Pop singer: ‘We are here to evolve as 1 family, and we can’t be separate anymore’
British recording artist Sting says President Obama could be the answer to the world’s problems – the divine answer.
The comments from The Police’s lead singer, whose real name is Gordon Sumner, are just the latest in a long series of statements suggesting Obama’s connection to the supernatural.
WND previously reported when an artist who planned to unveil a portrait of Obama in a Christ-like pose with a crown of thorns upon his brow canceled the event due to “overwhelming public outrage.”
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan also was clear in a nearly religious adoration of Obama. As WND reported, Farrakhan declared last year that when Obama talks, “the Messiah is absolutely speaking.”
Addressing a large crowd behind a podium with a Nation of Islam Saviours’ Day 2008 sign, Farrakhan proclaimed, “You are the instruments that God is going to use to bring about universal change, and that is why Barack has captured the youth. And he has involved young people in a political process that they didn’t care anything about. That’s a sign. When the Messiah speaks, the youth will hear, and the Messiah is absolutely speaking.”
Farrakhan pointed out that the man Nation of Islam followers refer to as “the Saviour,” Fard Muhammad, had a black father and a white mother, just as Obama did.
“A black man with a white mother became a saviour to us,” he said. “A black man with a white mother could turn out to be one who can lift America from her fall.”
The site was topped by an Obama quote strategically ripped from a Jan. 7 speech at Dartmouth College just before the New Hampshire Primary in which he told students, “A light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany, and you will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote” for Obama.
The site includes this:
OBAMA BE THY NAME
THY CHANGE WILL COME
THY WILL BE DONE …
Sting said in the AP interview he has spent time with Obama and described the president as “very genuine, very present, clearly supersmart, and exactly what we need in the world.
“I can’t think of anyone better qualified because of his background, his education, particularly in regard to Islam,” he told the news agency.
The 58-year-old said, “My hope is that we can start talking about real issues and not caring about whether God cares about your hemline or your color. We are here to evolve as one family, and we can’t be separate anymore.”
Google’s blog hosting service, Blogger.com, admits that in the name of “free speech” some of its blogs are “offensive, harmful, inaccurate,” but when one of its clients blogged in opposition to a transgender rights bill, Google drew the line.
A day before the Massachusetts Legislature plans to review a controversial gender identity bill, Blogger.com blocked the blog of MassResistance, an organization that exposes the increasingly open agenda of the homosexual movement in Massachusetts, with a warning that some of the content may be “objectionable,” requiring readers to confirm their intent to visit.
Screen shot of content advisory and permission requirement prior to accessing the MassResistance blog
“Some readers of this blog have contacted Google because they believe this is objectionable,” the warning reads. “In general, Google does not review nor do we endorse the content of this or any blog. For more information about our content policies, please visit the Blogger Terms of Service.”
MassResistance blogger Amy Contrada, however, writes that the only potentially “objectionable” items on the blog are photos taken in public settings and her group’s politically incorrect viewpoints.
“We publish only facts, ‘uncomfortable truths,’ not rumors or personal attacks,” Contrada writes on her blog. “And obviously, our photos reveal the ugly truth. Then, we identify those public figures who are twisting the law to enable public perversion and subversion of our youth and culture.”
“We’ve had that blog on there since 2005,” said Brian Camenker, president of MassResistance, “and only when we started posting on the new transgender bill before the Legislature did this happen.
“If you look at Google’s policy on hate speech, they do state you can’t include hate against people for their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Camenker told WND. “But the things we write are all factual; we don’t advocate beating anyone up. On the other hand, there are an enormous number of blogs against religious people that are clearly vile and hateful, particularly during the Proposition 8 battle in California. Some of that content was hideous, and it’s still up.
“Nothing on our site could be construed as ‘hate,’” Camenker said.
The website’s content policy further states, “It is our belief that censoring this content is contrary to a service that bases itself on freedom of expression.”
MassResistance, however, told WND that Google’s actions speak louder than the words in its policies.
“Google seems to have a double standard,” Camenker said. “It hosts a large number of gay activist sites that are vile and vicious, particularly against religious people, yet they put up an ‘objectionable content’ warning on our blog. How do they define what’s offensive?”
Contrada told WND that as more and more states – and even the federal government – look to pass “hate speech” bills and laws protecting the undefined labels of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” Americans will be shocked, both by what they see displayed on the public streets and by what they can’t say in the public square.
“I’ve been anticipating this for quite a while now,” Contrada said. “Obviously Google is a private enterprise at this point, but their actions represent a trial balloon for government censorship of undefined ‘hate’ speech. And just like the gender identity bills, nowhere is it clearly defined what the terms mean. What will be classified as ‘hate?’
“MassResistance’s blog has pointed out this can of worms, and I think that’s one of the reasons it draws ‘objections’ from transgender activists,” Contrada said. “This act of censorship is just a harbinger of what may come.”
Camenker also said that as Google becomes more technologically entrenched in every aspect of communications, he fears how content will be monitored in the future.
“It’s Orwellian,” Camenker told WND. “With Google controlling operating systems, blogs, Web searches, and software, it can get pretty bad. It could happen to anyone with a company as powerful as Google.”
WND contacted Google for comment on its content advisory and permission confirmation on the MassResistance blog, but a representative merely pointed to the site’s page on “flagging” a blog:
“The Flag button isn’t censorship and it can’t be manipulated by angry mobs,” the Google page reads. “Political dissent? Incendiary opinions? Just plain crazy? Bring it on.
“When someone visiting a blog clicks the Flag button in the Blogger Navbar, it means that person believes the content of the blog may be potentially offensive or illegal,” the Google help page continues. “We track the number of times a blog has been flagged as objectionable and use this information to determine what action is needed. This feature allows the blogging community as a whole to identify content deemed objectionable.”
WND has reported on Google’s history of being frequently criticized for its content policies and one-sided political slant, including the following actions:
- Issuing a statement publicly opposing Proposition 8, California voters’ attempt to constitutionally define marriage as between one man and one woman
- Restricting Christian advertising on the issue of abortion, until a lawsuit compelled Google to amend its policy
- Rejecting an ad for a book critical of Bill and Hillary Clinton while continuing to accept anti-Bush themes
- Rejecting ads critical of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., while continuing to run attack ads against former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas
- Allowing the communist Chinese government to have the search engine block “objectionable” search terms such as “democracy”
- Ignoring major American patriotic and religious holidays, while honoring Remembrance Day in Australia, Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom, the Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day, Halloween and other observances.
In addition, the company came under fire for an editorial decision giving preferential placement to large, elite media outlets such as CNN and the BBC over independent news sources, such as WND, even if they are more recent, pertinent and exhaustive in their coverage.
