The Ten Commandments
A book by Joseph Lewis
The Ninth Commandment


 
The Fulfillment of This Commandment

If one touch of nature makes the whole world kin, what is so universal as truth and justice to unite mankind? Truth and justice should be as impartial as gravitation. Can one imagine gravitation acting differently because of a person's beliefs? That is what this Commandment would do in the field of equality. Instead of creating a universal bond of justice between men, it would divide mankind according to racial, religious and clannish groups.

If this Commandment is obeyed, a Catholic has to favor a Catholic in a controversy where Catholic interests are at stake, even to the extent of lying in order to gain an advantage. It means that a Protestant should favor a Protestant, a Jew a Jew, a Mohammedan a Mohammedan, and that nations through their representatives should hesitate to tell the truth when it might be disadvantageous to them.

Hate, and particularly sectarian hatred, can easily be rationalized as having sufficient justification not only to speak falsely, or to withhold the truth, but also to provoke the most reprehensible acts.

What devout religious believer would not lie about some enemy of his religion, if by so doing he might prevent an attack on his faith or because it might possibly benefit by an untruth? The religious believer's conscience would not be "clear" if he did not resort to every devious means to defend his religion.

In 1378, when the infamous Urban VI became Pope, he, as head of the Roman Catholic Church, "made a solemn and general declaration against keeping faith with heretics." [*37] In 1569, the Spanish Page 558 Bishop Simancas once more asserted the Catholic principle that faith is not to be kept with heretics "for if with tyrants, pirates and other robbers, who kill the body, faith is not to be kept, far less with confirmed heretics who kill souls." [*38] How convenient to resort to false reasoning and Jesuitical sophistry to support an untenable premise!

The Church doctrine as early as the second century ordered that "Christians should hold no conversation, or should interchange none of the most ordinary courtesies of life, with the excommunicated or the heretics." [*39]

Principles laid down in the Decretals, part of the canon law of the Church, specifically state that "an oath disadvantageous to the Church is not binding." [*40]

From the day this pernicious doctrine was uttered to the present time, the Roman Catholic Church has never issued a repudiation; on the contrary, it has reasserted again and again that it is the duty of Catholics to lie for their Church. [*41] This accounts for the well-known Jesuit doctrine: "To take an oath is in itself a deadly sin; but the man who only swears outwardly, without inwardly intending to do so, is not bound by his oath; he does not swear, he only jests." [*42] "Intellectual veracity, sincerity in matters of thought and faith, consistency in thinking, is not one of the virtues encouraged by the Church," says Professor Friedrich Paulsen, whose partiality to religion is unmistakable. [*43]

Martin Luther, after admonishing Philip of Hesse to tell a "good stout lie," defends his advice in the following words: "What would it matter if, for the sake of the Christian Church, one were to tell a big lie?" [*44]

Macaulay, in evaluating the doctrine, said that "pagans, who had Page 559 never heard the name of Christ, and who were guided only by the highest light of nature, were more trustworthy members of civil society than men who had been formed from schools of the Popish casuists." And Locke, another great English thinker, says: "The Church [religion] which taught men not to keep faith with heretics, had no claim to toleration." [*45] All of which proves that there is more likelihood of the truth being spoken if a man is taken on his honor than on his religion.

Westermarck records innumerable instances in primitive societies where the "totem" bond is closer than the bond of blood or family; that is, people are bound together more strongly by the fetishes of a religion than even the ties of blood. [*46] This is proved by the fact that a marriage between two persons of different religious faiths, though related nationally and by blood, provokes the strongest protests and antagonism; while a marriage between two persons of the same religious faith, though widely separated by both blood and nationality, receives approbation and approval. This primitive conduct prevails today among peoples of religious persuasions, though nationally related, and we see this hateful antagonism between blood-related families divided by the totem fetish. Branches of the same family that have adopted different religious faiths are generally antagonistic to each other. There is still a menacing aspect of this totem bond, as manifested by this Commandment, in the clannish conduct in our own nation in political matters. [**47]

