Babylon the Great Indicted
IN A series of conventions around the world in 1988-89, millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses endorsed the resolution expressing their abhorrence of the conduct of Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion—especially as represented by Christendom. Some sincere persons may ask, Is that not too strong a stand? No, not at all! When we see how the prophets of ancient Israel boldly denounced the idolatry of their day and with what strong language Jesus exposed the religious hypocrisy of his times, we as Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that this stand is fully justified. It is even commanded by God.—Isaiah 24:1-6; Jeremiah 7:16-20; Matthew 23:9-13, 27, 28, 37-39.
So on what basis do we abhor the conduct of Babylon the Great? What historical evidence do we have of religion’s failure to honor the true Sovereign Lord of the universe, Jehovah?
Modern Babylon Despises the Name
The Sovereign Lord of the universe is not anonymous. He has identified himself some 7,000 times in the Bible as Jehovah. He attributes vital importance to his name. The third of the Ten Commandments states: “You must not take up the name of Jehovah your God in a worthless way, for Jehovah will not leave the one unpunished who takes up his name in a worthless way.” And Jesus highlighted his Father’s name in the Lord’s Prayer, saying, “Let your name be sanctified.”—Exodus 20:7; Matthew 6:9.
Christendom’s record in honoring God’s name is dismal. Even the King James Bible of 1611 uses the name Jehovah, alone and in combination, only seven times.* Other translations have totally eliminated the name. Most religions fail to honor it. Instead, they have elevated their “holy” Trinity and, in some cases, Mary the so-called Mother of God above the God of the Bible. Jehovah’s precious name has been allowed to sink into relative disuse.*
Commendably, Islam recognizes one God, whom they call Allah, in accordance with their holy book, the Koran. However, they do not use his name, Jehovah, as first revealed in the Bible at least two thousand years before the Koran existed. Hindus worship millions of gods and goddesses, but Jehovah is not among them.
Outstanding as an offender regarding God’s name is Judaism. For thousands of years, Jews have claimed to be the name people of God, and yet by reason of their tradition, they have caused God’s true name to fall into total disuse.
Therefore, as witnesses of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, we have to express our disgust at the neglect of God’s holy name on the part of Babylon the Great.
Why We Detest Babylonish Teachings
Millions of people have been exploited and kept in fear on the basis of the Babylonish teaching that man has an immortal soul. From ancient times, false religion has exploited fear of the soul’s possible torture eternally in hellfire after death. A more subtle refinement of that teaching is the temporary suffering in the fires of purgatory. Sincere people pay to have Masses said for the dead but never know when the payments cease to be necessary! These blasphemous doctrines have no basis in the Bible.—Compare Jeremiah 7:31.
In fact, the Bible teaches that man is a living, mortal soul. For his disobedience Adam was not sentenced to hellfire or purgatory but to death. Simply stated, “the wages sin pays is death.” (Romans 6:23; Genesis 2:7, 17; 3:19) The Scriptural hope for the dead is based, not on an immortal soul, but, rather, on God’s promise of a resurrection to perfect life on a paradise earth.—John 5:28, 29; Revelation 21:1-4.
Yet another Babylonish teaching is the “holy” Trinity. This teaching of three persons in one God was never a part of the faith of the ancient Hebrews. (Deuteronomy 5:6, 7; 6:4) A Jew himself, Jesus certainly never believed or taught that he was almighty God. He claimed no part in a triad as taught in Babylonish doctrine or dogma.—Mark 12:29; 13:32; John 5:19, 30; 14:28; 20:17.
Therefore, we reject Babylon’s blasphemous doctrines as taught in the false religions of the world. We render worship to the one true God, Jehovah, through his Son, who became “a propitiatory sacrifice” for the sins not only of anointed Christians but of the whole world of mankind.—1 John 2:2.
Why We Reject Anti-God Philosophies
Christendom’s popes and clergy bewail the upsurge of atheism, and many use it to justify their support of right-wing politics. Yet, the question has to be asked: Who condoned the injustices and inequalities that fomented this rise of atheism, particularly in the last century? It occurred in an outstanding way in the realm of Christendom. For example, the Russian Orthodox Church had consorted with the czars, who had cruelly oppressed the people. The lack of true Christian values on the part of those who presented themselves as representatives of God contributed to conditions that formed a breeding ground for atheism.
Christendom’s religions have also embraced the Creator-dishonoring teaching of evolution. They attribute the complexity and diversity of over a million life forms to the blind forces of nature. In effect, they say that this diversity developed by a series of beneficial flukes. Such a philosophy makes God superfluous and man responsible to no one. Ethics become a matter of personal choice. (Psalm 14:1) One result is that abortions now run into the tens of millions each year—in countries claiming to be religious!
We reject these anti-God philosophies and practices. We worship Jehovah, “the One who lives forever and ever, who created the heaven and the things in it and the earth and the things in it and the sea and the things in it.”—Revelation 10:6; 19:6.
Why We Abhor the Fruitage of Babylon the Great
Christendom has failed to heed the warning messages to the seven congregations set out in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. These counsel against the practice of sectarianism, idolatry, and fornication, and against lukewarmness and negligence.
A visit to almost any place of worship will reveal how many religious people have elevated the creature above the Creator. How so? By their image and icon veneration and their worship rendered to “saints,” Madonnas, and crosses.—Compare Psalm 115:2-8; 2 Corinthians 5:7; 1 John 5:21.
In their case, Paul’s words have a fulfillment: “Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God . . . They became foolish and turned the glory of the incorruptible God into something like the image of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed creatures and creeping things.”—Romans 1:21-23.
