In their ongoing crusade to Christianize America, the Defenders of Our Morals ("doom") are determined to have the Ten Commandments permanently displayed in every courtroom, classroom and public building throughout the length and breadth of the land. By this one act of applying supernatural solutions to real world problems, the people of "doom" are convinced that most, if not all, examples of anti-social behavior will miraculously cease to manifest themselves.
But history teaches us that in every culture and clime, whenever the powers that be embraced the irrational and allowed the forces of religion, superstition and expediency into the mix, there was a runaway increase in the very modes of behavior the faithful were trying to eradicate. Faith and force are corollaries, and every period of history dominated by mysticism was a period of tyranny. If there is any doubt on this matter one only has to peruse the pathetic past, the bloodstained present and the equally dismal future of places like the Middle East, the Balkans, Northern Ireland and other such areas, ad nauseam.
In every corner of the globe, superstition and fundamentalism, without exception, have been the harbinger of that society's decline and its eventual descent into the quagmire of internecine hostilities and bloodshed. The imposition and intrusion of religion into the social and political realm neither solves nor ameliorates the problems at hand but only exacerbates and compounds them. By increasing the tensions, inflaming the passions and exciting the emotions, organized religion can do nothing but fan the flames of divisiveness, intolerance and hatred. But history, unfortunately, can teach the people of "doom" nothing, for they are in a state of perpetual bondage to their baser instincts.
As a society we are already awash in a sea of mindless religious graffiti, rancorous slogans and pious platitudes, all of which are as dangerous as they are dishonest, as contemptible as they are contrived--and all to what avail?
How does it benefit us to have the illegal and unconstitutional religious motto "In God We Trust" defiling our paper money and coinage? Does it prevent the currency from being continually devalued by inflation? Of course not. Does it prevent an ever-bloated government bureaucracy from stealing more and more of our money in taxes? Of course not. Does trusting in god in any way, shape or form help keep our money, or our person, safe from scoundrel, knave or villain? Of course not. The one thing it does do, however, is announce to the world that Americans are the most superstitious and credulous people on the face of the earth.
What good does it do to have "In God We Trust" emblazoned on the walls of our court houses and courtrooms? Does it prevent jurors from finding the innocent guilty of crimes they didn't commit? Of course not. Does it prevent judges from imposing a sentence of death on the wrongly accused and convicted? Of course not. Does having a witness swear an oath "so help me god" while resting a hand on the bible prevent that person from telling lies, giving false testimony or committing perjury? Of course not. But what it does do, is help make Americans the laughing stock of the civilized world, a people forever identified with and addicted to the voice of superstition and the ruse of religion.
We should be ashamed and mortified by our chronic displays of sham and pretense, but instead we're proud, smug and arrogant and never miss an opportunity to flaunt our ignorance or spotlight our insufferable and embarrassing cravings for the false and fraudulent. We take pride in our inability (our refusal?) to separate fact from fantasy. We trumpet and celebrate our arrogance by willingly and habitually placing litany over logic, revelation over reason and salvation over sanity.
So in this bastion of bigotry, where Christians routinely and persistently thumb their noses at their god and his commandments, how will adding the decalog to this already extensive display of superstitious tomfoolery help make us more virtuous, ethical and moral? Will Christians all of a sudden mend their errant ways, stop playing the hypocrite and behave in a manner prescribed to them in scripture? Will Christians all of a sudden get religion? Of course not. But what it will do is lend even more credence to the lamentable observation that blind emotionalism, self-delusion and organized unreason now have a virtual death grip on this once viable and promising constitutional republic.
As this tragedy continues to unfold and the nation takes a nose dive into the cesspool of theocracy, it no doubt behooves the freethinker to maintain a sense of humor, to look at things from a slightly skewed perspective and see the fundamental absurdity and incongruity of it all. As these days of rampant irrationalism and galloping credulity escalate and intensify, it's only a matter of time before the people of "doom" marshal the necessary forces of faith and fanaticism and make the public display of the commandments official policy. However grim and repugnant this eventuality may be it nevertheless conjures up some very amusing, mischievous and entertaining conundrums.
Why, for example, when there are hundreds of offenses and commandments listed in scripture, are the defenders of our morals only interested in publishing ten of them? A quick review of same reveals that these rules and regulations go on for page after page and address every subject matter imaginable. They run the gamut from the gross, crude and vulgar to the unjust, bizarre and maniacal.