MassResistance told WND it is currently in the process of backing up its blog content and transferring the blog to a different host service.
Editor’s note: Once a reader confirms he or she wishes to access the MassResistance blog, the content warning no longer appears in subsequent visits to the blog.
‘The day that story broke people bought half a million’
By Bob Unruh
Million dollar Gospel tract
The Way of the Master, a Christian ministry run by evangelist Ray Comfort and former child actor Kirk Cameron, is reporting a sudden rush by people getting the million-dollar bill Gospel tracts its Living Water Publications produces.
Todd Friel, a spokesman at Way of the Master Radio, told WND that while “Gospel tracts usually turn out to be litter faster than a candy wrapper,” the opposite is true with these Gospel messages.
Even an event such as the recent incident in Pittsburgh when police arrested a man who handed a $1 million bill tract to a grocery store cashier generates a way for the biblical message to be spread.
Officers in that case reported the bill originated with the Dallas-based ministry, but the man was arrested after he flew into a rage, slamming an electronic funds-transfer machine into a counter and reaching for a scanner gun after the clerk refused to accept the tract as money and the manager confiscated it.
Friel said he sometimes wonders why a Gospel tract with a picture President Grover Cleveland and a message of salvation gets so much attention.
“That’s exactly the question we’re asking ourselves,” he told WND. “And with all the different phony bills out there, why does this particular one seem to get so much attention?
“Maybe it taps into that human desire for money,” he said, but whatever the reason, the ministry is happy to print and distribute them as fast as possible, based on its ministry mission statement.
Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron
“One hundred fifty thousand people die every 24 hours – most without the Savior,” that statement says. “We are deeply concerned that so few Christians reach out to the lost. Statistics show that this is as low as five percent. One of the reasons for this is that many don’t feel equipped. As a ministry, our sole purpose is to inspire and equip Christians – to teach them how to share the gospel simply, effectively, biblically … the way Jesus did.”
The million dollar question: Will you go to Heaven? Here’s a quick test. Have you ever told a lie, stolen anything, or used God’s name in vain? Jesus said, “Whoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already with her in his heart.” Have you looked with lust? Will you be guilty on Judgment Day? If you have done those things God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart. The Bible warns that if you are guilty you will end up in Hell. That’s not God’s will. He sent His Son to suffer and die on the cross for you. Jesus took your punishment upon Himself -”For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Then He rose from the dead and defeated death. Please, repent (turn from sin) today and trust in Jesus, and God will grant you everlasting life. Then read your Bible daily and obey it.
The publishers hope the demand for the tract is because of the message. At a minimum, they know the message is getting distributed.
“The day that this story broke – God has a funny way of working things – people bought half a million of these tracts,” Friel said. “Maybe they were afraid they’d all be confiscated.”
He said the ministry, which produces more than 24 million of all of its tracts annually, has discovered that the million dollar bill has staying power.
“At a baseball game, I’ve almost been mauled when I start handing them out,” Friel said. “People actually want them. I’ve been stopped at Customs and they see them in my luggage and everyone wants one.”
He said he’s also seen them posted in bank windows, stashed in tip jars and he’s heard from Muslims in Pakistan who have gotten them and seen a positive change in their lives.
The tracts have been in the news before: About a year ago the U.S. Secret Service seized a stock of the tracts in Texas, alleging they were counterfeit, even though since 1969 the highest legal denomination in the United States has been the $100 bill. That case currently is on appeal.
Friel said the message will continue, no matter what the outcome.
“If the government takes these million dollar bills, the ministry has a Billion Dollar bill tract that is in full color, and very popular. If those are seized the ministry has plans to get a Brazilian Dollar Bill printed, with a picture of the Brazilian president on it,” he said.
So far, they’ve also been subjected to confiscation in Nevada and California.
Jim Thomas, who with his wife Charlene had just finished an evangelism training program at their church, told WND he was handing out the tracts near an escalator at a downtown Los Angeles mall “and everything was going very well.”
Then, he said, a man approached him and told him that “there’s a problem here.”
He introduced himself as a Secret Service agent.
“He began to ask me questions, like ‘have you read the rules and regulations about bills similar to currency?’” Thomas said. “So he just kind of informed me what I could do to be in compliance.”
Lawsuit filed after speech met with: ‘Ask God what your grade is’
By Bob Unruh
A student at Los Angeles City College has filed a lawsuit against the institution after a professor called him a “fascist b——” and told him to “Ask God what your grade is” following the student’s speech about morality.
The case has been filed by the Alliance Defense Fund on behalf of Jonathan Lopez after his encounter with Professor John Matteson in a speech class.
The lawsuit alleges Lopez was participating in a class assignment to give a speech on “any topic” from six to eight minutes.
“During the November, 24, 2008 class, Mr. Lopez delivered an informative speech on God and the ways in which Mr. Lopez has seen God act both in his life and in the lives of others through miracles. In the middle of the speech, he addressed the issues of God and morality; thus, he referred to the dictionary definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman and also read a passage from the Bible discussing marriage,” the ADF explained.
At that point, the professor interrupted him and refused to allow him to finish his speech, ADF said. Matteson then called Lopez a ‘fascist b——” and dismissed the class.
Later, the professor left an evaluation form on Lopez’s backpack without a grade, instructing him to “Ask God what your grade is.”
Professor’s grading of student’s speech
The professor also warned on the evaluation form, “proselytizing is inappropriate in public school.”
Yet several weeks earlier, Matteson has announced to the class, in connection to the California vote Nov. 4 in support of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman only, that, “if you voted yes on Proposition 8, you are a fascist b——.”
A spokeswoman for the school said she had consulted with the school’s legal counsel, and since they had just been notified of the case, they would have no comment.
David French, a senior counsel with the ADF, however, was critical of the school’s actions.
“Public institutions of higher learning cannot selectively censor Christian speech,” he said. “This student was speaking well within the confines of his professor’s assignment when he was censored and ultimately threatened with expulsion.”
The threat reportedly came when Matteson saw Lopez talking to the college’s dean of academic affairs and then said , “he would make sure he’d be expelled from school.”
“Professor Matteson clearly violated Mr. Lopez’s free speech rights by engaging in viewpoint discrimination and retaliation because he disagreed with the student’s religious beliefs,” said French. “When students are given open-ended assignments in a public speaking class, the First Amendment protects their ability to express their views. Moreover, the district has a speech code that has created a culture of censorship on campus. America’s public universities and colleges are supposed to be a ‘marketplace of ideas,’ not a hotbed of intolerance.”
The ADF earlier had written to academic dean Allison Jones about the case, asking for a resolution.
The letter argued the First Amendment protects religious speech and the government may not suppress speech on public campuses. It also cited the professor’s refusal to grade the speech as viewpoint discrimination.
Jones responded that the situation was a concern to the school but told the ADF that two other students also had objected to the content of Lopez’ speech. She also said she had started a “progressive discipline” procedure in the case, but because of the “privacy” of the professor, she would not share information about it.
Subjects mom, dad to ‘sincerity test’ after filing vaccination exemption
By Drew Zahn
Rita Palma and her children
A mother and father in New York were subjected by their school district’s attorney to a faith “sincerity test,” which ultimately ruled their beliefs were too questionable to qualify for a religious exemption to mandatory student immunization.
Ron and Rita Palma filed the exemption with their son’s school district in 2006 after coming to the conclusion the year before that the required vaccinations violated their conscience and sense of God’s leading for their family.
Rather than accept the standard exemption form, however, the Bayport-Blue Point Union Free School District demanded the couple meet with school attorney David Cohen. The Palmas have twice been compelled to sit down with Cohen to be interrogated about their faith and their convictions about vaccines.
“If you believe God is on your side,” Cohen asked in the most recent of the two interviews, conducted last fall, “does that mean he’s not on the side of someone who believes in immunization?”
“Do you have conversations with God? Has God told you not to immunize?” the attorney asked. “Explain it to me.”
Cohen described to the Palmas’ attorney that the purpose of the interview was two-fold: to determine whether the Palmas’ beliefs are actually religious, as opposed to philosophical or political; and to determine whether the beliefs are “sincerely and genuinely held.”
Rita Palma told WND that being compelled to defend her faith before an attorney and answer questions about her family’s lifestyle, diet, medicinal choices and personal convictions was “unbelievably invasive.”
“It’s almost beyond words what we were put through,” Palma said. “It’s such an abusive power, it’s so arrogant that ‘outrageous’ doesn’t even label it correctly. It’s something you can’t even imagine that somebody would take it upon themselves to do – to judge the sincerity of your belief.
“Particularly in a school district,” Palma said, “taking it upon themselves to judge your relationship with God? Have you ever heard of such a thing?”
Not only were the Palmas grilled, however, their attempts to file religious exemptions were also ultimately denied.
Following both interviews, the first in 2006 and the last in 2008, the school district deemed the Palmas’ beliefs were not sincerely held.
“This determination,” wrote the school in 2006, “was made based upon your meeting with the school attorney and information which we received, which significantly calls into question your stated beliefs.”
Rita Palma explained to WND that her choice not to immunize her children was a decision of conscience and of following God’s leading. In the interview with the lawyer, Palma further explained that she sees a distinction between medicine as a healing for sickness and vaccines, which she described as injecting a sickness as step toward heath. The latter, she insisted, violates her understanding of trust in God and his design for the body.
The school district’s denial, however, cited a medical test Palma gave her son as evidence that her beliefs are too inconsistent to be sincerely and genuinely held.
The district’s second denial, in 2008, further criticized the Palmas, a self-described Catholic family, for misquoting the Bible and claimed that if their objection was truly a matter of religious conviction, they could have sought something other than public school for their son.
The Palmas appealed the original denial to the state’s commissioner of public education, only to be denied again.
Now, with the help of New York State Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried, the Palmas are working to prevent other parents from enduring the same interrogation or contra-conscience mandatory immunization of their children.
Gottfried, chair of the state Assembly’s health committee, has sponsored New York bill A00883, which amends state law to ban “sincerity tests” and states, “The current common practice of government agencies scrutinizing and judging a parent’s religious beliefs is inappropriate in a democracy that values the First Amendment.
“There could be concern that some parents might falsely claim a religious exemption,” the bill continues. “But it is greatly outweighed by the burden that the intrusive, prolonged inquiry imposes on bona fide objectors forced to defend their religious beliefs.”
WND contacted the offices of attorney David Cohen for response or comment but received no reply.
Fire inthe Hole
“And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.
And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.”
1 Kings 18:29,30
Just a few years before this showdown on Mount Carmel, Israel had been lush with prosperity and wealth. King Ahab had led the Israelites on a path that led farther away from the old, established worship of God than any before him, and had brought them to a life of riches, prosperity, and licentiousness.
The gods that he and his wife Jezebel had enticed the people of God with appealed to their earthly and fleshly desires. No longer did they have to be constricted with an old religion that demanded holiness and the fear of the Lord. No longer did they have to lead a life of separation from the things of the world that other, more prosperous nations enjoyed. They could enjoy the prosperity and fullness of riches without the constraints of a religion that had become outmoded and old-fashioned.
Life was good. So when Elijah pronounced the judgments of God upon Israel, they laughed him out of the king’s court. The true prophets of God had been eradicated from the public place and were no longer a thorn in the side of everyone who wanted the rewards of love, peace, and prosperity. You were no longer allowed to mention the name of Jehovah, much less pray to him in a public place. They now had priests and prophets of Baal that had replaced those old critical and judgmental men who had caused such consternation in the land.
Elijah had stood as the one, lone voice who cried for a return to righteousness.
And who was this hairy old man? He didn’t seem to be of any real consequence. He had no credentials, no theological bearing, and no consequential importance. Even his dress revealed his lack of social prominence and his irrelevance in such a modern, sophisticated time as this.
Ahab’s ears may have been deaf to Elijah’s pronouncement, but when Elijah spoke, God listened. The Ahab’s court may have derided him with laughter as he stood before the king, but 3 years later, no one was laughing.
We have followed a course similar to the one that Ahab had led Israel down. The Gospel we listen to is far different than the Gospel our grandfathers believed in. We decry the old brush arbor revivalists as hard, judgmental men who did not understand the love of God, and we have traded their message of repentance and holiness for one that is a kinder, gentler approach which promises love and peace and prosperity.
But the love, peace, and prosperity that our modern prophets have promised us are but a worldly shadow of that which God offers us through a walk of righteousness in the fear of the Lord.
We have been like the Israelites at the foot of Mount Sinai – we feared and trembled at the presence of God when the mount shook with fire and smoke, but as soon as Moses departed up the mountain and we were left to our own devices, we made for ourselves a golden calf to worship in God’s place.
I have said for 7 years now that something is coming to America that will be far worse than 9/11, but I never knew what form that judgment would take. Would it be a dirty nuclear explosion in one of our cities, or an epidemic, or some natural disaster? We would be hurt, but it wouldn’t take long to go back to our old ways. We are the great and mighty America, and we have an innate belief that we will always bounce back and dominate.
What if it wasn’t any of those imagined disasters, but something that struck right to the heart of that which we cherish the most? What if we lost our prosperity and wealth? And what if it consumed every level of our society and every part of our country?
We are living in that time of drought when the ravens fed Elijah by the brook Cherith, right after he fled the king’s court.
