And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Revelation 9:20
The verse above is just one of the passages of scripture that indicates that the Great tribulation will be characterized not by atheism, but by idolatry. An example of this took place at Westlock, Alberta on July 25, 2010, as reported by Chris Zdeb in the Edmonton Journal on July 26:
Peace and tranquillity are what we long for, but those qualities are elusive and rare in our lives. So when the opportunity presents itself to get closer to that state, many take it, which is why more than 4,000 people from across Western Canada and the United States gathered Sunday in the country, 45 kilometres north of Edmonton.
They had come to see the Jade Buddha of Universal Peace, which is supposed to bring inner peace and happiness to those who see it. How could it not, under perfectly blue prairie skies, with cheery yellow canola fields nearby and the air heavy with the sweet smell of freshly cut field grass warmed by the sun?
Excited children leaned forward in anticipation and adults held digital and video cameras at the ready as a gold cloth adorned with red Buddhist symbols was slowly pulled away, revealing a four-metre high statue of a young, slim, smiling Buddha sitting cross-legged on a mammoth alabaster throne...
...The four-tonne statue, valued at approximately $5 million, is the largest such figure in the world, carved from a 100-million-year-old gemstone boulder mined in northern B.C., near the Yukon border. It was commissioned by an Australian couple and was finished in December 2008. It took sculptors and artists in Thailand five years to complete. It has been touring the world to promote universal peace. At the end of the tour, the statue will be on permanent display in Victoria, Australia, where the couple who commissioned it live.
The atmosphere at this event wasn't entirely spiritual. According to Bonnie Hutchinson, who was in attendance, and whose views could be described as New Age, it seems that Buddhists have their equivalent of the moneychangers in the Temple:
On the pavilion in front of the altar, a singer was entertaining the thousands of visitors, passing around a hat for contributions. This was not Buddhist chanting. This was pop singing for pure entertainment.
In stalls and large tents between the main building and the altar, were kiosks selling clothes, food, and lots of other things. Healthy lively commerce was much in evidence...
...At first I was a bit surprised. I expected to feel the incongruence of the Jade Buddha surrounded by Western Canadian farm country. But I did not expect to feel the same kind of atmosphere I’ve experienced at lots of "tourist trap" places I’ve visited...
...Of course there would be entertainment. As one of the organizers said to me, "We knew with this many people and lots of children, we would have to provide some entertainment." (He went on to tell me that the monks would be chanting at 9 p.m. that evening.)
As for all the emphasis on "peace," it's worthwhile to remember that according to Daniel 8:25, the Antichrist "by peace shall destroy many." Romans 5:1-2 states the path to true peace:
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.