Can He Make America Great Again?

Can He Make America Great Again?

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Or is there something that Americans need to realize first?
From the January 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

America’s election campaign lasted over 500 grueling days. It was filled with insults and humiliations. It produced two of the most despised presidential candidates in the nation’s history. The longer it lasted, the more degrading the revelations about them became.

On the eve of the election, as commentators contemplated what it all meant, cbs News’s Bob Schieffer remarked that this campaign was uniquely horrible. “I have seen a few, but I’ve run out of ways to say I’ve never seen one like this. It’s as if the nation is enduring some kind of curse. What should we expect next—that it will rain frogs? I wouldn’t bet against it” (emphasis added throughout).

When Peggy Noonan wrote her last Wall Street Journal column before voters went to the polls, she was in a similarly reflective mood. “A closing thought: God is in charge of history,” she wrote. “He asks us to work, to try, to pour ourselves out to make things better. But He is an actor in history also. He chastises and rescues, He intervenes in ways seen and unseen. Or chooses not to. Twenty sixteen looks to me like a chastisement. He’s trying to get our attention. We have candidates we can’t be proud of. We must choose among the embarrassments. What might we be doing as a nation and a people that would have earned this moment?” (Nov. 3, 2016).

It is highly unusual in modern America to hear mainstream commentators openly wondering whether the nation is being cursed, even chastised by God. But this is where the lead-up to this election left us.

It’s one thing to ask the question, however, and another to seek a real answer. If this is a curse, what should we expect next? And what might we be doing to have brought chastisement upon ourselves? Peggy Noonan apparently doesn’t know, or is unwilling to say.

Are you willing to consider the question honestly?

A Hypocritical Nation

When Donald Trump won the November 8 election, many people were shocked. The liberal half of American society—the Hillary Clinton supporters, mainstream media reporters and analysts, most of America’s urban population, academics, majorities of college and even high school students, majorities of ethnic minorities—could scarcely fathom that some 61 million Americans had voted for such a loathsome human being, by their reckoning, as Donald Trump.

Early in the campaign they had dismissed him as a clown and a punchline. As he scored successes in the primaries, they characterized him as a bully and a sideshow. After he secured the Republican nomination, they branded him a bigot and a racist. As his support remained stubbornly buoyant, they tarred him as a sexist and a misogynist. They insisted he was temperamentally unfit for office. They called him an avowed enemy of everything America represents.

Then, the moment it started to become clear Mr. Trump would win the election, his opponents had a meltdown. “Objective” journalists openly voiced dismay and despair. For many people, these emotions quickly gave way to anger and hysteria. Soon America became seized by demonstrations and protests—even violent and destructive riots—punctuated by chants of “Not our president!” and “We reject the president-elect!” And the media duly reported on the rebellion as if it were a noble pursuit of social justice.

What was it, exactly, that provoked these dissenters to so passionately storm the barricades and seek to overturn the system?

In essence, it was Mr. Trump’s presumed “message of hate.” That is what fuels all the hostility, disgust and revulsion being expressed by these warriors for justice.

America today is simply “too righteous” to tolerate Mr. Trump’s egregious sins of intolerance, bigotry, racism, sexism, misogyny and homophobia. Today’s America is a land of enlightenment, acceptance, inclusion, fairness, equality, civility, respect and decorum—it is no place for such a rude, crude, crass, callous, ill-tempered, backward, barbaric, blustering bully as Mr. Trump. Or so we are supposed to believe.

But is all this indignation really so righteous?

In Isaiah 10:6, God calls America a “hypocritical nation.” The left’s sanctimonious attack on Donald Trump perfectly illuminates why God would use that terminology.

It also gives some clues as to what we might be doing to have earned God’s chastisement.

Racism and Bigotry

The American left has a very specific definition of racism and bigotry. By its definition, Mr. Trump is the embodiment of these sins. And the 61 million people who voted for him exposed their own bigotry by doing so.

Reporter Wesley Lowery covers racial issues at the Washington Post and has just written a book called They Can’t Kill Us All. He believes that “our American existence … is very largely premised on an original sin of slavery. We have baked in these ideas to the fundamental structures of our society.” These were his words in a National Public Radio interview after the Trump victory, referencing the words of President Barack Obama.

The npr reporter asked Mr. Lowery whether it was fair to characterize all Trump supporters as racist. He responded, “I think one of the fundamental battle lines in this conversation is: Do you believe that racism requires intent, or do you believe that racism is about the outcome—the effect? That if a policy has the effect of racism, of creating a racial disparity, is that accurately described as racist—or does it require someone actively desiring to oppress a certain group of people?” He explained how a person could think, “No, I don’t have hate in my heart for people who aren’t like me” and still be racist because, as the left argues, “racism and prejudice are what occurs when, whether intentional or not, a structure or system is put in place that leaves one group of people behind.”

This is a fair representation of what passes for “enlightened” thought in today’s America on this subject. Racism isn’t hatred for someone because of skin color—it is something, perhaps intangible, that results from the establishment, possibly unintentional, of a structure or system that puts certain people at a disadvantage. This is radically different from the dictionary definition of racism, and intentionally so.

According to this definition, it is practically impossible for the advantaged majority (white) to not be racist—and it is absolutely impossible for disadvantaged minorities to be racist.

It is by this perverse logic that Mr. Trump’s intention to enforce existing immigration laws is bigotry, and his pledge to prevent foreign criminals and terrorists from entering the United States is tantamount to a declaration of war against Mexicans and Muslims. It is by this reasoning that addressing inner-city violence perpetrated by blacks against blacks is racist. It is how a black police officer shooting an armed black criminal is proof of systemic racism.

This is also the logic by which the media blamed Mr. Trump personally for a handful of post-election incidents where apparent Trump supporters expressed white-supremacist sentiment or committed crimes against minorities—yet the same media remained completely silent about the violent backlash among non-whites against Mr. Trump, his followers and whites in general. Black people beating and assaulting white people for voting for Trump, spray-painting kill all whites, indiscriminately smashing shops and burning cars, tweeting assassination threats, screaming that it’s time for a black uprising—all this behavior is understandable and acceptable, and nobody labels it racist, thanks to modern “enlightened” understanding.

The left says it opposes racism. But it has defined that term in a way that justifies and encourages a tremendous amount of behavior that is blatantly, openly, defiantly, unapologetically hateful, even violent, toward other people because of skin color.

What does God think? He created the races, “And hath made of one bloodall nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). He Himself is not white, black, brown or any other color—He is radiantly bright, and He made all mankind, of all races, after His own likeness (Genesis 1:26). He is “no respecter of persons,” not favoring one race over another (Acts 10:34); He wants “all men [of every race] to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).

Further, God commanded in the Old Testament, “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart … but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Leviticus 19:17-18). In the New Testament, Jesus Christ made clear that your “neighbor” includes everyone, even someone of another race you may tend to consider an enemy (Luke 10:25-37). God views all hostility of one race against another as contemptible. In fact, He considers hatred comparable tomurder (1 John 3:15).

The left purports to believe something akin to a secular version of this truth, but recent events have exposed the yawning gulf between its version and God’s. In its view, minority-against-majority hatred is justified, even honorable and moral.

The left holds whites today responsible for the slavery that was made illegal on American soil over 150 years ago. But it does not hold whole swaths of society responsible for the violence they are committing at this very moment.

The left vehemently condemns bigotry, yet it tolerates and encourages open, hostile contempt for others on the basis of ideology. Witness its treatment of the florist or county clerk who doesn’t actively support same-sex “marriage.”

A video emerged of several black people beating a white man and stealing his car after the election because he had a Trump bumper sticker. These people feel it’s perfectly right to assault this man because of his presumed bigotry. They see no irony in beating and robbing a white man because he voted for a “racist” candidate.

But God sees it. He recognizes hate and racism. He knows hypocrisy when He sees it.

Can the liberals in the media, academia and politics even perceive their own double standard? Will these people who ceaselessly label Mr. Trump as racist, the ringleader for an irredeemably bigoted segment of America, take any responsibility for stirring up the hate-filled, race-based division playing out in America’s streets? Will they see that romanticizing lawlessness and encouraging retributive racial “justice” only makes the problem worse? Or will they continue, as they have been, pinning all the blame on Mr. Trump?

Sexism and Misogyny

Liberals rained righteous wrath upon Mr. Trump for years-old boasts about his exploits with women. Hearing their damnation, one would think these people possessed Victorian-era prudishness in the delicate matter of sex.