Why We Condemn Babylon’s Immorality
The last 20 years have seen homosexuality approved or condoned as an alternative life-style. Millions of homosexuals have “come out of the closet” and now parade on the streets, flaunting their “Gay Pride.” How does God view their homosexuality?
The Bible clearly stated some 3,500 years ago: “And you must not lie down with a male the same as you lie down with a woman. It is a detestable thing.” (Leviticus 18:22) And nearly 2,000 years ago Paul showed that God’s standards had not changed when he wrote: “That is why God gave them up to disgraceful sexual appetites, for both their females changed the natural use of themselves into one contrary to nature; and likewise even the males left the natural use of the female and became violently inflamed in their lust toward one another, males with males, working what is obscene and receiving in themselves the full recompense, which was due for their error.”—Romans 1:26, 27; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; 1 Timothy 1:10.
Yet, so many of the clergy of Christendom are practicing homosexuals that they have been able to establish a powerful homosexual lobby in many of the major religions. They demand that their life-style be recognized and that they be accorded the status of minister. A case in point is that of Canada’s largest Protestant denomination, the United Church of Canada, whose leaders voted 205 to 160 on August 24, 1988, in favor of admitting homosexuals to the ministry.
Why We Abhor Babylon’s Spiritual Prostitution
Revelation denounces Babylon’s fornication with “the kings of the earth,” its political rulers. The harlot is pictured as sitting “on many waters,” meaning “peoples and crowds and nations and tongues.” (Revelation 17:1, 2, 15) By having a cozy relationship with the political rulers, false religion over the centuries has overtly or covertly used its influence in suppressing and exploiting the common people.
Examples of this dominance are the concordats, or agreements, that the Vatican signed with Nazi and Fascist rulers in this 20th century. As a consequence, church influence over the flocks led to total subservience to ruthless rulers. In 1929 the Vatican concluded a concordat with Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. What followed in Germany? German cardinal Faulhaber, attributing the following words to Pius XI, gives insight into the pope’s thinking about Hitler: “I am pleased; he is the first statesman to have spoken out against Bolshevism.” Faulhaber later noted: “My journey to Rome confirmed what I might have suspected for a long time. In Rome, National Socialism and Fascism are considered the only deliverance from Communism and Bolshevism.”
Germany’s Catholic bishops had opposed the Nazi philosophy prior to 1933. But as German author Klaus Scholder states in his book The Churches and the Third Reich, the bishops were commanded by the Vatican’s ambassador to Germany, Cardinal Pacelli, to revise their attitude toward National Socialism. What prompted this change? It was the prospect of the concordat between the Third Reich and the Vatican, which was concluded July 20, 1933.
Klaus Scholder reports: “At the election and plebiscite of 12 November  Hitler reaped the fruits of the Reich concordat by surprisingly high ‘yes’ votes, above all in predominantly Catholic circles of the electorate.”
Although a few Protestant leaders expressed opposition to the Nazi takeover in 1933, their voices soon became lost in the mass clamor of nationalism. Scholder explains: “There was clearly an increasing readiness in the Protestant church to abandon the caution exercised in the past and now at last also to get caught up in the national enthusiasm. . . . Official church statements appeared for the first time which supported the new Reich without reservations.” In fact, Protestantism sold itself out to Nazi nationalism and became its handmaiden, just as the Catholic Church had done.
Down through the centuries, the historical record shows, false religion has consorted with the powerful ruling elite groups and bolstered their prestige to the detriment of the common people. The ‘mental attitude of Christ’ has not been reflected by the world’s religious leaders, who have hungrily sought after power, property, and wealth. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we abhor such spiritual prostitution.—John 17:16; Romans 15:5; Revelation 18:3.
Why We Abominate Babylon’s Bloodguilt
In the book of Revelation, Babylon the Great is accused of massive bloodguilt: “And I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the holy ones and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. Yes in her was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones and of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.”—Revelation 17:6; 18:24.
The history of false religion is one of hatred and bloodshed, with Christendom being the most bloodguilty. Two world wars started in the realm of so-called Christian nations. “Christian” political leaders resorted to arms in 1914 and 1939, and the clergy in all contending nations gave their blessing. The Columbia History of the World states regarding World War I: “Truth was devalued along with life, and hardly a voice was raised in protest. The guardians of God’s word led the martial chorus. Total war came to mean total hatred.” (Italics ours.) Army chaplains urged their soldiers on with patriotic fervor as the youth of both sides became cannon fodder. The same history book states: “The systematic poisoning of men’s minds by paroxysms of nationalism . . . further obstructed the search for peace.”
False religion worldwide continues to engender hatred as conflicts rage between Jew and Muslim, Hindu and Sikh, Catholic and Protestant, Muslim and Hindu, Buddhist and Hindu. Yes, false religion continues to contribute to the bloodbath “of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.”—Revelation 18:24.
In view of all the proof set out above, Jehovah’s Witnesses feel that the convention resolution of 1988 is appropriate and timely. Properly, we denounce false religion as the bloodguilty harlot, Babylon the Great. We announce to the world the only true way to peace and true worship—turning to the Sovereign Lord of the universe, Jehovah God, through the One he sent to earth, the Christ, or Messiah, Jesus. This means accepting God’s Kingdom as the righteous, everlasting government that alone can satisfy mankind’s needs. And it also means that now is the time to obey the command: “Get out of her [Babylon the Great], my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.”—Revelation 18:4; Daniel 2:44; John 17:3.
For a detailed consideration of the importance and significance of God’s name, see the 32-page brochure The Divine Name That Will Endure Forever, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.