‘We want to work Sunday!’
French citizens held demonstrations at locations around Paris over the last weekend in September to protest a court ruling that forced two retailers to close 15 locations every Sunday. The ruling has reignited a long-standing debate about a century-old French law that enforces Sunday rest for many businesses.
On one side of the argument are businessmen who argue that France’s stagnant consumer spending makes the law increasingly ridiculous; workers, struggling with rising taxes and pinched pocketbooks, who are increasingly eager to work Sundays in order to make ends meet; and the unemployed—now 10.9 percent, or 3 million people—who argue that the laws prevent thousands of sorely needed jobs from being created. A recent survey showed that an unprecedented 63 percent of French people now favor allowing shops to operate on Sundays.
But on the other side of the debate is an ancient force unlikely to be swayed by public opinion and protests: the Roman Catholic Church. Despite a shift toward secularism and an influx of Muslim immigrants, the influence of the church remains vigorous, not just in France, but in all of Europe. And mandating Sunday rest throughout Europe is among its primary goals.
The broad appeal of this goal is evident in the Brussels-based European Sunday Alliance, a network of dozens of religious and nonreligious organizations from 27 European nations whose purpose, according to its website, is to “raise awareness of the unique value of synchronized free time for our European societies.” In January, the group will meet with politicians from around the European Union for the second European Conference on the Protection of a Work-Free Sunday. The conference’s published agenda says a work-free Sunday is “of paramount importance for citizens throughout Europe.”
Why does this Sunday alliance exist and work so hard to influence Europe’s labor laws? Why is the Catholic Church so adamant about instituting a Continent-wide day of rest? And why Sunday?
It is because it was the Catholic Church—in intentional violation of biblical teachings—that appointed Sunday as a day of worship. The Vatican is proud of this colossal feat, and Sunday rest has become a mark of the Catholic Church’s authority. This truth is best explained by the Vatican’s own:
“Sunday is a Catholic institution and its claim to observance can be defended only on Catholic principles. … From beginning to end of Scripture there is not a single passage that warrants the transfer of weekly public worship from the last day of the week to the first” (Catholic Press, August 1900).
“Of course the Catholic Church claims that the change was her act. … And the act is a mark of her ecclesiastical authority in religious things” (Letter from the office of Cardinal Gibbons, Nov. 11, 1895).
“The church is above the Bible; and this transference of Sabbath observance from Saturday to Sunday is proof positive of that fact. Deny the authority of the church and you have no adequate or reasonable explanation or justification for the substitution of Sunday for Saturday in the Third—Protestant Fourth—Commandment of God” (Catholic Record, Sept. 1, 1923).
“Perhaps the boldest thing, the most revolutionary change the church ever did, happened in the first century. The holy day, the Sabbath, was changed from Saturday to Sunday. ‘The Day of the Lord’ [dies domini (or “Sunday”)] was chosen, not from any direction noted in the Scriptures, but from the church’s sense of its own power. … People who think that the Scriptures should be the sole authority, should logically … keep Saturday holy” (Saint Catherine Catholic Church Sentinel, May 21, 1995).
January’s conference could bring the Vatican-influenced EU closer to declaring Sunday as the official Continent-wide day of rest. Any steps in that direction should alarm religious liberty watchers and anyone familiar with Europe’s violent history.
Back in 2005, when Pope Benedict xvi stressed the importance of Sunday worship for Europe and beyond, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote: “Pope Benedict perceives the secularist moral vacuum that has plagued Europe since the time of the Enlightenment. … But it seems Benedict wants to fill that vacuum—the old Roman way. That way was never sympathetic to the idea of the public voluntarily accepting its tenets. Rather, as even a cursory study of history will reveal, it was imposed by force” (November 2005).
Benedict is no longer the church’s frontrunner, but his successor and other Catholic officials remain committed to the same ambitions that drove him. To learn the details of how the Catholic Church has enforced Sunday during different epochs over the centuries, and what to expect regarding Sunday rest in Europe’s future, request our free booklets Which Day Is the Christian Sabbath? and Who or What Is the Prophetic Beast?
Reevaluating its global role
A growing number of Germans feel their nation should stop avoiding military conflicts and instead fill the global void in leadership. These opinions found a powerful voice in two high-profile articles published on back-to-back days.
Former German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg co-wrote an article with Hanns Seidel Foundation’s Ulf Gartzke on August 30 in the New York Times. “Syria Tests Germany’s Culture of Reluctance” argued that Berlin’s decision to side with Russia and China against the West in Libya made the German “economic powerhouse” look like “a pygmy in foreign and security affairs.” They criticized the administration’s belief that Germany can influence the world solely through its economic power.
