Our Collapsing Constitution, Part 1 – The Rise of the Surveillance State
By Pastor Hal Mayer
I am glad that we have the hope of living eternally with Jesus, far from the conflicts, chaos and confusion of an ever more darkened world. When I read the news of violent crime, wars and bloodshed on every hand, I can’t help but think of what a wonderful place Heaven will be. We must be ready. We must give our hearts to Jesus so that we can be assured of our place in our eternal home.
I pray that as you have listened to these sermons each month, that you have been encouraged to come close to Jesus and earnestly seek His face. He wants us all in the Kingdom of Heaven. Not one of us is so sinful or so weak that He cannot heal and restore and make into a child of the king. If he could restore prostitutes, thieves and murderers when he was here on earth, he can certainly do the same in our day. You have a wonderful chance to make it all the way and live with Jesus forever. Don’t you want that? I do. I’m praying for you. Please pray for me.
My sermon this month entitled, “Our Collapsing Constitution,” is the first of a multi-part series that will address the unraveling Constitution of the United States and other constitutions around the world concerning the things that protect their citizens from their governments, and that especially protects their freedom of religion.
But before we begin, let us pray and ask for the Holy Spirit to teach us. Our Father in Heaven, We realize that we are nearing very close to the time of the return of Jesus. Your people face a serious time, and it is important that we understand the signs of the times. We ask for your Spirit to rest on each listener and on each CD preacher that is sent all over the world to reach hearts with your love and your last warning message. I pray that the message today will touch the hearts of each listener with the nearness of the end and the need to have a personal, Most Holy Place experience with Jesus in the blotting out of their sins. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Please turn with me in your Bibles to Matt. 16. We’ll begin reading with verse one. “The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would show them a sign from heaven.” The Pharisees and Sadducees, were looking for some manifestation of divine power to prove to them that Jesus was the Messiah. But they would not have believed him even if he had done a miracle. They would have accused him of doing miracles by the power of the devil.
Too often in our day, so many of God’s people want something to startle them. Some new theory to shake them and awaken them. They want some obvious manifestation of divine power to show them that the time is here for them to get ready for the end times.
The trouble is, my friends, most people are thinking about peace and safety. They don’t realize that sudden destruction is lurking for them. They are deceived into thinking that their lives and the world will go on and on, as it has for hundreds of years. Many of God’s people think that the end will come some day, but not in their lifetime. Perhaps it will be in their children’s generation, or in their grandchildren’s generation. But not in their own. They think that it is still far off and that they don’t really have to concern themselves too much with it. They realize that there are incremental movements that are leading up to the crisis at the end, but they think that they can’t happen so fast that it will surprise them and take them unawares. They can even listen to sermons showing them the signs of the times, and how close we are to the close of probation, but it doesn’t sink in. It doesn’t make sense to them to get their spiritual lives together quite yet.
This is dangerous thinking my friends. We are living in the most important time in earth’s history. God wants to warn the world and win a lot of souls. But the vast majority of His professed people are doing nothing to help their neighbors, or to win souls for the kingdom. Please my friends, at least get some literature and hand it out wherever you go. You can at least order cases of Last Generation magazines from Hartland so that you can leave attractive Present Truth in their hands.
Just as an aside, if you want to contact Last Generation magazine, please call them at (877) 527-8436, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. They can tell you how you can get these power packed magazines in bulk. By the way, my wife Betsy is the editor. She and her team are doing a wonderful job of creating magazine after magazine, full of Present Truth, ready to deliver, and they can help you think of ways to distribute it too.
The Constitution of the United States is very connected to prophecy. The United States is the lamblike beast of Revelation that eventually speaks as the dragon. It will become a persecuting power that will repress all who do not go along with the prescribed worship of Rome and her authority. Rome will control the United States behind-the-scenes. The Constitution of the United States was designed to protect against such things, but wonder of wonders, it doesn’t in the end. The Constitution will be overturned or repudiated.
Let us put it into the larger context of Rome’s agenda to take over the world again. This is from Great Controversy page 566. “[Rome] is employing every device to extend her influence and increase her power in preparation for a fierce and determined conflict to regain control of the world, to re-establish persecution, and to undo all that Protestantism has done. Catholicism is gaining ground upon every side. See the increasing number of her churches and chapels in Protestant countries. Look at the popularity of her colleges and seminaries in America, so widely patronized by Protestants. Look at the growth of ritualism in England and the frequent defections to the ranks of the Catholics. These things should awaken the anxiety of all who prize the pure principles of the gospel.”
Here is what Ellen White says about the U.S. Constitution. This is from Great Controversy, page 441. “The Constitution guarantees to the people the right of self-government, providing that representatives elected by the popular vote shall enact and administer the laws. Freedom of religious faith was also granted, every man being permitted to worship God according to the dictates of his conscience. Republicanism and Protestantism became the fundamental principles of the nation. These principles are the secret of its power and prosperity. The oppressed and downtrodden throughout Christendom have turned to this land with interest and hope. Millions have sought its shores, and the United States has risen to a place among the most powerful nations of the earth.”
