Terrorists and the Demise of Religious Liberty - Endtime Issues December 2002
By Hal Mayer
Professor of History and Director of Stewardship Ministries at Hartland Institute
Sobering thoughts as we move past the first anniversary of September 11, 2001 .
The morning of September 11, 2001 , was bright and clear. The nation was quiet for a few hours until four aircraft were high-jacked and three were crashed into prominent symbols of American culture. The nation went into panic, and has never been the same.
As the terrorists were laying their plans, they had no idea that angels of God were involved. Sometime before September 11, the angels holding back the winds of strife stepped back a little to allow these evil plans to succeed. September 11 was critical to the development of earth’s final movements. God’s people needed awakening, and the world needed to be sensitized to ask deeper spiritual questions.
Satan’s plan was to create an environment in which he could develop the mechanisms to enforce the “no buy, no sell” decree of Revelation 13:17 on all true believers. In a speech on September 24, President Bush announced an executive order freezing the assets (no buy, no sell) of certain organizations. In that speech he made it clear that he was establishing global networks and controls to search and destroy terrorist organizations and that the U.S. would pressure other nations to join this effort.
The President’s No Buy, No Sell Executive Order:
“This executive order means that the United States banks that have assets of these groups or individuals must freeze their accounts. And United States businesses are prohibited from doing business with them. . . . We’re putting banks and financial institutions around the world on notice. . . . If they fail to help us by sharing information or freezing accounts, the Department of the Treasury now has the authority to freeze their bank assets and transactions in the United States . . . . If you do business with the terrorists, if you sponsor or support them, you will not do business with the United States of America . . . . I want to assure the world that we will exercise this power responsibly. But make no mistake about it. We intend to, and we will disrupt terrorist networks. . . . We’ve established a foreign terrorist asset tracking center at the Department of the Treasury to identify and investigate the financial infrastructure of international terrorist networks. . . . Money is the life blood of terrorist organizations, and today we are asking the world to stop payment.”
President Bush also said that he was going to implement other global strategies to crush the terrorists. That speech was all about the terrorists—on the surface. But Satan has a larger plan: he wants to bring the whole world under his control. His plan is to prevent God’s people from giving the last message. President Bush is certainly unaware of it, but the real agenda behind the terrorist attacks was to establish international systems and mechanisms to eventually enforce similar decrees against God’s people. These decrees could not be enforced without global systems in place, fine tuned and well practiced. The terrorists provided a seemingly genuine excuse to destroy civil liberties with popular support in a prelude to destroying the religious liberties of God’s people.
A similar speech has no doubt been made by Satan in the unseen world about God’s people. The President’s speech sounds like Revelation 13 in modern parlance—though for the moment directed at another target. For a shocking insight into the future for God’s people, read the full text of the President’s speech and insert the word “Adventist” wherever President Bush uses the word “terrorist.” 1
The attacks and subsequent changes have struck at the heart of the U.S. Constitution. Note this prophetic prediction:
“By the decree enforcing the institution of the papacy in violation of the law of God, our nation will disconnect herself fully from righteousness. When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government, and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 451.
“Our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government, and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions.”
Every Principle Repudiated
The September 11 attacks were so horrific that it created a long-term fear environment, and reduced concerns about constitutional rights. Fear of new attacks will keep those concerns from becoming significant. Considerable discussion in the press about the balance between civil liberties and security, in effect, puts opposition to constitutional overrides to rest. In spite of these assurances, there has been a dramatic shift away from personal liberties. Americans have willingly allowed the President to assume unprecedented powers over their lives. Every week the newspapers report more changes in the name of security at the expense of civil rights and privacy. Many of them may well be the only thing a human government can do to try to protect its people. Does America realize it is now willingly repudiating the principles of its Constitution by leaps and bounds?
A Global Infrastructure
The “no buy, no sell” law could not be fulfilled before September 11 on a global scale. The mindset of Americans had to be changed about their liberties. The global infrastructure to regulate, control, and enforce it is daily advancing at a frightening pace. President Bush said he is developing a global system with the ability to pressure other nations. That is not easy. But they are all getting used to it, and they will ultimately cooperate.
