Violent threats or calls for beheading on the internet fall in the category of vigilante injustice.
In a pluralistic society like India where religions abound, it is imperative that adherents of all religions maintain a degree of decorum in public debate especially when they make references to one another’s religion. A rash of recent high-profile acerbic verbal exchanges on television and on social media where allegedly the participants crossed the line of religious restraint has sparked public ire and put the focus on the combustible topic of blasphemy.
What exactly is blasphemy? Is there a standard benchmark to define blasphemy? And how should society respond to those who commit blasphemy?
The word blasphemy is derived from the Greek “blasphemia” and as per the Merriam-Webster is “the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God; and/or the act of claiming the attributes of a deity”.
According to the Pew Research Center, as of 2019, there were 79 countries (40%) in the world that had blasphemy laws on their books. However, not all countries are agreed on the penalty. While some countries are content to levy mere fines, others may exact more severe punitive measures like imprisonment or even death. Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan have provisions to impose the death penalty in cases of blasphemy. In 2019, at least 17 persons were sentenced to die in Pakistan for blasphemy.
The notion of offence central to the crime of blasphemy is a subjective emotion that can vary from individual to individual. There is a fine line between legitimate criticism and blasphemy and can impact freedom of speech. What may appear as profane to one individual may seem less sacrilegious to another. For this reason, many countries have repealed or made scant use of existing blasphemy laws.
India does not have an anti-blasphemy law per se. Individuals indulging in hurting religious sensibilities are prosecuted under more definable anti-hate speech laws. Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code, a British legacy law states that “Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizens of India, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.”
CONSENSUS PHARISEES: The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.
” Nothing could be more gentle and equitable than the conduct of the Romans in the beginning . They acted with the utmost moderation toward such states and nations as addressed them for protection; they succored them against their enemies, took the utmost pains in terminating their differences, and in suppressing all commotions which arose among them, and did not demand the least recompence from their allies for all these services. By this means their authority gained strength daily, and prepared the nations for entire subjection.
“And, indeed, upon pretense of offering them their good offices, of entering into their interests, and of reconciling them, they rendered themselves the sovereign arbiters of those whom they had restored to liberty, and whom they now considered, in some measure, as their freedmen. They used to depute commissioners to them, to inquire into their complaints, to weigh and examine the reasons on both sides, and to decide their quarrels; but when the articles were of such a nature that there was no possibility of reconciling them on the spot, they invited them to send their deputies to Rome. Afterward, they used, with plenary authority, to summon those who refused to be reconciled, obliged them to plead their cause before the senate, and even to appear in person there. From arbiters and mediators being become supreme judges, they soon assumed a magisterial tone, looked upon their decrees as irrevocable decisions, were greatly offended when the most implicit obedience was not paid to them, and gave the name of rebellion to a second resistance; thus there arose, in the Roman senate, a tribunal which judged all nations and kings, from which there was no appeal. This tribunal, at the end of every war, determined the rewards and punishments due to all parties. They dispossessed the vanquished nations of part of their territories, in order to bestow them on their allies, by which they did two things from which they reaped a double advantage; for they thereby engaged in the interest of Rome such kings as were in no way formidable to them, and from whom they had something to hope; and weakened others, whose friendship the Romans could not expect, and whose arms they had reason to dread. PRUS 152.2 – PRUS 152.4
Different religions perceive affronts to religion differently. Traditionally, blasphemy is a concept native to Abrahamic religions. The concept of blasphemy does not find mention in Hindu scriptures probably because of the open construct of its theology that emphasises dialogue and inquiry.
“In the sequel the Romans invaded, upon different pretenses, those great potentates who divided Europe and Asia, and how haughtily did they treat them, even before they had conquered! A powerful king, confined within a narrow circle by a private man of Rome, was obliged to make his answer before he quitted it; how imperious was this! But then how did they treat vanquished kings? They command them to deliver up their children, and the heirs to their crown, as hostages and pledges of their fidelity and good behavior; oblige them to lay down their arms; forbid them to declare war, or conclude any alliance, without first obtaining their leave; banish them to the other side of the mountains; and leave them, in strictness of speech, only an empty title, and a vain show of royalty, divested of all its rights and advantages. PRUS 153.2 – PRUS 154.1
Hence, Hindus appear less sensitive to insults heaped upon their religion. However, in a multi-religious society like India such an attribute cannot be interpreted and exploited as a licence to slander Hinduism and its Gods at will which often does occur.