Let me tell you a secret. Did you know that the original thirteen colonies were all religious, persecuting colonies, except one? That’s right. All of them were adherents of one faith or another, and to one degree or another, they were intolerant of other religious viewpoints. Even though most of them came to the new world for religious freedom, it was only for themselves. The Puritans or Congregationalists in Massachusetts, for example, persecuted the Baptists who came into their colony. The Anglicans in Virginia, persecuted the Baptists too, because they would not accept a license from the government to preach in Virginia. The Baptists said, “The Bible is our license. The Government has no right to license the preacher.”
Now here is the secret. Why were there so many different religious colonies in early America? There were Puritans in Massachusetts, Quakers in Pennsylvania, Dutch Reformed in New York, Catholic’s in Maryland, Anglicans in Virginia, etc. Why were there so many different religions? Why didn’t God just arrange one big colony with one big religion? You see, He was arranging matters so that the colonies would have to face an important question about religious liberty. When they formed the new government after breaking from England, they would have to decide which one of these many religions would be the established state-sponsored religion. Would it be the puritans, Anglicans, Dutch reformed, or Catholics? This was quite a dilemma. If it would be any one of them, there would be conflict with all the others. They had to squarely address this issue.
In the end, they took the position that none of the various colonial religions would become the established faith. In fact, they decided that there must be a separation of church and state so that no religion would ever dominate the new land in government, and so that the people would never have to face persecution for following their conscience. That’s how the U.S. Constitution came to have the separation of church and state clause. God set them up to make the right decision. There was just enough persecution to make it clear to everyone that a state dominated by a church is unhealthy for liberty of conscience. The Constitution of the United States guarantees liberty of conscience. Nothing is dearer or more fundamental and important to the prosperity of the nation.
But these ideals were not to last forever. For Revelation 13 tells us that the wonderful land of freedom would one day persecute those who do not obey her religious laws. My friends, we are going to go backwards, not forwards. We are not going to have peace and safety, we are going to be at war, especially spiritually, with the oppressive régimes that are presently arising.
We must keep our prophetic eye on the U.S. Constitution especially. This is a strong indicator of where we are in time. Pay attention to the news that affects the Constitution, such as Supreme Court rulings, presidential actions, legal changes, etc. All these things impinge in one way or another on the Constitution.
Listen to the relevant part of the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Here is what God’s prophets says about it. From Great Controversy, pg 442, we read. “Only in flagrant violation of these safeguards to the nation’s liberty, can any religious observance be enforced by civil authority. But… it is the beast with lamblike horns—in profession pure, gentle, and harmless—that speaks as a dragon.” How could it be that the United States, so protected by the Constitution would give up its liberties? But that is what the Bible actually predicts.
I will read again from the book Great Controversy, page 442-443. “‘Saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast.’ [Rev 13:14] “Here is clearly presented a form of government in which the legislative power rests with the people, a most striking evidence that the United States is the nation denoted in the prophecy.” That nation will one day model the Papacy’s principles, forming a look-alike, an image by mixing church and state and persecuting God’s people in the same way.
As the Papacy gained temporal power, she became controlling and persecuting, by using the power and sword of the state to persecute those who did not agree with her doctrines. How will this ever happen again? After all, there is such a wide variety of churches and doctrines around today that it seems impossible for there to be a forced uniformity of religion.
But let us remember, my friends, that the focus in prophecy is not on the prospect of getting all churches to become uniform in all their doctrines. Only one! Sunday observance. Rome certainly wants full, visible communion of all churches with the church of Rome, but that is not likely to happen. It is far more likely that an urgent issue involving wide-spread fear and mass hysteria will galvanize the churches to pressure legislative bodies to enact into law, the one doctrine on which they can all agree, Sunday observance. There will be a few who will not go along, but the government will be instructed by the people to deal with them.
As was the Papacy of old, the United States, by the pressure of its own people on its legislative bodies, will use the arm of the state to enforce the demands of the churches united on this one platform. It is the ecumenical movement that has gotten the churches positioned to take this one step when the time is right, and the angels holding back the winds of strife are instructed to let them loose. The forces of evil are only waiting to take these steps.
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.” This rather impious pope, proclaimed that the very principles of the United States are an anathema.
Last month, we learned that one of the Catholic Supreme Court justices, Antonin Scalia, has joined Pope Pius IX in denouncing the separation of church and state at a Knights of Columbus Rally in 2004, a principle which he was sworn to uphold. When you see the way in which President Bush is pandering to the Catholic vote like no other president in history, it sends a clear signal that we are headed for serious problems in the near future with religious liberty.
“Says Bishop O’Connor: ‘Religious liberty is merely endured until the opposite can be carried into effect without peril to the Catholic world.’. . . The archbishop of St. Louis once said: ‘Heresy and unbelief are crimes; and in Christian countries, as in Italy and Spain, for instance, where all the people are Catholics, and where the Catholic religion is an essential part of the law of the land, they are punished as other crimes.’. . .” That’s taken from Great Controversy, page 565.
“By the decree enforcing the institution of the papacy in violation of the law of God, our nation will disconnect herself fully from righteousness. When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government, and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near.” That familiar statement is from the fifth volume of the Testimonies, page 451.
We have to watch the Constitution as it is rapidly being gutted. The founding fathers recognized that government is always the greatest threat to liberty. George Washington likened the government to fire – “a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” The original and continuing aim of the Constitution has been to protect the individual against the government, and to give them liberty from the government, so that the government would leave the people alone. The federal government was intended to be a servant to the States, doing only those things which are explicitly assigned to it in the Constitution, or that the States specifically request it to handle.
