Bahá'ís Under the Provisions of the Covenant
The Bahá'ís Under the Provisions of the Covenant (BUPC) is a Bahá'í division founded originally by
Leland Jensenin the 1960s. The claims of the BUPC focus on a dispute in leadership following the death of Shoghi Effendiin 1957, and a subsequent dispute among the followers of Mason Remey. As a follower of Remey, Jensen believed that the majority of Bahá'ís were deceived, and currently follow a leadership unintended by the religion's founders. [Appellant brief [http://fnweb.isd.doa.state.mt.us/idmws/docContent.dll?Library=CISDOCSVR01^doaisd510&ID=003718605 (pg. 49)] ] Jensen, and later his companion Neal Chase, also predicted apocalyptic disasters.Harvnb|Stone|2000|pp=269]
In 1991 Jensen set up a second International Bahá'í Council (sIBC), which formed leadership after his death in 1996. Current leadership of the BUPC has been disputed since 2001, when
Neal Chasemade a claim to be the current Guardian. The debate resulted in a court case between Chase and the majority members of the sIBC.
Official membership data is not available. A researcher noted that since 1980 membership has fluctuated but never exceeded 200 nationwide. In 1994 the membership list showed 66 members in Montana and less than 20 in other states,Harvnb|Stone|2000|pp=271] with local councils in Montana, Colorado, and Wisconsin.harvnb|Stone|2000|pp=281] A Harvard student researcher noted a community of 30 members in the headquarters of
Missoula, Montanain 2003, [cite web | title = Bahá'í Faith Center | publisher = Harvard University, Committee on the Study of Religion | url = http://www.pluralism.org/research/profiles/display.php?profile=72374 | accessdate = 2007-08-19 ] as well as the existence of BUPC adherents in Denver and Alaska. [cite web | title = Mapping Religious Diversity in Montana (2003) | publisher = Harvard University, Committee on the Study of Religion | url = http://www.pluralism.org/research/profiles/display.php?profile=73246 | accessdate = 2007-08-19 ]
The BUPC maintain adherence to all the writings of the Bahá'í Faith's central figures: the
Báb, Bahá'u'lláh, and `Abdu'l-Bahá, as well as Shoghi Effendi. The differences in beliefs between the BUPC and the Bahá'í Faithis essentially over leadership, although certain teachings introduced by Jensen do differ greatly, which are explained below.
Among the distinctions that separate the BUPC from the members of the mainstream Bahá'í Faith, and other
Bahá'í divisions, is the belief that Bahá'u'lláh was the second Messiah; literally seated upon and the heir to the Throne of David. They believe that this lineage was passed on to his son, `Abdu'l-Bahá, and will continue uninterrupted in the line of Guardians of the Faith; a hereditary appointed position of the executive branch of the Bahá'í administration. The executive branch is one of the "Twin Pillars" of the Faith, and through the union of the executive branch and the elected legislative brach infallibility is ensured to the administration. [BUPC.org's Main Page [http://bupc.org/] ]
The guardian is believed by the BUPC to be a sign used to recognize the true Universal House of Justice from fakes, frauds, and imitations. [From tile page of UHJ.net [http://uhj.net] ] The BUPC believe that the guardianship is the continuation of the Davidic line which Bahá'u'lláh passed onto his son, whom in turn passed the lineage on to the institution of the guardianship. The belief that Bahá'u'lláh was literally the Messiah ben David seated upon the throne of David is unique to this group, and is elaborated upon below. [BUPC.org's Main Page [http://bupc.org/] ]
Following the unexpected death of the Bahá'í Faith's first Guardian Shoghi Effendi in 1957, the 27 living
