At the u of u library i checked out some old collections of the American Baha'i periodical called 'World Order' (which i think is kind of funny because of it's similarity to 'new world order' which conservatives fear so much and is not entirely unlike what baha'i actually teach).
I was able to get one collection from the 1930's and one from the 1960's.
What i was most struck by in looking through these is how very similar everything written is to things currently put out by Baha'i's, which i think says a lot to their credit. One, about how radical their teachings were for their time, and two, how little their teachings are a reflection of culture and society, unlike many other religions.
With the exception of a few cultural references and dates, i think if i were to read one of these articles not being aware of when they were written i would assume they are written today.
my natural instinct is to compare everything i read about or by any religion with Mormonism since it is what i am most familiar with.
Meghan bought a copy of a Mormon booklet about morality from... i think the sixties. reading it is often laugh out loud funny because of how outdated it is. Many parts extremely sexist and naive, both scientifically and philosophically. That is just forty years ago. Anyone who has looked through church publications from early church history or even early to mid nineteen hundreds realizes how radically different are the ways and types of issues discussed, and occasionally even the doctrines themselves have changed. if one studies these changes of emphasis and doctrine it is easy to see how clearly they follow changes in time and culture.
Jan Shipps, prominent scholar on Mormonism said that if one were to attend Mormon church one hundred years ago it would be unrecognizable in contrast with modern Mormonism. In just one hundred years.
i think this also speaks a lot for Mormonism. how can one be expected to put their entire trust in an institution that is not consistent? will kids who get a hold of church publications forty years from now laugh out loud when they read them because of how surprising it is people once held certain views?
so i really appreciated seeing how consistent the Bahai's have been throughout their history. It allows me to feel comfortable trusting that the things they say have an objective truth and are not subject to change with times.
and it is not as if current Bahai's are so similar with past Baha'is because they are backward and not up to date culturally, stubbornly holding onto old belief systems, but rather that past Bahai's were so ahead of their times. In era's of deep racial prejudice and intolerance of all types their message has always been one of unity and tolerance.
As late as "1949, while criticizing the legislative efforts in Arizona to 'guarantee rights of Negroes,' LDS presidency counselor David O. McKay said, 'The South knows how to handle them and they do not have any trouble, and the colored people are better off down there--[but] in California they are becoming very progressive and insolent in many cases.' Likewise, in 1950 Counselor Clark wrote: 'Race tolerance: the trend is just terrible'"!
(i am using mormonism specifically but i am sure much of what i am saying could apply to much of Christianity generally)
Meanwhile by this time the Baha'i's, had already been teaching racial and gender equality for over one hundred years. Even encouraging interracial marriage rather than saying it deserved to be punished by death, as was the case during Brigham Young's presidency and was still discouraged up until the seventies.'
Of course now president Hinckley makes statements about how anyone who is disparaging of other races is not a disciple of Christ, and while it is wonderful such things are being taught, I figure, aren't i much better off going with the group that did not take until it was nearly a complete social taboo to criticize other races to come to such a position, but had been teaching such things since it's inception?
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