I remember when the main religious liberty concern of Adventists was the fear of what Christians do when they have political power. That’s the thread throughout Ellen G. White’s book, “The Great Controversy.” It’s about how Christianity turned to the state for protection and patronage, and was corrupted, and how it became a persecutor. It’s about how the light of religious liberty began to burn once more, how it led to separation of church and state, and the proliferation of freedom in places like the US that embraced separation. Adventist eschatology has always seen this as t
he threat portrayed in Revelation 13–of apostate Christianity (the harlot) once more aligning itself with a beastly secular power through lust for power, and together would once more persecute those who are faithful to God’s commandments.
Adventists have lost much of that vision. They’ve listened to dispensationalists, and some have gotten the idea that the modern state of Israel has something to do with eschatology. Others have embraced Islamophobia, and try to read Islam back into Daniel 11. Others have followed fringe conspiracy theorists, and worry about microchips and a “New World Order” and “socialism” and think the answer is to embrace Christian nationalists, put prayer in school, carve out special protections for Christianity in law. In other words, they are embracing the very things that Adventism for most of its history warned against!
So now you have mainly white politically conservative Adventists celebrating Trump and his power and the promises he makes to evangelical and Catholic leaders about the privilege and power he wants to bestow upon them. And Adventists who hold to the traditional stance of church/state separation, of conscientious objection, and passion for social justice are looked at as if we are the innovators–and as if we are the ones at risk of illicit partnerships.
Another bizarre touch has been the number of Adventists buying into conspiracies related to health care. Adventists believe in healthcare! We have a “health message.” We have large networks of hospitals. We are involved in research to find vaccines. We believe in vaccines! But the same forces that have pulled Adventists into the right wing evangelical camp on politics are pulling them also into anti-vaccine conspiracies and giving them distrust of medical science. It is a sad time all around.
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