You’re told you have freedom of religious beliefs. But then you’re also told the government will make sure there’s harmony between all the religions and with the government. Oops. You’re also told there’s self-governance. Really? And that no conflicts are allowed. How can that be?
There’s more, but that’s enough to make a point. And to raise a question.
Do you see the adjacent picture? Two arms. One has a handcuff. The other doesn’t. The part that goes on the other hand is in the air, between the two hands.
Here’s the question. Is that person having the handcuffs removed, and is therefore jumping for joy, even before the second one is taken off?
Or, did that person just get the first cuff put on and is now trying to get away before the second is put in place?
Now, use a similar question for the religious beliefs paragraph at the top. Is the person jumping for joy about the first paragraph? Or is that person trying to get away before their religion is taken from them?
If there’s any doubt, I believe it will be removed before the end of this series. If fact, before the end of this segment. Rest assured though, it does get worse.
Who should be afraid of this false freedom of religious beliefs?
Also, be afraid. Why? If you’re on the side that’s redefining religion to fit into your view, why should you be afraid? Because the very things that your side is putting into place can just as easily be turned against you by the next people to come into power.
The only time that won’t happen, the only time your side won’t be overthrown by another person’s view of religion, is in the case below.
(Rev 13:1 …) And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. 2 The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority. 3 One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed. The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. 4 Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?”
Rev 13:5 The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. 6 He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. 7 He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. 8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.
Rev 13:9 He who has an ear, let him hear.
Rev 13:10 If anyone is to go into captivity,
into captivity he will go.
If anyone is to be killed with the sword,
with the sword he will be killed.
This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.
In case you don’t recognize it, this is the so-called “one world religion” that will take hold in The End Times. If you search the Bible for “one world religion”, you won’t find those exact words. However, there are some passages that clearly point it out. This is one of them. The one in Revelation is shorter, and meets the requirements for today’s topic.
There are others, such as Daniel 11:31. However, it’s just one verse out of a much larger passage, The Kings of the South and the North – Daniel 11:2-35. You can use the links to read it if you’d like.
Who should not be afraid of this false freedom of religious beliefs?
Who should not be afraid is a much simpler question to answer than who should be afraid.
You see, the only people who don’t need to be afraid are the true followers of Jesus. Yes, the world has always been against Christianity in one way or another. By that, I mean those who truly follow what Jesus taught and even commanded us to do and how to live.
The problem is, when government and Christianity get together, Christianity always – yes, always – gets compromised.
But here’s why we don’t need to worry if we truly follow Jesus. The true Church actually flourishes in times of trouble. It happens with both the Church as a group and with individuals. Here’s something from C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters to illustrate that.
As you read it, keep in mind, Screwtape and Wormwood are devils. Their goal is to take patients (people) away from the Enemy (God) and deliver them to Our Father Below (Satan). The entire extract provides context, but pay particular attention to the underlined sentences.
So you ‘have great hopes that the patient’s religious phase is dying away’, have you? I always thought the Training College had gone to pieces since they put old Slubgob at the head of it, and now I am sure. Has no one ever told you about the law of Undulation? Humans are amphibians—half spirit and half animal. (The Enemy’s determination to produce such a revolting hybrid was one of the things that determined Our Father to withdraw his support from Him.) As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for to be in time means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation—the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks. If you had watched your patient carefully you would have seen this undulation in every department of his life—his interest in his work, his affection for his friends, his physical appetites, all go up and down. As long as he lives on earth periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty. The dryness and dullness through which your patient is now going are not, as you fondly suppose, your workmanship; they are merely a natural phenomenon which will do us no good unless you make a good use of it.
To decide what the best use of it is, you must ask what use the Enemy wants to make of it, and then do the opposite. Now it may surprise you to learn that in His efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He relies on the troughs even more than on the peaks; some of His special favourites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else. The reason is this. To us a human is primarily food; our aim is the absorption of its will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense. But the obedience which the Enemy demands of men is quite a different thing. One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is not (as one would gladly believe) mere propaganda, but an appalling truth. He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself—creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His. We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself: the Enemy wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct. 1Lewis, C. S.. The Screwtape Letters (pp. 37-39). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
To understand what this means, we must remember that the words are from a devil. So let’s try to make sense of it. The sad reality is that when Christians get into the practice of using political power to force their view of Christianity on everyone else, it’s not Christianity at all. It’s not from Jesus. It’s from Satan.
God gives us a choice. But when we use laws to force people to act like we think Christians should, there’s no choice. Therefore, there’s also no love. Love cannot exist without a choice to not love. Otherwise, at best it’s pulling strings, and at worse it’s outright coercion through force. That’s not from God.
However, as C.S. Lewis points out, something happens when we get pushed down into the “troughs”. It can bring us to the brink. To the point where we know only God can help us. That’s why attempts to eradicate Christianity only make it rebound stronger than before.
So what’s the difference in the End Times scenario? Why will everyone follow the Beast out of the Sea? Because all the Christians will be gone from the face of the earth. The Rapture took them away. Rescued them from what comes with the End Times.
