From Jesus Christ To Julian Assange: When Dissidents Become Enemies Of The State


By John W. Whitehead
(founder and president of the Rutherford Institute,
a US nonprofit civil liberties and human rights organization)

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” – George Orwell

When exposing a crime is treated as committing a crime, you are being ruled by criminals.
In the current governmental climate, where laws that run counter to the dictates of the Constitution are made in secret, passed without debate, and upheld by secret courts that operate behind closed doors, obeying one’s conscience and speaking truth to the power of the police state can render you an “enemy of the state.”

That list of so-called “enemies of the state” is growing.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is just one of the victims of the police state’s assault on dissidents and whistleblowers.

On April 11, 2019, police arrested Assange for daring to access and disclose military documents that portray the U.S. government and its endless wars abroad as reckless, irresponsible, immoral and despicably criminal, as they took thousands of civilian lives.

Included among the leaked materials was gunsight video footage from two U.S. AH-64 Apache helicopters engaged in a series of air-to-ground attacks while American air crew laughed at some of the victims they shot. Among the casualties were two Reuters correspondents who were gunned down after their cameras were mistaken for weapons and a driver who stopped to help one of the journalists. The driver’s two children, who happened to be in the van at the time it was fired upon by U.S. forces, suffered serious injuries as well.

There is nothing defensible about crimes such as these perpetrated by the government.
When any government becomes almost indistinguishable from the evil it claims to be fighting – whether that evil takes the form of war, terrorism, torture, drug trafficking, sex trafficking, murder, violence, theft, pornography, scientific experimentations or some other diabolical means of inflicting pain, suffering and servitude on humanity – that government has lost its claim to legitimacy.

These are hard words, but hard times require straight-talking.
It is easy to remain silent in the face of evil.
What is harder – what we lack today and so urgently need – are those with moral courage who will risk their freedoms and comfort of their lives in order to speak out against evil in its many forms.

Throughout history, individuals or groups of individuals have risen up to challenge the injustices of their age. Nazi Germany had its Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The gulags of the Soviet Union were challenged by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. America had its color-coded system of racial segregation and warmongering called out for what it was, blatant discrimination and profiteering, by Martin Luther King Jr.

And before all these, there was Jesus Christ. Christians consider him the world’s greatest spiritual guide. Non-Christians regard him as an itinerant preacher and revolutionary activist, who not only died challenging the evils of his day, but provided a blueprint for the transformation of humanity, that would be followed by millions upon millions of people, religious and otherwise, who came after him.

Indeed, it is fitting that we remember that Jesus Christ sacrificed himself in a terrible death, paying the ultimate price for speaking out the Truth, being a Godly example for us all, and He resurrected afterwards filling the world with hope and faith in the final salvation which is possible for all who turn their hearts and lives to God.

A nonconformist who challenged the evil ways at every turn, Jesus was the ultimate example of courage of doing the right thing no matter what. In fact, He dedicated his life to speaking the Truth with no fear of the consequences and offering an authentic spiritual path for the transformation of humanity.

Much like the American Empire today, the Roman Empire of Jesus’ day had all of the characteristics of a police state: secrecy, surveillance, a widespread police presence, a citizenry treated like suspects with little recourse against the police state, perpetual wars – it was a military empire, with martial law, and political retribution against those who dared to challenge the power of the state.

When speaking about Jesus and his teachings, little is said about the harsh realities of the police state in which he lived and its similarities to modern-day America, and yet they are striking.

Secrecy, surveillance and rule by the dark elite. As the chasm between the wealthy and poor grew wider in the Roman Empire, the ruling class and the wealthy class became synonymous, while the lower classes, increasingly deprived of their political freedoms, grew disinterested in the government and easily distracted by “bread and circuses.” Much like America today, with its lack of government transparency, overt domestic surveillance, and rule by the rich, the inner workings of the Roman Empire were shrouded in secrecy, while its leaders were constantly on the watch for any potential threats to its power. The resulting state-wide surveillance was primarily carried out by the military, which acted as investigators, enforcers, torturers, policemen, executioners and jailers. Today that role is fulfilled by the NSA, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the increasingly militarized police forces across the country.

Widespread police presence. The Roman Empire used its military forces to maintain the “peace,” thereby establishing a police state that reached into all aspects of a citizen’s life. In this way, these military officers, used to address a broad range of routine problems and conflicts, enforced the will of the state. Today SWAT teams, comprised of local police and federal agents, are employed to carry out routine search warrants even for minor crimes punished with a fine.