September 11, 2001 provided the best opportunity for the repudiation and dismembering of the principles of the U.S. Constitution by creating an environment of fear. It emotionally neutralized most citizens, preventing them from opposing attempts to control their lives far more than they could have ever imagined. Now, in the name of fighting terrorism, the United States, and nations around the world are implementing the very principles that once were the driving force of the papal inquisition. I plan to share these with you over the sermons in this series.
First let us look at the principles found in the first ten amendments of the Constitution. One of them is privacy. A free society has the right of privacy. The persecution against God’s people is going to be about what they believe and practice; a private matter. They will be prosecuted because they do not accept certain religious ideas and do not obey laws based on those ideas, such as Sunday worship laws.
Though the fourth amendment of the U.S. Constitution does not mention privacy, it is nevertheless implied in its principle. The fourth amendment says, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
One of the key elements for Rome to gain control of America, and undo religious liberty, is to remove the right of privacy and change the way the people and their government views and practices surveillance of its own citizens. This was also a key element in the Inquisition. Technology back then wasn’t anything like what it is today. But Rome became very good at spying on the citizens of it’s client states, especially through the confessional.
The fourth amendment clearly protects the privacy of the individual in his home, and his papers and effects, even if not in his home, against unwarranted governmental intrusion, and that any intrusion must be supported by a warrant. If a branch of the U.S. Government wants to investigate any of its citizens and invade their privacy, the law currently requires that it must get a warrant from the relevant court to do so, on the argument that there is “probable cause,” to believe that the person is involved in some kind of criminal activity. And this must be supported by an oath. There is even a secret court, called the FISA court, established in 1978, which authorizes warrants in national security cases. The FISA court has only denied six out of over 13,000 government warrant requests in the almost three decades of its existence. But the Bush Administration, has complained that the court is too cumbersome and it doesn’t want to use warrants in its investigations, but would rather do them without any accountability to the courts or to Congress; a common feature of dictatorships. The Bush Administration is working very hard at increasing the power of the presidency and minimizing the power of the other branches of government to keep a check on the executive branch.
The Bush Administration, through executive order, and without court oversight, authorized the National Security Agency after September 11, to spy on and gather information on Americans whether suspected of involvement in terrorism or not. “The Pentagon expanded its domestic-surveillance activity beyond any previous time in history,” said the New York Observer on December 28, 2005. “It breaks into homes, wiretaps and eavesdrops at will, and builds secret dossiers on citizens while arguing that there can be no judicial review of its activities. President George W. Bush,” the Observer continued, “argues that there can be no judicial review of any decision he makes when he decides whether an alien or an American citizen is or is not an enemy combatant. Congress supports this; so does the judiciary.”
When the warrantless eavesdropping program was first revealed, the Bush Administration tried to minimize its scope and excuse it on the basis that it was too cumbersome to get warrants even though the secret FISA court almost universally granted them. Eventually, it was revealed that the administration has been conducting an enormous intrusive campaign to build databases of the details of American’s lives. According to the New York Times, the government was tapping millions of American’s international phone calls and emails through the main switches and servers located strategically throughout the country.
Then USA TODAY reported on May 11, 2006 that the “National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth… The NSA program,” said the paper, “reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans – most of whom aren’t suspected of any crime.”
Though the program doesn’t involve listening to the conversations, according to the Bush Administration, “the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity…” said USA TODAY. “It’s the largest database ever assembled in the world,” said one person interviewed by the paper. “The agency’s goal is ‘to create a database of every call ever made within the nations borders…”
The government argues that it is not breaking the law to do this. Yet it is part of the larger plan to gain intelligence information on individual citizens that the government wants to use for its own purposes.
On May 12, 2006, the New York Times reported that since the wiretapping program was exposed, the Bush administration “has depicted it as a narrow examination of calls made by and to suspected terrorists.” And CNSNews.com said that “the President noted that there are strict limits on the program,” and that “Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez… rejected the notion that ‘the United States is somehow spying on American citizens.’” Mr Bush also claimed on May 11, 2006, that “We’re not mining or trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans. Our efforts are focused on links to Al-Qaida and their known affiliates.” Even if that were true, what would prevent future presidents from further eroding the fourth amendment and doing more intrusive data-mining on innocent Americans?
In fact, it was originally stated that the wiretapping was only between those calls with at least one end of the conversation outside the USA, and that it did not include calls made wholly within the U.S. But it turns out that there is much more.
The program is far beyond the President’s claim and includes analysis of all calls made, even when both parties are within U.S. borders. This represents trillions of calls used in an elaborate data-mining operation, according to the Washington Post of May 12. The New York Times commented that “if all the details of the program are confirmed, the invasion of privacy is substantial. By cross-referencing phone numbers with databases that link numbers to names and addresses, the government could compile dossiers of what people and organizations each American is in contact with,” said the Times as it described the domestic spying as “breathtaking” in scope.