Banks worldwide are cooperating. Secure banking places, such as the Caribbean islands, will no longer be entirely private. The Germans have cooperated and arrested a number of people with connections to the terrorists. A global communication system is being developed between the CIA, the FBI and their equivalent organizations in other countries to gather and share information. A new TIPS program proposed by President Bush will recruit one million people to spy and report on their fellow citizens in a modern version of Nazi Germany. This will link up with similar international programs. All of this takes time to organize, refine, and implement, but Satan cannot enforce the Sunday law without a well developed global control system.
Law Enforcement Cooperation
International law enforcement cooperation is essential to enforcing the global Sunday Law. Since September 11, international law enforcement operations are developing and cooperating together. Wiretap rules have been liberalized. Cell phones, the Internet, and traditional communications are all subject to new rules affecting private citizens. Prior to September 11 these things would have been considered extremely unconstitutional. But all are essential to the global system to strike against God’s people.
A Global “Justice” System
Based in the Netherlands , but run by an increasingly powerful and demanding UN, an International Criminal Court (ICC) is now open for business and is prepared to supercede the court systems of the world. Even though the U.S. has not joined in the ICC treaty, it does not object to the court in principle, but only as it would be applied to U.S. soldiers on peacekeeping missions.
The ICC is a system of a secret tribunal, not a jury of peers. If you are convicted of a crime you can be sent anywhere to prison, not necessarily in your home country. Appeals are made to the same body that originally convicted you. How easy do you think it would be to extradite and arraign people before the ICC for violating blasphemy laws of Great Britain , Europe , or the Vatican , though the “crime” was committed in America ? The ICC is being modeled on nearly the same principles as was the Inquisition.
Military tribunals are also secret; they do not have the same restrictions as do civil courts. These courts are being restructured to be used whenever prisoners are deemed to be part of a military operation. The original intention is to arraign those involved in international terrorism. But governments are expanding definitions dramatically, and we can imagine that some of God’s people could be tried in some of these courts. Military tribunals now have a loosened attorney-client privilege. Conversations between alleged criminals and their lawyers can now be monitored. This is not planned for civil courts, yet—at least not publicly. Nor is it planned for American citizens—yet. First the American public must be tested to see if they will tolerate it, at least at some level, before it is tried it on citizens or the civil courts.
Suppose that national security interests began to include church activities. Certain church groups and their members could potentially be defined as military combatants even though they are merely church members. Sound far fetched? Not in the wake of the use of Mosques to organize terrorist cells. When laws and crime definitions are expanded making certain religious ideas or practices illegal these tribunals are likely to be used in ways originally thought impossible. The system being established can be easily manipulated and eventually transformed and used against God’s faithful people.
Immigration law in America is changing to adjust the way immigration issues are handled, including student visas. A tracking system is being developed because many students drop out of school and remain in America illegally. Some of them were part of the Al Qaida network. That could eventually threaten the freedom of Hartland College and other faithful colleges to train foreign students.
Security of Major Target Areas
Major target areas such as large cities are the subject of “anti-terror” measures. The terrorist attacks have created the “need” to be able to “lock down” cities. Imagine what New York City or San Francisco would be like when in lock down. There are only so many ways to access them. During lock down, every vehicle is observed as it leaves or enters the city. The National Guard or Reserves have the authority to search any vehicle. It is very easy for the government to lock down a city or a community so that everyone coming in and going out is searched or subjected to ID checks. Sound ominous?
National Identification Cards
Technology is available for a national ID card or a coordinated driver’s license program. President Bush is proposing an obligatory system. The ID system could be used to authorize (or deny) any and all banking transactions, including supermarket and gasoline sales. It is only a matter of getting the people to accept the idea. A few more attacks or other national crises and they will willingly accept these measures and more.
There has also been talk about the vulnerability of food sources. Is it possible that food will become so controlled that selected individuals or groups—even God’s people—will be prevented from obtaining it? Certainly it could be made difficult for them to obtain food from the usual sources. Is Ellen White’s counsel concerning country living relevant for us today?
