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Persian Priest Attracts Society Women to the Cult of Bahá’ísm

Persian Priest Attracts Society Women to the Cult of Bahaism
The Washington Post
April 26, 1912
Washington, DC

Followers Kiss Flowing Robes of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at His Address to Leaders of Washington Smart Circles, in the home of Mrs. Arthur J. Parsons — Mrs. Nicholas Longworth Among the Listeners — Says Religions Must Conform to Science.

Fashionable Washington is showing great interest in the Bahá’í movement since the advent of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the aged leader of the “universal religion, who is holding daily receptions and meetings. Already he has addressed several thousand women and men. He has been reverently received, and according to people prominent in the movement, many converts have been gained since he arrived.

Garbed in flowing white robes, which contrasted strangely with the fashionable garb of his hearers, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá talked to a large audience yesterday afternoon at the home of Mrs. Arthur Jesse Parsons, Eighteenth and R streets northwest, where he is stopping. As he spoke his hearers listened with rapt attention.

Whenever ‘Abdu’l-Bahá appears some of his followers flock to his side, seeking a chance to grasp his hand, or even to kiss his robe. To them he is inspired from Heaven. Several of the most prominent society women in the city were present yesterday.

Before beginning to talk yesterday afternoon he personally raised the shades to let in more light. As he talked he walked about the front of the large room, sometimes turning his back on the audience. Several times he evidently became warm, for he pushed his turban back on his head, and wiped his brow.

Outlines Purposes of Bahá’ísm.

Abdu’l-Bahá is of medium height, and wears his snowy white hair long so that it falls over his collar. His features are finely cut, and as he talks he peers into the faces of his listeners to see if they comprehend his words. He chuckles to himself frequently, when he makes a good point. His brow is high, and he has every appearance of a deep thinker. He speaks no English, and his words are translated for his hearers by an interpreter.

What Bahá’ísm stands for was the subject he chose by request yesterday. It meant, he said, the unification of all religions. The principal point he made was that all religions which do not conform to science, and which are not reasonable, rest on superstition. He urged his listeners to cast aside everything that is not true. He declared that Jesus Christ would not have been persecuted as He was had the people of His time seen the truth clearly.

The intellect is great and has no bounds,” he said. “The senses of touch, smell, sight, hearing, and taste have their limits, but with the intellect men go far beyond the things their senses inform them of. With the intellect men can tell what is true, and what is good, and, therefore, it is on the intellect that they should depend.”

Abdu’l-Bahá’s manner was that of a teacher, and he spoke of commonplace things as though instructing a class of children.

Mrs. Longworth a Visitor.

All yesterday afternoon women in automobiles and carriages arrived for private conservations with the aged leader. A few poorer people came, but most of the visitors were wealthy. He expected to take an afternoon drive, but so many were the callers that he had to postpone the trip.

Mrs. Nicholas Longworth occupied a seat far back in the audience with two other women, and seemed greatly interested in the afternoon’s entertainment. She contented herself with watching ‘Abdu’l-Bahá from a distance and listening to what he said.

The last of the afternoon meetings will be held at 4:45 o’clock today. Tonight at 8 o’clock a large public meeting will be held at the Memorial Continental Hall, when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, and several others will speak. Saturday evening there will be a reception, and Sunday morning ‘Abdu’l-Bahá leaves for Chicago.

[picture caption: BAHAIST LEADER TALKS.

Photo by Harris-Ewing


High priest of sect, who is visiting in the Capital.]