Brooklyn Gets More Than It Bargained For 1
“EVERY RELIGION AND EVERY religious aspiration may be freely voiced and expressed here,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told the congregation in Brooklyn.
Three days ago, a New York newspaper had criticized Reverend John H. Melish of the Episcopal Church in Brooklyn, who had defended ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s right to speak from the Episcopal pulpit. Pastors from other Brooklyn churches had made it clear that they didn’t agree with the Episcopal church hierarchy, including the Reverend S. Parkes Cadman who had invited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to speak at his Central Congregational Church this afternoon.
“Consider what a vast difference exists between modern democracy and the old forms of despotism,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told Cadman’s congregation. “Under an autocratic government the opinions of men are not free, and development is stifled, whereas in democracy, because thought and speech are not restricted, the greatest progress is witnessed.”
“It is likewise true in the world of religion,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá noted. Then he thanked Dr. Cadman for the invitation to speak, calling the Reverend “indeed a servant of the oneness of humanity.”
Talk at Central Congregational Church , Hancock Street, Brooklyn, New York 2
This is a goodly temple and congregation, for—praise be to God!—this is a house of worship wherein conscientious opinion has free sway. Every religion and every religious aspiration may be freely voiced and expressed here. Just as in the world of politics there is need for free thought, likewise in the world of religion there should be the right of unrestricted individual belief. Consider what a vast difference exists between modern democracy and the old forms of despotism. Under an autocratic government the opinions of men are not free, and development is stifled, whereas in democracy, because thought and speech are not restricted, the greatest progress is witnessed. It is likewise true in the world of religion. When freedom of conscience, liberty of thought and right of speech prevail—that is to say, when every man according to his own idealization may give expression to his beliefs—development and growth are inevitable. Therefore, this is a blessed church because its pulpit is open to every religion, the ideals of which may be set forth with openness and freedom. For this reason I am most grateful to the reverend doctor; I find him indeed a servant of the oneness of humanity.
New York, Philadelphia, New York 3
On Sunday morning, June 16, a sign stood in front of the Fourth Unitarian Church on Beverly Road in Flatbush, proclaiming, “’The Great Persian Prophet, His Holiness Abdul Baha Will Speak in this Church at 11:00 A.M. on the 16th of June.’” When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá ended His talk and the service concluded, the excited congregation came to greet and thank Him. The minister asked Him to visit the children in the Sunday school. They gathered about Him, and He said, “Praise be to god! I see before me these beautiful children of the kingdom.” 4
Sunday, June 16, 1912
In the morning the Master spoke about the meeting held the previous evening at the church in Brooklyn. ‘This is how we establish the truth of Islam in synagogues, churches and great temples. And see what the Muslims say about us?’
He gave a detailed account of the new teachings to an eminent American author, who was to write about them and who had requested permission from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to publish the work.
The subject of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talk in a public meeting today was, ‘However the material world may advance, it is still in need of the teachings of the Holy Spirit’.
These days He often encourages the friends to teach the Cause of God and to travel to neighboring countries. ‘You must teach the Cause of God’, He said, ‘with great humility. Just as I feel myself humble before all, even before children, so must you be.’ He then spoke about the various degrees of devotion.
In the days of the Blessed Beauty, I never had a desire to write. The friends even complained about it. In reply I finally wrote to Varqá saying, ‘When the shrill of the Supreme Pen can be heard, what is the need of my writing?’ However, in the days of the Most Great Luminary others wrote, referring to themselves, as the great sun of God. 5
’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny
Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America
Curated by Anne Perry
- Sockett, Robert. “Brooklyn Gets More Than It Bargained For.” 239 Days in America, 16 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/16/brooklyn-gets-more-than-it-bargained-for/. ↩
- ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 197. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/14#204929876 ↩
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 90-91. ↩
- ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 193. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/14#068145526. ↩
- ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=4#section84 ↩