239 Days in America, Day 195: October 22, 1912 | San Francisco

A Fearful Dose of Fashionable Religion 1

“WE FORESEE THAT THE daily papers are about to give this city a fearful dose of ‘fashionable religion,’” warned an editorial in the San Francisco Monitor on October 5, 1912, referring to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s arrival in the city. It described ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as “the leader of the latest in fads,” and warned that the local press would soon be flooded with coverage. “Be prepared for the deluge!” the writer declared.

At least he was right about the deluge. At least thirty-seven separate articles and announcements covered ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit to California. With the exception of the Monitor piece, the press coverage was positive, inquisitive, and reasonably accurate. John D. Barry, a celebrated essayist, fiction writer, and travel journalist, wrote two editorials on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the San Francisco Bulletin — on October 12 and 14 — which provided a counterpoint to the piece that appeared in the Monitor.

“The harm in Bahaism and all such so-called ‘religions’ is first of all this:” the Monitor claimed, “They deny the divinity of Jesus Christ. They draw Him down to the level of a mere good man, a kindly philosopher.” In churches throughout the nation, of course, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had affirmed the divine nature of Jesus. Seven days after the Monitor article, he would argue at length on behalf of Christ in front of two-thousand people at the Temple Emanu-El, San Francisco’s largest Jewish synagogue.

California 2

He [Abdu’l-Bahá] then began to make preparations for the journey back across the country.

Tuesday, October 22, 1912 3

In the morning the Master remarked, ‘I did not sleep at all last night but was deep in thought.’ When the train arrived at the station a group of friends greeted the Master with joy and happiness. The Master spoke repeatedly today about the steadfastness and enthusiasm of the friends in Los Angeles. His had been elated to witness their constancy in the Cause.

The believers from San Francisco and surrounding areas gathered group by group at the Master’s residence, where He received them in His room. He strongly encouraged them to spread the divine fragrances and teach the Cause of God. To the seekers He gave the glad tidings of the dawning of the Morn of Guidance and the coming of the era of peace, tranquillity, amity and unity among the nations of the world.

His address in the morning at the public meeting centered around the days of the Blessed Beauty, the exaltation of the Word of the God and the vain imaginings of the followers of Yahyá. In the afternoon He spoke particularly on the duty of teaching the Cause of God and gave a detailed account of the Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh revealed to the kings and rulers of the world.

After an evening stroll, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá showed special kindness to the friends from Portland and Seattle, who had arrived today to visit their beloved Master. He spoke with them on several subjects, saying, among other things: said:

“Until now it never happened that someone from the East, impelled by the promptings of his conscience, should come to the West to see the friends of God and to associate with respected individuals with such sincere love and friendship and without any political or commercial motive or the desire of sightseeing. It is without precedent and is not recorded in any history. If others have come, it has been to sightsee or for commercial or other reasons.”

In response to some questions, He said:

“A great war and commotion shall inevitably take place in the world. Things will come to such a pass that the generality of mankind will rise against the statesmen of the world and say, ‘You sit in your palaces in perfect comfort; you eat and drink sumptuously; you sleep blissfully; you eat delicious food and relax in gardens with beautiful views. But for the sake of your name and worldly fame, you throw us, your subjects, into war, shed our blood and tear our bodies to pieces. But no thorn ever pricks your hands and not for a moment do you leave your rest and comfort.’”

12 October 1912, Talk at Temple Emmanu-El, 450 Sutter Street, San Francisco, California 4

Verily, I now declare to you that Moses was the Interlocutor of God and a most noteworthy Prophet, that Moses revealed the fundamental law of God and founded the real ethical basis of the civilization and progress of humanity. What harm is there in this? Have I lost anything by saying this to you and believing it as a Bahá’í? On the contrary, it benefits me; and Bahá’u’lláh, the Founder of the Bahá’í Movement, confirms me, saying, “You have been fair and just in your judgment; you have impartially investigated the truth and arrived at a true conclusion; you have announced your belief in Moses, a Prophet of God, and accepted the Torah, the Book of God.” Inasmuch as it is possible for me to sweep away all evidences of prejudice by such a liberal and universal statement of belief, why is it not possible for you to do likewise? Why not put an end to this religious strife and establish a bond of connection between the hearts of men? Why should not the followers of one religion praise the Founder or Teacher of another? The other religionists extol the greatness of Moses and admit that He was the Founder of Judaism. Why do the Hebrews refuse to praise and accept the other great Messengers Who have appeared in the world? What harm could there be in this? What rightful objection? None whatever. You would lose nothing by such action and statement. On the contrary, you would contribute to the welfare of mankind. You would be instrumental in establishing the happiness of the world of humanity. The eternal honor of man depends upon the liberalism of this modern age. Inasmuch as our God is one God and the Creator of all mankind, He provides for and protects all. We acknowledge Him as a God of kindness, justice and mercy. Why then should we, His children and followers, war and fight, bringing sorrow and grief into the hearts of each other? God is loving and merciful. His intention in religion has ever been the bond of unity and affinity between humankind.

’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny

Uniqueness of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit to the West

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

October 22, 1912


  1. Sockett, Robert. “A Fearful Dose of Fashionable Religion.” 239 Days in America, 22 Oct. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/10/22/not-to-destroy-or-disrupt-but-to-create/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 170.
  3. ’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=8#section213
  4. 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, 368-369. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/27#295647205

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s