This compromise between paganism and Christianity resulted in the development of “the man of sin” foretold in prophecy as opposing and exalting himself above God. That gigantic system of false religion is a masterpiece of Satan’s power—a monument of his efforts to seat himself upon the throne to rule the earth according to his will.
Satan once endeavored to form a compromise with Christ. He came to the Son of God in the wilderness of temptation, and showing Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them, offered to give all into His hands if He would but acknowledge the supremacy of the prince of darkness. Christ rebuked the presumptuous tempter and forced him to depart. But Satan meets with greater success in presenting the same temptations to man. To secure worldly gains and honors, the church was led to seek the favor and support of the great men of earth; and having thus rejected Christ, she was induced to yield allegiance to the representative of Satan—the bishop of Rome.
It is one of the leading doctrines of Romanism that the pope is the visible head of the universal church of Christ, invested with supreme authority over bishops and pastors in all parts of the world. More than this, the pope has been given the very titles of Deity. He has been styled “Lord God the Pope” (see Appendix), and has been declared infallible. He demands the homage of all men. The same claim urged by Satan in the wilderness of temptation is still urged by him through the Church of Rome, and vast numbers are ready to yield him homage.
But those who fear and reverence God meet this heaven-daring assumption as Christ met the solicitations of the wily foe: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” Luke 4:8. God has never given a hint in His word that He has appointed any man to be the head of the church. The doctrine of papal supremacy is directly opposed to the teachings of the Scriptures. The pope can have no power over Christ’s church except by usurpation.
Romanists have persisted in bringing against Protestants the charge of heresy and willful separation from the true church. But these accusations apply rather to themselves. They are the ones who laid down the banner of Christ and departed from “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 3.
Satan well knew that the Holy Scriptures would enable men to discern his deceptions and withstand his power. It was by the word that even the Saviour of the world had resisted his attacks. At every assault, Christ presented the shield of eternal truth, saying, “It is written.” To every suggestion of the adversary, He opposed the wisdom and power of the word. In order for Satan to maintain his sway over men, and establish the authority of the papal usurper, he must keep them in ignorance of the Scriptures. The Bible would exalt God and place finite men in their true position; therefore its sacred truths must be concealed and suppressed. This logic was adopted by the Roman Church. For hundreds of years the circulation of the Bible was prohibited. The people were forbidden to read it or to have it in their houses, and unprincipled priests and prelates interpreted its teachings to sustain their pretensions. Thus the pope came to be almost universally acknowledged as the vicegerent of God on earth, endowed with authority over church and state.
The detector of error having been removed, Satan worked according to his will. Prophecy had declared that the papacy was to “think to change times and laws.” Daniel 7:25. This work it was not slow to attempt. To afford converts from heathenism a substitute for the worship of idols, and thus to promote their nominal acceptance of Christianity, the adoration of images and relics was gradually introduced into the Christian worship. The decree of a general council (see Appendix) finally established this system of idolatry. To complete the sacrilegious work, Rome presumed to expunge from the law of God the second commandment, forbidding image worship, and to divide the tenth commandment, in order to preserve the number.
The spirit of concession to paganism opened the way for a still further disregard of Heaven’s authority. Satan, working through unconsecrated leaders of the church, tampered with the fourth commandment also, and essayed to set aside the ancient Sabbath, the day which God had blessed and sanctified (Genesis 2:2, 3), and in its stead to exalt the festival observed by the heathen as “the venerable day of the sun.” This change was not at first attempted openly. In the first centuries the true Sabbath had been kept by all Christians. They were jealous for the honor of God, and, believing that His law is immutable, they zealously guarded the sacredness of its precepts. But with great subtlety Satan worked through his agents to bring about his object. That the attention of the people might be called to the Sunday, it was made a festival in honor of the resurrection of Christ. Religious services were held upon it; yet it was regarded as a day of recreation, the Sabbath being still sacredly observed.
To prepare the way for the work which he designed to accomplish, Satan had led the Jews, before the advent of Christ, to load down the Sabbath with the most rigorous exactions, making its observance a burden. Now, taking advantage of the false light in which he had thus caused it to be regarded, he cast contempt upon it as a Jewish institution. While Christians generally continued to observe the Sunday as a joyous festival, he led them, in order to show their hatred of Judaism, to make the Sabbath a fast, a day of sadness and gloom.