We look to our televangelists who promise us blessings, and refuse to consider that our lust for those promises is what has led us to this drought in the first place. But we still flip on the TV and hope for a word of encouragement that will convince us to hang on to a Gospel that has a form of godliness, but denies the power thereof. And of course, they tell us exactly what we want to hear, along with an encouragement to send them your money so that God can release His blessings all over you – but never a word of reproof or repentance.
The job of a prophet is not to tell you how beloved you are, how many blessings God wants to bestow upon you, or how much love is in your church. The job of a prophet is to rebuild the old broken down altars of God and declare unto the people of God their sins and transgressions so that they may come to a place of repentance and, once again, return to the true God of Israel.
“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. “
Please mention ” Early Today” in your corresspondences
Christ the Truth
Many people today say there is no such thing as absolute truth. The folly of such a statement, of course, is that if one believes it to be true, that very belief contradicts the statement itself! In this message, Billy Graham shows that the Bible has much to say about truth and that, as the Word of God, it can bring order to our tangled thinking and lead us to the One who claimed to be the truth Himself
Pilate asked the question, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). And many people today are asking, “What is truth?” Inside the Bible are stories of lust and hate and war and crime equal to anything else we read about in history. The Bible tells the truth-it tells the truth about God, about people and about the devil.
Jesus wasn’t afraid to call Satan what he is: a liar and the father of lies. Jesus said, “There is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).
The first time man had to make a choice between God’s truth and the devil’s lie, he chose the devil’s lie. The moment that Adam and Eve rejected God’s truth and accepted the devil’s lie, all of the world’s troubles began. Our sinful nature often sides with the devil’s lie instead of God’s truth, because we are sinners.
We’d rather believe the devil’s lie than God’s truth.
Sin is a disease that runs all through the human race. The disease of sin is at the heart of the troubles of the world. To those involved in this dying world, Satan will come with evil’s undiluted power to deceive, for they have refused the truth that could have saved them.
God sends upon them, therefore, the full force of evil’s delusion, so that they put their faith in an utter fraud and meet the inevitable judgment of all who have refused to believe the truth and who have made evil their playfellow (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).
God says these people deliberately forfeited the truth of God and accepted a lie. God, therefore, handed them over to disgraceful passions (Romans 1:24-26). They see truth as a lie and the lie as the truth. They accept the lies of the devil. What are some of these lies?
First, there is the lie about sex. In Proverbs we read, “Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared?” (Proverbs 6:27-28). That Scripture refers to lust. Lust means if you had the opportunity, you would commit immorality. Many people fantasize in their thinking, and lust that way.
Second, the devil lies about drugs. And it’s interesting that the words drugsandwitchcraftcome from the same root word in Greek–pharmakeia. Drugs are one of Satan’s great lies. He tells you that you will soar to heaven and have great, wonderful experiences. And every time you listen, you end up in trouble.
Third, there is the lie about religious hypocrisy. Millions of people attend church services without having a personal relationship with Christ. I used to be taken to church by my parents, and I hated church. But when I was a teenager, I received Christ as my Savior.
When I went back to church, I said to my parents, “The pastor certainly is preaching wonderful sermons.” They replied, “He’s preaching the same type of sermons, but you’re listening with different ears.”
Fourth, there’s the delusion that peace is just around the corner. It is not! There will not be peace in the world until the Prince of Peace comes.
We find deception, delusion and lies on every hand. What is the answer? What can people do?
Turn to the truth-turn to Christ. Jesus said, ‘You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). He said, “I am … the truth” (John 14:6). Jesus did not say, “You shall know a truth” or “anytruth” but “thetruth.” He’s the embodiment of all truth.
Jesus said, “If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). If you don’t believe that and don’t accept Christ, you will die in your sins and you’ll be lost. Jesus Christ claimed to be ultimate truth. Are you willing to face the truth?
Jesus Christ told the truth about sin. He said, “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, and adulteries, and all other sins that we commit” (Cf. Matthew 15:19). War comes from the human heart. Family tensions and problems come from the human heart. Rebellion comes from the human heart.
He told the truth about love. God loves you. And He loves you with a love that you don’t know anything about, because there is no human love comparable to divine love. God’s love sent His Son to the cross to die and shed His blood for you. Then God raised Him from the dead, and He’s alive.
Jesus told the truth about judgment. He warned people to “flee the wrath of God” (Cf. Matthew 3:7). Yes, God is angry with the wicked. Jesus said, “Every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36). Every idle word, all your thoughts, all your words, everything you have ever done, will be at the judgment. And you will be condemned by your own words.
Jesus told the truth about repentance. He said, “Unless you repent, you will perish” (Cf. Luke 13:3). Have you repented? repentancemeans change. I change my mind about God, about myself, about my fellow man. I change my way of living. But on my own I don’t have strength to change. I can’t change. I can’t become a Christian. Why? Because I’m “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).
God has to help me change. He has to help me repent. And I have to say, “O God, help me to repent.” Not only do we have to repent; by faith we must also receive Christ into our hearts as Savior and Lord.
Jesus told the truth about conversion. He said we have to be born from above, born again (John 3:3). The process is called conversion. Jesus said, “Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).
He’s not telling people to become like adults. He’s telling us to become like little children and have childlike faith. We come by simple faith, like a little child who trusts his mother and father. We put our total confidence in Jesus Christ by faith. Have you done that?
We also must obey Him. Live the life. Follow Him, serve Him, whatever the cost. And it is costly. In the world in which we live, if we hold on to Christian values and live up to the moral standards laid down by Christ, it will cost us. Obedience means following Christ, even to death. Are you willing to do that?
Before you come to Christ, you are a slave of sin. Christ’s truth makes you free-free from the penalty of sin. No other truth can free you so that you’ll never go to hell.
Christ’s truth provides freedom someday from the presence of sin, freedom now from the power of sin. Sin shall no longer have dominion over you, if you come to Christ and let Him change you. You can be free, right now, by coming to Christ.
Billy Graham has preached the Gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history-over 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories. Hundreds of millions more have been reached through the various ministries of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Flying under the radar, and literally under the ground of congressional bailout meetings, were closet Capitol Hill discussions about God and Washington, D.C. It seems another revision of America’s religious history has been underway – this time at the new $621 million, 580,000 square feet Capitol Visitor Center about to open in a couple months.