Hands of the Cause, having the responsibility to acknowledge any appointment of a successor, gathered and decided that he had passed away "without having appointed his successor," and that the Universal House of Justicewould decide on the situation after its first election. ["Ministry of the Custodians", [http://bahai-library.com/published.uhj/ministry.custodians.html#28 pp. 28-30] ] Charles Mason Remey, one of the Hands, declared himself the successor to Shoghi Effendi in 1960. [Proclamation of Mason Remey [http://www.charlesmasonremey.net/1960_proclamation.htm] ] His claim was rejected by the 26 remaining Hands, on the basis that he was not a descendant of Bahá'u'lláh, nor was he appointed to the position by Shoghi Effendi. Remey based his claim on his being the president of the International Bahá'í Councilappointed by Shoghi Effendi in 1951. The result was that Remey was unanimously expelled from the Bahá'í community by the Hands of the Cause. The Universal House of Justice later announced that it could not appoint or legislate to make possible the appointment of a second Guardian to succeed Shoghi Effendi. [The Universal House of Justice, Letter of 6 October, 1963, "Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963-1986", [http://bahai-library.com/published.uhj/messages.1963-86.html#s5.1 p. 14] ]
Jensen was among the Bahá'ís who accepted Remey as the Guardian, and believed that his adopted son Pepe Remey was the third Guardian. The followers of Remey stressed the importance of having a living Guardian to turn to, referring to quotations by Shoghi Effendi and `Abdu'l-Bahá of the authority and indispensability of the institution of the Guardianship. [Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, [http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/se/WOB/wob-40.html#pg147 pp. 147-148] ] [`Abdu'l-Bahá, The Will and Testament, [http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/WT/wt-2.html#pg20 p. 20] ]
In 1963 Mason Remey set up a National Assembly in the United States, which was dissolved in 1966. Leland Jensen was among the members elected in 1963, and in 1964 he moved to
Missoula, Montana. In 1969 he was convicted of "a lewd and lascivious act" for sexually molesting a 15-year-old female patient, ["State v. Jensen", 153 Mont. 233, 455 P.2d 631 (Montana, 1969). [https://www.fastcase.com/Yahoo/Start.aspx?C=26917489637405405daded611067aa76e77e8a5606aee00f&D=77eca924714beb4591a4da5747d53c9c77862a89c3a754d6&AffiliateConst=Yahoo] ] and served four years of a twenty year sentence in the Montana State Prison.
It was in prison that Jensen claimed to have a "revelation", and converted several dozen inmates to his idea of being the "Establisher" of the Bahá'í Faith, stemming from his belief that the Bahá'í administrative order became corrupted following the death of Shoghi Effendi, and that he was chosen by God to re-establish the administration. According to Jensen, shortly after returning to his cell,
"I felt a presence only. I saw nobody. I saw no dove, no burning bush or anything of that nature. It talked to me- not in a physical voice, but very vividly expressing to me that I was the Promised Joshua."Harvnb|Stone|2000| pp=271]
Jensen began teaching that it was his mission to re-establish the Bahá'í administration after the world was cleansed of evil by a nuclear holocaust. According to Jensen, his authority to re-establish Shoghi Effendi's administrative system stems from what he believes is his fulfillment of prophecy, referring to himself as similar to the biblical
Joshuaor Paul. He began a series of classes that explained his beliefs in detail, one of which is called [http://bupc.org/establisher-fireside.pdf Proofs for the Establisher] .
Throne of David
Unique to the BUPC, Jensen taught that the guardianship is the continuation of the Davidic line, which he claimed Bahá'u'lláh passed onto his son, whom in turn passed the lineage on to the institution of the guardianship, a hereditary institution. The BUPC accept Bahá'u'lláh as being the heir of the Throne of David, and maintain a genealogy that shows a line of descent through the
Exilarch Bostanai. [ [http://www.bupc.org/genealogy.html Genealogy] - from bupc.org]
They also believe that the Bible describes two different Messiahs from the House of David coming on two separate occasions, not the same Messiah appearing twice. In this view Jesus was the first, being descended from David through his physical father Joseph, and
Bahá'u'lláhis considered as being seated on the throne of David.
