THE AMERICAN EMPIRE
And the U.S. System of Client States

January 16, 1999
Written By S.R. Shearer

[Much of the information for this article regarding Nike and Indonesia came from Peter Hancock's study entitled "Nike's Satanic Factories in West Java." Peter Hancock is a professor at the Center for Development Studies at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia; also Noam Chomsky's book, The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism.]

"God grant us the ability to see ourselves the way others see us."
           - Robert Burns

"Mereka Pergi dan Pulang Seperti Hantu Dari Pabrik Setan"
("Walking Ghosts Who Work in Satan's Factory")
           - An Indonesian saying regarding employment at
the factory of an American multinational in Java

"And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of what for a penny (literally - denarius, a Greek coin which represented a WHOLE day's wages), and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine."                     (Revelation 6:6)

INTRODUCTION

American evangelicals have a messianic image of the United States which pictures our country as God's chosen land, "... henceforth to lead (the other nations and peoples of the earth) in the regeneration of the world" (Senator Beveridge's words, circa. 1900); that the United States is in her origins, institutions, history, and international conduct God's "New Israel" chosen by Divine Providence to bring about the earth's redemption. As a result, Christians come naturally to the thought that they are doing God's will in preserving America (by their increased involvement in the political process) for that high calling to which she alone among all the other nations has been destined. After all, if America is God's chosen instrument to save the world, then no effort can be spared in seeing that she fulfills her calling. This certainly is what Pat Robertson thinks when he says,

"... if America is free, people everywhere can hope for freedom; but if America goes down, all hope is lost to the rest of the world."

But what if there is no Biblical basis for such thinking? What if Christ really meant what He said when He told His disciples:

"My kingdom is NOT of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight ... but ... my kingdom (is) not from hence" (John 18:36)?

What then? What if America is altogether something else? What if - rather than having the character of a "saint" - her real character is that of a "BEAST" - an evil, destructive predator that stalks the world looking for other nations and peoples to devour? What if America - rather than being the "New Israel of God" - is instead the "BEAST" of Daniel 7? -

"After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a ... beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it ...
"Then I would know the truth of the ... beast, which was ... exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet;
"Thus he said, The ... beast ... shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.
"... and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws ..." (Daniel 7:7, 19, 23, 25) [Please see our article on RMA technology.]

What about that? If that were the case, then what would that say about the alliance American Christians have made with her? What would that say about their effort to "save her for Christ and the church?" Save a marauding predator for "Christ and the church?" - if that's what we are doing, then we are certainly a deceived people (Matthew 24:24). But what if it could be shown that that's exactly the case? - here are the real facts of the matter.

THE AMERICAN EMPIRE: A RAVENOUS
PREDATOR WHICH STALKS THE WORLD

Since the end of World War II, the United States - essentially using the model the United Fruit Company "pioneered" in Guatemala - has organized under its sponsorship and protection a neo-colonial system of client states all over the world. The phenomenon of Guatemala has now been "globalized." [Please see the "American Empire."]

The purpose of this globe-girdling empire of client countries is to serve the interests of America's system of multinationals, and - ipso facto - feather the nests of the wealthy shareholders of these gigantic corporations with the exorbitant profits which are possible when doing business in the "Developing World" - profits on investment which are not possible to achieve in the United States with its restrictions on the use of labor, with its banking regulations, with its laws against usury, with its trade unions, with its plethora of government regulations, etc. No worry in the Third World about overtime pay, sick leave, holidays, worker safety, etc. No concern there about toxic dumping. No concern about having to negotiate the clumsy political processes of democracy. [Please see our article on Chiapas.] It is a system ruled mainly by fear (i.e., through the use of "death squads" and state sponsored terror) which serves the interests of America's multinational companies (and, of course, the corporations of America's lackeys - i.e., Japan and Western Europe) plus a relatively small group of indigenous local businessmen and military oligarchs.

The ugly truth of the matter is, governments in most of the Third World can be easily seized economically (oftentimes without ordinary native-born populations ever knowing what has happened), held at minimum expense and made to serve the economic interests of the multinationals. All it takes is the cooperation of the local military, the local police, the local business establishment (all of whom are cut in for a share of the profits) - and a smattering of "hangers-on" (but no more than 20 percent of the population, lest there be too many locals involved with whom the multinationals must divvy up the "goodies").

Thus, the "new world order" in the U.S. system involves the blatant and violent economic (and, ipso facto, political) suppression of the vast majority of the client state population; as we suggested this suppression takes the form of an alliance of convenience between the multinationals, the CIA and the American embassy (on the one hand); and the local military, police and business community (on the other hand). Together, this alliance then seizes control of the state, shatters the organizational defenses of the majority of the population and strives to reduce it to passivity through the use of terror.

TERROR IN THE SERVICE OF IBM,
CITIBANK, AILIS CHALMERS, ETC.

The dictatorial disposition of these client states with regard to the great mass of their native populations - including a propensity towards the systematic use of torture - is functionally related to the needs of the U.S. multinationals and are designed to help stifle unions and contain reformist threats that might interfere with the freedom of action considered necessary by the multinationals in order to enhance (maximize) profits. The proof of the pudding is that U.S. bankers and industrialists have consistently welcomed the "stability" of dictatorships in the American Empire whose governments are savage in their treatment of dissidents, labor leaders, peasant organizers or others who threaten "order" (i.e., corporate profits), and which are at best indifferent to the mass of the population - but states who otherwise are slavishly and fawningly accommodating to the large external interests of the multinationals which they serve; in other words, states who enforce their stability through the use of terror - all in the service of the multinationals. In an important sense, therefore, the torturers in these client states are in reality the functionaries of IBM, Citibank, Ailis Chalmers, Nike, Liz Claiborne, Ford, G.E., etc.

This is what the Philippine Republic under Marcos was all about; this is what Chile under Pinochet was all about; this is what Iran under the shah was all about; this is what Argentina under the junta was all about; this is what Zaire (the Congo) under Mobutu was all about; this is what Indonesia under Suharto was all about; this is what Mexico under Salinas was all about; this is what Panama, Guatemala, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Malaysia, Columbia, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela on ad infinitum are all about. This is what the American Empire is all about - CORPORATE PROFITS!! "Free Trade" is the American elite's ticket to extravagant wealth - and hang all the people who get in the way.

