Sacred Scripts, Sinister Schemes: The 10 Commandments in Propaganda Narratives

Faith is not a child’s play

When we were young kids that was in the 70’s and 80’s, we love playing outdoors – luksong tinik, taguan (hide and seek), tumbang preso, beisbol, jackstone, patintero, or what we mostly call harangang taga. But there is a common segment of these games that are not often mention, and that is to begin the competition with a bato bato pik or what we called then jak en poy, both are Filipino versions of the “rock-paper-scissor” game.

“Jak-en-poy” is derived from “jan-ken-pon,” the Japanese version of the rock-paper-scissors game. In the extended version of the game, a four-line song is sung, accompanied by hand gestures at the end of each line: “Jack-en-poy!  Hali-hali-hoy! Sino’ng matalo, siya’ng unggoy!” (Translated: Jack-en-poy! Hali-hali-hoy! Whoever loses is the monkey!”).  In this version, the person with the most wins emerges as the game winner. Alternatively, a shorter version of the game employs the chant “Bato-bato-pick” (“Rock-rock-pick “)

We, being inventive Pinoys as ever, had devised two other hand gestures. Extending the thumb meant God, or flexing all five fingers towards the hand gesture of the opponent and calling it Kidlat. God is the ultimate “weapon” used in desperate situations or when one is at a disadvantage, while Kidlat is meant to demoralize the opponent, breaking their momentum if they are already winning.

Now, I would like to use jak en poy in the context of our topic of “invoking God’s power against opponents”.

God is merciful, ever faithful to His promises. Amidst His greatness, He asks us merely 10 things to live ethically, compassionately, and spiritually—the Ten Commandments. Many times, in our lives, we either violate or overlook the meaning of these commandments.

Dishonoring a sacred covenant: Prayer rallies with political agenda

It is unfortunate that prayer rallies are becoming a typical political fanfare on this side of the earth.

politician praying

The Second Commandment, ‘You shall not take the name of God in vain,’ is simple to understand and quite doable. Yet, many of us fail to uphold it.

While prayers are a powerful weapon against evil forces, bad intentions, or weakened faith, among other reasons, they must not be used as tools to manipulate public perception.”

It is, thus, unfortunate that prayer rallies are becoming a typical political fanfare on this side of the earth.

Prayers should not serve as propaganda or tools to enforce one’s public image, especially in pursuit of a self-serving agenda. Whether during elections or as part of a political campaign, or publicity opportunity, what are the proponents trying to gain? Are they invoking God to earn trust points or to imply they are on the side of truth? What is the truth?

If we genuinely respect God, we ought to know how to respect Him. For starters, we need to take to heart the commandment: “Do not take the name of God in vain.” When we speak of God’s name, His powerful and sacred name, do we invoke His grace, power, and mercy in spite of an enemy or to make ourselves appear great? How dare others invoke the name of God to admonish their enemies?

We are but specks of dust in the universe, yet we have the audacity to command God to exact justice for us. We do not command God on our terms; we seek His grace to show us the way to peace, harmony, love, understanding, and truth. Praying in His name with hatred against enemies—does that show respect? Instead, we should pray in His name to guide us, to heal our inflamed hearts, and to calm our minds so they do not become havens for poor decisions, falsehoods, and malicious thoughts.

Why would we ask God to enter our spirit through prayer when our spirit is unclean, soiled by anger, greed, or envy? Shouldn’t we at least cleanse our minds, hearts, and spirits before invoking His name? Or invoke His name to summon His grace to cleanse us?

Another frustration is the absence of any call from the Catholic Church on this matter. A few Church Groups, for example, appeared to focus on different political issues. Let us not abandon our faith. I wish that the Church will exert the effort to guide us, the faithful, to obey God’s commandments and to respect God as He instructed us. It is not the time to be lax or overlook these displays of disrespect.

Living In God’s Guidance

Let us do a rundown of the Ten Commandments, lest we have forgotten them. I have taken these excerpts from St. Michael’s Catholic Church website to serve as guides, enabling us to understand how we may abide by the commandments and not be led astray by our bursts of human emotions and limitations in our human understanding.