In the early part of the fourth century the emperor Constantine issued a decree making Sunday a public festival throughout the Roman Empire. (See Appendix.) The day of the sun was reverenced by his pagan subjects and was honored by Christians; it was the emperor’s policy to unite the conflicting interests of heathenism and Christianity. He was urged to do this by the bishops of the church, who, inspired by ambition and thirst for power, perceived that if the same day was observed by both Christians and heathen, it would promote the nominal acceptance of Christianity by pagans and thus advance the power and glory of the church. But while many God-fearing Christians were gradually led to regard Sunday as possessing a degree of sacredness, they still held the true Sabbath as the holy of the Lord and observed it in obedience to the fourth commandment.
The archdeceiver had not completed his work. He was resolved to gather the Christian world under his banner and to exercise his power through his vicegerent, the proud pontiff who claimed to be the representative of Christ. Through half-converted pagans, ambitious prelates, and world-loving churchmen he accomplished his purpose. Vast councils were held from time to time, in which the dignitaries of the church were convened from all the world. In nearly every council the Sabbath which God had instituted was pressed down a little lower, while the Sunday was correspondingly exalted. Thus the pagan festival came finally to be honored as a divine institution, while the Bible Sabbath was pronounced a relic of Judaism, and its observers were declared to be accursed.
The great apostate had succeeded in exalting himself “above all that is called God, or that is worshiped.” 2 Thessalonians 2:4. He had dared to change the only precept of the divine law that unmistakably points all mankind to the true and living God. In the fourth commandment, God is revealed as the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and is thereby distinguished from all false gods. It was as a memorial of the work of creation that the seventh day was sanctified as a rest day for man. It was designed to keep the living God ever before the minds of men as the source of being and the object of reverence and worship. Satan strives to turn men from their allegiance to God, and from rendering obedience to His law; therefore he directs his efforts especially against that commandment which points to God as the Creator.
Protestants now urge that the resurrection of Christ on Sunday made it the Christian Sabbath. But Scripture evidence is lacking. No such honor was given to the day by Christ or His apostles. The observance of Sunday as a Christian institution had its origin in that “mystery of lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:7, R.V.) which, even in Paul’s day, had begun its work. Where and when did the Lord adopt this child of the papacy? What valid reason can be given for a change which the Scriptures do not sanction?
In the sixth century the papacy had become firmly established. Its seat of power was fixed in the imperial city, and the bishop of Rome was declared to be the head over the entire church. Paganism had given place to the papacy. The dragon had given to the beast “his power, and his seat, and great authority.” Revelation 13:2. And now began the 1260 years of papal oppression foretold in the prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation. Daniel 7:25; Revelation 13:5-7. (See Appendix.) Christians were forced to choose either to yield their integrity and accept the papal ceremonies and worship, or to wear away their lives in dungeons or suffer death by the rack, the fagot, or the headsman’s ax. Now were fulfilled the words of Jesus: “Ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake.” Luke 21:16, 17. Persecution opened upon the faithful with greater fury than ever before, and the world became a vast battlefield. For hundreds of years the church of Christ found refuge in seclusion and obscurity. Thus says the prophet: “The woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three-score days.” Revelation 12:6.
The accession of the Roman Church to power marked the beginning of the Dark Ages. As her power increased, the darkness deepened. Faith was transferred from Christ, the true foundation, to the pope of Rome. Instead of trusting in the Son of God for forgiveness of sins and for eternal salvation, the people looked to the pope, and to the priests and prelates to whom he delegated authority. They were taught that the pope was their earthly mediator and that none could approach God except through him; and, further, that he stood in the place of God to them and was therefore to be implicitly obeyed. A deviation from his requirements was sufficient cause for the severest punishment to be visited upon the bodies and souls of the offenders. Thus the minds of the people were turned away from God to fallible, erring, and cruel men, nay, more, to the prince of darkness himself, who exercised his power through them. Sin was disguised in a garb of sanctity. When the Scriptures are suppressed, and man comes to regard himself as supreme, we need look only for fraud, deception, and debasing iniquity. With the elevation of human laws and traditions was manifest the corruption that ever results from setting aside the law of God.
