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America's pagan sacrifices

Demonstrators gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on June 24, 2022.
Demonstrators gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on June 24, 2022. | MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

In wake of the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, the issue of abortion has again taken center stage in American culture. But could there be more to it? Could there even be an ancient connection and mystery to the issue of abortion in America?

Abortion was a common feature of the ancient pagan world. So, too, was infanticide — the practice of killing one’s child after birth. So too, was child sacrifice. In pagan culture, it was dangerous to be a child. What changed all that? Why and how did such practices come to an end? There is only one common denominator — the spread of the Gospel, the Scriptures, and the Christian faith. Wherever the Gospel spread, from the Roman Empire to the ends of the earth, the practices of killing children, from infanticide to child sacrifice, would come to an end.

What does that reveal? If the coming of the Gospel and the Christian faith ultimately eradicated such practices that put children at risk, then if a culture or nation, such as America, should begin turning away from the Gospel, from the ways of Scripture, this ancient and pagan practice will return. And this is exactly what took place.

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It is no accident that as America began removing God from its public life, its public squares, its schools, and its culture, what came in to take its place was a revived form of paganism. In every realm where Christian or biblical values were removed or overturned, what came to fill their place was paganism. Nor is it an accident that the decade that began with the removal of prayer from America’s public school system ushered in the practice of abortion on demand in 1970 and then the legalization of abortion across the nation in 1973. 

Such practices were heralded as the harbingers of new enlightenment. But there was nothing enlightened or new about them. It was the revival of an old morality and old practices — that of paganism. As I began the research for The Return of the GodsI came across ancient accounts detailing the rituals of child sacrifice in the pagan world. I couldn’t miss the connection — how the modern practice of abortion follows the ancient pattern of child sacrifice. 

In the ancient sacrifice of children, it was most often the parents who willingly presented their children to be offered up. In the modern practice of abortion, it is also the parents who willingly consented to the killing of their children. In ancient practice, the motive for offering up one’s child was to obtain the god’s favor, success, prosperity, increase, and gain. In modern practice, it is the same motive that is invariably cited. A woman’s unborn child is a hindrance to her economic advance. Killing that child will bring success and financial gain. Hollywood actresses have told us as much.  

In the ancient rite, children were commonly burned with fire. In modern practice, children are commonly burned with chemicals. In ancient accounts, the children of the poor were the greatest victims of child sacrifice. The rich would even pay poor parents to obtain their children for sacrifice. So too with modern abortion, it is no accident that its greatest victims are the children of the poor. Nor is it any accident that abortion clinics tend to cluster around impoverished neighborhoods and those of minorities. 

We have sanitized it, medicalized it, and euphemized it, but the act remains, in essence, the same. We are doing as the ancients did — we are killing our children. But perhaps the greatest difference between us and the ancients is that of scale. They killed thousands of their children, but we have killed millions — over 60 million and counting. We are now veering dangerously close to infanticide.

It is ultimately a matter of gods. It was only when Israel turned away from God and turned to other gods that they began offering up their children as sacrifices. So it was with America. As we turned from God, we turned to other gods — the gods of success, prosperity, sexual gratification, gain, expediency, self-fulfillment, and countless others. And upon their altars, our children were killed. Indeed, one of the most stunning discoveries I came upon while working on the book is that the same gods or spirits that moved through the ancient pagan world are now moving through American culture and transforming it.

The killing of children was so grievous an act that it led to the judgment and destruction of ancient Israel. The cry of their blood ascended to Heaven. This begs the question for America: Can any civilization that murders millions of its most innocent escape calamity and long endure?  

Is there hope? When Israel returned to God, the sign of its turning and its revival was that it broke the bloody altars of the gods. On June 24, 2022, America’s most pagan of altars, that of abortion, was broken — not ended. Could that be a sign of return and revival? Only time will tell. In the meantime, the cry of their blood ascends to Heaven.

Jonathan Cahn is the author of the new book The Return of the Gods (Charisma Media, 2022). He has written many bestsellers, including The Harbinger, The Harbinger II, The Mystery of the Shemitah, The Book of Mysteries, The Paradigm and The Oracle. He leads Hope of the World, an international outreach, and the Jerusalem Center/Beth Israel in Wayne, New Jersey.

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