Bear False Witness

I’m sorry God, but your ten commandments[1] in the Bible are somewhat meaningless in today’s society. My encounters with Christians over the course of my life have shown remarkable indifference towards God’s stipulations. Even the current Prime Minister of Australia, who is a “born again” Christian, is often seen to breach the bible rules set down during the era of Moses. The contents of the Old Testament are typically ignored in modern Christianity anyway so why would I expect the Ten Commandments to be treated any differently.

Of course, I’m not accusing Christians of regularly committing murders, theft or adultery although Christians aren’t immune to those things. I’m looking at the “lesser” commandments that don’t receive quite the same attention in the lives of Christians. In his discussion with Moses on top of a mountain, God didn’t prioritise the ten commandments. Given Moses had to jot down the commandments with stone and chisel, there was plenty of downtime for chit chat with God. Therefore, it’s probably safe to assume all commandments were afforded the same degree of adherence because Moses didn’t say otherwise.

So, the ninth commandment: Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbour[2]. The catechism in the Catholic Church states this commandment, “forbids misrepresenting the truth in our relations with others. We are called to be truthful, not only in our words, but in our entire way of acting towards others.[3]” It doesn’t seem too complicated, but in day-to-day life many of us struggle to uphold the truth. My grandmother said a lie is, “a misrepresentation you knowingly convey to someone whether by omission, deed or word.”

Let’s consider the most prominent Christian in Australia at the moment: Scott Morrison. He is very clear on his religious beliefs; so much so that he invited a camera crew into his church to model how devoted he is to these beliefs. His eyes were closed, his arms raised, singing in true Pentecostal style.

Go back about twenty five years and there was a young Scott Morrison attending Maroubra Baptist Church. Morrison was an “elder” of that church, which is part of the spiritual leadership team, and on occasion he preached in the church. It’s also the church where I was sexually assaulted by two attendees but I didn’t see Morrison making sure the crime was reported to the authorities. It’s likely he didn’t know about it, but I’m going to use the Bible to permit me to judge Morrison, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly[4].”

If you’re not a political watcher, you may have missed out on the frequent obfuscation used by Morrison to avoid providing an answer to journalists. There are subjects Morrison dismisses such as “on water matters[5]” and “Canberra Bubble[6]” which ensure he omits details and avoids accountability. There are also some absolute clangers showing the word gymnastics produced by Morrison in his avoidance tactics. These two are my favourites:

  • “I am on the bus – I just got off it”[7] while flying around Qld with the campaign bus travelling largely without him on it.

  • “I don’t comment on gossip”[8] while avoiding answering questions relating to Hillsong pastor, Brian Houston, being a suggested invitee to the white house dinner.

There are some issues, however, where I know Morrison bears false witness. One of my siblings and his family have been close friends with the PM and his wife for decades; so have some members of my extended family.

In December 2019, many parts of Australia were in the grips of catastrophic bushfires. It then became apparent Morrison was decidedly absent. Journalists posed questions to the PM’s office in a bid to find out where he was. Samantha Maiden, of The New Daily, was one of the journalists[9] who asked whether the holiday had been planned to meet up with the “QAnon family”. The QAnon family is my sibling’s family. The PM’s office answered with an emphatic no[10].

  • Conversely, at our family’s Easter get-together in April 2019, the discussion of the end-of-year holiday to Hawaii was had. There were several family members scheduled to holiday in Hawaii during December/January and joining that group was Scott and Jen Morrison. My sibling wondered if the Morrisons would have to pull out if he won the upcoming Federal Election.

  • Morrison represented to the public his Hawaiian holiday had been a surprise for his children. He implied it had been a last-minute decision.

  • If I knew the PM was planning a holiday in Hawaii, then I’m confident the PM knew it was planned. If the dates of the holiday altered slightly, last minute, perhaps Morrison counts that as being a totally new holiday and he justifies his representation on that basis.

Guardian Australia[11] and online news site, Crikey, investigated Morrison’s use of the phrase “ritual sexual abuse” in the National Apology to abuse survivors after the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse[12]. When questioned, the PM’s office claimed they’d heard the term in a reference group[13] working on the national apology.

  • I know that Morrison was asked to input that particular term in the National Apology by my sibling. My sibling had requested that particular phrase be used as the QAnon online cult believes satanic paedophiles have taken over the world. We knew in the weeks leading up to that National Apology the phrase was going to be included.

  • Reference groups said that was not a term they would ever have recommended.

  • The dangerous misinformation and defamation occurring in the QAnon landscape should require Morrison denounce the QAnon cult, but he has failed to comment on it altogether.

If Morrison claims to follow his God as a Christian, then he’s extremely loose with his handling of the ten commandments. On several occasions it is very clear Morrison “bears false witness.” His nickname on social media is “Liar From The Shire” so his religious hypocrisy is well noticed.

If he was truly in awe of his deity, I would expect him to fear judgement from God. He seems not to be concerned about punishment from God; rather punishment from voters.

The Bible describes the tongue as being “…a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body.[14]” Surely, Morrison understands he’s going to be judged harshly when he’s hypocritical about his religious beliefs. That is in addition to judging his politics. There are many Australian voters who are concerned about the PM’s multitude of untruths, omissions, obfuscation, and misrepresentations and his refusal of accountability.


Related – The PM and the QAnon conspiracy