With the spread of this new American system of client states - complete with death squads, torture and repression - the gap between what American evangelicals have been told about what their country is up to in the so-called "developing world," and what it is actually doing there has become a yawning chasm. Indeed, if it wasn't so tragic, the depiction of such Third World thugs as Pinochet (who was the darling of Beverly LaHaye), Mobutu [with whom Pat Robertson had a parallel pecuniary interest in diamonds], Suharto (who was slavishly touted by YWAM and other American missionary groups), etc. as respectable "leaders" worthy of our nation's subsidies would be comical farce. And more than that, the attempt by the mainline media [which, of course, is owned "lock, stock, and barrel" by the multinationals - i.e., G.E., Westinghouse, Disney, etc.] to portray the United States as the "guardian of democracy" and "human rights" in the light of its sponsorship of a federation of nations controlled by what is really nothing more than an international mafia of ruthless dictators and greedy multinational corporations is even more ridiculous.

AMERICAN EVANGELICALS: "HEARING
THEY HEAR NOT, SEEING, THEY SEE NOT"

But despite the effort by the mainline media and various "establishment" evangelical groups in this country to hide what's occurring, it's not particularly difficult to find out what's happening in this empire of corporate greed and avarice - it's not that hard to peer behind the curtain. People (mainly socialists, unionists, and other assorted "lefties") do it all the time, and report on it. But Christians aren't listening; after all, it's mainly left-wing radicals that are making all the fuss, and what else can you expect from people like that? Anything they say should be dismissed out of hand! - right?

I suspect, however, that there is a deeper reason behind the fact that no one is paying attention. It's not just that "lefties" are doing the reporting, but it's also because people - Christians, particularly American evangelicals - don't want to hear about it. They're not listening because they don't want to listen. As Jesus said:

"... seeing they see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand." (Matt. 13:13)

Many evangelicals will no doubt retort that the labor conditions that many of these "Third World" countries are suffering through are simply part of the price that all societies must pay as they industrialize. It's the price that Britain paid in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and America paid in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. But they got through it and so will these countries.

But that's not the case at all. The terrible labor conditions with which American and British laborers were confronted during that period were imposed upon them by elites which were almost entirely local elites. Moreover, once the factories had been built, that's where they stayed. They were stuck. Under these conditions, laborers could confront the elites and, over time, force change upon them. This is what happened in America, England, Western Europe and to a certain degree in Japan.

Things have changed, however. That's no longer the case. The elites (and their factories) have become mobile. They seek out those workers who are the most docile and impoverished, and work them to death. Finally, when the workers try to unionize themselves, and the new international elites are no longer able to control them through the usual means (i.e., through the use of terror), the multinationals simply fold up their tents and move on; and, of course, all this after having destroyed the former subsistence economy that had sustained the area prior to the arrival of these new world-giants. This wasn't possible in the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries - when the economies of North America, Europe and Japan were developing; but it is sure possible now!

A NEVER-ENDING SEARCH
FOR CHEAP (SLAVE?) LABOR

It is the unofficial policy of the American multinationals to make sure that there is always available in its system of client states an enormous and impoverished "reserve army" of unorganized workers kept unorganized by force, uneducated by neglect, and constantly replenished by what amounts to as the purposeful destruction of all forms of small, peasant farming designed to make the local population totally dependent on the largesse - such as it is - of the multinationals. It's a system designed to preserve labor as a cheap commodity. Still lower wages have been obtainable by the use of prison labor. In Columbia, for example, Container Corporation of America, B.F. Goodrich, and dozens of other companies have employed thousands of prisoners at extremely low wages - a few cents a day - under programs advertised as "rehabilitation programs," although 75 per cent or more of the prisoners have never been tried. China also is heavily involved in prison labor connected to products regularly sold at some of America's most well-known retail outlets. Cheap labor (slavery?) at whatever expense to the human spirit and psyche - that's what the American Empire is all about.

People in the so-called "First World" should know this, despite the fact that the multinationals habitually lie about what they are doing - saying that labor conditions will change as these economies "develop" (while planning all the time that when they do, they will simply close up shop and move on). They do it all the time: IBM, General Electric, Nike, Ford, etc. Reports abound as to what's happening! Take one example: Peter Hancock's account of Nike's "Satanic Factories" in West Java, Indonesia - a country which, until recently, was trumpeted as one of the stellar examples of the manifold benefits of membership in "America's Empire of Free Trade." But bear in mind here, that the example below applies with equal force to the other large American multinationals: Boeing in China; IBM, Ford, General Electric, etc. in Mexico, and on and on. There's no end to it.

INDONESIA, NIKE, AND
THE MULTINATIONALS

As a player in Indonesia's economy, Nike is part of an effort that the elite press has claimed has succeeded in increasing per capita income in Indonesia ten-fold since 1970 while decreasing those living in poverty from 60% to 15% in the same period. Nike claims that by supporting light manufacturing, it is contributing to the increase of workers skills, wages and capabilities. Nike claims that:

"The overwhelming share of workers in our factories have had a positive experience, as evidenced by the fact that the turnover rate in those factories is the lowest in the business ... The workers, if you will, vote on their feet. (Kidd,1993)

What Nike is not saying, however, is that it is using "cooked" Indonesian government statistics to reach these conclusions. The fact of the matter is, the statistics the World Bank and Indonesia trumpet to the world hold only for "simple averages" - that is when the combined income for all Indonesians is added up and divided by the population. What the World Bank doesn't want you to know is that most of the money flows into the hands of a relatively small elite, while the rest of the population starves. For example, a recent independent economic survey (1996) found that 82 percent of all Indonesians survive on 58,000Rp per month (US$24.00) which is well below the "minimum needs index" set by the Indonesian government itself. This, of course, severely contradicts the state data which proudly claims that those living below the poverty line in Indonesia have fallen from 70% in 1971 to 14% in 1997.

As in Guatemala, a tight-knit elite of army officers, business people and "hangers on" - in cooperation with the CIA, the American Embassy [and its lackey, the World Bank (and, yes, you heard it right; it's not the United States that is the lackey of the World Bank, but the other way around)] as well as the multinationals - control the Indonesian economy. Corruption is rife in the government, and friends and family of Suharto control a significant portion of the economy - and this continues to be true despite the fact of Suharto's ouster as president. While there is no exact way of measuring the corruption of the small elite which dominates the Indonesian economy, there can be no doubt that it has effectively stopped the benefits of Indonesia's recent economic growth from filtering down to the masses (the people who are actually doing the work in the multinationals' sweatshops). "Trickle Down" has been blocked by the Indonesian elite - in conjunction, of course with the multinationals, etc. - who have absolutely no concern for the welfare of the population in general and who seem totally oblivious to the danger of economically isolating nearly 200 million people through their massive accumulation of wealth and power.