Did you notice that most of the military action in Afghanistan since September 11 has been focused on a few isolated religious “extremists”? The Taliban is considered to be extremist. Osama bin Laden is considered to be an extremist. Hamas is considered to be an extremist organization. And there are others. Regardless of the fact that the Koran advocates the violent destruction of anyone that refuses to become Muslim, a media distinction is being made between “tolerant moderates” and “extremists.” Islam, we are told, is peace-loving except for these extremists. The military has been spending time practicing their skills in hunting down religious extremists from cave to cave. When you have to flee to the rocks and the mountains, the military will have the skills and the equipment to rout you out. Although bin Laden has been a little elusive, the military is developing systems that eventually can be used against God’s people. You will be more helpless than bin Laden, unless you have the angels of God to make you invisible.
Consider this statement: “During the night a very impressive scene passed before me. There seemed to be great confusion and the conflict of armies. A messenger from the Lord stood before me, and said, ‘Call your household. I will lead you; follow me.’ He led me down a dark passage, through a forest, then through the clefts of mountains, and said, ‘Here you are safe.’ There were others who had been led to this retreat. The heavenly messenger said. ‘The time of trouble has come as a thief in the night, as the Lord warned you it would come.’” (Maranatha 270.3)
Do you think the angel’s of God will protect many of His faithful souls during the coming social and economic boycott, as well as during the final pursuit in spite of all the expensive high tech equipment? Some will be arraigned before the courts of the land, and some will even be martyrs, but others will be protected in ways that defy all the instruments of human genius and invention.
There will be attempts to curtail the operation of extremist groups operating under cover of religion. Do you think that Adventists will be divided into “mainline” and “extreme” groups? Mainline Adventists will be considered balanced and acceptable, like most Muslims. Those who are faithful to Christ, love the truth enough to die for it, have high standards and are unwilling to compromise, are the people that will get profiled and painted with the extremist brush and treated very differently from “mainline” Adventists.
Notice also how Taliban captives are treated. They were given a unique legal description. They are not POWs, but “detainees.” Under the Geneva Convention POWs have certain rights. But detainees have no rights. American leaders are trying to assure the people that these detainees are being treated with rights compatible with the Geneva Convention. Under the definition of detainees, however, there is no legal reason why they can’t be treated in unconstitutional ways. Civilian observers are not permitted at Guantanamo Bay . Thus no one outside the military really knows for sure how the detainees are being treated.
Think how faithful souls, “detained” on one pretext or another, are likely to be treated. This special classification of Taliban captives is making the American public become accustomed to quarantining. Who is going to question the treatment of Adventist detainees under the chaos and awesome conflict over the coming Sunday Laws? The war against the Taliban is being used to condition Americans to not question matters of “national security.”
Police agencies have admitted that they are carefully monitoring and gathering intelligence on what they perceive to be extremist Islamic groups. What is an extremist group? Isn’t that a group that has beliefs that are not within the normal mainstream of their religion or society?
Americans are being cultivated to fear those labeled as religious extremists and those with deep religious convictions. In the past Americans were willing to tolerate more religious diversity and even religious exclusivity. But not any more! The Taliban and other religious extremists of the Islamic world are giving the U.S. plenty opportunity to develop hostility to religious extremism.
In Germany dramatic changes are talking place beneath the surface. Germans are quietly acquiescing to government intrusion and restrictions on their lives that previously would have been unthinkable. Many of Germany ’s colleges and universities have begun opening their file cabinets and computer hard drives to criminal investigators seeking financial, educational and travel information that fit their profile of the typical terrorist. Profiles of religious extremists are being developed in America , too.
Suppose a profile of a Seventh-day Adventist extremist is developed. What would it include? Perhaps home-schooled children; belief that the end of the world is at hand; belief in extreme religious views, such as the Papacy as the Biblical Antichrist, willingness to be martyred over keeping the Sabbath, and so forth. The definition might include that an SDA “extremist” knows his Bible very well, subscribes to certain kinds of magazines and literature, goes to certain types of places and buys only certain kinds of foods. It’s not difficult to develop a profile. The concept of profiling, coupled with other surveillance and control systems, will make it easy for faithful Seventh-day Adventists to be tracked and eventually hunted down.
