CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Silencing the Churches

Jan 23, 2021

Increasingly the churches will either become tools of the State, or will be targeted by it:

Church and state exist in uneasy tension. Both institutions were created by God, and both have their rightful place. And history testifies to the various ways that the two have related to each other. Sometimes there was a complete separation of the two. Sometimes the church tended to dominate the state. Often the state lorded it over the churches.

It is the last relationship I wish to explore here. In theory, the Christian gospel always puts a very real check on the state and its powers and pretensions. Because God alone is to be worshipped, and not the state, the church has often had to stand against the state and say no to its grandiose plans and policies.

Since Jesus alone is Lord, not Caesar, the state has always had mixed feelings about the church. The more raw power political leaders want for themselves, the more they must run roughshod over the churches. They can do this in various ways, such as banning them altogether; seeking to silence them; seeking to get them to compromise; or seeking to use them as tools of their own agendas.

All tyrannical regimes have to come to terms with the churches. They know that churches are the main opponents to their schemes for more power and control. Shutting churches down or subverting them for their own purposes are some of the ways we have seen this occur in the past century or two.

The communist persecution of Christians and suppression of churches in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe last century is well known. And the Nazis also had a clear program on how to deal with the churches. That could mean to silence the churches, to dilute the resistance of the churches, or to even use them for their own ends.

I was recently alerted to an interesting report commissioned by the American Office of Strategic Services in 1945. It collected information and evidence for the Nuremberg Trials concerning the Nazi persecution of the churches. It is entitled “The Nazi Master Plan: The Persecution of the Christian Churches.”

Reading this 28-page report is chilling, not just for what it tells us about what occurred 80 to 90 years ago, but because of the many similarities we find with what is happening in the West today. Contemporary secular left governments are quite happy to work with the churches, as long as they go along with their radical agendas.

But those recalcitrant Christians who refuse to bow down to the state and insist upon remaining true to biblical beliefs and values WILL be targeted, persecuted, and eventually shut down. What the Nazis did back then we are increasingly beginning to see in many Western nations today.

This report is found in various places, including here: theantipaschronicles.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/the-nazi-master-plan.pdf

It is worth quoting from it, and I hope that we can learn the lessons of history before it is too late. It says this early on:

“Throughout the period of National Socialist rule, religious liberties in Germany and in the occupied areas were seriously impaired. The various Christian Churches were systematically cut off from effective communication with the people. They were confined as far as possible to the performance of narrowly religious functions, and even within this narrow sphere were subjected to as many hindrances as the Nazis dared to impose. These results were accomplished partly by legal and partly by illegal and terroristic means.” P. 1

“Persecution of the Christian churches in Germany proper gave rise to very special problems. Since Germany was destined to provide the central force for the coming wars of aggression, it was particularly necessary that the German people be withdrawn from all influences hostile to the National Socialist philosophy of aggression. This meant that the influence of the Christian churches would have to be minimized as thoroughly as possible.” P. 3

“The Nazi plan was to show first that they were no foes of the Church, that they were indeed interested in ‘Positive Christianity’, were very good friends of the Churches and did not at all want to interfere in religious matters or with the internal affairs of the different denominations. Then under the pretext that the Churches themselves were interfering in political and state matters, they would deprive the Churches, step by step, of all opportunity to affect German public life. The Nazis believed that the Churches could be starved and strangled spiritually in a relatively short time when they were deprived of all means of communication with the faithful beyond the Church building[s] themselves, and terrorized in such a manner that no Churchman would dare to speak out openly against Nazi policies.” P. 3

Hitler made it clear that church life could continue, but only under the condition that they accepted the Nazi program and offered no criticism of it:

“Under such circumstances, the conference of German bishops, meeting as usual in Fulda, decided on 28 March 1933 to lift all restrictions imposed on members of the Church adhering to the Nazi movement. This opened the door to mass adherence to the Party of practising Catholics. The rush started immediately. All those German Catholics who were inclined to adopt Nazi political views and had hesitated only because of the anti-Nazi attitude of the hierarchy hastened now to join the victorious party of the ‘national revolution’.” P. 6

Consider a treaty, the Reichskonkordat, that was signed in July of 1933. It was a ‘Concordat between the Holy See and the German Reich.’ It was ratified 10 September 1933. At first it seemed to offer a way forward between the two parties. But it did not last long:

During this period, relations between the Nazi state and the Catholic Church became progressively worse. Having gained the support of the Catholic hierarchy in the crucial early days of the regime by signing the Concordat, they took advantage of their subsequently increasing strength to violate every one of the Concordat’s provisions, gradually stripping the Church of all its more important rights. Specific instances of the various phases of this persecution are presented in section V below.” Pp. 7-8