Suffice it to say that, incredibly, god has seen fit to impose the sentence of death on every one of his defenseless children for hundreds of practices, acts and everyday modes of behavior. It follows, therefore, that a thorough knowledge and understanding of each and every one of these laws and commandments is crucial if the true believer is to have any hope of salvation. Consequently, isn't it totally dishonest, unconscionable, manipulative and even criminal for the people of "doom" to withhold or ignore such vital information? How can the fawning minions ever hope to walk the straight and narrow and make informed decisions when those in charge continually play fast and loose with the word of god?
So in order to at least give the impression of being honest, trustworthy, forthcoming and unbiased, the defenders of our morals must publish in their entirety (no abbreviating, summarizing or editing) all those offenses that impose the penalty of death on the forever hapless and hopeless human race.
Now, of the laws that are rarely discussed or mentioned, the ones that get us all in the most trouble, the ones we break each and every day, three, four and more times a day, have to do with food.
God lists in some detail those items that are allowed on the menu and those that are forbidden. Christians, as expected, pay no heed to their god when it comes to food and nourishment. They simply devour everything in sight and in so doing effectively tell him to "go take a hike." For example, the word of god states, in no uncertain terms, that the pig is an abomination and no portion of that poor creature is to be eaten. The penalty for doing so is death. Death! In fact, god makes the act of merely touching the animal a capital offense.
But does this very clear and explicit stipulation deter or prevent the faithful from consuming prodigious quantities of bacon, sausage, ham, barbequed pork, roast pork, etc.? Of course not. God, in his infinite wisdom, also restricts and severely limits the kind and variety of seafood one can consume to only those fish that have both fins and scales. Which means no more lobster, no more shrimp, no more oysters or shellfish of any kind, no more catfish (they have fins but no scales), no more swordfish steaks (same reason) and the list goes on and on. Although god denies and deprives us of all the food we love, he does allow us to eat all the bugs, beetles, crickets, grasshoppers and locusts we want.
So it's quite evident that Americans, especially Christians, need to have all of these many, many deadly laws and commandments published and displayed, not only in every courtroom, classroom and public building, but also in every bistro, cafeteria, delicatessen, diner, fast-food restaurant, honky tonk, eating establishment, school cafeteria, lunch room, supermarket or wherever food of any kind is prepared, served, sold or donated--which naturally includes every kitchen in every home and domicile in this one nation under god.
This now, of course, brings us to the subject of obedience, compliance and conformity. Without some form of constant policing and enforcement, are Christians really going to mend their ways, change their eating habits or drastically alter their diets? Of course not. So what are the people of "doom" to do? How can they compel their stiff-necked brethren to obey "the word"? Simple. With the lackeys of the lord in Washington handing out tax money by the truckload, faith-based organizations and the defenders of our morals will have a never-ending supply of filthy lucre with which to hire and train a full-time and ever-present army of food fascists, culinary cops, menu marshals, grocery gumshoes, and supermarket sleuths to keep watch and make sure Americans of every rank, status, creed and color purchase and consume only those food items god so defines as such.
This brave new Christian nation of ours will soon start looking like Beirut with full-blown riots at McDonalds each morning as the food fascists try explaining to Christians how the once popular sausage biscuits have been replaced by the cricket croissant, the ham and cheese bagel by the McBug bagel, and how in lieu of the once tasty breakfast burrito, they now offer the new high protein McBeetle burrito.
Obviously this futile exercise of trying to force god into every nook and cranny in society can only end in disaster. It's too late now, but wouldn't it have been grand if we could have kept that hoary old god from the savage and ignorant past of the Middle East locked up securely in his churches, his kingdom halls and his crystal cathedrals? He had no place then, now or ever in McDonalds, the bedroom, the classroom, the court house, in medicine, science, etc. But most of all he had no place in Washington.
Regardless of how amusing, sad or deadly this return to the Dark Ages may be, one thing alone is certain--all this aggravation, all this sectarian subterfuge, deception and double-dealing could have been avoided if our founders had simply granted religious freedom to the individual but denied it to the collective. Unfortunately, as it stands now, the churches are tax-free, government-subsidized garrisons of untouchable and uncontrollable demagogues whose wealth, power and influence have placed this nation in the hands of the authoritarian, the perfidious and the parasitic. That prophetic observation made by the French general and statesman Marquis de Lafayette, "If the liberties of the American people are ever destroyed they will fall by the hands of the clergy," now sends a cold chill down the spine of every thinking individual in this country--and it should.
But then again, looking at this whole mess from a more philosophical point of view, it can always be said that people get the kind of government they deserve. Or to put it in a more earthy parlance--any people dumb enough to put the religious right into power get what they deserve . . . and they deserve to get it good and hard.
Norman B. LeClair is a Life Member who lives in Florida. An artist, he is retired from the military.