Religious Liberty in the Age of President Trump
By Pastor Hal Mayer
Thank you for joining me today as we look at the growing dangers to religious liberty in our world. The world is awash in aggressive anti-Christian rhetoric and behavior. Many of us stand aghast at the bloody assaults against Christians beheaded just because they are Christians or the church bombings in the Middle East. But there are also religious liberty issues developing in America, Europe, Russia and other places as well.
Now let us bow our heads in prayer. Our Father in heaven, we love You and want Your son to return soon. But we realize that so many of our loved ones and even ourselves are not ready. As we chart the progress of prophetic events, please Holy Father, give us Your presence through Your Holy Spirit. We need Your overcoming power in our lives, and we pray that Jesus will live in us so that we may be victorious over every temptation of the enemy. Thank you for Your love and grace, Your marvelous grace. Please show us today what we need to know about a major threat to religious liberty, in Jesus name, amen.
Friends, let me begin my message today by opening the scriptures to a very familiar passage in Revelation 17. Let us have a look at verses 3-5. “So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”
I want you to notice that the woman is riding on the beast. In other words, she is in control of the beast. A woman in Bible prophecy represents a church and a beast represents a state. So in this case, the church is in control of the state. Bible prophecy is trying to tell us that there is coming a time when this great symbolic prophecy will be fulfilled in the last days. Please notice that this is not a godly woman. This is a spiritual prostitute. And she is full of abominations and her fornication has been filthy. If ever there was a religious system that meets this description it is the Roman Catholic Church. With all the scandals that have come to light in the last few years, which took place over decades and even centuries, it should be obvious to everyone who these verses are talking about. Right down to the colors of the robes of priests and the chalice of the mass, this account accurately describes those annals of history that expose the tyranny of Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots. But for those who do not want to believe will not see it. It is specially designed just so that only those whose spiritual eyes are open can see the connection.
Rome was cut down by a deadly wound when Napoleon sent his general to Rome to arrest and exile the pope. She lost her power with the rise of the United States of America, which enshrined religious liberty in its constitution, which Rome describes as pestilential error. But that “deadly wound” was healed (See Revelation 13:3). And the entire world is going to be charmed by the beast again. Rome will ascend to the heights of power once again. Already the world seeks papal advice when there are troubles. And even the pope offers to mediate between nations that dispute over various matters.
For instance, as the crisis in Korea heated up, Pope Francis, who was giving a press conference aboard his flight from Egypt back to Rome, told the U.S. and N. Korea to “cool it.” He said the United States and North Korea should “deescalate their nuclear tensions, saying their ongoing dispute over weapons testing has become ‘too hot’ and suggesting they might ask a third country to intervene and act as a mediator.” The pope also warned U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that a nuclear war would destroy “a big part of humanity.”
“I call on them… as I have called on leaders of various places, to work towards resolving problems through the path of diplomacy,” he said. “There are many facilitators in the world,” Francis continued, offering the country Norway as an example. “There are mediators that offer themselves. There are countries… ready to help.”
Do you think that the United States will ask Norway to mediate the crisis? Do you think that the Pope really means that the United States should ask Norway? Where do you think these two nations would find the greatest help in their little crisis? I dare say they would more likely find help with the Vatican. After all, the pope has already established himself on the global field as the great negotiator. Think who it was that facilitated the rapprochement between the United States and Cuba. It was the pope. Think about the historic climate change agreement that could not be accomplished during climate summit after climate summit. That was Pope Francis. If Donald Trump thinks himself a great negotiator, he had better realize that he is a distant runner-up to the pope. There is no comparison between the two men in that area. And if Norway or some other nation were involved, you can be sure that the Papacy would be busy behind the scenes working to help them nevertheless.
Francis singled out the United Nations as needing to take more leadership in the situation, saying the abilities of the international organization had been “watered-down.” “I believe that the U.N. has the duty to reassume leadership a bit,” said the pope.
The pope’s remarks were made on April 29, only six days before the Vatican announcement that the president would meet the pope on May 24.
U.S. President Donald Trump is paralleling Pope Francis. His first overseas trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the EU, Sicily and the Vatican, was much about healing the rifts between religions, just as the pope has been attempting to do. Yes, there were arms deals, dinners and diplomacy. But underneath it all was Mr. Trump’s intention to reach out to the religious groups involved in those areas to stem the tide of terrorism, strengthen relationships on every front, including with the Vatican, and to negotiate peace between religions. This makes it more likely that the United States and the Vatican will collaborate more closely on key issues of peacemaking.
