Insight on the News
Religion—How Much Influence?
● To determine what institutions are most influential in the United States, the “U.S. News & World Report” magazine recently took a survey among 500 leading Americans. Listing eighteen major organizations and institutions, the magazine asked those polled to rate each “according to the amount of influence you think it has on decisions or actions affecting the nation as a whole.”
First place in the ratings went to television, followed by the White House, the Supreme Court and the newspapers. Educational institutions were in twelfth place, while the two major political parties occupied fourteenth and seventeenth places. In last place: “Organized religion.”
Commenting on this, the magazine said: “Long-held suspicions that the influence of religion, educational institutions and political parties are not as strong as once thought appear to be borne out in the answers given by America’s leaders.”
The drop of the churches’ influence is paralleled by their modern failure to uphold the Bible’s morals and principles. Jehovah God’s words directed to the leaders of apostate Israel of old come to mind: “Look! They have rejected the very word of Jehovah, and what wisdom do they have?”—Jer. 8:9.
Gruesome Toll Mounts
● The first death came on August 15, 1969, when machine-gun fire smashed into an apartment and killed a sleeping nine-year-old boy. Less than five years later—on Saturday, April 20, 1974—the one thousandth victim of violence in Northern Ireland died. All these deaths are directly related to terrorist action and do not include deaths from accidental causes. Among the one thousand slain were fifteen children less than twelve years of age.
The country has a population of about one and a half million. What if the same ratio of deaths struck a nation the size of the United States? It would mean the loss of 135,000 persons—more than double the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Vietnam!
Northern Ireland has a Protestant majority and a Catholic minority. Many hold that the present conflict is not really a religious struggle waged over religious issues. Instead, they say it is a case of a minority group seeking greater voice in government and a majority group resisting due to fear of jeopardizing their present independence from the Catholic Republic of Ireland to the south.
Be that as it may, the inability of Northern Ireland’s religious organizations, Catholic and Protestant, to halt the violence and contribute to peaceful conditions for the people is painfully evident. Nor can the churches wash their hands of responsibility for the deep-seated divisions and distrust that exist.
Born in the Wrong Body?
● “Transsexualism” is a word appearing with growing frequency in the news. A transsexual is not merely a transvestite (one who dresses in clothes of the opposite sex), nor necessarily a homosexual (though that may be the case). A transsexual is a person who rejects the sex with which he or she was born and takes up the life of the other sex. Claiming they were, in effect, “born in the wrong body,” many have undergone radical surgery and hormone treatments to attain a sexual transformation. An estimated 1,500 persons in the United States and about 150 in Britain have done so. What really do they accomplish? Is it possible to change a normal person (not a hermaphrodite of ambiguous sex) from one gender to another?
The answer is, No. As Dr. Georges Burou, a French surgeon prominent in the field, says: “I don’t change men into women. I transform male genitals into genitals that have a female aspect. All the rest is in the patient’s mind.” (“Time,” Jan. 21, 1974, p. 64) In reality, the ultimate result is either a severely (and irreversibly) mutilated man who resembles a woman, or a severely (and irreversibly) mutilated woman who resembles a man.
The increase of transsexualism is but one more facet of the spread of practices “contrary to nature” characterizing much of this present period. (Compare Romans 1:26.) The remedy for those with such inclinations is not surgery but a change in outlook, ‘being made new in the force actuating their minds’ with the aid of God’s Word.—Eph. 4:22-24.