1. According to God’s Word, what are the only two kinds of religion?
“GO IN through the narrow gate,” Jesus said, “because broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are the ones going in through it; whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are the ones finding it.” (Matthew 7:13, 14) According to God’s Word, there are only two kinds of religion: one true, one false; one right, one wrong; one that leads to life, one that leads to destruction.
2. How do the Scriptures show that not all religions are pleasing to God?
2 Some people think that all religions are pleasing to God. The following Bible verses show that this is not true:
“The sons of Israel again proceeded to do what was bad in the eyes of Jehovah, and they began to serve the Baals and the Ashtoreth images and the gods of Syria and the gods of Sidon and the gods of Moab and the gods of the sons of Ammon and the gods of the Philistines. So they left Jehovah and did not serve him. At this Jehovah’s anger blazed against Israel.” (Judges 10:6, 7) If we worship idols or any god other than the true God, we will not have Jehovah’s approval.
“This people honor me [God] with their lips, but their hearts are far removed from me. It is in vain that they keep worshiping me, because they teach as doctrines commands of men.” (Mark 7:6, 7) If people claiming to worship God teach their own ideas instead of what the Bible teaches, their worship is in vain. It is not acceptable to God.
“God is a Spirit, and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) Our worship must be in harmony with the truth of God’s Word.
The Fruitage of False Religion
3. What is one way to distinguish true religion from false?
3 How can we tell whether a religion is pleasing to God or not? Jesus said: “Every good tree produces fine fruit, but every rotten tree produces worthless fruit . . . Really, then, by their fruits you will recognize those men.” In other words, if a religion is from God, it will produce good; but if a religion is from Satan, it will produce bad.—Matthew 7:15-20.
4. What quality do worshipers of Jehovah display?
4 True religion produces people who have love among themselves and show love to others. This is because Jehovah himself is a loving God. Jesus said: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” How do religions measure up to this standard for true worship?—John 13:35; Luke 10:27; 1 John 4:8.
5. How does one encyclopedia describe the African slave trade?
5 Consider the African slave trade. The New Encyclopædia Britannica states: “Approximately 18,000,000 Africans were delivered into the Islāmic trans-Saharan and Indian Ocean slave trades between 650 and 1905. In the second half of the 15th century Europeans began to trade along the west coast of Africa, and by 1867 between 7,000,000 and 10,000,000 Africans had been shipped as slaves to the New World.”
6. How was religion involved in the slave trade?
6 What stand did religion take during this time of turmoil in Africa when men, women, and children were torn away from their homes and families, bound in chains, branded with hot irons, and bought and sold like cattle? Bethwell Ogot writes in the Daily Nation of Nairobi, Kenya: “Both Christianity and Islam adhere theologically to a belief in the unity of mankind, and yet both gave birth to slave-holding societies permeated with racial prejudice. . . . We should acknowledge the shared guilt between Muslims and Christians, between the West and the Middle East, and the moral blindness that led to centuries of immeasurable suffering for Africans.”
Religion and War
7. What part have religious leaders played in warfare?
7 False religion has shown its rotten fruitage in other ways. For example, though the Bible says to “love your neighbor,” religious leaders throughout the world have zealously supported and promoted warfare.—Matthew 22:39.
8. (a) How did religious leaders promote killing in African conflicts? (b) What did one pastor say about religious leaders during Nigeria’s civil war?
8 It is well-known that during 1994, some nuns and priests participated in the slaughter of people in Rwanda. Religion has played a major role in other African conflicts as well. For example, during the bloody civil war in Nigeria, religions on both sides encouraged the people to fight. As that war dragged on, one pastor said that church leaders had “set aside the work given to them by God.” He also said: “We who call ourselves ministers of God have become ministers of Satan.”
9. What does the Bible say about ministers of Satan?
9 The Bible says much the same thing: “Satan himself keeps transforming himself into an angel of light. It is therefore nothing great if his ministers also keep transforming themselves into ministers of righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 11:14, 15) Just as many wicked men pretend to be good, Satan deceives people with ministers who appear to be righteous but whose works are wicked and whose fruitage is rotten.
10. In what way have religious leaders disowned God?
10 Throughout the world, religious leaders have preached love, peace, and goodness, but they have practiced hatred, war, and ungodliness. The Bible describes them well. It says: “They publicly declare they know God, but they disown him by their works.”—Titus 1:16.
Get Out of “Babylon the Great”
11. How does the Bible describe false religion?
11 We can see what Jehovah thinks about false religion by reading the Bible book of Revelation. There, false religion is described as a symbolic woman, “Babylon the Great.” (Revelation 17:5) Note how God describes her:
“The great harlot . . . with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication.” (Revelation 17:1, 2) Rather than being faithful to God, false religion has meddled in politics, often telling governments what to do.
“In her was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones and of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.” (Revelation 18:24) False religion has persecuted and killed faithful servants of God and has been responsible for the death of millions in warfare.
“She glorified herself and lived in shameless luxury.” (Revelation 18:7) False religion has great riches, which her leaders use to live in luxury.
“By [her] spiritistic practice all the nations were misled.” (Revelation 18:23) By her false teaching that the soul does not die, false religion has opened the door to every kind of spiritism and sorcery and has promoted fear of the dead and worship of ancestors.
12. What warning does the Bible give about false religion?
12 Sounding a strong warning to people to separate from false religion, the Bible says: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.”—Revelation 18:4, 5.
13. What will happen to false religion and to those who practice it?
13 In the near future, Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, will be totally destroyed. The Bible says: “In one day her plagues will come, death and mourning and famine, and she will be completely burned with fire, because Jehovah God, who judged her, is strong.” (Revelation 18:8) To avoid receiving part of her plagues, we must break off all connections with false religion, having nothing to do with practices, celebrations, and beliefs that are displeasing to God. The matter is urgent. Our lives are at stake!—2 Corinthians 6:14-18.