But what does all this international global tension and posturing have to do with religious liberty. Look, the Papacy is seeking stature and global authority. She already has quite a bit of it. But when she is given back her full authority because of her collaboration with the United States, as is revealed in Revelation 13, she will encourage the nations to establish Sunday laws, including Sunday worship laws. In essence, Rome is seeking influence over the nation states of the world in key areas, all with the purpose to get the nations to endorse her Sunday worship claims.
Please turn with me in your Bibles to Matthew 22, and we’ll begin reading at verse 15. “Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.”
So, what were they going to do? They were trying to trick Christ into saying something that would either alienate the people from Him or give them an excuse to accuse Him to the Romans. They were determined to stop His influence somehow.
So, listen to what they did in verses 16 and 17. “And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?”
If Jesus said yes, that would give them an excuse to accuse Him before the people of being opposed to divine law and thus alienate them from Him. After all, the Jews hated the Romans. These church leaders tried to play on the carnal attitudes of the people and use them against Christ. If Christ said no, then they could say to the Romans that Christ was fomenting insurrection. And that would surely get Him in a lot of trouble.
These church leaders were pitting loyalty to the church against loyalty to the state. In their minds, loyalty to the church was the equivalent of loyalty to God. Of course, this is also wrong. When a church teaches things that are wrong, including blind loyalty, they are either in deep apostasy or in great danger of it. That’s why the doctrines of Rome are described as the “wine of Babylon.” This is very important, because many people think that if they are loyal to the church, they are being loyal to God. And I’m not just referring to Roman Catholics.
Let us continue to read the story from verses 18-21. “But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Show me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”
In other words, Jesus separated church and state by that statement. He used their trap to not only free Himself, but to establish a principle that would not come to fruition for 1700 years. He established the principle of religious liberty and placed loyalty to God above loyalty o the state. How so, you might ask. If in fact, we have a duty to God and to Caesar, then one of them supersedes the other, because often there is conflict between the secular state and the instruction of the Bible. It is obvious that loyalty to the divine creator, redeemer and Lord is higher than that of Caesar. So, by saying that we are to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s, He was really putting the issue where it needs to be. Loyalty to God must always be in place. But we can also support the state that protects and provides infrastructure for us, to the extent that their demands do not conflict with the law of God. Jesus gave no advantage to either the Roman or Jewish power.
Jesus escaped their trap, but He also articulated a whole new concept, perhaps something we take for granted in our modern era – religious freedom. Notice that they left Him. Their evil hearts made them so uncomfortable in the presence of His purity; they could not stay there in His presence.
And why did Jesus call them hypocrites? “Had they answered the claims of God and faithfully fulfilled their obligations to him, they would not have become a broken nation, subject to a foreign power. No Roman ensign would have waved over Jerusalem, no Roman sentinel would have stood at her gates, no Roman governor ruled within her walls. The Jewish nation was then paying the penalty of its apostasy from God.” That’s from the Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 3, page 43.
So, Christ represented the separation of church and state and the priorities associated with that. And today we have a legacy that provides for religious freedom embedded in many of our various constitutions. Yet, this precious freedom is increasingly tenuous. The enemy does not like freedom, especially freedom of religion.
Just look at how the Obama administration, for instance, assaulted religious liberty through the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. Also, look at how the energetic push by President Obama himself and others to enshrine same-sex marriage in law, and then assault those who exercised their first-amendment religious freedom to not serve gay weddings, for example. All of this is very recent history.
President Trump rode to the White House on the back of these twin issues by telling his supporters that he would restore religious liberty and give the churches much more power. Of course, there were other things, such as illegal immigration, treaties that took away American jobs, etc., that he strongly spoke to.
Now the president is attempting to do something about these things. With that background, let us now look at President Trump’s religious freedom agenda and his actions, to determine the trajectory. We need to get the big picture here. If you look merely at his executive order itself there are some things that seem very good. For instance, the executive order carefully avoids any language that would look like the president is attempting to overthrow the Johnson Amendment. Why would that be? After all, he promised to overthrow the Johnson Amendment during his campaign for POTUS. Think about it for a minute. President Trump has had a difficult time with some of his key issues as Democrats and other liberals have consistently targeted his initiatives with lawsuits, judgments, media rhetoric and other opposition. Furthermore, the Johnson Amendment was a regulation that was added to the IRS tax code that prevents non-profit, religious organizations from meddling in any political campaign. To remove the Johnson Amendment would create some challenges that will have unintended consequences. While we don’t know what he will do in the future, we can be thankful that the Johnson Amendment is still in place because it limits the ability of churches to directly advocate for one candidate or another. Repealing it would actually harm religious freedom in the long term, as you will see.
