In the Adventist understanding of end-time prophecy, the United States plays a key role; we see it as the nation represented by the beast that comes out of the earth in Revelation 13 (other denominations have alternative interpretations - this is the one we use). One of the notable features of this beast is that it has two horns. We normally understand horns in prophecy to represent powers, e.g. of the State, where the horns have an activity of their own, within the context of the nation to which they pertain. But these horns appear to be merely descriptive
of the animal to which they belong, no activity of any kind is attributed to them. They are not presented as identifiable entities.
Therefore, we believe these two horns represent two notable characteristics
of the US - Protestantism and Republicanism - principles upon which the US was founded:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Protestantism_in_the_United_Stateshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republicanism_in_the_United_States
As a Protestant Republic, the US has a Constitution that guarantees freedom of religion and
separation of Church and State:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
There exists here something of an apparent paradox with our eschatology, because we believe the United States will eventually join forces with the Catholic Church (which views the issue of separation of Church and State differently as do Protestants) and lead the world in restricting freedom of religion and enforcing a universal system of religion and worship. But such a thing is impossible
while the First Amendment of the Constitution remains in place and is interpreted as it is today. So what do we believe will happen? Consider this quotation from Ellen White, one of our denomination's founders:
When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near.
Regardless of what you might think about such an interpretation of Revelation 13, there is no denying that the Constitution has received a lot of flak recently and is under pressure. There are some who wish to add a new amendment enshrining marriage as an institution exclusively available to a man and a woman. Also, with the recent shootings in Newtown, CT, the Second Amendment is being reviewed and it is possible that we will see changes due to the public outcry over the legal possession of semi-automatic assault weapons. I read a news article in the Washington Post
this weekend that quotes the NRA's chief executive Wayne LaPierre as saying the following:
“All that first-term lip service to gun owners is part of a massive Obama conspiracy to deceive voters,” LaPierre said at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference. He accused the president of trying to hide his true intentions to “destroy the Second Amendment during his second term!”
Therefore, if the Second Amendment is under threat, what if anything could cause a similar danger to the First Amendment? After 9/11 and the following PATRIOT Act, a lot of people were discussing
what they saw as their constitutional freedoms being restricted...
In short, the First Amendment would have to be abolished or be given a substantially different interpretation to the one it has now. While at the moment this may seem implausible(?), if such a thing were to happen, it would be a clear sign visible for all to see that prophecy is indeed unfolding in line with our expectations.