THE IMPACT OF THE MULTINATIONALS
ON THE NATIVE POPULATIONS - "WALKING
GHOSTS AT SATAN'S FACTORIES"

But what does all this mean insofar as the lives of ordinary people in Indonesia are concerned? As we indicated, Peter Hancock, a very courageous, young professor at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia, reports that while surveying the conditions of factory workers in and around Banjaran in Indonesia, a small but rapidly industrializing region in West Java, he became acutely aware of just how bad those lives had been made by the greed of the multinationals; specifically the avarice of Nike. Hancock writes:

"In September 1996 I had been researching female factory workers in a rural area of West Java (Banjaran) for two months when the words of an old man were so tormenting that I had to investigate their meaning. I arrived in the old man's village at about 8.00 PM on a week night to survey factory workers. I entered on foot as the roads were so bad that no form of transport is available during the night time (in the rainy season). I asked the old man where I could find women who worked for Nike. He replied that they had not returned since leaving at 4.00 AM the previous morning. I was puzzled and he explained that all the factory workers worked for Feng Tay (Nike) and I had very little chance of seeing them, as their families rarely saw them. He said the women from Nike were called "Walking Ghosts Who Worked in Satan's Factory" (Mereka pergi dan pulang seperti hantu dari pabrik Setan) by the local community and if I wanted to speak with them I would have to become a ghost myself."

Banjaran is a reasonably small though densely populated administrative area in central West Java. It is inhabited by 120,000 people. Banjaran is isolated to the north, the east and the west by a large mountain system and to the south by a sparsely populated and extremely under-developed area. As such Banjaran has been relatively isolated and the local culture has had little outside influences with which to contend.

But beginning in the 1980s Banjaran industrialized rapidly as foreign controlled multinationals clambered to take advantage of the abundant untapped human resources (i.e., "cheap labor") in the region. Factories are now commonplace there and partially accepted, though perceived as part of an alien culture not indigenous to the area. Under the impress of American (World Bank) policies, the Indonesian government supported the rush of the American multinationals (and the multinationals of their "partner" countries in the rape of Indonesia - i.e., Japan, Taiwan, the Netherlands, Germany, etc.) to the area by suppressing union activity in West Java and arresting any and all labor "agitators." In addition, under the Wall Street rubric of "the free flow of capital," the Indonesian government made it easy for the multinationals to ship virtually all their profits "off shore" (i.e., out of the country and back to their shareholders) in the First World - that is, after allowing for some "leakage" into their (i.e., the Indonesian elite's) own hands.

HIDING BEHIND A MASK

One of the favorite tricks of the large American multinationals is to hide their identity behind the mask of a corporation chartered in one of America's client states. In the case of Nike in West Java, the company Nike hides behind is a Taiwanese joint venture company called Feng Tay. There are, of course, many reasons why American multinationals do so, but perhaps the chief reason they do is so that their hands are not directly dirtied by the corruption and filth of these operations. It enables them to put at least a modicum of distance between themselves and the "whip" which is necessary in these kinds of sordid and shameful "goings-on." According to Professor Hancock's research, 7000 workers were employed at Feng Tay in 1996, 75% of whom were women. Feng Tay has one other shoe factory in Jakarta and seven others worldwide, predominantly in China and South America.

The average age of Nike workers at Feng Tay is 16 years of age, (the youngest was 11 years old when she entered the factory) and 41% of those surveyed were only 15 years of age or younger when they first entered the Nike factory. The women who work for Nike are generally found in clusters of villages around Banjaran, and usually in the more isolated villages where other work is extremely scarce.

SURREALISTIC WORKING CONDITIONS

At Feng Tay, as in most large factories in Banjaran and in the region, young female workers are channeled into the most demanding sections of production. In the case of shoe factories this is the stitching section, where high pressure, long working hours, forced overtime and very few holidays are common. Staff turnover rates in these sections are very high. At Feng Tay, 1000 people work in the stitching section, 90% are young unmarried women under 25 years of age. They receive no holidays off (i.e., Christmas and Easter) and are lucky if they get two Sundays off per month, which means that, in essence, they work a seven day shift. It is in sections such as stitching that young women are most vulnerable to exploitation, usually because they are young, relatively uneducated, mostly unmarried and with very little experience in dealing with authority and almost no knowledge of their rights. They must refrain from protest and anger and are forbidden to "stand up" to authority.

In the course of his investigation, Hancock interviewed a young man who had worked as a supervisor at Feng Tay. He left the job because he said he could no longer live with his conscience. He stated that he was shocked during his training as a Nike supervisor due to the "new skills" he was expected to learn; "skills" to control women, which usually translated to verbal abuse, such as "F--k You" and "move you stupid b--ch" to be used indiscriminately on the workers. Another "skill" he was taught was to make the women run. At Feng Tay supervisors must ensure the women run; they must run to the toilet, run to the lunch room and basically run everywhere they go, even when they are not actually working. Overt resistance to Feng Tay is a luxury the workers cannot afford. Indeed, many of the women workers at Feng Tay prefer to wet their pants than risk the abuse of management at Feng Tay that comes from using the toilet.

In Indonesia public resistance usually leads to trouble from authority (police, military and all levels of government) and loss of jobs. Worse, it sometimes results in Black Listing and even, on occasion, worse.

DEATH BY EXHAUSTION

Conditions at Feng Tay have even led to death - death by exhaustion. Take, for example, one woman who collapsed at 12.00 midday in the factory from heat exhaustion. When she had not regained consciousness she was taken to a hospital where she died soon after. Officially, no one knows why she died, and there was no investigation or compensation from Feng Tay. However, in the opinion of the Banjaran community, the women died of exhaustion and lack of medical treatment (neglect) - and this is, evidently, not an uncommon occurrence.

At Feng Tay if women are sick they must report to work, no matter how serious their illness. If they stay at home and rest, even with the permission of a doctor's certificate, they are instantly dismissed upon returning to work. As a result, sick women must report to work where they are provided a small, cramped room to spend the day (with no pay). If women become ill at work they must report to the "sick room" and stay there until their shift is finished and then they may return home. If they are still sick the next day they must report to work as usual and stay all day in the "sick room" (again, with no pay). This means that women who live in the more isolated villages (some up to two hours walk away) must show up for work or they will be dismissed. Further, the constant rain during one half of the year means that sick women are forced to walk in the rain and in dangerous terrain merely to sit in the "sick room." This practice has been developed by Feng Tay to deter women from taking sick leave and is indicative, not only of the management's' attitude towards the welfare of its employees, but also of Nike's complete disregard for workers who come under its "sphere of influence."

