Religion’s Future Under U.N. Attack
CAN it be said in all honesty that religion is just an innocent, helpless victim of the foregoing resolutions? Or, frankly, have the world’s religions given the U.N. delegates reason to view them suspiciously? How many of the world’s religions that claim to be Christian, for example, have really lived up to the standards set by Christ? During the debates, the Commission on Human Rights raised some historical issues that an honest person would surely want to consider.
For example, in 1973 the representative of the Ukrainian SSR asserted that “history was full of cases of oppression, crusades, and blood-letting which one religion or another . . . carried out against persons of other faiths.” And an Arab delegate pointed out that in the eighteenth century “trade was followed by the Bible and the flag”9 of greedy exploiters. Other delegates voiced similar reservations about religious abuses.
But not just the Soviet bloc and a few others spoke of historical religious abuses. The Netherlands representative, for example, conceded that “missions had at times behaved in a deplorable manner and that there had been links between Christian churches and colonialism.”10 And during the 1975 debate, France’s delegate admitted that ‘in the history of France, the Protestants were persecuted by the Catholics, and that, as a consequence, there was still hatred between peoples and nations.’11
Are Today’s Religions Blameless?
Have violent religious passions been cooled by modern influences and enlightenment? Two editorial cartoons in widely circulated newspapers recently gave the answer quite graphically:
One pictures the skull-faced Grim Reaper with the words “Religious Killing” emblazoned across his black robe. Under heaps of victims, the caption reads: “It’s been the greatest century ever.”
The other illustration, which won a Pulitzer prize, depicts the tragic slaughter in Lebanon, with combatants shouting over the “rat-tat-tat” of their guns: “Here’s one for Allah!” “And here’s one for the blessed virgin!” “Take this for Muhammad!” “Well, here’s one for Jesus!”
But Lebanon is not unique. “It is a dismal truth,” writes New York Times foreign affairs specialist C. L. Sulzberger, “that probably half or more of the wars now being fought around the world are either openly religious conflicts or involved with religious disputes.”12 And George W. Cornell of the Associated Press also notes that “the world’s religions teach peace, justice and love,” yet religion “still figures in most of the world’s major conflicts.”13
In addition to the Moslem-against-“Christian” tragedy in Lebanon, note some of the religion-related trouble spots that these two columnists listed to back up their charges:
Northern Ireland—Catholics against Protestants
Middle East—Jews against Moslems
Cyprus—Greek Orthodox against Moslems
Philippines—Moslems against Catholics
In Ethiopia the Moslems of Eritrea are at war with Coptic Catholics. In a poignant appraisal of such tragic slaughter in the name of God, Lebanon’s former Moslem premier said not long ago: “If Islam allows murder, then I don’t want to be a Moslem. If Christianity allows killing, then I am against Christianity.”14 Surely religions that bring such disrepute upon God bear a heavy responsibility.
How can an honest person overlook the role of these religions in all of this? Have not religious abuses always been a major factor in upsetting the world’s peace and security by fostering or condoning wars and bloodshed? Yet, among the “causes of war,” notes Mr. Sulzberger of the Times, religious passions “tend to be ignored.” So he asks: “Is it not, for example, worth a special study in the United Nations?”
Can We Know What Will Happen?
Will the U.N. ever consider worldly religion’s role in ruining international peace and security, as columnist Sulzberger suggests? Only time will tell. But whatever future action the U.N. does take, worldly religion’s violence-prone record certainly will not speak in her favor.
However, there is a way to be sure about what the future holds for religion under the U.N. Did you know, for example, that almost nineteen centuries ago the existence of a composite political body now known as the U.N. was accurately forecast? Even the fact that it would be preceded by a similar body, which proved to be the League of Nations, was predicted.
No doubt this sounds rather farfetched to you. But consider the evidence first. You will find most of the information in chapter 17 of the Bible book of Revelation 17. As you may know, this book uses many symbols to represent future events. Notice that in Re 17 verses 3, 10 and 11, a symbolic seven-headed, ten-horned “wild beast” is used to portray an “eighth king” who followed a succession of seven previous “kings.” Who are these “kings”?
Re 17 Verse 10 says of those “seven kings” that “five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet arrived.” Interestingly, five historical world powers tied in with Bible history had “fallen” by then: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece. The sixth, Rome, was the “one” that existed at the time of the Revelation.
As predicted, no other “king” of world scale “arrived” from the time of the Holy Roman Empire until the British-American dual world power, which became the seventh “king.” Re 17 Verse 11 continues: “And the wild beast that was but is not, it is also itself an eighth king, but springs from the seven.” How does the “eighth king” ‘spring from the seven’? Evidently it was a composite or collective organization, combining the living remnants of the previous seven world powers. How well the League of Nations and its successor the U.N. fit this picture! But there is more.
