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.


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


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.

Thyroid Disorder: The Silent Disease

Thyroid Disorder: The Silent Disease


Your health problem could be connected to this little-known gland.
From the January 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

Are pervasive tiredness and foggy mindedness hijacking your life? Do aching muscles and stress make you feel like life is draining away? If so, you may be suffering from a persistent, frustrating misery shared with about 27 million other Americans: thyroid problems. Mounting research shows that 10 to 40 percent of people have poor thyroid function, and 60 percent of them are unaware of it.

Meet Your Thyroid

Your thyroid is the master gland of the body, responsible for metabolism and energy. It produces two key hormones: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). Thyroid function is interrelated with every system of the body, so a glitch in hormone secretion can cause multiple health problems.

For example, insufficient hormone production by the thyroid gland leads to hypothyroidism, a condition in which your body works too slowly, causing muscle weakness, fatigue, depression and weight gain. Excessive thyroid hormone production leads to a condition called hyperthyroidism, which is where your body idles too fast, causing possible heart and bone problems, irritability, weight loss, vision and sleep problems. Of the two conditions, the most common is hypothyroidism.

Causes of Thyroid Imbalance

The thyroid gland needs iodine-rich foods to create thyroid hormones. But data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that millions of people suffer from low iodine levels, with a 50 percent decrease in iodine intake over the past 35 years. This makes sense, as many are reducing their intake of iodized salt and are also consuming more processed foods, which have far less iodine than their more natural counterparts.

Iodine deficiency is also linked to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease characterized by antibodies attacking healthy body tissue and impacting proper thyroid function. A preventative remedy is to consume whole-food iodine sources to supply the body’s normal iodine needs, including fish, seaweed (kelp, nori, kombu and wakame), cranberries, plain yogurt, navy beans, strawberries, eggs, cheese, potatoes, some grains and unrefined sea salt.

Unfortunately, those with autoimmune thyroid disorders (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Grave’s disease) or low thyroid function are often advised to avoid certain foods deemed injurious to thyroid function. Cruciferous vegetables, spinach, radishes, peaches and strawberries are said to interfere with iodine uptake. But avoidance of these foods is not well justified because: 1) Leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables help the body produce the antioxidant glutathione, which helps fight Hashimoto’s; and 2) cruciferous vegetables reduce the risk of cancer (even thyroid cancer).

Another concern is that eating processed foods exposes you to genetically modified organisms, unhealthy sugars and fats, antibiotics and toxic chemicals, putting your digestive tract under daily attack. An estimated 80 percent of the immune system is located in the gut, and just about every known disease, including thyroid dysfunction, links back to imbalanced gut bacteria.

The Root Cause of Dysfunction

Because the thyroid is such an important organ, the medical use of synthetic hormones can seem like an appealing course of action. These apparently instant solutions seem to yield some short-term positive results, but they lack long-term effectiveness.

The best that medical science can do is deal with the effect and ignore the cause. The use of synthetic hormones is simply trying to remove the penalty of breaking physical laws without removing the cause.

While medicines do not necessarily cause our problems, they cannot solve them, and they often exacerbate them. They do not deserve our faith.

A more prudent course of action is centered on understanding and practicing healthful principles. Just as there are foods that can cause great harm to the body, there are many that will nourish, sustain and strengthen. The booklet Principles of Healthful Living shows how to choose proper foods: “Two basic factors to remember in selecting foods are to avoid those foods which have been corrupted or perverted in man-made ‘food’ factories, and to maintain a balanced diet containing all the elements the body requires to sustain and build health.”

This statement is key to maintaining long-term health. Stop thyroid problems before they start. These days, it takes some effort to eat a balanced diet of natural foods. With continued exposure to toxins, many do suffer from thyroid issues. It can become easy to get lost in complex details and anxiety about this serious health problem. While there is a lot of research centered on supposed cures, it is best to strive for balance and avoid extremes.