When you think about it, America is in one of the most polarized times in its history (perhaps second only to the civil war era). And the media cannot restrain itself and be objective. The liberal media is clearly and unabashedly biased against President Trump and anything he tries to do that’s worth anything. They don’t even keep a veneer of objectivity anymore. This just stokes the polarization and pushes Americans so far to the left and right that they cannot even talk intelligently to each other anymore. Gone are the days of reasoned political discourse.
In this context, with political emotions at a fever pitch; with evangelicals salivating for more power, the repeal of the Johnson Amendment seemed almost a foregone conclusion given President Trump’s campaign promises.
But his executive order on Religious freedom stops short of instructing the IRS not to enforce it any more. While this was annoying to the religious right, it protects a key principle, by affirming existing applicable law four times in the order.
Here are the key points in the executive order.
Section 1. Policy. It shall be the policy of the executive branch to vigorously enforce Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom. The Founders envisioned a Nation in which religious voices and views were integral to a vibrant public square, and in which religious people and institutions were free to practice their faith without fear of discrimination or retaliation by the Federal Government. For that reason, the United States Constitution enshrines and protects the fundamental right to religious liberty as Americans’ first freedom. Federal law protects the freedom of Americans and their organizations to exercise religion and participate fully in civic life without undue interference by the Federal Government. The executive branch will honor and enforce those protections.
Section 2. Respecting Religious and Political Speech. All executive departments and agencies… shall, to the greatest extent practicable and to the extent permitted by law, respect and protect the freedom of persons and organizations to engage in religious and political speech. In particular, the Secretary of the Treasury shall ensure, to the extent permitted by law, that the Department of the Treasury does not take any adverse action against any individual, house of worship, or other religious organization on the basis that such individual or organization speaks or has spoken about moral or political issues from a religious perspective, where speech of similar character has, consistent with law, not ordinarily been treated as participation or intervention in a political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) a candidate for public office by the Department of the Treasury. As used in this section, the term “adverse action” means the imposition of any tax or tax penalty; the delay or denial of tax-exempt status; the disallowance of tax deductions for contributions made to entities exempted from taxation under section 501(c)(3)… United States Code; or any other action that makes unavailable or denies any tax deduction, exemption, credit, or benefit.
Section 3. Conscience Protections with Respect to Preventive-Care Mandate. The Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate promulgated under…[the] United States Code.
The executive order mostly leaves the Johnson Amendment intact. In essence, the government can still challenge the tax-exempt status of organizations that engage in “participation or intervention in a political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) a candidate for public office.”
However, in recent months, bills have been introduced in Congress that would go much farther than this. These legislative bills would repeal the Johnson Amendment and change the law to permit churches to engage in political campaigning while maintaining their tax-exempt status. The order protects the right of non-profit religious organizations to speak to moral and political issues without fear of losing their tax-exempt status. They still can’t engage in direct campaigning on behalf of or against any given candidate for public office.
President Trump signed the executive order with Roman Catholic, Evangelical and Jewish leaders, among others around him in the White House Rose Garden on the annual National Day of Prayer.
Before the signing ceremony at the rose garden, Mr. Trump was scheduled to meet in the Oval Office with Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, D.C. They were also at the signing ceremony, along with other Catholic leaders, including Joe Cella, head of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, and members of the Little Sisters of the Poor (the nuns who ran amuck of the Obama administration over provisions in the Affordable Care Act).
Mr. Trump offered remarks during the ceremony, thanking religious leaders for joining him in the Rose Garden. “It is a beautiful thing to see these three faith leaders from three very different faith traditions come together and lift up our nation in prayer,” Mr. Trump said. “Not only are we a nation of faith, we are a nation of tolerance.” Mr. Trump said his executive order was meant to “defend the freedom of religion and speech in America.”
“No American should be forced to choose between the dictates of the federal government and the tenets of their faith,” he added.
