In an opinion piece for El Paso Matters Episcopalian Bishop Rev. Michael Hunn reminds people of faith of one of the Ten Commandmants:

“Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness”.

This commandment may be the most frequently broken by people who claim to be committed Christians. To call someone “pedophile” because they say you should wear a mask or because an unidentified internet board tells you to…IS bearing false witness. So is making demonstrably false claims.

“This election was NOT stolen”, writes Hunn. “To give those opinions a microphone is to bear false witness. To stay silent in the face of a lie is to bear false witness”.

I’m thinking of converting to Episcopalian.

Do you know why lying, especially about a person, was considered such an egregious act in olden times? Why did people in year past care SO MUCH what people said about them? Until very, very recently and in MOST cultures of the world, bearing false witness was considered not just AS BAD AS physically assaulting them. It was considered worse. In times past, a man’s character and reputation was the single most important thing in life. If people thought you were a thief or a charlatan you ran the risk of losing your standing in a community. If you lost standing, you might be ostracized, imprisoned or killed. Worse than any of that, you shame would also be your family’s shame. A false accusation was such a damaging thing that duels were fought. WARS were fought. More than just a lie, bearing false witness was a sin against God. In modern times, not so much. There’s a good reason that “sticks and stones may break my bones” only became a maxim after the age of chivalry. If you insult or spew venom at someone there probably won’t be a duel. That’s a good thing! The other side of the coin is that people now feel they can malign with impunity.

Of course, there are millions of people who believe, probably sincerely, that it’s the exact opposite. “The election WAS stolen. You’re the liar.” And, since they honestly believe it, it’s not exactly a lie.

But the people who are telling them the lie…people with access to the real information, up to and including the president…those people are liars. They are bearing false witness. Over 60 lawsuit were filed only to be tossed out of courts in multiple states from judges that run the political gamut. The president’s own Justice Department says it didn’t happen. If you still want to insist the election was stolen, please offer proof. Actual proof!

Here’s an example: I see many people whose social media pages are full of Bible verses and name-drops of the Almighty. Some of these people call Tom Hanks a pedophile, not because of any proof or even a shred of evidence. They do it because “Q” told them. I’ve seen people who claim to be Christians post a still picture of the president-elect kissing his own grandchild, along with accusations of pedophilia. There’s not one scintilla of proof, not one accusation that Mr. Biden is actually any such thing. You may think he is. I’m not a very touchy-feely person myself, but I realize others are. I cringe at some of those awkward photos. But accusing someone, ANYONE, of such a thing absent any proof, evidence or accusation…is bearing false witness. And, in a time not too long ago, blood might have to be spilled before honor was satisfied.

I am NOT suggesting we all go back to the rules of the chivalric code. With modern weapons, that would be a bloodbath. But maybe we can all think more carefully about what we’re saying. If you claim to be a Christian, you’re commanded to do so.

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