To have a truly healthy life, understand and deal with the causes of good health, the third law in Herbert W. Armstrong’s booklet The Seven Laws of Success. He stressed the importance of consistent whole-food nutrition and other laws, such as “sufficient sleep, exercise, plenty of fresh air, cleanliness and proper elimination, right thinking [and] clean living,” to allow the body to recover. In the end, your thyroid will thank you.

Love Trumps Hate

Love Trumps Hate

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

The same spirit that is whipping Americans into a rage also affects you. Here is how to control it.
From the January 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

During the second week of November, students at some American universities were so emotionally distraught they simply could not take a test, and professors accommodated them by postponing examinations. What major life trauma struck these students, and perhaps their professors, all at the same time? The electoral victory of Donald Trump.

Elsewhere, weeping Hillary Clinton supporters cried on the sidewalks or marched through the streets screaming profanities, or posted hateful threats of rape and murder online or with spray paint on the sides of buildings.

This was the most recent example of a trend of young liberals “catastrophizing”—having the-sky-is-falling emotional meltdowns over normal, non-apocalyptic events.

Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt wrote about this phenomenon in the Atlantic. In “The Coddling of the American Mind” (September 2015), they noted the example of Yale University, where administrators advised students not to wear certain costumes on Halloween. One professor gently suggested by e-mail that students should make their own decisions, take responsibility for them, and handle any offenses through mature discussion. Some Yale students were so offended by this notion that they began skipping class and coursework, claiming they were losing sleep and suffering emotional breakdowns. They vulgarly and publicly attacked the e-mail’s author and her husband, demanding that they be fired.

Whatever young liberals are learning or not learning right now in American institutions of higher education, they are definitely learning how to be offended—and how to let their emotions slip from the leash.

Giving offense can certainly be a form of evil, but so can taking offense. Victim-thinking and hypersensitivity isn’t limited to rampaging elitist college students. It is a spirit that fills our age. We are all susceptible to it.

If you do not recognize it and kick it out, it will fill your mind. The fact is, if you fail to master your emotions, you are not really running your own life. You are susceptible to emotional manipulation from all directions: from people you hate, from people you like, and from forces far beyond your control. Proverbs 25:28 sums it up: “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”

Headlines today teem with evidence of this truth. Unrestrained emotion is a force so potent that it can engulf and endanger entire countries! It is endangering America and other nations today.

What Is Emotion?

When we take offense, we naturally react with negative emotion. Emotion is not a weakness or a flaw in human beings. It is not an evolutionary quirk. It is a characteristic created by God: It is part of what makes us human! Emotion can be one of the most enjoyable blessings we possess. Without it, our lives would be bland, flat, colorless—hardly worth living. Our relationships would be boring, our jobs monotonous. God gave us the power of feelings so we can experience joy and love; deep relationships; and even anger, jealousy, fear and sadness. Through emotion, we experience increased variety, strength and depth of thought.

The Creator of human beings is Himself emotional. God experiences love; He is love (John 3:16; 1 John 4:8, 16). He experiences joy (Matthew 25:21, 23; Galatians 5:22), hatred (Psalm 11:5; 45:7), anger (Judges 10:7; Psalm 7:11), indignation (Isaiah 34:2), jealousy (Exodus 20:5; 34:14), concern (Deuteronomy 5:29), grief (Genesis 6:6; Psalm 78:40), sorrow (Isaiah 53:3) and compassion (Matthew 9:35-36).

God does not have the physiological changes we experience when we have emotions. Yet He has deep, powerful, profound states of mind. God created the human race in His likeness (Genesis 1:26) for the purpose of growing to become like Him (Matthew 5:48).

The Bible implies that God gave us these physiological changes to help us understand the depth of His thinking. Therefore, learning to manage your emotions means learning to think like your Creator.

Emotion is not an opposite and a counter to reason. These two motivational tools perfectly complement and enhance each other when you master your emotions.