The president said he was directing the Justice Department “to develop new rules to ensure these religious protections are afforded to all Americans,” noting dozens of lawsuits brought against the Obama administration by various religious entities. He specifically called out “the attacks against the Little Sisters of the Poor,” whom he described as “incredible nuns who care for the sick, the elderly and the forgotten.” He invited members of the religious order to join him at the podium. “I want you to know that your long ordeal will soon be over,” he said. “With this executive order we are ending attacks on your religious liberty.”
While the executive order instructs the IRS not to investigate churches and other houses of worship that endorse candidates or engage in partisan politics, he included a very crucial phrase that makes it clear that he has not changed the law. The phrase is “consistent with applicable law.” This means that as long as the Johnson Amendment stands, churches cannot engage in direct endorsement of political candidates.
He also included the wording relating to political speech, “where speech of similar character has, consistent with law, not ordinarily been treated as participation or intervention in a political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) a candidate for public office by the Department of the Treasury.” In other words, so long as political speech by churches and other non-profits does not directly interfere with a political campaign, their non-profit status would not be challenged.
“We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore. We will never, ever stand for religious discrimination,” Mr. Trump said. “This financial threat against the faith community is over.”
While the executive order will certainly be seen by some as license to get more political, others were disappointed that it did not go as far as they had hoped. For instance, it does nothing to change the way federal law relates to businesses run by Christians who have moral objections to serving same-sex weddings, something that has caused a lot of stress for some businesses.
[I am] “Grateful for [the] Executive Order’s affirmation of the need to protect religious freedom. Much, much more needed, especially from Congress,” wrote Russell Moore, head of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“We strongly encourage the president to see his campaign promise through to completion and to ensure that all Americans—no matter where they live or what their occupation is—enjoy the freedom to peacefully live and work consistent with their convictions without fear of government punishment,” said Gregory Baylor, a lawyer for the Alliance Defending Freedom.
Meanwhile, the night before the signing, President Trump dined with several high-profile evangelical leaders in the White House, including Robert Jeffress, Greg Laurie, Jerry Falwell, Jr., Paula White, James Dobson, Mark Burns, Franklin Graham and Eric Metaxis. If you don’t know who these people are, write them down and look them up online, or listen to our message entitled, Donald Trump’s Dangerous Advisors.
Think about who these people are. These are very powerful evangelical leaders who influence perhaps millions of people collectively. The problem is that they are now seeking for a place in the halls of power and influence. And to do so, they are willing to treat Mr. Trump as if he is a god.
When the group was taken on an insiders tour of the second floor of the White House and shown the Lincoln bedroom, Greg Laurie, pastor of the Harvest Christian Fellowship of Riverside, CA, said that the group was “reduced to being like little children,” terminology usually applied to encounters with God during worship.
Jerry Falwell, Jr. praised the executive order and said, “evangelicals have found their dream president.” Robert Jeffress said the executive order “ended the 60-year war on religious liberty,” even though it did nothing to remove the Johnson amendment, nor does it secure religious liberty for Christian institutions in jeopardy of losing federal funds for upholding conservative positions on reproductive rights and marriage.
While some evangelicals are disappointed that the executive order doesn’t repeal the Johnson Amendment, the fact is, the president doesn’t have the authority to change IRS law. That resides with Congress. So, he doesn’t have the option to remove the Johnson Amendment directly. Plus an executive order can be undone by a future president. An act of Congress would more effectively sustain the removal of the Amendment. So, I recommend that we pray that God will hold back these winds of change in Congress.
But who are these evangelicals and what do they believe? These are Christian leaders of mega-churches and para-church organizations that think it is a good idea for ministers to endorse political candidates from the pulpit. They want political power and money in order to further their agenda to make America a “Christian” nation. While that sounds good, it has ominous and prophetic potential.
Think about the implications of removing the Johnson Amendment. The Johnson Amendment was enacted by Congress in 1954 and is named after its sponsor Lyndon B. Johnson, who later became vice-president and then president when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The Amendment is a prohibition on churches and other houses of worship to prevent tax-exempt organizations from publicly favoring or endorsing one candidate over another. This includes the strict prohibition on financing a candidate or organizing to campaign for him/her.
President Trump said that the Johnson Amendment needed to be repealed so that churches can regain their free speech. That’s not what the Johnson Amendment was really about. It is really about politicians receiving tax-deductible campaign financing from churches in return for giving churches unprecedented political power. It is about giving wealthy special interests the opportunity to have a tax-deductible receipts for their campaign donations.