In truth, these same people are passionate advocates of sexual license. Universities scrupulously school their students in the wickedness of a businessman using power privilege as sexual leverage, and their students have been vociferous in their condemnation of Mr. Trump’s chauvinism. Yet these very universities turn around and host and sponsor abominably licentious, perverse, sexually themed events for these same students, who participate with abandon.

Today’s America piously condemns Mr. Trump for the sin of sexism. Yet it simultaneously promotes fornication, adultery and pornography. Americans proudly create and subsidize a popular culture that romanticizes misogyny that would have horrified prior generations.

Liberals denounce Donald Trump as a powerful billionaire businessman who preyed on women. Yet a great many of them—mainstream news outlets included—promoted and personally contributed to making a bestselling book and movie phenomenon out of Fifty Shades of Grey, which glamorizes a powerful billionaire businessman bringing an unsuspecting young woman into literal bondage.

Where is the liberal outrage against the porn industry, which routinely depicts women being brutalized and abused in countless horrific ways? Why never a word of condemnation about the hip-hop industry, which is saturated with songs sexualizing, objectifying and debasing women? (article, page 22).

The weekend before the election, Hillary Clinton held a hip-hop-themed “get out the vote” fund-raiser. Performers included rappers like Big Sean, Chance the Rapper, J. Cole and Jay Z. Search any of their lyrics in any of their songs. At the concert, Big Sean rapped about women being whores and objects to gratify himself, describing chauvinistic sex acts in a torrent of vulgar misogyny. Jay Z (a darling of the left; President Obama has invited him to the White House several times) spilled out profanities, rapping about men and women and sex, for men using the n-word, and for women the b-word. His wife, Beyoncé, performed “Formation,” a song full of vulgar sex language. This song’s music video hints at a racist government conspiracy during Hurricane Katrina; she and her backup dancers performed it at the Super Bowl dressed to evoke the Black Panthers, an armed black nationalist Communist organization.

Jay Z and Beyoncé were then joined on stage by Hillary Clinton, who called Beyoncé a champion for women.

These are the people decrying Donald Trump’s treatment of women. How is it that the left manages to overlook the rat’s nest of immorality, misogyny and bigotry that is popular culture—and at the same time, priggishly hold Mr. Trump to a rigorous moral code? That is a baffling double standard. They see no irony in raising money for Hillary Clinton by having rappers boast about their sexual feats—while insisting that an unseemly conversational statement by Mr. Trump caught on videotape 11 years ago disqualifies him from public office.

But God does. He knows hypocrisy when He sees it.

None of this is to defend Mr. Trump’s behavior, which was wrong and unacceptable. It is only to point out the outrageously glaring hypocrisy of the left’s condemnation of this man.

The Righteousness of God

Today’s America has cast aside traditional moral codes and Bible-based moral law and replaced them with an alternate, highly exacting, extremely selective morality of its own invention by which to stringently judge, inconsistently, individuals of its own choosing.

This trend is perfectly described in Romans 10:3: “[T]hey being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”

God’s Ten Commandments demand piety, preservation of what is holy, and respect for parents. They forbid idolatry and blasphemy. They prohibit murder and hatred, adultery and promiscuity, lying and deceit, theft and covetousness. They apply equally to everyone.

In today’s America, these commandments are antiquated and irrelevant. America’s new commandments outline a different set of cardinal sins, like racism (selectively defined), sexism (exemptions available for liberals), homophobia and transphobia. Wealth is also immoral, unless it is accumulated by a liberal who professes socialist principles.

Biblical values like hard work, personal accountability, parental responsibility, self-sacrifice, respect for the elderly, honesty and integrity have been shoved aside. In fact, some of these virtues are actually labeled as “microaggressive” “code words” for, you guessed it, racism. In their stead we have embraced new standards and expectations: government welfare, blaming society for personal failure, following your heart, self-actualization and personal fulfillment, exalting youth, manipulating the system and knowing how to play the game.

Biblical instruction in letting offenses go and living peaceably with all men is now passé. Today’s virtues include being hypersensitive to offenses, nurturing a sense of victimhood, speaking out at even the slightest grievances, and demanding personal rights. The scriptural injunction to forgive and forget, to turn the other cheek, to let the man who took your cloak take your coat also, is seen as weakness. Today’s social justice warriors insist that the more righteous path is the warpath. Peace can only be achieved through revolution—bloody if necessary.

Modern America is far more righteous than God.

And it is hurtling down the road to disaster.

God is the only true Lawgiver (James 4:12). “[M]y thoughts are not your thoughts,” He says, “neither are your ways my ways …. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

America really ought to recognize the truth in these statements, and seek to think more like God does!

God hates all sin. But of all sins, self-righteousness must be one of the most pernicious. The people waving love trumps hate signs while they burn effigies of the president-elect apparently see no irony in their actions. But God sees it. He recognizes their epic lack of self-awareness. How can He rid people of self-righteousness, when it makes them so blind?

With the evidence of our failure piling up around us, half of the country is growing even more convinced of its own rightness. And the other half is hoping against hope that a new president will be able to reverse the nation’s course and avert disaster.

Is anyone really looking to God?

As Peggy Noonan said, He’s trying to get our attention. He is chastising and cursing us, not out of frustrated anger, but out of a desire to wake us up!

God Is in Control

As Noonan also said, God is an actor in history. He intervenes in ways seen and unseen, including putting people into political office. “[T]he most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men” (Daniel 4:17).

God is ultimately in control. He directs affairs to fulfill His purposes. At this most dangerous time in our history, you can be certain that He nudged and steered events in America just enough to bring Donald Trump to power. (For explicit and detailed information on this subject, request a copy of a special letter on Amos chapter 7, written by Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry.)

But His intent is not to use this man to make America “great again.”

When you look at this nation and wonder if it is being cursed, if it is being chastised—there is a reason for that. This is exactly what is happening!

“What might we be doing as a nation and a people,” Noonan asked, “that would have earned this moment?” Surely we should be able to answer that question!

Look at America today! Try to see it from the point of view of the God who is in charge of history, and ask yourself if you see anything we are doing that would cause Him to be chastising us and trying to get our attention!

God has been trying to get America’s attention for decades—and we have ignored Him, defied Him, and openly blasphemed Him. We are suffering curses for doing so—curses that are destined to intensify, no matter who is president.

You need to know why. Don’t let this tumultuous election go by without learning the lesson! Let God get your attention. He has spelled out in biblical prophecy exactly what is going to happen to this nation because of the course we have chosen. You can read all about it in Herbert W. Armstrong’s book The United States and Britain in Prophecy. Anyone who ignores that forewarning is about to experience a series of shocks far more devastating than an election upset. If you know biblical prophecy, you know that the surprises in America are just getting started.

Yes, America is cursed today. But as bad as that sounds, God allows curses for a reason! They are actually intended to open our eyes to recognize our sinsour immorality, our lawlessness, our self-righteousness, our hypocrisy. They are intended to achieve God’s ultimate goal for us, and for all people of all nations: He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come torepentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God wants to turn America around—so we can begin to receive His blessings and favor once more.

Once He gets the nation’s attention, and once we respond, America will truly be on the path to becoming great again.

WorldWatch

From the January 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

Catholic Church strides toward unity

The pope and archbishop of Canterbury prayed together publicly for the first time since the churches split nearly 500 years ago. Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby held a combined Anglican evensong and Catholic vespers service on Oct. 5, 2016, at the church of San Gregorio, the church from which St. Augustine was sent to convert England to Catholicism in a.d. 597.

The archbishop was visiting Rome to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Anglican Center, an embassy of sorts for the Anglican Communion in Rome. Archbishop David Moxon, the director of the center, said the two churches are “85 percent” in agreement. He said that seeking unity is “part of our dna.”

During the weeklong unity celebration, the churches commissioned 19 pairs of bishops, each with one Anglican and one Catholic, to work on unity around the world. They will look at practical ways to unite the churches, and may even preach from each other’s pulpits.

The meeting came just two weeks after the Catholic and Orthodox churches reached an important agreement that will pave the way for greater unity between the churches that formerly split in 1054. On Sept. 21, 2016, the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church agreed on a document titled “Synodality and Primacy During the First Millennium: Towards a Common Understanding in Service to the Unity of the Church.”

Catholic World News said the agreement “represented a substantial victory” for the joint commission: “The agreement on the historic function of primacy is significant because the question of papal primacy is one of the key stumbling blocks in Catholic-Orthodox ecumenical discussions” (Sept. 22, 2016).

Speaking in Georgia on October 1, Pope Francis told Catholics not to try to convert Orthodox Christians. “There is a very grave sin against ecumenism: proselytism,” he said. “We should never proselytize the Orthodox! They are our brothers and sisters, disciples of Jesus Christ.”

