The FFRF, God's Big Ten, and a form of Christianity that I respect




All of you must obey the government rulers…anyone who is against the government is against something God has commanded.” Romans 13: 1-2

The FFRF supports nonbelievers in various ways, most notably through lawsuits against those who violate existing laws regarding the separation of church and state. Among its current suits are two against Pennsylvania public schools that prominently display large granite monuments containing the Ten Commandments (henceforth, the Big Ten). Schools always lose these suits because what they are doing is illegal, and this means that they will not only have wasted tens of thousands of school dollars on their own attorneys, they will also have to pay the FFRF’s attorneys.

The Big Ten are a big deal to the many American Christians who claim that the commandments are beyond human wisdom, and as such, form the foundation of our laws today. Yet, with the exception of the first four, which concern the Jews’ relationship with their deity, the Big Ten are painfully obvious to anyone with an IQ above fifty. What’s more, of the first four, Christians themselves blatantly ignore the second half of #2 and all of #4. Why then, are they so obsessed with posting the Big Ten on public property? I think it’s their way of asserting their supremacy (like when a dog pisses on a fire hydrant) with the implication that anyone who objects can jolly well go fuck himself. Ironically, the FFRF gets lots of mail from Christians who don’t appear to know about the third commandment (don’t take the Lord’s name in vain), and these same Christians are inordinately fond of the word fuck, which is why I used it just now in conveying their feelings toward people like myself. Im now going to write out the Big Ten and add my own brief commentary so that you can judge for yourself how useful they really are.


1) You must not have any other god before me. Here, Jehovah acknowledges the existence of lesser deities, this being just one example of how the Jews’ conception of their deity evolved over time, yet the storyline is that “God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.” 

2) You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. I’ve heard that Moslems partially observe this, but Christians somehow decided that images are okay. I have no idea why. Maybe they just like to draw.

3) You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. As in “Goddamn the goddamn mother-fucking goddamn son of a bitch to hell, goddamn it,” which was my father’s favorite chant and one that he repeated many times a day. Because he said it with such fervor, I pretended that he was a holy man offering a prayer, and this enabled me to smile.

4) Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. The early church gave up the Sabbath and started worshipping on Sunday. As with deciding that images were permissible, their reasoning is a mystery, at least to me. Maybe Billy Graham could tell you.

5) Honor your father and mother. This commandment applies to drunken molesters as well as to deserving parents. This is the only one of the remaining six that is given as something to do rather than something to avoid. Unlike Jesus, Jehovah was more concerned with avoiding evil than with doing good, which is why Jesus stayed so mad at the orthodox Jews of his day over their obsession with living in perfect purity at the cost of being sincere and loving. It is another example of how the Biblical God evolved.

6) You must not murder. Prior to this time, the Jews apparently thought that murder was okay. People in other lands were able to figure out that it was a crime without God telling them, so why the Jews needed to be told, I can’t imagine.

7) You must not commit adultery. I could do without this one, but that would bring the number to nine, and nine wouldn’t have the same authoritative ring, almost as if God had run out of ideas or got tired of writing.

8) You must not steal. Like with wanton killing, the early Jews had no clue that stealing was a bad idea. Before the Top Ten, they stole anything that wasn’t nailed down, and the people they stole from didn’t even know enough to complain.

9) You must not testify falsely against your neighbor. Yep, you guessed it. If the Big Ten contains divine wisdom rather than human wisdom, then lying must have been okay before Moses came down the mountain. Afterwards, a lot of people had trouble giving up lying, so judges made them swear that they were telling the truth when court was in session, a practice that continues to this very day.

10) You must not covet your neighbor’s house, wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor. Women came behind houses because items were listed according to monetary value. Peggy owns half of this house, so my share of it is reduced by the same amount, so I think she might be number one on my list. On the other hand, I got Peggy for free, whereas my cat cost $40, so maybe the cat should come first.