We find that strongly religious persons would much prefer to vote for a political candidate of their own faith than for a far superior representative of a different religious persuasion; thus proving that the ties of religion are much stronger than love of country. This bigoted religious attitude is the most dangerous menace to a democracy. In England, during the last century, this clannish division of the people was so pronounced that Lecky says the situation gave rise Page 560 to the maxim that a man's true country or interest was not that in which he was born, but that of his coreligionists. [*48] But, for the very crystallization of this obnoxious attitude, I quote Father Phelan, a Catholic priest: [*49]

"Tell us we are Catholics first and Americans or Englishmen afterwards; of course we are. Tell us in conflict between the Church and the civil government we side with the Church; of course we do. Why, if the government of the United States were at war with the Church, we would say tomorrow, to hell with the government of the United States; and if the Church and all the governments of the world were at war, we would say, to hell with the governments of the world."

This is a perfect example of the strict observance of this Commandment. Whether the government of the United States was justified, in the event of a war with the Catholic Church, would make no difference to Father Phelan. The Church must come first regardless of the justification of the conflict. Could any attitude be more pernicious, or contrary to the principles of national interest or the country's welfare? How can such a doctrine be productive of common good for all and for the peace and security of the nation? Do we need any better proof than the above quotation that the great spirit and principle of toleration existing in free governments is safe only because of the diminished influence of the clergy and the emancipation of the people from their religious doctrines? Does anyone doubt for a moment that if the Catholic hierarchy had the power today, it would repeat its condemnation of toleration to non-Catholics, as it did in France in 1870? [*50] As a matter of fact, this sentiment was expressed recently by the Rev. Charles E. Curley, who said: [*51]

"I proudly declare this country of ours to be thoroughly Christian and Catholic in its very roots. And if, with the passing years, Page 561 there have been grafted on to it elements which are neither Christian nor Catholic, then I say, let us take a sharp pruning knife to them and cut them off forever."

These sentiments are only echoes of the pronouncements in the celebrated Encyclical letter against Modernism issued by Pope Pius X in 1917.

The Most Rev. John A. Duffy, Bishop of Buffalo, New York, as reported in the Worcester (Mass.) Telegram, of March 31, 1939, said with unashamed arrogance:

"I say publicly here and now that if the United States ever joined in a foreign war with Russia, I would advise every Catholic boy to refuse to serve in the United States Army."

Pertinent to this very subject is a public statement made by the District Attorney of Bronx County of the City of New York. This official said: "I try to live as a Catholic and administer my job as a Catholic." An editorial in the New York World-Telegram [*52] took District Attorney Foley to task for this clannish statement in the following manner:

"Mr. Foley needed to be set right -- if actually he had any illusions -- on the matter of religious administration of the prosecutor's office. He knows as well as anyone, in fact, that he is the District Attorney of the Protestants, Jews, non-Christians and the godless as much as of the Catholics, and that this country is definitely not interested in any possible sectarian way of administering public office. That he tries to live as a Catholic is beyond criticism or comment, but it is altogether an extraneous characteristic under a Constitution which says 'no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office.'"

Individuals, groups and organizations wrote to the Governor of the State demanding that he remove Mr. Foley, as he was administering his office according to "his theological beliefs." A petition stated that "District Attorney Foley or any other public official elected Page 562 by the people should administer his office in accordance with the laws of the State and the nation, and not in accordance with his theological beliefs of any kind or sort. Mr. Foley's address was not only un-American, but against every fundamental principle of the Constitution," concluded the protest.

Another instance, equally flagrant, is the statement made by Congressman Paul J. McCarty of Boston, Massachusetts, who said, "I am a Catholic first and a representative second." This attitude of placing religious beliefs above that of sworn public duty raises the question as to whether men such as Mr. Foley and Mr. McCarty, because of divided allegiance, are entitled to hold public office under our Constitution. [*53] This premise was sustained by Federal Judge John Bright, when he revoked the citizenship of Fritz Kuhn and ten other notorious members of the German-American Bund. Judge Bright said: "It was not intended that memories of his native land should be entirely forgotten, or that he should divorce himself from all political action. Each defendant renounced all allegiance to his homeland; he agreed to support and defend the Constitution and our laws against all enemies, and his faith and allegiance was to be true. These three requirements preclude any divided concept [religious or otherwise]. They contemplate full and complete citizenship." [*54]

The primitive totem clanship rises above the thin veneer of culture that we have acquired, and sets at naught the most elementary principles of honesty and morality.