A similar situation exists at Nike factories in China, where the Taiwanese management dominates workers to the point of cruelty (Chan,1996:1). To add to Chan's comments is a recent report released by Community Aid Abroad (Australia) which stated that sports shoe manufacturers throughout Asia have a similar pattern of poor working conditions, overwork, underpay, rejection of collective bargaining and refusal to supply health benefits, combined with the physical abuse of workers (CAA,1996).

ASSURING A "FAVORABLE INVESTMENT CLIMATE"

The pattern above is part of an exercise of power which the multinationals claim creates a "favorable investment climate." In this scheme of things, compassion for the workers is a sentiment which is seen as standing in the way of the satisfactory pursuit of U.S. economic interests. As a result, it is a sentiment not tolerated in the factories of the American multinationals and the multinationals of their lackey countries, the countries of Western Europe and Japan. The necessities involved in creating a "favorable investment climate" dictate a policy which aims at the harsh treatment of workers, preserving an open door for U.S. investment (i.e., making sure that profits can be shipped home to the company's shareholders), preventing the unionization of the work force and employing terror when necessary to keep workers in line. As a result, reformist efforts to improve the lot of the poor and oppressed are looked upon as threats to the "investment climate," such as a Philippines Supreme Court ruling prior to the 1972 coup prohibiting foreigners from owning land, or a Brazilian dispute over a mineral concession to Hanna Mining Company, or agrarian reform in Guatemala [see American Empire], or nationalization of oil in Iran in the early 1950s (before the coming to power of the shah), etc. are expeditiously resolved in favor of the foreigner by dictators and military juntas. Marcos, for example, quickly reversed the land ownership decision and, according to one oilman,

"Marcos says, 'We'll pass the laws you need - just tell us what you want'."

Professor Noam Chomsky of MIT writes:

"This is a nice illustration of how, under ... (the American system of client states), the constituency (i.e., the people the government serves) of the leadership (of the client states) shifts (from the needs of the native population) to the needs of foreign interests. This case exemplifies what has been a consistent pattern." (Chomsky, pg. 54)

THE ECONOMIC ROLE OF
TERROR IN AMERICA'S EMPIRE

Chomsky reports that in the American system, there is a positive relationship between (1) U.S. aid, (2) the so-called "investment climate," and (3) terror. A grim further fact is that the terror is not a fortuitous spinoff but has a functional relationship to "investment climate." Special tax privileges to foreign businesses are not easy to achieve under a democratic order; neither are wage controls and most of the other actions which are deemed essential by the multinationals to induce a "favorable investment climate." These actions involve the deliberate "marginalization" of over 80 percent of the population in many Third World countries, and their almost total exclusion from the political process, from legal and broader "human rights," and from the policy calculations of the elite leadership. So onerous are these conditions on the great majority of the population in the client state, that the only way they can be imposed on the population is through the systematic use of terror and death squads (Please see our articles on death squads).

Indeed, the linkage between terror and economic policy in the American system has been made by countless numbers of impartial observers over the years. Unfortunately, as we indicated previously, these spokesmen have more often than not been of the "left-wing" variety. Rarely do evangelicals speak out concerning what's happening - and that's because they are so often in league with the multinationals. For example, you won't hear Beverly LaHaye's group speaking out about state sponsored terror in the Third World because Concerned Women of America (CWA) gets a lot of money from Pepsico, Levi Strauss and Company (one of the worst violators of human rights in the Third World), Avon, American Express, Sun Company, etc. - who are all involved up to their necks in multinational activity in the "Developing World." And it's the same with almost all the other evangelical "establishment" organizations: YWAM, SIL, Wycliffe, etc. As a result, concern for what's been happening in the Third World has fallen by default to liberal-left organizations.

Liberal-left or not, however, what they are saying is still the truth. I remember once when a dear friend of mine confronted Tim LaHaye with the fact that he had taken money from the Moonies - and that Mother Jones Magazine had published an account of it by Carolyn Weaver which had brought shame on the evangelical community. Tim's retort was, "Mother Jones is a Commie ragsheet" - as if that should have been enough to silence my friend. But she answered, "Tim, I don't care if it's Izvestia or Pravda (two communist publications of the former Soviet Union), is it true." And that's the point: it doesn't matter who's telling the story, the only thing that matters is, is it true! It shouldn't really matter who's speaking out about what the American multinationals are up to in the Third World; the question is, are they telling the truth about it. And they are!

Take, for example, what a spokesman for the liberal wing of the Catholic Church in Latin America says about what's going on there:

"The situation provoked by the ... (American system of multinationals in the Third World) is such that it in effect provokes a revolution that did not exist. In order to impose the ... (American system) of development which gives privilege to small minorities (while impoverishing the rest of the population), it is necessary to create or maintain a repressive state which in turn provokes a situation of civil war. The very theoreticians of the system insist on the necessary link between development and security (i.e., repression); they recognize that the development they wish to impose on the country can only provoke indignation among the people ... (so that the only) solution has been to impose absolute silence." [International Movement of Catholic Intellectuals and Professionals, "Voice From Northwestern Brazil to III Conference of Bishops," Mexico, November 1977, reprinted in LADOC, May-June, 1978, pg. 15.]

WHAT AMERICANS HAVE BEEN TOLD

Americans, of course, have been told that repressive regimes in Latin America and throughout the rest of the Third World are the natural order of things; that the cultures of these countries are not conducive to democracy - and that's why autocratic regimes exist in them. But that's nonsense! The fact of the matter is, most of the peasant organizations have been - by tradition - exceedingly democratic in their makeup. Democracy flows naturally out of these traditions, and has done so for centuries - long before the appearance of Western Civilization on their door steps. To say that there is no tradition of democracy in these cultures is nothing more than a way of masking why there is so little real democracy there today - which is, the intentional imposition of a climate of repression by the United States and its cronies in the client states on the native populations of these countries - all for the purpose of insuring "economic stability" in the interests of the U.S. multinationals. Chomsky notes that the systematic policies of the U.S. government towards Third World countries make it evident that the commitment to democracy in them by America is mere rhetoric. The operative principle has been and remains economic freedom for the multinationals - meaning freedom for U.S. business to invest, sell, and repatriate profits. Since this "freedom" is disturbed by unruly students, democratic processes, peasant organizations, a free press, and free labor unions, "economic freedom" has often required political servitude.