Those were days of peril for the church of Christ. The faithful standard-bearers were few indeed. GC 50.1 – GC 55.2
A case in point is a recent occurrence. The finding of an alleged Hindu Shivling in the Gyanvapi mosque provoked a plethora of memes on social media. A prominent journalist retweeted a photo that mocked the Shivling by comparing it to a nuclear reactor; a mainstream newspaper gave further flip to this canard by publishing those images. Another tweet ridiculed this incident by claiming that a series of stone traffic barriers could be Shivlings.
That these incidents did not result in a major hue and cry or a call for beheading the guilty does not make these insults less egregious than other similar violations related to other religions. We need to show appropriate respect to each other’s religious sentiments regardless of our varying sensibilities.
Blasphemy is a sensitive and volatile topic that engenders powerful emotions like deep hurt and uncontrollable rage that sometimes translate into a reckless call for instant punishment. Vigilante justice delivered by mobs acting as judge, jury and executioner is a common fallout of blasphemy laws especially in radicalized fundamentalist societies like Pakistan. Since 1990, about 70 people accused of blasphemy have been lynched or murdered by mobs there; efforts to even amend the blasphemy law have been looked upon disapprovingly, resulting in the murder of the proponents.
The free but unregulated and unfiltered domain of social media where restraint is a desideratum has become another fertile area to exercise vigilante justice. Calls for beheading of individuals arbitrarily accused of blasphemy crowd the internet as we saw in the case of a recent alleged utterance by a member of India’s ruling party.
The million-dollar question is how do we approach the problem of alleged religious hate speech?
At the outset let me make it very clear. No human being has the right to insult another religion and cannot be condoned. But a person’s guilt must be proved by a court of law before they are given appropriate punishment. Our ability to deal with such infractions in a systematic and acceptable manner by taking recourse to the laws of the land is what defines us as a civilized society.
Vigilante justice meted out spontaneously by mobs baying for blood or private individuals acting as self-appointed executioners goes against the basic tenet of giving an accused a fair hearing; additionally, it can result in misuse, abuse and loss of innocent lives; freedom of speech is also impacted negatively by this waywardness.
Violent threats or calls for beheading on the internet also fall into this category of vigilante injustice. The burgeoning influence of the internet makes it imperative to curb proactively and promptly such expressions that can potentially encourage actual killings. The guilty need to be hunted down and penalized to the full extent of the law so that this increasing tendency is nipped in the bud.
The government must use these recent incidents to send out a strong message to one and all that violent intimidation via the internet is as culpable as physical threats. Let it not be forgotten, Section 507 of the Indian Penal Code that is applicable to internet crimes, advocates imprisonment of up to two years for criminal intimidation.
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The parallel or analogy between that war “solely for humanity” and the one through which the United States has just passed, is quite complete. The little republics of Southern Greece stood related to Philip of Macedon much the same as Cuba, Porto Rico, and other places stood related to Spain at the time when this nation, “solely in the cause of humanity,” declared war in their behalf. And, moreover, it may not be out of the way to compare “the barbarous tribes on the north and west of Macedonia,” who were led to join the confederacy, and whose irruptions served to distract the councils and forces of Philip,-it may not be out of the way to compare-these to Aguinaldo and his “barbarous” hordes of Negritos, who, by a United States consul and a commodore of the United States navy, were led to “join the confederacy,” and whose “irruptions served to distract the councils and forces of Spain.”
At the battle of Cynocephale, in 197 b. c., Philip was signally defeated, his country was exposed to invasion, “and he was reduced to accept peace on such terms as the Romans thought proper to dictate.”
“These, as usual, tended to cripple the power of the vanquished party, and at the same time to increase the reputation of the Romans, by appearing more favorable to their allies than to themselves.
“Philip was obliged to give up every Greek city that he possessed beyond the limits of Macedonia, both in Europe and in Asia; a stipulation which deprived him of Thessaly, Achaia, Phthiotis, Perrhæbia, and Magnesia, and particularly of the three important towns of Corinth, Chalcis, and Demetrias, which he used to call the fetters of Greece.” 9 In other words, Philip of Macedon lost all his outlying dependencies; and this is just about what happened to Spain at the treaty of Paris. Both alike were stripped of by far the greater part of their territory outside of the home land.
