After eight long years of the lies and depravity of the Clinton administration, many Americans (particularly those with more old-fashioned, wholesome values) were ready for a change. President Clinton, who claimed to be a Christian, had brought shame to himself, his family, and the entire nation. So, when given a choice between Clinton's "right-hand man," Al Gore, and Conservative George W. Bush, the answer was clear.
In December of 2000, in the midst of the post-election turmoil, I received an e-mail forward which described a dinner, sponsored by President-elect Bush, thanking his campaign volunteers and staff. Of note in the story was a particular 16-year-old boy, the son of one of the volunteers, who Gov. Bush realized was not happy. He, as it went on to say, spent approximately 20 minutes with the young man, ultimately leading him to Christ and praying with him the "sinner's prayer."
Christians across the nation, and around the globe, were already heralding the virtues of this new, born-again Christian, American leader, and this e-mail further supported that praise. If it were indeed true, that would be incredible to have such a true believer in the White House, possibly the most evangelical president since Abraham Lincoln.
I felt that this kind of story was worth publishing, but I wanted to make sure of the facts. (I know the potential of "Christian" rumors to spread like wildfire through the Internet.) So I contacted, via e-mail, the office of Governor Bush, requesting more information on the dinner. I was disappointed, if not surprised, by the response I received. The entire story was untrue. I was told that President-elect Bush is so busy - his time so carefully scheduled - that it would have been very unlikely that he could have taken 20 minutes in the manner described. It was simply a rumor.
After the post-election scramble for Florida, George W. Bush emerged the winner, and on January 20, 2001, a new chapter of American history was begun. President Bush continued to be depicted as a born-again, conservative Christian. At least one of his cabinet appointments, John Ashcroft, was opposed for his conservative viewpoint and ties to the Assembly of God church.
But for all of his support among Christians, the first seven months of his administration were relatively uneventful. One thing he did during those early months, was to open the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, which would serve to pave the way for religious groups to vie for Federal grants to perform social programs to assist the homeless, drug addicts, elderly, etc. This was met with skepticism, if not outright rejection, by both sides of the spectrum.
Then came September 11, 2001, and the adherents of Islam, the religion of the descendants of Ishmael, struck America. The Bible says of Ishmael, "His hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him." (Gen. 16:12) Once again that prophecy had proven true. The president scrambled for a strategic approach to our response. Within a couple of days, he made the statement that the attacks were made by radical Muslims, but that "Islam" means peace and is a religion of peace. That is simply not true. Although spelled rather similarly in Arabic, "Salam" means peace, whereas "Islam" means submission. The word "Muslim" means "one who has submitted." That is not to say that there are not any good, peaceful Muslims, but true Islam is not a religion of peace - but of war, which the above mentioned Bible scripture supports.
Of note here is not the misinterpretation of an Arabic word, but a genuine deference to the Islamic faith. Some felt betrayed by our president, the hero of religious conservatism. Several outspoken, Christian leaders publicly took issue with Bush's approach - and with Islam itself - and were lambasted by the administration and by the media. Some reneged, others stood firm, but it made no difference in the president's approach to the Muhammadans.
On September 17, 2001, President Bush visited a mosque in Washington, D.C. During his visit, he said, "When we think of Islam we think of a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. Billions of people find comfort and solace and peace. Women who cover their heads in this country must feel comfortable going outside their homes." Later, on December 17, the president marked Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, by reading a poem to Muslim children in the White House. That respectful approach to Islam by the Bush Administration continues to this day.
On December 10, 2001, President Bush showed his respect for yet another religion. Standing in the White House, he said, "Tonight, for the first time in American history, the Hanukkah menorah will be lit at the White House residence." The president has attended a number of Jewish functions and visited several synagogues. His respect for Judaism is apparent today as well, as the tradition of lighting a menorah for Hanukkah was practiced again this year.
Christians were once again upset when yet another religion was granted President Bush's respect earlier this year. On February 18, 2002, as part of his Asia tour, President Bush entered the ornately beautiful Shinto Temple erected to house the spirits of the late Emperor Meiji. He clapped once and bowed deeply, following the common etiquette of worship at such shrines. Ironically, the Prime Minister of Japan is forbidden by their constitution to participate in the Shinto religion because of the fact that Japan's emperor worship led to World War II. "So the Prime Minister stayed in the limo while Bush and his wife went into the temple and clapped to awaken the demon and then bowed in worship and signed the book of worship," says Dr. Robert Morey, author of over 40 books dealing with false religion, cults and philosophies, and founder of the California Institute of Apologetics.
