It appears that the Christian Coalition forgot the Eighth Commandment, the one that bans lying and perjury.
Many of us don't know that much about religion, according to a recent poll, so as a refresher here's the commandment, from the New Standard Revised Version of the Bible. (While there are Protestant and Catholic editions, the book of Deuteronomy, from which the commandment is pulled, is identical in each):
"Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbor."
Protestants, Catholics and the Orthodox have tiny shades of a difference of opinion on what the commandment actually means, but the basics are the same: don't lie and don't slander others.
Back in July, some web programmers announced GodBlock, a piece of software that could be downloaded and installed on any computer and that would act the same way that anti-pornography filters do, except that instead of porn it would search for religious references and remove them. The whole thing turned out to be a joke, but it did inspire a good deal of controversy among non-believers.
This publication covered the controversy, in which atheists were asking the question: should non-believing parents ensure that their children were insulated from scripture?
David Silverman, then vice-president of American Atheists (he's since been promoted), gave the People's World an emphatic "no" as his answer. According to Silverman, he'd be happy for any child, including his own, to read the Bible. Silverman, like many other atheists, believes that the right to freedom of speech is inalienable, and that children should be respected enough that they are allowed to form their own opinions.
Of course, Silverman noted that, as an atheist, he didn't particularly like the Bible, and, in an aside, said the following:
"There are some disgusting things in the Bible. They're talking about smashing babies against the rocks, talking about drinking urine and eating dung. There's really horrible stuff: the genocide, of course, the hate, it's all in there. The whole process of killing people because they're different-‘suffer not a witch to live' - that stuff."
The essence of Silverman's message is obvious: "I don't like it, but it shouldn't be censored." Nonetheless, on the Christian Coalition's website, the Rev. Austin Miles claimed, July 21, that atheists were trying to censor God from the Internet—and cited Silverman's above quote as proof!
That certainly qualifies as bearing false witness against your neighbor.
Rev. Miles went on to attribute to Silverman words by this author, and then added that the atheists were working with Communists and the Obama administration. Again, a misrepresentation, an outright lie, and slander of others.
The article was posted in July, and it hasn't been taken down. Writings on a fringe website by a fringe reverend doesn't rattle Silverman or anyone here at the People's World. What is troubling, however, is that the Christian Coalition, though diminished in recent years, plays a big role in the Republican Party and tea party movement and is well-financed. These are the people, or at least some of the people, who are putting forward lies like about President Obama's citizenship and so-called death panels, which are picked up by Fox News and spread across the country.
These are the people who, along with big corporations, are behind candidates like Carl Paladino, Christine O'Donnell, Rand Paul and other tea party candidates.
While lies are spread all around the country by these groups, certain things are true: Silverman's not a Marxist, Obama's not an atheist or Communist and neither are out to ruin America.
And most immediately, to keep liars from pushing their narrow agenda on the country, it's necessary to defeat them at the polls in November.
Photo: Controversial statue of the Ten Commandments in a city park in Pleasant Grove, Utah. http://www.flickr.com/photos/21494143@N00/3025462250/ cc 2.0