Moreover it would mean that churches would be permitted to donate a significant amount of its member’s offerings and tithes to fund the political candidate that the church board or the pastor decides to support. Would churches get more donations? Of course they would, because the gifts, which right now are not tax deductible would then become tax-exempt. And politicians would not be slack in uniting with churches to get this “blessed” campaign money while offering the churches more power – just as Donald Trump did during his campaign.
Would donors, particularly big donors be in a position to manipulate the message of the mega-churches and pastors? You bet they would!
And would such a move be unifying for the churches themselves, or would it be divisive? How polemic could it become if pastors and congregations would argue over who will get their wad of cash? Would this make it awkward for churches to make the choice to endorse a slate of Democrats or Republicans while trying to maintain some semblance of unity? Discussions about political matters are already divisive without bringing them into a church sanctuary. In fact, since we are in the most politically polarized era in many, many years, this would simply bring those divisive matters into the inner workings of churches. Would politicians who want to benefit from the largess have sudden and superficial “conversions” to the faith or church that offers the most support?
Here is another question to contemplate. Why do popular preachers and pastors want more power? Is it because they lack power in their lives and in their preaching to address the sin problem in themselves and in their membership? Some of them can preach very emotional sermons and get their members very affected. But they aren’t normally addressing the sin problem and unpopular truths that would make their members “wise unto salvation.” In fact, they are usually justifying sin in the name of getting people to heaven.
Listen to this very interesting statement found in the book The Great Controversy, page 584. “No error accepted by the Christian world strikes more boldly against the authority of Heaven, none is more directly opposed to the dictates of reason, none is more pernicious in its results, than the modern doctrine, so rapidly gaining ground, that God’s law is no longer binding upon men.”
So, what is the most pernicious teaching among the churches today? It is the denial that the law of God is still binding. In fact, this doctrine actually undermines the stability and tranquility of society in general. Let me read on.
“Every nation has its laws, which command respect and obedience; no government could exist without them; and can it be conceived that the Creator of the heavens and the earth has no law to govern the beings He has made? Suppose that prominent ministers were publicly to teach that the statutes, which govern their land and protect the rights of its citizens were not obligatory—that they restricted the liberties of the people, and therefore ought not to be obeyed; how long would such men be tolerated in the pulpit? But is it a graver offense to disregard the laws of states and nations than to trample upon those divine precepts, which are the foundation of all government?”
That’s quite a question, my friends. What would happen if ministers advocated such anarchy? Yet, that is in fact what they are doing when they claim that God’s law is no longer binding. Reading on…
“It would be far more consistent for nations to abolish their statutes, and permit the people to do as they please, than for the Ruler of the universe to annul His law, and leave the world without a standard to condemn the guilty or justify the obedient. Would we know the result of making void the law of God? The experiment has been tried. Terrible were the scenes enacted in France when atheism became the controlling power. It was then demonstrated to the world that to throw off the restraints which God has imposed is to accept the rule of the cruelest of tyrants. When the standard of righteousness is set aside, the way is open for the prince of evil to establish his power in the earth.”
In fact, we’re told that the scenes in France are a prophetic type of the scenes that will take place at the end of time. Here is another statement from the book Education, page 228. “At the same time anarchy is seeking to sweep away all law, not only divine, but human. The centralizing of wealth and power; the vast combinations for the enriching of the few at the expense of the many; the combinations of the poorer classes for the defense of their interests and claims; the spirit of unrest, of riot and bloodshed; the world-wide dissemination of the same teachings that led to the French Revolution—all are tending to involve the whole world in a struggle similar to that which convulsed France.”
While men slept the enemy sowed tares. And today, there is so much evil, wickedness; violence and crime, that one wonders how long God will let it continue. The chaos of the Trump administration is merely a sign of the times. Very few respect the office of POTUS. Very few think there is even a chance of a return to moral rectitude. Yet pastors of Sunday churches want more political power. Do they really want it to benefit their churches, or will it increase their stature and their fortunes?
Let me continue reading from The Great Controversy, pages 584 and 585. “Wherever the divine precepts are rejected, sin ceases to appear sinful or righteousness desirable. Those who refuse to submit to the government of God are wholly unfitted to govern themselves. Through their pernicious teachings the spirit of insubordination is implanted in the hearts of children and youth, who are naturally impatient of control; and a lawless, licentious state of society results. While scoffing at the credulity of those who obey the requirements of God, the multitudes eagerly accept the delusions of Satan. They give the rein to lust and practice the sins, which have called down judgments upon the heathen.
