13. (a) How does the mighty angel call attention to the broad extent of the harlotry of Babylon the Great? (b) What immorality that was rife in ancient Babylon is also found in Babylon the Great?
13 The mighty angel next calls attention to the broad extent of the harlotry of Babylon the Great, proclaiming: “For because of the passion-arousing wine of her fornication* all the nations have fallen victim, and the kings of the earth committed fornication with her, and the traveling merchants of the earth became rich due to the power of her shameless luxury.” (Revelation 18:3) She has indoctrinated all nations of mankind in her unclean religious ways. In ancient Babylon, according to Greek historian Herodotus, each maiden was required to prostitute her virginity in temple worship. Revolting sexual corruption is portrayed to this day in the war-damaged sculptures at Angkor Wat in Kampuchea and in the temples at Khajuraho, India, which show the Hindu god Vishnu surrounded by disgusting erotic scenes. In the United States, the disclosures of immorality that shook the world of TV evangelists in 1987, and again in 1988, as well as the revelation of the widespread practice of homosexuality by ministers of religion, illustrate that even Christendom tolerates shocking excesses of literal fornication. Yet, all the nations have fallen victim to an even more serious kind of fornication.
14-16. (a) What spiritually illicit religio-political relationship developed in Fascist Italy? (b) When Italy invaded Abyssinia, what statements did bishops of the Roman Catholic Church make?
14 We have already reviewed the illicit religio-political relationship that catapulted Hitler into power in Nazi Germany. Other nations also suffered because of religion’s meddling in secular affairs. For example: In Fascist Italy, on February 11, 1929, the Lateran Treaty was signed by Mussolini and Cardinal Gasparri, making Vatican City a sovereign state. Pope Pius XI claimed that he had “given Italy back to God, and God back to Italy.” Was that the truth? Consider what happened six years later. On October 3, 1935, Italy invaded Abyssinia, claiming that it was “a barbarous land which still practises slavery.” Who, really, was being barbarous? Did the Catholic Church condemn Mussolini’s barbarity? While the pope issued ambiguous statements, his bishops were quite vocal in blessing the armed forces of their Italian “fatherland.” In the book The Vatican in the Age of the Dictators, Anthony Rhodes reports:
15 “In his Pastoral Letter of the 19th October , the Bishop of Udine [Italy] wrote, ‘It is neither timely nor fitting for us to pronounce on the rights and wrongs of the case. Our duty as Italians, and still more as Christians is to contribute to the success of our arms.’ The Bishop of Padua wrote on the 21st October, ‘In the difficult hours through which we are passing, we ask you to have faith in our statesmen and armed forces.’ On the 24th October, the Bishop of Cremona consecrated a number of regimental flags and said: ‘The blessing of God be upon these soldiers who, on African soil, will conquer new and fertile lands for the Italian genius, thereby bringing to them Roman and Christian culture. May Italy stand once again as the Christian mentor to the whole world.’”
16 Abyssinia was raped, with the blessing of the Roman Catholic clergy. Could any of these claim, in any sense, that they were like the apostle Paul in being “clean from the blood of all men”?—Acts 20:26.
17. How did Spain suffer because its clergy failed to “beat their swords into plowshares”?
17 Add to Germany, Italy, and Abyssinia another nation that has fallen victim to the fornication of Babylon the Great—Spain. The Civil War of 1936-39 in that land was sparked, in part, by the democratic government’s taking steps to reduce the huge power of the Roman Catholic Church. As the war got under way, the Catholic Fascist leader of the revolutionary forces, Franco, described himself as “the Christian Generalissimo of the Holy Crusade,” a title that he later dropped. Several hundred thousand Spaniards died in the fighting. Apart from this, according to a conservative estimate, Franco’s Nationalists had murdered 40,000 Popular Front members, while the latter had murdered 8,000 clerics—monks, priests, nuns, and novices. Such is the horror and tragedy of civil war, illustrating the wisdom of heeding Jesus’ words: “Return your sword to its place, for all those who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52) How disgusting that Christendom gets involved in such massive bloodshed! Her clergy have indeed failed utterly to “beat their swords into plowshares”!—Isaiah 2:4.
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“The Kings . . . Committed Fornication With Her”
In the early 1800’s European merchants were smuggling large quantities of opium into China. In March 1839 Chinese officials tried to stop the illegal trade by seizing 20,000 chests of the drug from British merchants. This led to tension between Britain and China. As relations between the two countries deteriorated, some Protestant missionaries urged Britain to go to war, with statements such as the following:
“How these difficulties do rejoice my heart because I think the English government may be enraged, and God, in His power may break down the barriers which prevent the gospel of Christ from entering China.”—Henrietta Shuck, Southern Baptist missionary.
Finally, war broke out—the war that is today known as the Opium War. Missionaries wholeheartedly encouraged Britain with comments such as these:
“I am constrained to look back upon the present state of things not so much as an opium or an English affair, as the great design of Providence to make the wickedness of man subserve His purposes of mercy toward China in breaking through her wall of exclusion.”—Peter Parker, Congregationalist missionary.
Another Congregationalist missionary, Samuel W. Williams, added: “The hand of God is apparent in all that has transpired in a remarkable manner, and we doubt not that He who said He came to bring a sword upon the earth has come here and that for the speedy destruction of His enemies and the establishment of His own kingdom. He will overturn and overturn until He has established the Prince of Peace.”
Regarding the horrendous slaughter of Chinese nationals, missionary J. Lewis Shuck wrote: “I regard such scenes . . . as the direct instruments of the Lord in clearing away the rubbish which impedes the advancement of Divine Truth.”
Congregationalist missionary Elijah C. Bridgman added: “God has often made use of the strong arm of civil power to prepare the way for His kingdom . . . The agency in these great moments is human; the directing power divine. The high governor of all the nations has employed England to chastize and humble China.”—Quotations taken from “Ends and Means,” 1974, an essay by Stuart Creighton Miller published in The Missionary Enterprise in China and America (a Harvard Study edited by John K. Fairbank).