Accusations that the Catholic Church is trying to poach Orthodox members is another wedge dividing the two. In strongly rejecting this, the pope is attempting to remove another barrier to unity.

On October 31, the pope traveled to Sweden to mark the beginning of the 500th anniversary year of the Protestant Reformation. That event began what will be a yearlong series of trips and scheduled events designed to foster unity between the Catholic Church and Lutherans.

Lutheran leaders have said that they hope to fully heal their divide with Rome during this 500th anniversary year. Both the pope and Lutheran leaders said they wanted to use the anniversary to accelerate efforts to completely heal the rift between the churches, so that a Lutheran could take communion in a Catholic church and vice versa.

Catholic-Lutheran unity has already taken great strides in recent decades. In 1999, the Lutheran World Federation signed a Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification with the Vatican. The doctrine of justification was at the heart of Martin Luther’s disagreement with the Catholic Church, which led to his excommunication. Now that disagreement has been overcome.

In 2007, the Catholic, Lutheran, Orthodox, Methodist, Anglican and Armenian-Apostolic churches in Germany all agreed to recognize each other’s baptisms as valid.

“Five hundred years ago, wars were fought over the very issues about which Lutherans and Roman Catholics have now achieved consensus,” said Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Some points of disagreement remain, and talk of achieving full communion in 2017 has died down in recent years, but many of the major divides have already been bridged.

This push for unity with Christians of all different kinds has been one of the biggest themes of Francis’s papacy.

In 2013, America’s largest Presbyterian church, along with other major Protestant groups, signed an agreement with the Catholic Church recognizing each other’s baptisms. The Catholic Church is even making progress with Pentecostals. Pope Francis has also held receptions with top American televangelists, including Joel Osteen in 2014.

In November 1963, in the midst of the Second Vatican Council, the Plain Truth reported: “Today, the time is ripe—according to official Catholic views—for making the final effort to unite the church bodies of the Christian world. The mighty problem of achieving unity is twofold. First, it involves reconciliation of the Orthodox Schism that officially commenced in 1054 and divided the churches in the East—Greece, Russia, the Balkans and the Near East—from Rome. Second, it involves restoration to the Roman communion [of] all Protestantism, which developed from 1517 onward.”

Both these divides are now very close to being bridged. For more on what this unity will mean for the world and how it will be achieved, read the chapter “Returning to the Fold” in our free booklet He Was Right.

A Vatican solution for Venezuela?

After a tour of four oil-producing nations in the Middle East, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro made an unannounced visit to the Vatican on Oct. 24, 2016, to meet with Pope Francis.

Six days later, under Vatican supervision, Venezuela’s government and the opposition met for the first time since early 2014.

It was evidence of the Vatican’s influence in Latin America, a prophetic trend the Trumpet has pointed to for years.

The meeting followed months of mounting pressure from the opposition against Maduro’s presidency. On Sept. 1, 2016, opposition supporters flooded the streets of the Venezuelan capital to push for a recall referendum on Maduro. The demonstrations were dubbed “The Taking of Caracas.” On October 20, the nation’s electoral council suspended the recall referendum campaign, further angering Venezuelans.

The Vatican-sponsored talks came at a good time for Maduro: The opposition had planned hearings to seek the embattled president’s ouster.

“At the start of this journey,” Vatican envoy Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli said as talks between the government and the opposition began, “I ask you in the name of Pope Francis that each side agrees to some concrete gestures to give credibility to this process.” He added: “The country is waiting for authentic signals to comprehend that dialogue is a reality.”

Fifteen parties belonging to the Democratic Unity opposition alliance refused to participate in the talks. Other opposition parties were not even invited. Leading opposition leader Henrique Capriles wrote on Twitter, “I don’t believe Maduro even when he says ‘Good morning.’” He also wrote, “They are devils capable of anything. But I do trust Pope Francis and believe in the church.”

Pirates try to take over Iceland

New and fringe parties keep rising in Europe, including Lithuania’s Peasants and Green Union (lpgu) and Iceland’s Pirate Party.

The lpgu is now Lithuania’s biggest party, going from just one seat in parliament to 54 in October elections. The party was founded by billionaire farmer Ramunas Karbauskis, who has promised to form a technocratic government and to slow the exodus of Lithuanians from their country.

In Iceland, the Pirate Party, founded in 2012, came in third place in October 29 elections. Before, it had three seats in Iceland’s 63-member parliament. Now it has 10.

The Pirate Party is part of a global movement that began in 2006 that opposes copyright restrictions and demands more privacy and less regulation on the Internet. “Though most of its members skew libertarian to anarchist, the party is officially non-ideological and sets its platform through online polls,” wrote Joshua Keating (Slate, Oct. 24, 2016). The rise of the fringe parties shows how fed up so many have become with Europe’s mainstream parties, and how they are open even to radical alternatives.

Wallonia almost derails trade talks

A  free-trade deal between the European Union and Canada that was seven to eight years in the making was halted, not by a small group of nations, not even by an individual nation, but by Wallonia, a region of Belgium. Soon after, on Oct. 26, 2016, Belgian officials announced that a deal with Wallonia had been reached and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (ceta) could proceed. But the fact that one of three regions in one of the EU’s smallest and least powerful countries could hold a major deal to ransom is adding to the sense that the EU’s current situation is unworkable.

“It’s crazy. If we allow a regional parliament to block a trade deal that will benefit the whole EU, where does this lead us to?” asked Christoph Leitl, president of the Global Chamber Platform. “ceta is not just a deal with Canada, it has model character for Europe’s future trade relations.”

“If the EU is like a fleet of ships, then it can only travel as fast as its slowest ship, and at the moment great cruise liners are seeing themselves being held back by a rowing boat,” wrote Belgian Member of the European Parliament Sander Loones for the EU Observer. “How long before they decide to cut the rowing boat loose and dash for the horizon?” (Oct. 19, 2016).

For decades, the Trumpet has forecast that a much smaller, more tightly knit group of nations will emerge from the EU. Wallonia’s attempts to hold the whole Union to ransom is increasing the urgency of EU leaders to forge a more efficient system.

Cold war between Russia and Europe heats up

On October 26, nato head Jens Stoltenberg announced that nato would send thousands of troops to the Baltics and to Romania in 2017. The deployments are the biggest military build-up on Russia’s borders since the Cold War. The alliance will station four nato battalions in the Baltic states and Poland, starting in 2017. Germany, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom will each lead a battalion. Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Poland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States will also contribute to a new nato brigade in Romania.

On Oct. 1, 2016, Iranian-sponsored Houthi rebels fired an antiship missile at a United Arab Emirates-operated advanced transport vessel at the Yemeni port of Mokha. The Houthis said they hit the Emirati hsv-2 Swift with a Chinese-designed C-802 missile. Security experts believe Iran purchased missiles from China and then reverse-engineered them into its own variant called the Noor.

Stratfor reported on October 5 that the missiles have a 75-mile range that sets “a sizable stretch of the area near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait connecting the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden in the line of fire.”

According to Stratfor, the attack “indicate[s] that the group has acquired new capabilities, raising questions about the security of shipping in the waters off the Yemeni coast and the effectiveness of an arms embargo against the Houthis. If not the sign of a new weapon, the attack could suggest a shift in the group’s tactics that may equally threaten ships in the Red Sea.”

A week after that attack, the Houthis revealed more of their capabilities. On October 9, they fired a ballistic missile toward Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd Air Base, about 40 miles from Mecca. The same day, they fired two missiles at the uss Mason, an American destroyer operating just north of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait. On October 12, the 16th anniversary of the attack on the uss Cole, Houthi rebels fired again on the uss Mason, but caused no physical damage to the destroyer.

There is overwhelming evidence that the Houthis are an Iranian tool for establishing an Islamic caliphate. In 2014, an official for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps boasted that his nation controlled four foreign capitals, including the capital of Yemen, which was then controlled by Houthis.

Over the past year and a half, U.S. warships intercepted five shipments of Iranian weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen. On October 20, Reuters reported that Iran was using Yemen’s eastern neighbor, Oman, as a transit point for shipping sophisticated weaponry to the Houthis.

Stratfor’s report concluded: “[T]he Houthis have demonstrated an ability to strike effectively at costly coalition assets deployed in the waters near Yemen. Whether they did so by obtaining new advanced weaponry, or by deploying their existing weapons in an innovative way, the apparent threat they pose to coalition vessels and civilian shipping in the Red Sea is clear.”

In April 2015, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote: “The Houthi takeover in Yemen proves that Iran is implementing a bold strategy to control the vital sea lane from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. We need to understand the gravity of this new situation in Yemen!”