“Those who teach the people to regard lightly the commandments of God sow disobedience to reap disobedience. Let the restraint imposed by the divine law be wholly cast aside, and human laws would soon be disregarded. Because God forbids dishonest practices, coveting, lying, and defrauding, men are ready to trample upon His statutes as a hindrance to their worldly prosperity; but the results of banishing these precepts would be such as they do not anticipate. If the law were not binding, why should any fear to transgress? Property would no longer be safe. Men would obtain their neighbor’s possessions by violence, and the strongest would become richest. Life itself would not be respected. The marriage vow would no longer stand as a sacred bulwark to protect the family. He who had the power, would, if he desired, take his neighbor’s wife by violence. The fifth commandment would be set aside with the fourth. Children would not shrink from taking the life of their parents if by so doing they could obtain the desire of their corrupt hearts. The civilized world would become a horde of robbers and assassins; and peace, rest, and happiness would be banished from the earth.”
So why do we have so much lawlessness and wickedness in our world today? Ultimately, it is because the popular preachers teach that the law of God is no longer in force and that we are forgiven all of our sins, past, present and future, and that there is no need to be concerned or alarmed over anything, including a few darling sins. Peace and safety, this is the keynote and mantra. We’re all saved. And if you have once been saved, you never lose that salvation no matter what sins you commit, no matter how evil your life, no matter whether you study your Bible or not.
I’ll continue reading. “Already the doctrine that men are released from obedience to God’s requirements has weakened the force of moral obligation and opened the floodgates of iniquity upon the world. Lawlessness, dissipation, and corruption are sweeping in upon us like an overwhelming tide. In the family, Satan is at work. His banner waves, even in professedly Christian households. There is envy, evil surmising, hypocrisy, estrangement, emulation, strife, betrayal of sacred trusts, indulgence of lust. The whole system of religious principles and doctrines, which should form the foundation and framework of social life, seems to be a tottering mass, ready to fall to ruin. The vilest of criminals, when thrown into prison for their offenses, are often made the recipients of gifts and attentions as if they had attained an enviable distinction. Great publicity is given to their character and crimes. The press publishes the revolting details of vice, thus initiating others into the practice of fraud, robbery, and murder; and Satan exults in the success of his hellish schemes. The infatuation of vice, the wanton taking of life, the terrible increase of intemperance and iniquity of every order and degree, should arouse all who fear God, to inquire what can be done to stay the tide of evil.”
And this is where the pastors that advise President Trump have their anchor. They think that instead of preaching that the claims of God’s Ten Commandment law is still in force, they are teaching by precept and example the exact opposite. And the resultant tide of evil has them salivating to “get the nation back to God.” They want political influence so they can organize religious laws that will bring “morality” back to the nations leadership and governance. Some of the morality imposed by such laws will be good. But eventually there will be religious laws that will only put God’s people in a corner so they cannot move without compromising their faith. But first there has to be some legal groundwork laid, and perhaps some precedent in uniting church and state.
The repeal of the Johnson Amendment would cross a prophetic line. It would create a set of circumstances in which the churches that have rejected the perpetual law of God and made it of none effect, as from the Old Testament dispensation, are now seeking to find ways to buttress their lack of power to change society through political means. Their campaigns need more money than ever. And they would come with hat in hand to the church for direct financial support.
Friends, this is wicked. The fact that Mr. Trump’s executive order does not remove the Johnson Amendment is only because he doesn’t have the power to do so. But as legislative bills wind their way through Congress to repeal the Johnson Amendment, we can still see that there is an effort to undo the safeguards against the mixing of church and state.
This is serious, my friends. We need the Johnson Amendment in place so that the rise of church power over the state will not happen at least at this time. The Bible predicts that it will come, but we are to pray that the angels hold back the winds of strife so that the people of God, who are very unready, and very caught up in their sins and wicked ways, will have time to yield their lives to Christ and be sealed in their foreheads.
It is interesting to see what the National Council of Nonprofits has to say about the potential repeal of the Johnson Amendment. Tim Delaney, president and CEO of the Council released the following statement. Listen carefully to what he says about what would happen to non-profits if the Johnson Amendment is repealed.
The National Council of Nonprofits expressed “strong opposition to the latest attempts to politicize charities and foundations, including legislation reintroduced [into Congress]… that would alter longstanding federal law that protects charitable nonprofits and foundations – and the donating public – by preventing them from engaging in partisan, election-related activities.”
