Insight on the News
Church as Power Broker
With increasing openness, the churches of Christendom are aggressively stepping into volatile political issues. In a feature article entitled “Stepping Down From the Pulpit Into the Streets,” The Toronto Star of Canada focused attention on the “rising number of instances of [political] intervention by church leaders.” Writer Jack Cahill noted that the Roman Catholic Church had “played a critical role in the overthrow of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines” and in ending the rule of Jean-Claude Duvalier in Haiti. Cahill added: “In South Africa, Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu . . . and other members of the clergy have warned the government they will encourage confrontation with the state” over the apartheid issue.
Some view such a confrontational approach as appropriate Christian activity when it seeks change of unpopular regimes or laws. Though it is true that Jesus Christ sent his followers into the streets, it was not to help to bring about political changes. Instead, they went to public places and to the doors of the people to proclaim a heavenly Kingdom as the means of blessing mankind. (Matthew 10:5-7; 24:14) When Jesus Christ was charged with political activities—making himself a king—he clearly indicated that such activities were not to be expected of him or his followers. He told the one judging that “mine is not a kingdom of this world.” In keeping with this, Jesus’ true followers have always taken a neutral stand in political matters, for he had said of them: “They are no part of the world.”—John 18:36, Catholic Jerusalem Bible; John 17:14.
Hail Mary Vetoed
The recent unprecedented move by Brazil’s president, José Sarney, banning the showing of the controversial film Hail Mary sparked a wave of protest both inside and outside the Catholic Church. “I disagree,” Bishop Mauro Morelli declared, “that the Catholic Church, as it did in the time of the Inquisition, should supplicate the State to take measures in defense of the faith.” And federal deputy Eduardo Matarazzo Suplicy complained that the Brazilian president was “succumbing to the pressures of the conservative wing of the Church.” “We have returned to union of altar and throne,” wrote Campinas University professor Roberto Romano in the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo. “It has occurred without even a clear-cut concordat existing, as in the case of the Lateran Treaty with Mussolini and the Imperial Concordat with Hitler. No, it all happened furtively behind the closed doors of government offices.”
Such religious pressure-tactics and the reaction to them call to mind the Bible’s pictorial description of a symbolic harlotlike religious woman who “has a kingdom over the kings of the earth.” These rulers, it says, eventually will come to “hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, . . . and will completely burn her with fire.”—Revelation 17:1, 2, 15-18.
“Reasons for Wrath”
In his new book Raisons de la colère (Reasons for Wrath), the noted French agronomist René Dumont decries what he calls the “total failure” of our “production-oriented civilization.” A book review in the Paris daily Le Monde thus summarizes some examples cited by Dumont: “In order to meet the tremendous demand for newsprint, every year Canada cuts down more trees than it can grow; the Soviet Union has worked to death two thirds of its arable land. And even France is reportedly ‘destroying the fertility of her soil, built up by centuries of manure and fodder farming,’ by using chemical instead of natural fertilizers.”
Dumont also accuses the industrial nations of ‘perverting’ the planet by wastefulness and mismanaged distribution of goods, adding: “We have managed the world economy so badly that we deserve to lose our supremacy.” He claims that the Western model of development “has ruined the economy of the Third World” and has sucked people away from agricultural development into “hideous cities” that have grown in the less developed nations.
If such conditions give “reasons for wrath” to humans who foresee the peril, how much more reason for wrath should these factors give to the One who created this planet? Thus the Bible prophetically describes the fast-approaching time when mankind’s ruinous activities will bring God’s “own wrath,” causing him to “bring to ruin those ruining the earth.”—Revelation 11:18.