.]

August 1998

At a feast (regular community meeting) of the Dunedin Baha段 community, an issue was raised about the National Spiritual Assembly痴 regular "feast letter", which was routinely read out at feast consultations. The issue raised was that this feast letter often had no particular relevance to what was happening locally, interfered with feast consultation, and often had a spiritually deadening effect on the feeling at the feast. It was suggested that the letter simply be printed in the local newsletter and not read out. If anyone wanted to pick up on any matter raised in the letter, they could do so at consultation.

This matter was taken to the local assembly, which decided to write to the National Spiritual Assembly explaining the feeling of the community. Steve Marshall agreed to draft a letter for the assembly. When the draft was completed and agreed to by the assembly, the then secretary, Sheila Skeaff, suggested that Steve simply e-mail the letter with Steve痴 name at the bottom, on behalf of the assembly. This Steve refused to do, arguing that the Assembly needed to "own" the decision. Sheila sent the e-mail off, but put Steve痴 name on the bottom of the e-mail in addition to the local assembly痴.

December 1998

National Spiritual Assembly member, Alan Wilcox, visited Dunedin and met with the Dunedin community and the local assembly. In the community discussions, Alan made reference to the letter with Steve痴 name at the bottom. Apparently, the National Spiritual Assembly was concerned that Steve痴 name was at the bottom of the letter. The local assembly secretary, Sheila Skeaff, apologised to Steve for the trouble caused him.

From an e-mail dated 15 December 1998 from Steve Marshall to the National Spiritual Assembly, explaining what happened:

Recently, Alan Wilcox was in Dunedin and met with the community as a representative of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of New Zealand.

During the discussion following Alan's presentation, Alan mentioned a letter from the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Dunedin City to the national assembly concerning feast letters. From what he said, he left me with the impression that the letter was signed by me. This surprised me greatly, but explained why Alan seemed somehow to have the impression that the letter was written by me. It's true that I drafted a letter -- as requested to by the local assembly at the 24 August "open assembly meeting" -- but the final letter was a letter from the local assembly. It should not be considered 'my' letter because it by no means expressed my real concerns on the matter. If the letter had my name on the bottom of it, this was not only a mistake in procedure on the local assembly's part, but a misrepresentation of my views.

My draft letter was "edited quite heavily" (Sheila Skeaff's words) and referred back to me for possible re-working on 17 October. This was my response to Sheila: "What's important about the letter is that it reflects the assembly's view, and that the assembly stands by it. I'd suggest taking it to the assembly if you feel it needs further editing. ..."

From an e-mail dated 14 December 1998 from Steve Marshall to Sheila Skeaff, in response to her apology:

Hi Sheila,

No need for apologies -- it's been a most interesting episode.

I see you point about the letter's attibution actually indicating who wrote it. Look at "Shoghi Effendi's" letters, many of which were written on his behalf by various secretaries, for a good example.

In my letter to the national assembly I was responding to Alan's comments about "the letter I wrote", and only guessing at how the Dunedin assembly's letter was signed off. What I wanted to make clear to the national assembly was that the letter was not from me, but from the assembly -- irrespective of who wrote parts of it.

19-20 December 1998

National Spiritual Assembly minutes No. 29-155 record Alan Wilcox痴 report on his visit to the Dunedin community. The National Assembly shows particular interest in Alison and Steve, who are singled out for special comment.

From National Spiritual Assembly Baha'is New Zealand
Minutes No. 29-155 Meeting of 19-20 December 1998:

The community meeting - the Marshalls were there. Alan feels they are enthusiastic, free-thinking people. Alan spoke of the need to focus on the critical needs of the moment, and outlined what these needs are. Alan feels the Marshalls need firm Baha'is who are anchored in the Covenant and a administration who can talk intelligently. It is good that Peter Manins will be living there. There is no sense of negativity from the Marshalls. They need to be worked with.

Early-to-mid 1999

New Zealand National Spiritual Assembly member, Peter Manins, and his family moved to Dunedin. They visited Alison and Steve in their home for a cup of tea. It was a social visit; discussion focused on personal and family matters.