Racial and religious prejudices can become so intense that privations of the worst kind are suffered under their influence, even to the sacrifice of life. History records an instance where a Christian preferred to die rather than be cured by a Jewish doctor; and only recently, in London, an orthodox Jewish patient died rather than allow himself to be saved by the transfusion of blood from a Christian donor. The council of Béziers, 1246 A.D., and the Council of Alby, 1254 A.D., prohibited all Christians from resorting to the services Page 563 of Israelite physicians. [*55] In France, in 1301, a decree was issued prohibiting a believer in the Hebrew religion from practicing medicine on a person of the Catholic faith. [*56]

How far removed is Nazi Germany from the ignorance, hatred and bigotry that permeated the European continent during the Dark Ages? The fanatical anti-Semite, Herr Streicher, would even discontinue the use of medical knowledge to cure disease merely because the cures were discovered by Jewish physicians! He finds particularly obnoxious the discovery of Wassermann, known as the Wassermann Test, by which syphilis is determined; Ehrlich's salvarsan, a drug to cure this frightful disease, and Neisser's discovery of the gonococcus germ and his method of curing gonorrhea. In other words, he would rather see the German people suffer from these two malignant venereal diseases than be cured by the discoveries of Jewish physicians! [*57]

So strong can religious antipathy develop from this totem bond that even respect and honor due national heroes are avoided as if a mortal sin were being committed. There is an instance of the refusal of the Rev. Romaine F. Bateman, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Milburn, New Jersey, to permit citizens of the community to hold a celebration in honor of George Washington. He is reported as having stated:

"Washington and Lincoln were un-Christian and their names are unworthy of being brought before the public."

Mr. Bateman also remarked that Washington's service to his country was "merely incidental compared with his un-Christianity."

"I felt that when there is a question of what to preach, we had better stick to Christ, much as we may think of an individual. If we paint a beautiful picture of an individual and praise his standards of life and then ask people also to accept Christ's standard, there will be confusion if the two standards do not agree." [*58Page 564

It is notorious that Thomas Paine has been denied his rightful place among the country's immortals for his invaluable contributions to the cause of American independence only because he was the author of The Age of Reason.

The influence of this Commandment has gone even further; not only has it been responsible for the denial of honor to our national heroes because of religious prejudice, but it has also corrupted the laws of this country. Religiously minded judges have prostituted their high positions by invoking this Commandment in defiance of the rights of equality before the law by making a religious test the qualification of a witness. Such conduct is in violation of the oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and is not an aid but an obstruction to justice, a denial of the fundamental right of every citizen of the country.

Courts of law were established for the purpose of procuring justice, not defeating it; and if testimony is only to favor a neighbor, of what benefit is a trial? If, because of the prejudice of the court in not permitting the fullest testimony in a case, one party is denied justice, this is just as reprehensible as it would be to permit false testimony.

In the trial of a thief, one judge refused to permit the complainant to testify because he was an unbeliever. The fact that other witnesses testified for him and secured a conviction of the culprit proves that his charge was true, and so would have been his testimony. Because, however, the unbeliever was a "stranger" in the eyes of the religiously minded judge, he was denied the rights of a fundamental tenet of justice. Here the judge followed the precept of this Commandment to the letter. He put the interest of the religious thief above that of the honest unbeliever, because of the very clannishness exemplified by this Commandment. He favored the "neighbor," as religiously defined, at the cost of truth and justice. [*59]

In 1897, a Louisiana jury found a wretch guilty of raping a child, but the conviction was reversed by a higher court because it was Page 565 shown that the child had no belief in the existence of a God. The court ruled that because of this there was no guarantee as to the truth of her testimony! [*60]