A friend of mine recently said to me, “Yeah, but this all can’t happen very fast. It will take a while.” How long did it take America to react to the spectacular terrorist attacks? In one year’s time, dramatic changes have occurred in America and the “free” western world which have opened the way for the oppression of God’s people. The terrorist attacks were obviously humanly orchestrated; it is easy to point the finger. But what happens when natural disasters of gigantic magnitude wreak devastation on the cities of the earth by earthquakes, hurricanes, huge tornadoes, and so forth? To whom then is the finger pointed?
Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson pointed the finger. They said that the reason for the terrorist attacks was the tolerance of homosexuals, the purveyors of pornography, and the abortionists. There was a media outcry against this supposedly illogical conclusion, and these men withdrew their statement. In actuality, even though they didn’t see the whole picture, Falwell and Robertson had identified a Biblical principle. “Righteousness exalteth a nation,” (Proverbs 14:34 ) and when the nation separates itself from righteousness, the angels of God withdraw their protection. So when there is one successive natural disaster after another who is going to get the blame?
“We’ve got to get America back to God,” will be the cry. And the conclusion will be that there are a few people that are preventing it from happening. “They are not going along with the new Sunday law and they are jeopardizing national security. We’ve got to freeze their assets. We’ve got to prevent them from doing what they are doing.” How easy will it be for SDA Church leaders to distance themselves from anything that might be considered extreme? Hasn’t it already happened in the past? All it takes is fear. It can happen almost overnight, as did the national changes after the terrorist attacks.
The Terrorists and the Papacy
Many wonder how the September 11 attacks fit into the prophetic role of the Papacy. The greatest terrorist organization in history is the Church of Rome. How were the Waldenses, Huguenots, and other religious dissenters treated by the Roman Popes? It was nothing short of terrorism. And Satan is planning it again. While the Pope is apologizing for the atrocities that the “sons of the church” committed, it is apparently only political rhetoric.
Rome is now courting Islam. Consider the Pope’s May 2001 visit to one of Islam’s holiest sites, the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus , Syria . Here he worshipped and led in Christian prayers, while his Moslem counterpart led in Moslem Prayers. The Pope, however, has never repudiated the dogma that justified the inquisition, the crusades, and the extermination of heretics and infidels. And there is still intolerance wherever Rome can get away with it. Half a world away from Damascus , protestant evangelicals are persecuted in Mexico by their Catholic neighbors.
Even the term “religious intolerance” is being redefined. It no longer refers to the intolerance of Rome . In this age of ecumenism, it now refers to anyone who speaks the truth about apostate churches, including Rome . The new intolerance is labeled “bigotry” or “religious extremism,” and is as bad as the terrorists.
God has told us in His Word that the Papacy causes all, “both great and small, rich and poor, free and bond to receive a mark in their right hand or in their foreheads that no man might buy or sell, save he that hath the mark or the name of the beast or the number of his name.” Revelation 13:17. Do you think we are getting close to that time? The September 11 attacks created the environment for a giant step forward in the fulfillment of prophecy. But future terrorist attacks will make the controls, surveillance, and restrictions even more compelling while Satan does a parallel maneuver to isolate and restrict God’s people.
How soon will these new global systems be expanded from their original purpose and be used to oppress God’s remnant people? No one can really say, but once America is used to the new system and familiar with how it works, it will be an easy transition to start using it on US citizens accused of other religious crimes.
The future is ominous. Satan is going through very large and expensive maneuvers just so he can control and oppress a small group of God’s true people. He is building a global economic, police, and justice system just for God’s faithful people. He’s pretty serious. As you contemplate the news in the future, pay attention to the underlying principles behind it.
Realize that there are unseen agencies with an agenda that is beneath the surface. However, prophecy enables us to understand the long range purpose of God. We can foresee those things that tell us that the end is near. God is bigger than all of Satan’s devices. God can and will protect His people according to His purpose.
The last year of national and global events are a serious warning to God’s people.
Never has there been a more important time to plead with God for His Holy Spirit to give you power to overcome sin and represent Him fully in character. Never has there been a more opportune time to seek righteousness and perfect love that casts out all fear, and brings the peace that only God’s Holy Spirit can place in your heart. Now is the time to obey God’s instruction to move into the country. September 11 dramatically changed the liberty environment in America and the world. We must rethink our priorities and invest our resources in soul-winning work. Let us humble ourselves before God and plead for His people.