April 1999

The secretariat of the Universal House of Justice released a compilation of House of Justice letters on the topic of the study of the Baha段 Faith. The name of the compilation was "Issues related to the Study of the Baha段 Faith." The compilation was accompanied by a covering letter dated April 7 1999. The letter was subsequently printed in Baha段 News, the newsletter of the New Zealand National Spiritual Assembly.

[The publishing of this document in the Baha段 News is cited by the New Zealand National Spiritual Assembly as constituting part of Alison痴 祖ounselling prior to her disenrollment.]

4 September 1999

Auxiliary Board Member Mina Moayyed visited the Dunedin community to discuss some matters with the community, including the April 7 letter. She explained that she had been contacted by members of the community who were concerned about the letter. They wanted to know who in the South Island was implicated by it. She wanted to reassure the community that she was unaware of anyone being implicated by it.

[This meeting is cited by the New Zealand National Spiritual Assembly as constituting part of Alison痴 祖ounselling prior to her disenrollment.]

Alison took minutes of the meeting. Excerpts are reproduced here:

Summary of the meeting between Mina (ABM) and the Dunedin Baha'i community, held last Saturday week

Mina said that she had a few main things to say about the House's letter dated 7 April 1999. First, the letter is addressed to NSAs and not to the friends as a whole. Also, no names are mentioned in the letter. The House is not pointing the finger at anyone. We shouldn't assume things. We must be careful about our attitude towards other Baha'is. This is the Baha'i family; we shouldn't be labelled by others just because we express opinions others don't like. Others may have different ideas, but we should not judge others on that basis. She has had individuals ringing her expressing their concern about the letter. From her point of view, until the House announces someone a covenant breaker, we should not judge others. Mina has been saying this to other communities on her travels around the South Island because they have expressed concern about the letter.

Mina reiterated that the letter has created concern among the believers. She has seen this in her travels around the South Island. Believers have asked her if there are any members in the South Island that are part of the internal opposition. She has reassured them that she is not aware of there being any problems in New Zealand.

A community member said that he thought the purpose of this meeting was to talk about internal opposition. Now he is confused. He asked Mina: what are you trying to say? Is there a problem or not? The letter says there is a problem, where is it?

Mina then said that in her capacity as an ABM, she hadn't heard of any problems re internal opposition in her area. She said that if we wanted to know about internal opposition, we should approach the national assembly about that.

A community member put it to Mina that we in Dunedin were faced with a situation where, as evidenced by the letter, the House clearly sees a problem, but that we don't see a problem here locally. This was confusing.

Mina reiterated that the letter was for NSAs and that if Baha'is wanted to know why the national assembly published it in the national newsletter, they should ask the national assembly. She stated emphatically that she was not sent by any institution to come to Dunedin. She'd had individuals express concern to her and this was the reason she chose to discuss the letter when she visited. She wasn't aware that the institutions had any concern about believers in Dunedin. A community member asked Mina if she had tried to get clarification from the national assembly, to which Mina said that she had asked the Counsellor, but she hadn't had an answer back.

10 September 1999

Alison e-mailed Mina thanking her for coming to Dunedin and giving the community a chance to discuss some difficult issues. Alison brought to Mina痴 attention a quote from Abdu値-Baha about freedom of expression.

[This correspondence, along with e-mail correspondence between Steve Marshall and Mina Moayyed, is cited by the New Zealand National Spiritual Assembly as constituting part of Alison痴 祖ounselling prior to her disenrollment.]

From an e-mail dated 10 September 1999 from Alison Marshall to ABM Mina Moayyed:

I wanted to say, again, how grateful I was that you came to our community and gave us an opportunity to discuss difficult issues together. Also, I was a solo mother throughout my twenties, and I really do know what it means emotionally to leave one's children to serve the Cause.

With regard to what you were saying about freedom of expression and the limits on it, I noted that you stressed the importance of motive or intention. As another way of looking at this issue, I want to bring to your attention a quote from Abdu'l-Baha, in which he seems to be saying that the one limit to freedom of expression is not motive, but politeness. I think there is a very big difference. It means that no person or institution has the right to judge or punish a person for for what they perceive to be the motive behind a person's speech. I append the quote below.