In Arkansas a man was convicted of first-degree murder on good evidence, but the Supreme Court of that State reversed the conviction. The court held that the testimony of the ten-year-old child who testified against him was not valid because it was not made under "an immediate sense of the witness' responsibility to God"! In another case such testimony by a nine-year-old girl was admitted as valid not because of her intelligence but because she "had been taught to believe that there is a God and a heaven." [*61]

In 1791, a Warwickshire jury of Churchmen and Tories disgraced English justice by acquitting several rioters who had destroyed Priestley's house. The jurymen's animus against Priestley's political and religious views was so strong that they had no qualms about perjuring themselves by acquitting the guilty men, although they were very indignant when the counsel for the prosecution reminded them of the obligation of their oath. [*62]

In a recent case in Illinois, a forger could have had his conviction reversed if he had succeeded in proving that his victim, the prosecuting witness, did not believe in a God and a future state. [*63]

In the benighted State of Alabama, the legislature at one time enacted a law which provided that "Negroes, mulattoes, Indians and all persons of mixed blood descended from Negro or Indian ancestors, to the third generation inclusive, though one ancestor of each generation may have been a white person, whether bond or free, must not be witnesses in any cause, civil or criminal, except for or against each other." [*64] Under this law, it has been correctly noted that if a Negro woman had been ravished by a white Christian she could not testify against him. Such a law is intended to defeat the ends Page 566 of justice, and is not only in complete conformity with the purpose of this Commandment, but it gives legal sanction to its narrow tribal concept. The Supreme Court, invalidating this statute, expressed what could happen to persons disqualified as witnesses under it: "The white man may plunder the Negro of his property; he may abuse his person; he may take his life; he may do this in open daylight, in the presence of multitudes who witness the transaction, and he must go acquitted, unless perchance there happens to be some white man present." [*65]

In New Jersey, a man was found stabbed in the throat and bleeding to death. While still conscious, he named and accused his assailant. At the latter's trial for murder, the defendant's attorney asked the court to charge the jury to the effect that if the murdered man had no belief in God and in a future state of reward and punishment, they must disregard his accusation. The murderer was acquitted. [*66]

Luther Burbank and Thomas A. Edison, two of the greatest men who ever lived, would not have been permitted to testify either for themselves or for others in the courts of the State of New Jersey!

Conrad H. Moehlman, Professor of the History of Christianity at the Rochester Theological Seminary, says: "The numerous literary forgeries and famous lies convict leading Christians of every century of transgressing the Ninth Commandment." [*67] This statement not only reveals the general lack of understanding of the Decalogue, and particularly of this Commandment, but the literary forgeries and lies and other means of fraud and deception by "leading Christians" to advance their religion or destroy those opposed to them are not a transgression of this Commandment but a fulfillment of it.

This Commandment is only another piece of indisputable evidence added to what we have already discovered about the previous parts of the Decalogue, that religion and religious doctrines were never intended to make for truth and morality. No wonder Père Meslier, the Page 567 "repentant" Roman Catholic priest, asked God on his deathbed to forgive him for preaching Christianity. He said that a strict observance of the precepts of religion founded upon the Bible would involve the ruin of nations and destroy all bonds of human society.

 
The Law and This Commandment

In my preface I quoted a number of prominent men, among whom were a member of Congress, a Governor of one of our States, and a jurist of one of our higher courts, to the effect that the laws of this country were founded on the Ten Commandments. I stated that these men were either ignorant of the fundamentals on which our laws were based, or of the real meaning of the Decalogue. Not only was this Republic not founded and not only are its laws not based on the Ten Commandments, but the ends sought were in direct opposition to the precepts of the Decalogue.

The edicts of the Decalogue are based on the presumption that certain acts are an offense to God, while the Constitution of the United States is a code of laws specifically enacted to protect the individual in society. The Ten Commandments are based on the proposition that man is a sinful human being, while the Constitution is an instrument in defense of the "Rights of Man." One is designed to punish sinful conduct, while the other was created to protect inalienable rights and privileges. The Decalogue, in effect, says, "Thou shalt not commit a sin," while the Constitution says, "Thou hast certain basic rights that may not be abridged."