How skilled are you at handling this critical part of life? Are you easily offended? Are you prone to emotional outbursts over small issues? Are your emotions immature and harmful? Are you constantly buffeted toward the extremes of the emotional spectrum? Or, on the other hand, are you casual or indifferent about things you should feel deeply about? Are your emotions founded on reality, or are they based on assumptions, misperceptions and lies?

The Source of Offense

Perhaps you don’t scream demands that people be fired for upholding freedom of speech, or riot over election results you don’t like. But it’s important to think about how you take offense, and the subtler ways you react with emotional immaturity.

Why do you get offended? Perhaps it is because you feel someone is criticizing something you did. Or you feel someone should have given you more credit. Or you feel someone is not giving you the respect you deserve. Or you are sensitive about problems in your life that you have not dealt with. Or you are upset by someone else’s superficial quirks or imperfections. Or you are agitated when someone fails to measure up to your expectations. Or you assume someone else’s actions are caused by the worst motives.

There is a common thread in all these situations. It is vanity—self-love—self-righteousness—the wrong kind of pride. And the Bible reveals the author of such thinking: Satan the devil.

Satan is the “god of this world,” who “deceiveth the whole world” (2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9). It was in him that sin was first conceived (Ezekiel 28:14-15). And the essence of that sinful attitude was self-love—his heart was lifted up because of his beauty, which God had created (verse 17). This attitude is the opposite of the outflowing love of God.

Under the devil’s influence, the world today exalts self-love. It promotes taking offense as a kind of pursuit of justice, as if it will make the world better, fairer, more peaceful. It will not. In fact, that wrongful self-love can be found at the source of all offense, interpersonal friction, conflict, hatred, emotional pain and suffering. Nurturing and encouraging it will always lead to more problems! Always!

In the Bible, the Greek word for offended, skandalon, can refer to the trigger of a trap. If you take offense, it’s a trap—for you! You succumb to negativity, resentment and debilitating emotion.

Those who go about establishing their own righteousness—self-righteous-
ness—rather than submitting to God’s righteousness are ignorant and will suffer for it (Romans 10:3). The self-righteous person is highly attuned to what he perceives as everyone else’s flaws. In any conflict, he feels the other person is to blame. He takes quick offense and often feels like a victim. Exactly the way Satan himself does.

How to Overcome Offense

Psalm 119:165 says, “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” This is how to avoid becoming caught in the trap of being offended: Love God’s law. Follow the outflowing law of love.

What does God’s love look like? “Love is very patient, very kind. Love knows no jealousy; love makes no parade, gives itself no airs, is never rude, never selfish, never irritated …” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5; Moffatt). Self-love can be very impatient. It is easily provoked, and can be rude and selfish. God’s love is none of these things.

Obeying God’s law of love helps you remain calm, stable and unoffended. Submitting to God means always loving the other person. It also makes you more compassionate. You have a clearer perspective of your own faults, which helps you recognize your own contributions to interpersonal conflicts, and makes you much less judgmental toward others in their struggles.

“[R]esist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. … Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:39-40, 43-44).

Is this difficult? Yes! It is completely opposite to the spirit of this world. But the power to choose your own reaction is completely under your control.

With this take-no-offense attitude, a nasty e-mail, a cold look or a criticism won’t hurt you. In fact, you will become bulletproof against emotional manipulation.

Jesus Christ was mocked, ridiculed, beaten, tortured and crucified—yet His response was to pray, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). This is the absolute opposite of the hypersensitive, exacting, vindictive attitude this world is deliberately cultivating and which is ripping society apart!

Master Your Emotions

How do you respond to slights and insults? Do you think like Jesus Christ—or like the devil?

We all need to monitor and regulate our responses to what happens in our lives. We must develop real awareness of our own emotions—become attuned to what is going on in our mind—to identify what is causing our emotion and recognize when we are getting emotional in a destructive way. Proverbs 14:29 gives this rock-solid advice: “He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit [or quick-tempered] exalteth folly.”