What is being said here is that removing the Johnson Amendment would politicize churches, charities and other non-profits. Tim Delaney’s statement says, “Nonpartisanship is vital to the work of charitable nonprofits. It enables organizations to address community challenges, and invites the problem-solving skills of all residents, without the distractions of party labels and the caustic partisanship that is bedeviling our country. Indeed, current law is the reason that charitable nonprofits are safe havens from politics, a place where people can come together to actually solve community problems rather than just posture and remain torn apart.
“…For more than six decades, the law now being attacked has protected charitable nonprofits and foundations from being pressured by politicians and paid political operatives to divert their time and resources away from advancing their missions in local communities. That law has a proven track record of working well to protect against politicization.
“Nonprofits are already free to exercise their First Amendment rights to advocate for their missions. Allowing political operatives to push for endorsements would put nonprofits in a position where they become known as Democratic charities or Republican charities and put missions at risk.
“Furthermore, those who donate to nonprofits want those contributions to go toward advancing the mission, not toward advancing the careers of politicians or lining the pockets of political consultants. Getting involved in supporting or opposing candidates will have a chilling effect on contributions on which many nonprofits rely.”
Repealing the Johnson Amendment would provide churches with the ability to use tax-free donations to endorse political candidates. This in turn, will greatly increase the power and influence of the church over the government. This is a huge temptation for churches. Perhaps it is a temptation too difficult to resist. And they will justify it by seemingly compelling religious arguments. The new system and circumstances will not be equal. Some churches will gain much more power than other churches. Some will manipulate, dominate, and eventually control the government at all levels through the electorate and through the policy-making process. This is enormous power, my friends. And the centers of power that will arise from this set of circumstances uniting church and state will be the most powerful entities in America with the ability to pressure politicians to enforce their agendas.
Remember the statement in the book The Great Controversy that says, “Romanism in the Old World and apostate Protestantism in the New will pursue a similar course toward those who honor all the divine precepts.” That’s from page 615. It will be the Evangelicals in the United States that will press for religious laws once they get the power. Rome will stand beside them, but will not be the prime mover, at least not on the surface. In fact, Evangelicals will ask the pope, the bishops and priests for help to get their religious laws passed. Here it is from the Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 4, page 425. “The church appeals to the strong arm of civil power, and in this work, papists are solicited to come to the help of Protestants.” While we aren’t quite there yet, we are certainly getting close.
Think about the electoral issues for a minute. Religious conservatives have felt marginalized, isolated and essentially relegated to the trash heap of history in recent years, particularly in light of the aggressive liberal and leftist agendas that have been foisted on the nation. Even many conservative Republicans have gone along with it. Once churches get the ability to fund political campaigns, do you think they will let go of their newfound power?
Consider this. The liberal left has generally had free reign, even getting conservatives to support their cause. Most of the mainstream press is liberal and socialistic. Even when there is a Republican in power, they still go along in the same trajectory as the left. Repealing the Johnson Amendment will put the conservatives and their agenda right back front and center in the midst of American politics for a long time to come. And while the left is dangerous to certain things, the right is even more dangerous. And let me go so far as to say that when the Johnson Amendment is repealed the politician who does not have a large megachurch to support him or her will be left out in the cold. I predict that if the Johnson Amendment is repealed, many a politician will somehow miraculously “get saved.” And religious leaders will talk about the great revival going on in America by the political parties.
Even Barry Black, the chaplain of the Senate is talking about a religious revival among politicians. During a “Congressional-Clergy Town Hall” event for conservative pastors and members of congress, he said he sees a revival coming and that “it will commence… in the halls of Congress.”
“Popular revivals are too often carried by appeals to the imagination, by exciting the emotions, by gratifying the love for what is new and startling. Converts thus gained have little desire to listen to Bible truth, little interest in the testimony of prophets and apostles. Unless a religious service has something of a sensational character, it has no attractions for them. A message which appeals to unimpassioned reason awakens no response. The plain warnings of God’s word, relating directly to their eternal interests, are unheeded.” That’s from The Great Controversy, page, 463.
If a revival starts with politicians, they will not recognize the danger and will eventually fulfill the following statement. “The dignitaries of church and state will unite to bribe, persuade, or compel all classes to honor the Sunday. The lack of divine authority will be supplied by oppressive enactments. Political corruption is destroying love of justice and regard for truth; and 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. Liberty of conscience, which has cost so great a sacrifice, will no longer be respected. In the soon-coming conflict we shall see exemplified the prophet’s words: ‘The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.’ Revelation 12:17.” That’s from The Great Controversy, page 592.