“All these states were declared free and independent, except that the Romans (pretending that Antiochus, king of Syria, threatened the safety of Greece) retained, for the present, the strong places of Chalcis and Demetrias in their own hands.” PRUS 144.1 – PRUS 145.4
In the Bible, by the pen of the prophet Daniel and of the revelator John, we have in advance of its enactment the history of Rome and the United States, the two great republics of the West. Daniel spake, and said:—
“I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it. And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it .” 18
Such is a part of the vision. Daniel was grieved and troubled, and he asked one of “them that stood by,” “the truth of all this.” He was told that the great beasts are “four kings which shall arise out of the earth.” Not content with this answer he said: “I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet…. Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon the earth, which shall be diverse from all the kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and tread it down, and brake it in pieces.” 19
Now these four kingdoms are named outright in other places in the Bible. They were Babylon, Medo-Persia, Grecia, and Rome. Rome was the fourth, and was diverse from all before it, in that it was a republic . Now it was while it was a republic that Rome “devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet.” Moreover, in Daniel 8:24, 25 it is written of this same power: “And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people. And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand . And the vision of the evening and the morning which was told is true: wherefore shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days.”
Just what was this crafty, peaceful, destroying policy , and how his power became mighty, but not by his own power, has already been set forth clearly from the history in this chapter. By the history I have shown that Rome, being a republic, a government of the people, made high pretensions to liberty and to the love of liberty, only for the sake of liberty; that for this reason Rome pretended to love and desire liberty for other people; that the little states of Greece were struggling against monarchies, that they might themselves be free and be republics. Solely from love of liberty for the sake only of liberty, and for the sake of humanity, Rome sent her armies and navies across seas to fight the battles, and win the causes of those other peoples, only to set them free from oppressive powers, to enjoy the blessings of liberty of which Rome was the conservator in the world. And then when the battles were fought, the victories won, and the peoples delivered, those peoples were not free . They were more bound, and more hopeless than ever before, because of Rome’s greater power than that of the former oppressors. And to-day no man can intelligently read that history of the republic of Rome before any audience in the United States without that audience seeing the republic of the United States perfectly outlined up to date.
Now a point particularly to be considered is that this history of the republic of Rome was sketched in the book of Daniel three hundred and forty years before it occurred; and then that sketch was closed up and sealed, not for three hundred and forty years, not till 198 b. c. and onward; but for twenty-four hundred years , till “the time of the end.”
Why was that sketch of the Roman republic written, and then closed up and sealed until a time two thousand years after that republic had failed as a republic and become imperial?—It was because at this time, “the time of the end,” there would be another republic that would go over the same course as did that republic,-would apostatize from republicanism into imperialism.
Moreover it was a state composed of this apostasy of a republic into imperialism,-it was such a state with which the apostate church of early days, the man of sin, of the Bible, united, and this union made the papacy, “the first beast” of the Bible, as mentioned in Revelation 13.
In the same thirteenth chapter of Revelation it is written: “And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.” 20 Here is depicted the rise of the United States, coming up peacefully out of the earth, instead of forming amidst long years of tumults and fightings, as was the case with all the other powers. It is represented as having two horns like a lamb. A horn in prophecy signifies power, and the two great principles which have given power to the United States and made her what she is to-day are Protestantism and Republicanism. But Protestantism and Republicanism are both in their spirit pacific; that is, they are lamblike, hence the words, “had two horns like a lamb.” It is obvious from this that should these two horns of power be plucked up, as it were, should they be abandoned, and Roman Catholic principles in things religious, and monarchical ideas in things civil, take possession of this government; then, at once, everything that is lenient and lamblike in the government would at that very moment disappear, and nothing but despotism be in their place. In other words, it is the prevalence of these two principles, Protestantism and Republicanism, which alone makes the government lamblike in its nature.
Now the nature of Protestantism is well set forth by D’Aubigne, the historian of the Reformation. Speaking of the diet of Spires, where the famous Protest of the Princes was drawn up, and from which we get the name of Protestant, and the word Protestantism, he says:—
“The principles contained in this celebrated protest of the 19th of April, 1592, constitute the very essence of Protestantism. Now this protest opposed two abuses of man in matters of faith: the first is the intrusion of the civil magistrate, and the second the arbitrary authority of the church. Instead of these abuses, Protestantism sets the power of conscience above the magistrate, and the authority of the Word of God above the visible church.” 21
This is the essence of Protestantism in very truth. There may be sects many and varied; but this is the underlying, fundamental, basic principle. True Protestantism opposes the “intrusion of the civil magistrate” in things pertaining to the church.