Aside from the lack of a living Guardian, Jensen disagreed with the conditions under which the
Universal House of Justicewas elected in 1963. Shoghi Effendi initially outlined stages of the International Bahá'í Council(IBC) prior to the election of the Universal House of Justice: an appointed body, its external recognition as a Bahá'í Court, and its becoming an elected body. It was decided by the custodial Hands of the Cause that the stage of becoming recognized as a religious court became, in their opinion, impossible due to the trend of the secularization of religious courts, and was consequently bypassed. Shoghi Effendi described this step as an "essential prelude to the institution of the Universal House of Justice." [Messages to the Bahá'í World [http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/se/MBW/mbw-9.html pg. 13] ]
In 1991 Jensen appointed members to a second International Bahá'í Council (sIBC) for the BUPC, and registered it as a non-profit corporation in Montana. He intended for its evolution to follow Shoghi Effendi's plan for it to go on to become a world court, followed by an elected council, then the universally elected Universal House of Justice with the Guardian as its president and executive; all conditions that he believed were necessary for the true Universal House of Justice. [Appellant brief [http://fnweb.isd.doa.state.mt.us/idmws/ISAPILogon.asp?Library=CISDOCSVR01^doaisd510&ID=003718605 pg. 49] ]
The sIBC was appointed with twelve directors, and eight substitutes, to the body.Fact|date=September 2008 Believing Pepe was the Guardian, which Pepe denied, Jensen invited him to be the president of the council, but Pepe never had any involvement with the group and died in 1994.Fact|date=September 2008
When Jensen set up the second International Bahá'í Council (sIBC), the composition would be made up of twenty-five members--his twenty-four apostles and the Guardian.Fact|date=September 2008 Instead of naming twenty-four people, Jensen had named only twenty people at the time of his passing in 1996.Fact|date=September 2008 Jensen only allowed for council members to be appointed by himself or the Guardian.Opinion/Order, Montana Supreme Court, 2/15/2005 [http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=mt&vol=04&invol=214 No. 04-214] ] Since Pepe passed away in 1994 the identity of the Guardian was ambiguous to Jensen's followers, and the number of council members had shrunk to 13 by 2001.
After the Trade Tower bombings on 9-11, Neal Chase, a council member, made several written statements such as “Jealousy and Envy Must Go!”, which members took to be his proclamation of himself to be the successor to Pepe Remey as the Guardian. ["The Missoulian", 11/23/02 [http://www.missoulian.com/articles/2002/11/23/export22567.txt] ] The treasurer responded by declaring Neal Chase a
Covenant-breaker, and Chase subsequently claimed that failing to recognize him as the Guardian amounted to Covenant-breaking.
From the original twelve directors and eight substitutes appointed by Jensen (the 20), only seven directors and six subs were remaining at the time of the division. Of these, three directors of the sIBC and two substitutes maintain that they were in fact the “true sIBC” and filed an amended annual report with the state of Montana. [Appellant brief [http://fnweb.isd.doa.state.mt.us/idmws/docContent.dll?Library=CISDOCSVR01^doaisd510&ID=003718605 (pp. 51,52)] ] Neal Chase and one other director of the sIBC along with one substitute subsequently filed their own amended annual report. [Appellant brief [http://fnweb.isd.doa.state.mt.us/idmws/docContent.dll?Library=CISDOCSVR01^doaisd510&ID=003718605 (pp. 53,54)] ] The position of the remaining two directors and three substitutes was unclear.