Citizenry with little recourse against the police state. As the Roman Empire expanded, personal freedom and independence nearly vanished, as did any real sense of local governance and national consciousness. Similarly, in America today, citizens largely feel powerless, voiceless and unrepresented in the face of a power-hungry federal government. As states and localities are brought under direct control by federal agencies and regulations, a sense of learned helplessness grips the nation.

Perpetual wars and a military empire. Much like America today with its practice of policing the world, war and an over-arching militarist drive provided the framework for the Roman Empire, which extended from the Italian peninsula to all over Southern, Western, and Eastern Europe, extending into North Africa and Western Asia as well. In addition to significant foreign threats, wars were waged against inchoate, unstructured and socially inferior foes.

Martial law. Eventually, Rome established a permanent military dictatorship that left the citizens at the mercy of an unreachable and oppressive totalitarian regime. In the absence of resources to establish civic police forces, the Romans relied increasingly on the military to intervene in all matters of conflict or upheaval in provinces, from small-scale scuffles to large-scale revolts. Not unlike police forces today, with their martial law training drills on American soil, militarized weapons and “shoot first, ask questions later” mindset, the Roman soldier had “the exercise of lethal force at his fingertips” with the potential of wreaking havoc on normal citizens’ lives.

A nation of suspects. Just as the American Empire looks upon its citizens as suspects to be tracked, surveilled and controlled, the Roman Empire looked upon all potential insubordinates, from the common thief to a full-fledged insurrectionist, as threats to its power. The insurrectionist was seen as directly challenging the Emperor. A “bandit,” or revolutionist, was seen as capable of overturning the empire, was always considered guilty and deserving of the most savage penalties, including capital punishment. Bandits were usually punished publicly and cruelly as a means of deterring others from challenging the power of the state. Jesus’ execution was one such terrible public punishment.

Acts of civil disobedience by insurrectionists. Much like the Roman Empire, the American Empire has exhibited zero tolerance for dissidents such as Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning who exposed the police state’s seedy underbelly. Jesus, although being a spiritual guide and not a political activist, was regarded as a revolutionary figure due to his acts of “civil disobedience” at the Jewish temple, the site of the administrative headquarters of the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish council. When Jesus “with the help of his disciples, blocked the entrance to the courtyard” and forbid “anyone carrying goods for sale or trade from entering the Temple,” he committed an act “that undoubtedly precipitated his arrest and execution.” Because the commercial events were sponsored by the religious hierarchy, which in turn was operated by consent of the Roman government, Jesus’ firm attitude on the money chargers and traders was seen as an attack on the dark elite of the time, the Jewish clergy, and on Rome itself – an unmistakable declaration of independence from their oppression.

Military-style arrests in the dead of night. Jesus’ arrest account testifies to the fact that the Romans perceived him as a revolutionary. Eerily similar to today’s SWAT team raids, Jesus was arrested in the middle of the night, in secret, by a large, heavily armed fleet of soldiers. Rather than merely asking for Jesus when they came to arrest him, his pursuers collaborated beforehand with Judas. Acting as a government informant, Judas concocted a kiss as a secret identification marker, using deception and trickery.

Torture and capital punishment. In Jesus’ day, religious preachers, self-proclaimed prophets and nonviolent protesters were not summarily arrested and executed. Indeed, the high priests and Roman governors normally allowed a protest, particularly a small-scale one, to run its course. However, government authorities were quick to dispose of leaders and movements that appeared to threaten the Roman Empire. The utterly false charges leveled against Jesus – that he was a threat to the stability of the nation, opposed paying Roman taxes and claimed to be the rightful King, were purely political, not religious. To the Romans, any one of these charges was enough to merit death by crucifixion, which was usually reserved for slaves, non-Romans, radicals, revolutionaries and the worst criminals.

Jesus was presented to Pontius Pilate “as a disturber of the political peace,” a leader of a rebellion, a political threat, and most gravely – a claimant to kingship, a “king of the revolutionary type.” After Jesus was formally condemned by Pilate at the pressures from the dark elite of Jewish priests, he was sentenced to death by crucifixion, “the Roman means of executing criminals convicted of high treason.” The purpose of crucifixion was not so much to kill the criminal, as it was an immensely public statement intended to visually warn all those who would challenge the power of the Roman Empire. Hence, it was reserved solely for the most extreme political crimes: treason, rebellion, sedition, and banditry. After being ruthlessly whipped and mocked, and horribly tortured, Jesus was nailed to a cross.

