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George Townshend was born in Ireland and was a well known writer and clergyman. He spent many years near Ballinasloe, County Galway, where he was incumbent of Ahascragh and Archdeacon of Clonfert. He later became the Canon of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. However, at the age of 70, Townshend renounced his orders to the Anglican Church and wrote a pamphlet to all Christians under the title “The Old Churches and the New World Faith” proclaiming his allegiance to the Bahá’í Faith.
“The mightiest proof of a Prophet has ever been found in Himself and in the efficacy of His word. Bahá’u'lláh rekindled the fires of faith and happiness in the hearts of men. His knowledge was innate and spontaneous, not acquired in any school. None could gainsay or resist His wisdom and even His worst enemies admitted His greatness. All human perfections were embodied in Him. His strength was infinite. Trials and sufferings increased His firmness and power. As a divine physician He diagnosed the malady of the Age and prescribed the remedy. His teachings were universal and conferred illumination on all mankind. His power has been poured forth more abundantly since His death. In His presence He stood alone and events have proved and are still proving its accuracy.
From The Mission of Bahá’u'lláh
Gordon Brown is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He took office on 27 June 2007, three days after becoming leader of the Labour Party. Prior to this he served as the Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1997-2007, becoming the United Kingdom’s longest serving Chancellor since the early 19th century.
“I would like to express my respect and admiration to the Baha’i community which makes a contribution to British life out of all proportion to its size. The principles of the Baha’i faith are rightly shared and appreciated by many in our different communities. It is therefore all the more tragic that Baha’is around the world face prejudice and discrimination. I very much welcome your increased participation in public life and hope you will build on this in the future.”
21 April 2009
The Bahá’í community has a long, proud and respected tradition and contributes much to today’s Britain. Your faith includes a clear obligation to work towards religious tolerance and respect for other faiths, an aim shared by both myself and a wide range of different communities across Britain.
I commend you for promoting an understanding and exploration of your faith to wider British society. The Bahá’í community can be proud of its success in working to foster cohesive and integrated communities.”
21 April 2008
The Reverend Peter Owen-Jones is an Anglican clergyman, author and TV presenter. He is the writer and presenter of The Battle for Britain’s Soul, Extreme Pilgrim and Around the World in 80 Faiths.
“Out of the biblical traditions of the Middle East, a new religion emerged in 19th century Iran which introduced a whole set of new ideas about our connection with the past. On the coast of Israel at Haifa, the followers of the Bahá’í Faith have built a garden at the Shrine of their Prophet known as The Báb. I wonder if this faith will offer a break from the hidebound views of the past I’ve experienced on my journey so far…
There’s one particular Bahá’í saying that I really do admire and it is the world is one country and we are all its citizens. That implies equal rights and an equal relationship with God – not fractured upon one belief system or another.
Having been here, I see Bahá’í is a religion which welcomes all religious perspectives. And I think – in a land of belligerent tribalism – this is such a wonderful, refreshing tonic. For me connecting with God means transcending the mundane facts of where we were born and in what tribe…
This isn’t dependent on being born into some tribe, born into your religion. This is inclusive, all-embracing monotheism and I hope, I hope that this is the future, I do.”
From Around the World in 80 Faiths, Episode 3 “The Middle East”
“The Bahá’í call for peace comes at a crucial moment in the history of humanity. Peace in the contemporary world is no longer an option but a necessity. All leaders and peoples of the world must come to realize this fact,and achieve the maturity which the Bahá’í Faith foresees for the coming of age of humanity.”
Lieutenant Colonel Sir Francis Younghusband was a British Army officer, explorer and spiritual writer. He is remembered chiefly for his travels in the Far East and Central Asia, and for his writings on Asia and foreign policy. Younghusband held positions including British commissioner to Tibet and President of the Royal Geographic Society. In 1936, he gathered in London the first meeting of the World Congress of Faiths.