National Spiritual Assembly minutes No. 15/156 record that NSA member, Peter Manins, reported to the NSA about the meeting between Mina and the Dunedin community. He reported his recollections of the ideas and feelings that were expressed by various members of the community at the meeting. The National Spiritual Assembly expressed its concern about the believers attitudes on the infallibility of the House and the institutions in general. The National Assembly decided to invite Counsellor Heather Simpson and ABM Mina Moayyed to participate in a telephone consultation about their concerns over the Dunedin community. They agreed that after the consultation, they would inform the House of Justice about the matter.

From National Spiritual Assembly Baha'is New Zealand
Minutes No. 15/156 Meeting of 10-12 September 1999:

14.3.7. The National Spiritual Assembly expressed its concern about the subtle and not so subtle manifestations of a fundamental lack of belief in the infallibility of the Universal House of Justice. The impression that Peter gets is that these friends are in love with Baha'u'llah, but that this does not extend to the institutions. Steve has never attended a Feast since Peter has been in Dunedin. Steve and Alison Marshall have attended Feast twice but leave immediately after the spiritual portion of the Feast, which gives the strong impression of the lack of faith in the administrative functioning of the Faith.

14.3.9. Decision
Invite the Counsellor and Mina Moayyed to engage in a telephone meeting with the National Spiritual Assembly on Thursday evening (16th Sept), and then inform the House of Justice immediately about this matter, conveying the facts. Members will re-read the letter of the House of Justice prior to the meeting. Perhaps it is time to ask the Marshalls directly what it is they believe in.

12 September 1999

Alison posted to the Dunedin Baha段 community discussion group, Ta蜘il, the minutes she took of the meeting the community had with Mina Moayyed. The report did not contain the names of who said what.

17 September 1999

Mina e-mailed Alison, setting out her understanding of freedom of expression.

From an e-mail dated 17 September 1999 from ABM Mina Moayyed to Alison Marshall:

Thank you so very much for acknowledging my meeting with your community. I certainly enjoyed my time in Dunedin especially my Sunday morning meeting with the youth. They are an enthusiastic and energetic bunch! I entirely agree with the point you raised in your e-mail regarding the fact that we should observe politeness when expressing our views and opinions. I remember once a Baha'i friend told me that politeness means different thing in different cultures of the world, and my response to that was that we need to find out how politeness and curtesy have been defined in the Baha'i Holy Writings and that would be (in my opinion) the benchmark and standard of behaviour for Baha'is all around the world.

21 September 1999

National Spiritual Assembly minutes No. 16/156 record a telephone consultation between the National Spiritual Assembly and Counsellor Heather Simpson and Auxiliary Board Member Mina Moayyed. NSA member, Peter Manins, gave a report on the meeting held in Dunedin. Mina also reported about the visit to Dunedin. The National Assembly went through Alison痴 record of what was said at the meeting and commented on the aspects of it that disturbed them. Peter suggested a consultation with the relevant believers in Dunedin to find out whether they believed in the infallibility of the House. Heather reported that she had informed the International Teaching Centre about the Dunedin meeting. She also said that when she had met with two representatives of the ITC in Australia, the names of Alison and Steve were not mentioned. Mina reported that she had met with Alison and Steve and discovered then they had "problems" with the concept of the infallibility of the House of Justice and with the fact that women cannot be members of the House. The National Spiritual Assembly decided to write a report of the matter to the House of Justice.

From National Spiritual Assembly Baha'is New Zealand
Minutes No. 16/156 Telephone meeting of 21 September 1999:

3.3 Background from Auxiliary Board member Mina Moayyed

3.3.2 Mina commented on Alison Marshall's report which was posted to the Tawil Discussion group (Dunedin discussion group initiated by the Marshalls) on 12 September 1999. The majority of things referred to are fairly accurate, but there are a number of statements that have been taken out of context and twisted. Peter's view is that Alison's attempt is a genuine one to represent the views but agrees there were a few things omitted. Mina said an example is that she said it is okay to have informal discussions, whereas Alison reported it is okay to have private discussions.

