Heresy in High Places
By Berit Kjos August 2003
“Lift us to the level of the universal…. Chant the names of the gods. Start with om: Om Krishna… Om Buddha…" The leader of a United Religions worship service.
"A highlight for me was being asked to perform a 'traditional Wiccan foundation blessing' in the closing ceremony.... I specifically invoked Hekate and Hermes by name, and [Episcopal] Bishop Swing was right there raising his arms in invocation with the rest of the Circle! We have, indeed, come a long way."1 [Emphasis added] Don Frew, National Interfaith Representative.
"Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them." Ephesians 5:11
While Christians around the world lament the election of a homosexual Bishop at the recent Episcopal General Convention, few realize that this denomination has condoned outright paganism for years.
Majestic Episcopal cathedrals built long ago to honor God have welcomed the world's pantheon of deities. Occult rituals at New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine and San Francisco's Grace Cathedral have spread the twisted message that the Biblical God is only one among a multitude of equal deities, spirits, forces and ascended masters.2
While their respective bishops have turned a blind eye to the pagan intrusion, California's Bishop William Swing went a step further. In 1996, he founded the United Religions Initiative (URI), a global organization designed to bring all religions together to dialogue and seek common ground.3 "You can work in terms of the model of the UN," he explained, "where you have the General Assembly and the Security Council."4
Bishop Swing's ambitious quest has found favor among others who share his vision for spiritual unity -- a oneness designed to replace the old "divisive" Biblical absolutes blamed for war and conflict. Both President Bush and California Governor Davis have expressed their appreciation:
"Both the United Religions Initiative and the International Diplomacy Council exist to foster a greater understanding among peoples. I salute these organizations for their roles in facilitating interaction among people and nations."5 George W. Bush, President of the United States of America, November 2001
"Reverend William Swing, It is a great pleasure to recognize you as the International Diplomacy Council of San Francisco honors you with the 2001 Citizen Diplomacy Award."5 Gray Davis, Governor, November 2001
By 1999, Bishop Swing had moved his headquarters to the Presidio, a former U.S. military base overlooking the entrance to the San Francisco Bay. The Presidio's other tenants included the Gorbachev Foundation, FEMA and the Thoreau Center for Sustainability -- an office complex that would unite a multitude of globalist environmental, spiritual and educational organizations in a common pursuit: to establish a new world order based on universal beliefs and values. [See Star Wars Joins United Religions at the Presidio]Visiting San Francisco in 1999, I stopped by the Presidio. As I searched for the new URI headquarters, I took note of some of its neighbors. They included:
Institute for Sustainable Development
Partnerships for Change
Rudolf Steiner Foundation
International Forum on Globalization
Tides Center (and Foundation) (The largest and wealthiest center in the complex. It displayed a Buddhist altar in its elegant reception room) 6
I finally found the United Religions center. Inside the reception room, I pondered a large poster with a ring ofsymbols representing the religions of the world.7 Then I introduced myself to the receptionist and was invited to attend an interfaith worship service a few hours later.
After much prayer -- and information gathering -- I sat down in the back of the Presidio's small interfaith chapel to watch. The leader began. "We are all branches of the one tree,” he intoned. “Lift us to the level of the universal…. Chant the names of the gods. Start with om…."
The URI worshippers obediently chanted the repetitive words in unison to their gods. I watched, praying silently to my Lord for guidance and protection. “Visualize whatever form [shows] your understanding of the divine,” urged a woman in a soft, hypnotic voice: "Realize that you express the same as all others….”
A musician played an ancient accordion-like instrument while his wife explained the meaning of the word “mantra”. Then they introduced the final chant. “Each sound has a spiritual meaning. [Our] prayer is asking the Divine to purify us so that we can become illuminated, self-realized or one with the divine.“
The worship ended with an invitation to write our responses, bring them to the altar, burn them over a candle, and offer a prayer to the universal god. As the participants returned from the altar, some glanced at me, the sole abstainer in a ceremony where full participation was obviously expected.
I had been praying for boldness and words to express my concern. Obviously, these worshippers considered their pantheistic beliefs both tolerant and all-inclusive. How could I show them that a ritual to a universal god could not include my God? And how could I demonstrate the love only found in Jesus Christ?
Finally, I asked with some trepidation, “May I share why I didn’t participate?"
