What does the term “Covenant-breaking” mean?

“… one of the greatest and most fundamental principles of the Cause of God is to shun and avoid entirely the Covenant-breakers, for they will utterly destroy the Cause of God, exterminate His Law and render of no account all efforts exerted in the past.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, paragraph 38.

“… it is incumbent upon the friends that are fast and firm in the Covenant and Testament to be ever wakeful lest after this wronged one is gone this alert and active worker of mischief [Mírzá Muhammad ‘Alí] may cause disruption, privily sow the seeds of doubt and sedition and utterly root out the Cause of God. A thousand times shun his company. Take heed and be on your guard. Watch and examine; should anyone, openly or privily, have the least connection with him, cast him out from your midst, for he will surely cause disruption and mischief.

O ye beloved of the Lord! Strive with all your heart to shield the Cause of God from the onslaught of the insincere, for souls such as these cause the straight to become crooked and all benevolent efforts to produce contrary results.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, paragraphs 41-42.

“These do not doubt the validity of the Covenant but selfish motives have dragged them to this condition. It is not that they do not know what they do — they are perfectly aware and still they exhibit opposition.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 215.

“Every Bahá’í is at liberty, nay is urged, to freely express his opinion and his understanding of the Teachings, but all this is in a totally different category from that of a Bahá’í who opposes the clear Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh or who asserts his own opinion as an authoritative and correct interpretation of the teachings, and attacks or opposes the very Institutions which Bahá’u’lláh has created to protect His Covenant. When a person declares his acceptance of Bahá’u’lláh as a Manifestation of God he becomes a party to the Covenant and accepts the totality of His Revelation. If he then turns round and attacks Bahá’u’lláh or the Central Institution of the Faith he violates the Covenant. If this happens every effort is made to help that person to see the illogicality and error of his actions, but if he persists he must, in accordance with the instructions of Bahá’u’lláh Himself, be shunned as a Covenant-breaker.”

23 March 23 1975 letter from the Universal House of Justice, cited in the compilation “Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities”.

“To maintain the unity and incorruptibility of the Faith, the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh established a Centre of authority to which all are to turn. This Centre has been, successively, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Who is uniquely the Centre of the Covenant; Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Faith; and the Universal House of Justice, which is the apex of its Administrative Order. A Bahá’í who turns against and defies this Centre breaks the Covenant and, if he is adamant in his disobedience, is expelled from the Faith as a Covenant-breaker.”

Footnote in Messages of the Universal House of Justice 1963 to 1986, p. 16.

“The seriousness of Covenant-breaking is that it strikes at the very center and foundation of the unity of mankind. If God were to allow the instrument to be divided and impaired, how then would His purpose be achieved?

… The believers are commanded to shun Covenant-breakers for the same reason as healthy people do not associate with a person suffering from a serious contagious illness. A contagiously sick person cannot catch health from a thousand healthy people, but, on the contrary, he can infect them with his illness. Therefore such a person is quarantined and only those few people qualified to attend him do so. . . . Then, if he proves adamant he is free to go his way, but the Bahá’ís must cease to have any association with him until such time as he repents when, of course, he can be accepted back into the community.”

The Universal House of Justice, March 23, 1975, Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities.