A few weeks ago, a county official in California stopped at the home of a San Diego pastor and his wife, peppering them with questions about the Bible study that they conduct weekly in their home. Fifteen people generally attend this peaceful meeting.
The official issued a warning in which the couple was told that they could not hold any more religious assemblies in their home unless they first obtained a Major Use Permit. The Major Use Permit process usually costs thousands of dollars. The enforcement officer concluded the meeting by threatening increasing fines until the permit is obtained. The homeowner was told that if the permit was not sought, "… it could get ugly."
The threats made by the county official directly contradict the First Amendment to the US Constitution, guaranteeing free exercise of religion.
A spokesperson for the law firm that will represent the pastor and his wife commented, "[we are] troubled by this draconian move to suppress home Bible studies… If the current trends in our nation continue, churches may be forced underground. If that happens, believers will once again be forced to meet in homes. If homes are already closed by the government to assembly and worship, where then will Christians meet? I'm deeply concerned that if in the US we are not able to meet in our homes and freely practice our religion, then we may be worse off than China" (WorldNetDaily.com, May 22, 2009; FoxNews.com, May 28, 2009).
After international attention was drawn to the situation, the county has allowed the in-home Bible studies to continue at the pastor's home while it works to resolve a "traffic and parking issue resulting from the weekly Bible study."
So where are this and other similar actions headed? Around the world, there are increasing pressures on those who call themselves Christians, to cease and desist where their religion is concerned. It is becoming "politically incorrect" to be an active Christian. Christian beliefs and practices are increasingly targeted by the more "open-minded and accepting" of society, who do not appear to be open-minded and accepting of those holding to Christian ideals. What is happening to this nation and to a society originally begun in order to flee from religious oppression? Are we coming "full circle?"
God prophesied to the godless Israelite nations that there would come a time when "…I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, but shall not find it" (Amos 8:11-12).
As the Israelite-descended nations drift further from God, "turn[ing] justice to wormwood and lay[ing] righteousness to rest in the earth" (Amos 5:7), a famine of the word becomes a foreseeable reality! Thus we must pray for the leaders of the land so that we may continue to "lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence" (1Timothy 2:2).
There is no human "fix" to the intensifying evils of society today… but there is an answer. Jesus Christ will return in power and glory. And He will usher in a time of unprecedented peace and happiness – a time when reading a Bible and living a Christian life will be what all of humanity seeks after (Isaiah 2:1-4).
You can learn more about this awesome future and about what God's society will truly be like by reading our booklet The World Ahead: What Will It Be Like?