How do you account for hypocrites in your faith? Do they discount your
Answer: I will take the question
“Do they discount your beliefs?” to mean whether hypocrites undermine
First, let us have a clearer understanding of the strange phenomenon of
hypocrisy. The Greek root of the word “hypocrite” denotes an individual
who is acting or playing a part. A hypocrite is not just any believer
who tries but fails to live up to the divine standard. If that meaning
alone defined the word, then we should all of us deserve the epithet.
A hypocrite is, rather, someone who lives by pretence, who deceitfully
and knowingly assumes the appearance of virtue, but who in reality
practises vice to feed the perverted appetites of the lower self or
ego. The hypocrite is usually found in the company of the
self-righteous. In its most extreme manifestations, hypocrisy is
associated with such negative attributes as aggression, ambition,
cupidity, lust, pride, self-love, treachery, vainglory, etc.
Using this extreme definition of hypocrisy, we may say that hypocrisy
is a disease of the soul. Needless to say, the hypocrite wreaks havoc
on genuine religion, which depends on credibility for its dynamism and
moral authority. What the hypocrite lacks above all are two spiritual
virtues that are absolutely essential to religion — sincerity and
purity of heart.
The vast majority of all believers in all religions are happily sincere
and purely motivated. In my now 50 years of association with those
Bahá’ís with whom I have had more than a passing acquaintance, those
persons who might fall into this strange category are happily very rare.
Did these few individuals disappoint me? Yes. Did they undermine my
faith? No. The quality of our faith should not be determined by the
words or deeds of other individuals. Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892), the
Prophet-Founder of our Faith, advises instead: “Fix your gaze upon Him
Who is the Temple of God amongst men” (Gleanings, p. 315). -