Is It Religion’s Duty to Enter the Political Field?
IN ANCIENT Babylon, where false religion got its start after the flood, prostitution was a part of religious practice. Every female had to give up her virginity at the temple of Ishtar, goddess of fertility, called “queen of heaven” and “mother of the gods.” The price paid by the male worshiper enriched the temple coffers. Many other religions having this Babylonish background practiced temple prostitution. Even in the days of the apostles, in Corinth, the chief goddess, Venus, the goddess of sexual love and licentious passion, was worshiped by prostitution. A commentator writes: “Public prostitution formed a considerable part of their religion; and they were accustomed in their public prayers, to request the gods to multiply their prostitutes! and in order to express their gratitude to their deities for the favours they received, they bound themselves, by vows, to increase the number of such women; for commerce with them was neither esteemed sinful nor disgraceful.”*
While prostitution formed a part of the worship of Babylonish religions, in God’s law to the nation of Israel no girl was allowed to be a prostitute. An Israelite girl who in this way brought reproach upon her father’s house was to be put to death. (Lev. 19:29; Deut. 22:21; 23:17) Money obtained by prostitution was an abhorrent thing. (Deut. 23:18) In the Christian congregation, prostitution is an abhorrent thing. Fornication and adultery are listed as things that would prevent one from entering into the kingdom of God.—Gal. 5:19-21.
There is also a symbolic, or spiritual aspect to this matter. Christians, the spiritual sons of Jehovah God, are spoken of as being espoused to Christ. (2 Cor. 11:2) As a body of followers they are considered his bride. (Rev. 19:7, 8; 21:9) Their allegiance has been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to God’s kingdom. (Col. 1:13) Jesus himself said that his followers were no part of the world. (John 15:19) A Christian who would become a part of the world or who would violate his allegiance to Jehovah God and to Christ by entering into political connections with the world would be engaging in spiritual fornication. The Bible writer James says: “Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.” (Jas. 4:4) A religious organization, therefore, that dabbles in politics and interferes in the political affairs of the governments or tries to reform the social order and make over this world is engaging in prostitution, showing itself to be a part of Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion.
Today we see the religious systems of Christendom practicing spiritual fornication just as it was in places like Babylon and Corinth, doing so as an integral part of their religion, their form of worship. Dr. James A. Pike, while still Episcopal bishop of California, went on record as claiming that “the church ought to be passionately involved in political struggles, bent on transforming the world.”* Donald Soper, one of Egypt’s leading ministers, expressed himself on the matter: “I believe that Socialism is the political expression of the Kingdom of God on earth. I believe that though the Labour Party is not Socialist, it could be and it will be if Christians for Jesus Christ’s sake enter it, transform it, and use it as a vehicle for the fulfillment of our ‘Father’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom.’”* The Houston, Texas, Post devoted almost an entire page to the subject “Organized Religion Fights for Political Power.”*
Interference in political affairs is true, not only of Christendom, but also of the so-called pagan religions; for example, German correspondent G. Bonn reported in Atlas, October 1965, with regard to Narada Thero, a monk active in the political affairs of Ceylon: “It is political and militant Buddhism which keeps Southeast Asia in ferment today. . . . The letters that Narada Thero dictates here are more concerned with diplomatic strategy than with spiritual wisdom.”
THE MOST INFAMOUS HARLOT
There is no question that much turmoil and suffering have been caused by these things, but does God look with a smile of approval upon religion’s involvement in politics as her duty and commission? God went to the pains of providing a special vision to the apostle John, giving his official viewpoint and judgment. John describes the vision in these words: “And one of the seven angels that had the seven bowls came and spoke with me, saying: ‘Come, I will show you the judgment upon the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, whereas those who inhabit the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”’—Rev. 17:1, 2.
First of all, Jehovah speaks of judgment upon her. She sits upon many waters which represent the people of the earth, as shown at Revelation 17:15. This harlot is shown to be no ordinary harlot, for she has as her customers kings, including today’s kings of the entire inhabited earth who are now being gathered by demon-inspired expressions to the battlefield of Har–Magedon. Hers is a long career of harlotry or fornication. By selling herself to kings and rulers, the wine of her fornication has affected all the earth’s inhabitants, making them drunk, crazed, falling down and dying as a consequence.