The report discusses the ‘METHODS USED TO IMPLEMENT THE POLICY OF REPRESSION’:

In order to implement their general policy of persecution, the National Socialists interfered at every possible stage in the activities of the Christian Churches. Sometimes they accomplished their purposes by direct intervention of the Reich or Land governments under their control or, in the case of Norway and other occupied but unincorporated areas, by intervention of a native puppet government. At other times they preferred to accomplish their purposes through the use of the SA, the Hitler Youth and other Party organizations.” P. 13

Here are just some of the measures used, as presented in outline form (pp. 13-25):

-Interference with the Central Institutions of Church Government
-The Direct Seizure of Central Institutions of Church Government
-Interference with the Normal Operation of Central Institutions of Church Government
-Legal Abolition of Central Institutions of Church Government.
-The Imposition of Financial Controls upon the Operation of Church Governments
-Interference with the Persons of the Clergy and Lay Workers
-The Murder of Church Leaders
-The Assaulting of Church Leaders
-Defamation of the Clergy
-Arrest of the Clergy
-Interference with the Activities of the Clergy
-Closing of Church Buildings
-Interference with Freedom of Speech and Writings
-Interference with the Educational Functions of the Clergy
-The Closing of Theological Seminaries
-The Closing of Denominational Schools
-Elimination of Religious Instruction from Other Schools
-Interference with Christian Organizations

Anyone who is even remotely aware of the growing anti-Christian bigotry and persecution in the West will see so many ominous parallels here. While the more radical steps, such as murdering clergy are not happening – yet – we see plenty of the others in play. Of course while the same goals are in mind, the means have changed a little.

Just consider how the radical left and its militant sexual agenda is leading the charge here. Increasingly Christians and churches and Christian schools and businesses are being targeted and attacked by means of various equal opportunity and anti-discrimination laws.

I have of course documented countless cases now of Christians, churches and religious institutions being targetted in this way, simply because they will not go along with the radical homosexual and trans agendas, will still defend biblical marriage, will seek the well-being of children by having a mother and a father, and so on. For daring to do that, they are starting to pay a heavy price, be it with heavy fines, loss of jobs, closures, or even jail time.

With the installation of the hyper-left Biden/Harris administration in America, we will see this ratcheting up even more. Forcing Christians to finance abortions, forcing radical sexual ideology on Americans, and pushing even more anti-Christian propaganda in schools and the media will simply be a part of this.

The so-called Equality Act will certainly cause massive problems for the churches. A week ago on the social media American professor Robert A. J. Gagnon said this about how things will likely pan out:

When the “Equality Act” is passed, the following event could result in professors like Robert P. George not merely being attacked in media but, more, being charged with violation of federal “gender identity” “non-discrimination” law. Think about that and ask yourself whether that comports with the view that Trump is/was the great threat to the Republic.

Prof. George was attacked in The Daily Princetonian simply for taking a poll on Twitter that asked: “By listing or stating their ‘preferred pronouns’ people are making sure that others know their: (a) sex, (b) gender, or (c) ideology.” For example, “student Priyanka Aiyer … doesn’t think there can be an ‘academic debate’ about it: “We’re really talking about the existence and the validity of people whose gender is not the same as the one they were assigned at birth.”

These censoring totalitarians make up today’s Dem Party; indeed, they will shortly be ensconced in the White House and rule both Houses of Congress. Before four years are up, they will also have control of the courts. Biden has already told us what he thinks of people who don’t support the totalitarian “Equality Act”: They are “virulent people” and “the dregs of society.”

The Biden/Harris regime will increasingly become a reign of terror for all biblical Christians who choose to stay true to God and his Word, and will not bow down to the Big, Deep State. We better learn from history really quick here.

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18 Responses to Silencing the Churches

  • An American Archbishop is supposed to have said a few years back – “I will die in my bed; the next Archbishop will die in prison; the one after him will be executed.” And at the rate things are going in some States in Australia – especially in Despicable Dictator Dan’s Marxist State – and remember Dan’s a ‘catholic’ – I’m told he turns up to Mass before elections – I wonder if he is refused Holy Communion – the same situation is developing.

  • Sheer evil . . and shocking and sobering to realize that there are church leaders who support Biden/Harris and the current day Democrats.

  • it didn’t work then, and it won’t work now.
    God is all powerful His church may suffer but always endures and overcomes. These other entities that rise against The Church fell then and they will fall again.
    God says I will contend with those who contend with you – Isaiah 49.25.