China’s economic offensive in Europe

China has been looking to break into Europe economically for decades; over the past five years, its efforts have begun to pay major dividends.

From 2010 to 2014, Chinese investments in Europe grew from $6 billion to $55 billion. The European Union is China’s preeminent trading partner; in 2014, the two exchanged goods worth $621 billion.

American trade with the EU still tops Chinese trade with the EU by a significant margin. But China’s persistence is closing the gap: China’s One Belt, One Road initiative continues to make significant gains.

In December 2010, the Trumpet wrote about the biblically prophetic significance of the burgeoning China-Europe relationship: “Isaiah 23 warns of an end-time ‘mart of nations’ that acts in economic alliance. This alliance includes the nations of China (Chittim) and Tyre (representing the commercial center of the European Union, also called the ‘king of the north’ in other prophecies). This chapter, along with other scriptures, makes it evident that these two powerful economies are prophesied to work in confederacy to dominate global trade for a short period of time—at America’s expense.”

‘America, get out … but maybe not just yet’

On Nov. 7, 2016, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte canceled an order for 26,000 police rifles from America after it was rumored that the U.S. State Department would cancel the sale due to human rights abuses happening under Duterte.

The cancellation came just two weeks after Duterte announced, while on a state visit to China, that the Philippines was “separating” from the U.S. “I will break up with America,” Duterte said, adding that he would instead “go to Russia and to China.” Duterte later softened his statement.

Washington and Manila have shared close ties for decades. The ties had taken on more importance as disputes in the Asia-Pacific have grown more heated. “Breaking up” with America would be difficult and risky, but if Duterte begins backing up his rhetoric, America loses an vital foothold in Asia, to Russia and China’s advantage.

Russia unveils ‘Satan 2’ bomb

Russia announced its updated RS-28 Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile—also known as the “Satan 2”—on Oct. 23, 2016. It will be in full service in 2018.

Sputnik, a government-controlled news agency, said the missile weighs up to 100 tons and can carry a nuclear payload weighing 10 tons. A warhead this size can cause an explosion 2,000 times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Japan. Sputnik says the explosion would devastate an area “the size of Texas or France.”

“Satan 2” has a range of up to 6,800 miles. It is impossible to intercept by modern missile defense systems since it does not travel on a set trajectory.

America’s Election and Europe’s New Order

America’s Election and Europe’s New Order

JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images

European leaders brace themselves for a Trump presidency.
From the January 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

For the second time in five months, a democratic election has shaken the geopolitical order in Europe. First came Brexit, then Donald Trump being elected U.S. president.

Mr. Trump’s stated vision for America is very different from his predecessor’s. And Europe’s reaction hasn’t been enthusiastic.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Europe’s de facto leader, offered only conditional cooperation with the new U.S. president. She listed values that she said bind Germany and America together: “democracy, freedom, respect for the law and for human dignity, regardless of ancestry, skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political leanings. On the basis of these values, I offer the future president of the United States of America, Donald Trump, close cooperation.”

Since the end of World War ii, the U.S. has been responsible for rebuilding Germany, protecting Germany—even reunifying Germany. Yet now Germany’s leader offers only tepid conditional support for an incoming U.S. president!

This is more than just one leader’s reaction to an election she disagrees with. This is a signal of the fact that the geopolitical order in Europe—in the whole world, in fact—is changing fast.

Europe Is Vulnerable

Since World War ii, Europe has been dependent on the U.S. for its security. After the war, British and American leaders considered it too dangerous for Europe to arm and defend itself. A decade later, nations like Germany were once again allowed an army, but Europe’s militaries remained divided and much weaker than America’s.

Now Donald Trump is questioning nato, the organization that institutionalized this system and thus underpins Europe’s security. This has some leaders terrified. Guy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister and a pro-integration leader in European Parliament, warned in Project Syndicate, “The EU’s territorial integrity itself is now at stake” (Nov. 10, 2016).

“Trump has made it abundantly clear that his foreign-policy priorities do not include European security,” he wrote. “He doesn’t recognize nato’s strategic necessity, and he has shown an interest in transatlantic relations only when he has alluded to unpaid bills. A Trump presidency will lead to an epic geopolitical shift: For the first time since 1941, Europe cannot rely on the U.S. defense umbrella; it now stands alone.”

Mr. Trump’s economic policies also threaten Europe. The uncertainty in the financial markets after his election could be enough to knock the fragile euro back into crisis. Moreover the EU is, at its core, a free trade zone. Mr. Trump rose to the presidency on an anti-free trade platform. If his movement spreads, it could rip the EU apart. Leaders already feel vulnerable after Brexit. That referendum caused many to declare the EU doomed. After Trump’s victory, they are desperate to push for further unity if only to prevent their beloved project from fracturing apart.

A Cry for an Army

It is little wonder the European leaders are saying they urgently need to defend themselves.

“Trump knows that the EU has the money, technology and know-how to be a global power equal to the U.S., and it is not his problem that Europe lacks the political will to harness its full potential,” wrote Verhofstadt. “The EU should treat Trump’s election as a wake-up call to take charge of its own destiny” (ibid).

Verhofstadt said the EU could no longer wait to build its own military and develop its own security strategy. “This is a difficult but vital decision that the EU has postponed for too long,” he said. “Now that Trump has been elected, it can wait no longer.”

This European M.P. is hardly the only voice speaking along this line. Within hours of Mr. Trump’s victory, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker both called for European nations to do more on defense, and do more together.

It is possible Mr. Trump will back away from abandoning nato once he takes office. He certainly wouldn’t be the first politician to flip-flop on campaign promises. But regardless, Europe will continue to seek a united military. In many ways, the damage is already done. European leaders no longer take American support for granted. They—and the public—are now well aware that America not only can pull its support, but that its president is inclined to do so. Europe’s integrationists will intensify their calls for a united military no matter what Mr. Trump does.

Furthermore, European leaders were pushing for a stronger, more united military even before Mr. Trump was elected. That push has accelerated in recent months, with EU leaders now meeting regularly to plan for the union.

German-Foreign-Policy.com noted that in the weeks before the U.S. election, voices from within Berlin’s foreign-policy establishment had been demanding “that Germany enhance its position within the framework of the transatlantic alliance” (Nov. 9, 2016).

Long-time diplomat and chair of the Munich Security Conference Wolfgang Ischinger made a similar call in the November-December issue of Internationale Politik. “We need … more urgency in the establishment and development of effective European defense structures,” he wrote.

In many ways, Mr. Trump’s stated policy is merely an intensification of President Barack Obama’s. Mr. Obama has already pushed Europe in this direction; now it is moving.

Finally, some within Europe are welcoming Mr. Trump’s election. They have wanted an EU army for years and see this as an opportunity to finally realize that dream.

“Europeans need a shock,” said Eugeniusz Smolar, former president of the Center for International Relations in Warsaw. Mr. Trump’s election “is one which might be very helpful to concentrate their beautiful minds,” he said.

“Joseph Stalin was the first unifier of Europe,” said Elmar Brok, the chair of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs. “In a certain sense, Trump has the opportunity to be the second.”

Former leader of the Christian Social Union and elder German statesman Edmund Stoiber said that a Trump presidency may prove better for Europe than a Clinton presidency would have been, because under Mr. Trump, “we will have to take on a lot more responsibility than before.”

“America will retreat a bit from the overarching world policy and will only defend its own interests,” he said in an interview with Focus Online. “Hillary Clinton would also have moved into that direction; it already started under Obama. America is consciously retiring as a world policeman and also as a champion of free world trade. Europe has to enforce its own interests” (Nov. 10, 2016).

Mr. Stoiber has long wanted Europe to play a more powerful and independent role in the world. Mr. Trump’s election pushes it closer to Stoiber’s goal.

A Cry for Leadership

The U.S. has done more than provide security for Europe. It has provided leadership. Whenever there has been a crisis in the region—be it Russia, Afghanistan, wherever—the U.S. has taken a leading role. European leaders might have disagreed with or complained about that leadership at times, but they never took the lead themselves.

That era is now ending, which is all the more reason why Europe desperately needs a strongman of its own.

“The phrase ‘leader of the free world’ is usually applied to the president of the United States, and rarely without irony,” wrote historian and Guardian columnist Timothy Garton Ash. “I’m tempted to say that the leader of the free world is now Angela Merkel” (Nov. 11, 2016).

For Germany to even be considered as an alternative to America reveals a massive geopolitical shift. And Garton Ash is far from being the only one making the connection.

