"End Times" authors Tim LaHaye and Craig Parshall say the Obama administration may be killing religious freedom by redefinition.
In a statement posted on their website this past week, the co-authors of the political thriller Edge of Apocalypse claim there is a shadow growing over religious freedom in America.
"We are talking about the Obama Administration's subtle, but apparently deliberate use of a language-sleight-of-hand, substituting the phrase 'freedom of worship' for 'freedom of religion,'" they wrote this past Tuesday.
According to the fiction series authors, President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have "consistently" used the new phrase in several speeches in recent months.
They pointed to how the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom also noted the shift and raised a flag on it in its 2010 annual report.
"Because of the policy implications of using 'freedom of worship' language, USCIRF urges President Obama, Secretary Clinton and other high-ranking U.S. government officials to return to invoking or embracing 'freedom of religion or belief' or similar language in all public statements and stress the universal nature of these and other rights," the bipartisan body stated.
"In doing so, they should also explicitly affirm their commitment to broad protection of the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief in all its manifestations," it added.
Though some might consider their observations as nit-picking or overanalyzing, LaHaye and Parshall made a case for their warning, explaining that the phrase "freedom of worship" follows an international concept that departs from the United States' First Amendment understanding of religious freedom.
Under international law, they say, "worship" is a limited right, and connotes activities within a church body, but can exclude public evangelism.
The U.N. Declaration of Human Rights, for example, protects "teaching, practice, worship and observance" but does not protect public preaching. The United Nation's 1981 Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance uses the same approach on matters of religion.
"Article 9 of the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms allows evangelism to be banned on the basis of protecting 'public order,'" note the authors, one of which – Parshall – is a religious rights attorney and the general counsel for the National Religious Broadcasters.
"In 1997 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that under Article 9 Christians could be prosecuted for efforts to evangelize," they added.
Alleging that the Obama administration is edging America closer to a global approach in matters of religion, LaHaye and Parshall recalled the future "Babylon" in the Bible's book of Revelation, which they say has three aspects, "much like a three-legged stool."
"[T]wo of them are a global economic system and a global political system. The third? A global unification of religion," they stated.
And while they admit that the stage for that to be set seems improbable, the authors suggest it won't be when "Christian evangelism is finally outlawed – or something worse."
Furthermore, the authors say their new fictional novel, Edge of the Apocalypse, "is beginning to look more and more like the headlines of today rather than forecasts about the future."
Published in April, Edge of the Apocalypse is a political thriller laced with End Times prophecy. Set in the near future, Edge of Apocalypse chronicles the beginning of "The End" – the events leading up to the Apocalypse foretold in Revelation.
Though Parshall has traditionally written legal-suspense novels and co-authored historical novels, LaHaye is no stranger in the "End Times" community. LaHaye is the creator and co-author of the popular Left Behind series, the 16-novel series that has been adapted into three action thriller films.
More than 65 million copies of the series' novels have been sold since the first published in 1995.
The series also inspired the controversial PC game "Left Behind: Eternal Forces" and its sequel, "Left Behind: Tribulation Forces."
A fourth film adaptation of the series is currently being discussed by Cloud Ten Pictures.