Prominent German journalist Ullrich Fichtner made similar points in an essay published by Spiegel Online, showing how Germany has grown into a popular nation, and that countries and individuals around the world are crying out for German leadership. Germany’s response, in his words: “We Germans? Exercise power? Take action? Lead?” Fichtner berated Merkel, saying no one in her administration “has given a single memorable speech on the subject of Europe in the last four years.” He believes this must change: “For a country as important as Germany, getting involved is a duty, not a choice. The role of being an active player falls on us, whether we want it or not.”
Germany has the power to play a huge role in the world—it just lacks the leadership. Once a powerful leader arrives, Germany’s role will change suddenly. And so will its impact on Europe and the world.
In Germany’s national elections in September, Chancellor Angela Merkel secured a third term and led her party to its best election result in over 20 years. “Her election victory was not just a victory, but a triumph,” wrote Süddeutsche Zeitung. “It is her triumph, not that of her party.” Open Europe think tank director Mats Persson called it “a massive public endorsement for Angela Merkel, who has established herself as the most powerful female politician ever.”
It is important to see Merkel’s victory in the context of current events in Germany. Chancellor Merkel has consistently stood up for Germany’s interests in Europe. She is the only leader within the eurozone to be reelected since the euro crisis intensified in 2010. Twelve out of the 17 eurozone governments have fallen. Merkel’s survival is a testament to how well Germany is doing during the euro crisis.
But Germany’s election result wasn’t because of Merkel’s spectacular leadership skills, but more a result of the lack of any replacement that Germans feel inspired by. The nation is experiencing a spectacular lack of leadership. There was simply no other candidate whom Germans could see doing the job.
Despite Merkel’s win, the future is hardly rosy for her. She still faces lengthy coalition negotiations. Her usual coalition party, the Free Democrats, suffered a historic defeat and fell below the 5 percent threshold—disappearing from parliament entirely. Her Christian Democratic Union and its partners are now forced to reach out to the Greens or the Social Democratic Party.
Based on Bible prophecy, the Trumpet has consistently forecast a radical change in German and European politics and the arrival of a new strong leader. Germany still lacks this type of leader. Although the election results may seem to indicate that the status quo is alive and well in Berlin, expect a much more forceful leader to seize the helm—and soon.
Voting for the far-right
Extremist parties continue to do well in European elections. In a September 29 election, Austria’s ruling coalition barely held on to power, registering 50.9 percent of the vote—the worst combined result for the two parties since World War ii. The anti-immigration Freedom Party won 21.4 percent—its largest since 1999.
Polls also show a strong shift to the right in France. On October 6, two far-right parties won almost 50 percent of the vote in the first round of a by-election in a small town in southern France. The National Front received the most votes, with 40.4 percent. One of its offshoots, the Parti de France, received 9.1 percent. The government-supported Communist Party candidate won only 14.6 percent. The by-election foreshadows a dramatic trend: Voters across Europe are rejecting immigration and multiculturalism. Watch for European politics to continue to shift right.
Losing hard-won gains
The weekly death toll for the Afghan military is frequently over 100, according to reports published on September 2. The U.S. government is training native forces to take the lead in all security and tactical operations countering the Taliban. The trouble is that even with U.S. military backing, Afghans are being overwhelmed by their adversaries. When the U.S. moved its focus from combat support to training in June, the Afghan police death toll began to climb as more Afghans deployed to the front lines. Afghan citizens have sustained a 24 percent increase in casualties over last year. “The situation of civilians in the country and conflict-related civilian casualties are, indeed, not going in the right direction,” United Nations spokesman Jan Kubis stated. “On the contrary, the situation has worsened.” UN figures show that between January and June, 3,092 civilians were killed in the nationwide conflict. The Afghan Interior Ministry reported that some 1,800 police officers have been killed since March. With these terrible figures and their deleterious effect on troop morale, the Afghan Defense Ministry has stopped publishing monthly death tolls. As the U.S. continues its withdrawal, the Taliban appears to be quickly reversing the victories American and coalition forces have won since the 2001 invasion.