Now, let’s take a look at how the government gives with one hand, and takes away with the other.
Citizens have the freedom of religious belief
Article 2: No organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in any religion (hereinafter referred to as religious citizens) or citizens who do not believe in any religion (hereinafter referred to as non-religious citizens).
Religious citizens and non-religious citizens shall respect each other and co-exist in harmony, and so shall citizens who believe in different religions.
It sounds so good, doesn’t it? Whether it’s the U.S., China, whatever.
But it isn’t. It’s too good to be true.
Even Islamic Theocracies, where the government and the religion of the country are pretty much one and the same, don’t allow freedom of religious beliefs. You must practice the sect of Islam that’s in power. For instance, in Saudi Arabia, it’s Sunni. But in Iran, it’s Shia.
Beyond that, there are huge differences in beliefs between extreme fundamentalists, who don’t consider themselves extreme at all, and those who aren’t as strict.
Ultimately, freedom of religious beliefs, like freedom of religion, are impossible when governments begin to dictate what religion is. It doesn’t matter whether it’s one religion, or all of them. Government and religion just don’t mix.
Let’s take a look at the next article to see why I say that.
The management of religious affairs upholds the principles of … fighting crime
Say what? Is that heading correct? Is it true that the management of religious affairs upholds the principles of … fighting crime?
Well, apparently that’s what they think in China. Oddly enough, in a way, the U.S. “Christian” political activists are doing the exact opposite. They’re using crime to force people to follow their “religious beliefs”. The one thing they have in common is that in both cases, those in a position of power are trying to force their rules on everyone else.
Let’s take a look, then break it down.
Article 3: The management of religious affairs upholds the principles of protecting what is lawful, prohibiting what is unlawful, suppressing extremism, resisting infiltration, and fighting crime.
Management of religious affairs: protecting what is lawful, prohibiting what is unlawful
The first thing that comes to mind here isn’t China. It’s the U.S. Specifically, it’s abortion. Roe v Wade legalized abortion in the U.S. back on January 22, 1973. Fifty years later, it was overturned. pretty much because a decidedly un-Christian President appointed some super conservative self-proclaimed Christians to the Supreme Court. All of a sudden, what was previously legal became illegal in a bunch of states. And they won’t be happy until it’s the law, nationwide.
As a Christian, I do believe abortion is wrong. However, as a Christian, I also believe it’s wrong to pass a law strictly because of my own religious beliefs. When Christians sin, including outright murder, we can be forgiven. When someone breaks the law, forgiveness seems to be more dependent on things like money, power, race, etc.
And yes, murder is illegal. The question becomes one of when is a fetus a person? An even bigger question exists though. And it is a critical one, given the argument put forth these days. Check this out:
The excerpt below is from a review of a book with a very long title:
THE SEEDS OF LIFE
From Aristotle to da Vinci, From Sharks’ Teeth to Frogs’ Pants, the Long and Strange Quest to Discover Where Babies Come From 2Where Do Babies Come From? And Why Did It Take Scientists So Long to Find Out?
Where do babies come from? The answer to that question is now common knowledge, yet in “The Seeds of Life,” the veteran science writer Edward Dolnick tells us that for centuries it proved elusive, even to the greatest minds. Profound discoveries were being made in medicine, mathematics, astronomy and other fields, but it would take until 1875 for us to fully comprehend the process of human gestation.
And yet, we act like the Bible tells us something we just learned. It’s funny how that happens. Sometimes, we pretend the Bible is wrong – and that science is right. Other times, that science proves the Bible is right. It all depends on what our goal is. For instance, the same people who claim the earth is only 5,000 years old will also look to the Bible and say the death of an unborn baby is murder.
And yet, Jewish law and tradition says the death of an unborn baby isn’t murder. Murder often doesn’t come into the conversation until one (maybe both) of two things happens. One – the baby is viable, on its own. To – the period of cleanliness has passed. Whether either or both of these is considered depends on the rabbi.
Further, in Jesus’ time, nothing new was known yet. He said nothing that would modify the Jewish law. Yes, it was a male dominated society. And yet, it didn’t matter whether the baby would have been male or female, the time when a death was considered to have taken place was if the mother died.
And so, we claim the Bible addresses unborn fetuses, when there’s no text or history from that time to indicate this was the case when it was written.
Some day, I have to get deeper into this. But it’s enough for today. Like it or not, this is a case where some people force others to live according to their will. It appears that Jewish law is overridden/ignored. Circumstances where the mother’s life could be at risk are sometimes ignored. Traumatic experiences that led to pregnancies are often ignored.
The inability of a mother to care for a child is ignored – in that the child must be carried, given birth, and then likely either have a miserable life or be taken away when the mother fails to meet a standard of care. How is any of that Christian?
That’s just one example of the messiness of trying to mix what’s lawful to the government and what’s law to any given religion. Neither government people nor religious people agree, amongst themselves, whether something is/should be legal or not.
Life is messy. Government and religion mixing together make it even messier.
Management of religious affairs: suppressing extremism
OK – things don’t really get easier haere. Extremism is a matter of judgement. And it’s scope ranges from religious beliefs like predestiny vs. free will – to cultural interactions such as whether women should be in positions of church leadership.