As Professor Mark Lewis Taylor observed: “The cross within Roman politics and culture was a marker of shame, of being a criminal. If you were put to the cross, you were marked as shameful, as criminal, but especially as subversive. And there were thousands of people put to the cross. The cross was actually positioned at many crossroads, and, as New Testament scholar Paula Fredricksen has reminded us, it served as kind of a public service announcement that said, ‘Act like this person did, and this is how you will end up’.”

Jesus indeed lived and died in a police state. Any reflection on Jesus’ life and death within a police state must take into account several factors: Jesus spoke out strongly against the evil elite of the Jewish clergy that “did not pursue to discover God, and prevented people to get close to God”. Jesus challenged the religious belief systems and the laws that guided the society of his day. For example, instead of hatred and revenge, he preached love and forgiveness; instead of a false relationship with God, portraying oneself into a believer by making animal sacrifices and saying prayers only with one’s lips, Jesus preached purity of the heart and the search of the Kingdom of God within oneself.

Worldly powers feared Jesus, not because he challenged them for control of thrones or government, as they falsely claimed, but because he undercut the dark elite’s claims of supremacy, and he dared to speak only the Truth in a time when doing so did cost a person his life.

Unfortunately, in the churches across the world, the Godly courage of Jesus to unmask and finally defeat evil and his absolute fidelity to the quest and revelation of the Truth are never mentioned. Yet for those who truly study the life and teachings of Jesus, the resounding theme is one of outright resistance to evil in all its forms and of finally prevailing against it by always doing the Will of God.

What a marked contrast to the advice being given to Americans by church leaders to “completely submit to your religious and political leaders and those in authority,” which in the American police state translates to complying, conforming, submitting, obeying orders, deferring to authority and generally doing whatever any official tells you to do.

Telling Americans to march in lockstep and blindly obey the Satanic elite leading the world today opposes to everything for which Jesus lived, died, and resurrected afterwards in an obvious sign of God’s ultimate victory.

Therefore, we need to reflect upon the example of Jesus, the Godly model for all of us, who challenged the powers that be of his time and the evils of humankind with love and complete faith in God, and with amazing courage.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we need to decide whether we will follow the path of servitude to the Satanic elite – willing to turn a blind eye to what Martin Luther King Jr. referred to as the “evils of segregation and the crippling effects of discrimination, to the moral degeneracy of religious bigotry and the corroding effects of narrow sectarianism, to economic conditions that deprive men of work and food, and to the insanities of militarism and the self-defeating effects of physical violence”, or whether we will be transformed nonconformists “dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood.”

As King explained in a powerful sermon delivered in 1954, “This command not to conform [to evil] comes … [from] Jesus Christ, the world’s most dedicated nonconformist, whose ethical nonconformity still challenges the conscience of mankind.”

We need to recapture the gospel glow of the early Christians, who were nonconformists in the truest sense of the word and refused to shape their witness according to the mundane patterns of the world. Willingly they sacrificed fame, fortune, and life itself on behalf of a cause they knew to be right. Quantitatively small, they were qualitatively giants. Their powerful gospel of love and faith in God put an end to such barbaric evils as infanticide and bloody gladiatorial contests. Finally, it is not a coincidence that the Roman Empire fell.

The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists, who are dedicated to justice, peace, and brotherhood. The trailblazers in human, academic, scientific, and religious freedom have always been nonconformists. In any cause that concerns the progress of mankind, put your faith in the ones who do not conform to evil!

Honesty impels me to admit that transformed nonconformity, which is always costly and never altogether comfortable, may mean walking through the valley of the shadow of suffering, losing a job, or being severely persecuted by the powers that be. However, Christianity has always insisted that “the cross we bear precedes the crown we wear”. To be a Christian, one must take up his cross, with all of its difficulties, and carry it until that very cross leaves its marks upon us and redeems us to that more excellent way that comes only through being true to one’s beliefs in good, justice, and God.

In these days of worldwide confusion and systemic spread of the tentacles of evil, there is a dire need for men and women who will courageously and peacefully battle for truth. We need to make a choice. Will we continue to march to the drumbeat of conformity to the Satanic elite, or will we, listening to the beat of our hearths, move to its echoing sounds? Will we march only to the music of our times, or will we, even risking criticism and abuse, march to the soul saving music of the Eternal God?


April 17, 2020


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