Insight on the News
Rumblings on Religion
Israel’s military advance into Lebanon prompted much comment on what is behind the hatreds that seem to pervade the Middle East. “The great tragedy,” observed Dennis Braithwaite of The Toronto Sun, “is that the Israelis and the Palestinians, both Semitic peoples, should be warring at all over territory in which both are at home and could logically share in peace.” In Braithwaite’s opinion, “all that really divides them is religion; the rest is rationalization, propaganda, lies. . . . Take religious fanaticism out of the equation, and what have Arab and Jew left to fight about?”
But the columnist noted that religious hatreds are not limited to the Middle East: “Observe the insanity in Northern Ireland, where two conceptions of the Christian religion have caused people who look alike, talk alike and spring from the same soil, to lock themselves in a death struggle that baffles the outsider. What but religion keeps the IRA and the Ulster Defence League in constant plots of assassination and reprisal? When they’re interviewed on television, you can’t tell one from the other.”
Braithwaite went on to state that “religion is but one form of nationalism, the concept of ‘them’ and ‘us,’ . . . the greatest threat of all to mankind’s future.” Is it not likely that this awareness of religion as a “threat” will continue to grow and finally bring upon her the anger of the nations? Bible prophecy bears out that militaristic nations soon will turn against religion and destroy her like a hated harlot who has taken advantage of them for too long.—Revelation 17:1, 2, 5, 15, 16.
A Waning “Product”
A study recently released at the headquarters of the National Council of Churches in New York revealed results of a major investigation of American religion. One of the directors of the study, Professor William Newman of the University of Connecticut, stated that “the present generation in middle adulthood in general uses the product [religion] less.” He also noted that Americans generally “are less enamored of religion.” And The New York Times report on the study added: “Church membership from 1971 to 1980 failed to keep pace with the rate of the nation’s population growth, reversing a pattern of church prosperity in the previous two decades.” Less than half of all adults now belong to a church or synagogue.
Thus the Biblically prophesied ‘drying up’ of support for religion continues, just as the waters of the river Euphrates were dried up to prepare the way for the destruction of ancient Babylon. Today, “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion, is also losing its “waters,” portending a similar outcome.—Revelation 16:12; 17:1, 5, 15, 16.
“Although I am a minister and an enthusiastic Bible scholar, I have never found in the Holy Scriptures the slightest revelation concerning disarmament and international peace,” asserted French Lutheran clergyman Michel Viot, writing in the Paris daily Le Monde. “Neither have I read that drawing the sword is consistently reprehensible, . . . and since it is legitimate to bear arms, a Christian cannot immediately push aside a military solution for preserving peace.”
This type of religious guidance has contributed to the willingness of nominal Christians to bear arms against fellow believers and others at the whim of politicians. Certainly this “Bible scholar” would benefit by reexamining the Bible to find its abundance of “revelation concerning disarmament and international peace.” Said both the prophets Isaiah and Micah: “They will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.”—Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3.
As for the Scriptural legitimacy of “drawing the sword,” Jesus Christ said that “all those who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52) On the other hand, Christians do wield spiritual weapons authorized by God.—2 Corinthians 10:4, 5.