The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience

From: K. Paul Johnson <>
Subject: All religions unified this century? (Baha'i)
Date: Wednesday, May 20, 1998 10:41 AM
Having had repeated problems with the moderators at
soc.religion.bahai in posting this, I hope to get some discussion
going in talk.religion.misc.  An explanation of the difficulties
with srb will follow the main part of the post.
In Baha'i World Faith, p. 280, `Abdu'l Baha writes that "fierce
and contending religions, hostile creeds and divergent beliefs
will reconcile and associate, notwithstanding their former
hatreds and antagonism.  Through the liberalism of human attitude
demanded in this radiant [20th] century they will blend together
in perfect fellowship and love...The age has dawned when human
fellowship will become a reality.  THE CENTURY HAS COME WHEN ALL
RELIGIONS SHALL BE UNIFIED..." [caps mine for emphasis]
My question to Baha'is is how they can reconcile the conflicting
beliefs that 1) `Abdu'l Baha was infallible in the words found in
Baha'i-published literature and 2) that the unification of
religions in the future can be accomplished only by their members all
becoming Baha'is.  While it's clear that AB's vision is far from
fully manifest as this century closes, it's also quite evident
that the spirit of ecumenicism within Christianity and among
world religions has made considerable advances since his time.
But AB's vision of religious unity in the future as depicted in
the passage above is exactly what I as a New Age Christian long
for and believe in, and 180 degrees away from the universal
domination of one religion's institutions and beliefs which has become
the prevailing expectation among contemporary Baha'is.
That was the gist of what I wanted to post to srb a couple of
months ago when someone else posted the line about "The century
has come when all religions shall be unified."  I waited until
after the thread was gone, but posted in reference to that
recently posted quote.  Srb moderator Bill Hyman refused to
accept my post, saying he could only accept references to the
Baha'i writings if they were *documented* from Baha'i sources.  (A
rule invented for my case, and never apparent in the posts from
Baha'is, AFAIK.)  His tone was rather unpleasant at this point,
saying "I don't have time to look for it" and "since Baha'is
believe in independent investigation of truth, you need to find
that quote before you can post on the subject."  Well, I spent a
fruitless hour going through Dejanews, like looking for a needle
in a haystack.  Finally gave up and wrote back to Hyman
(politely) saying that I couldn't find the post, but could I
simply *inquire* on srb if anyone remembered the quote in
question?  At this point he got really nasty, insisted that there
was no such quote, couldn't possibly be, `Abdu'l Baha would never
have said such a thing.  And made it clear that I was getting the
"enemy of the Faith" treatment.  So I gave up.  But last week I
found, on Fred G.'s website, a link to a search engine for Baha'i
texts which allowed me to call up all AB's passages with the word
"century" in them.  Took five minutes at most to find the passage
in question.  Hyman almost surely knew of this resource and deliberately
chose not to tell me about it in order to prevent my posting on
the topic to srb.  
When I did find the passage, I posted it to srb on Friday with
similar commentary to what is above, and a single line about
having been previously subject to harsh unfriendliness from a
moderator who denied such a passage existed.  By Tuesday I had
neither seen the post on srb or gotten a rejection letter, so I
posted again, this time addressing myself to a moderator and
asking what the story was.  Michele Smith answered me immediately
saying that she was now on duty as moderator, had not been
before, and would check into the situation.  But I have heard
nothing now a day later.
There's a real problem over at srb, in my opinion based on
recent dealings.  Earlier moderators like Dick Detweiler or Alma
Engels would never had behaved in this obstructionist manner.