Obviously, then, the real reason that there is so little democracy in the client states of the American Empire is exactly that which the Catholic bishops above claimed it was: in order to impose the "American system" on these countries - a system which extends economic wealth to a small minority while excluding the vast majority from any participation in the profits of the system - it is necessary to create a repressive state!

THE MECHANISMS OF TORTURE

Repression, of course, requires torture - and the United States has been quick to supply the tools and training for it. Chomsky says that the systematic and sophisticated use of torture by the United States in its system of client states seems to have developed as a central component of the U.S. aid program.

Indeed, the vast expansion of torture in the Third World since the end of the Second World War can be clearly laid on America's doorstep. For example, a recent Baltimore Sun investigation which lasted more than fifteen months, reveals how the CIA, the State Department, and U.S. military intelligence units collaborated with a secret Honduran military unit known as Battalion 316 in the 1980s, even though U.S. officials knew the battalion was kidnapping, torturing and executing its own people - and in one case, a U.S. citizen. [Again, please see "Bringing in the Kingdom of God Death Squad Style."]

HONDURAS

The collaboration was revealed in declassified documents and in interviews with U.S. and Honduran participants, many of whom have kept silent until now. Among those interviewed by the Sun were three former Battalion 316 torturers who acknowledged their crimes and detailed the battalion's close relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA was instrumental in developing, training and equipping Battalion 316. Battalion members were flown to a secret location in the United States for training in surveillance and interrogation, and later were given CIA training at Honduran bases, specifically at a camp in Lepaterique, 16 miles west of the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa. Gen. Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, who as chief of the Honduran armed forces personally directed Battalion 316, received strong U.S. support - even after he told a U.S. ambassador, Jack Binns, that he intended to use the so-called "Argentine Method" of interrogation and elimination of suspected subversives. The report indicates that a CIA officer based at the U.S. Embassy frequently visited a secret jail known as INDUMIL, where torture was conducted. The unit's torturers used shock and suffocation devices in interrogations. When no longer useful, prisoners were killed and buried in unmarked graves. "They always asked to be killed," said Jose Barrera, a former Battalion 316 torturer. "Torture is worse than death."

The training by the CIA was confirmed by Richard Stolz, then deputy director for operations, in secret testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in June 1988. In testimony declassified at the Sun's request, Stolz told the committee,

"The (so-called) course consisted of three weeks of classroom instruction followed by two weeks of 'practical exercises', which included the questioning of actual prisoners by the students."

And how exactly was this "questioning" carried out? - a New York Times corespondent, Raymond Bonner, unearthed the surrealistic details of just such a "questioning" as described by a trainee (quoted verbatim):

"One evening they (i.e., the instructors) went and got nine young people that were accused of being guerrillas and brought them to where we were ... The first one they brought - a young fellow who was around 15 or 16 years and the first thing they did was to stick the bayonets under his fingernails and pulled them out. That day he was the first one that died under torture. The young fellow said all sorts of things against them (i.e., the guerrillas) in order to be let go. The interrogators said, 'We are going to teach you how to mutilate and how to teach a lesson to these guerrillas'. The officers who were teaching on this were ... Americans. They didn't speak Spanish so they spoke English and then another officer ... translated it into Spanish for us. Then they began to torture this young fellow. They took out their knives and stuck them under his fingernails. After they took his fingernails off, then they broke his elbows. Afterwards they gouged out his eyes. Then they took their bayonets and made all sorts of slices in his skin all around his chest, arms and legs. They then took his hair off and the skin of his scalp. When they saw there was nothing left to do with him, they threw gasoline on him and burned him. The next day his dead body wasn't around but was found by people out in the streets - left as a warning!"

"The next day they started the same thing with a 13-year old girl. They did more or less the same, but they did other things to her, too. First, she was 'utilized' (i.e. raped - the Americans didn't rape her, but the soldiers did). They stripped her and threw her in a small room, they went in one by one. Afterwards they took her out tied and blindfolded. Then they began the same mutilating - pulling her fingernails out and cutting off her fingers, breaking her arms, gouging out her eyes and all they did to the other fellow. They cut her legs and stuck an iron rod into her vagina.

"The last one that they killed that day suffered more, because they stripped him naked at midday. Then they put him on this hot tin and made him lie there - he was cooking. After about a half-hour, when they finally took him off, he was all covered with blister-like wounds. They did different types of torture to him. Then they threw him out alive at 14,000 feet altitude from a helicopter. He was alive and tied." [Entire section quoted verbatim - again, please see "Bringing in the Kingdom of God Death Squad Style."]

URUGUAY

Take, another example, the case of Dan Mitrione. When Mitrione came to Uruguay in a police advisory function, the police were torturing with an obsolete electric needle:

"Mitrione arranged for the police to get newer electric needles of varying thickness. Some needles were so thin they could be slipped between the teeth. Benitez (a Uruguayan police official) understood that this equipment came to Montevideo inside the U.S. embassy's diplomatic pouch. [A.J. Langguth, Hidden Terrors, Pantheon, 1978, p. 251.]

Victims have reported that Mitrione, who was involved in the escalation of torture in Uruguay, participated directly in torture sessions. There is little doubt that local torturers were trained by the United States and used equipment supplied through the U.S. assistance program with the knowledge of their U.S. advisors, who were also responsible for coordinating the operations of police terrorists in Latin America. [Again, please see our article on death squads, "Bringing in the Kingdom of God Death Squad Style."] Summarizing his investigations of U.S. police operations in Latin America, A.J. Langguth writes,

"... the main exporter of ... ideas ... that dissent must be crushed by every means and any means (within the perimeters of the American Empire) has been the United States itself. Our indoctrination of foreign troops provided a justification for torture in the jail cells of Latin America. First in the Inter-American Police Academy in Panama, then at the more ambitious International Police Academy in Washington, foreign policemen were taught that in the war against international communism, they were 'the first line of defense' ..."

Chomsky reports that the students and their teachers may have believed that their task was to stand as a bulwark against "international communism," but at a higher level of planning it is no doubt well understood that the torturers are the first line of defense against the erosion of the privileges of the owners and managers of the advanced industrial societies. In an "Open Letter to North American Christians," (p. 251-252) Eduardo Galeano of Le Monde writes:

"The military in power in Uruguay, who are now a scandal for the U.S., were good students of the Pentagon course in the Panama Canal Zone. There they learned the techniques of repression and the art of governing; it is with American arms and advisors that they have set in motion the gearing up of ... torture. The dictatorship has destroyed the unions and political parties, closed the newspapers and reviews, forbidden books and songs in the name of an "ideology of national security," which, in clear language, means 'ideology for the security of foreign investment'. Liberty for business, liberty for prices, liberty for trade: one throws the people in prison so that business will remain free." [Eduardo Galeano, Un petit pays dans le 'marche commun de la mort'," Le Monde diplomatique, September 1977.]