John gives us further information about the harlot: “And he carried me away in the power of the spirit into a wilderness. And I caught sight of a woman sitting upon a scarlet-colored wild beast that was full of blasphemous names and that had seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and was adorned with gold and precious stone and pearls and had in her hand a golden cup that was full of disgusting things and the unclean things of her fornication. And upon her forehead was written a name, a mystery: ‘Babylon the Great, the mother of the harlots and of the disgusting things of the earth.’ And I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the holy ones and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus.”—Rev. 17:3-6.
John makes it clear that this harlot is not the ancient Babylon on the Euphrates River that fell from world power in 539 B.C.E. and finally after centuries of decline went down to everlasting destruction. No, it is Babylon the Great, the worldwide empire of false religion. She is pictured as being in a wilderness, where wild beasts belong. True to the picture, she sits on a wild beast.
THE HARLOT RIDES A BEAST
What is the scarlet-colored beast upon which Babylon the Great rides? It is different from the wild beast of Revelation 13:1, 2, which was spotted like a leopard, although in general shape it is like this wild beast that ascended out of the sea. Its color is different. This scarlet beast is not said to have ascended out of the sea but it has seven heads and ten horns and is full of blasphemous names to resemble the original wild beast, which had upon its heads blasphemous names. The scarlet-colored beast also has ten horns though not with ten diadems, which the horns of the first wild beast had. It is an image of the wild beast that came out of the abyss of the sea. Revelation 13:14, 15 reveals that the two-horned wild beast that ascended out of the earth was the one that proposed the making of the image of the beast. Revelation 17:3 shows what the image looked like. It copies the outline of the wild beast of the sea. When did the scarlet-colored wild beast appear and when did the harlot get upon its back?
The two-horned wild beast was most prominent at the peace conference in France in 1919 when the leading representatives of Britain and America, composing this beast as the Seventh World Power, argued for an international peace-keeping organization, the League of Nations, and won. The peace conference signed the peace treaty into which the covenant for a League of Nations had been incorporated. This took place on June 28, 1919, and by October the required number of governments had ratified the treaty with its covenant, and the treaty went into effect in France.
In 1919 religious organizations of Christendom came out in favor of the League, advocating its adoption. On January 10, 1920, the signatory powers ratified the treaty in Paris and the League of Nations went into effect. King George V of Great Britain as supreme governor of the Church of England was in favor of the League, and Greece, of which the Eastern Orthodox Church is the state church, entered the League on March 30, 1920.
The Pontifex Maximus of the Roman Catholic Church had no official say at the peace conference. This was because of the apparent connections of the Papal Vatican with the Teutonic Allies during World War I. So the pope of Rome was not permitted to intervene by diplomatic acts in regard to peace or to questions arising from the war.* But Roman Catholic expressions of support of the League came later on.
So it is seen that Babylon the Great lost no time in getting a seat on the beast. She had already made steps toward it in 1919. To her the beast was attractive. It was a scarlet color, which to her represented royalty, which she so much loves. It was a mark of luxury—she herself is arrayed in purple and scarlet.—Matt. 27:28-31; 2 Sam. 1:24.
RELIGIOUS SYSTEMS WORSHIP THE BEAST
Babylon the Great thereby committed further fornication with the kings of the earth. She worshiped this “image” of the wild beast and induced others to do so. The blasphemous names it has are such as “the only light there is,” “the hope of the world,” and Babylon the Great herself gave it the name “the political expression of the Kingdom of God on earth.” The United Nations, which is the present name of the international peace organization, was visited by the pope on Monday, October 4, 1965. During his visit he labeled it with further blasphemous names, saying “this organization represents the obligatory path of modern civilization and of world peace,” and “peoples of the earth turn to the United Nations as the last hope of concord and peace.” He encouraged worship of the beast by saying, “We presume to present here, with their tribute of honor and of hope, our own tribute also” and “the edifice that you have constructed [the UN] must never fail; it must be perfected.”*
These names attached to it are blasphemous in that they attributed to the League and the United Nations that which only God’s kingdom can do. These names reproach God, they turn the hopes and confidence of the people to a man-made thing and make an image to be worshiped in place of Jehovah God and to trust in instead of Jehovah’s Messianic kingdom.