The New York Times published an article titled “Donald Trump’s Election Leaves Angela Merkel as the Liberal West’s Last Defender.” “An increasingly divided Europe is looking to Germany, its richest power, to cope with its many problems,” it said (Nov. 12, 2016).

“Never before has so much ridden on the Germans,” said Simon Tilford, deputy director of the Center for European Reform.

The Times noted that Mr. Trump’s anti-nato rhetoric means “there is pressure on Germany to take a greater role in European security—always a delicate matter” (ibid; emphasis added).

“With the U.S. election results, the pressure on Germany has increased dramatically,” Olaf Boehnke, an expert on international affairs, told the Local. “There is a need [for] leadership, and if the U.S. will not be the leader for the time being, then everybody looks to other leading nations or those with the potential. It is up to Merkel and to Berlin to step up at least for the European crowd and take on much more responsibility than she already has” (Nov. 9, 2016).

Again, this shove from the U.S. comes as many important voices within Germany are already saying it needs to step up and lead. “In the current crises, Germany has shown that it is willing to take responsibility in security policy,” wrote Defense Minister von der Leyen in a 2016 white paper on German security policy and the future of the Bundeswehr. “We have also shown that we are prepared to take the lead.”

A Momentous Shift

It’s still early, but it’s already clear Mr. Trump’s election is driving a massive wedge between Europe and America. The criticism of him coming from European leaders has been unparalleled.

Ms. Merkel’s conditional message of support for Mr. Trump won much applause. And she was much more restrained in her concerns about Donald Trump than other German leaders:

  • “I don’t want to sugarcoat it: Nothing will be easier and much will be more difficult.” —Frank-Walter Steinmeier, foreign minister
  • “Trump is a warning to us as well. He is the harbinger of a new authoritarian and chauvinistic international movement.” —Sigmar Gabriel, vice chancellor
  • “The world won’t end. It will only get crazier.” —Heiko Maas, justice minister
  • Mr. Trump is “completely inadequate” to be president. “That Trump’s election could lead to the worst estrangement between America and Europe since the Vietnam War would be the least of the damage.” —Norbert Röttgen, chairman of Germany’s parliamentary committee for foreign policy
  • Clearly a lot of the emotion surrounding Mr. Trump’s election will soon fade. The United States remains a superpower, and European leaders will not refuse to cooperate with that superpower merely to spite Donald Trump.

    Former President George W. Bush was not at all popular in much of Western Europe, and the public animosity toward him endured. France’s and Germany’s refusal to support his invasion of Iraq was a clear break between Europe and America. That European dislike and that refusal were both symptoms of significant and fundamental differences between Mr. Bush and European leaders. The same is true with Mr. Trump. European leaders’ stinging response to the U.S. election reveals a deep divide between the two power blocs.

    It is also true that Europe has “Trumps” of its own. Some leaders in Eastern Europe and challengers in the West draw on similar rhetoric. However, such similarities are unlikely to result in abiding friendships with America. No matter how similar France’s “Trump” may be to the U.S. president, it’s clear that a leader whose motto is “America First” will never have a deep, harmonious relationship with one whose modus operandi is “France first.” If America and Europe are not united in upholding free trade and liberal values, what common interests hold them together?

    Furthermore, there is much about Mr. Trump’s rise that is uniquely American. It seems unlikely that a man who sits on a golden throne and boasts about his humility will ever win favor from European leaders.

    “Europeans should show that they are able to hedge their bets and build alliances with others,” wrote Mark Leonard, director of the European Council on Foreign Relations.

    “Rather than waiting for Trump to marginalize the EU over Russia and China, Europeans should fly some kites of their own,” he wrote. He asked if Europe should reach out to China and perhaps end its arms embargo.

    The German Institute for International and Security Affairs (swp) called for Europe to distance itself from America even before the U.S. election. In an October 2016 analysis, it warned that Europe was completely dependent on America regarding foreign policy. The government, it wrote, needs to “ponder the reaction, should U.S. behavior become counterproductive from a German perspective.”

    “Without the will to argue with the U.S. government, many options for gaining influence are excluded from the outset,” swp continued. Instead, “Germany and Europe should not leave stability policy proposals up [to] the U.S.A.”

    This highly influential think tank already wanted Europe to be willing to “argue with the U.S. government.” Again we see how Mr. Trump’s election is accelerating an established trend.

    This is leading to a complete break between Europe and America—something that seven decades of U.S. leadership has tried to prevent.

    Accelerating World Events

    Donald Trump’s election is accelerating some of the most vital prophetic trends the Trumpet has followed for decades.

    Warning about the cooling of relations between Europe and the U.S., Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote in October 2014 that this “is a significant development. It is about the dismantling of a relationship that has helped to preserve peace in Europe for nearly seven decades!”

    He continued: “Bible prophecy warns that a German-led European empire is going to rise up. We have said for over 50 years that it will probably be more powerful than both America and Russia!

    “The age of American global leadership is drawing to a close. While the Germans might not come out and say so, they are reveling in that fact. The U.S. may try and repair relations with its former lover, but irreversible damage has already been done. The breakup, which started with the spying scandal, is going to continue to worsen until one of America’s greatest allies since World War ii becomes, once again, its greatest enemy!”

    “What makes the German-American split especially important is this: It is exactly what biblical prophecy told us would happen!” Mr. Flurry wrote. He elaborated on one of those prophecies, in Ezekiel 23, which describes America and Britain as having a lover-type relationship with the modern Assyrians—Germany—a relationship that will end with a massive double cross.

    This German-American split is clearer than ever—and will accelerate further in the coming months.

    We have said for decades that Germany will lead Europe. And we have warned that the EU would develop a common military. In 1978, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote, “The Europeans are far more disturbed about their safety in relying on United States military power to protect them than Americans realize! The United States is not loved in Europe. European confidence in U.S. protection against their next-door Communist neighbor has been lessening and lessening.

    Europeans want their own united military power! They know that a political union of Europe would produce a third major world power, as strong as either the United States or the ussr—possibly stronger!” (Good News, Aug. 28, 1978). That applies more than ever to Europe today! Europeans are, right now, saying almost exactly that!

    Meanwhile Mr. Trump’s election is building the sense of crisis in Europe. The whole continent is crying out for strong leadership. Germany is the strongest nation, but Chancellor Merkel is isolated and has proved that she is not the leader for the job. We have forecasted for years that this will lead to the rise of a strong leader within Europe.

    It’s clear that when Mr. Armstrong was writing in 1978, he expected to see this European military power within his lifetime. It did not happen on the timescale he anticipated. But world events are moving forward at a dramatic pace, and the election of Donald Trump will accelerate them greatly.

    Bible prophecy is becoming increasingly hard to ignore. Already Herbert W. Armstrong’s decades-old forecasting has been proven right on Brexit. You need to become familiar with what he wrote—it is filling more and more of your newspaper headlines.

    The pace of Bible prophecy is increasing. Request our free booklet He Was Right to learn more prophecies that are being fulfilled in today’s headlines.


    What Will Happen to Religious Freedom?

    What Will Happen to Religious Freedom?

    Julia Goddard/Trumpet

    A radical secularist movement has been attacking America’s ‘first freedom’ for decades. Now the new president-elect is vowing to fight back. Will he succeed?
    From the January 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

    Religious freedom is rare in this world. For most of human history, people have been forced to conform to the national religion of their country or live in fear of persecution. Even today, about three out of four people in the world live in a nation where serious restrictions are placed on the free exercise of religion. In many Middle Eastern nations, people can even be fined, jailed or killed for crimes of blasphemy or apostasy.

    For the fortunate few living in a nation that guarantees religious freedom, it is easy to forget how historically unique it is to be able to live according to the dictates of their conscience without fear of persecution. As recently as two centuries ago, Europeans were fleeing across the Atlantic Ocean in search of religious freedom.

    Even in the New World, however, religious freedom wasn’t ensured until Rhode Island became the first place in the world to guarantee religious liberty as a tenet of its royal charter. A century after the death of Rhode Island’s founder, Roger Williams, this principle of “separation between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world” stirred the framers of the United States Constitution to guarantee religious freedom in the Bill of Rights.

    The Baptist preacher and evangelist John Leland worked tirelessly alongside American founders Thomas Jefferson and James Madison to convince the Virginia State Legislature to guarantee Virginians the same religious freedom as already existed in Rhode Island. Their efforts finally bore fruit with the passing of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom on Jan. 16, 1786. It was the text of this statute that served as the primary blueprint for the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

    This is why Americans commemorate January 16 each year as National Religious Freedom Day.