TORTURE TRAINING CAMPS
IN THE UNITED STATES

Langguth says, moreover, that some of the torture camps the U.S. set up were set up within the continental limits of the U.S. itself, which then the Brazilians used as an example in setting up their own "camps" which were "... modeled after that of the boinas verdes, the Green Berets." [Langguth, pp. 225-226; the report by the Baltimore Sun essentially corroborates Langguth's assertions.] And, as both Langguth and the Baltimore Sun assert, there is evidence that U.S. advisors took an active part in torture, not contenting themselves with supplying training and material means. [See Langguth, chapter 5.] The steady development of "methods of interrogation" that inflict enormous pain on the human body and spirit, and the expansion of the use of this technology in U.S.-sponsored counter-insurgency warfare and "stabilization" throughout the U.S. sphere of influence is further evidence that the "sacredness of the individual" is hardly a primary value in the American Empire.

Chomsky says that the rationale given for the U.S. buildup of Third World police and military establishments and its regular "tilt" toward repressive regimes, is the demand for "security." This is a wonderfully elastic concept with a virtuous ring that can validate open-ended arms expenditures as well as support for the repression of the popular will in Third World countries. When, for example, it was said that the U.S. had to support the suppression of the popularly elected Goulart government in Brazil (which Beverly LaHaye of Concerned Women of America never tires of saying how she and other evangelical groups in the United States prayed that it would be destabilized in the interest of the Gospel - really, her corporate sponsors), this obviously does not mean that the U.S. itself was threatened by the Goulart government (or, for that matter, neither was evangelical missionary activity); it means only that the success of the Goulart government would be disadvantageous to U.S. business interests.

What all this seems to suggest is that "security" for the American Empire and its lackey governments corresponds to heightened insecurity for the mass of the population in the client states. As Jan Black points out:

"The delimitation of what must be secured expands to accommodate what a nation, class, institution, or other social entity has, or thinks it should have. It follows, then, that it is often the nations, groups, or individuals whose wealth and power would appear to make them the most secure who are, in fact, the most paranoid ..." [Jan K. Black, United States Penetration of Brazil, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1977, pg. 6.]

- a comment that applies with striking accuracy to the United States after World War II.

In the specific case of the United States, Black notes that the concept of security is "all-encompassing, involving economic and political hegemony as well as strictly military considerations. Chomsky points out that this flows from the fact of inordinate power and is the propaganda counterpart of the imperial leader's assumption of the natural right to intervene to keep his subordinates in line. It has the great public relations advantage, also, of built-in justifications - after all, who could object to a nation protecting its own self?

THE MECHANISMS INVOLVED IN
CREATING A CLIENT STATE

The specific mechanisms involved in creating an economically dependent client state involves a rapid shift to a wide open door to foreign trade and investment, tight money, and social welfare budget cuts - that is, the economic policies called for by the interests of the American system and its institutional affiliates, the IMF and the World Bank. Priority is given to servicing the foreign debt (i.e., debt owed by these countries directly to the IMF, the World Bank, and indirectly to the multinationals) via increased exports and decreased imports, with the burden falling largely on the underlying population in the form of reduced wages and serious unemployment. There is a return to the "free market," in theory, but it is selectively applied, with no serious control over monopoly power, employer organizations and collective action, but with control over wages, both directly and by means of a banning of strikes and the destruction of unions.

Deflationary policies and an open door tend to weaken domestic business that for what ever reason are not allied to the multinationals and enhances the power of foreign companies that can borrow abroad at relatively low interest rates. Thus, foreign investment often takes the form of buying out "non-competitive" local businesses in an accelerated process of denationalization. It is a mechanism designed by the multinationals to seize control of the local economy from local businesses. To add insult to injury, these takeovers of local businesses are financed commonly with resources raised in the client state itself, either in local capital markets or through reinvested local earnings. For example, a 1968 Brazilian Commission of Inquiry study - suppressed in Brazil, naturally - showed that over an extended period of time 11 major multinationals had brought into Brazil only $298.8 million in capital from the outside. They had reinvested $693 million in revenues they had earned in the client state and had remitted abroad $744.5 million. The ratio of the surplus generated by these companies in Brazil to the capital that had brought in was 5 to 1. This is common throughout the entire American system.

AN EMPIRE THAT DEVOURS ITS OWN CHILDREN

Now one would believe that an empire which thinks nothing of devouring the populations of its client states all over the world in the service of corporate greed would take some care against alienating its own people. After all, unrest and revolution in the home country is not something that an elite - any elite - can long sustain. But so eaten up with greed has the American elite become that today it thinks nothing of consuming its own people - the fact is, the American Empire is an empire that devours its own children. No longer does corporate greed stop at the border; it's now feeding on its own population. Take NAFTA, for example: Lori Wallach and Michelle Sforza of the Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch report that while NAFTA promised to create 200,000 new U.S. jobs annually, it instead has resulted in the net loss of hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs to Mexico.

Before NAFTA, the United States sent more goods to Mexico than Mexico sent here. Under NAFTA, the United States has a new $11.5 billion trade deficit with Mexico and about the same with Canada. More than 204,451 U.S. workers have been actually certified to have lost jobs because of NAFTA, according to the U.S. Labor Department's NAFTA Trade Adjustment Assistance Program. Yet the multinational NAFTA boosters cannot produce a similar list of 200,000 people with new NAFTA jobs in this country. In fact, the treaty has cost many good manufacturing jobs - and when Wallach and Sforza surveyed 67 companies that had promised before the 1993 vote to approve the NAFTA treaty to create NAFTA jobs, 60 had failed to do so, and may had actually relocated jobs to Mexico. Wallach and Sforza report that while new jobs have been created in this country since (no thanks to NAFTA), government data show the workers in the new jobs have taken very large pay cuts.

In addition, according to the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce, there has been a 37 percent jump in the number of Mexican border factories since NAFTA, the sole purpose of which is to assemble parts for goods for shipment not to the Mexican market for the benefit of Mexican consumers, but for re-shipment back into the U.S. market for sale here. Indeed, it seems that the sole purpose of the more than 1,947 maquiladorora factories on the border with Mexico is to supplant American workers with cheap Mexican workers. And NAFTA is only one example over the years of what's been happening as the elites in this country pursue their own agendas designed solely to enrich themselves at everyone else's expense. [Please see our article on what the multinationals are doing to the rural poor in this country.]