“The story of the Báb…was the story of spiritual heroism unsurpassed… If a young man could, in only six years of ministry, by the sincerity of his purpose and the attraction of his personality, so inspire rich and poor, cultured and illiterate, alike with belief in himself and his doctrines that they would remain staunch though hunted down and without trial sentenced to death, sawn asunder, strangled, shot, blown from guns; and if men of high position and culture in Persia, Turkey and Egypt in numbers to this day adhere to his doctrines; his life must be one of those events in the last hundred years which is really worthy of study…”
From The Gleam (1923)
“…the Bahá’í faith exists for almost the sole purpose of contributing to the fellowship and unity of mankind. Other communities might consider how far a particular element of their respective faiths could be regarded as similar to those of other communities. But the Bahá’í faith aimed at combining into one synthesis all those elements in the various faiths which are held in common.”
From A Venture of Faith (1937)
Robert Hayden was a pioneering African-American poet. He won the Grand Prize for Poetry at the First World Festival of Negro Arts and 1975 Fellow of the academy of American Poets. He served two terms as Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress, was a member of the American academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and professor of English at the University of Michigan.
Bahá’u'lláh in the Garden of Ridwan
Agonies confirm His hour,
and swords like compass-needles turn
toward His heart,
The midnight air is forested
with presences that shelter Him
and sheltering praise
The auroral darkness which is God
and sing the word made flesh again
Eternal exile whose return
He watches in a borrowed garden,
prays. And sleepers toss upon
their armored beds,
Half-roused by golden knocking at
the doors of consciousness. Energies
like angels dance
Glorias of recognition.
Within the rock the undiscovered suns
release their light.
From A Ballad of Remembrance
As a performer and mentor, John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie” was one of the most influential jazz trumpeters and bandleaders of the 20th century. He was instrumental in the founding of the be-bop style and Afro-Cuban jazz.
“I believe that there is one God and He manifests Himself to mankind through great teachers for specific periods of time in our spiritual development, that He sends them periodically. It’s like a relay runner who has a baton in his hand. You could look at the Word of God like a baton, the Holy Spirit. The runner grabs the baton and he runs and runs and runs; and while he runs that is the revelation of what’s happening. When he gets to the end, he passes it on to the next guy, and he starts running with it, and that’s the next religion. It’s the same religion; it’s just that a different prophet’s running with it. He passes it to the next and the next and so on until there is peace and unity of mankind on earth as it is in Heaven.”
“Becoming a Bahá’í changed my life in every way and gave me a new concept of the relationship between God and man – between man and his fellow man – man and his family. It’s just all consuming. I became more spiritually aware, and when you’re spiritually aware, that will be reflected in what you do. They teach you in the Bahá’í faith, without the idea of stopping you from doing things, to fill your life with doing something that’s for real, and those other things you do, that are not for real, will fall off by themselves. I never needed to say, ‘I’m gonna stop doing this.’ I just found out that there was no time for it anymore. I started praying and reading a lot too. The (Bahá’í) writings gave me new insight on what the plan is – God’s plan – for this time, the truth of the oneness of God, the truth of the oneness of the prophets, the truth of the oneness of mankind. That’s it; that’s what I learned.”
“In the Bahá’í religion we don’t believe in cutting loose anything good. Cut loose your heritage? Bahá’ís believe that you bring it in and work with others. Bring it into the whole just like a master painting. Because I’m purple and there’s another cat who’s orange doesn’t mean that we can’t come into one big compatible complementary arrangement. Just contribute from your own uniqueness, but don’t get over in their groove. Stay outta theirs!”
From Dizzy – To Be Or Not To Bop, 1979
John Hick is an internationally acclaimed philosopher of religion and theologian. His many books have, between them, been translated into seventeen languages. More than twenty books have been published about his work in English, German, French, Chinese and Japanese.
“But the most explicit teaching of pluralism as religious truth comes from the region between east and west, namely Iran (Persia). It was here that the nineteenth-century prophet Bahá’u'lláh taught that the ultimate divine reality is in itself beyond the grasp of the human mind, but has nevertheless been imaged and responded to in different historically and culturally conditioned ways by the founders of the different faith-traditions. The Bahá’í religion which he founded continues to teach this message in many countries today.”
From The Fifth Dimension, 1999