Led by the treasurer, a lawsuit was filed by the majority members of the council against Chase on April 25, 2002, alleging that he took property of the council held in storage and attempted to empty the corporate bank account. [Appellant Brief [http://fnweb.isd.doa.state.mt.us/idmws/docContent.dll?Library=CISDOCSVR01^doaisd510&ID=003718605 documents] ] The stated goal of the lawsuit was to remove Chase as the “Registered Agent”, and to persuade the State of Montana to recognize them as the “sIBC”, giving them control of the Corporation and corporate property. [From State filings -enter ID # D077896 [https://app.mt.gov/bear/index.php?page=Filing] ]
Chase filed an Answer "pro se" on July 10, 2002,Respodent Brief [http://fnweb.isd.doa.state.mt.us/idmws/docContent.dll?Library=CISDOCSVR01^doaisd510&ID=003718605 (p. 41)] ] alleging that the council members had no authority because he was the Guardian and they removed themselves by Covenant-breaking. He filed a motion to dismiss the case on July 15, 2003, claiming that to resolve the issue the court would have to inquire into, interpret, and apply religious doctrine. The motion was granted on September 29, 2003, and appealed to the Montana Supreme Court, which ruled February 15, 2005, that the District Court "failed to take the [council] ’s Free Exercise Clause rights sufficiently into account." They wrote,
"Though we agree with Chase that no civil court may presume to ascertain the proper successor to a religious office, we do not agree that this is the crux of the corporate property issue. Rather, we focus on the mediating link between the Guardianship and control of the corporate property--namely, the presidency of the corporation. Chase argues that the Guardianship, a religious office, vests him with the presidency of the corporation, a secular one, and that it is through holding the latter that he rightfully controls the corporate property." [Supreme Court Opinion [http://fnweb.isd.doa.state.mt.us/idmws/docContent.dll?Library=CISDOCSVR01^doaisd510&ID=003718608 p. 11] ]
The summary judgment was over-turned and remanded to the District Court for trial.
IBC with Neal Chase
The group that follows Neal Chase has four directors registered with the state of Montana [From State filing -enter ID # D077896 [https://app.mt.gov/bear/index.php?page=Filing] ] , and claim the body has a total of twenty-five members.Fact|date=September 2008
The members of this sIBC believe all legislative and judicial powers are invested in the full body of the sIBC with the guardian having a vote of one only and no veto power, and that executive powers are vested in the person of the Guardian. They believe that even the guardian/president of the sIBC is subject to majority rule by the entire body, that the organization’s property and finances are controlled by a majority vote of the sIBC, that an sIBC cannot exist or make any decisions without being recognizing the guardian, and that all other members except the guardian are subject to being removed by him.
Four of the members along with alternates named by Jensen in his lifetime, including the ex-wife of Neal Chase, constitute the other group claiming to be the true sIBC. They believe Jensen was the only one who could add members to the sIBC, while according to a ruling by the council two years prior to the lawsuit, any member can be expelled by the council.
*Hyslop, Scott (2004). [http://www.pluralism.org/research/profiles/display.php?profile=72374 Harvard University Study of Religion] . Retrieved February 7, 2004
*Robins, Tom (1997). "Millennium, Messiahs, and Mayhem". Routledge, New York, New York. 10001
*Spataro, Francis C. (2003). "Charles Mason Remey and the Bahá'í Faith", Tover Publications, Queens, NY 11427-2116. 2003 ISBN 0-9671656-3-6.
last = Stone
first = Jon R. (ed)
title =Expecting Armageddon, Essential Readings in Failed Prophecy
place = New York
*Bradlee, Eva (
24 November 2001). [http://www.missoulian.com/articles/2001/11/24/export37950.txt "A Bahá'í perspective on spiritual destiny"] . The Missoulian
*"Bahá'í: Deer Lodge Sanctuary" (
January 29 1991). The Missoulian. Front page.
*Woods, Victor (
23 November 2002). [http://www.missoulian.com/articles/2002/11/23/export22567.txt "Local Bahá'ís Share Covenant Celebration"] . The Missoulian.
*“Local Bahá'í Leader dead at 81”.
August 8 1996. Missoulianp. B2.
*"Millennial Fever" (
July 17 1997). Missoula Independent. Front Page.
*“Ezekiel’s Temple in Montana!” (
9 February 1991). The Montana Standard. Front Page.
* [http://www.bupc.org Bupc.org] - SIBC with Neal Chase
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