But those are the big ticket items in America. What about China?
In China, extremism is anythinleg that goes against what the government dictates. Therefore, when we get to things like what’s lawful and what’s not lawful, and the conflicts that arise, the decision will always be made in favor of the government. Why? Because when conflicts between religion and the atheist government in China arise, religion will always be considered extremist in nature.
This reality may be why China wants to control Christianity and some other religions – but seems to find it necessary to have re-education camps for Muslims. You see, Christianity, at its core and as taught in the Bible, has a built-in kind of separation of church and state.
12:13-17 pp — Mt 22:15-22; Lk 20:20-26
Mk 12:13 Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. 14 They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? 15 Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”
But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.” 16 They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
Mk 12:17 Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
And they were amazed at him.
Notice – Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. Western Christians, more and more, are trying to mix God and Caesar. But in China, this isn’t going to happen. So the true Christians in China go “underground”. They have house churches. The government version of Christianity causes fewer complications in the life of those who are OK with the compromises.
Interestingly, those who go with the flow and/or go with the government lose sight of Christ.
One because they have the power to control the government. And in the process, they lose sight of Jesus and no longer follow Him.
The other because they cannot control the government and aren’t willing to make the sacrifices required to remain a true follower of Jesus.
Management of religious affairs: resisting infiltration
This idea of resisting infiltration is almost funny. Almost. The reality is that it’s the government doing the infiltrating.
In China, infiltration of a house church can and does lead to people disappearing and building being destroyed. That’s what happens when the true followers of Jesus are found by the government.
In the U.S. there’s really no need to infiltrate. Churches are open. We haven’t reached a point where Christians have to go underground to follow our faith. That time may well come. But it’s not here yet.
In any case, all the electronic things we have will be used against anyone who goes against the government. No, I’m not someone wplho’s into conspiracy theories, anarchy, getting off the grid, whatever. I just realize that all the things we have to track people will eventually be used against followers of Jesus.
Do you remember earlier, we looked at the beast out of the sea? Here’s a passage about another beast in the End Times.
Rev 13:11 Then I saw another beast, coming out of the earth. He had two horns like a lamb, but he spoke like a dragon. 12 He exercised all the authority of the first beast on his behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. 13 And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. 14 Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16 He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, 17 so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.
Rev 13:18 This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666.
Check out verses 115-17:
15 He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16 He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, 17 so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.
That’s going to take surveillance. And guess what? All that surveillance today’s self-proclaimed Christians are urging the government to put in place will at some point be turned in the direction of every Christian on earth.
Can you begin to see why I keep using terms like self-proclaimed Christian? Just how Christian is it to set up an environment that will lead to the deaths of so many Christians at some point in the future?
Management of religious affairs: fighting crime
Of course, we have to realize that fighting crime means identifying all the times when religions conflict with government.
To use some of the previous examples, here are some considerations.
- Knowing when a woman might be pregnant, for instance by the apps she uses on her phone. This can allow for investigating a potential abortion.
- Knowing if someone belongs to an illegal religion, maybe by apps, cell phone location information, concentration of cell phones in a location with lots of potential suspects, etc.
- Know what people read, for instance extremist literature, in other words anything that goes against government decrees.
- Even the potential to look up things will be followed at some point. Witness all the book banning already going on. Any attempt to locate a banned book can be tracked.
- Think about all the stuff you buy online. When these things become illegal, will you be a target of surveillance to see if/how you continue to get those things?
This is our future. When the events of the beast out of the earth come to pass, the world will be drastically changed. Many of the people who wanted the things they put in place will be hiding from those very things. But there will be no hiding.
Conclusion – People have freedom of religious beliefs unless …
I know. It sounds pretty bad doesn’t it?
Then consider this. There are 77 articles in the Chinese religious regulations. And we’re only up to Article 3.
Hang in there. But realize, there is more.
We’ll continue to look at the articles under the general regulations sections of the Chinese Religious Regulations in the next segment in this series. And, we’ll continue to see how the U.S. is going down a somewhat different path, and yet with the same end goal. To redefine Christianity.
My source for the Religious Affairs Regulations 2017 excerpts is China Law Translate. From their website:
China Law Translate (CLT) is a collaborative translation project dedicated to facilitating communication between Chinese and foreign legal professionals by creating fast and reliable translations of Chinese legal authority. Since its launch in 2013, CLT has become an authoritative English-language source for news and analysis on Chinese law, as well as an indispensable source of quality translations.
They are crowd sourced, and supposedly receive no funds from any countries.
I have compared their translations to a couple of others, and there appear to be no major discrepancies. Obviously, there are wording differences in any translation, but it appears to be accurate for our purposes here. Not legal advice – but to look at the culture, religion, and what these regulations attempt to do to both.
Text from the translation of the Chinese Religious Affairs Regulations with be formatted like this to identify them as such.
Image by Лечение наркомании from Pixabay
- 1Lewis, C. S.. The Screwtape Letters (pp. 37-39). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
- 2Where Do Babies Come From? And Why Did It Take Scientists So Long to Find Out?