"Since self-centredness is innate in Human Nature, we are all inclined, to some extent, to assume that our own religion is the only true and right religion; that our own vision of Absolute Reality is the only authentic vision; that we alone have received a revelation; that the truth which has been revealed to us is the whole truth; and that, in consequence, we ourselves are ‘the Chosen People’ and ‘the Children of Light’, while the rest of the Human Race are gentiles sitting in darkness. Such pride and prejudice are symptoms of Original Sin [defined by Toynbee as self-centredness], and they will therefore be rife in some measure in any human being or community; but the measure varies, and it seems to be a matter of historical fact that, hitherto, the Judaic religions have been considerably more exclusive-minded than the Indian religions have. In a chapter of the World's history in which the adherents of the living higher religions seem likely to enter into much more intimate relations with one another than ever before, the spirit of the Indian religions, blowing where it listeth, may perhaps help to winnow a traditional Pharisaism out of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish hearts. But the help that God gives is given by Him to those who help themselves; and the spiritual struggle in the more exclusive-minded Judaic half of the World to cure ourselves of our family infirmity seems likely to be the most crucial episode in the next chapter of the history of Mankind." Arnold Joseph Toynbee. An Historian's Approach to Religion. Gifford Lecture, 1952-1953.
For a spiritual vision highly compatible with Abdul-Baha's universality, see Huston Smith's video interview in the Meaning of Life series.
"Declaration towards a Global Ethic" which was endorsed by the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago in 1993. The draft was written by Hans Küng of the Institute for Ecumenical Research at the University of Tübingen, Germany.
"Religions differ in their external forms, but they are all alike in their fundamental principles. And it is these principles, that are fundamental to all religions, that form the true religion which alone at the present time is suitable for us all, and the adoption of which alone can save men from their ills...
This religion of our times, common to all men, exists —not as some sect with all its peculiarities and perversions, but as a religion consisting of those principles which are alike in all the widespread religions known to us, and professed by more than nine-tenths of the human race; and that men are not yet completely brutalized is due to the fact that the best men of all nations hold to this religion and profess it, even if unconsciously....
The principles of this true religion are so natural to men, that as soon as they are put before them they are accepted as something quite familiar and self-evident. For us the true religion is Christianity in those of its principles in which it agrees, not with the external forms, but with the basic principles of Brahmanism, Confucianism, Taoism, Hebraism, Buddhism, and even Mohammedanism. And just in the same way, for those who profess Brahmanism, Confucianism, etc.—true religion is that of which the basic principles agree with those of all other religions. And these principles are very simple, intelligible and clear.
These principles are that there is a God, the origin of all things; that in man dwells a spark from that Divine Origin, which man, by his way of living, can increase or decrease in himself; that to increase this divine spark man must suppress his passions and increase love in himself; and that the practical means to attain this result is to do to others as you would they should do to you. All these principles are common to Brahmanism, Hebraism, Confucianism, and Mohammedanism. (If Buddhism supplies no definition of God, it nevertheless acknowledges That with which man commingles, and into Which he is absorbed when he attains to Nirvana. So, That with which man commingles, or into Which he is absorbed in Nirvana, is the same Origin that is called God in Hebraism, Christianity, and Mohammedanism.)...
Religion is the definition of man's relation to the Source of all things, and of man's purpose in life which results from that relation; and it supplies rules of conduct resulting from that purpose. And the universal religion whose first principles are alike in all the faiths, fully meets the demands of this understanding of religion. It defines the relation of man to God, as being that of a part to the whole; from this relation it deduces man's purpose, which is to increase the divine element in himself; and this purpose involves practical demands on man, in accord with the rule: Do to others as you wish them to do to you...
Religion is not a belief, settled once for all, in certain supernatural occurrences supposed to have taken place once upon a time, nor in the necessity for certain prayers and ceremonies; nor is it, as the scientists suppose, a survival of the superstitions of ancient ignorance, which in our time has no meaning or application to life ; but religion is a certain relation of man to eternal life and to God, a relation accordant with reason and contemporary knowledge, and it is the one thing that alone moves humanity forward towards its destined aim."
“What Is Religion, and Wherein Lies It’s Essence?” From Essays and Letters, 1911.
A Calendar of Wisdom: Daily Thoughts to Nourish the Soul, Written and Selected from the World's Sacred Texts,
Leo Tolstoy; Peter Sekirin, Editor. 1903-1910.
In Modernity and the Millennium: The Genesis of the Baha'i Faith in the Nineteenth-Century Middle East, Columbia University Press, 1998, Professor Juan Cole observes that the Baha'i administration has increasingly come under the control of fundamentalists, "stressing scriptural literalism . . . theocracy, censorship, intellectual intolerance, and denying key democratic values" (196). Review.
Professor Juan Cole, further discusses Baha'i fundamentalism in "The Baha'i Faith in America as Panopticon, 1963-1997": The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Volume 37, No. 2 (June 1998): 234-248.
Professor Juan Cole, University of Michigan,
"Fundamentalism in the Contemporary U.S. Baha'i Community," Religious Studies Review, Vol. 43, no. 3 (March, 2002):195-217.
Sen McGlinn. Church and State: A postmodern political theology. Leiden, 2005. The Appendix contains Mr. McGlinn's translation of Abdul-Baha's "Sermon on the Art of Governance," regarding the separation of church and state. Juan Cole has also translated the same document as "A Treatise on Leadership."
Review of Sen McGlinn, Church and State: A Postmdoern Political Theology. Leiden, 2005. Review.
William Garlington. The Bahai Faith in America. Praeger. 2005.
c.221p. bibliog. index. ISBN 0-275-98413-3. "Vocal and liberal Baha'is of the type mentioned in this study appear to be an ever-decreasing minority" (184).
See The World's Religions: Our Great Wisdom Traditions by Huston Smith. "On a world scale Baha'u'llah's mission came to the same end. Baha'i, which originated in the hope of rallying the major religions around the beliefs they held in common, has settled into being another religion among many" (385).
The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience - Documenting censorship and suppression of free speech and conscience within the Baha'i Faith.
Reform Bahai Yahoo! Group.