The laws of this country were designed to administer justice and equality impartially to all, while the Ninth Commandment was intended to defeat the ends of justice. Equality before the law is one of the cornerstones and firm pillars of our legal structure, while this Commandment was formulated for the very opposite purpose -- that of defeating equality before the law by restricting testimony to favor one against the other. This Commandment does not sponsor the truth so that the ends of justice may be achieved, but that the ends of justice may be defeated by the concealment of the truthPage 568

The fundamentals of the Declaration of Independence proclaiming the "self-evident" truth "that all men are created equal," and that they possess the inalienable rights of "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness," are the basic principles underlying the Constitution of the United States. The codification of these principles into laws established for the first time on this earth a government truly dedicated to the principle of justice without regard to race, color or creed. In proof, I quote the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution:

"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense."

And as an additional safeguard, the Fourteenth Amendment provides:

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Can anything in the above quotations be construed as having been founded on the Commandment, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor"? On the contrary, it very definitely says that "the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury." So that the accused may use every means to defend himself, and use every legitimate device to ascertain the truth of the charges against him, he has the additional right of being Page 569 "informed of the nature and cause of the accusation," and "to be confronted with the witnesses against him." In addition, to protect his interests and defend himself, he also possesses the right and power to "compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor," and, last but not least, "the assistance of counsel for his defense." And if he is unable to pay for such counsel, the courts invariably supply one at the cost of the State whose laws he is charged with breaking and which is prosecuting him in an endeavor to punish him for his alleged acts. Are these provisions of the Constitution anything like the Ninth Commandment?

No matter how damaging the circumstances or the suspicion of guilt, the individual charged with a crime is entitled to a fair and impartial trial, and to present evidence in his own behalf. Under the American system of jurisprudence, even an alien of the worst criminal type is given the full protection of the law, and not until sufficient proof is presented to convince twelve men, beyond a reasonable doubt, is he legally declared guilty of the crime with which he is charged.

One of the most dastardly crimes, in my opinion, ever committed in this country was the kidnaping and murder of the infant of Charles A. Lindbergh. When the suspect was arrested, it was discovered that he was not only not a citizen, but an alien with a criminal record. The Governor of the State in which this scoundrel was to be tried made the public declaration that he was to receive a fair trial. He said: "There is an old maxim in law that a man is [presumed] innocent until he is proven guilty. New Jersey will see that Bruno Richard Hauptmann gets a fair trial." [*68] If this Commandment had been invoked against the culprit, then he, as an individual enemy, would have been unable to bring forward any witnesses in his defense; while under our Constitution he enjoyed the benefit of every legal means in his behalf. Pereat coelum, fiat justitia! Let the sky fall, but justice be done. It was far more important to give this execrable creature the full opportunity to defend himself than to violate the principles of justice. Page 570

To adopt the Ninth Commandment in our courts of law as the criterion of justice would be to make religious and racial sectarianism the standard of truth and justice. If we accept the sectarian principle of this Commandment, then we must scrap the Constitution, because the basic secular philosophy of the Constitution is that all men have equal rights before the law without regard to race, color or creed. [**69] If we accept this Commandment, then we must erase from our courts the motto that "The firm pillars of society rest upon the true administration of justice."

If this Commandment prevailed in our courts of law, justice would be impossible and every sentiment toward the equality of man would be stifled. The symbol of equality would have to be tipped with a weight of prejudice in favor of one party; the blindfold covering the two eyes of justice to assure impartiality would have to be removed, and instead one eye would have to be half closed into a wink indicating that only evidence in favor of one party would be heard.

It is well to remember that the Goddess of Justice is a pagan creation and not a Biblical one. No better comparison of the broad cultural attainment of the former and the narrow provincialism of the latter could be used as an illustration than by comparing this Commandment with the evenly balanced scales of the Goddess of Justice, insuring impartiality to all.

Not only has the analysis of this Commandment shown the impossibility of our laws being based on the Decalogue, but we are confronted with the alternative of either accepting the Constitution of the United States or the Ten Commandments.

The Decalogue is a code of a theocracy. The Constitution is an instrument of a democracy. The Ten Commandments are based on a divine right with dogmatic edicts. This government is a Republic Page 571 based on equal representation of the people with the right to change and alter its laws.