American Christians claim to love God’s laws, yet they can’t agree on what they are, and they do an awful lot of seemingly whimsical picking and choosing about which ones to observe. If I were a believer, I would take the approach of Progressive Christians, which is to reduce the number of laws to what Christ said were the main two (love God; love your neighbor), and disregard anything in conflict with them. If such were the dominant face of American Christianity, I wouldn’t spend time criticizing it, but I see its dominant face as hate-driven, materialistic, militaristic, hypocritical, and legalistic. What Christ taught, it is not; and what it teaches, Christ was not. 

14 comments:

bluzdude said...

I trust you must have seen George Carlin's bit where he whittles the Big Ten down to The Two Commandments, through sheer logic and economy of words. It's really quite brilliant. If you haven't seen it, it's easily findable on YouTube too.

kylie said...

it is unfortunate that you see hate driven religion but i would be the first person to say that there are a very big number of people who have no concept of love as an all encompassing philosophy and just use the name of religion to push their own agendas.
what makes it even worse is that the agenda is often not very well thought through so it becomes hate for its own sake.
when i saw the bit about the sabbath i was a bit concerned, going to church on sundays as i do, but then if i call myself a progressive Christian i can go to church on a wednesday if i want.

ellen abbott said...

As I understand it, Jesus made all that came before, all the restrictions of Leviticus and the whole sacrificing things and all, obsolete. Accept Jesus and you were freed from all the required strictures. Jesus replaced them all. Except the 10 commandants I guess.

Snowbrush said...

"I trust you must have seen George Carlin's bit where he whittles the Big Ten down to The Two Commandments, through sheer logic and economy of words."

Hey, Bluz, I have seen it, but it has been too long, I'm afraid, so I'm going to have to see if it's on Youtube. Did you catch my post a few weeks about about movies pertaining to religion and atheism? If not, you might want to check it out. The title is something like, "Ten good flicks that feature religion" or something very close to that.

"it is unfortunate that you see hate driven religion"

Kylie, when you're an atheist, you see the worst of religion (at least in this country--in some countries I would be killed for criticizing religion, and in still others, I would hardly raise an eyebrow). I have so often known Christians who seemed ever so nice until they realized that I not only don't accept Jesus, I don't even believe in God, and then they go from Jekyll to Hyde. After you've experienced this enough, you stop trusting them, at least until you know them pretty well, as is the case with my Christian readers who I very much value. However, even if Christians as a whole treated other people well, I would still consider their dominant political views to be destructive. For example, most of them oppose stem cell research (or at least their churches do), which is something that holds so much promise for eliminating suffering. The Christian community as a whole was overwhelmingly for Romney in the recent election. If you look at the states in which the most Christians live, you will see that they voted for Romney right down the line.

"As I understand it, Jesus made all that came before, all the restrictions of Leviticus and the whole sacrificing things and all, obsolete."

I think it likely that most Christians hold that Jesus did away with the laws pertaining to temple worship, ritual cleanliness, and other peculiarities of Judaism while keeping the moral laws. However, the distinction isn't always clear. For example, there's a law in the Hebrew Bible which says that if two men are fighting and the wife of one grabs the genitals of the other, that her hand is to be cut off. And, of course, the Hebrew Bible is quoted freely to condemn homosexuality, although Jesus didn't mention homosexuality at all, and it only appears once--that I can recall--in the entire New Testament. Because we now know that a person can't help being a homosexual, a different attitude among the Christian community is clearly called for, yet Christians as a whole go right back to the Old Testament to justify their homophobia.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Amen brother! As a Christian, you've summed up my own issues with Christianity quite nicely!

Strayer said...

Thou shalt spay and neuter thy cat.

Can we add that one ,slip it in? To be emblazoned then, in hell bent red faced screeching pulpit sermons. I could kick back.

Snowbrush said...

I just added so much to this post that I'm sorry I had already posted it. This happens to me all the time but not usually this bad.

"Amen brother! As a Christian, you've summed up my own issues with Christianity quite nicely!"

That's wonderful to hear, especially since you're one of those whom I worry about offending in regard to atheists lawsuits. You see, I really do care when I upset people, but what I put here is the truth as I see it, and I don't know how write it any better.

"Thou shalt spay and neuter thy cat."

And dog, and self... Actually, I have some good friends who are about to have a baby, and I'm terribly excited, but I had just as soon that no else has a baby.