Kiyomasa Akashi of Logos Ministries in Tokyo said, "It was an act of idolatry. Even worse, it was an official, public idol worship. He did bow before the shrine where the Meiji Emperor is enshrined as a god." That fact notwithstanding, one can immediately detect the pattern of respect for all faiths being displayed by the current presidential administration.
Historically, this style of secular leadership is not unprecedented. We find similar situations in the pages of the Bible. The heathen kings of Egypt, Babylon, and later Medio-Persia, showed great respect for the Jews and their God.
Pharaoh acknowledged Joseph's God, saw that God's spirit was in Joseph, and made him the second ruler in the kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, showed respect for the Most High, and had Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah brought in to serve in his court among the wise men. King Ahasuerus took a Hebrew woman named Hadassah as his queen, and later appointed her uncle Mordecai as his prime minister.
These rulers did not become proselytes. They simply included Jehovah in the list of gods to whom they showed reverence. So long as they showed favor towards the Jews and their God, the Lord blessed those nations. Nebuchadnezzar, who valued the wisdom of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, nevertheless had the three counselors thrown in the fiery furnace when they did not reciprocate by honoring his religion. When they were miraculously saved, Nebuchadnezzer made it unlawful to disrespect the God of the Jews. He did not, however, make Judaism the exclusive religion of the state. He simply protected it by the law.
Constantine, in a political brainstorm, embraced Christianity and made it the official religion, thereby disarming the Christian opposition to his government. He continued, however, to worship the pagan god Sol, until his dying day, thus bringing his own "conversion" into question.
But of all of history's rulers, the Bush administration most resembles that of Darius. As we follow his reign historically, from the pages of the Bible, as well as from external sources, we find that he was fascinated with all religions. This fascination, at one point, allowed Daniel's enemies to trick the king into passing a law directing all prayers to himself. Darius genuinely loved Daniel, and when he realized that the law had been used to destroy Daniel, he was heartbroken. But he could not reverse the law. After Daniel's miraculous salvation from the lions, Darius decreed, "That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions." (Dan. 6:26-27)
This bold statement does not at all indicate that Darius had converted to Judaism, only that he acknowledged that Daniel's God (as he referred to Him) was truly great.
In the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai and Zechariah, we are given information about the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. Not only was it during the reign of this same Darius that the House of God was rebuilt, but it was with his approval, by his edict, and with his support that the great task to restore the Temple was accomplished.
It is a historical fact that the rebuilding of the Temple was only a part of Darius' interfaith policy. According to Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia (© 1993), "Because [Darius] respected their religions, he was honored by the Jews, whom he permitted to complete the rebuilding of the Temple at Jerusalem in 516; by the Egyptians, whose high priest he consulted; and by the Greeks of Asia Minor, whose oracles supported him during the revolt of the Greek cities." He genuinely respected the various religions of his realm, and thereby was honored by their adherents.
The Bible tells us, "That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past." (Eccl. 3:15) Jesus said it this way, "All the prophets and the law prophesied until John." (Matt. 11:13)
President Bush is the fulfillment of King Darius. His sincere respect for all religions has caused him to be honored, respected and trusted by their followers. Many Americans, on both sides of the issue, are skeptical of Bush's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, assuming that it is a sign of the promotion of Christianity. Not so. It is designed to bring into partnership with the federal government all faiths: Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Wicca, etc. But all who would take advantage of this "benefit" need to beware: just as the laws passed by the kings who loved God's people were used against those very people and they were powerless to stop it, so also will many, Christians and unbelievers alike, fall into this trap of Satan - "making bricks" for the U.S. government.
In that we are now under the rulership of a 21st century Darius, we can expect the restoration of the Church: the Elect of God. Even as the Temple was built by Solomon, destroyed, and restored during the reign of Darius, so also was the Early Church "built" during the time of the Acts of the Apostles, destroyed by the apostasy of Rome, and is set now to be fully restored in all of its glory ... and more! The prophet Haggai, in the second year of Darius, declared, "Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts." Now is this scripture being fulfilled in your eyes. Let us rejoice as a People is prepared unto the coming of our Lord! Amen.