More proof of Solomon’s mines
Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of hundreds of copper-smelting furnaces and metallic ore residue in the Timna Valley in Israel’s Arava Desert. The discovery provides further scientific evidence that prolific mining activity occurred in the area during the time of King Solomon (971-931 b.c.). Tel Aviv University archaeologists led by Dr. Ben-Yosef began working the site, known as Slaves’ Hill, in February. The mining site was initially argued to have been built by ancient Egyptians three centuries before Solomon’s reign, due to the discovery of an Egyptian temple at the center of the valley in 1969. But tangible evidence from the new excavations, such as ceramics, clothing, fabrics, rope, grapes, dates and pistachios, was radiocarbon dated to the 10th century b.c.—the golden age of Israel under King Solomon, corroborating the biblical account of his reign.
About to lose Hamas?
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hosted Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Ankara for a three-hour meeting in October, the third between the two in the past year. The two likely discussed the financial strain Hamas now feels after Egypt’s recent decision to halt all smuggling trade and, with it, Hamas’s cash flow. Hamas is now desperate for cash. Its traditional sponsor, Iran, is in no position to help because of its own financial woes. Has Hamas chosen to seek life-sustaining cash flow from Turkey? If so, is Iran about to lose control of its proxy in Gaza? The shift in Hamas’s allegiance away from Iran is part of a mysterious prophecy recorded in Psalm 83. For years the Trumpet has watched for this seemingly impossible shift of Hamas’s loyalties. Recent events indicate that switch could be at the door.
Since Libya became caught up in the “Arab Spring” and deposed its eccentric dictator, Muammar Qadhafi, the North African country has faced increasing instability and violence.
Since its 2011 civil war, the economy has failed to restart. Libya is largely dependent on its oil and gas revenues to pay its workforce, arm its military and run the nation. It currently exports 130,000 barrels of oil per day, a veritable dribble compared to the amounts gushing forth before the war. Striking and theft are also crippling the nation. Moreover, the streets that tourists and journalists once roamed are now the highways of rebels and militias, each working to cement influence over their regions. After 40 years of dictatorial rule, the nation’s new government struggles to control its territory.
Radical Islam is taking advantage of the chaos. On the one-year anniversary of the attack on an American diplomatic facility in Benghazi (which itself occurred on the 11-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks), terrorists in Benghazi celebrated by detonating a car bomb in front of the Libyan Foreign Office. The building had functioned as the U.S. Embassy before Qadhafi toppled King Idris in 1969. Was it just chance that this year’s September 11 attack occurred at a building previously considered U.S. territory?
Biblical prophecy indicates that out of this lawlessness will emerge a nation aligned with the most radical country in the region, Iran. Request Libya and Ethiopia in Prophecy to learn more.
Baring its dictatorial teeth
Chinese Police are holding a cartoonist and blogger in custody amid an intensifying clampdown on online “rumor-mongering,” reports said on October 17. Since August, hundreds of Chinese nationals have been arrested, and many remain in custody. China expert Bo Zhiyue says the clampdown exposes insecurity among China’s new leaders. “They are trying to send China back all the way to the Stone Age. Where is the hope for political reform? Zero.” History shows that such crackdowns often indicate leaders bent on dictatorial rule and overturning the global status quo.
Pipeline project grab
China took control of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (tapi) pipeline project on September 10, effectively grabbing it from a fatigued United States. The $7.6 billion tapi project—set to be completed in 2017—had been heavily backed by Washington since the idea was conceived in the mid-1990s. It has repeatedly stalled due to regional instability, and Washington seems to have welcomed China’s takeover, reckoning that it will be more convenient to cut its losses and let Beijing get bogged down in Afghanistan’s turmoil. Afghanistan’s mayhem may end up making the tapi project as much a drain to Beijing as it was to Washington, but on the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization—the Beijing-led group that is set to soon grant membership to Afghanistan—China may be able to accomplish what the U.S. could not.
Largest joint military drills
The air forces of Russia and China completed the largest joint training exercise in their history on August 15 at a firing range in the Ural Mountains. The two-week-long drill, which involved 1,500 personnel, came less than a month after Russia and China’s largest-ever joint naval drills, and was designed to test the conduct of combined operations and to strengthen general ties between the two militaries. The Russo-Chinese alliance is quickly solidifying, which, according to the Canada Free Press, “constitutes a direct military challenge to the United States” (July 23). Despite arguments between Moscow and Beijing, the two “are determined to remain united against the U.S. and expand their power at the expense of America” (ibid). Bible prophecy states that these Eastern powers will indeed mobilize, but it will be against a united Europe in a post-America world.
What are those for?