THE RICH

Well did Jesus say of the rich:

"... It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Matt. 19:24)

Wealth makes beasts out of us all; it has surely made a beast out of the elite - and it's precisely because of this fact that the American elite has been able to do what it has done in the world at large. As we have said on many previous occasions, while Dom Helder Camara of Brazil has been much maligned because of his connection with Liberation Theology - a theology which attempts to involve Christians in left-wing (as opposed to right-wing) political causes, he was right at least on one point when he wrote:

"I used to think, when I was a child, that Christ might have been exaggerating when He warned about the dangers of wealth. Today I know better. I know how ... (impossible) it is to be rich and still keep the milk of human kindness. Money (or the desire for money) has a dangerous way of putting scales on one's eyes, a dangerous way of freezing people's hands, eyes, lips and hearts."

Paul cautioned,

"... they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition." (I Tim. 6:9)

And Peter said of those who desire wealth (i.e., who are covetous),

"These are wells without water, clouds that are carried (about) with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever." (2 Pet. 2:17)

The plain fact of the matter is, the people who comprise the American elite are selfish, small-minded and amazingly petty individuals whose lives revolve around only one thing: the pursuit of wealth. The only real concern of such people centers around their greedy, self-absorbed life-styles and their preoccupation with piling up ever greater amounts of material wealth and worldly treasure. And for what purpose? - there is none! Remarkably, that's it: the accumulation of money! - that's their goal! There is nothing beyond that except an eerie and frightening emptiness and eventually a lonely grave. The sad thing for the rest of the public, however, is that whenever such people rule a society, that society is corrupted to the degree that these people come to dominate it - and their domination of the United States is now all but complete.

REASSESSING WHERE WE ARE

American Christians must begin to honestly reassess their concept that America is God's "New Israel" destined to bring about the regeneration of the world. What we have shown here indicates that that's simply not the case. The American Empire is anything but a "New Israel of God!" - and no matter how we might wish otherwise, that's the truth of the matter! If we continue to persist in this kind of thinking we will be led into a disaster - a catastrophe that will make what happened to the German church seem mild by comparison. If we continue on in the direction that we are headed, we may very well be led into an alliance with the Beast of Revelation 17. And if we are found in such an alliance, what does that make us? - the Whore of Revelation 17? - a woman who has sold herself out for money (which is pretty much an apt description for what the American church has being doing insofar as its relationship with the rich and the multinationals is concerned). God preserve us from that! - but isn't that where we are headed if we persist in allying ourselves with the United States and her elites!

Consider just for a second what our own evangelical eschatology teaches us about all this; specifically, take what Dwight Pentecost of Dallas Theological Seminary has to say. He writes:

"Turning ... to the seventeenth chapter of the Book of Revelation, we see the whole stage filled with two personalities only (in the 'end of days'): a 'Beast' and a 'Woman' ... These two ... picture ... the future prophetic earth ... There can be no argument or discussion as to this speaking of both the civil (political, economic, and military) and ecclesiastical (religious) conditions that will rule and characterize that part of the earth that is within the limits or boundaries of Prophecy. The whole of it will be filled with what shall answer to this 'Beast' and this 'Woman'. The two [the 'Beast' (which answers to the civil power) and the 'Woman' (which answers to the religious power)] are thus indissolubly co-related ... the civil power supporting the church, as the 'Beast' in the picture supports the 'Woman', and the 'Woman' is supported by the Beast ..."

In other words, what Pentecost is describing here is a situation in which a vast and terribly evil latter-day "New World Order" is prophesied as coming into being as the result of a convergence of two turbulent and violent streams of energy - one which has as its source religion, and the other which has as its source civil power - creating thereby a union of church and state with "ragingly" dangerous social and political ramifications - a brutal, savage and uncontrollable energy which the Bible says will ultimately corrupt and pervert everything it touches.

And, again, how will all this come about? - clearly, as the result of the union of religion and politics! But isn't this exactly what the Religious Right is urging us as evangelicals to do? Isn't this the direction in which countless numbers of evangelical churches are tending? Take the Christian Coalition, for example; isn't this what Pat Robertson means when he says that the coalition is -

"... launching an effort ... to become acquainted with registered voters in every precinct (in the country) ... (to) ... build a significant database to use to communicate with ... registered voters ... (to) mobilize (them) ... (to) rebuild the foundations of ... America from the grassroots (up), precinct by precinct, city by city, state by state?"

And if so, what are we doing getting involved in it? Could it be that we have been so blinded by our emotions, by our hatred of the "secular-humanist" agenda, that we are now to be found madly participating in the fabrication of the very system of things which the Bible predicts will someday turn on us and destroy us?

GOOD INTENTIONS WILL COUNT
FOR NOTHING ON "THAT DAY"

You say that you are becoming involved in Religious Right political activity because people you admire - "good people," "honest people," people who are motivated by "good intentions" - have urged you to do so. But is this a good enough reason? This is exactly how deception begins - the substitution of "good intentions" for the Written Word of God. This is exactly the kind of thinking that got us into so much trouble in the first place! When God told Eve not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, He wasn't just kidding around - and Eve's "good intentions" counted for nothing when she and her husband were at last expelled from the Garden as a result of her disobedience.

When the Bible says that this world is not our home - and not to fight for it (John 18:36), it means it! It's not toying with us. Jesus said, "My kingdom comes not from hence (i.e., it has nothing to do with this world) ..." (John 18:36); "...everything in the world ... comes not from the Father ..." (1 John 2:15-16); "... The whole world lieth in the evil one" (1 John 5:19); "... Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God" (James 4:4). The Bible isn't fooling around here; it's not exaggerating; it's not embellishing; it's not elaborating; it's not overstating to make a point, it means it. And the attempt of your friends, the 700 Club, Pat Robertson, Tim LaHaye, etc. - to say otherwise is foolish in the extreme. They are heaping up reproach and dishonor to themselves by doing so; and the trouble is, they're involving you in their foolishness - a thoughtlessness which clearly contravenes the Word of God; and when the reckoning finally comes - and it will - you'll have to face it alone. They won't be there to help you. And your efforts to say, "The 700 Club told me it was OK" won't wash! This is serious stuff! Eternity is in the balance here!

As evangelicals, we call ourselves "literalists," but we are failing to be literal when we shrug off the plain meaning of these verses [i.e., verses like Heb. 11:13; Heb. 11:14; Heb. 11:16; John 18:36; 1 John 2:15-16; 1 John 5:19; John 15:19; 17:14-16; Gal. 6:14; James 4:4; Eph. 1:18-23; Eph 2:6, etc.]! - by doing so we lose the right to call ourselves "evangelical."