“What we have here,” continued the Times, “is a clandestine surveillance program of enormous size… with no limits or scrutiny… If the White House had gotten its way, the program would have run secretly until the war on terror ended – that is, forever.” Either President Bush was not forthcoming with the facts, or he is tacitly accusing 200 million Americans of being linked to terrorists. To claim that the government is not “trolling through the personal lives of millions of innocent Americans,” does not have credibility because of the scope of the surveillance. Neither does his statement in a speech given April 20, 2006, that “when we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so.” (Speech, April 20, 2004 at Kleinshans Music Hall, Buffalo, NY). If President Bush is willing to lie about the scope of the program, what else is he not telling the public? What other constitutional principles are being sacrificed of which citizens are unaware? The Bush Administration doesn’t tell the public anything they don’t find out on their own. The President generally only defends his actions against their objections to what they already know.
It is very interesting that the man who created and was directing the spying program at the NSA, General Michael Hayden, was successfully appointed to head the CIA recently by President Bush. Under pressure from Vice-President Dick Cheney, he was the chief architect of the domestic eavesdropping program at the NSA. CBS news on May 14, 2006 said that “Sunday’s edition of the Times, revealed that Vice President Cheney played a far greater role in developing the spying program. Two senior intelligence officials told the Times that shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, Cheney pressed the NSA to intercept domestic phone calls and e-mails without warrants.”
General Hayden defended bypassing the secret FISA court in conducting eavesdropping on American citizens, claiming that the process was too slow and cumbersome, and that getting the warrants means that they must “marshal arguments” and submit paper work in doing so. The problem is, if these things are not done, there is no accountability, another feature of the inquisition. Significantly, General Hayden is a Roman Catholic and would likely work loyally to establish Rome’s system of inquisitorial principles. Whatever the reasons or excuses given, the developing legal capabilities of the government to spy on Americans is more akin to the principles of the Inquisition than the protections afforded by the Constitution.
When a reporter pressed General Hayden about violating the fourth amendment with the wiretapping program at the NSA, the General did not acknowledge the required “probable cause” principle in the fourth amendment, but insisted that the warrantless eavesdropping on American citizens and the collection of data is not unconstitutional, because the amendment says that American’s are only protected from “unreasonable search and seizure.” The questioner (as quoted in Editor and Publisher, May 8, 2006) pressed again, saying that the amendment requires the government to affirm that there is “probable cause.” General Hayden again ignored the point, and insisted that it only says “unreasonable search and seizure.” If the fourth amendment only requires that government officials determine that a search and seizure is reasonable, then the fourth amendment would have no value at all, and a government could conduct any search and seizure it believes to be “reasonable. President Bush not only wants this power, but he wants it without any kind of oversight by the courts or congress. The fourth amendment is constructed so that it defines “reasonable” as only applying the searches which involved court warrants, based on “probable cause.”
The American Bar association, of which most of the nations lawyers are members, expressly condemned the program as a blatant violation of the law, and urged the President to “respect the essential roles of congress and the judicial branch” and to ensure that “national security is protected in a manner consistent with constitutional guarantees.” This speaks volumes about the spying program. Incidentally the same issues are applicable to credit cards, bank transactions and other types of information. If God’s people are going to have their accounts frozen so that they cannot buy or sell, these tactics must be in place as settled law. These principles are in the process of being put in place in the name of fighting terror at a time when it is relatively easy to do so.
The disclosures of USA TODAY about the scale of the surveillance, “touched off a bipartisan uproar against… President Bush,” said the Washington Post. “Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Spector (R.-PA) vowed to haul telephone companies before his committee under oath to ferret out details the Bush Administration refuses to supply, and more than 50 house democrats signed a letter demanding a criminal investigation by a special counsel.”
President Bush defended the program, as usual, by invoking the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. “The intelligence activities I have authorized are lawful,” he said, claiming that the law authorizing him to use force against terrorism, implicitly authorizes him to ignore the Constitution. But how would spying on virtually all Americans, qualify as using force against terrorists? The government doesn’t need detail on all citizens. The spy agencies can focus on genuine suspects without putting the regular citizens at risk.
“What is clear,” continued the Washington Post, “is that a surveillance program of enormous magnitude, involving… the presumptively private data of almost all Americans, appears to have taken place with no public debate, no judicial review, and only the slightest congressional oversight. Americans have no understanding of what, if any, controls exist on this information, with its potential for abuse. They do not know how the NSA or other government agencies are using it.” “And it isn’t very likely that the type of information one can glean from it will help win the war on terrorism,” said the International Herald Tribune.
Let us remember that intelligence gathering on ordinary citizens was one of the benchmarks of papal dominance in the dark ages. Through the confessional, Rome gained considerable information on all manner of people and their private lives. Rome never changes. If the Vatican were to use the United States to assist in its quest to regain control of the world, eavesdropping on American’s private lives would be vitally important. Rome would be very pleased with the U.S. government’s development of the tools of power to spy on it’s citizens. This fits in perfectly with her agenda. Did you hear any protests from the priests? I didn’t.
Speaking of the data collection in a press conference on May 23, 2006 Attorney General Alberto Gonzales stated that “Those kinds of records do not enjoy fourth amendment protection. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy in those kinds of records.” While it is true that much consumer data is readily available, perhaps more available than it should be, there is no basis in the Constitution to permit a government to collect that kind of wholesale data on innocent Americans for intelligence purposes. The fourth amendment was designed to prevent that regardless of the technology or availability of the information.
Most companies are very careful to protect the privacy of transactions with customers. People reasonably expect that businesses can do that for their own business reasons without sharing that information without their permission. The government’s claim that it can conduct searches of customer records at will, removes yet another protection of privacy under the fourth amendment. The government could subpoena company records of specific individuals or entities under a court warrant, but that requires the seizure to be based in “probable cause,” a very important protection. For a government to collect data on all citizens is a violation of their rights and of the Constitution which was designed to protect those rights.