How odious is the comparison of the narrow sectarian doctrine of this Commandment, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor," with the words which are carved above the portals of the Supreme Court in the nation's Capital as symbolizing the fundamental principle of universal justice on which our government was founded:

"Equal Justice under Law."

 
Sectarian vs. Universal Brotherhood

Despite the fact that this Commandment expressed the highest moral conception of the Hebrew Deity, and was considered the epitome of divine justice for more than two thousand years, other peoples had broader and more universal sentiments and laid down loftier principles for human relationships. The latter's doctrine was based on the fundamental equality of human beings, that human rights are fundamental and basic, and that principles and not persons are the criterion of justice. These "pagan" and "infidel" opinions maintained that a man was a man regardless of the color of his skin, the language he spoke, or the country from which he came.

The philosophy of the Stoics was based on the theory that truth for truth's sake was the highest ideal and must never be sacrificed to expediency. The Stoics were the first to give the idea of world citizenship a definite, positive meaning, and not only raised it to historical importance, but molded it into a philosophy that has influenced the world and been responsible for much of the mutual understanding and progress which we now enjoy. [*70]

Cicero, voicing the Stoic doctrine, said: "Nature ordains that a man should wish the good of every man, whoever he may be, for this very reason, that he is a man." [*71] And again: "To reduce man to the duties of his own city, and to disengage him from duties to Page 572 the members of other cities, is to break the universal society of the human race." [*72] Seneca said: "Nature made us relatives when it begat us from the same material and for the same destinies. She planted in us a mutual love, and fitted us for a social life." "My country is Rome," said Marcus Aurelius; "as a man, it is the world." With such a broad outlook, is it any wonder that he summarized his philosophy in these words: "There is but one thing of real value -- to cultivate truth and justice, and to live without anger in the midst of lying and unjust men." [*73]

The moralists of ancient India taught that we should devote our lives to the welfare and advancement of others, without any thought of reward, and that we should be happy in the fortune of others although we ourselves were not so fortunate. [*74]

The Chinese moralists advocated benevolence to all men without making any reference to national distinction. Democritus of Abdera said that every country is acceptable to a wise man, and that a good soul's fatherland is the whole earth. [*75]

Diderot, the atheist, presents a question that answers itself. He asks: "Which is the greater merit, to enlighten the human race, which remains forever, or to save one's fatherland, which is perishable?" Diderot, a guiding spirit in the French Revolution, exercised a tremendous influence in making that great event a new era in the movement toward the brotherhood of man. [*76] The whole eighteenth century was influenced by the ideals of those brave men who proclaimed to the world a new doctrine in the words, "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity." Men were looked upon as members of the human race rather than as citizens of any particular country. To be a citizen of every nation, and not belong to one's native country alone, was the dream of their "infidel" philosophy. Page 573

Our own Thomas Paine said: "Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good."

The great Buckle truly said: "...ignorance is the most powerful of all the causes of national hatred; when you increase the contact, you remove the ignorance and thus you diminish the hatred."

These sentiments for better understanding and equality between the peoples of the earth are not the result of this Commandment, but despite it. Man is not the enemy of man, and because one man is of a different color, or speaks a different language, or comes from a different country, does not necessarily make him an enemy to his fellow men. We are, fortunately, rapidly moving toward that ideal of the broader principles of human relationships.

Only as we break down the sectarian and nationalistic barriers that block the path will this cherished goal be completely attained. That such a goal is in sight is only too well attested by the principles of equality which now prevail in civilized society, in contradistinction to the narrow sectarianism as expressed in this Commandment.

If progress is to continue and man is to live in a society of mutual understanding and betterment, then the primary task of education is to eradicate those instincts of tribal and clannish life as manifested in the Decalogue that are constantly plaguing modern society with discord, dissension and conflict. Nor will universal justice ever be achieved on this earth until the meaning of the word "neighbor" as represented by this Commandment is completely obliterated from our social and national existence, and racial and religious sectarianism is eradicated from the heart and mind of man.



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