Snowbrush said...

"I don't know how write it any better."

Oh, that is so sad. Oh, my.

rhymeswithplague said...

If I just completely overlook the quaint four-letter Anglo-Saxonisms which in the past were used for their shock value but which have become in our era a sign of a limited vocabulary, and if I squint and hold my tongue at just the right angle, I can say, not with sarcasm but with something akin to joy, that you are not far from the kingdom of God.

I hope this statement shocks you more than you think your post may have shocked me!

Snowbrush said...

"If I just completely overlook the quaint four-letter Anglo-Saxonisms which...have become in our era a sign of a limited vocabulary"

Words are never bad. It's their misuse and overuse that's bad. I think hard about every word that you read here.

"I can say, not with sarcasm but with something akin to joy, that you are not far from the kingdom of God."

Oh, not, at least not in terms of a supernatural being who divides the world into sheep and goats and then casts the goats into infinite fire as punishment for finite peccadilloes. Whatever counts as the unforgivable sin against THAT deity, may I be counted as having committed it now because I have only contempt for him. But, if by God, you mean a desire to grow in wisdom and to reach across boundaries, then, yes, you are correct. I very much want to do that.

"I hope this statement shocks you more than you think your post may have shocked me!"

I admire you, you know.

Snowbrush said...

"I admire you, you know."

I'm worried that my statement might seem meaningless unless I enlarge upon it. What I meant was:

I respect you as a person of integrity.

I respect you for your ability to befriend someone who disagrees dramatically with you about religion, politics, and the use of dirty words.

I respect you for trying your best to relate to me respectfully despite our differences.

I respect you for not telling me that you're praying for me (most atheists truly do hate to hear that).

I respect you for what I assume to be a certain sadness that you must bear due to your concern about the fate of my soul, a sadness that I would expect to grow the longer we've known one another.

I respect you for correcting my grammar, spelling, and so forth (I just wish you would do it more, although I'm always glad when I catch a mistake before you do) because when I've done that for people, I got the idea they didn't like it, and this makes me admire you the more for offering what I take to be wonderful gift.

That's all I can think of at the moment.

Snowbrush said...

"I can say, not with sarcasm but with something akin to joy, that you are not far from the kingdom of God."

"Oh, not, at least not in terms of a supernatural being who divides the world into sheep and goats and then casts the goats into infinite fire as punishment for finite peccadilloes. Whatever counts as the unforgivable sin against THAT deity, may I be counted as having committed it now because I have only contempt for him."

That was more than a bit raw, and I apologize. What I intended was to make it clear that I feel so certain that no such god exists that I don’t care what I say about him. However, if I am wrong in being an atheist, and some supernatural entity does exist, nothing but pain or terror would bring me to acknowledge him as being God unless:

he/she/it cares sincerely about all creation,
plays no favorites,
is able to somehow bring good to every last one of us in order to make up for the crap we’ve had to put up with in this life.

In other words, having been subjected to this life, I want to hear a reason for it. Once that reason is given, I will acknowledge God. Surely, one can’t go wrong by expecting high standards of his deity. Indeed, wouldn’t anything less than that be blasphemy?

Kendal Rooney said...

I haven't laughed this hard since I came up with my own version of Psalm 23:4

Once in a great while one of my younger sister that believes and I can debate without pulling our hair out. She has been in AA for over 10 years, and despite their claim that you can believe in any deity you want they prove many times a day that they are blowing hot air up your ass. Otherwise they wouldn't say the lords prayer, wouldn't bring up the word "God". Otherwise Atheist and other types of NA or AA groups would be allowed to form.

Otherwise they wouldn't chant "It works, if ya work, so work it" Setting up most of the people for failure. Many people getting clean and sober are vulnerable, desperate, and mentally ill so their minds are fresh for the converting. We follow the program rule for rule, yet fail many times, either dying or ending up in prisons.

All this in the name of a "God" So when someone says to me "How can 90% of the population be wrong?" I reply, I'm not surprised 90% of the population believe. I'm more surprised about the number of us that have been able to break out of our childhood religious indoctrination.

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

I hope you-all are having a wonderful Thanksgiving!