|Backward brand is backward
While it may appear that I am picking on One Group (a group that is largely responsible for my being in the Faith Once Delivered in the first place), I must say that the majority of Mainstream Christian Churches fall in precisely the same category.
Why has the Southern Baptist Church taken the Mark of the Beast?
The Mark is not a tattoo like this:
Nor an RFID chip:
It is simple, and eminently lawful. It is spelled "501c3". It is the tax designation for "charitable organisations", and it requires any church so designated to report to the Federal Government. Uncle Sam is Lord. This is because CLEARLY believers only give if they can receive a great charitable deduction. This screed may sound familiar, but it is more far-reaching this time.
Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith:
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly. (Matthew 6)
Unless of course you really NEED that deduction!
Now, the SBC is in the forefront of "Romans 13 churches", the ones that pretty well teach to do what gubmint says, period, "unless it violates God's law". Seems the Matthew 6 passage points a damning finger from the get-go. Some firebrand talk radio guys are REALLY hot about mega-church "pastors" who are lining the sheep up for Federal slaughter, taking up the FEMA mantle to "handle" parishioners in time of crisis (read: tell 'em to be polite to those who would feed upon them).
(note: I do not endorse the linked site. I merely share it as evidence of my assertion.)
ALSO: local Southern Baptist churches who order screenprinting from us require us to provide a W-9 form. The churches are actual Tax AGENTS of the Government.
Publicans were not well-liked in Jesus' day.
Hear what the Apostle John saith:
He (the prophet of the Beast) causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, 17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. (Revelation 13) (ital. mine)
The person causing all to be marked is pastoral, prophetic; he is NOT "The Antichrist". He is a personage who leads people to follow the religious system of the Beast. He is religious.
Let me note that Revelation, in main, is a symbolic book. We must not therefore switch back and forth from literal mode to figurative mode willy-nilly. The text must give us a clue. That this is figurative is signalled by the next sentence:
Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.
Symbolism, but if you have understanding, you can suss it out (this is another clue that Revelation was a message to the readers of the day, not a prophecy for millennia hence).
The State-Beast is inimical to the Kingdom of God. The Government, too, is a jealous god, and does not take kindly to competition.
The danger of allowing the Federal camel's nose into the Kingdom tent is keeping the rest of the camel out. With the FEMA business, I rest that case. That, too, has been shown to be a problem in Canada, where preachers have been charged with hate crimes for deigning to preach what the Bible says, rather than the pronouncements of the governmental Zeitgeist . Taking the Federal Mark renders a church unfit for the heavy lifting of Kingdom work, for at some point, the suited Fed will go "ahem", and payment for Corleonesque favors rendered will come due. Then to whom will the preacher listen to teach the flock?
Given the direction and velocity of our country's travels, it would be advisable to encourage your church leadership to pull the 501c3 plug, or that failing, find a congregation whose allegiance is not divided.