3.5.3 In his email to National Spiritual Assembly members dated 20 September 1999, Peter Manins made the following points:

a. There is an element of direct challenge or provocation in these postings. The Marshalls are fully aware that there is a National Assembly member [i.e., Peter] receiving the Tawil messages - Steve hooked Peter up.

b. There is an element of what I feel is a genuine and sincere feeling ... that what they are on about is NOT outside of what Baha'is can feel and discuss and that there is a growing gulf of misunderstanding between Marshall's and co. and the Administration. Having said this I wish to state clearly that my personal view is that what they are discussing and HOW they are going about it IS clearly out of line, is a pointless and fruitless waste of precious time and energy and is potentially dangerous for community unity in that the path they have chosen to tread is one that ultimately leads to open opposition to the Institutions of the Faith. Indeed, there are grounds to argue that [Steve] in particular is already very close to this stage.

3.7 Comments re individuals in Dunedin

3.7.1 Mina said she met the Marshalls more than a year ago and she realised they had some problems in accepting things such as the infallibility of the House and the absence of women on the House. Since this time, she has been in touch with them, and has understood that their concerns have been kept to themselves. It is only recently she has become aware that they are talking individually to people.

3.7.2 Mina received a positive email from the Marshalls and expressing their appreciation for the meeting and she feels they now have some trust in her.

3.10.5 Decision
A comprehensive report will be provided to the House of Justice in the next two to three weeks, which will hopefully allow time for any comment from the Local Spiritual Assembly's meeting.

3.10.9 Peter will take up opportunities to have dialogue and discussion with the Marshalls, since they appear to want this to occur.

3.10.10 Decision
The National Spiritual Assembly will give further consideration to suitable people who could befriend the Marshalls.

1 November 1999

The National Spiritual Assembly sent a report to the House of Justice about the meeting between Mina Moayyed and the Dunedin community, including a copy of the minutes taken by Alison. They state that their specific concern was with the actions and attitudes of Steve and Alison Marshall. They say that two Auxiliary Board Members and Peter Manins had tried to befriend them. The report finishes with a list of paragraphs several pages long, giving details of the actions of Alison and Steve in their service to the institutions and some of their messages on the Internet.

From National Spiritual Assembly Baha'is New Zealand to House of Justice, report 2/795/156, dated 1 November 1999:

The National Spiritual Assembly wishes to inform you of unsettling discussion among a few of the friends in New Zealand, in response to the letter of the Universal House of Justice dated 7 April 1999, entitled "Issues Related to the Study of the Baha'i Faith." The letter was published in the July 1999 issue of the New Zealand Baha'i News.

The views we find disturbing were especially prominent at a meeting in the city of Dunedin on 4 September 1999, The tone and content of some of the comments at the meeting, and the underlying problems they seem to indicate, have prompted sufficient concern on the National Spiritual Assembly's part that we feel it is timely to inform you of these matters and seek your guidance.

Among the 22 believers present at the meeting, the majority appeared to be fully in support of the authority and legitimacy of the institutions of the Faith. However a vocal handful took exception to some aspects of the House's guidance in the 7 April letter. The nature of comments by Steve, was particularly disturbing. Peter Manins, a member of the National Spiritual Assembly, was present at the meeting. His verbal report to the National Spiritual Assembly at our meeting of 10-12 September 1999, as recorded in the minutes, is enclosed for your perusal. Subsequent to the National Spiritual Assembly meeting, Mr Manins received a written report of the Dunedin meeting prepared by Alison Marshall, who is the wife of Steve Marshall. The report by Alison Marshall has been confirmed as substantially accurate by Mr Manins and by Auxiliary Board member Mina Moayyed. A copy of Mrs Marshall's report is enclosed.

On 21 September the National Spiritual Assembly held a telephone conference with Counsellor Heather Simpson and Auxiliary Board member Mina Moayyed to debrief on the situation in Dunedin. An extract from the minutes, recording Mrs Moayyed's impressions, is enclosed. The representatives of the Arm of the Learned and the National Spiritual Assembly members were all in broad agreement that it is desirable to continue to befriend and educate the believers who are the cause of concern. Peter Manins' assessment is that there is a communication gap between them and the Baha'i Administration, which needs to be bridged. He sees an element of direct challenge or provocation in the postings by Mr and Mrs Marshall to the Tawil discussion group. There is an element of genuine feeling on the part of the Marshalls and others that the discussions they engage in are legitimate for Baha'is -- although, in fact, clearly their questioning which takes aim at the foundational concepts of Baha'i community functioning is out of line, in both content and method.

