Our Daily Bread: A Demon-Haunted World Order

There’s an ancient tradition in Iran of regarding some things as “ritually” unclean. Any exposure to such things can cause spiritual illness, and requires that the exposed be ritually purified. If this sounds exotic, just think of baptism or crucifixion—two Christian examples of ritual purification. Among the carriers of such contagious impurity is the infidel—the unbeliever. The tradition goes back into Zoroastrian times, and has persisted as a doctrine of Shi’a Islam and the Bahá’í Faith:

Beware! Walk not with the ungodly and seek not fellowship with him, for such companionship turneth the radiance of the heart into infernal fire.

—Bahá’u'lláh, The Persian Hidden Words

Though the Bahá’í Faith doesn’t provide a ritual for cleansing Bahá’ís after exposure to unbelievers, it definitely teaches that exposure to “the ungodly” sickens the soul. The contagion appears to be quite common, though its severity appears to depend on the degree of ungodliness of the “carrier,” being at its worst when acquired from exposure to people that Bahá’ís call “Covenant-breakers.”

Covenant-breakers are the demons of the Bahá’í Faith. I don’t think there’s anything quite like them in any other religion, though they are somewhat reminiscent of the old Zoroastrian demons of death. They are outwardly ordinary people, though it has been claimed that a very unpleasant odor precedes them wherever they go.

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