Chapter 2     Chapter 4

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Its specific claims

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      Bahaism is a Persian delusion, whose headman Baha Ullah in Acre claimed to be an incarnation of God. Abbas Effendi succeeded him and is running the "incarnation" fraud for all it is worth, and it is worth a good deal, as pilgrims constantly come from Persia and bring their offerings in money with great liberality. Such men . . . as the Babites of Persia turn up now and then in the East, "go up like a rocket and down like a stick." -- H. H. Jessup, "Fifty-three Years in Syria," p. 637.

I cannot understand how a Christian can possibly exchange the clear consistent plan of salvation through Christ for the misty and mystical platitudes of Bahaism. -- Ibid., p. 687.

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BAHAISM makes various claims of a practical nature. Some of these will require detailed treatment. Several of them I will group in this chapter. Additional light is thrown on the question of their validity by facts subsequently brought forward, for many facts have a bearing on several subjects.

      Among the specific claims put forth by Bahaism is that of being specially adapted to promote the unification of mankind, and of accomplishing that end. Bahaism reiterates the Christian ideas that God hath made of one blood all nations and that all shall be united in God's spiritual kingdom. It repeats as a slogan, "the brotherhood of man." C. M. Remey [1] says: "The Bahai cause stands for the unity of all religions, political unity of nations, the social unity of all classes, peoples and races." "Its aim," says Harold Johnson, "is to knit all the faiths and all the peoples into one." [2] "The essential principle of the teachings of Bahalsm is the unification of the religious. systems of the world," says MacNutt. [3] This is a high ideal, which interpreted in their several ways is

1. "The Bahai Movement," p. 73.
2. Contemporary Review, March, 1912. 3. In "Unity Through Love."

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the aim of Christianity, Islam, Socialism, etc. And Bahai writers mean what all the other systems have meant, namely, unity by all accepting their beliefs, for Remey [1] says: "Baha Ullah's mission is to unite those now following many systems into one brotherhood and one universal faith. . . . May God speed the day when all of us may become true Bahais."

      But the claim of Bahaism is presented in another form. It asserts that it is actually bringing about this unification. "Abdul Baha is harmonizing Christians, Jews, Mohammedans, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Hindus in the one and true faith." [2] Dreyfus says: "It is uniting all men in the great universal religion of the future." At Oakland, Cal., [3] Abdul Baha said, "The revelation of Baha Ullah is the cause of the oneness of the world of humanity. It is a unity which welds together all the races." In illustration of this alleged result, the pilgrims to Acca express their gratification and amazement that at Acca several races meet together in love and unity. So in Rangoon, says Mr. Sprague, [4] "I attended a Bahai meeting at which six of the great world religions were represented united in the wonderful bond of friendship and unity." In like manner Mr. Harold Johnson says, "What Christianity has failed to accomplish, Bahaism has accomplished in uniting men of different races and religions." If these assertions

1. "The Bahai Movement," p. 39.
2. Ibid., p. 27.
3. S.W, Oct. 1912, p. 190.
4. "Story of the Bahai Movement," p. 4.

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mean external association, it may be said that Christians have had their Parliaments of Religions and Congresses of all faiths, examples of polite toleration and laboratories of the science of religion. If it means that Christianity refuses to put itself on a level with other religions and consort with them as equals, this is true, for Christianity is an exclusive religion. It has entered the world, as it entered the Roman empire, to displace all others. It refuses to have Christ occupy a niche in the Pantheon. But Bahai writers mean rather that Bahaism is to be the bond of unity by all races and religions accepting Baha. In this sense their claim is based on very meagre premises. A few thousand only, outside of Persia, have embraced Bahaism. Harold Johnson says: "The NonMohammedans do not number probably very many thousands." But do we not see myriads gathering into the Christian brotherhood out of every race and religion of Asia, including even thousands from Islam. Thirty thousand Moslems have become Christians in Malayasia in Abdul Baha's lifetime. In Asia how many races and religions, forgetting their former antagonisms, are united in the faith and baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ. As an example of the living power of the Christian faith to unite the races of men, take the Conference of the International Christian Students Federation, held at Lake Mohonk, N.Y. There Hindus and British, Japanese and Koreans, Russians and Chinese, Greeks and Armenians, French and Germans, Canadians and Brazilians, Americans and Mexicans

