The religion of all the pagans and tribes of the earth was and is the religion of the world; it is not revealed from heaven, but has its origin in the world. Revolting as the pagan religion is, it is no better, nor is it any worse than any other worldly religion. It possesses the essential elements of the religion of Cain, delusion and bloodshed. It is doubtful whether the comparison with the religion of the world which in this day claims the Christian name, either papal or Protestant. All will agree that the pope in the dark ages of their power excelled the pagans in the shedding of human blood, all who have faithfully observed the murderous propensity of her Protestant daughters, have seen in them again, where ever and whenever they had the power, that they have always been equally intolerant and oppressive. The Protestant anti-Christ in our country since the puritanic persecution of the Baptists, Quakers and other dissenters, checked and restrained by the revolution, have been held under restraint but never satisfied. They have been, ever since the establishment of our government, eager to handle and control the reins of civil government, eager to handle and control the reins of civil government, and at this very moment are forming alliances with other denominations and with influential men of the world, to so change the fundamental principles of our national government as to recognize their creeds and dogmas. We now have on our table a circular signed by sixty-five names, thirty-five of which have "Reverend" prefixed, together with judges and Honorables, calling for a convention to be held at Newburgh, New York, "to consider such an amendment of the National Constitution as will remedy this great defect," of which they complain, "and indicate that we are a Christian nation." They complain that our National Constitution makes no acknowledgement of Almighty God, "nor of Jesus Christ," "nor of the Bible," which they say is the fountain of law and good morals, as well as of religion. They suppose that the omission of our fathers to make constitutional provisions for Sabbath Schools, etc., and for the prevention of intemperance, blasphemy, impurity or cruelty of our country allows them to pursue this Constitutional amendment. But they have failed to see that it was no oversight. It was a matter of grave deliberation and debate, and one of the avowed objects of the revolution was to free us from priestcraft, as well as from kingcraft. It was then argued that as no king, potentate or legislature can answer at the bar of God for the individual responsibilities of men, that no legislation of men should be allowed to interfere between them and their God, and they on this principle did provide in the Constitution that no religious test should ever be required.
To protect the people from coercive interference with the sacred rights of conscience in matters of religion, the first Congress of the United States that ever assembled under the Constitution was convened in the city of New York, March 4, 1789, at which time and place the following amendment to the Constitution was proposed and submitted to the several states for their approval and was concurred in by the states and became a part of our Constitution: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." What is now sought for is to so change our Constitution as to indicate that the United States "are a Christian Nation." The scriptures of truth recognize but one such nation, and that is called, "A chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a peculiar people." Into that nation can none enter except they be born of water and of the Spirit, and none can ever see it except they be born again. A Christian nation must be an establishment of religion, and no law concerning it has Congress any power to make, nor have any power to prevent the free exercise of it.
A complete subversion of the whole provisions of our Constitutions under which all classes have been protected in all their social, civil and religious rights more than eighty years, [written in 1871] is sought by an over-reaching intolerant, puritanic and persecuting spirit of priestcraft, by converting our government into a church and state establishment.
The Hebrew nation was a theocracy, but they did not make themselves so, nor is it possible for this or any other nation to constitute themselves a theocratic nation. Every nation under heaven that has ever attempted to legislate for God has entailed oppression and distress upon the people. The king of Babylon made a decree and published it, saying, "Therefore I make a decree, that peoples, nations and languages which speak anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abnego shall be cut to pieces and their house shall be made a dunghill, because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort" (Daniel 3). Did this decree make Babylon a Christian nation? When that great empire passed into the hand of Darius the Mede [Persian - now Iranian], he also sent forth a decree, saying, "I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom, men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel for He is the living God and steadfast forever, and His kingdom that shall not be destroyed." Of the only existing Christian nation over which Christ the Prince of Peace presides, it is said, "Behold how they love one another." Can this be said of Prussia and France? Or of any other of the professed Christian nations of the earth? Heaven and hell are not more dissimilar or in greater opposition to each other, than are those professed Christian nations, to the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ. This side of the infernal regions of perdition, the cause and kingdom of God and truth has no more virulent enemies than those sanctimonious hypocrites who are now engaged in sapping the foundation of our government to subserve their wicked designs to elevate themselves to a position that shall give them power to their fellow men. Judging only from the present and past our prospect for the future might awaken fearful forebodings, but the assurance which we have that the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth, affords support and consolation to all who truly trust in the Living God, "They shall be as Mount Zion that cannot be moved." His wisdom directs and His power controls all events. Under His over-ruling providence the wrath of man shall praise Him, and the remainder He will restrain. He has fixed the exact measure of the cup wicked men shall fill; beyond that limitation neither wicked men nor devils can go. The prevalence of iniquity in the world, or what is called the church, need not appall the saints, for in it all we see the fulfillment of prophecy. What could we think of the scriptures if in the world the saints had no tribulation, if there come no perilous times, if evil men and seducers did not wax worse and worse. The present day has not come unawares unto the children of the light. Relying on what God has told us in His holy word, we have long been watching the signs of the times and we are now just as certain that victory and immortal triumph is in store for all who fear the Lord as we have been that in these last days should come perilous times, times in which all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. And even now, we both labor and suffer persecution because we trust in the living God. But the conflict will soon be over, Babylon shall sink like a millstone, and rise no more forever.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Signs of the Times, January 1871