There was suddenly a high pitched noise from a microphone, and this had the effect of drawing everybody's attention to the head of the church, where Frederico was about to start the sermon.
Then, having caught everybody's attention, Frederico greeted everybody, clearly pleased to see his church full of people.
"Welcome to my little church," he said, with a great big smile. "Welcome to the empire. Welcome to the Kingdom of God."
"And to all you new folks out there, let me briefly explain about my church and my teaching."
"First of all, keep in mind that this is the Church of the Golden Rule. That means that anyone can come and go as they please. There is no prerequisite criterion to enter my church. However, everyone here is expected to honour the Golden Rule as this is my property. Anyone breaking that rule, and not immediately repenting, must leave, by force if necessary."
"The use of force is in other words not prohibited under the Golden Rule. It is quite legitimate when used in defence of one's life or property. We do not wish for people to be defenceless in the face of evil. We wish for everyone to be able to defend themselves. That is what love is all about, to wish for everyone to feel safe in the presence of others, even the evil ones."
"So let us first take a moment to feel the joy and the love that comes with a clear and honest belief in this beautiful law that says that we must not do anything to anyone unless we would like that same thing done onto us."
"Let us pray!"
And with this, Frederico signalled to all to raise up and stand.
"And remember that we are not going begging for stuff from our Father. We are not crawling in the dust for His favours. We are made in His image, and we behave towards Him as we would towards our own parents. With respect, but as equals."
"Feel free to bring up issues that you struggle with. Dwell on these for a moment, and do this with the Golden Rule as your guiding light! For in the light of His law lies the key to the solution. Whatever you struggle with, make it clear to yourself that the solution can only be love. Only love has the power to solve conflicts, be they inter-personal or internal."
And with this, Frederico let his congregation stand in silence, contemplating their issues, big or small, for a while long enough to feel refreshing.
"And be sure now, to act on the love that you have let into your heart with this little prayer," Frederico concluded. Then he signalled for music to be played, and everybody joined in the singing.
Aung and Elisabeth, in their robes, lead the singing from up by the altar, and Bjorn could not help feeling quite uplifted by the whole thing. The two women, so different, and yet so similar in their firmly held believes and enthusiasm, were practically glowing up at the little podium. And Frederico looked very proud and pleased with the women who did such a wonderful job of spreading a sense of joy to everyone.
When the singing came to an end, Frederico stepped again forward, continuing his lecture.
"It seems to me," he said with a smile. "That we are now all in the empire. That we are all full of love for each other, and that we wish only the best for everyone around us. So I ask you: are we all citizens of the empire, guided solely by the Golden Rule?"
And to this, the congregation answered, "yes we are!"
"What are we?" Frederico asked enthusiastically.
"We are the citizens," was the loud reply of the audience.
"Citizens of what?"
"Of the empire!"
"Of what empire?"
"The Fifth Empire. We are the citizens of the Fifth Empire."
The enthusiasm was genuine, and a little unnerving, Bjorn thought. Especially since the replies were well coordinated with Elisabeth holding up big cards with the replies written clearly on them. The audience was simply responding blindly with what was written on Elisabeth's cards.
Frederico signalled to everyone that they could sit down again. Then he made a thoughtful gesture before continuing on his lecture.
"We have received quite a lot of attention lately," he said. "Our message is getting out there, and people seem to like what they hear. And why shouldn't they. Our message is a message of love. What is there not to like about that, you may ask."
"Well, quite a lot, it appears. There are quite a few people calling us heathens and atheists, and a danger to ourselves and our surroundings. Which I find quite strange considering the occult and dangerous nature of what my critics themselves believe."
"They are all worshippers of the Social Contract it appears, and most of them believe in the occult powers of Democracy to make crooked things straight by a magic of share numbers."
"But the notion that a non-existent contract or a majority of people can somehow invalidate the Golden Rule is clearly nonsense. Democracy can be used to choose a leader of a company or a similar voluntary association of men, but democracy cannot endow such leaders with powers that conflict with the Golden Rule. Such an idea is not only nonsensical. It is extremely dangerous, as it serves to legitimize evil by way of magic."
"And others say that we are simply replacing one coercive system with another, and that the state is not abolished with our philosophy, but simply transferred to me and my friends. They claim that the Fifth Empire is a theocracy, similar to what exists in places like Iran and Saudi-Arabia."
"But they are wrong, of course. I am not your superior. I am simply your priest, and I do not pretend to hold any special powers over any of you. As I have already said. You are all free to leave. No one will come after you if you choose to leave the empire. No one will dig a hole in the ground and have you stoned to death for leaving, and no one will follow you around, claiming tribute in the form of taxes."
"There is no state in the empire. There is no coercion. And no one is born a citizen of the empire. The empire is a place you enter or leave as you please. You need no permission from anyone to do so. You need no passport to enter. You need no passport to leave. The empire is the very opposite of the state."
"Others claim that having a boss is no different to being a subject of a state. But such a claim is absurd, of course. No one forces you to work for a particular boss. And everyone is free to be self employed if they wish. Where is the similarity? What is the equivalent of being self employed? The state claims ownership of us from the moment we are born, and we have no right to become independent. Our only right in the eyes of the state is to choose subjugation to another state, and even that has to be done according to rules set out by the state itself."
"Well, I say enough of that!"
"We are born free. And we are forever free to be whatever we like. Let no one tell you otherwise! Do not be blinded by the false belief that is the Social Contract, or in the magical power of democracy to turn what is evil into that which is right."
"Jesus is our only guide, and even he is not our superior, but our equal."
"Let us stand up again and tell Jesus that we will not subjugate ourselves to anyone, not even Him. We will not subject ourselves to the false religion of authority. There is no other authority than the Golden Rule, articulated by Jesus himself. To break that rule is a crime, no matter who tells you to do so. King Solomon cannot make what is crooked right by simply declaring it to be so. And no president, no king, no priest, no ruler has any such power."
"We are all responsible for our own actions. No authority can change that. If you kill someone, it is you who did that. If you take somebody's property, it is you who did that. If you lock somebody up, it is you who did that. Claiming that you only followed orders, or that it was the law, is no defence, because there is only one law. And that law is the Golden Rule. Everything else is simply regulations, and regulations that break the Golden Rule are evil, and of the Devil."
"Let us tell Jesus that we swear to uphold His law, and reject any rule contradicting this as the evil that it is."
Frederico gestured to the empty throne next to the altar, and everybody looked towards it as if Jesus was indeed sitting there. Bjorn found this creepy. But there was no evil intent in anything he had heard, and he did not feel threatened. He felt safe.