Battering the Church-State Wall
During the first week of his presidency, George W. Bush launched a seeming attack against the wall between church and state with his creation of the new "Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives," which will encourage government funding and support of religion-based community programs. Many analysts believe the Religious Right and its allies are calling in their favors for having delivered both the presidential nomination and the election to the former Texas governor.
Some careful watchers of church-state relations find it disturbing that government could be supporting religious programs with taxpayer dollars, and (even more so) that religious organizations might be inclined to modify the religious nature of the help they offer those in need so they might receive state funding. Few seem aware that religion has flourished more in America than any other Western nation due to the strict separation maintained between the church and civil authority.
Regarding the appropriate role of government, it might be well to think about the division of responsibility based on the areas of emphasis of the Ten Commandments. Generally the first four commandments relate to man's duty to God while the latter six relate to man's relationship to fellow man. It seems the focus of government regulation should be on the latter six and not the first four.
Again we recall the words of the Master, "My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now is My kingdom not from thence" (John 18:36). The kingdom of our Lord doesn't need the support of government to do its job, either financial or otherwise. When the disciples asked Jesus before His ascension, "Wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom of Israel?" (Acts 1:6), He replied, "Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost has come upon you" (verse 8). He didn't say, "You shall receive power when you acquire state funding or gain control of secular governments."
Predicting the end-time consequences of such breaches in the church-state wall, inspiration wrote long ago:
"Let the principle once be established in the United States that the church may employ or control the power of the state, that religious observances may be enforced by secular laws; in short, that the authority of church and state is to dominate the conscience, and the triumph of Rome in this country is assured" (The Great Controversy, p. 581).
The cover article in the February 19, 2001 issue of Time magazine featured the new, highly publicized strides in cloning technology, with more and more scientists preparing to do to humans what has already been done to sheep, cattle, and monkeys. A report aired on the February 16, 2001 edition of ABC's "Good Morning America" stated that at least 50 mothers have agreed to let a scientist try to clone their babes.
At about the same time, it was reported on network news that the experiments now in progress include possibility of blending the biological makeup of humans with that of cows and other animals. While it is urged that such efforts would be confined to therapeutic lines, such as the production of organs for people in particular need, many wonder how much further such flirtation with biology will go.
Ethicists and politicians alike worry about this "brave new world" we've entered, many calling for the immediate enactment of laws that would prohibit such experiments once and for all. But whether legal or not, many believe such tampering with life's basics will continue, and that once something is possible to do, more than one adventuring scientist will do it.
Jesus declared, "As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man" (Luke 17:26). Inspiration lets us know some of the scientific adventurism which took place in Noah's time, and how God viewed it:
"But if there was one sin above another which called for the destruction of the race by the flood, it was the base crime of amalgamation of man and beast which defaced the image of God, and caused confusion everywhere. God purposed to destroy that powerful, long-lived race that had corrupted their ways before Him" (Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 64).
January's devastating earthquake in El Salvador was followed by another, worse quake in India on January 26, in which nearly 20,000 died, thousands more were injured, and many thousands more left homeless. The India quake, which measured 7.9 on the Richter scale, was described as the "worst in 50 years."
One month after the El Salvador quake, on February 13, 2001, a powerful aftershock struck El Salvador again, causing more destruction and loss of life.
Jesus predicted to His disciples, "And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven" (Luke 21:11). Again we note the inspired forecast of similar events:
"How frequently we hear of earthquakes and tornadoes, of destruction by fire and flood, with great loss of life and property! Apparently these calamities are capricious outbreaks of disorganized, unregulated forces of nature, wholly beyond the control of man; but in them all, God's purpose may be read. They are among His agencies by which He seeks to arouse men and women to a sense of their danger" (Prophets and Kings, p. 277).