Martha Root's "Visit to Temple University"

My Visit to Temple University

Martha L Root

Baha'i Magazine,* Vol 22, September, 1931, pp. 265-6


Temple University in Philadelphia, Pa., a University for the people, was founded by Dr. Russell H. Conwell, one of America's most celebrated preachers, lecturers and educators. Two hundred students from three international relations groups came together on October 28 to hear a talk on Baha'u'llah's peace principles. Professor Graves, in his talk afterwards, expressed thanks for the intimate glimpse of the lives of people in other countries that the students otherwise would not have had the opportunity to see. He expressed appreciation, also, for the glimpse of the world of peace that might be realized through these Universal Principles.

The writer told of her interview a few years ago with Dr. Conwell concerning the Baha'i Movement. He had said to her for publication: "The Baha'i Movement is the biggest Movement in the world today for world-wide Christianity, and 'Abdu'l-Baha is the Peace Prophet of this age. I know because I spent seven months in the orient and I saw that millions of Muhammadans, Buddhists, Jews and other Orientals have come up beautifully into Christianity through becoming Baha'is. I cabled to Egypt, asking 'Abdu'l-Baha to speak in my church (Baptist Temple)--and when He came to this country He did speak there on June 9, 1912."

It may be interesting to know that Dr. Conwell, in introducing 'Abdu'l-Baha on that occasion in the Baptist Temple said: "Our own people know well the history of 'Abdu'l-Baha, visitors are here who already know Him, hence there is no necessity of any further introduction. We wish to hear of the efforts of those who have gone before him and of His own splendid efforts bringing about the unity of all mankind. I therefore give the time entirely to our friend and the friend of humanity everywhere, 'Abdu'l Baha Abbas of Persia, more recently of Palestine. "

Miss Root's lecture in Temple University was on these peace principles of Baha'u'llah. After the lecture, several of the students of the school of journalism asked questions and the speaker told them what 'Abdu'l-Baha had said about newspapers when He had visited Philadelphia. 'Abdu'l-Baha's own words** were:

"Newspapers are the mirrors that reflect the progression or the retrogression of the community. We may ascertain the progress or retrogression of a nation by its journalism. If journalists should abide by their duties, they would be the promoters of many virtues among the community. Truth and the virtues would be fostered. This would be so if they carried out the duties incumbent upon them. Journalists must serve truth. Newspapers must investigate the means for the progress of humanity, and publish them. Journalists must write significant articles, articles that shall foster the public welfare. If they do so they will be the highest promoters for the development of the community."

Miss Root's lecture had been announced in the Temple University News Wednesday, October 28, 1931 as "a representative of the Baha'i Movement, an organization designed to promote ideals of peace. "As she was shown through the university of the temple afterward, a number of questions were asked about the Baha'i teachings. She commented that Dr. Conwell's great project was somewhat like the plan for the Mashriq'ul Adhkar of the Baha'is in the fact that it was not only an institution of theory but an institution of practice. In the center is the Church (the Temple) and connected with it is the great people's university where several thousand students are enrolled in the year 1931, and connected with Temple Church three great hospitals have been built, and Dr. Conwell also has done much work for children.

The words of Dr. Conwell about 'Abdu'l-Baha and the Baha'i teachings are significant because he was one of the very greatest humanitarians of America, and though his last days were spent while theological controversy was rife, he never descended to it. He did not attempt to define Christ but to live like Him.


*Star of the West
**Published in the Philadelphia Ledger, June 10, 1912.


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