Insight on the News
“No Part of the World”
When more than a hundred thousand persons crowded West Berlin’s Olympic Stadium for the final session of the German Evangelical Church Conference, church president Helmut Simon urged them to get involved in politics.
Simon listed such issues as the proper use of resources, preservation of the ecology, the establishment of a just economic system, an end to the arms race, and the removal of unemployment. He felt that these were to be among mankind’s unsolved threats. To rally his listeners to the urgency of these issues, the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that “he said nothing better could happen to the community in West and East than to have their citizens get involved in politics.” Simon encouraged all in attendance “to consider such involvement as a duty and to view the church conference as a Protestant civil rights movement.”
Can true Christians, however, rightly involve themselves in such political movements? Did not Jesus say that his followers “are no part of the world, just as [he was] no part of the world”? (John 17:16) Jesus taught his followers to pray for God’s Kingdom as the only real hope for mankind. Why? Because, as the prophet Daniel long ago foretold, God’s Kingdom “will crush and put an end to” the failing worldly governments, “and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”—Daniel 2:44.
No Sin to Steal?
Is stealing a sin? Not always, according to Catholic priest Ivo Storniolo. O Estado de S. Paulo, a Brazilian newspaper, quotes Storniolo as stating that “God blesses and makes legitimate the stealing done by the poor.” Later, he said he was referring “only to those poor who steal in order to survive.” In the view of this priest, delinquent youths who steal should not be punished, for they have been “previously robbed by the powerful.” “In his opinion,” notes O Estado, “marginais [social outcasts or misfits, generally poor, unemployed] are also ‘among God’s chosen ones.’”
Does the Bible support such reasoning? Not at all. While Jesus encouraged his followers to show compassion to the needy, he never said that social problems, such as poverty, were a justification for theft. Rather, as the apostle Paul wrote: “Anyone who was a thief must stop stealing; instead he should exert himself at some honest job with his own hands so that he may have something to share with those in need.”—Ephesians 4:28, The New Jerusalem Bible.
A national exhibition of religious objects and furniture, held in the north of Italy, allowed 97 companies to present their products. Among the items displayed was a heated, sound absorbent confessional with hygienic grating and padded chair. Also some “Pope John” odorless votive candles with 40-hour timers; computerized concerts of church bells; “safelike” armored charity boxes; educational videos for children (i.e., The Bible according to Johnny); and fake-leather briefcases containing the essentials for an open-air Mass.
Clerical fashion was not excluded from the fair. Two “designers of religious fashions” explained to the Italian paper La Stampa that ‘most of all, young priests want a new look, pure wool with German-style embroidering, linear, uniform, plain yet rich. And business, thanks to God, is going well.’
Religious tourism is also creating revenue for commerce. “Each year there are 15 million people that travel for religious reasons, and tour operators, religious or not, compete to have them,” reports the Italian paper La Repubblica. Illustrating this, the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero says concerning “Saint” Anthony’s basilica in Padua that “people drop millions not only in hotels but especially in the money boxes of the basilica for holy pictures and keepsakes.”
It is no wonder that when Christendom, along with all false religion, is destroyed, ‘the traveling merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her.’ As Revelation 18:11 continues: “There is no one to buy their full stock anymore.”