World Religion Day is an observance initiated in 1950 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, celebrated worldwide on the third Sunday in January each year. Though initiated in the United States, World Religion Day has come to be celebrated internationally.
Growing numbers of people are coming to realize that all religions in essence are one. This recognition comes intuitively rather than through theological discussions or debate.
The implications for today are summed up by Bahá’u’lláh in words written over a century ago:
“There can be no doubt whatever that the peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their inspiration from one heavenly Source, and are the subjects of one God. The difference between the ordinances under which they abide should be attributed to the varying requirements and exigencies of the age in which they were revealed.”
Dogmas and claims of privileged access to truth, have been responsible for creating some of the most bitter conflicts dividing the earth’s inhabitants. The consequences have been – and are still – ruinous. Outbursts of fanaticism shame the name of religion.
How far into our future will the seeds of current religious war have effect?
Civil government, unaided, is not able to overcome these world wide consequences of religious fanaticism. Neither can appeals for mutual tolerance alone hope to extinguish animosities that claim to possess Divine sanction. This crisis calls on religious leadership to break with the past just as decisively as society has had to in order to address equally corrosive prejudices of race, gender and nationality.
To repeat – mutual tolerance is not enough – commitment to unity is needed for, as Baha’u’llah says, “The well being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.”
The challenge therefore before religious leaders, if their leadership is to have any meaning in our emerging global society, is to
“These principles and laws, these firmly established and mighty systems, have proceeded from One Source, and are the rays of one Light. That they differ from one another is to be attributed to the varying requirements of the ages in which they were promulgated.”
“The well being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.”