REMEMBERING WHAT
PROPHECY IS ALL ABOUT

We urge you to begin taking action in your own lives with regard to all this. We can't tell you what to do - only God can do that. But remember what prophesy is all about. Prophecy is like a road sign saying: "Slow down, sharp right hand turn ahead!"

But if we fail to heed the sign, if we fail to slow down before we get to the turn, it will be too late to brake once we finally get there, and we will surely slide off the road and crash. Like a road sign, prophecy tells us things before they happen so that we can take evasive action before events catch up with us. If we wait until they finally overtake us, it will be too late to do anything - we will crash! Watch, therefore, for the "signs of the times," and don't wait to take action. You may wait too long! Jesus said,

"... When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, it will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?" (Matt. 16:2-3)

And Paul warns us,

"But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober." (I Thess. 5:4-6)

WITH THIS IN MIND

With all this in mind, wouldn't it be a wise thing for us as evangelicals to begin reexamining the relationship of our institutions with the elites? - with corporate America? Wouldn't it be prudent to make ourselves less dependent on the largesse of these elites? Wouldn't it be wise - in fact - to sever any and all ties with corporate America?

And more than that, let me suggest something even more radical - wouldn't it be exceedingly prudent for pastors and elders to reexamine their connection with the rich in their churches - which is not to say, of course, that the rich should be "cut off," but it is to say that they should not be allowed to give inordinately to the church or to exercise undue influence over it (James 2:1-6).

True giving to the church or to the ministries of God is a PRIVILEGE. Those who give to the church with the thought - no matter how hidden or subtle - of exercising influence over the church are in danger of what happened to Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11). It might seem a radical idea, but we say, let rich Christians take their money and give it somewhere else - perhaps to the poor, both Christian and non-Christian - rather than to the church (both for their sake and the church's sake), just as Jesus suggested to the "rich young ruler" in Mark 10:21.

Let most of the giving to the church be done sacrificially by the "every-day" saints of God, and do not let it become dependent on the largesse of the rich in the church, and most especially not corporate America. Of course, what that would mean is that the "every-day" saints of God would have to take a greater part in supporting the church financially - and many of them have become quite used to sitting back and letting those with money take that responsibility. Indeed, to a certain extent, much of the responsibility for the church's dependence on the largesse of the wealthy has resulted from the failure of the "average" saints of God to give. The "normal," "everyday" saints of God MUST have a radical change in their practice of giving if the church is to break its dependence on the rich.

REEXAMINING THE MISSION AND
STRUCTURE OF THE CHURCH

In addition, there is also a need for a painful re-examination of the way we have structured our churches and our ministries. The fact is, over the years we have structured our churches and ministries in such a way that even the sacrificial giving of the average saints cannot keep pace with the financial demands of the church. The truth is, our churches have become dependent on huge flows of money just to keep them going - flows of money that average saints, no matter how hard they try, cannot keep up with - and it is precisely this dependence which makes American (and Western) churches so vulnerable to the blandishment of the elites and the wealthy.

There is, no doubt, much to be said with regard to our present concept of "church" in American society - one which encompasses Sunday Schools, youth programs, "singles programs," music programs, the beauty and majesty of "congregational worship," etc. - all of which presuppose the existence of a large church building and expensive ministry programs of all sorts. Indeed, It's difficult to believe that many of these programs and services - some of which provide very worthwhile services - could be carried on in the absence of these huge buildings and expensive ministries.

Still, given the course and character of prophecy, this kind of concept of "church" and "ministry" could prove to be our "undoing" as evangelicals - our "Achilles heel." When churches and ministries become too identified with their buildings and expensive programs, they then become very easy prey to outside forces which seek to control them - after all, buildings and ministerial programs of necessity are dependent on huge flows of money on a regular basis, and it's precisely this flow of money that is the "choke point" of the church's independence: whoever controls this choke point is in a position to control the church.

We repeat - the weak point in any church's armor is its dependence on money, and nothing places a greater demand on church finances than its building program and its ministerial outlets. Now, in saying this, it's very important to differentiate between the danger the buildings and programs themselves present and the danger that the flow of money presents; it's not so much the buildings per se or the programs per se that's the danger in the first instance, as it is the flow of money which the existence of such buildings and programs presuppose. Why? - because (in this life, at least) money is the foundation of ALL Satanic activity:

"For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows" (1 Tim. 6:10)

- and to say, as some do, that there is a difference between the "love of money" and the "possession of money" is to walk a very fine line indeed - a line which is very rarely navigated successfully, despite the belief by most wealthy Christians that they are doing so -

"For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Luke 18:25)

Thus, a very difficult dilemma (trade-off) presents itself: independence vs. the continued existence of many of those very valuable church programs which are predicated on the flow of large sums of money. As a result, most congregations - even if they agree with the propositions of this article - would naturally be disposed to delay "trading off" the existence of these programs as long as necessary - at least until the danger to the church's independence presents itself in stark and very real terms. The problem is, however, when that time finally comes, it will probably be too late for the church to extricate itself. It's for this reason that we must ask ourselves, what choice do we really have? - we may look awful silly moving to a church "life-style" which is free from "building-dependency" and "program-dependency" - but then, no more silly than Noah looked when he began building his ark on dry land.

There are, of course, many selfishly-minded "egalitarians" (those who, for small-minded reasons, are jealous of the fact that there actually is such a thing as a "full-time" worker), who would applaud such a move, thinking that by doing so they would be ridding themselves of such people. But that will never happen - nor should it ! The fact is, there is - and always has been - a great necessity for such workers, and the move away from "building-dependency" and "program-dependency" on the part of the church would free more money than ever before that could then be dedicated to putting even more "full-time" workers into the "field" - workers to preach the Gospel; pastors to prepare the saints for their added responsibilities which a move away from such "dependencies" would entail; teachers to travel from house to house teaching the Word and preparing others to teach the Word as well - the possibilities for a real "magnification" of full-time workers is almost limitless - all this to say nothing of the REAL opportunities of giving ALL the saints a chance to make a meaningful (not pretended) contribution to the life of the church community - of bringing all the saints into meaningful function within the church - not just the "chosen few."

To this end, we continue to commend to you the articles of our co-worker in the faith, Dene McGriff, "The Church in the Latter Days."

God bless you all!

S.R. Shearer
Antipas Ministries


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