Eliminating or revising our Christian heritage seems to be in vogue these days at America’s historic sites. In 2006, tour guides at the Jamestown Settlement, the replica of the first (1607) English colony in America, were caught intentionally leaving out its Christian heritage when discussing the purpose for the colony. In early 2007, the government explained that the inscription “In God We Trust” was “accidentally left off” of the initial minting of the new presidential dollar coins, only to correct the mistake by placing the words on the very edge of the coins – and not until major public pressure was placed upon them did our Congress require the Treasury to place the words back upon the face. In mid 2007, the Architect of the Capitol removed any mention of God from the flag-folding ceremonies at veterans’ funerals and earlier attempted to remove “God” from congressional flag certificates. And in late 2007 the chaplain of my organization discovered someone in the hierarchy of the Washington Monument had deliberately altered its display of the capstone replica, so that the visiting public would have no idea the Latin words “Laus Deo” (meaning “Praise be to God”) were actually inscribed on the very top of the monument as a celebratory finish and dedication.
And now religious revisionism is popping up again in the new Capitol Visitor Center.
While most recent news media covered Tina Fey and Congress’ foolish financial bailouts, reporter Bob Unruh and WorldNetDaily were virtually alone in exposing this latest divine omission at the U.S. Capitol. This massive, largely underground museum of sorts (about three-quarters the size of the Capitol itself) will have exhibition galleries, theaters, a 550-seat cafeteria, gift shops, etc. But absent is anything that discusses our Christian or religious heritage. That is why Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., and the 108 congressional members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus recently petitioned the Architect of the Capitol by letter, which details and documents the incomplete and inaccurate religious content in the Capitol Visitor Center – also found in Sen. Jim DeMint’s, R-S.C., YouTube video “War on God”:
1. No mention of our national motto, “In God We Trust”;
2. In displaying images of the current speaker’s rostrum in the House chamber, the phrase “In God We Trust” is omitted from its location engraved in marble above the speaker’s head;
3. The opening words in Article 3 in the Northwest Ordinance (1787) are excluded from an exhibit. The actual article reads, “Art. 3. Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” The exhibit article reads: “Art. 3. … schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”
4. There are factual inaccuracies regarding church services held at the Capitol in early decades of our republic, saying they were held when Congress wasn’t in session, when in fact they were held year around – and even the so-labeled strict-separatist Thomas Jefferson attended them throughout his eight years of presidency.
5. The exhibits include photos from Earth Day, an AIDS rally, various casino grounds and factories, but it does not include photos from monumental religious events such as the National Day of Prayer or the March for Life event, attended by thousands annually, etc.
6. There is an absence of any major display or description of the religious influence within or about the 200-plus year history of the Capitol.
“Historical buildings like the Capitol Visitor Center are there to tell the story of our nation,” said Rep. Forbes. “When religious history is removed from these displays, the American public is not able to observe an accurate depiction of our nation’s story. We owe it to those who have gone before us and to our future generations to provide a complete representation of our nation’s heritage. We will continue to fight until this is achieved in the Capitol Visitor Center.”
Well, thanks to their passion and diligence, Rep. Forbes, his aides and the Congressional Prayer Caucus recently informed the public of some good news that “the Committee on House Administration and the Senate Rules and Administration Committee have agreed to include references to our nation’s religious history. … [they] have acknowledged this important part of our nation’s history and have agreed to correct the omission of historical religious content in the Capitol Visitor Center.”
The release also notes that “The Committee on House Administration and the Senate Rules and Administration Committee have agreed to the following changes to the Capitol Visitor Center:
- That the phrase “Our Nation’s Motto” be removed from the plaque describing the engraving of E Pluribus Unum;
- That “In God We Trust” be engraved in stone in a prominent location within the Capitol Visitor Center and that the panel describing the engraving include the proper recognition of this phrase as our national motto;
- That the Pledge of Allegiance be engraved in stone in a prominent location within the Capitol Visitor Center.
“In addition, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee on House Administration have agreed to the research and development of a permanent religious history display, and have agreed to make every effort to ensure that the display is erected in the Capitol Visitor Center as soon as possible.”
In addition, the following paragraph comes from an authentic e-mail sent from the office of Architect of the Capitol (acquired from my chaplain’s research on revisionisms) in response to a protest to the Capitol Visitor Center’s religious omissions. Unfortunately, the e-mail makes it appear to the public as if they have included these religious facts all along, when Rep. Forbes and the 108 members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus know likewise, and now you do, too.
References to religion and faith are, in fact, included in the context of several historic exhibits and several religious items appear in the displays. Some examples include Article 3 of the Northwest Ordinance in its entirety; a copy of the Pledge of Allegiance and the prayer said at the opening of the current Congress; a copy of the Bible used to administer the oath of office to Senators until 1882; portraits of the first House and Senate chaplains; information about religious services regularly held in the Capitol in the 1800s, and an unaltered display of the U.S. Constitution highlighting the First Amendment which established our country’s right to the freedom of religion.
That’s a good start, but I believe We the People need to help keep the pressure on these officials to assure these revisionist rectifications. With some 15,000 expected guests daily, included among them thousands of children and students from across America, it is our duty to assure the preservation of our Capitol’s religious history in the Capitol Visitor Center. That is why I am encouraging Americans to write or call the Architect of the Capitol communications officer (202-228-1793 or email@example.com) and also tell their representatives, “Thanks for pledging to correct the religious omissions at the Capitol Visitor Center. We look forward to seeing the changes and the ‘permanent religious history display.’ And if it isn’t worthy of our Capitol and country’s Christian heritage, we’ll be back to protest until you get it right!”
Is it merely coincidental that so many acts of revisionism have occurred over the last couple years at governmental historical sites? Is it merely coincidental that the more modern memorials in Washington (like the Roosevelt and World War II memorials) bear virtually no religious inscriptions at all, while all the former ones do? Is it merely coincidental that liberal erasers are right now busy elsewhere in the country deleting our Judeo-Christian heritage for the sake of fully secularizing our nation’s past for future generations? Of course not. Friends, we must stop these revisionist travesties from taking one more step. We must preserve the fact that our founders weren’t creating a secular state but a sectarian-free state – and there is a huge difference.
America’s fathers wholeheartedly believed in the premise stated in Psalm 33:12, which says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” But what would they have thought of a nation that removes God from its heritage, classroom instructions, civic ceremonies, buildings, monuments, historic sites, etc.? I believe the words of Thomas Jefferson are as fitting for religious apostasy as they were for slavery, words that were inscribed upon his memorial in Washington, D.C., around 1940: “And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever. …”
Centuries-old clash continues over disputed commandment
By Joe Kovacs
This sign at the Mesa Avenue Church of Christ in Grand Junction, Colo., is typical of churches announcing their worship services on Sunday.
Most Christians today think it’s Sunday, when the majority of churches hold services.
But others confidently say it’s Saturday, calling Sunday worship “the most flagrant error of mainstream Christianity,” believing Sunday-keepers are victims of clever deception.
Some high-profile evangelical pastors such as California’s Greg Laurie say it’s simply “wrong to set Saturday apart as a special day for worship.”
Today, some high-school sports teams refuse to play in state tournaments for the sole reason the events are held on Saturday – what they say is God’s Sabbath.