The prophecy says that this collective “beast” “was, but is not, and yet is about to ascend out of the abyss.” (Re 17 Vss. 8, 11) Is that not exactly what happened to the League of Nations? It disappeared for a period during World War II, as if into an “abyss.” Later, as the United Nations, it reappeared—just as predicted in the Bible. But how is the fate of religion tied in with all of this?
Well, back in Re 17 verse 3, where the multi-nation “wild beast” is first mentioned, “a woman” is said to be sitting on it. Who is she? The surrounding verses make her identity obvious. Re 17 Verse 2, for example, says that “the kings of the earth committed fornication” with her and “those who inhabit the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” Re 17 Verse 6 notes that she herself is ‘drunk with blood,’ so it is likely that bloodshed is also involved in making earth’s inhabitants “drunk.”
Now, what part of human society is widely known for its illicit meddling with the political “kings of the earth,” as though ‘committing fornication’ with them? What has such an influence over “those who inhabit the earth” that its political meddling causes them to act as if “drunk” from consequences that also include bloodshed?
Is it not the world’s hypocritical religious systems alone that combine these traits? Their history of political meddling and senseless bloodshed is on record for honest persons to consider. And the world is even now reeling as though “drunk” from the effects of religion-related conflicts and issues.
Will religion’s growing reputation for upsetting the world’s peace and security play some role in what finally happens to her? That may or may not be the principal factor. But whatever the reason, the prophecy reveals that God will maneuver matters so that the political “kings” will finally tire of harlotrous, false religion, with disastrous results: “The ten horns that you saw, and the wild beast, these will hate the harlot [the ‘woman’] and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire. For God put it into their hearts.” (Re 17 Vss. 16, 17) This predicts a coming all-out attack on the world’s religious systems by the U.N. “wild beast,” together with those symbolized by the “ten horns.” Who are they?
The prophecy answers that the “ten horns” are “ten kings” who “receive authority as kings one hour with the wild beast,” and “give their power and authority to the wild beast.” (Re 17 Vss. 12, 13) Since the Bible’s symbolic language often uses “ten” to signify completeness (as ten fingers or toes), the “ten kings” must represent the complete number of nations who briefly (“one hour”) rule alongside the U.N. and give “authority” to it. Evidently these nations, together with the U.N., will come to “hate” harlot-like religion enough to do something about it. They will “make her devastated” and “completely burn her with fire,” utterly destroying her.
Neither will the symbolic “wild beast” or its “ten horns” survive. The prophecy also reveals that all these nations will have to answer for their long record of political oppression and rejection of God’s rightful government with its appointed king: “These will battle with the Lamb [Christ], but, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, the Lamb will conquer them.” Likewise, the U.N. “wild beast” “goes off into destruction.”—Rev. 17:8, 11, 14; compare Daniel 2:44.
Well, then, if this prophecy continues to be as accurate in the future as it has been until now, the only safe place to be in the days ahead must be somewhere outside of both the world’s religions and the world’s political systems. How is that possible? When Jesus was on earth he said of his true followers that “they are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.” Yet at the same time he prayed that God would ‘not take them out of the world, but would watch over them.’—John 17:14-16.
As unlikely as it seems, there are people today who actually live by this principle. In Lebanon, for example, that land’s 1,800 Jehovah’s Witnesses have been completely neutral toward both the religious and the political aspects of the conflict, as they always are wherever they live. Repeatedly they have escaped death at the hand of both “Christians” and Moslems because of the Witnesses’ reputation as students of the Bible who take no sides in political or religious bloodshed. The same is true in Ireland and in all other lands. They want to do God’s will in the matter, hence to be “no part” of any conflict.
This may sound too idealistic for some. But, remember, if the Revelation prophecy continues its steady, accurate course, then knowing and doing God’s will is the only truly realistic way of life. The approaching end of both the U.N. and the worldly religions makes this vital. “The world is passing away,” says the Bible, “but he that does the will of God remains forever.” Jehovah’s Witnesses will be glad to assist you in learning God’s will now.—1 John 2:17.
1. U.N. Documents A/C.3/L.2006 to 2014.
2. Ibid., E/CN.4/L.1338, p. 4.
3. Ibid., p. 5.
4. 230 Words Toward Religious Freedom, Homer A. Jack, p. 10.
5. U.N. Document E/CN.4/L.1338, p. 4.
6. Ibid., E/CN.4/L.1327, p. 2.
7. Ibid., E/CN.4/SR.1369, p. 7.
8. Ibid., p. 8.
9. Ibid., A/C.3/L.2006 to 2014.
11. Homer A. Jack, op. cit.
12. New York Times, January 24, 1976, p. 27.
13. The Express (Easton, Pa.), April 3, 1976, p. 5.
14. Oregon Journal, November 29, 1975, p. 4.
[Picture on page 7]
Reproduced by courtesy of Wil-Jo Associates, Inc., and Bill Mauldin
[Picture on page 8]
Published by permission of Tony Auth of the Philadelphia Inquirer