The Trumpet Herald is a commentary on certain current events in the light of inspired prophecy.
Religious Right Loses, Gains in U.S. Mid-Term Elections
The 1998 mid-term elections in the United States witnessed a prosperity-driven backlash against conservatives like the Religious Right. Certain supporters of the Religious Right agenda, such as Senators Lauch Faircloth and Alfonse D.Amato, together with Governors David Beasley and Fob James of South Carolina and Alabama, went down to defeat. Other Religious Right champions, like Illinois Senate candidate Peter Fitzgerald and Florida's Jeb Bush, were victorious.
The fall of House Speaker Newt Gingrich was also, in large measure, a product of the Religious Right protest. Denunciation of Gingrich by Christian Coalition leader Randy Tate was seen by many analysts as one of the final precursors to the Speaker's downfall. Rep. Bob Livingston of Louisiana, the new Speaker, has a nearly perfect voting score from the Christian Coalition, and claims to consult his local Catholic bishop on a weekly basis regarding political decisions.
On the same front, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops declared on November 20, 1998, that Roman Catholic politicians must enforce the Church's opposition to abortion by civil law, or face ecclesiastical punishment. Republican Governor Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania was especially singled out, and was told by the bishop of Erie, Pennsylvania, that he was unwelcome at Church social events until he complied with the Church's wishes. The Governor replied in an interview for CNN's "Inside Politics" on November 20 that so far as he is concerned, the line between church and state must not be crossed.
Revelation 7, verses 1 to 3 reminds us that God's angels will hold the winds of strife in check until His servants are sealed. The results of the recent elections offer no assurance that the power of the Religious Right is dead or even waning. But they do suggest the possibility that God may be holding world events in check so that His people have more time to get ready and warn the world of what is coming.
Most think the support for President Clinton amid the current scandal, and the resulting resentment at the social conservatives keeping the issue alive, is due to the continuing success of the U.S. economy. Once this changes, we will likely hear increasing calls for moral reform and legislation in civic circles. Yet the modern prophet warns us of what the real consequence of such legislation will be:
"When Protestant churches shall unite with the secular power to sustain a false religion, for opposing which their ancestors endured the fiercest persecution, then will the papal sabbath be enforced by the combined authority of church and state. There will be a national apostasy, which will end only in national ruin" (Evangelism, p. 235).
School Vouchers Win Court Test
The U.S. Supreme Court recently handed advocates of school vouchers a great victory and the advocates of church-state separation a serious blow. As reported in the November 23, 1998 issue of U.S. News & World Report, the high court allowed to stand a Wisconsin law that makes it possible for low-income students to use state funds to attend private schools, including religious ones (p. 25).
Similar cases are pending before the Court from Arizona, Maine, Ohio, and Vermont (ibid.). Campaigns for such measures are becoming more and more acrimonious, dividing communities and inflaming passions.
Many, to be sure, can sympathize with parents who desire a quality education for their children, and whose inability to afford it leads them to seek state funds to attend religious schools. But Jesus made it clear that church and state were to be kept apart when He declared to Pontius Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:36). The book of Revelation describes the illegitimate union of church and state as fornication (Rev. 14:8; 17:2). Those who unite with this apostate system at the end of time will experience the wrath of God (Rev. 16).
More Church-State News
A small frontier town is Arizona has lately been torn apart by the civil proclamation of "Bible Week," according to the November 30, 1998 issue of U.S. News & World Report (p. 33). Mayor Cynthia Durham, of Gilbert, Arizona, insists that the proclamation is merely "a recognition of the historical role of the Bible in American culture and history" (Ibid.).
Angry debates and legal challenges to the proclamation have greatly disturbed this once-neighborly town. Jews, Native Americans, and Buddhists have protested the mayor's action, and the American Civil Liberties Union is mounting a legal attack. Arizona Governor Jane Hull has signed a similar proclamation for the entire state, and is facing a similar court challenge.
Again we are reminded that in Scripture, God has withheld the use of civil power from His church. After Jesus' resurrection, when His disciples asked when He would restore the kingdom of Israel (Acts 1:6), He answered:
"It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:" (verses 7-8).
Notice He didn't say, "Ye shall receive power after you've gained control of the legislature, or gotten the government to acknowledge My Word in a legal proclamation." One is led to wonder how much more influence Christians might have upon our culture if they would spend half as much effort claiming the Spirit's power for victorious living as they do seeking political power for superficial acknowledgments of religious truth.
First Winter Storm Slams the Midwest
On November 10, 1998, the first snowstorm of the season struck the American heartland with brutal force. Unusually heavy snowfall and hurricane-force winds closed hundreds of miles of interstate highways, derailed trains, and destroyed homes. An ABC reporter for "Good Morning America" stated the morning of November 11 that this storm was like "a bull's eye in the heart of the country." Weather experts warn that more destructive storms than usual are due this winter.
Jesus declared of the signs of His coming:
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;" (Luke 21:25).
The modern prophet writes:
"Even now he is at work. In accidents and calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hailstorms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power" (The Great Controversy, p. 589, 590).