Scottish sprinter Eric Liddell
Conversely, the 1981 film “Chariots of Fire” was based on the true story of Eric Liddell, a Scottish sprinter and Christian missionary who disqualified himself from his best event at the 1924 Olympics because the race was on Sunday – the Sabbath in his view.
Christians seem irreparably split, as this issue goes back to the beginning of time itself.
In the beginning …
There are seven days in a week, but historians have no consensus about the cycle’s origin, since it has no basis in astronomy.
The Bible, though, indicates God created the Earth and its life forms in six days, and then rested on the seventh.
“And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it.” (Genesis 2:2-3)
Biblically speaking, the first six days of the week had no special name. They were simply identified by ordinal numbers, such as the first, second and third day. But the seventh day was given a unique name. In Hebrew, it’s “shabbat,” meaning “rest.” In English, the word is “Sabbath,” and it’s detailed in the Fourth Commandment.
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work … . For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day.” (Exodus 20:8-11)
In many languages, the word used for the seventh day of the week – what we call Saturday – is actually the same word used for “Sabbath.” In Greek, it is sabbaton; Italian, sabato; Spanish, sábado; Russian, subbota; Polish, sobota; and Hungarian, szómbat. Even the French “samedi” is from the Latin “Sambata dies,” for “day of the Sabbath.”
Names of days in today’s English come from ancient paganism, where they were originally associated with celestial objects and heathen gods.
Table traces the seven days of the week from their pagan Latin origin through the names of Norse gods to their current names in English
In the King James Version of the Bible, the word “Sabbath” appears 137 times. The word “Sunday” is absent, though its equivalent, the first day of the week, occurs eight times – nine if the “first day” of creation is counted.
Some examples of the use of Sabbath include:
- “Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.” (Exodus 31:15-16)
- “But pray ye that your flight be not in winter, neither on the sabbath day.” (Matthew 24:20)
- “Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.” (Mark 2:28)
Most biblical scholars have little disagreement when asked what day the Bible specifically calls the Sabbath.
Prof. Richard Bauckham
“The seventh day, Saturday,” says Richard Bauckham, professor of New Testament at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. “No other day is called the Sabbath in Old or New Testaments.”
In 2001, Jan Marcussen, a Seventh-Day Adventist from Thompsonville, Ill., was so sure there was no Bible verse declaring the first day to be the Sabbath, he offered up to $1 million for clear, Scriptural proof.
“I didn’t get even one response claiming the $1 million from any theologian, bishop, cardinal, pope or anyone else,” Marcussen, author of “National Sunday Law,” told WND. “Why not? Because they can’t. [Observing Sunday as the Sabbath] is the biggest hoax the world has ever seen.”
But while the Bible never calls the first day of the week a Sabbath, the vast majority of Christians today gather for worship then. Many think Sabbath-keeping was either abolished or moved to Sunday once Jesus rose from the grave.
“There’s not a simple answer,” said Dr. Roger Felipe, a Baptist preacher from Marco Island, Fla., who is also director of programs for Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, part of Trinity International University. “From [today's] Christian point of view, the Sabbath is Sunday.”
There is little, if any, argument Jesus and His fellow Jews observed the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week, as the Bible states, “as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up to read.” (Luke 4:16)
But it’s what took place after His death and resurrection that’s key.
The rising of the Son
One reason many Christians provide for gathering on Sunday is the belief Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week.
“It’s a powerful symbol,” says Felipe.
An angel informs women that Jesus is not in the tomb, but has already risen.
“In the weekly reckoning of time, Sunday recalls the day of Christ’s Resurrection,” the pope stated.
But the idea Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday is not universal.
The Bible is actually silent on the precise moment of resurrection. Jesus’ followers came to His tomb before dawn on the first day of the week (Sunday), but they did not witness Him coming back to life. They merely found an empty tomb.
A tomb with a view
“Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen,” is what an angel told the women. (Luke 24:5-6)
John Pinkston, Congregation of God Seventh Day
“Christ was already gone!” exclaims John Pinkston, a retired Air Force navigator who is founder and president of the Congregation of God Seventh Day in Kennesaw, Ga. “So that shoots in the foot the belief that He was raised on Sunday.”
Pinkston is typical of many Sabbath-keepers, believing Jesus was neither killed on a Friday, nor raised on Sunday. He believes Jesus was actually put to death on a Wednesday, and remained in the grave 72 hours until Saturday evening. When the women came to the tomb early Sunday, they found it empty, indicating Jesus arose prior to their arrival.
Even the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, a Sunday-keeper and chancellor of Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., agreed with that timetable, telling WND in 2001, “I personally believe He was crucified on Wednesday evening … and rose after 6 p.m. Saturday evening.”
Most Christians today think Jesus died on a Friday and rose on Sunday. They point to Scriptures indicating a Sabbath day followed Jesus’ execution. But Sabbath-keepers claim it was not the weekly Sabbath of Saturday approaching. Rather, they say it was an annual Sabbath, a “high” holy day in the Hebrew calendar known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which supposedly occurred on a Thursday the week Jesus was killed. The Gospel of John mentions that Sabbath was the annual type.
“The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) … .” (John 19:31)
In other words, Sabbatarians say there was more than one day of rest that week. Their timeline has Jesus slain on Wednesday – the day before the “high day” annual Sabbath on Thursday. They believe Jesus was in the grave for a full three days and three nights, finally arising Saturday evening, the second Sabbath of the week.
The mention of “three days and three nights” is important for many, as Jesus used that phrase to prove His divine identity:
“For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so I, the Son of Man, will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.” (Matthew 12:40, New Living Translation)
There’s disagreement if that phrase means a full three days and three nights – 72 hours – or merely parts of three days and three nights, leading many to stick with the Friday-evening-to-Sunday-morning timeline.
The last shall be first?
Beyond the resurrection issue, there are several Bible references to “the first day of the week,” none of which are clear on the Sabbath issue.
Prof. Margaret M. Mitchell
“The New Testament evidence is not conclusive, and nowhere ‘ordains’ or instructs [Sunday-keeping],” said Margaret M. Mitchell, professor of New Testament and Early Christian Literature at the University of Chicago Divinity School.
Mitchell says the “evidence is, historically speaking, tantalizing but not absolutely clear.”
She notes the apostle Paul, for instance, in 1 Corinthians 16:2, “calls on the Corinthians to treasure up on the first day of the week.”
“He does not explicitly say there whether the envisioned context is a gathering of the assembly, or if this refers to what people do in their own homes,” Mitchell said.
Another mention of the first day is in Acts 20:7, as Paul is shown breaking bread with fellow believers in ancient Troas, a peninsula in modern-day Turkey: “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them … .”