    Despite the lip service paid to religious freedom each January, however, most Americans take freedom of religion for granted. Because the general populace doesn’t understand what America’s founders meant when they wrote about the “separation between church and state,” a radical secularist movement has convinced millions of Americans that “freedom of religion” actually means “freedom from religion.” Building on this premise, government officials have dismissed religious concerns as irrelevant and used the power of the state to coerce Christians to act contrary to their faith, such as subsidizing abortion procedures and participating in homosexual wedding ceremonies.

    In recent years, this erosion of religious freedom has advanced rapidly. While President-elect Donald Trump has promised to protect the rights of Christian denominations from this secularist assault, many wonder if he can and will actually restore religious freedom.

    Whatever twists and turns American politics takes in the months ahead, however, the infallible word of the Bible reveals that religious persecution against true Christians is going to intensify.

    Fight Over Abortion

    During the eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency, the federal government spearheaded the greatest assault on religious freedom in modern American history. Instances and examples of this assault are abundant.

    To take one example, the Affordable Care Act enacted on March 23, 2010, mandated that employers provide employees with contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilizations. Even though several U.S. religious organizations believe that contraception and abortion are sin, the Obama administration refused to exempt religious institutions from its sweeping health-care mandate. Washington insisted that a woman’s right to abortion-inducing drugs is more important than employers’ right to act in accordance with their religious beliefs.

    In response, the Pentecostal business owners of Hobby Lobby and an organization of Catholic nuns challenged the Affordable Care Act in court, and the Supreme Court granted Hobby Lobby a religious exemption. However, several other religious organizations are still awaiting the final outcome of their lawsuits challenging this Obamacare provision.

    In September 2016, Hobby Lobby founder and ceo David Green endorsed Donald Trump in the presidential election after initially opposing him solely because of the candidate’s promises to appoint federal judges who would defend the religious freedom of Christians.

    “The Christians are being treated horribly because we have nobody to represent the Christians,” said Mr. Trump in a May 2015 interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network. “Believe me, if I run and I win, I will be the greatest representative of the Christians they’ve had in a long time.”

    Some have interpreted promises like this as a sign that Donald Trump may prioritize the rights of evangelical Christians above the rights of religious minorities. Muslims and Mormons in particular have expressed such concerns. While it is still too early to know how a Trump administration will deal with issues involving freedom of religion, this much is sure: A fight is brewing between evangelical Christians and radical secularists over a range of issues.

    Endorsing Homosexuality

    At the state and local level, Christians have been forced to provide homosexual couples with wedding cakes and photography services against their deeply held religious convictions.

    Aaron and Melissa Klein ran a bakery in Portland, Oregon, for seven years before a lesbian woman asked the Christian couple on Jan. 17, 2013, to bake a cake for her same-sex wedding. Mr. Klein said his business didn’t cater same-sex weddings due to his religious beliefs. Later that day, the woman’s mother challenged him about his belief in the Bible. He responded by quoting Leviticus 20:13: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.”

    Soon after, Oregon officials informed the Kleins that they were being prosecuted for violating the Oregon Equality Act of 2007. The lesbian couple had filed a claim with the state, stating that the Kleins’ refusal to bake them a cake had caused them to suffer from 88 symptoms of mental anguish including “doubt,” “surprise,” “uncertainty,” “worry” and a “dislike of going to work.”

    The Kleins protested that the ruling violated their religious liberty. But their case wasn’t even tried by a judge from the Oregon judiciary; it was tried by a bureaucrat from the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, who ruled that the Kleins owed the lesbian couple, Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman, $135,000 in damages.

    Labor Bureau Commissioner Brad Avakian told local media that the real reason for the fine was to persuade the couple to change their religious beliefs. “The goal is to rehabilitate,” he said. “For those who do violate the law, we want them to learn from that experience and have a good, successful business in Oregon” (emphasis added).

    Although Rachel Cryer could have easily found another cake supplier, the Oregon government deemed it important to make an example of the Kleins. According to the official catechism of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, a Christian couple’s right to religious freedom takes a backseat to a lesbian couple’s right to a cake.

    The Kleins are not alone in being forced by the government to choose between remaining faithful to their religious views and facing punishment. A baker in Colorado, a florist in Washington and a photographer in New Mexico have all been convicted of violating state antidiscrimination laws for refusing to offer same-sex couples the same services they offer to heterosexual couples.

    The people being prosecuted weren’t denying services to customers because they were homosexual, but out of a religious conviction against participating in a same-sex wedding. The government is outlawing free moral agency in such matters of conscience.

    This is a serious issue that the Trump campaign hasn’t addressed. As recently as the year 2000, Mr. Trump suggested amending the federal Civil Rights Act to include a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation. While such an amendment would likely make it a federal crime for Christians to refuse to participate in homosexual wedding ceremonies, it is again much too early to know how a Trump administration will deal with this issue. Many of the lgbt antidiscrimination laws on the books in America are incompatible with Trump’s pledges to restore religious liberty.

    Controlling Sermons

    Government control over the content of religious sermons is something usually associated with the Islamic Republic of Iran or the Communist Party of China. Yet state officials in both Iowa and Massachusetts have claimed the power to forbid Christian pastors from expressing biblical views on human sexuality in public.

    In 2007, the Iowa State Legislature passed a Civil Rights Act that bans places of “public accommodation” from expressing their views on human sexuality if they would “directly or indirectly” make “persons of any particular … gender identity” feel “unwelcome.” Since there was some confusion over whether or not religious institutions counted as places of “public accommodation,” the Iowa Civil Rights Commission released a brochure in 2012 stating, “Iowa law provides that these protections do not apply to religious institutions with respect to any religion-based qualifications when such qualifications are related to a bona fide religious purpose. Where qualifications are not related to a bona fide religious purpose, churches are still subject to the law’s provisions.”

    In short, this law means that pastors who work for “religious institutions” can only express their views on human sexuality if an Iowa bureaucrat decides these views are related to a “bona fide religious purpose.”

    The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination explained its restriction more clearly in a pamphlet released in September 2016. The state ruled: “[P]laces of public accommodation may not discriminate against or restrict a person from services because of that person’s gender identity. … Even a church could be seen as a place of public accommodation if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the general public.”

    Massachusetts also makes it a crime to “discriminate” against individuals who identify as transgender by refusing to use their preferred pronoun. Thus, a Massachusetts church could be prosecuted if one of its members won’t refer to a man with female pronouns during a church spaghetti dinner.

    As in Iowa, it is up to a state bureaucrat to determine which church-sponsored events are “secular” and which serve a “bona fide religious purpose.” If this seems confusing, it’s because the U.S. Constitution doesn’t actually guarantee religious institutions constitutional rights—it guarantees people constitutional rights. A person’s freedom to express religious opinions holds true whether inside or outside a church. As long as a person’s behavior doesn’t violate someone else’s constitutional rights, it doesn’t matter whether that behavior takes place in a church or not.

    So-called antidiscrimination laws across America have subverted freedom of religion and freedom of speech in a bid to give homosexuals and transgenders “freedom from being offended.”

    The absurdity of this new freedom should be obvious. There probably isn’t an opinion in existence that couldn’t offend somebody. Should businesses be banned from serving alcohol at events open to the public because that offends Muslims? Should atheist groups be banned from criticizing religion in public since that offends Christians?

    These questions reveal that the agenda behind these “antidiscrimination” laws isn’t protecting the constitutional rights of homosexuals. The ultimate agenda is to force Christians to accept that homosexuality is natural, normal and healthy. America’s Christians may soon start to push back against such stifling government regulation, but to what extent a Trump administration will actually help them remains to be seen.

    Persecution

    There is a lot of confusion surrounding the future of religious freedom in America. Many are hopeful the Trump administration will make religious freedom great again. Others are pessimistic about the prospects of a thrice-married casino owner actually caring about the freedoms of conservative Christians. Still others are fearful that Trump will swing to the opposite extreme from Obama and start persecuting religious minorities in the name of evangelical Christians.

    Regardless of what political analysts may say, however, Jesus Christ prophesied that in the time just before His return to Earth, His followers would be persecuted for their beliefs.

    When His disciples asked Him for a sign of His Second Coming and the end of the world, He answered: “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. … Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24:4-5, 9).

    When Christ said His followers would be “hated of all nations,” He certainly included America among them. This means the First Amendment protection Americans have enjoyed for over two centuries will erode to the point where true believers can once again be persecuted for their beliefs.

    The Prophet Amos wrote of a time when a leader of end-time Israel would expel out of the nation those who declare God’s prophecies (Amos 7:10-13). This isn’t just a warning for an ancient nation; it is a prophecy of events in modern times. In particular, two nations represent biblical Israel in this end time: the United States and Britain. (Request a free copy of Herbert W. Armstrong’s book The United States and Britain in Prophecy, which contains abundant proof of this truth.)

