I was raised as a Reform Jew in Kansas City, and felt strongly about my Jewish beliefs, especially that there is only one Creator. 

When I was 16, I started dating. My parents made a rule that I agreed with and strictly obeyed. I could only date Jewish girls, to prevent intermarriage. 

In high school, I met lots of Jewish girls through B’nai B’rith, an international Jewish organization. 

B'nai B'rith Synagogue, Los Angeles

B’nai B’rith Synagogue, Los Angeles

But in 1964, when I began attending the University of Kansas, the B’nai B’rith chapter there had only 25 Jewish women. As a freshman, I had many dates. But by 1965, as a sophomore, those same 25 women represented the only Jewish women at the school. By that time, either I didn’t like them, they didn’t like me, or they had boyfriends. I ran out of Jewish women to date!

So ingrained was my parents’ rule in my heart that I stopped dating. For many nights, I cried myself to sleep. This was extremely traumatic for me!

One night while intensely crying about not being able to date anymore, I started thinking about how religion had become a major barrier between people, instead of bringing people together in unity and harmony. Suddenly a question popped into my mind.

Why does one God have so many religions? 

I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but this question dramatically changed my life. I gradually stopped crying and pondered it deeply. With so many religions and denominations claiming to be the only way to God, this made no sense to me. I felt it was an illogical contradiction.

As I thought about it, I realized that usually a person’s religion is determined by his place of birth and his parents’ religion. He is then taught that his religion is true, and all others are false. This too made absolutely no sense to me. 

A month later, I met a fellow student named D.J. He and I became close friends. I asked him my question, and I was stunned at his answer. Here’s what he said: “Logically, one God can have only one religion. He is not in competition with Himself.” 

D.J. went on to explain that God has revealed His one religion not once, but many times throughout history. His messengers have been the founders of the major world religions: Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Christ, and Muhammad. 

That means all the major world religions are divine in origin, one in essence, equally true, equally important, equally valid, and all part of a single progressive process. 

God, through His Messengers, has adapted His one religion to meet the needs of each age in which it has been revealed—so the major world religions are like many chapters of one book. If a chapter were missing, the book would be incomplete. 

A universal loving Creator does not play favorites. He wants all of His children to know of His existence, to love and obey Him, and in so doing, to develop into the spiritual human beings He created them to become. 

Unfortunately, my friend explained, the fallible clergy of each religion have tried to interpret the infallible word of God as revealed by His messengers. The result? Conflicting interpretations, sectarian strife and disunity. As if this isn’t enough, the clergy have then imposed their fallible interpretations on their followers, saying in effect, “My interpretation is true and all others are false.” 

The followers have assumed their clergy are knowledgeable and wise, so they have blindly followed the clergy, instead of independently investigating truth for themselves and reaching their own conclusions. 

This has led to the creation of countless sects, intense fear, self-righteousness, fanaticism, prejudice, hatred, greatly exaggerated distortions of the original teachings of the founders of the world’s Faiths, and even destructive wars fought in the name of religion. 

Originally, the messengers of God came to bring unity and harmony. The clergy and the followers have created disunity. 

Here was an explanation that made total sense to me! It was both logical and universal. What a contrast to the illogical contradiction of the narrow exclusive views of religion we see today.

Naturally, I asked D.J. how he came up with this explanation. He said it was from the teachings of Baha’u’llah, who said:

It is clear and evident to thee that all the Prophets are the Temples of the Cause of God, Who have appeared clothed in diverse attire. If thou wilt observe with discriminating eyes, thou wilt behold them all abiding in the same tabernacle, soaring in the same heaven, seated upon the same throne, uttering the same speech, and proclaiming the same Faith. – Baha’u’llah, The Book of Certitude, pp. 153-154.

After an extremely thorough investigation of the life and teachings of Baha’u’llah, I became a Baha’i on January 14, 1967. 

Then I started dating again—only this time, I went out with women irrespective of their religion, race, or nationality. What a wonderful change! 