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represented the wide world. Mutual esteem, love and spiritual fellowship united members of the various Protestant Churches with representatives of the Oriental Churches. The unity in Bahai Assemblies is on so small a scale as to be not worthy of mention. How little Abdul Baha knows of or appreciates the reality and power of Christian spiritual fellowship is shown in his remarks at West Englewood, N. Y. [1] "This gathering (of Bahais) has no peer or likeness upon the surface of the earth, for all other gatherings and assemblages are due to some physical basis or material interests. Bahai meetings are mirrors of the kingdom." When Abdul Baha speaks about the results of Bahaism in bringing about unification in Persia, his claims seem utterly extravagant. To one who knows that country from long residence they are explicable only on the supposition that he has been misinformed or deceived by his own followers, for it must be borne in rind that Abdul Baha left Persia when a child of six or eight and has never returned. Hear these words which Abdul Baha addressed to Rev. J. T. Bixley, who was writing on the Sect in the North American Review: "The fundamental question is the unification of religious belief. In Persia, during the last fifty years [2]       . the various religionists have united in the utmost love and fellowship. No traces of discord or difference remain: the utmost love, kindness and unity are apparent. They live together like a single family in

1. June 29, 1912.
2. S. W., Sept. 27, 1912.
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harmony and accord. Discord and strife have passed away. Love and fellowship now prevail instead. Whether they be Moslems, Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Nestorians, Shiites, Sunnis or others--no discord exists among them." In an address at New York, [1] he said:

      "In the Orient different races were at constant warfare until about sixty years ago Baha Ullah appeared and caused love and unity to exist among these various peoples. Their former animosities have passed away entirely. It was a dark world, it became radiant. . . . You now see the same people who were formerly at enmity and strife in far-off Persia, people of various religions and denominations living in the utmost peace." "His Highness, Baha Ullah, established such unity and peace between the various communities." What does such language mean? At their face value these words are erroneous in a high degree. All know indeed that in Persia bigotry and religious and racial hatred have been modified. In bringing this result about, Bahaism has had a share along with Western civilization and education, the Nationalist movement, medical missions, and even Pan-Islamism, for the latter has tended to bring Shiahs and Sunnis nearer to each other. But it is notorious how great the enmity and hatred is yet; how the Kurds have raided the Shiahs and massacred or plundered the Nestorians and the Armenians: how the Moslems oppress the Armenians in Karadagh: how Sheikhis have

1. S W., Sept. 8, 1912.

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suffered from Mutasharis; and Ali Allahis continued the practice of tagiya for fear of them both. If Parsees enjoy more ease, it is through the efforts of their co-religionists in India; if Christians are safer, it is through the favour of the Shahs and the power of Christian governments: in neither case is it due to Bahaism. The union with the Bahais of possibly a dozen Armenians, a few score Zoroastrians and several hundred Jews cannot be the basis for such extravagance of language: neither can the rejection by Baha of the Shiah notion that other religions are "unclean," for Sunnis all along held the "peoples of the Book" to be "clean" and Christians of old learned to "call no man common or unclean."

      As to unification, how is it? Babis were divided off from Sheikhis, and Bahais from Babis, and Behais from Bahais and the flames of hate and vindictiveness burn hotter between them than between the older sects and races, while the Shiahs curse and at times persecute Babis and Bahais. Instead of unity the Babi-Bahais have brought a greater division of sects: instead of love renewed fires of animosity and fanatical hate. In view of these conditions, how unreasonable for Abdul Baha to say that "through the power of Baha Ullah, such affection and love is produced among the various religions of Persia that they now associate with each other in the utmost love and concord."

1. Professor Browne, in the Ency. of Ethics and Religion, article "Bab," writes: "The Bahais are strongly antagonistic alike to the Sufis and the Mohammedans, but for quite different reasons. In the case of the Sufis they object to their latitudinarianism, their Pantheism, their individualism and their doctrine of the inner light. With the Mohammedan they resent the persecutions they have suffered. The Bahais detest the Azalis, the followers of Abbas Effendi dislike and despise the followers of his brother Mehemet Ali."