The National Spiritual Assembly endorses Mr Manins' assessment.

A longstanding believer in the Dunedin community, [Alex Firestone] has told Mr Manins that Y and the Marshalls have, in the past, made similar statements to those they made at the meeting on 4 September. Mr Firestone believes that there is a spirit of anti-institutionalism in the Baha'i communities of the southern region of New Zealand (i.e., Dunedin and Southland). Indeed the National Spiritual Assembly has seen some other evidence of such over the past few years, although Peter Manins advises that anti-institutional attitudes in the region have almost disappeared, and those showing such attitudes are very few. It is the actions and attitudes of Steve and Alison Marshall which have especially attracted our attention. The late Auxiliary Board member, Roger Edwards, seemed to make some headway with them during the short time that he resided in Dunedin. More recently, Peter Manins' presence in that city has been very helpful. Mina Moayyed has also been successful in maintaining a friendship with the Marshalls. We are hopeful that they can be gently guided towards a more appropriate understanding, and will be trying to find other suitable deepened believers to befriend them. We offer below some examples to illustrate the pattern that has emerged from the Marshalls' statements and actions over the years.

21 November 1999

The House of Justice responded to the National Spiritual Assembly痴 report. It asked that Auxiliary Board Member Mina Moayyed return to Dunedin and hold a study on the compilation "Issues Related to the Study of the Baha段 Faith". The House asked that, following this, a representative of the National Spiritual Assembly meet with Alison and Steve to discuss their views on the writings, particularly in relation to the powers and functions of the House of Justice. The House asked the National Spiritual Assembly to report back after these actions had been taken so that the House could consider any further action.

From an e-mail dated 21 November 1999 from Department of the Secretariat to the National Spiritual Assembly:

The Universal House of Justice has received your letter of 1 November 1999 (ref. 2/795/156) and has asked us to respond as follows.

It advises you to suggest to the Counsellors that Mrs. Moayyed be asked to return to Dunedin, as soon as is practicable, to conduct a study of the compilation "Issues Related to the Study of the Baha'i Faith", with emphasis placed on helping the believers to see how patient is the House of Justice with people who express distorted views on subjects pertaining to the Administrative Order.

After she has completed her assignment, you are encouraged to send a representative of your body, perhaps a National Assembly member who has a clear understanding of the Covenant, to meet with Mr. and Mrs. Marshall on your behalf.

The House of Justice would welcome your providing it with a comprehensive report after these two meetings have occurred, following the receipt of which it will give consideration to any additional actions which should be taken.

23 November to 12 December 1999

The newsletter of the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha段s of Dunedin carried a statement denying that the issues raised in the House痴 April 7 letter were aimed at the local community: "The LSA does not feel that any of the issues raised in the UHJ 7th April letter are relevant to Dunedin at this time".

28 January 2000

Alison responded briefly to an e-mail from the out-going Auxiliary Board Member Mina Moayyed, inviting her to attend a study she and the newly appointed ABM (Jan Tilley) would be holding on the compilation "Issues Related to the Study of the Baha段 Faith". Alison said she would be attending and looked forward to seeing Mina there.

An e-mail dated 28 January 2000 from Alison Marshall to ABM Mina Moayyed:

Dear Mina

Thanks for the invitation. I look forward to attending the study and to seeing you there.

I hope things are going well for you in your new community. Perhaps you will meet my brother one day.

Alison

February 2000

Out-going Auxiliary Board Member Mina Moayyed and in-coming ABM Jan Tilley held the study on the compilation "Issues Related to the Study of the Baha段 Faith". Alison recalls that the study was set up in the following way: the facilitators came with prepared questions. The participants were divided into groups. Each group was given a question and was asked to find the answer in the compilation. Alison realised that the study was not going to be like the other meeting with Mina, where the community consulted on the relevant issues. Alison left after five minutes.

[This meeting is cited by the New Zealand National Spiritual Assembly as constituting part of Alison痴 祖ounselling prior to her disenrollment.]

18-20 February 2000

National Spiritual Assembly minutes No. 30/156 record Peter Manins report on the study held in Dunedin. He reports that the Dunedin local assembly does not consider Alison and Steve to be a problem and suggests there be no more meetings held on this issue.