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

9 Comments

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  • Haoting Pei
    Jun 29, 2017
    How enlightening! Thank you for sharing your wisdoms! I wish we had a Baha'i church in our area. I can't imagine how wonderful the experience would be to sit in a Baha'i church!
    • Marty Schirn
      Jul 04, 2017
      Hi Haoting,
      Thank you for your kind response, and you're welcome!
      If you live in the U.S., you can call 1-800-22UNITE.
      They will be happy to put you in touch with Baha'is who live nearby.
      There may be a Baha'i Center near you. If not, usually Baha'is meet in each other's homes. You will be warmly welcomed and appreciated.
      If you choose to investigate the Baha'i Faith, focus on Baha'u'llah. NEVER focus on the Baha'is because we are human. We are striving to become spiritual in our daily lives, but sometimes we blow it!
      ...
      If you wish to contact me, my e-mail address is trainlover9@msn.com Put Baha'i Faith in the subject line.
      Warmly,
      Marty
      Read more...
    • Domingos da Gama
      Jun 29, 2017
      The Baha'i Faith is not a church but a religion! The misundertanding that many people have by differentiating between Religion and Church use to be the fundamental contradiction on understanding the nature of each one and also the source of resistance and contradition on mastering the issue One God One Religion. Cause the Founders of Great Religions come in different stages of human development with inovations regarding the appropriate condictions of the current stage and so on while the churches have their origin from the Great Religions by the interpretations of leaders or in competition with those who want ...to be leaders as the desire for material means are in demand the thirst for pawer is the contamination of the world today.
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  • Barbra Levine Pakravan
    Jun 28, 2017
    Dear Marty, how can we communicate? I grew up in a Jewish home and became a Baha'i 17 years ago. I have family in the Kansas City area. I just sought you on FB and sent a message to someone named Marty Schirn.
    • Marty Schirn
      Jul 04, 2017
      Hi Barbara,
      Thank you for reaching out!
      Though I have an account with Facebook, I don't use it. I joined it impulsively to see what it would be like. But the truth is, I'm not active on social media because I'm a relatively private person and am relatively introverted.
      You can e-mail me at trainlover9@msn.com Put Allah'u'Abha in the subject line so I'll know it's from a Baha'i.
      I look forward to hearing from you!
      Warmly,
      Marty
  • Jene Bellows
    Jun 28, 2017
    I would like to get more knowledge, understanding of how to approach Catholics who are seeking, but are fearful of breaking away from the teachings, rituals etc. that have been instilled in them. Mr. William Sears book, "Wine of Astonishment" helped me, opened my mind, when I was a seeker. I can't remember details of it now, but it set me free to ask questions and it set me free to become a Baha'i.
    • Marty Schirn
      Jul 06, 2017
      Hi Jene!
      We met when you visited Iowa City.
      I totally understand Catholics being afraid to let go of what they've been taught.
      Perhaps reminding them of Peter who was a humble fisherman might help. If he had strong beliefs as a Jew and had not been able to let go of them, he would not have been able to accept and follow Christ.
      In contrast, most Jews had very strong beliefs and rejected Christ.
      The bottom line however is that a person must have the willingness and tremendous courage to open up to the possibility ...that Christ has returned in the New Name of Baha'u'llah. See Revelation 2:17 and 3:12 about the New Name prophecies.
      I hope this helps!
      Warmly,
      Marty
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    • Jun 29, 2017
      Dear Jene
      From the messages that have been coming from the Universal House of Justice and some of the utterances of Abdu'l-Baha, one can see that the most important aspect in this endeavour is firstly forming bonds of friendship and hence why Abdu'l-Baha's exhortation that each one teach one and let us teach one person a year. This to me implies that for someone to have complete trust takes time and we cannot just let lose about our beliefs until someone can learn to trust us and how can they come to trust us.....this is answered when Baha'u'llah exhorts us ...to show through deeds and not words......remember that statement from Him which says "He whose words exceed his deeds know verily that his death is better than his life" is a our target
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