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‘Abdu’l-Bahá Talks of Universal Peace

Abdul Baha Talks of Universal Peace
Washington (DC) Herald
November 7, 1912
Washington, DC

Head of Movement Welcomed in Universalist Church by Rev. Dr. Van Schaick

Abdu’l-Bahá, head of the Bahá’í movement, spoke last night at the Church of Our Father, Universalist.

In extending his welcome in behalf of the officers and members of the church to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Rev. Dr. John Van Schaick, the pastor of the church, answered certain criticisms directed against ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and those who accord him the right to tell his message.

What we in America need,” said Rev. Dr. Van Schaick, “is the study of all religions. We need to learn what other nations have discovered: what all great prophets have proclaimed. If we dare not investigate others, it proves we have no real confidence in our own. The men who have the greatest faith in their own religion are the men most willing to hear what others have to say. Those who will not listen to others are cowards. As we send missionaries to your country (addressing ‘Abdu’l-Bahá), we ought to welcome the missionaries you send. Only by a free interchange of thought; only by sitting down and talking it over together; only by listening to all honest teachers, can world unity come. We listen to you with reverence because we believe you have a vision of the truth, because we believe you are an honest and fearless man, because you believe in liberty, because you oppose the butchery of Christians by Mohammedans, because you oppose the butchery of Mohammedans by Christians, because in substance, you believe in human brotherhood.”

The venerable Persian teacher, with flowing white beard, and cream-colored long gown, and turban-like headcovering, presented a picturesque figure as he paced to and fro on the platform and delivered in low voice his message which was translated by Dr. Fareed, one of his assistants. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá reiterated his admonition of universal love, kindness and brotherhood, and condemned superstition, saying that the Balkan war had been brought about by religious prejudice and superstition.

If religion brings about enmity and rancor,” said the speaker, “it would be much better not to have any religion.” He advocated a religion which could stand the test of science and reason, declaring that all others were superstition. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá made an earnest plea for the equality of the sexes, saying that if woman had the same educational facilities as man, she would be his equal in every aspect.

Abdu’l-Bahá will speak at the Eighth Street Temple at to-morrow night’s services.