Originally Posted by wil
However there are many similarities...
Of the various Bahai denominations, setting the will aside, what can you all agree on?
The Haifan ideology has always held that it alone has the Truth. Following the Shiite interpretations of Shoghi Effendi, especially takfir, declaring a Muslim/Bahai has departed from the Faith, Haifan Baha'is aren't, shall we say, constitutionally capable of respecting the conscience of other Bahai believers, though Abdul-Baha taught, "The conscience of man is sacred and to be respected." Haifans, though most Western ones don't realize it, actually operate in the worst intellectual and spiritual framework of Islam, which Baha'u'llah Himself had specifically rejected and reformed into a moderate, universal Faith.
The three Haifan responses to your completely rational question is highly indicative of all of the above.
In the view of Reform Bahais, all of the several Bahai denominations largely share the broad, universal teachings of Baha'u'llah and Abdul-Baha, revere largely the same corpus of writings, though select ones have been dropped out by the Haifans, those which clearly contradict their theocratic interpretation.
I believe it's fair to say that Abdul-Baha's Interpretation of Baha'u'llah's Teachings for the modern world was much more along the lines of the Quakers, Theosophy, Sufis, and Unitarian Universalists, than the Shiites and Sunnis, the califate or the papacy. He also emphasized "spiritual democracy," meaning a separation of church and state.
My review on my blog of Sen McGlinn's book might help in this context:
Church and State: A Postmodern Political Theology. Sen McGlinn. University of Leiden, 2005. 432 pages
The Globe Blog Archive Church and State. Sen McGlinn.
Incidentally, Reform Bahais do teach, as do Bahais of other denominations. Here I am talking with people at Speakers Corner, Hyde Park, London, UK July 26, 2009