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.