Mitchell told WND: “This text appears to show a particular Sunday eucharistic gathering, but it does not tell us if this replaced the Sabbath observance or stood alongside it, [i.e., people observed both].”
Interestingly, while most Bible versions use the phrase “first day of the week” in Acts 20:7, a 1990 word-for-word translation of the same Scripture by Greek experts Robert K. Brown and Philip W. Comfort in the New Greek English Interlinear New Testament from Tyndale House Publishers, actually renders it as “one of the Sabbaths.”
Their version reads: “And on one of the Sabbaths having been assembled us to break bread, Paul was lecturing them … .”
If the Tyndale translation is accurate, it could heighten the Saturday-vs.-Sunday controversy, since this alleged evidence for Sunday worship may not have been a Sunday at all, but the usual Saturday Sabbath.
‘The Lord’s Day’ – or is that ‘Day of the Lord’?
And then there’s something called “the Lord’s Day.” Though mentioned just once in the Bible, many today assume it means Sunday.
The Scripture, written by the apostle John on the Greek island of Patmos, says, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.” (Revelation 1:10)
Depiction of John on Patmos by Pat Marvenko Smith, (c) 1992. Used with permission. Revelation Illustrated
Some Sabbatarians like Pinkston believe the term has no connection to the first day of the week.
“It’s not talking anything about Sunday,” he said. “It’s talking about the ‘Day of the Lord’ mentioned in the Old Testament. It’s prophecy about when Christ comes back. The Book of Revelation reveals the events of the ‘Day of the Lord.’ It has nothing to do with a worship day.”
Others think it is indeed a worship day, but not Sunday. They suggest “the Lord’s Day” is actually a Saturday Sabbath, noting Jesus called himself “Lord of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28) and that God referred to the Sabbath as “my holy day.” (Isaiah 58:13)
Thus, according to this reasoning, if any day of the week were really “the Lord’s Day,” it’s the seventh-day Sabbath, not Sunday.
However, Prof. Bauckham in Scotland believes there’s good evidence from early Christian sources the phrase does indeed refer to Sunday.
“John probably means that his visionary experience happened during the time when other Christians were gathered for worship,” he said.
“The other interpretation [equating it with the 'Day of the Lord'] doesn’t really make sense because the earlier parts of the vision are not placed temporally at the end of history. That is only approached over several chapters [into Revelation].”
The Encyclopedia Britannica equates Sunday with “the Lord’s Day” in Christianity, stating, “The practice of Christians gathering together for worship on Sunday dates back to apostolic times, but details of the actual development of the custom are not clear.”
The New Testament, penned within the first century, never specifically mentions a Sabbath change.
“From a logical point of view,” says Pinkston, “if the New Testament had intended for us to start worshipping on the first day of the week, then we’d find ample evidence for it. Yet, it’s not in there.”
One example Sabbatarians point to is when Paul is shown preaching to both Jews and Gentiles (non-Hebrews) on a Sabbath, and not Sunday. He’s then asked to preach again on the following Sabbath.
“And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. … And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.” (Acts 13:42-44)
The argument is, if there were some kind of worship on the first day of the week, then Paul would have just told the people – especially those with no connection to Jewish customs – to simply come back tomorrow (Sunday) to learn more, rather than wait an entire week for the next Sabbath to arrive.
Man of the Sabbath
A well-known expert on the Sabbath is Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi, a retired theology professor at Andrews University in Michigan.
Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi
Bacchiocchi earned his doctorate in Church History at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and was awarded a gold medal by Pope Paul VI for his summa cum laude class work and dissertation, “From Sabbath to Sunday: A Historical Investigation of the Rise of Sunday Observance in Early Christianity.”
Bacchiocchi, a Seventh-Day Adventist, believes there’s no Scriptural mandate to change or eliminate Sabbath-keeping, and he singles out the Catholic Church for its role in changing the day.
“The Church of the capital of the empire, whose authority was already felt far and wide in the second century, appears to be the most likely birthplace of Sunday observance,” he writes.
In the 1876 book, “The Faith of Our Fathers,” James Cardinal Gibbons, the Catholic archbishop of Baltimore, agreed the shift to Sunday was not based on the Bible, but was solely the work of the Catholic Church.
“You may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify,” Gibbons wrote.
Bacchiocchi also told WND: “Anti-Judaism caused the abandonment of the Sabbath, and pagan sun worship influenced the adoption of Sunday.”
He says evidence of anti-Judaism is found in the writings of Christian leaders such as Ignatius, Barnabas and Justin in the second century. He notes these three “witnessed and participated in the process of separation from Judaism which led the majority of the Christians to abandon the Sabbath and adopt Sunday as the new day of worship.”
Bacchiocchi also explains the influence of pagan sun worship provides a “plausible explanation for the Christian choice of Sunday” over the day of Saturn. Its effect wasn’t just limited to Sunday. It apparently led to the placement of Jesus’ birth in late December.
“The adoption of the 25th of December for the celebration of Christmas is perhaps the most explicit example of sun worship’s influence on the Christian liturgical calendar,” Bacchiocchi writes. “It is a known fact that the pagan feast of the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti – the birthday of the Invincible Sun, was held on that date.”
Christian facts, pagan Mithras
One of the Roman names for this “Invincible Sun” god in the days of the apostles was Mithras. There are striking similarities between the ancient worship of Mithras and today’s Christianity, leading some to think early Christians adopted Sunday worship from heathen customs.
The pagan sun god Mithras, also known as ‘the Invincible Sun’
For instance, Mithraism’s sacred day of Sunday was said to be called “the Lord’s Day.”
Donald Morse, a retired professor at Temple University, wrote a 1999 essay comparing the tenets of Mithraism to modern Christianity, explaining Mithras was worshipped on Sunday; was born of a virgin known as the “mother of God” on Dec. 25; was part of a holy trinity; and had a “Last Supper” with his 12 followers before his death and resurrection at Easter time near the spring equinox.
Mithraists were also taught they had immortal souls that went to a celestial heaven or an infernal hell at death.
“All of these religions intermingled in those days,” Morse, who is Jewish, told WND. “There’s no way to know who stole from whom.”
On the change from Sabbath to Sunday, Morse suggested early Christian leaders including Paul felt “the best way to convert pagans was to not have them change too much. Just accept their [pagan] holidays, as long as they accepted Jesus as Messiah. They didn’t really have to do much more than that.”
There’s no place like Rome
As Christianity spread through the pagan Roman Empire, it was finally given official toleration in the year 312 by Emperor Constantine, who purportedly had a vision that prompted his soldiers to fight under a “symbol of Christ,” leading to a key military victory. The emperor then restored confiscated church property and even offered public funds to churches in need.