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Passing now to another phase of this subject, let us inquire what means are prescribed for religious unification. The chief means seems to be the forbidding of the right of private interpretation or opinion. Abdul Baha writes [1] that he is "the Interpreter of all the works and books of the Blessed Perfection. Were this not the case, every one would give an interpretation according to his own inclination--this would lead to great differences." This point is more plainly stated by M. Abul Fazl: [2] "One of the explicit commands of Baha Ullah is the ordinance abrogating differences which separate men. . . If those having two points of view, engage in strife in expressing their views, both will be delivered to the fire. . . . Bahai law prohibits the interpretation of God's word and exposition of personal opinion . . . lest different sects arise." "You must ask him (Abdul Baha) regarding the meaning of the texts of the verses. Whatsoever he says is correct. Without his will, not a word shall any one utter." [3] Baha Ullah "made provision against all kinds of differences, so that no man shall be able to create a new sect . . . indicating the Interpreter so that no man should be able to say that he explains a certain teaching in this way and thus

1. S. W, Aug. 20, 1914.      
2. "Brilliant Proof," pp. 26--28.
3. S. W., Nov. 23, 1913, p. 238.

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create a new sect." [1] After Abdul Baha whenever the House of Justice is organized, it will ward off differences. But though the right of private judgment was denied, yet a new sect arose and bitter disunion occurred over the question of the Infallible Interpreter.

      Another Bahai scheme to promote unity is the adoption of one language to be a universal language; another is the amalgamation of all the races by the marriage of blacks and whites, and all indiscriminately; another is the discouragement of patriotism or any special love for one's country or people, teaching an internationalism in the words, "Let not him glory who loves his country, but let him glory who loves his kind." These points need not detain us, nor need we stop to enlarge on the fact that the new calendar, feasts, rites, laws, weights and measures, etc., tend to disunlon.

      The claims of Bahaism in regard to its relation to the movement for peace and arbitration require consideration. Abdul Baha at Boston [2] said: "Baha UlIah spread the teaching of Universal Peace sixty years ago, when it was not even thought of by the people. He sent tablets to kings advising this." He wrote to Mr. Smiley of Lake Mohonk, "The matter of International Peace was instituted by His Highness, Baha Ullah, sixty years ago in Persia." Dreyfus [3] says: "Long before these ideas, i. e., peace, brotherhood and arbitration, had taken form among

1. S.W., April 9, 1914
2. S.W., July 13, 1923, p. 122.
3. "The Universal Religion."

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us, at a time when the Bab himself had sometimes excused the use of arms for the propagation of religion, Baha Ullah had made these high principles the one basis of his religion." Remey [1] states this claim yet more strongly, saying: "Peace, arbitration, in fact universal civilization were unthought of when over half a century ago these teachers (Baha Ullah and Abdul Baha) announced their message." Again, "Christ states that His dispensation is to be a militant one, which would be followed by another of peace. Baha Ullah has now brought that peace to the world. He is the Prince of Peace who has established the foundations of peace on earth." [2]

      Now as to the facts. Bahaism certainly does advocate peace and arbitration, in common with Tolstoism, socialism and many schools of thought. Baha said to Professor Browne at Acca, in 1886: "This fruitless strife these ruinous wars shall pass away and the Most Great Peace shall come. These strifes and this bloodshed and discord must cease and all men be as one kindred and one family." In accordance with this, Abdul Baha declares [3] universal peace and an international Court of Arbitration to be fundamental principles of Bahaism. The Court will be called the House of Justice and will be composed entirely of Bahais. "Disputes will find a final sentence of absolute justice . . . before

1. Bahai Movement," p. 75.
2. Page 54. In Dealy's "Dawn of Knowledge," the chapter on Baha Ullah is entitled "Prince of Peace."
3. S.W, vol. IV, pp. 6, 8 and 254.

