Sunday, April 29, 2007


Should the ninth commandment have a role to play in politics?

At the risk of being called naive I believe it has a significant role to play in our national life.

If like me you are confident you know the ninth commandment even if at the moment you can not state its exact position in the list of all ten, well maybe I can help you out. The 9th commandment is the one where God commands us not to bear false witness against our neighbour. I must say that it has been a while since I’ve thought much about this commandment and its application.

It has also occurred to me that maybe it is not really so important whether or not I think the ninth commandment has a role in politics. Perhaps what is most important is whether God wants it to apply. Here my hunch is that God wants it to apply not just to politics but to all our interpersonal, community to community and nation to nation relationships. If this is not the case then perhaps you can point me to the exemption clause in Holy Scripture where politics is left out the areas to which it is to apply.

But how do we bear false witness and why would we want to?

One possible way might be to tell a lie about one person to a third party. For example, if I started a rumor that Prime Minister Harper and all members of the Conservative Party were Detroit Red Wings fans and cheered for the Red Wings over the Calgary flames in the first round of the play off games I could well be telling a lie. One possible consequence of such a lie might be that some Calgarians might choose not to vote for Harper in the next election. We might also find that Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver fans might also find themselves less incline to support members of Harper’s team in the next election.

Spreading such a rumor as this might be of some advantage to me if I were not a member of the ‘Harper Team” but instead played for the Dion, Layton or Duceppe teams. Maybe some of those who are now upset with Harper because of his poor judgment in hockey teams might be prepared to give my team another look.

Unfortunately, the rumor I started would still be a lie. I don’t know who Harper supported in the first round of the play offs. I may have my suspicions but I don’t know for certain. Likewise I don’t know all the members of the Conservative Party let alone if they have a preference in teams, or even if they follow hockey. I’m not a mind reader. I also do not possess the godlike properties of being omnipresent, omniscient, or omnipotent. If I did claim these properties for myself I would be coming up on the wrong side of another of God’s commandments.

So when I read that Prime Minister Harper had accused Liberal leader Stephan Dion and all members of his party of caring more for Taliban prisoners than they do for Canadian soldiers, this struck me as a clear breach of the 9th commandment. To be certain of what the Prime Minister said I checked the official record Hansard. After checking I am convinced that he did make that comment.

Prime Minister Harper professes to be a person of faith. As a national leader he is also a role model for many people including young Canadians. I encourage our Prime Minister to repent of this breach of God’s commandments and to apologize not just to Mr. Dion but to all Canadians.

Now before the other political parties begin to feel smug about their conduct as leaders and role models for our nation I just want to say that in reading on in Hansard I found other examples where I suspect members of their parties had also broken the 9th commandment. And as a member of the public perhaps I need to reflect upon my own life and actions when it comes to bearing false witness against my neighbour (gossip). How about you?

I believe we need to pay more attention to God’s teaching in the 9th Commandment. Surely the intent here is to build a strong compassionate society in which we all can live in a life-giving relationship with God and with all people.

God"s love is for all creation

God"s love is for all creation
God has many names