The woman is shown as being arrayed in purple and scarlet and adorned with gold and precious stone and pearls. By means of her fornication this international harlot has enriched herself. By her false, misleading doctrines she has deceived people and made them easy prey of the political rulers and in turn has received from the politicians riches and special favors. She can control the people by means of her religion and thus can turn over for gain all their support to the kings of the earth and the rulers. The cup in her hand, which means that it is something she holds out for her religious adherents to drink, is of gold. In other words, on the outside it appears beautiful and fit only for containing the best of drinks, but, as Jesus told the religious leaders of his day, the cup, inside, is full of disgusting things and the unclean things of her fornication.—Compare Matthew 23:25, 26.
As a result of drinking the wine of her cup and because of her fornication with the rulers, the people have been made to suffer untold hardships through religious wars, economic backwardness, illiteracy, low morals, and lack of faith in the Bible, with consequent opposition to God’s Messianic kingdom.
ILLEGITIMATE CHILDREN OF THE HARLOT
The harlot has her name written on her forehead for all to see. While it has been a mystery, a religious secret, just what she symbolized, Jehovah God has unveiled her and exposed her so that all can see that she is the world empire of false religion. She is identified clearly now, just as Jehovah’s Christian witnesses are identified as the slaves of God and Christ by the stand they take and by their activity, as shown at Revelation 14:1. She identifies herself by her activities as being like ancient Babylon, dominated by false religion that stems from Nimrod the mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah God. She is actually a slave of the Devil.
Although the woman is a harlot, she is a mother. She has many daughters. These are the various religious sects, both in Christendom and in pagandom, that compose her as an international organization, the world empire of false religion. All these daughters or harlot organizations are copying their mother in committing fornication with the kings of the earth. She has tried to induce the true Christian congregation under Jesus Christ to become a harlot, but she has failed in her efforts.
Babylon the Great is a mother also in another sense, that is, the mother of “the disgusting things of the earth.” She has claimed to represent God but has brought forth illegitimate children, such as idolatry, both literal and figurative, contrary to God’s law. (Rom. 2:22; Matt. 24:15; 1 Ki. 11:5, 7; 2 Ki. 23:13) Also, she has brought forth illegal persons, spirit mediums, fortune-tellers, astrologers, and she has even instituted and carried on the offering of human sacrifices. (2 Ki. 23:24; Isa. 66:3; Ezek. 20:7, 8, 30; Hos. 9:10) Instead of cultivating the fruitage of the spirit and encouraging her religious adherents to do so, she has practiced and promoted among her supporters the works of the flesh, such as obscene practices, loose conduct, even temple prostitution with its immorality; also drunkenness is indulged in to the honor of a false god.
DO NOT BECOME DRUNK WITH THE HARLOT
Babylon herself is an old drunkard, but her drink is a more disgusting one than alcoholic drinks, for she loves to get drunk on human blood, especially blood that has been shed in religious persecutions. Even before the apostle John’s day she had become “drunk with the blood of the holy ones,” and was responsible for shedding the blood of Jesus Christ, “the Holy One.” (Acts 3:14, 15; 4:27, 30; Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34) But even to this day she has drunk her fill “with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus,” as God’s most bitter earthly enemy. Urged on by Satan she has made a fanatical effort to deaden the voices of these witnesses who are preaching Jehovah’s Messianic kingdom and has therefore caused the death of many of them.—Rev. 17:6; 6:9-11.
So, then, the question, “Is it religion’s duty to enter the political field?” is important to all, but especially to those who are members of religious organizations, because who wants to become a drunkard with Babylon the Great, particularly drunk on blood because of supporting and being allied with the bloodguilty, murderous organization? Who wants to be guilty of blasphemy against God and of worshiping an image that opposes God and his kingdom? (Rev. 18:3, 4; 6:10, 11) Remember that the vision given to John in Revelation was of the judgment of the harlot. Surely we do not want to come into judgment with the Almighty God by inciting him to anger. As the apostle Paul says, “We are not stronger than he is, are we?”—1 Cor. 10:22.
In succeeding issues of this magazine more details about the scarlet-colored wild beast according to the Revelation given to John will be discussed and also the execution of God’s judgment upon the infamous harlot, Babylon the Great.
Clarke’s Commentary, Volume VI, page 187.
Awake!, August 8, 1966.
The Methodist Magazine, August 1959.
Awake!, August 8, 1966.
The Encyclopedia Americana, edition of 1929, Volume 17, pages 632, 633.
New York Herald-Tribune, October 5, 1965, page B, special edition.