Monday Ministerial Musings
By Rev. Mark William Ennis
Blog Number 34
October 3, 2020
“Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth?”
I grew up hearing that quote once a week when watching the show, “Perry Mason.” My mother loved this show and watching it was a religious ritual. This question coordinated with what we were taught at home, in school and in the neighborhood. We were always taught to tell the truth.
Two of the three presidential impeachments that I have heard in my life were held not just because of wrongdoing, but for lying about the wrongdoing. Richard Nixon lied about what he knew about his henchmen’s activities and Bill Clinton lied in court about his antics with his intern. Lying is not good. There is a reason that we have people take oaths when giving court testimony. This practice is, of course also common in congressional testimony also. The truth is important and it is considered a crime to lie in court or to lie to congress.
Is it also a crime to lie to the citizens of the United States of America? I didn’t watch the presidential debates of this past week. I usually don’t watch these. Long before the debates I have usually decided for whom I will be voting. Many of my friends did watch the debate. Their comments on social media the next day were quite amusing. Donald supporters said that he had won and that Joe had lied his way through it. Supporters of Joe claimed the opposite. I don’t know if the debate changed the mind of anyone.
What I found most interesting was that the New York Times published an article outlining the lies, distortions and exaggerations of each of the presidential candidates. I wonder if lying to the American people isn’t a crime, or if it should be. The government is after all, “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” If lying in court and to congress is a punishable crime, why is lying to American citizens not a crime? In my mind, it is.
There is talk of changing the format of the next debate. I have a suggestion. Let us compel the candidates to take an oath, with their hand on a Bible to “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Only then will we allow the candidates to start debating. I wonder if this practice will change the nature of the debates. I think that we should try this. What do you think?
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