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the Bahai House of Justice. War will be suppressed." [1]**

It is good to have such a programme approved by one raised in a Moslem environment. Yet it is evident that the claim to priority and originality regarding it, constitute a grave anachronism and betray ignorance of or perversion of history. Both the ideals and the programme were in existence and in partial operation long before the time of Baha Ullah. In the first place, Bahai teachings on peace are but an echo of Christian hopes and doctrines of "peace on earth: good will to men." Baha has but thrown on the screen again the vision of the seers of Israel who foretold the age when "men shall learn war no more." The hopes of the prophets, the longings of saints, the anthems of the worshipping church found voice through the Christian centuries, with a faith never dimmed, a desire never quenched, anticipating that

      "Then shall wars and tumults cease,
      Then be banished grief and pain,
      Righteousness and joy and peace
      Undisturbed shall ever reign."

      Baha's teaching, though growing up in Islam, is transplanted from Christian soil. He repudiates the teaching of Mohammed regarding "holy wars." "The first Glad Tidings is the abolition of religious warfare from the Book," i. e., the Koran. What Bahais would do in case of provocation,

"Answered Questions," p. 74;" Tablet of the World," p. 28. **

[** Wilson has conflated the Universal House of Justice and the International Tribunal. 'Abdu'l-Baha' views on the election of the International Tribunal are set out in his 1919 'Tablet to the Hague' (i.e. to the Committee at The Hague in relation to the International Peace Conference). 'Abdu'l-Baha writes: "[Baha'u'llah's] plan is this: that the national assemblies of each country and nation--that is to say parliaments--should elect two or three persons who are the choicest men of that nation, and are well informed concerning international laws ... The number of these representatives should be in proportion to the number of inhabitants of that country. ... From among these people the members of the Supreme Tribunal will be elected..." The Tribunal is therefore a civil, not a religious body, made up of legal experts.

      The reference in note 1 to Some Answered Questions can be found on p 64 of the 1994 edition. 'Abdu'l-Baha here refers to a tribunal of national representatives, not to the Universal House of Justice.

      With regard to the Tablet of the World, Wilson uses a translation by 'Ali Kuli Khan (Baha'i Publishing Society, 1917). The passage he refers to corresponds to page 89 in Tablets of Baha'u'llah U.S., 1988 pocket-size ed. The 1988 translation has "It is incumbent upon the ministers of the House of Justice to promote the Lesser Peace so that the people of the earth may be relieved from the burden of exorbitant expenditures." The 1917 translation reads 'Most Great Peace' rather than 'lesser Peace'. Using the current translation, and bearing in mind Baha'u'llah's Tablet to Queen Victoria and Shoghi Effendi's interpretations in 'Messages to the Baha'i World', pages 74-75, 'The Promised Day is Come', pages 26 and 123, and especially 'World Order of Baha'u'llah', pages 162-163, it is clear that the House of Justice referred to here is a civil government and certainly not one of the Baha'i religious institutions -- which are specifically barred from taking responsibility for establishing the lesser peace and do not in any case have ministers. Wilson's misreading here -- and above, where he assigns functions to religious institutions which in Baha'i teachings belong to civil governments -- may well be an honest mistake, given the mistake in 'Ali Kuli Khan's translation. But Wilson should have known that 'house of justice' was one of the terms used in Persia in the late 19th century to refer to a national Parliament, and recognized the possibility of ambiguities resulting - S. McG.]

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accompanied by reasonable opportunity of success, is not evident. The Babis were fierce warriors (1848--1850) and the Bab expected that wars would continue. In the "Bayan" he makes provision for the distribution of the spoils. [1] Baha, together with Azal, started for and tried to join the army at Tabarsi, [2] and was absent from participation in its sanguinary conflict, solely because his arrest by the Persian authorities at Amul prevented him from reaching the fort. After his release he fell under suspicion because [3] he "not improbably harboured designs of setting up a standard of revolt on his own account." He was, therefore, rearrested and sent to the capital. But during his exile in Turkey, he tried to be reconciled to the Shah of Persia. Following this change of policy, he was able to claim later [4] that "for nigh upon thirty-five years no action opposed to the government or prejudicial to the nation has emanated from this sect." The Bahais did not join in the effort to establish constitutional government in 1908-- 1911. [5] They have never had an even chance to fight for their own cause and it remains to be seen what they would do in such a case. There is no assurance that they would act like Quakers or Dukhobors, for even Abdul Baha at times identifies himself and his cause with the fighting Babis and appropriates their martial glory. He said to Mr. Anton Hadad: [6] "When in Persia we were very few but owing to