On August 10, 2006, USA TODAY reported on a meeting with Mr. Chertoff, head of Homeland Security. “Michael Chertoff said Tuesday that Americans need to ease their concerns about turning over personal information to the government – especially if they want to fly safe from terrorism.”
“The average American gives information up to get a CVS (drugstore discount) card that is far more in-depth than [the Transportation Security Agency is] going to be looking at,” Chertoff told reporters and editors at USA TODAY’s headquarters…
A drug store, or chemist, is not an intrusive government enforcement agency. American’s don’t fear giving up this kind of information since they think it isn’t going to be used in a way that they disapprove. When a customer gives a company information in order to fulfill a transaction, he is doing so with a reasonable expectation that the information he provides will be kept confidential between him and the company, unless there is due process through court warrants. Alberto Gonzalez, President Bush and others on their team are trying to reshape American’s expectations of the Constitution. To say that he cannot hold the expectation of confidentiality in a private business transaction, is like saying that he cannot always expect his car brakes to work. It creates a certain low grade fear of big brother government, similar to the oppression of the people in the middle ages under Roman Catholicism. If the image of the beast; that is, if a copy of Rome’s principles is going to be developed in the new world, this kind of social restructuring must take place.
Business transactions are part of one’s personal and private affairs, and hence should remain confidential. Businesses who yield to government demands without the due process of court warrants, do not understand that relationship, and do not deserve to have the confidence of their customers. Incidentally, Quest, one of the telecommunications companies approached by the government for customer records, refused to comply, even under the severe threat of losing government contracts. God bless them.
But this is only the beginning. USA TODAY continued, “Chertoff… added that ‘we’re still in a very primitive model of how we screen people.’ Millions of passengers get extra airport scrutiny or are barred from flights each year when their names resemble terrorism suspects.” If the lawlessness of the government in violating the Constitution is only in its primitive stages, what, may I ask, is yet to come? Perhaps we are going to see much more intrusiveness in the future. Perhaps we are going to see the words of the prophet fulfilled in every detail, as “every principle” of the U.S. Constitution is “repudiated,” not by legislative action, but by presidential fiat. Most people aren’t so concerned about these things because they aren’t thinking about how it could be used in the future.
Don’t think that this program is limited to America. Once developed in “the land of the free,” it will begin in other nations, if not already, where there is less concern about personal liberties.
There are other methods of surveillance that are presently being developed beyond eavesdropping and data-mining so that normal citizens can be tracked. The new requirements for international flights, require that all passenger’s details be cross-checked with government terrorists lists.
Within the next year or so, all U.S. driver’s licenses are required to comply with the new federal standards so that they can be linked to a federal database that would collect data on ordinary citizens. This particular technology could easily be used to authorize or deny transactions at point of sale and on the Internet, and could be the means of organizing personal data for use in government investigations.
On May 30, 2006 Cnetnews.com reported that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller held a closed door meeting with Internet service provider (ISP) executives to pressure them to keep their customers Internet subscriber information and network data.
One proposal presently in the U.S. Congress would require any ISP that ‘enables users to access content’ must retain records that would permit police to identify each user” for at least a year after the account was closed.
The European parliament recently approved a requirement for Internet, telephone and voice over Internet service providers. The European legislation requires the retention of a wide range of detail concerning “traffic” and “location” data, “including the identities of the customers’ correspondents; the date, time and duration of phone calls, voice over Internet Protocol calls or e-mail messages; and the location of the device used for the communications. But the ‘content’ of the communications is not supposed to be retained,” said Cnetnews.com. While content is not presently required, would it be possible that it would be required in the future, once the concept has been legally tested and has become a settled statute?
In the U.S. and Britain, new technology is being tested to let shoppers pay by fingerprint. 2.5 million customers in the U.S. are presently signed up to pay for their purchases this way, according to the BBC, March 8, 2006. While voluntary at the moment, eventually this could become mandatory. Imagine going to the store and having to pay by your fingerprint, scanned into the store’s computers, and linked to your bank account and other databases, both government and commercial.
The best minds around the world are working on methods that strengthen the capabilities of governments to gather intelligence on their own citizens in the name of fighting terrorism. As this surveillance program develops, the United States is taking one more step to becoming the beast that speaks as a dragon. Through confusing the issues, the new intelligence gathering program is being conducted by stealth, taking away one more pin of the Constitution that protects the rights of the people. Rome is no doubt very happy to see this development.
What should concern all of God’s people is how these tools will be used when the new enemy is God’s true people who keep His law and find themselves outside the laws of the land. Once well developed and legal challenges processed, you can expect that they will be ready for use against a new enemy.
It is worth reminding ourselves that every principle of the Constitution will be repudiated. The devil hates the U.S. Constitution and any national documents anywhere in the world that give liberty to their citizens to follow their conscience. Rome also hates these same things and is working with the leaders of government to make sure that when issues arise that require legislative attention, she is on hand to influence lawmakers to frame laws more and more consistent with Cannon law. Remember that Rome is seeking to re-establish persecution, and to undo all that Protestantism has done.