Mastering your emotions is not just about being slow to wrath, however. It is also about cultivating and using emotion. Philippians 4:8 is a powerful summary of how to do that: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

In stark contrast to self-love, God’s love “is never glad when others go wrong, love is gladdened by goodness, always slow to expose, always eager to believe the best, always hopeful, always patient” (1 Corinthians 13:6-7; Moffatt). This is how we need to respond to slights, offenses, problems and conflicts. This is the emotional mastery we should work to develop.

This is true emotional maturity! And someone with godly emotional maturity can not only avoid the drastic extremes we see in society today, but also build a powerful, vivid, meaningful life growing closer to the Creator of emotion!

For more Bible-based instruction on mastering your human nature, request our free booklet How to Be an Overcomer.

Land of the Free, Home of the 33,000 Violent Street Gangs

Land of the Free, Home of the 33,000 Violent Street Gangs

Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

America’s gang problem is growing. Where is it leading?
From the January 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

When 8-year-old Gabrielle Hill-Carter was shot and killed while she played by the street in front of her home in Camden, New Jersey, on August 24, there was some local mourning and outrage. But for the most part, America yawned.

After all, she wasn’t killed by a police officer or by an Islamic terrorist. Her death was “just” the result of gang violence: A member of a drug gang was trying to retaliate against a member of a rival gang, and, as Gabby rode her bicycle along the sidewalk, she happened to get caught in the crossfire. A stray bullet ended her life. It was nothing personal. Happens all the time.

The fbi says that altogether, the United States is now home to about 33,000 violent street gangs, with a presence in all 50 states. There are an estimated 1,350 gangs in Los Angeles alone. And there are at least two gangs in Springfield, Tennessee, where the total population is less than 17,000.

There are a total of 1.4 million criminally active gang members across the country. That means for every two sworn law enforcement officers in America, there are three gang members.

The number of violent gang members today is 40 percent higher than in 2009, and 25 times higher than in 1975. And the figure keeps growing each year.

“We don’t see a drop in the key gang magnitude indicators,” said James Howell of the National Gang Center last March. “In the past five years, we’ve seen an 8 percent increase in number of gangs, an 11 percent increase in members and a 23 percent increase in gang-related homicides.”

Of the 15,500 murders that happen in America each year, an average of 2,000 are gang-related. Though gang members make up less than half a percent of the population, they commit 16 percent of the total homicides and a quarter of homicides in cities of 100,000 or more people. Most victims are themselves gang members, but many, like Gabrielle, are bystanders caught in the crossfire.

Murders, however, are only part of the story. These groups use violence and coercion of all kinds to rule over neighborhoods and to carry out illegal economic operations, such as drug and weapons trafficking, alien smuggling, prostitution, identity theft, robbery, fraud and human trafficking. In many communities, gangs are responsible for a staggering 80 percent of total crime.

Multiplying and Morphing

In a report to Congress, the fbi said “gangs are morphing, multiplying, migrating and entrenching themselves in our inner cities, suburbs and rural communities. They are selling drugs to our kids, shooting up our neighborhoods, invading our homes, robbing our banks and stores, stealing our identities, our money, and instilling fear and violence everywhere they go.”

Part of the reason for the “multiplying” and “morphing” is that in recent years, traditional large gangs have splintered into several smaller ones.

For example, Chicago for decades was controlled by just a handful of large, powerful gangs. But in 1997, the leadership of the largest and most powerful, the Gangster Disciples, was arrested. Almost immediately, infighting and territorial battles erupted among the remaining members. These disputes have gotten more intense with each passing year. Now Chicago has more than 600 gangs, spawning the violence that gives the city the nickname Chiraq.

“They once were massive organizations with powerful leaders and hundreds of members who controlled large chunks of territory,” the Chicago Tribune wrote on July 1. “Now small cliques battle for control over a few blocks.”