Roman Emperor Constantine sees a symbol of Christ in the sky before the battle at Milvian Bridge outside Rome in A.D. 312
Sunday observance received a historic boost when Constantine – himself a pagan who is said to have adopted Christianity at least nominally – established Sunday as the first day of the week in the Roman calendar and issued a mandatory order prohibiting work on that day, in honor of the sun god.
On March 7, 321, he decreed, “On the venerable Day of the Sun, let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed.” Farmers were given an exception.
“The importance of the actions of Constantine cannot be overstated,” says author Richard Rives in “Too Long in the Sun.” “During his reign, pagan sun worship was blended with the worship of the Creator, and officially entitled ‘Christianity.’”
Before the end of the 4th century, Sunday observance prevailed over Saturday.
At the Council of Laodicea in 363, the Church of Rome – today known as the Roman Catholic Church – declared: “Christians must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honoring the Lord’s Day [Sunday]; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ.”
In 380, Emperor Theodosius made Sunday-keeping Catholic Christianity the official religion of the empire, outlawing all other faiths:
We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title Catholic Christians; but as for the others, since in our judgment they are foolish madmen, we decree that the shall be branded with the ignominious name of heretics.
While some went along with the decrees, others apparently did not. A letter from Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, possibly reveals Saturday Sabbath-keeping in his own town, while Sunday was being observed in Rome. It led to the well-known proverb, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
Once Sunday had the imperial power of the Roman Catholic government behind it, Saturday Sabbath-keepers became less visible, though some Sabbatarian websites have documented mentions of seventh-day observers through the centuries.
For example, the Catholic Church persecuted Sabbath-keepers in the 15th century. At the Catholic Provincial Council of Bergen, Norway, in 1435, it was said:
We are informed that some people in different districts of the kingdom, have adopted and observed Saturday-keeping.
It is severely forbidden – in holy church canon – [for] one and all to observe days excepting those which the holy pope, archbishop, or the bishops command. Saturday-keeping must under no circumstances be permitted hereafter further that the church canon commands. Therefore we counsel all the friends of God throughout all Norway who want to be obedient towards the holy church to let this evil of Saturday-keeping alone; and the rest we forbid under penalty of severe church punishment to keep Saturday holy.
The Catholic Encyclopedia even refers to Sabbath-keeping as “the superstitious observance of Saturday,” noting it was forbidden by that council.
Coming to America
As Christianity headed west, the earliest settlers to America included both Sunday-keepers – such as the Puritans who landed at Plymouth, Mass., in 1620 – and Sabbath-observers like the Seventh Day Baptists, whose first church was founded in Newport, R.I., in 1671.
When the Puritan Christians used the word Sabbath, they would mean Sunday – “the Lord’s Day” – and passed rules enforcing its observance from sunset Saturday to sunset Sunday.
Connecticut’s so-called Blue Laws of the 1650s had strict codes of conduct said to include:
- No one shall run on the Sabbath day, or walk in his garden or elsewhere, except reverently to and from meeting.
- No one shall travel, cook victuals, make beds, sweep house, cut hair, or shave, on the Sabbath day.
- No one shall read Common-Prayer, keep Christmas or saints-days, make minced pies, dance, play cards, or play on any instrument of music, except the drum, trumpet, and the Jews-harp.
- Adultery shall be punished by death.
Instructions for colonists in New Haven, Conn., drafted in 1655 and published in London in 1656 became known as blue laws.
In her 1909 book, “The Sabbath in Puritan New England,” historian Alice Morse Earle documented “lists of arrests and fines for walking and travelling unnecessarily on the Sabbath,” regarded here from Saturday evening to Sunday evening:
A Maine man who was rebuked and fined for “unseemly walking” on the Lord’s Day protested that he ran to save a man from drowning. The Court made him pay his fine, but ordered that the money should be returned to him when he could prove by witnesses that he had been on that errand of mercy and duty. As late as the year 1831, in Lebanon, Conn., a lady journeying to her father’s home was arrested within sight of her father’s house for unnecessary travelling on the Sabbath; and a long and fiercely contested lawsuit was the result, and damages were finally given for false imprisonment.
Spring of 1642: Puritan settlers in New England observe the Sabbath on Sunday, Courtesy the Stamford Historical Society, Stamford, Conn.
Christians observing the Sabbath on Saturday also spread throughout America, but in fewer numbers than Sunday-keepers.
The teachings of the Seventh Day Baptists are said to be instrumental in the founding of the Seventh-day Adventist Church – which claims a membership today of 15 million – and the Church of God (Seventh Day) – which has more than 200 congregations in the U.S. and Canada and a worldwide fellowship of more than 300,000.
Other Christians promoting Saturday rest include many offshoots of the Worldwide Church of God, such as the United Church of God, Living Church of God, Church of God International, Philadelphia Church of God and Intercontinental Church of God.
Messianic Jews, including Dallas-based Zola Levitt Ministries, are also seventh-day proponents.
Some Sabbatarians, such as Richard Ames of the Living Church of God, produce TV shows like “Tomorrow’s World,” asking, “Which day is the Christian Sabbath?”
On one program, Ames points to Luke 4:16 in the Bible and says, “It was Jesus’ regular custom to worship on the Sabbath, and since that time, and centuries before, the Jewish community has very carefully documented their observance of the seventh-day Sabbath, Saturday. In other words, history demonstrates that time has not been lost, that the seven-day cycle has been accurately recorded to this day.”
In another episode, Ames’ colleague, Roderick C. Meredith, calls Sunday observance “the most flagrant error of mainstream Christianity” and “the most obvious deception of all.”
“Do you realize that this deception is blinding millions of people from knowing God?” asks Meredith.
Despite such rhetoric, many Catholic and Protestant Sunday-keepers reject Sabbath-keeping on Saturday.
Greg Laurie, a WND columnist and senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., one of the eight largest Protestant churches in America, maintains it’s wrong for Christians to observe Saturday, claiming Jesus and the apostles never taught anyone to keep the Sabbath. He says it’s the only one of the Ten Commandments not specifically repeated in the New Testament.
“Of all the New Testament lists of sins, ‘breaking the Sabbath’ is never mentioned,” Laurie said. “That is because it was given to the Jews, not the non-Jews.”
Back in Florida, Sunday-keeper Roger Felipe thinks God is not overly concerned with the Sabbath issue.
“Paul is very clear that we Christians don’t use [one particular day] as a determining factor if someone is right with God,” Felipe said.
At the same time, though, the minister supports the idea of resting one day each week to stay on track with God.
“Humanity has forsaken the importance of Sabbath rest,” he said. “God desires us to be renewed spiritually. We should observe a day … to be consecrated and to be devoted to God, to be renewed and refreshed. In terms of affecting the human quality of life, it would do us very well to observe a Sabbath rest.”