1. I, the Lord, am your God. You shall not have any other gods besides Me

(Huwag kang magkaroon ng ibang Diyos bukod sa Akin)

Examine the depth of your love for God, emphasizing gratitude for His love and whether that love is reflected in one’s treatment of others.

2. You shall not take the name of the Lord, your God, in vain.

(Huwag mong gagamitin ang Aking Pangalan sa walang kabuluhan)

This passage allows us to question whether the individual uses the names of God or Jesus in moments of anger and emphasizes the importance of consistently using these names with respect and love.

3. Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day and or the Lord’s Day

(Alalahanin mo ang araw ng pangilin at panatilihin itong banal)

The passage asks if the individual honors God through their Sunday activities, emphasizing the importance of spending time in prayer with family and the Church community during Mass. There are still other simple ways to keeping holy the sabbath day, which is Saturday, (note:  Lord’s Day falls on Sunday), such as resting or not engaging in work unnecessarily.

4. Honor your father and mother.

(Igalang mo ang iyong mga magulang)

This commandment allows us to reflect whether we  consistently love, respect, and obey our parents and caregivers, emphasizing the importance of examining one’s words and actions in demonstrating these qualities.

5. You shall not kill.

(Huwag kang kukuha ng buhay ng isang tao)

This commandment expresses whether an individual shows respect for the gift of life by caring for all of God’s creatures, with a special emphasis on people. It also raises the question of whether the person has harbored any intentions of causing harm or hurt to others. Moreover, you must refrain from actions that would cause others to lose faith in continuing to live. Instead, inspire them to love life and celebrate it.

6. You shall not commit adultery.

(Huwag kang magtataksil sa iyong kabiyak)

This commandment enlightens us to respect our own body and those of others as gifts from God. It prompts consideration of whether one utilizes their body in ways that would align with pleasing God. There is nothing honorable, pleasant, or modest about being in a third-party relationship or engaging in an illicit affair, especially if your partner has commitments with someone else.

7. You shall not steal.

(Huwag kang kukuha ng hindi sa iyo)

With this commandment, we are asked to ponder whether we have taken something that belongs to someone else. We need to be cautious with other people’s belongings as they are with their own. What we do not own, we must not take, especially without permission, and not even by force or through manipulation. Moreover, desist engaging in activities or endeavors that are not only illegal but also result in others losing their possessions, particularly through deceitful or unjust means. Additionally, do not abuse your privilege or position of authority to deprive others of the opportunity to live decently, securely, and with dignity.

8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

( Huwag kang magsasabi ng walang katotohanan tungkol sa iyong kapwa tao)

This commandment emphasizes honesty and integrity, particularly when disseminating information about another person. It prompts self-examination regarding consistent truthfulness and any instances of lying or causing harm through words or mere suspicion. Have you passed judgment on someone you barely know, such as on social media? Have you gossiped? Have you been involved in cases of planting evidence against an individual to cause them harm or their incarceration?

9. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.

(Huwag mong kukunin ang kabiyak ng iyong kapwa)

This commandment reminds and forbids us to harbor impure thoughts about a married woman or man, or even someone who is already committed to someone else, regardless if one refrains from acting on such thoughts and merely entertains them for personal pleasure. I am taking the liberty to suppose that this commandment also encompasses the current ills of society, such as pedophilia, lust, rape, and similar lascivious and moral violations of someone else’s dignity.

10. You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.

(Huwag kang kukuha ng anuman na pagmamay-ari ng iyong kapwa)

This commandment challenges us to express gratitude for the things we have and to resist envy and greediness. Do you ever feel the urge to covet what belongs to others? While desiring something that belongs to your neighbor or kapwa is not inherently wrong, crossing the line to acquire it illegally or allowing that desire to breed resentment is not acceptable. Additionally, this commandment addresses the inclination to covet another’s success, achievements, or talents in an illegal or unethical manner, causing harm to others or to one’s own spirit. One could argue that the crab mentality some people possess also falls under this commandment, along with taking advantage of others, taking credit for someone else’s efforts or demeaning them for personal advancement.

With the normalization of dishonoring the name of God and its use for politicking and other self-serving agendas, it becomes increasingly important for us to pray for the restoration of decency, moral integrity, and purity of faith.



The Magnificat

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, 
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.



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