    Amos’s prophecy shows that the persecution culminates in a “famine of the word”—a time when God’s truth would no longer be readily available—caused by deliberate suppression of that message (Amos 8:11-12).

    Based on these prophecies, we can know that the current assault on religious freedom will continue and intensify—not just in America, but also in every nation.

    Thankfully, this persecution, and the famine of the word, is prophesied to be exceedingly short. The planet will undergo a time of immense suffering after God’s warning message is temporarily halted in America and Britain, but this time of great tribulation will be cut short by divine intervention. As Jesus Christ explained in Matthew 24:27, “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”

    After accumulating 6,000 years of evil and suffering, the human race will finally be ready to listen to God and to let Him show them the path to true freedom!

    America’s Coming Civil War

    America’s Coming Civil War

    Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images

    But Americans don’t know why it is coming.
    From the January 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

    After Americans elected a new president on November 8, his opponents reacted fiercely. Their aggressive tirades are more dangerous than even they realize!

    One of the worst post-election commentaries came from a man named Van Jones. An avowed Communist known for vulgarly attacking Republicans, Jones made his career out of stirring up racial guilt and agitation. He allegedly signed a petition demanding investigations into whether the George W. Bush administration intentionally allowed terrorists to murder 3,000 people on September 11. President Barack Obama appointed him as his “green energy czar” in 2009. Less than six months later, Van Jones resigned under pressure. cnn then hired him as a commentator.

    In the early hours of November 9, just after it became final that Hillary Clinton had lost to Donald Trump, Jones said, “People have talked about a miracle. I’m hearing about a nightmare. … You tell your kids: Don’t be a bully. You tell your kids, don’t be a bigot. You tell your kids, do your homework and be prepared. And then you have this outcome. And you have people putting children to bed tonight, and they’re afraid of breakfast. They’re afraid of ‘How do I explain this to my children?’ I have Muslim friends who are texting me tonight, saying, ‘Should I leave the country?’ I have families of immigrants that are terrified tonight.”

    That is wild fear-mongering! What is this man talking about? The only people who might be somewhat uncertain after Mr. Trump’s victory are those who have broken the law and are in America illegally. Mr. Trump said he would actually enforce existing immigration laws passed by Congress—which is the president’s duty! But for Van Jones, supposedly this is a “nightmare”!

    Jones’s eyes were wet when he said: “This was a rebellion against the elites, true. It was a complete reinvention of politics and polls, it’s true. But it was also something else. … We haven’t talked about race. This was a white-lash. This was a white-lash against a changing country. It was a white-lash against a black president, in part. And that’s the part where the pain comes” (emphasis mine throughout).

    What does he mean by “a white-lash against a changing country”? He is hearkening back to the days of slavery—accusing many millions of white people as the worst kind of racists!

    He also said it was a white-lash against a black president, in part. And that racist statement after white people elected Barack Obama for two terms by near landslides!

    Van Jones is expressing the deepest kind of diabolical black racism. And cnn is helping him spread it!

    Where is this leading America?

    This is the kind of vile language we have heard over and over and over that has stirred up terrible bitterness and anger among minorities against this country! This kind of incitement is dividing the races all the more—and is leading to race war!

    Why do so many of our people fail to see this simple truth?

    After the Election

    The day after the election, President Obama made this statement: “Now, it is no secret that the president-elect and I have some pretty significant differences. But remember, eight years ago, President Bush and I had some pretty significant differences. But President Bush’s team could not have been more professional or more gracious in making sure we had a smooth transition so that we could hit the ground running. … So I have instructed my team to follow the example that President Bush’s team set eight years ago, and work as hard as we can to make sure that this is a successful transition for the president-elect—because we are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country. The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy. And over the next few months, we are going to show that to the world.”

    These sound like good words. The next day, Mr. Trump accepted an invitation to meet Mr. Obama in the White House. They had an apparently cordial meeting.

    However, just three days earlier, the day before the election, President Obama had been on a campaign stage shouting that Mr. Trump was “temperamentally unfit to be commander in chief”! He even implied that he sympathizes with the Ku Klux Klan, a horrible, racist organization. President Obama was calling Trump a racist! This same president hired Van Jones and chose Al Sharpton as his main “civil rights” liaison man.

    President Obama’s nice words were at odds with everything he has been doing over the past eight years!

    At the same time he was making some of those statements, thousands of people were demonstrating and even rioting to oppose the president-elect. Demonstrators vandalized property, started fires and blocked traffic. In one video posted online, a group of African-Americans pulled a white man out of his car, beat him and stole his car because he had a “Trump” bumper sticker. Spray-painted messages read, “We are ungovernable,” “Kill white people,” and “Die whites, die.” Enraged people scrawled, “Kill your local Trump supporter” and “Kill Trump” on walls and wrote awful things about his wife.

    Protests occurred in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Miami and several other cities. Dozens of people were arrested. Many journalists reported these as if they were spontaneous, but everything indicated that they were all organized and planned. Many of these protesters are professionals who are paid to stir up demonstrations! Many of them don’t even live in the cities where they march and riot: Photos surfaced showing rows of large buses that allegedly transported protesters from out of town to make the unrest appear to be bigger than it actually is. More than half of those arrested did not even vote!

    President Obama said he wants a peaceful transition of power. But when people called on him, and on Hillary Clinton, to calm the protests, they were met with thunderous silence. Democratic leaders mostly remained silent.

    Several days later, the president did say the election results should be accepted. But it was a quickly made surface statement.

    Is that “work[ing] as hard as we can to make sure that this is a successful transition for the president-elect—because we are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country”?

    Bernie Sanders, an open socialist who stirred up a far-left populist movement of his own when running against Clinton for the Democratic nomination, actually encouraged the protests!

    Al Sharpton said, “[W]e are not going down without a fight, and Donald need [sic] to know that.” Liberal celebrities said similar things.

    What kind of “fight” is Mr. Sharpton talking about?

    ‘We Got Our Country Back’?

    Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly asked, “Is a civil war brewing in the U.S.A.?”

    That is an important question! Clearly there are many people who want a fight—a revolution—a race war! And they are going to get it—and a whole lot more!

    As Americans are becoming their own worst enemies, what do you think our enemies abroad will do?

    After the election, conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh said, “We just got our country back.” Then the riots began. This isn’t “getting your country back”—this is an alarm of war!

    The fact that Limbaugh even covered the riots was enough to prompt one of his longtime listeners to call in angry because Limbaugh wasn’t dwelling on the election success, he was mentioning the riots. The caller just didn’t want to hear such bad news. He wanted to celebrate winning the election.

    That is a dangerous attitude, an attitude that will ignore the disaster right up until it swallows you!

    Average Americans just want everything to calm down so they can get back to their lives and their pleasures and so forth. But the shocks for America aren’t going to go away. You can see that if you are watching what is happening with open eyes.

    But beyond that, you can be sure of it because of the prophecies in the Bible.

    The Bible is full of passages describing what is about to happen to America. I have written a number of articles showing how a race war is prophesied. Chapter Five of my new booklet Great Again is titled “Where America’s Race Riots Are Leading” and explains many of these passages. You cannot understand the seriousness of this threat unless you know the Bible!

    If you have never done so, you need to read Herbert W. Armstrong’s book The United States and Britain in Prophecy. It proves step by step how to identify America in biblical prophecy, and gives a stunning overview of what the Bible says on this subject. We will gladly send you a free copy of this important book.

    Measured Destruction

    The book of Amos has some very strong prophecies that every American should know about. In it, God condemns our nation for our sins and describes many punishments that will come upon us as a consequence. These include some curses that we have already seen to some degree, like drought in certain areas and flooding in others, and plagues on our food production. But there are also nation-destroying curses that have not yet happened, like nuclear fire devouring our cities!

    Only deep repentance could prevent such a nightmare. But where do you see any indication of repentance in America today?

    In Amos 7, the prophet writes, “Thus he shewed me: and behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand. And the Lord said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel [in prophetic terms, that is referring to the modern-day descendants of ancient Israel, which includes America]: I will not again pass by them any more: And the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword” (Amos 7:7-9).

    A plumbline is a measuring instrument. What is God using it to measure, in this case? He is measuring destruction to come upon America!

    Think about this. The coming destruction is spoken of in many Bible prophecies. But it will not be wild and indiscriminate. God is measuring it precisely and carefully in order to accomplish something specific and wonderful!

    Whenever God punishes, He does so to correct people, to turn them away from sin! As He said through the Prophet Ezekiel, “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11).