On this point George Bancroft, the great historian of the United States Constitution, has also said of the new nation:—
“Vindicating the right of individuality in religion, and in religion above all, the new nation dared to set the example of accepting in its relation to God the principle first divinely ordained of God in Judea. It left the management of temporal things to the temporal power; but the American Constitution, in harmony with the people of the several States, withheld from the federal government the power to invade the home of reason, the citadel of conscience, the sanctuary of the soul; and not from indifference, but that the infinite Spirit of eternal truth might move in its freedom and purity and power.”
And the very first amendment to the national Constitution reads:—
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Thus was the horn of power, the principle of Protestantism, established as a fundamental doctrine of the United States.
With equal truth it may be said that the “essence” of republicanism is, that “all men are created equal,” and that “governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
The principles of Protestantism are the true principles of Christianity,-the Christianity of the Bible. The principles of Republicanism are also the principles of God and the Bible in things civil.
But it is said concerning the beast which symbolizes the United States in the Bible that “he had two horns like a lamb, and spake as a dragon.” Here are two things happening together, at the same time, and totally incompatible with one another,-that which is lamblike speaking as a dragon. Now a thing that is lamblike can not possibly speak as a dragon, and still retain its lamblike disposition. It therefore follows that the Scriptures have portrayed that the United States will in name retain its lamblike principles of Protestantism and Republicanism, but in nature and in practise it will deny them. This is national hypocrisy; yea, it is national apostasy. There may never in these United States exist, openly, avowedly, and in name, a union of church and state, which constitutes in itself the abandonment of Protestantism; but the thing itself will be, and even now is, here. We may never have an emperor with a crown upon his brow; but Rome was imperial, and an empire for long years, while still retaining the image and name of a republic.
Now the “first beast” was Rome, once a republic, but apostatized into an imperial monarchy, degenerated into a military despotism; united with a church once Protestant in principle, but apostatized into the papacy. The union of these two was, I say, the “first beast.”
Now when in the prophecy the image of the beast is to be made, it is said ” to them that dwell on the earth , that they should make an image to the beast.” This shows that it is a government of the people where the image is made. And it is said to them that they shall make a union of church and state. This shows that this is all done in a place where there is no union of church and state. That is true of the United States at its formation, and it is not true of any other nation that was ever on earth.
These things show that the nation is first a republic, and that this nation is the one where these things are at last done. But these things can not be done in a true republic, for they are positively antagonistic to it in principle. For these things to be done in a country professing to be a republic, there must be an apostasy from the principles of a true republic.
Already there has been an apostasy from the principles of Protestantism, from the principle of a separation of church and state. The Congress of the United States, the executive, and the judiciary of the United States are already committed to the papal principles as opposed to Protestantism. This has already been done, by congressional legislation, executive action, and judicial decision. All three arms of the federal government have already interfered in behalf of a religious institution,-in behalf of Sunday and Sunday laws. Already here in the home of freedom men have been arrested and thrown into prison, and even committed to the chain-gang, in company with loathsome criminals, simply because they could not conscientiously observe the first day of the week. Into the history of this apostasy from Protestant principle I can not go. It is fully written out in other works. 22
A true republic can never unite with papal principles; but now the Republic is apostatizing from republicanism and uniting with apostate Protestant principles, and this is in itself an “image to the beast.”
Already this nation has commenced to war against men who plead for republican principles in their island home; and according to the prophecy it is yet to go the furthest step in this awful path, and kill men for desiring Protestant principles in these United States. For it is written of the United States:—
“And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed .” 23
The union of church and state in Rome hastened and actually wrought the ruin of that apostate republic. So even now will this union hasten and cause the ruin of this so far apostate republic. And the sketch of the history of the former was written in the book of the prophet Daniel then, and closed up and sealed until now, so that they that be wise may understand what to do to escape the evil and the ruin that will come, and even now hastens,-a ruin that will come to this modern great Republic as surely as came the ruin of that ancient great Republic.
This national apostasy is proceeding daily before the eyes of all the people; and as national apostasy progresses, national ruin hastens. And with this national ruin comes the ruin of the world, and of every nation in the world. PRUS 159.1 – PRUS 165.5