1. "Trav.'s Narr.," p. 287.
2. "New Hist.," pp. 378, 379.
3. ibid., p. 380.
4. "Trav.'s Narr.," pp. 65-67.
5. See Chapter VI.
6. A Message from Acca," p. 9.

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animosity we stood before our numerous enemies, fought and defeated them and gained the victory." He wrote a prayer on behalf of the American army for the use of Bahais: "0 God! Strengthen its soldiers and its flag." [1] In his teachings, he leaves several pretexts for the prosecution of war. He says : [2] "War is sometimes the foundation of peace. If, for example, a sovereign should wage war against a threatening foe or for the unification of the people, this war may be attuned to peace: this fury is kindness; this war is a source of reconciliation." In his scheme for arbitration, one is reminded of the old saw, "we must have peace even if we have to fight for it." For he says: "If any nation dares to refuse to abide by the decision of the international court, all the other nations must arise and put down this rebellion, . . . they must rise up and destroy it, . . . band together and exterminate it." [2]

      As to the claim that Baha originated the movement for universal peace and international arbitration, it only deserves consideration because it is apparently put forth in sincerity. It absolutely contradicts history. In fact the movement for "peace on earth" has long been an active one in Christian lands, and arbitration has long been recognized and employed as a method for promoting peace." "Under the influence of religious and feudal ideas," says Professor Moore, [4] "arbitrations were very frequent

1. 'Tablet "9," p. 8, published by the New York Bahai Council.
2. "Principles of the Bahai Movement," pp. 43, 47, Washington, 1912.
3. Ibid., pp. 43 45.
4. International Arbitrations," pp. 4826-4833.

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in the Middle Ages, which offered the remarkable spectacle of conciliation and peace making way." Treaties were made which provided for arbitration. In Italy there were one hundred arbitrations in the thirteenth century. In the following centuries they were frequent in Europe; Sometimes a king acted as arbitrator between kings or between king and people. At other times a city, as for example the Republic of Hamburg, or a great juristconsult or a Professor of a University acted in this capacity. More often "the predominance of the popes constituted them natural judges of international cases." Projects for universal peace were put forward. One of the most celebrated was formed by Sully, the minister of Henry IV. The Abbe de St. Pierre in 1713 published a scheme for the federation of Christian States, with a central council to decide all disputes. Grotius strongly advocated arbitration as a means of avoiding war and the placing of nations under obligations to settle disputes peaceably. Bentham in the eighteenth century proposed a plan for a common tribunal to maintain universal and permanent peace. Fox, Penn and the Quakers, from Christian principles, strenuously opposed war. There were nine principal arbitrations between the United States and Great Britain, France and Spain from 1794 to 1863.

      In 1815, before Baha's day, the Massachusetts Peace Society was formed and in the following year the American Peace Society "to promote universal

1. New International Ency., Art. "Arbitration," p. 713.

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permanent peace through arbitration and disarmament." [1] For this purpose World Congresses were held at London 1843, Brussels 1848, Paris 1849, Frankfort 1850, London 1851, etc., and with great enthusiasm. Men like Elihu Burritt, Victor Hugo, Richard Cobden, John Bright and Charles Sumner led in advocacy of the cause. Tennyson, too, saw the vision of peace,

      "In the Parliament of men1 the Federation of the World,"

and the Scottish bard declared,

      "It's coming yet for a' that
      When man to man, the world o'er,
      Shall brothers be and a' that."

We can easily conceive how these ideas would penetrate the Near East and how Baha Ullah in Turkey caught an echo of them and was happily influenced to become himself an advocate of peace.