For over 240 years the United States has protected both the church and the state from the deadly medieval combination that persecuted the followers of Jesus and those who obeyed God’s law. Now an explosive change is openly and suddenly being considered that will advance the long-anticipated prophecies found in the scripture concerning the religious takeover of the secular state.
“In order for the United States to form an image of the beast, the religious power must so control the civil government that the authority of the state will also be employed by the church to accomplish her own ends” That’s from The Great Controversy, page 443.
“Whenever the church has obtained secular power, she has employed it to punish dissent from her doctrines. Protestant churches that have followed in the steps of Rome by forming alliance with worldly powers have manifested a similar desire to restrict liberty of conscience. An example of this is given in the long-continued persecution of dissenters by the Church of England. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, thousands of nonconformist ministers were forced to leave their churches, and many, both of pastors and people, were subjected to fine, imprisonment, torture, and martyrdom” That’s also from The Great Controversy, page 443.
Do you think this could happen in free America, of all places? Will churches try to get the state to persecute those that disagree with at least some of their doctrines? It is patently apparent that some churches would relish getting this kind of power.
We need to pray, my friends, that God’s work will not be hindered by the repeal of the Johnson Amendment. Though it appears that the United States is standing for liberty of conscience, the repeal of the Johnson Amendment is really the prelude to taking away liberty of conscience. This really matters, my friends.
Here is another important point. Whereas up to the enactment of the Johnson Amendment, American churches were disunited and politically isolated, now, however, both Protestants and Catholics are united on a host of issues. Now that the ecumenical movement has reached maturity, there is no doubt that the time is near when the churches will unite to control and manipulate the state. It is already happening to a certain extent.
I should also point out that in 1954 the Constitution of the United States, and in particular the first amendment, was highly revered and respected. The Supreme Court protected it and it restrained political leaders from adventuresome tinkering with its principles. There had not been the undermining of its core precepts that we have seen in more recent time, since 9/11. Now, however, the Constitution has been virtually gutted by politicians, lawmakers, and judges and is now a ghost of its former self, though not one word of it has been changed.
There are some who want to push America to the point where religion has no influence on society and does not participate in the public space. They want to restrict the constitutional rights of religious people and institutions from exercising their right to live in the public arena without violating their conscience. On the other hand there are religious people, those who want the government to solve the moral ills of the nation by funding their institutions. Neither of these is safe for the U.S. Constitution.
Friends, because of Bible prophecy we have a front row seat as we watch the nations of the earth become more and more prophetically engaged. We have the most light that God has ever entrusted to the world. We have a mission to warn the world of what is coming and to take measures to come into harmony with Christ.
And while Donald Trump was fraternizing with the Daughters of Babylon at the White House dinner the night before the signing of his executive order on religious liberty, and while he was meeting with those two cardinals in the White House before he signed the executive order, he was also planning to visit their mother and met with Pope Francis on May 24. In his announcement of the forthcoming meeting, he said, at the time, that his first foreign trip, which will include Italy, would take him to “a place that my cardinals love very much, Rome.”
That’s a strange way to say it – “my cardinals?” It’s as if he has been friends with them a long time, so long in fact, that he now considers them his. And as POTUS, does this mean he listens to them so much that he thinks that he has the same point of view as they? Keep in mind that
Mr. Trump studied at Fordham University for two years, a Jesuit school in New York. He is no stranger to the Jesuits and the Vatican.
Friends, how much longer do we really have on this earth? How much, longer until the winds of strife are permitted to blow upon the nations. Friends, this is not the time to dabble in Christianity. It is time to submerge. Submerge in the Bible, submerge in prayer, submerge in Christ. You have to go all the way if you want to be saved. You can’t just serve God some of the time, or part way. You must submerge with your whole heart, with your whole mind, and with all your strength and with all your might.
Here it is from Deuteronomy 6:5. “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
Let us pray. Dear Father in heaven, thank you for Your promise that if we are in Christ You will protect us from the general slaughter that will come upon the world. You promise that 10,000 “shall fall a thy right hand, but it shall not come neigh thee.” Please Father, may we learn to love You with all our heart, soul and might. May we earnestly live for Jesus today and everyday. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit, which You promise to send us. Please Father may we live in the fullness of faith and righteousness, through Jesus Christ I pray, amen.
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