Great Controversy, page 581 says, “And let it be remembered, it is the boast of Rome that she never changes. The principles of Gregory VII and Innocent III are still the principles of the Roman Catholic Church. And had she but the power, she would put them in practice with as much vigor now as in past centuries. Protestants little know what they are doing when they propose to accept the aid of Rome in the work of Sunday exaltation. While they are bent upon the accomplishment of their purpose, Rome is aiming to re-establish her power, to recover her lost supremacy. 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.”
“God’s word has given warning of the impending danger; let this be unheeded, and the Protestant world will learn what the purposes of Rome really are, only when it is too late to escape the snare. She is silently growing into power. Her doctrines are exerting their influence in legislative halls, in the churches, and in the hearts of men. She is piling up her lofty and massive structures in the secret recesses of which her former persecutions will be repeated. Stealthily and unsuspectedly she is strengthening her forces to further her own ends when the time shall come for her to strike. All that she desires is vantage ground, and this is already being given her. We shall soon see and shall feel what the purpose of the Roman element is. Whoever shall believe and obey the word of God will thereby incur reproach and persecution.”
My friends, as quickly as we are seeing these things develop, should we not take heed and prepare? Should we not let Jesus have control of our lives in a most full and complete way. The only place where you can have protection is in the secret place of the most high.
Let us pray. Our Father in Heaven, Thank you for providing for your people. As we see the nations of the world gathering against the soul of the righteous, we need the certainty of Your protection and care. Please Father, as we near the time of trouble, give us Your peace. Give us Your presence. And may we ever, more earnestly seek Your face. In Jesus name, Amen.
For those of you receiving the CD version of this message, the following is a current events update of interest to those that love the appearing of Jesus Christ and are watching the fulfilling prophecies. We can see the signs of the times telling us that we are nearing the world’s great crisis. May the Lord find us faithful.
In a speech in Singapore recently, Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and for Migrants and Travelers, strongly opposed the violence of terrorism. “Religion, he said, “must never become a pretext for fueling conflict, hatred and violence.”
The cardinal “invited believers of different religions to undertake their dialogue within the context of promoting justice and solidarity,” reported ZENIT, the English Catholic news agency in Rome.
Then the cardinal turned the to subject of religious fundamentalism. He said, Fundamentalism is the belief that one is in complete possession of the truth, such that one can impose it by force. “Truth, however, must be continually sought; it can only be contemplated and never possessed, because God is truth.”
This is interesting. Those who believe they have the truth, the Vatican calls them fundamentalists. Also, the Catholic Church teaches that fundamentalism is wrong, and that truth can never be possessed, only contemplated. This is in harmony with the ritualistic idea that the Catholic Church is the possessor of truth and that individuals can only come to the church to understand the truth.
Right now the focus is on terrorism. Ultimately those that believe that they can find the truth and possess it outside the Catholic church are considered to be fundamentalists. By linking it with terrorism, Rome is creating an abhorrence of those that believe they have the truth and thereby muting the voice of the fourth angel who will give the loud cry to come out of her…
Right now, Rome minimizes doctrinal differences in an effort to get all religions to unite with her on common points of interest. Eventually the distinctive doctrines of the Bible that God’s last church upholds and proclaims, will be considered to be religious fundamentalism and therefore unacceptable, just like Islamic fundamentalism is. People will be afraid to accept the truth, because it will be labeled fundamentalism, and thereby fanaticism or extremism.
2. Christian Churches Together Again (CCT)
Back in 2001 a Roman Catholic initiative in the United States was begun to unite as many churches a possible in the United States that would support a certain set of criteria.
The matter has been worked on by the leaders of this initiative until March of 2006, when a meeting was held to organize with thirty four churches, with many more on the track to membership. The goals of the organization are outwardly “to enable churches and Christian organizations to grow closer together in Christ in order to strengthen our Christian witness in the world.”
But the real issue undergirding the initiative is to find a way for very diverse organizations to unite together “in the Spirit” rather than in doctrinal truth.
“We lament that we are divided and that our divisions too often result in distrust, misunderstandings, fear and even hostility between us. We long for the broken body of Christ to be made whole, where unity can be celebrated in the midst of our diversity. We long for more common witness, vision and mission.”
This is the key principle of the ecumenical movement which is designed to remove any distinctive doctrines and which will ultimately bring these churches under the control of Rome. Compromising churches have very little by way of doctrines that mean anything to them, other than doctrines that are common to most other churches. They are typically made to feel insecure by being told that they are in violation of Jesus’ will for them by being separate from other Christian people. They inevitably seek for unity with a larger body, which will ultimately lead them to the largest body of all, the Roman Catholic Church, in order to feel more secure about themselves.
It is the same principle on which accrediting bodies operate. Those schools that do not become accredited, are told that somehow they don’t measure up. Their graduates are told that they aren’t worth as much as a if they had graduated from school that is accredited.
Significantly, the CCT is already starting to act like an accrediting body. Though the principles and doctrinal affirmations are broad enough to include most Christian churches and organizations, the way in is by invitation. I quote from their website; “Criteria will be developed to welcome into the fellowship those national church bodies, associations of churches and national Christian organizations, which, based on the discernment of the governing bodies of Christian Churches Together, will uphold its theological affirmations, further its purpose, and promote unity within the fellowship of Christian Churches Together.”