From National Spiritual Assembly Baha'is New Zealand
Minutes No. 30/156 Meeting of 18-20 February 2000:

10.4.3. Peter [Manins] said that the Local Spiritual Assembly does not appear to see the Marshalls as a problem, because they do not turn up at community events. They know the Marshalls are involved in the internet discussion groups but the Marshalls are not actively recruiting people to join up.

10.4.5. Peter recommends we do not give further attention to [Steve] since he has separated himself off from the rest of the community. Provided they are not infecting anyone else with their notions, the rest of the community should just get on with its activities. The more we hold these kinds of meetings, the more fuel is added to [Steve痴?] fire.

23 February 2000

Steve posted to the Dunedin Baha段 discussion group, Ta蜘il, a copy of a message on the infallibility of the House, written by Alison for the international discussion group, Talisman.

4 March 2000

National Spiritual Assembly minutes No. 31/156 of a telephone conference record that Peter Manins had brought to the attention of the NSA the message posted to Ta蜘il by Steve. The text of the message is included in the minutes. The National Spiritual Assembly decided that Peter Manins would meet with Alison and Steve as per the instructions of the House of Justice. Peter said he would circulate a checklist of points for members to review before the visit.

From National Spiritual Assembly Baha'is New Zealand
Minutes No. 31/156 Telephone conference of 4 March 2000:

3.2.2 The next step is to decide on the follow up from the visit of Mina Moayyed and Jan Tilley to Dunedin, as per the letter of the House of Justice (email dated 21 November):

3.2.5 Decision
National Spiritual Assembly is very happy to accept this offer. Peter will circulate a checklist of points for the National Spiritual Assembly to view before he visits them.

13 March 2000

The House of Justice e-mailed the National Spiritual Assembly asking them to remove Alison痴 name from the membership rolls. The House provided the National Assembly with the wording of the letter used to inform Alison of this action. The House of Justice asked the National Assembly to write to local assemblies that might have been exposed to Alison痴 views, informing them of the action and advising them not to enter into discussion with her about her relationship with the Cause.

The e-mail, dated 12 March 2000, from the Department of the Secretariat to the National Spiritual Assembly:

Dear Baha段 Friends,

We have been asked to seek your assistance in implementing a decision taken by the Universal House of Justice with respect to Mrs. Alison Marshall, a registered member of the New Zealand Baha'i community. Enclosed is the draft of a letter which the House of Justice will appreciate your Assembly's addressing to Mrs. Marshall, over your signature and on your letterhead.

Your Assembly is already familiar, from your consultations with Counsellor Heather Simpson and the reports of your own representative, Mr. Alan Wilcox, of the disruption and confusion being created among some of the believers in the Dunedin area by Mrs. Marshall's highly negative statements about various aspects of Baha'i belief. You are no doubt aware, too, that Mrs. Marshall has been making increasing use of internet lists to propagate her views both among the New Zealand believers and beyond.

The problem is a serious one. As a general rule, such misconduct on the part of a believer would raise a question about his or her loyalty to the Covenant. In Mrs. Marshall's case, however, it seems clear that she neither understands the implication of Baha'i membership nor has any great desire to do so. Mrs. Mina Moayyed, an Auxiliary Board member, has done her best to clear up Mrs. Marshall's serious misunderstandings about the nature of the Cause, an effort that has, unfortunately, proven quite unsuccessful. Accordingly, the House of Justice has concluded that Mrs. Marshall cannot properly be regarded as a member of the Baha'i community.

In addition to informing Mrs. Marshall of this decision, by means of the letter whose draft is enclosed, it will be helpful if you will write to those Local Spiritual Assemblies in South Island, whose communities may have been exposed to Mrs. Marshall's activities, informing them of the step that you have taken. They should be advised to avoid being drawn into any discussion with Mrs. Marshall that touches on her relationship with the Cause; such discussion could only further delay resolution of this long standing disorder.

In the event that Mrs. Marshall should decide at any point in the future to enquire about enrolment, the matter should be referred, in the first instance, to your National Assembly and no action be taken at the local level.

You are asked, in that case, to forward the full details to the World Centre for guidance from the House of Justice.

