Insight on the News
“Whore of Babylon”
A feature column in the Canadian newsmagazine Maclean’s recently declared: “It may be time for all good men, Christian or otherwise, to take the offensive against those elements in churches of all denominations that have crossed the line separating legitimate critics of society from enemies of the state.” Putting the matter in “historical perspective,” columnist Barbara Amiel went on to say:
“An observer might be forgiven for suggesting that the church, in this century, seems to have found its Whore of Babylon in the persona of whoever happened to be the strongest dictator of the moment. The actions of the Vatican, for example, have ranged from common cause with Franco in Spain to détente with Hitler and Mussolini.” Then, like a prostitute, “when the Nazis finally were ground into the dust, elements within all major churches . . . started the same flirtation” with communism.
But are those with whom these clerical activists ‘flirt’ actually the “Whore of Babylon,” or is it the other way around? Clearly, the real “great whore,” called “Babylon the great” in the Bible, is the one with whom “the kings of the earth have committed fornication”—politically promiscuous religion. The Bible goes on to show that, ultimately, irritation (such as that voiced by the Maclean’s columnist) on the part of these “kings” will turn to a “hate” that will kindle destruction of the “Whore of Babylon”—“burn her to ashes.”—Revelation 17:1-5, 12, 16, The New English Bible.
Loving the Lie
“Neighbors Urge Release of Reputed Mobster,” proclaimed a recent headline in The New York Times. The report described two and a half days of testimony by more than 30 neighbors on behalf of a “reputed member of the Mafia [underworld].” He was portrayed as “a stabilizing influence and peacemaker in a tough, working-class area.” Said one man: “He’s very well liked, a law-abiding citizen.” Yet FBI wiretap tapes of the man’s telephone conversations were said to be “filled with obscenities and references to Mafia business.”
This situation illustrates how today’s world is so readily subject to behind-the-scenes manipulation. Though the Bible clearly states that “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one,” most are duped by Satan’s use of seemingly benevolent religious and political fronts. (1 John 5:19; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15) Even when presented with such facts as the FBI tapes, many people choose to maintain their comfortable relationship with this camouflaged evil. They love it that way!
A strikingly similar situation in ancient Israel moved God himself to grieve: “Monstrous, horrible things are happening in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, the priests teach whatever they please. And my people love it!” Then Jehovah left them with something to think about: “But when the end comes, what will you do?”—Jeremiah 5:30, 31, The Jerusalem Bible.
“Excommunication . . . no longer invokes the dread and stigma of times past,” wrote columnist Charles W. Bell of the New York Sunday News, noting that “the Lutheran Church in America, . . . dropped the word ‘excommunication’ from its Approved Constitution for Congregations.” “It’s a quaint relic,” says Wolfe Kelman of the Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative rabbis. Priest Edwin F. O’Brien, director of communications for the archdiocese of New York, notes that it “is used rarely and sparely.” So, says Bell, “the great age of excommunication is past, with the possible exceptions of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, where it is fairly common and is taken seriously.”
Modern religious leaders continue to water down Biblical directives so as to retain paying membership. Today’s church “lump” finds itself fermented by the “leaven” that is allowed to remain. That is why the apostle Paul demanded that Christians “remove the wicked man” from the Corinthian congregation, “not even eating with such a man.” Jehovah’s Witnesses take seriously the matter of disfellowshipping those who are unrepentant in spite of kindly help.—1 Corinthians 5:6, 9-13.