Notice that the CCT is only going to invite or process into membership those churches that its governing leaders believe will uphold its broad theological affirmations, further its ecumenical purposes and promote unity with the fellowship. It is not likely that churches that view their message as distinctive from all others will be invited to join this organization because it would not likely be perceived that they will promote unity and the theological affirmations. The CCT is being designed in the name of inclusiveness, but will be exclusive of those that don’t meet its criteria. For example, those that insist that the Sabbath commandment is still binding, will feel uncomfortable with the CCT because they will be out of step with the Sunday keeping majority. They will not feel that they are really in unity, if they do not mute that issue, or give it up altogether.
The CCT is organized around five families of churches or communions, Evangelical/Pentecostal; Historic Protestant; Historic Racial/Ethnic; Orthodox; Roman Catholic. New members much choose in which of these families they best fit. When inducted into the CCT and one of its five families of churches, a new member church would learn to relate to the members of its family and also to the larger body in a way that creates more unity. Again, it will be easy to see, that any distinctive doctrine will be muted and the unique message that a given church may hold, will be removed from discussion. Imagine the peer pressure exerted on those that join these groups. No organization can join this group without first intending to do so by yielding its principles to the larger group and voluntarily yielding to Rome.
What if one of the member churches holds a biblical view that the others do not hold? While it is ok to have differences of viewpoint (it would be impractical to do otherwise), the emphasis is on unity, so that those differences can be subsumed to the larger unities to be developed. How would Presbyterians, who don’t believe in the worship of Mary as co-redemptrix in the plan of salvation, unite with Catholics who do? They will simply avoid that issue, at least for the time being.
“Decisions of Christian Churches Together are by consensus,” says their website. “Only when all members present either say ‘Yes’ or agree to ‘stand aside’ will the body move ahead on any action. One ‘no’ vote is sufficient to stop any proposed action. For every decision, representatives from each of the five families must be present.” This sounds like it gives them all veto power if they want to use it. But under pressure to have greater and greater unity, it will be very uncomfortable for churches to vote against any action. At best, they will likely stand aside and not object to the larger body’s decision.
The Roman Catholic Church has much to gain by this. She can veto any action that she does not like. But more than that, she will have the largest number of members in the general assembly because she is the largest of the churches. The other churches will naturally be looking to her in forming their consensus. Without Rome, they can do nothing. Without Rome’s support, no progress can be made. Rome will become the dominant religion in this ecumenical development.
Over these past years, a process of mutual engagement, agreement on purposes, and organizational planning has now resulted in an historic new expression of relationships among churches. “We finally found the courage to confront our obvious and longstanding divisions and to build a new expression of unity, rooted in the Spirit, that will strengthen our mission in the world,” affirmed the Reverend Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, General Secretary of the Reformed Church in America, who has served as interim moderator. “We are filled with excitement, hope and expectation for how God will use this new expression of our fellowship together.”
Free Speech now Censored
Recently the 9th circuit court of appeals, which is a federal appeals court, turned down the appeal of a teenager who had been denied relief in a lower court, when his high school refused to let him wear a T-shirt that read on one side, BE ASHAMED, OUR SCHOOL HAS EMBRACED WHAT GOD HAS CONDEMNED, and on the other, HOMOSEXUALITY IS SHAMEFUL. The school had a day of silence designed to teach tolerance of the gay lifestyle. The student was protesting the activity with his T-shirt, which should be near to the center of the U.S. Constitution’s first amendment recognizing freedom of speech.
The majority of the 9th circuit court of appeals panel said that the problem with the T-shirt was that it did not respect the rights of other students, particularly a “despised” minority.
What the government has done is limit the free speech of one group of people, namely a Christian teenager, and protecting the free speech of gay and lesbian citizens. Their logic isn’t logical. The homosexuals are portrayed as victims and therefore they are deemed worthy of first amendment protection. If the tables were turned and it was the Christian teenager who was the T-shirt target, there would be no protection from the free speech of the homosexuals.
What is interesting is that the government is putting itself in the position to determine which group can bear the offensive behavior and which cannot. While Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek and not fight back, Christians then, by nature of their Christian walk are to bear offense.
In my way of thinking though, this free speech issue, will one day effect our ability to share the message. What if the third angel’s message becomes offensive to another religion? Will it become a “social sin” to reveal the Bible’s identity of the man of sin, or the beast and the woman of Revelation 17? Will the courts of the land attempt to prevent the message from being shared by using legal measures to restrict its proclamation because it is offensive to one group or another? Will laws be framed that will target specific teachings as anti-social, or anti-peace?
Ecumenism Rising in Russia
Numerous Events Held for Christian Unity
MOSCOW, FEB. 2, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Russia is seeing signs of Christian unity stirring. Last Friday, for instance, a Christian ecumenical celebration was held on a large scale in St. Petersburg.
The event was held with an eye toward the just-ended Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and the 62nd anniversary of the lifting of the blockade of what was then Leningrad during World War II…
Some 200 people gathered in the Evangelical-Lutheran church there to attend the conference on “Christian Unity and Religious Tolerance.” Russian Orthodox, Catholic and Lutheran representatives addressed the gathering.
During the conference, participants mentioned the imperative need to work as a whole and to give collective testimony to achieve unity. Subsequently, they went to the Catholic church of St. Ekaterina for an ecumenical prayer service.