Thank you for your assistance in bringing this unhappy situation to a firm conclusion.

With loving Baha'i greetings,

Department of the Secretariat

18 March 2000

National Spiritual Assembly minutes No. 32/156 record that the National Assembly considered how best to inform Alison of her expulsion. It was brought up that the National Assembly had not yet visited Alison and Steve as instructed to by the House. The Assembly assumed that the House must have received information from other sources. It was suggested that the letter be posted to Alison. It was decided that Peter Manins would visit Steve in accordance with the House痴 instructions, and answer any questions Alison might have upon receiving her letter. The names of five local assemblies in addition to Dunedin were chosen to be informed of the action.

From National Spiritual Assembly Baha'is New Zealand
Minutes No. 32/156 Telephone meeting of 18 March 2000:

3.1.3 The National Spiritual Assembly discussed the concept of hand-delivering the letter. Another option could be to post the letter, and then have Peter telephone a day or two later to talk to Steve Marshall. We do not want to undermine the potency of the letter by reducing its shock value to them. If Peter then goes around there, he would not engage in a conversation at a level of detail, but it could be made clear that Alison has to come to have a Baha'i belief before she can be a Baha'i. The critical thing is not complying with the wishes of an Assembly, it is to do with her fundamental belief, i.e. she does not believe in basic Baha'i concepts so does not fulfil the criteria of membership in the Baha'i Community. It is not a situation of punishment or disobedience, but both Steve and Alison have to resolve this issue of fundamental belief. Alison will be advised that if she wishes to have any dialogue on this matter, to do so directly with the National Spiritual Assembly.

3.1.4 A question was raised about the fact that the National Spiritual Assembly had not yet implemented the instruction of the House of Justice to visit the Marshalls, and that the House of Justice must have received information from other sources. It is likely that Peter will be questioned by members of the Dunedin community about what it is all about. It was mentioned that at the moment the National Spiritual Assembly does not have a clear and deep understanding of the pattern of activity that has gone on over the last few years by the Marshalls, to be able to answer any questions from the friends. However, it was generally felt that there is enough reasoning given in the House's letter to us to be able to answer questions. There have been years of interaction between them and the institutions, for them to realise they have been treading on thin ice. However, we need to remember this is not a punitive situation, it is simply that Alison's beliefs are not consistent with the beliefs of a Baha'i.

28 March 2000

The National Spiritual Assembly sent a letter to six local assemblies informing them of Alison痴 expulsion. In it they stated that efforts had been made to clear up her misunderstandings in Baha段 belief, but these had been unsuccessful. The National Assembly counselled the local assemblies not to discuss with Alison her relationship with the Cause.

From a letter, dated 28 March 2000, from the National Spiritual Assembly to six local assemblies:

The National Spiritual Assembly wishes to inform you of a decision taken by the Universal House of Justice that Mrs Alison Marshall, who has been a registered member of the New Zealand Baha'i community, cannot properly be regarded as a member of the Baha'i community. Accordingly, the National Spiritual Assembly has removed her name from the membership rolls.

Mrs Marshall is being informed by letter of the House of Justice's decision, which has arisen because of a pattern of highly negative statements by her about various aspects of Baha'i belief over the past two or three years. It has become clear that she neither understands the implication of Baha'i membership nor has any real desire to do so. Efforts have been made to clear up her misunderstandings, but these have been unsuccessful, hence the Supreme Body's decision.

29 March 2000

The National Spiritual Assembly sent an e-mail to Alison, dated 28 March 2000, informing her of her expulsion:

Dear Mrs Marshall,

The Universal House of Justice has advised us of its conclusion that, on the basis of an established pattern of statements by you and behaviour and attitude on your part over the past two or three years, you cannot properly be considered as meeting the requirements of membership in the Baha'i community. Accordingly, we have removed your name from our membership rolls and have informed the Baha'i institutions concerned.

Sincerely
NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY
OF THE BAHA'IS OF NEW ZEALAND

19 April 2000

The House of Justice sent the National Spiritual Assembly a letter explaining why it expelled Alison. The same letter was also sent to some individuals on the Internet who had written to the House asking about the expulsion. Alison obtained a copy of the letter from one of them.