      But what becomes of the claims of Abdul Baha and other Bahais, mentioned above, that Baha, in 1863--1867, "instituted the movement for peace and arbitration" that he advised it to kings "when it had not even been thought of," "before the attention of Western thinkers had to any degree been directed towards universal peace." They are like so many claims made by Bahaists, utterly groundless. Such statements, when made by Abdul Baha, we may attribute to ignorance of the history. of the Occident,

1. Atlantic Monthly, Vol. XCIV, p. 358.

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but this does not excuse American advocates of Bahaism for endorsing such errors.

      I need not discuss the assertion of Bahais that the Millennium began in 1844 [1] or at latest in 1892, nor the announcement that the Most Great Peace will be inaugurated in 1917, which they declare to be the end of the 1335 days of Dan. xii. 12. [2]

      Another claim made for Bahaism is that it is a rational and undogmatic religion. Remeys [3] says: "It does not put forth doctrine or dogma. It is a religion free from dogma." It is " logical and reasonable." Dreyfus denounces "dogmatic religions," and claims that Bahaism has pared the way for the harmony of religion with free thought." [4] With these accord the words of Abdul Baha to Pastor Monnier in Paris. [5] "Our aim is to free religion from dogmas. Dogmas are the cause of strife. We must give up dogmas." Now it is evident that Bahaism has not a fixed body of doctrines: that it has not a definite and clear system of theology. But it is very dogmatic in the common usages of that word. Webster defines it as (1) positive, authoritative, and (2) as asserting or disposed to assert with authority or with overbearing and arrogance. Is not Bahaism a mass of assertions? For example, Baha declares that "the universe hath neither beginning

1. S. W., March 21, 1914, p. 8.
2. Dealy's "Dawn of Knowledge," p. 44; Kheiralla's "Beha Ullah," pp. 480, 483.
3. Tract "Peace," pp. 8 and 14; "Bahai Movement," p. 89.
4. "The Universal Religion," pp. 21, 44.
5. S. W, April 28, 1913, p. 55.

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nor ending." Abdul Baha adds the comment: [1] "By this simple statement he has set aside elaborate theories and exhaustive labours of scientists and philosophers." Similarly he is said to have settled by a single word all discussions about divine sovereignty and free agency. Abdul Baha might be called the Lord of dogmas, for from his dicta none must vary by a hair's breadth. Remey himself dogmatizes as follows: "The religion, of Baha is the cause of God, outside of which there is no truth in the world." Much in Bahaism must be taken on faith, without logical proof. Prof essor Browne [2] puts it mildly when he says: "The system appears to me to contain enough of the mysterious and the transcendental to make its intellectual acceptance at least as difficult as the theology of most Christian churches to the sceptic." Elsewhere he says: [3] "It must be clearly understood that Babism (or Bahaism) is in no sense latitudinarian or eclectic, and stands therefore in the sharpest antagonism to Sufism. However vague Babi doctrine may be on certain points, it is essentially dogmatic, and every utterance or command uttered by the Manifestation of the Period, i. e., Bab or Baha Ullah or Abbas Effendi must be accepted without reserve." [4] Similarly Dr. G. W. Holmes's writes: "Baha's appeal is only to his own word and to his own arbitrary and

1. S.W., June 5, 1913, p. 90.
2. Phelps, p. xviii.
3. Ency. of Religion and Ethics, Art. "Bab."
4. See also his "Literary History of Persia," p. 422.
5. "Missions and Modern History," by Robert E. Speer, p. 171.

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forced interpretation of the Word of God, which interpretations, as he states, find their sanction solely in his own authority." There are other claims of Bahaism of a specific nature which might be considered. They would be found equally assertive and equally groundless. Bahaism reminds me of a horse which was offered for sale in Persia. It appeared like a fat and well fed animal. But the would-be purchaser was warned that its skin had been puffed up with air which would soon leak out, and he would have on his hands a lean, lank, bony yabi scrub [sic]. Bahaism does not even stop short of claiming that the civilization of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is due to it. Its braggart attitude may be fittingly symbolized by Rostand's "Chanticler," standing in the barnyard, flapping its wings in vain exultation, imagining that it, by its crowing, has caused the sun to rise.

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