The event, in the Museum of the History of Youthful Movements, attracted representatives of the Catholic, Evangelical-Lutheran, Evangelical-Christian, Methodist, and Adventist churches and charismatics, as well as scholars and intellectuals.
“In the political and social conditions of modern Russia,” the appeal said, “friendship and mutual respect among Christians of different confessions and denominations is more important than ever, making it necessary not to allow interconfessional hostilities, or proselytism or pretension to leadership in religious life flare up.”
Please note, my friends that it is essential to the ecumenical movement, that “proselytism” be banned. No one is to try to convert people from one church to another. Nor is there to be any so-called “interconfessional hostilities.” In other words, forget proclaiming the 4th angels’ message to come out of the fallen churches of Babylon. Forget telling people about the Sabbath, or prophecy. And forget telling them about the apostasy of the churches in these latter times.
If those are the objectives of the ecumenical movement, why then are Adventists involved in the event (according to ZENIT)? What would be the point in God’s people getting involved in the very movement that will prevent them from giving the true last-day message? Seventh-day Adventists should have nothing to do with ecumenicalism, and should not get drawn into the net. It is at the peril of souls and of the only message that God has ordained in these last days to bring people to a knowledge of God’s testing truth for this time.
Rabbi calls for U.N. of religions.
On March 30, 2006 the BBC reported that “the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Yona Metzger, has called for the creation of a world body with representatives from the major religious groups.
“Rabbi Metzger was addressing the International Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace in Seville, Spain. He called form the formation of a “United Nations of religious groups.”
“The Imam of Gaza, Imad al-Falouji, said politicians lied but religious leaders had a different objective – to work towards a higher good.
“The imams and rabbis at this conference, which opened on Sunday (March 26, 2006), say the world is in crisis and it is time they acted to restore justice, respect and peace.
“The delegates have made it very clear that now is the time for concrete initiatives. At the opening ceremony Rabbi Yona Metzger said his idea of a ‘United Nations of religious groups’ could ‘bring a bridge between religions to help the bridge of the diplomatic way.’
“That plan has broad support from key participants like Frederico Major, the Co-president of the Alliance for Civilisations, the lobby group for international conflict resolution, supported by the United Nations and initiated by Spain’s Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
“The speeches at this conference rather than using polite, diplomatic language have at times been brutally direct. When the Rabbi Metzger harangued mainstream Muslims for not standing up to Osama bin Laden, Islamic leaders nodded in agreement. Both Muslim and Jewish leaders have shown a preparedness to take criticism. There have also been strong expressions of opposition to any killing in the name of religion.
“At the end of the opening ceremony, the Muslim delegation sang an oration to the Prophet Mohammed before resuming discussions about the ideas they plan to present to their Jewish counterparts. The religious leaders have three days to come up with a manifesto that aims to convert their words into actions.
I think it is very interesting that Muslims and Jews are having ecumenical dialogue. But what of a world body of religious groups, a religious U.N., so to speak? Do you think such a body would be interested in hearing what the Bible says about the various religious groups in the world? I don’t think so. Do you think that such a religious U.N. would somehow work toward religious freedom for all religions to practice their beliefs according to their conscience including teaching the truth concerning false teachers and false religions, and proclaiming distinctive doctrines such as the Sabbath, the Bible view of the state of the dead, the truth about the Papacy, etc.? Not likely. I would think that such a U.N. of religions will necessarily work to restrict and even pressure any religion that does not fit in with all the others and is not accepting of the ideas and doctrines of others, to stop proclaiming such things, and conform to the majority views, all under the false rubric of tolerance toward other faiths.
And lastly, In other religious news, the Telegraph of London of March 13, 2006 reported that “Turkey’s foreign minister asks the EU for blasphemy laws to protect Islam.
“Deep divisions have appeared among European Union governments over suggestions that they should alter their blasphemy laws to protect Islam, and not just Christianity.
“Abdullah Gul, the Turkish foreign minister, sparked disagreement among his EU counterparts at a weekend meeting in Austria, when he called for European nations to review existing laws, to ensure they outlawed the ‘defamation’ of all religions.
Mr Gul told a meeting of EU and Balkan foreign ministers in Salzburg that many Muslims believed that European laws amounted to a double-standard, protecting established Christian religions, and banning anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, while doing nothing to defend Muslims who felt offended.
He said several European nations already maintained laws against religious defamation. “However, these restraints sometimes only apply to the established religions of the concerned countries. I would like to call on you here to start a process of re-examination of your legislations to ensure that these restraints apply to all religions equally.”
However, Bernard Bot, the Dutch foreign minister, told reporters: “We have freedom of speech. That means that Mr Gul can say what he wants and I can say what I want. And it think this [Mr Gul’s idea] is superfluous.”
My friends, Laws protecting any religion are dangerous. They lead to many problems, and eventually will be used to persecute those that teach the truth. Notice that Mr. Gul was concerned that religious blasphemy laws should reflect the way people speak of any religion. When the world is reigned up over the teachings of God’s remnant people, how are these laws going to be used, when people think that any “negative sounding” expression about another religion is blasphemy? How can God’s people give the last warning message under that kind of environment and under those kinds of laws?
Well, that’s all we have time for this month. God bless you until next month.
Many of God’s people think that the end will come some day, but not in their lifetime. They are deceived into thinking that their lives and the world will go on and on, as it has for hundreds of years.