This trend means rival gangs often operate just a few streets away from each other. This has multiplied the number of disputed borders, making the city a patchwork of battling territories. This has made life in parts of Chicago and elsewhere significantly more chaotic.

The trend has also led to an increase in gang activities outside of cities. “Gangs are not just an inner city or urban problem,” wrote the Stop Houston Gangs website. “Gang movement to suburban areas can be attributed to several factors including … an abundance of wholesale illicit drug suppliers and the expectation of high profits from new suburban drug operations.”

Expanding drug distribution territories due to America’s growing addictions are also contributing to the diffusion of gangs. The result is that many suburban and rural areas are suffering higher and higher rates of gang-related violence and crime.

Robert Vilchez, the coordinator for the Regional Gang Task Force in Arlington County, Texas, says, “Nobody is immune from this gang problem.”

What’s the Appeal of ‘Thug Life’?

A person’s decision to join a gang generally springs from social and economic factors. Gangs offer a sense of family and support that is often absent in the lives of young people, especially as the number of stable families in America continues to drop. The risk of imprisonment, violence or death that comes with gang life is the price that members are willing to pay for the sense of belonging and community. Staving off boredom is also often a factor.

The appeal of gangs is further multiplied by society’s glamorization of them.

The U.S.’s second most popular music genre is hip-hop. Its subgenres include narco-rap, mafioso rap, horrorcore, and gangsta rap. In many inner city communities, it would be unusual for a young person to listen to any music other than hip-hop. And in these songs, they hear endless boasts about drug use and dealing; clever rhymes about misogyny, promiscuity and even rape; and torrents of lyrics promoting violence toward rival gangs, police officers and others.

This music makes thug life seem sexy. It glamorizes gangsta culture.

And it’s not just a few songs from a few obscure hip-hop artists. A study led by Dr. Brian Primack from the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Medicine found that of the 62 hip-hop songs that made it onto Billboard’s most popular hits for 2005, a staggering 77 percent discussed substance abuse, often in the context of wealth and sex. A 2001 analysis in the Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture found that 22 percent of all hip-hop songs contain misogynistic themes, including depictions of assault, rape and murder. If you expand this to include all forms of violence, the figure jumps to 60 percent. In some subgenres, it is as high as 71 percent.

Over the last two decades, the most successful hip-hop stars have made hundreds of millions of dollars graphically extolling sexual assault and rape, drug culture, gun violence and subversion. “Ya’ll nervous knowin’ them guns on full service, ready to fire; One body, two body, three body, four; Young sittin’ on paper, I’m above the law,” Jay Z said on The Blueprint2, an album that sold more than 2 million copies.

In her book The Hip Hop Wars, Brown University professor of Africana Studies Tricia Rose says it is plain to see that such music perpetuates violence. “It is silly to claim that what we consume, witness and participate in has no impact on us as individuals,” she writes. “The depths of the commercial success associated with violent, gang and street culture as ‘authentic’ hip-hop has given violent black masculinity a seal of approval, thus encouraging these behaviors among the kids who are most at risk, and who ‘need’ to embrace this model if manhood is to survive. … We can’t constantly make violence sexy for young people … and expect them not to valorize violent action.”

Rose names those she believes are some of the most dangerous voices in the genre: “Far too many of the most financially successful lyricists in hip-hop—Jay Z, 50 Cent, T.I., and Lil’ Wayne among others—overemphasize and glorify violent tales and gang personas because these are profitable. … [T]here is too much getting rich from the exploitation of black suffering. … Where is all the media-supported outrage about this?”

That’s an important question. Why is gang culture and the music that promotes it off limits for criticism? Why do prominent politicians—most notably President Barack Obama—endorse the music of Jay Z and others who glorify thug life? Gang culture brings suffering and death to hundreds of times more people than police misconduct does. Why don’t people rally against that with the same kind of persistence and force?

