ELEMENTS OF PAGAN WORSHIP
In chapter 17 we saw that the mystery religion of Babylon was re-established in pagan Rome and eventually became a part of the Roman Church. Some of the elements of pagan religion which came into the church seem relatively harmless, even though not supported by any Bible teaching. However, even these “harmless” elements are a testimony to the compromises the church made in order to meet the pagan masses halfway. They also refute the claim that the “holy tradition” was handed down in an unbroken chain from the apostles to the present.
The Catholic festivals and holy days, for example, depart widely from the historical facts of the Bible, but instead are often a continuation of ancient pagan feasts. Many people know this and feel that it is unimportant, but the fact is that for most people in “Christian” countries the main contact they have with their religion is during holidays such as Christmas and Easter.
Christmas is generally the most popular feast in Christian countries and through commercialism and globalization it is becoming the primary international event of the year. "Prior to and through the early Christian centuries winter festivals—especially those centered on the inter solstice, were the most popular of the year in many European pagan cultures...Many modern Christmas customs have been directly influenced by such festivals, including gift-giving and merymaking from the Roman Saturnalia. It is more than coincidental that the day chosen to celebrate Christ's birth, December 25, as also the pagan Roman holiday Natlais Sol Invicti—The birthday of the unconquerable Sun.
Processions are another prominent ceremony in the Catholic worship, with the public display of relics, icons, statues, or the pope himself, borne on men’s shoulders on a portable throne, with all the priests and episcopates and even the statues of the saints dressed in majestic robes and crowns. Processions are unknown in the scriptures but are common in pagan religions. “It was usual to carry the statue of the principal deity, in whose honour the procession took place, together with that of the king, and the figures of his ancestors, borne in the same manner, on men's shoulders.” The scriptures confirm the pagan connection, speaking specifically of the Babylonian gods Bel and Nebo, “They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver on the scales; they hire a goldsmith and he makes it a god; they prostrate themselves, yes, they worship, they bear it on the shoulder, they carry it and set it in its place” (Isaiah 46:6,7).
The mystic keys of St. Peter which are prominently displayed during processions have a pre-Christian origin. “In Mithraism, one of the main branches of the mysteries that came to Rome, the sun god carried two keys. When the emperor claimed to be successor of the gods and Supreme Pontiff of the mysteries, the keys came to be symbols of his authority. Later, when the bishop of Rome became the Pontifex Maximus in about 378, he automatically became the possessor of the mystic keys. This gained recognition for him from the pagans… It was not until 431, however, that the pope publicly made the claim that the keys he possessed were the keys of authority given to the apostle Peter.”
The characteristic rituals and practices of the Catholic religion, such as the lighting of candles, making the sign of the cross, pilgrimages, the kissing of and bowing before icons, relics and statues, the erection of personal and public altars, the use of the rosary and other ritual prayers, and liturgies and prayers for the dead, do not find support in the Bible but rest solely on the “Holy Tradition” of the church. They were, however, common practices in the heathen religions that derived from ancient Babylon.
So why does it matter if Roman Catholics and those who follow their example participate in holidays, ceremonies and rituals that have their roots in paganism, but which no are no longer directed toward the pagan gods? The problem is not so much in the origins of the ceremonies as in their purpose. God designs that His people will have a close, personal, daily relationship with Him, and this is what the human heart craves. But the Roman system seeks to fill this desire with holidays, rituals, ceremonies and pageant that promise a moment of excitement and interest but in the end leave the participants more empty and disappointed than ever.
 Wikipedia contributors, "Christmas," Wikipedia, The Gree Encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Christmas&oldid=623945581 (accessed September 18, 2014).
 Wikipedia contributors, "So Invictus," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=SolInvictus&oldid=625780399 (accessed September 18, 2014)
 Alexander Hislop, "The Two Babylons" (New York: Loieaux Brothers) 1959 (First published in 1853). This classic book includes misinformation and speculation, particularly about the history of Nimrod, Semiramis and Tamuz. Nevertheless there is good and valid information in this book but it must be distinguished from that which is questionable by comparison with the Bible and other sources.
 Woodrow, Babylon Mystery Religion (Ralph Woodrow Evangelistic Association) 1993. This book includes misinformation, particularly those sections that are derived from "The Two Babylons" by Alexander Hislop, and in fact the author has since repudiated some concepts and information and has allowed "Babylon Mystery Religion" to go out of print. Nevertheless there is much good and valid information in this book but it must be distinguished from that which is questionable.