  • My understanding is that before moves to alter any government or power God calls on the faithful to stand firm and offer themselves to self sacrifice. This is what happened in Imperial Rome which then became the foothold and foundations to Christianity which continues to this day.
    We are in such times and await the great plague that will change all evil calling on the people to remain true and show God who is for and who is against. A leader will come before us who will use heavy handed means to eradicate those who try and sit on the fence as God calls on us all to either be for or against – no fence sitters.
    Homosexuality will finally be shown for what it is and so too queer conduct. The ordinary person is too blind to see the obvious in that the term queer is now peddled as normal which is a contradiction in its very term. How can queer conduct be normal? That will become the catch cry for the new order.
    When the so called debate raged about same sex marriage, the left pushed for equality. None of the people on the opposite saw that if equality was to be the catch cry of the opposition and then promote LGBTIQA+, those on the right should have picked up that under equality ‘B’ for bisexuals would be entitled to marry one of each sex and as for the queers, the mind boggles what they would demand in marriage like a lampshade or a beach etc. Bye bye marriage which is exactly what the queers want.
    God puts the obvious before mankind and with it many obstacles. For example, when Jesus was taken to his cross, the Romans were amazed that Jesus knelt before his cross and kissed it in loving embrace. How could the Romans have understood that what Jesus was doing was to throw himself into a loving embrace to God and love God for any gift presented to him and show us that the true meaning of love is self sacrifice – the Martyrs followed.
    John Abbott

  • Will there be conscientious objectors and protests – like during the Vietnam War – organised by by peaceful Christians?

  • Last night I just happened to be flicking through the channels and caught Magna Szubansky on The Project saying she abhors Margaret Court’s views. The vitriol in the tone of many of the gaystapo is very obvious now. How quick will this transfer to violence, & prison time by the state?!

  • It is good to see this warning to us all.

    Following on from the history of Nazi Germany, there should be a few similar histories for the Soviet Union, China and many satellite states which also applied these ideas over the past century in a determined attempt to squash the church into its own totalitarian mould. Many priests, monks and nuns were killed in the Soviet Union and many more undoubtedly perished in other Communist regimes. The history of Communism goes right back to 1917 and even further if you want to see where it started from.

    Perhaps you can provide a few links for these histories.

    Meanwhile, Biden, Harris and their supporters are pushing for an unrelenting “equality” that will leave hardly any room to dissent
    from the party line re discrimination and “equality of outcome”. There is the hope that Congress elections in late 2022 will lead to the Democrats ceasing to have control over both Houses of Congress.

  • And not just silencing of churches and Christians that won’t bow down to the State line on LGBT etc., but even the voicing of their name.

    E.g. the Victorian State Premier who yesterday couldn’t even bring himself to say Margaret Court’s name, when asked about her by journalists. Pro-abortion and pro-euthanasia Premier Dan Andrews could only bring himself to call her “that person”, referring disdainfully to her very public belief in the Bible as “bigoted quackery” which “costs lives”:

    “I’m quite sick of talking about that person every summer. … This bigoted quackery costs lives.”

    https://www.news.com.au/sport/sports-life/backlash-over-margaret-courts-australia-day-honour/news-story/f94619d079e145ecdc6c19419330de9d

  • I wrote about the Nazi designs on the church a while back Nazis planned to exterminate Christianity. At the same time, gutter atheopathic sites were telling everyone that Hitler was a Christian.

  • By September 1945 upon the “liberation” of Croatia by Tito’s communist army, 243 priests were murdered 169 imprisoned and 89 were missing. I arrived in Australia as a six year old boy in 1969 but still remember the police visits to our family home back in Croatia and the interrogation of my father for borrowing books from the parish priest. We were not poor or hungry; we left our homeland to escape tyrannical rule.

    The way that Australia is going, I would not be surprised that I, in the not too distant future, will experience the same treatment for my Christian views as my father experienced not under Tito’s regime but rather here in the more tolerant Dan’s “most progressive state” of Victoria – where the state will decide which prayer is allowed and which prayer is criminal. What was once the free world is free no longer.

  • Many thanks for sharing that Peter.

  • Equality does not mean the same right for LGBTQs to join the human race, and take a full part in creating the fundamental building block of society: the family with dependent children produced and raised by a married couple. It means 98% of the society being forced to be the same as them and equally deceitful, deluded, defiant, etc.