    We are living in the time frame of Amos’s prophecy—and notice what God says there: “I will not again pass by them any more”! God has given many warnings over a period of many years, but America has ignored those warnings. So God says, This is the last warning. I’m not going to pass by again!

    That shows you just how urgent these times are!

    As my booklet Great Again points out, as well as my booklet America Under Attack, we have been living in the time of an end-time type of Antiochus, a leader who has done tremendous damage to the most powerful nation on Earth. Read these booklets to understand the spiritual dimension to the decline America has been suffering for the past eight years.

    The Amos 7 prophecy indicates a different time—a period with a different man in charge: an end-time type of King Jeroboam. I believe the shift in administration is a transition into this time prophetically. This means America has very little time left—and you have very little time to respond to God’s final warning!

    Many Americans are troubled by the divisions and hatreds being expressed right now. But they need to be a lot more concerned than they are! The problems are going to get worse and worse until people get the message, and they learn why these disasters are happening!

    Donald Trump’s win is a prophetic sign of impending civil war and anarchy, followed by America’s worst military defeat ever! But don’t blame the politicians or the race-baiters or the professional rioters. This situation exists in America only because of the sins of the nation—of all Americans! We can no longer ignore what we have reaped by giving ourselves over to sin. This is a reckoning!

    The good news, though, is that the destruction about to sweep over us is all for a purpose. It is precisely measured, and it is purposeful. It is preparing our people to come to know God!

    Even the book of Amos, which contains a lot of bad news, concludes by showing the inspiring outcome. “‘Behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; the mountains shall drip with sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it. I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them,’ says the Lord your God” (Amos 9:13-15; New King James Version).

    There are dark days ahead—but never lose sight of why God is allowing it—and the inspiring conclusion!

    Before Digging, Call the UN

    The United Nations has threatened the future of archaeological discovery in one of the world’s most historic cities.
    From the January 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

    jerusalem

    Often while working just below the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount over the past few years, I’d look up from the dirt and notice a camera crew setting up. They did not seem to be Jews, but rather reporters from Palestinian news crews. Unlike most others who walked past the dig site, these journalists would rarely ask questions about what we were finding or what we were doing digging there. Instead, they would simply set up their cameras in a particular location. There, with one simple pan upward, they could tape the excavation site along with the black dome of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the background. After a few more minutes and a few more shots, they’d pack their gear and head back up the street. There wasn’t any need to ask questions or to investigate further. They already had their story: The Jews are trying to undermine Al-Aqsa.

    Thus the myth of Israeli atrocities against an Islamic site is further perpetuated. For most people who are at all familiar with the situation, the thought of the Israeli government directly supporting the destruction of Islamic history in Jerusalem seems a little far-fetched. However, that’s not the case for the world’s foremost body charged with the protection of such historical sites.

    In October, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (unesco) approved two shocking resolutions that condemned Israel (identified not-so-subtly as “the occupying power”) for egregious violations against the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the al-Haram al-Sharif. The resolutions refused to employ the better-known term of “Temple Mount” to describe the area, as that would have ascribed historical validity to both Jewish and Christian claims that this was once the site of the first and second temples of Israel and Judah.

    In fact, unesco Director General Irina Bokova had to release a follow-up statement in which she conceded that the location was also sacred to the Jews. She wrote that “the Al-Aqsa Mosque/al-Haram al-Sharif, the sacred shrine of Muslims, is also the Har HaBayit—or Temple Mount—whose Western Wall is the holiest place in Judaism.’”

    There was some outcry to the resolution and its conspicuous omission of the phrase “Temple Mount,” but there is a far more worrying aspect of this resolution, and it has been mostly overlooked.

    The Resolution’s Real Intent

    Section five of the October 13 unesco resolution states that unesco “[d]eeply deplores the failure of Israel, the occupying power, to cease the persistent excavations and works in East Jerusalem particularly in and around the Old City, and reiterates its request to Israel, the occupying Power, to prohibit all such works in conformity with its obligations under the provisions of the relevant unesco conventions, resolutions and decisions ….”

    Notice that the resolution is not just for protecting the al-Haram al-Sharif itself, but for preventing the “persistent excavations and works in East Jerusalem, particularly in and around the Old City.”

    unesco and its Arab sponsors are resolved to shut down all archaeological excavations in and around the Old City of Jerusalem.

    This is critical. Because just outside the walls of the Old City, south of the Temple Mount in an area that is technically part of East Jerusalem, some of the most important archaeological digs in the world are underway. Especially for those interested in biblical history, these excavations could not be more significant.

    In fact, almost all of ancient Jerusalem—the city of the biblical Melchizedek, King David and King Solomon—is located on the half-mile-long hill immediately south of the Temple Mount wall. This location is where the very earliest settlement of Jerusalem is found.

    It would be convenient if ancient Jerusalem were located in West Jerusalem, which is considered by most as sovereign Israeli territory. Yet, much to Jewish and especially Arab chagrin, the location where the most significant archaeological discoveries testify to an ancient Jewish presence (more than 1,000 years before Mohammed was conceived) is located in East Jerusalem.

    This is why in 1968, just one year after the Six-Day War ended and left Israel with control of East Jerusalem, a massive dig began just outside the Temple Mount. Led by Dr. Benjamin Mazar of Hebrew University, these excavations continued for a decade, carried out by local Israelis and by hundreds of volunteers from around the world. At last, the most ancient part of Jerusalem was open for Israeli-led excavation.

    Israel certainly desired to excavate inside the Temple Mount, but it was deemed too sensitive to even touch with a spade or trowel.

    Instead, in an act of extreme benevolence, Israel allowed Jordan (the defeated power) to maintain day-to-day control of the Temple Mount. Since that time, no Israeli excavation has taken place on the Temple Mount, or the al-Haram al-Sharif.

    Burying History

    The Israelis haven’t excavated on the Temple Mount, but that is not to say it hasn’t been excavated.

    In the late 1990s, the Jordanian body charged with the protection and maintenance of the site allowed a massive “excavation” in order to create the El-Marwani Mosque to the east of the Al-Aqsa Mosque inside the Temple Mount. Instead of carrying out painstaking archaeological procedures, the Jordanians rolled in diesel-powered excavation equipment: bulldozers, front-end loaders and dump trucks. These excavators hauled out truckload upon truckload (400 in all) of some of the most important earth on the planet. This complete disregard for antiquity was not perpetrated by Israelis, but rather Palestinians. It was left to a handful of Jewish archaeologists to locate where the Temple Mount earth had been dumped, so they could start sifting the material in an attempt to salvage as much knowledge from the finds as possible.

    If ever there was a time for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to speak out, it would have been then.

    Even so, the years of sifting that discarded Temple Mount earth has produced a wealth of artifacts that would have been otherwise lost. Muslim artifacts have been found, such as an 18th-century seal of the prominent Muslim Qadi (Judge) Sheick ‘Abd al-Fattah al-Tamimi, who was also the grand mufti of Jerusalem. But Jewish artifacts have also been discovered—dating to two millennia earlier. Artifacts have been dated to the lifetime of King Solomon onward: thousands of pottery fragments, the seventh-century b.c. Hebrew seal of “Immer” (potentially the same personality found in Jeremiah 20:1), many half-shekel coins from the Second Temple period, a potsherd from 2,000 years ago bearing an engraving of a menorah, and a multitude of other items. All of these overwhelmingly confirm a Jewish connection to the Temple Mount—and prior to the Muslim periods.

    However, as noted earlier, unesco and its supporters are not just interested in disregarding the Jewish attachment to the Temple Mount, but also the Jewish history of all Jerusalem. This would include the excavations in the City of David as well, where King David’s palace is being slowly unearthed.

    The Palestinians have long coveted their own capital in East Jerusalem. Archaeological digs proving a prior Jewish claim to the area only make that harder to achieve. And so, they have marshaled unesco to push the claim of Israeli destruction of Muslim sites in an effort to shut down these excavations.

    The unesco resolution comes at precisely the same time that more and more evidence of the Jews’ long history here has come to light. Since 2006, the organization behind the Trumpet has sponsored its college students and graduates to travel to Jerusalem and excavate these exact areas directly south of the Temple Mount. Working with Benjamin Mazar’s granddaughter, Dr. Eilat Mazar, students from Herbert W. Armstrong College located in Edmond, Oklahoma, have put their hands in the dirt to rediscover ancient Jerusalem. These areas are rich in artifacts that not only testify to a Jewish presence spanning three millennia, but also, time and again, confirm the historicity of the Bible.

    To learn more about those discoveries, read Archaeology Thunders: ‘Behold Your God!’ by editor in chief Gerald Flurry.