Keeping the faith
Keeping the faith
A religion professor told the diverse audience at the Baha'i House of
Worship that a Christian saint is the Buddha.
by Sam Kennerly
The Daily Northwestern
People of all religions celebrated World Religion Day Sunday at the
Baha'i House of Worship in Wilmette with music, prayer and a story.
The celebration opened with a devotional service featuring an a
cappella choir in the House of Worship's domed auditorium. Visitors then
went downstairs to hear Dr. Robert Stockman speak. His speech began and
ended with prayer and a performance by a soprano accompanied by piano.
The Baha'is created World Religion Day in the 1950s as an opportunity
to discuss unity of religion.
Stockman, a religion professor at DePaul University with a Harvard
doctorate, spoke about the commonalities of world theologies to a
diverse audience of about a hundred people, from Northwestern students
to Sikh religious authorities. He told the story of how the expression
"Jumpin' Jehoshaphat"cq refers to the Buddha.
Jehoshaphat the prince gave up his riches and devoted his life to
helping the needy, Stockman said. He explained that scholars have traced
variations of the story back in time through Rome, Greece, Russia and
the Middle East only to discover that the story was originally about the
"One of the characters in a Christian story was the founder of
another religion," Stockman said.
Audience member Ken Craft said he'd never heard that Jehoshaphat was
the Buddha. Craft, a former Methodist, converted to Baha'i 26 years ago
after hearing a sermon about "Progressive Revelation."
"I heard the teachings of Baha'i, and it was automatic," Craft said
of his conversion.
Stockman's story was meant to emphasize the unifying similarities of
different world religions.
The holiday is now celebrated globally by various religious groups,
primarily the Baha'is.
"World Religion Day is a day to ponder the unity of the world's
religions... to examine the truth of the faiths, and to consider anew
our own most cherished values," Stockman said.
The Baha'i faith is founded on the belief that all religions are
different interpretations of the same truth.
"All religion is one in its essence, and revelation is a continuous
process," House of Worship spokesperson Lorelei McClure said. "We should
treat others with equal respect for being members of the human family."
Baha'i is one of the world's newest religions. It was founded in the
mid-19th century by the Persian prophet Baha'u'llahcq. The religion
centers around the teachings of Baha'u'llah, whose primary message was
that all of humanity is one.
Inscribed inside the House of Worship are sayings of Baha'u'llah such
as "All the Prophets of God proclaim the same faith."
The Baha'is have no clergy and avoid rituals and elaborate services.
They believe the unity of global religions and cultures is especially
relevant in modern times, McClure said.
"Humanity is headed towards unity," she said.
The seven Baha'i temples worldwide welcome people of all religions.
The House of Worship in Wilmette is the only Baha'i temple in the United
States, and the headquarters for the National Spiritual Assembly is in
The House of Worship is located at the corner of Sheridan Road and
Linden Avenue and is open to all visitors.
©Copyright 1998, Daily Northwestern
Page last updated/revised 101099
Return to the Bahá'í Association's Main Web Page