‘Your Cities Are Burned’

On July 1, the Chicago Tribune said part of the reason for the rising rates of gang violence in the Windy City is that accusations of police unjustly killing black people has police officers “under the harshest light.” Many officers feel that “no one has their backs,” the president of the city’s police union said. This “has led many officers to feel unsure about stopping anyone,” the Tribune wrote.

Editor in chief Gerald Flurry looked at this trend in the August 2015 Trumpet. “Police are pulling back from doing their jobs for fear of attack, or losing their jobs or going to prison for doing anything that could be perceived as racist,” he wrote. “What happens when fearful police pull back? Criminals run amok!”

It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle in which criminals are emboldened by police timidity, and emboldened criminals causes police timidity.

The National Alliance of Gang Investigators’ Associations says that not only do America’s multiplying gangs “adversely impact the quality of life within our communities with violence, drugs and associated criminal activities,” but they also pose “a clear and present danger to our internal national security.”

At present, that last bit may seem hyperbolic. But as the health of U.S. families keeps deteriorating, more young people will seek the support of a gang. And as America’s demand for illegal drugs, prostitution and other outlawed trade keeps growing, the gangs supplying these illicit goods and services will become still more powerful. And if an economic siege is brought against America—which the Trumpet’s July 2016 issue explained is prophesied in your Bible to happen soon—it could result in a massive surge in gang membership and power.

A time is coming when the kind of violence that is now mostly localized in gangs will fill the streets of America’s cities and beyond. And its savagery will surpass anything currently on the scene.

In his book Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet, Mr. Flurry points to several specific Bible prophecies to prove that, in the near future, the United States will suffer societal breakdown on an unprecedented and utterly devastating scale.

He points to a prophecy in the book of Isaiah of a terrible period just before Jesus Christ’s return in the “last days” (Isaiah 2:2). Referring mainly to the U.S., Isaiah 1:4-5 state: “Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.”

The “whole head is sick” refers to the corrupt and intellectually diseased leadership of the U.S. The “whole heart faint” means the general population is in the same condition. “Neither the leaders nor their followers have the will or the strength to get to the roots of race riots or terrorist attacks and solve them once and for all,” Mr. Flurry writes. “Their ‘heart’ is so weak and unhealthy that the governmental system is about to ‘faint,’ or collapse!”

Verse 7 describes this future breakdown: “Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.”

This is a sobering description of what is building in America and what the future holds. Since the people of America are laden with sin, and since the leaders are “sick,” Mr. Flurry says, “we will experience desolation and burning.”

On the streets of America today, the lawlessness of gang culture is expanding, darkening and ruining more and more lives. As this lawlessness becomes ever more prevalent, it will contribute to wide-scale societal breakdown. As Mr. Flurry has said, this points to some terrifyingly dark times ahead.

But that darkness will not last long.

‘Boys and Girls Playing in the Streets’

The same Holy Bible that warns about these rapidly approaching dark times also says that just on the other side of those years will come the return of Jesus Christ. The Bible makes clear that, at His return, His radiant light will confound and obliterate the darkness of this world.

Jesus Christ will force everyone alive to relinquish tribalism and violence. He will usher in an age filled with the peace and safety that has always eluded mankind. He will bring about an era of stable, happy families. It will be a time of purpose, abundance and joy for all people. In that beautiful future, no child—like little Gabrielle Hill-Carter—will be found next to a bicycle on the sidewalk in a pool of blood.

God inspired the Prophet Zechariah to write a moving description of some aspects of that future world: “There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 8:4-6).

What a beautiful picture! Cities will be “full of boys and girls” like Gabrielle “playing in the streets thereof.” They will play and be safe. They will learn and grow. And when they enter their teenage years, they won’t have to fear being sucked into the vortex of toxic gang culture. That evil will not exist.

God says this reality will “be marvelous” in His eyes. This vision can be real to us, and stirringly marvelous in our eyes, too.