  • Surely, Bill, this is the time for thoughtful Christians to re-organize. Mr.Gary North, an American conservative Christian has said, :You can’t beat something with nothing”. Years ago Francis Schaeffer, in his The Christian Manifesto gave the church a stern warning. His words went unheeded by most. May I humbly suggest, that reading the The Christian Manifesto (available on the Net) is a good start. We need to be ahead of the “game”, (which sadly we are not) and start establishing cells of devoted and dedicated believers who refuse to settle with the compromised church.
    What Peter Kenda wrote is touching. I grew up when the Marxist revolution was developing in South Africa and Rhodesia. Why are we so blind here?

  • “In the furrow of peace in which we had laboured to sow the seeds of true peace, others… sowed the tares of suspicion, discord, hatred, calumny, a secret and open fundamental hostility to Christ and his Church, fed from a thousand different sources and making use of every available means.”

    This could have been written yesterday about the “progressives” and their supporters in the very deceitful media.

    Whereas, in the Charlottesville troubles Donald Trump spoke of there being good people on both sides, thereby attempting to diffuse the situation and view things from all people’s perspectives, for which he was roundly condemned, in the Capital Hill troubles the left wingers and their media supporters all attempted to condemn all the rightful protesters for the illegal and immoral actions of a tiny fraction of one percent of the protesters.

    While not initially a supporter of Donald Trump I think it is obvious he was attempting to run the country for the benefit of all U.S. citizens whereas the Democrats have, in reality, been the force for divisiveness. Any objective analysis of their impeachment claims would have to conclude their claims are completely absurd and unsustainable.

    The claimed “Equality Act” is clearly deceitful and blasphemous and even from a non-spiritual perspective it should be obvious that people’s imaginations should never take precedence over reality. How long the Democrats can support a structure based on imagination God knows but I’m pretty sure the longer they sustain it the greater will be the damage from the inevitable collapse.

  • Well Bill Lloyd-Smith HB1 will prevent Republicans from ever gaining a majority again.

    And Bill as to your last sentence most people DON’T learn from history that’s why it keeps repeating. As the Bible said there is nothing new under the sun. It is almost as if they are daring God to do something.

  • Well, Paul Wilson, is HB1 a new House Bill from the House of Representatives, part of Congress in Washington, DC? What does it enact if it got through Congress and became part of US law? (Yes, Democrats control both Houses of Congress at present.) How would it ensure that Democrats stay in power for good?

    Not all of us readers of Bill Muehlenberg’s website are experts on American acronyms and American customs. Perhaps you and Bill M can enlighten us folks. As an aside, I have seen reports of Biden wanting to stack the US Supreme Court so that conservative judges appointed by Republican presidents will always be outnumbered by Biden’s liberals. It Is very clear that Biden wants to get rid of Trump’s legacy in every way imaginable.

    I am well aware that most people don’t learn from history. So they keep on making the same mistakes that other people made in bygone times. Yes, Ecclesiastes reminds us “there is nothing new under the sun.” Peter Kenda mentioned Tito’s killing of 243 Croatian priests around 1945 but most people no longer know that, just as they don’t know about many other killings committed by communists in eastern Europe in those times.

  • the history comment was aimed at Bill M I should have been more specific. as to HB1 (yes House Bill 1 sorry we yanks sometime forget we aren’t the center of the world) here is a article: https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2021/01/26/hans-von-spakovsky-h-r-1-would-make-voter-id-laws-unenforceable-nationwide/

    it would make the federal government NOT the state in charge of elections and all protections the states have in place to prevent fraud would be gone.

    most are either taught how wonderful communism is by not teaching any of the attempts at it, or the were a few unfortunate deaths, or that the wrong people we in charge then and “we know what we are doing so it will work this time”. so many young people have been brought to the positions NOT on logic but exotics with seem to trump or short circuit logic. as one man said “You can argue a man out of a position he was never argued into!”. they been working over 100 years to get people dumbed down enough to buy into this. now is simple carpe diem for them.

  • Thanks to Paul Wilson for the link on HB1. Fancy an 800 page bill just to legislate for federal supervision of elections. Is this even for purely state elections? It would seem sensible to have a uniform system for federal elections, provided it was honestly administered. (But let States carryout their own elections without federal involvement.)

    However, we have seen much evidence of tampering with votes with extra votes going in batches all en bloc for a certain J. Biden. So we should be wary of this new bill with plenty of complexity to confuse the naive and lots of obscure clauses and subclauses to confuse the wiser voters. Along with the recent harassment of Trump through attempts to impeach this ex-President, it is hard to believe that all will be well with the new law called HB1 that Paul warns us of. Democracy over there seems to be in real trouble.

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