President Bush and the Catholic Vote
United States President George Bush and his political advisors have reportedly been focusing on cultivating relations with religious voters, especially those in the Roman Catholic Church. An article in the Washington Post on April 16, 2001 reported that "A number of Republican operatives view the Catholic vote as the linchpin of a larger Republican strategy to gain solid majorities among all religious voters-critical to Bush's reelection prospects" (p. A2).
The article quoted Princeton University political scientist Robert George as commenting, "in 1960, John Kennedy went from Washington down to Texas to assure Protestant preachers that he would not obey the pope. In 2001, George Bush come from Texas up to Washington to assure a group of Catholic bishops that he would."
In his March 22 speech at the dedication of the Pope John Paul Cultural Center in Washington D.C., President Bush commented, "To those with power, the Pope carries a message of justice and human rights" (press release from the Office of the White House posted on www.whitehouse.org).
While service to all responsible elements of the electorate is a duty of those elected to public office, it seems a little ominous that the strongest government in the world is cultivating the favor of religion and especially that of Roman Catholicism. The "deadly wound" mentioned in Scripture is surely healed and at least much of the world is "wondering after the beast." The apologies of the Catholic Church have had the effect of glossing over the record of history. Those, however, with the benefit of inspiration surely must know that the time before the coming of Jesus is short and that more difficult times will come for those who defend the special truths of these latter days.
The Roman Catholic Church has not given up the claim of papal infallibility and the fundamental incompatibility of the Roman Church has been noted as follows:
"The Constitution of the United States guarantees liberty of conscience. Nothing is dearer or more fundamental. Pope Pius IX, in his Encyclical Letter of August 15, 1854, said: 'The absurd and erroneous doctrines or ravings in defense of liberty of conscience are a most pestilential error-a pest, of all others, most to be dreaded in a state.' The same pope, in his Encyclical Letter of December 8, 1864, anathematized 'those who assert the liberty of conscience and of religious worship,' also 'all such as maintain that the church may not employ force.'" (The Great Controversy, p. 564).
History well records how the "mother church" used temporal power when she had it during the middle ages. How long shall we have to wait for the Roman Catholic Church to renounce the "infallible" pronouncements of popes of the past?
The recent episode involving a slave ship along the coast of West Africa confirms the ugly truth that despite wishful thinking on the part of many, slavery lives on in our contemporary world. The April 16 broadcast of the CBS Evening News, in reporting the route of the slave ship in West Africa, described how the coast which was once called the "Slave Coast" in the days of the American slave trade, still holds this sad distinction. Subsequently, the April 17 broadcast of the CBS Evening News reported that according to United Nations estimates, at least 200 million children throughout the world are bound in some form of slavery.
Critics of inspired statements about slavery at the end of time, sometimes claim that those statements prove that the writings depict outdated conditions no longer relevant in our world. Recent news makes it all too evident that the following prediction about Jesus' coming makes as much sense now as ever:
"I saw the pious slave rise up in victory and triumph, and shake off the chains that bound him, while his wicked master was in confusion and knew not what to do; for the wicked could not understand the words of the voice of God" (Early Writings, p. 286).
The third week of April 2001 saw renewed flooding in the upper Midwest, threatening to be worse than the Red River flooding three years ago in Grand Forks and Fargo, North Dakota. According to the April 17 broadcast of the CBS Evening News, the Mississippi River is now threatening four states-Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin-and is presently higher than at any time since the 1960s. Before the water recedes, experts believe the river could set a new record.
Again the inspired pen reveals its awesome relevance:
"The restraining Spirit of God is even now being withdrawn from the world. Hurricanes, storms, tempests, fire and flood, disasters by sea and land, follow each other in quick succession. Science seeks to explain all these. The signs thickening around us, telling of the new approach of the Son of God, are attributed to any other than the true cause" (Testimonies, vol. 6, p. 408).