Religion on the Rise
An editorial in the December 6, 1999 issue of U.S. News & World Report described a recent visit to Harvard by Billy Graham, in which "students camped out all night on Saturday so they could have a seat in Memorial Church when he preached on Sunday. His later appearance at the Kennedy School of Government drew a packed house, which turned into a religious revival as, one after another, young people proclaimed their faith in God" (p. 108).
The editorial further observed that on the eve of the new millennium "there is something new in the air, and not just at Harvard," that Americans are "looking for answers that satisfy the soul," and that "conversation about God is returning to the dinner table" (Ibid.).
A lead article in this same issue of U.S. News reports the strong emphasis on faith and religion by the two leading candidates for president in the 2000 election--Al Gore and George W. Bush. In the article's words:
"It's the culmination of a long trend in American politics. After decades of agitation by the religious right, faith has become an accepted fixture on the landscape" (p. 26).
We don't wish to question the sincerity of anyone, politician or otherwise, who expresses faith in God or a desire to return to Biblical values. But we cannot escape the fact that this new turning to religion is precisely what the fulfillment of end-time inspired predictions will require.
The world which worships the beast and its image in the last days will not be a secular, God-denouncing society, but will in fact be professedly religious and seemingly most Christian. It will be a popular, grass-roots movement which willaccording to Inspirationbring about religious intolerance in our land:
"Even in free America, rulers and legislators, in order to secure public favor, will yield to the popular demand for a law enforcing Sunday observance" (The Great Controversy, p. 592).
"To secure popularity and patronage, legislators will yield to the demand for a Sunday law" (Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 451).
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a Louisiana case which could drastically rewrite church-state law in America.
The case in question is Mitchell v. Helms, first brought to court 14 years ago by Louisiana parents who challenged several state and federal programs which give taxpayer dollars to church schools. The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on August 17, 1998 that such aid by the government to parochial schools violates the U.S. Constitution.
Says Barry W. Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State:
"The Mitchell case is likely to be the most important church-state lawsuit to come before the Supreme Court in over two decades. . . . It has the potential to be a landmark ruling, either by giving churches and church schools new access to the public treasury or reaffirming existing First Amendment safeguards" (Church & State, July-August 1999, p. 3).
Conservative Christians in today's America are often heard denouncing government control, whether in regard to home-schooling, government-authorized sex education, or other issues. Yet many of these same Christians seem so desirous of getting government money for the support of church schools and programs that they fail to see that what government supports financially, government has both the right and the obligation to control. When the public through its elected officials chooses to spend taxpayer money, it has both a right and a duty to regulate that money's use.
Long ago Inspiration made the following observation regarding such movements as we see today:
"In the movements now in progress in the United States to secure for the institutions and usages of the church the support of the state, Protestants are following in the steps of papists. Nay, more, they are opening the door for the papacy to regain in Protestant America the supremacy which she has lost in the Old World" (The Great Controversy, p. 573).
More School Violence
The morning of December 6 witnessed yet another episode of mindless school violence, in which an honor student, who also attended a Christian teen group, opened fire on classmates and teachers at a middle school in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. Asked by investigators why he would do such a thing, he simply answered, "I don't know."
The following day, far away in Veghel, Holland, another student opened fire on classmates and teachers. The suspect allegedly was feeling depressed due to the breakup of a recent romance.
And again, on December 16, Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, cancelled all classes and dismissed its students due to another threat of violence found on an Internet chat room.
Again we recall the following prediction by God's servant:
"They [the antediluvians] worshiped selfish indulgenceeating, drinking, merry-makingand resorted to acts of violence and crime if their desires and passions were interfered with. . . . The land was filled with violence. War, crime, murder, was the order of the day. Just so it will be before Christ's second coming." SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 1090.