China launched three mysterious satellites in July, and as of early October, experts are still speculating about their true purpose. Robert Christy of Zarya.info said that at least one of the three is equipped with “a prototype manipulator arm to capture other satellites.” If China’s space program is preparing to damage American or other satellites, tension here below could soar into the stratosphere.
Attempted Muslim takeover
A three-week-long standoff between Philippine troops and Muslim rebels in Zamboanga ended on September 28 after more than 150 people were killed. The conflict began after a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front (mnlf) attempted to fly a separatist flag at a government building in the city. Around 375 of these rebels held their ground against military forces by using about 200 civilians as human shields. The mnlf’s long-standing goal has been to turn the Philippine state—the world’s third-most-populous Catholic country—into an independent Islamic nation. The Vatican takes stock of such efforts. Expect its response to the rising and increasingly violent tide of Islam to grow more robust.
Influencing Central Asia
Chinese President Xi Jinping spent September 3-13 meeting with leaders from Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Xi also attended the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg on September 5 and the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Kyrgyzstan on September 13. Since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, China and Russia have worked together to stabilize Central Asia, mostly because they are thirsty for the region’s energy resources. Xi’s visit boosts Sino-Russian influence over Central Asia and draws Beijing even closer to Moscow.
Bond with Europe to strengthen
The World Trade Organization has upgraded Brazil’s economic status by classifying it as an upper-middle-income economy. This economic status reclassification cuts Brazil off from preferential trading perks with the European Union, its longtime transatlantic partner. The only way Latin America’s largest economy can retain EU trade preferences—which it still needs—is to vigorously pursue a free trade agreement with the European Union.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota expressed his nation’s plans to forge ahead with a deal with the EU apart from the oft-divided Latin American trade bloc Mercosur. These trade overtures will strengthen the bond that already exists between Europe and Brazil and may encourage other Latin American countries to follow suit.
The Euro-Latino bond goes all the way back to the Holy Roman Empire during the 16th century, under Charles v. More recently, it includes the industrial partnerships formed with underground Nazis toward the end of World War ii. Bible prophecy indicates that with the aid of the common Catholic religion, this bond will strengthen into an economic partnership that will supersede Anglo-America and dominate world commerce.
On the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, September 21, the al Shabaab terrorist group began a devastating four-day siege of Kenya’s Westgate Mall. Sixty-seven people were killed, including five of an estimated 15 of the assailants.
Al Shabaab is a Somali organization linked to al Qaeda and backed by Iran. Its history is tainted with bloody strife with the Kenyan and Somali governments. Just three weeks prior to this siege, on September 3, the terrorists nearly assassinated Somalian President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
The Westgate Mall attack was intended as a political score against the Kenyan government and essentially represented a declaration of religious war. The terrorists tweeted: “Only Kuffar [non-Muslims] were singled out for this attack. All Muslims inside #Westgate were escorted out by the Mujahideen before beginning the attack.” While there may have been a number of Muslims killed as “collateral damage,” clearly this attack was discriminatory. In an e-mail to the Associated Press, al Shabaab claimed that it “carried out a meticulous vetting process” to separate Muslims from infidels. That process included random questions about the name of the Islamic Prophet Mohammed’s mother, certain koranic verses and the Islamic oath. Non-Muslims in the mall who couldn’t answer these questions were murdered on the spot.
Prior to the Westgate Mall attack, al Shabaab’s violence was indiscriminate, killing Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Now, following strong criticisms from al Qaeda and others, al Shabaab is making its attacks not only political in nature, but religious as well.
It is apparent that al Shabaab and similar terrorist groups can easily destabilize the Horn of Africa and North African regions. Its egregious acts of violence will help inspire terror that will consolidate radical Islamist states, headed by Iran, as the prophesied “king of the south.” But they also will incite a similarly discriminatory European retaliation much like the bloody Crusades of old.
Refugees die off Lampedusa
A boat believed to have sailed from Libya with about 500 African migrants reportedly caught fire and shipwrecked off the southern Italian island of Lampedusa on October 3, killing at least 130 people. Most of those aboard were from Eritrea and Somalia, according to the United Nations. This is only one of countless incidents of African political, economic, social and religious refugees doing whatever it takes to try for better lives in prosperous Europe nearby. Europe’s leaders are growing increasingly aware that the constant inflow of foreigners—and with the foreign beliefs, religions and cultures—threatens to marginalize and choke the laws, cultures and religion that have traditionally defined Europe. The hand-wringing over immigration policy highlights growing cultural tensions and portends a far more significant cultural clash between Europeans and non-Europeans.