Several people nodded, so I continued: "As a Christian, I want you to know that my lack of participation was not a sign of disinterest or lack of caring. I believe my Lord calls me to demonstrate His love, but He also tells me to worship no other god. You seem to believe that all gods are one. Would you want Christians to disobey their God and renounce His uniqueness in order to join in universal rituals?"
“No, no, that’s not the case,” protested one of the leaders.
“I’m a Christian too,” said another.
“So am I,” said a young man who teaches yoga and transpersonal psychology.
“Please lead us in a prayer you are comfortable with,” suggested a fourth.
“But my faith and prayers are based on the cross,” I protested. “The apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 2:20, 'I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me....'"
“We agree with that….” insisted the group.
I didn't want to pray words that others would filter through their own pluralistic perspective then apply to themselves. So I asked the Holy Spirit to give me words that would be grounded in Christ’s work at the cross and would bring conviction to those who claimed to be Christians. Above all, I wanted to express the wonder and majesty of my Lord to those who didn’t know Him.
Reluctantly, I began to pray. I don’t remember the words, I only know He gave them to me. But most of the group seemed not to have heard. Since they professed to be tolerant, they had to affirm my expression of faith. But I suspect they knew as well as I did that we shared no common ground.
The fact is, those who base their faith on the Bible can't join Bishop Swing's converging streams toward planetary oneness. This uncompromising group of believers would include those Episcopalians who still trust in the unchanging validity of God's Word. They know only one God, only one sacred Book, and only one Door to eternal life. Since they can accept nothing less, they must reject an all-inclusive global spirituality.
No wonder interfaith leaders like Bishop Swing see such Christians as narrow and intolerant "extremists" who block their vision of unity. Not only do we clash with the URI, we violate UNESCO's 1994 “Declaration on the role of religion in the promotion of a culture of peace,” a "soft" international law. Eventually, we may be part of a small minority who will resist the spiritual oneness planned for the 21st century. It may even cost our lives. "If they persecuted Me," said Jesus, "they will also persecute you." John 15:20
Yet, we are on the winning side. Neither the UN nor the UR can fulfill their vision of spiritual unity, for they scorn the only God who can make us one. "Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing?" asked the psalmist who saw the absurdity of arrogant little humans mocking their almighty Maker. But "blessed are all those who put their trust in Him." Psalm 2:1, 12.
See also Star Wars Joins United Religions at the Presidio
1. Don Frew, Elder, Covenant of the Goddess, National Interfaith Representative, 21 July 2000, 1999-2000 Interfaith Report at http://www.cog.org/interfaith/cogdf00.html .
2. For illustrations and documentation, go to www.crossroad.to/Books/TwistofFaith/1-Father-Mother.html#goddess, www.crossroad.to/Books/TwistofFaith/5-Give.html#eros and www.crossroad.to/News/NewYork.htm#1
3. See http://www.uri.org/abouturi/wes/index.asp and http://www.uri.org/religions. The URI form of dialogue (between diverse members) is based on the occult teachings of Georg Hegel. His dialectic process was embraced by Marx, Lenin and Stalin as a means to social change. See Hegel and the Hermetic Tradition
4.Richard Scheinin, religion reporter for the San Jose Mercury News, February 3, 1996.
5.The International Diplomacy Council, a non-governmental organization (NGO) which helps State Department officials welcome foreign groups of dignitaries. While the entire letter was posted on a separate page earlier <www.diplomacy.org/PresLet.html>, only a sentence is left on this new page: http://www.diplomacy.org/quotes2.html. (Source: Lee Penn, 1-5-02, "Bush Praises URI Initiative," The Christian Challenge, Washington, DC)
6. "The Tides Center, although distinct from the Foundation by the letter of the law, itself takes in substantial amounts of money to "manage" various radical-left projects. ... For example, if someone wants to fund a left-wing movement, they make a fully tax-deductible donation to the Tides Foundation, for which the Foundation will take its share as mentioned. The Foundation will pass the funding along to the Tides Center, which will manage the organization, including hiring program and support staff, providing office space, financial management, employee benefits and legal advice; all for an 8 percent fee.... The largest funding source for Tides, however, is the Pew Charitable Trusts. Pew has given almost $109 million between 1990 and 2002. ....Since the September 11 attacks on the U.S., the Tides foundation has actively worked in support of Islamists and their advocates." How Ford Funds the Left
7. That circular list of 14 symbols has now been changed to a linear list of 15 religious symbols. See http://www.uri.org/religions.