How the CBCP turned our Congressmen into Cowards

“The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable.”

– Article 2, section 6 of the Philippine Constitution

“There must be no separation between God and Man. Without these conditions, the (RH) Bill if enacted into law will separate our nation from Almighty God.”

– CBCP President Angel Lagdameo

Almost two years ago, Speaker Prospero Nograles proposed a study that could prevent the CBCP from making cowards of our Congressmen.

The study could reveal that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has no right to scare politicians with threats to campaign against them, and that the religious organization will lose tax-exempt status if it continues to do so.

As the elections draw near, the results of the study become more relevant. Sadly, it’s because of the timing that the study remains a proposal. As an online reporter for CBCP said, “Politicians tend to be wary of going against Church teachings for fear of losing votes.”

So as long as our politicians are afraid of some priests, the study will not happen. The CBCP will continue to meddle in politics, and our politicians will continue to let them. For instance, three groups will decide the fate of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill: Pro-RH politicians, anti-RH politicians, and anti-RH priests.

By now it should be clear that the CBCP is a critical part of this political debate. They have campaigned against pro-RH politicians, asked them to resign, and even tried to do their job for them, pushing for their own version of the bill. They are doing everything in their power to order politicians to their side and threaten those who don’t obey.

And it’s working. Our politicians are scared. Even our Secretary of Defense is “very afraid.” Before the RH debates resume, pro-RH politicians will try to get the blessings of some bishops. I believe the Church’s favor is a major factor most politicians consider before even hinting that they support the RH bill.

On the other hand, the CBCP is not afraid of our politicians. They wield the Catholic bloc vote (which is a myth, by the way) that got them enough political clout to be invited to a Senate hearing. And when they weren’t pleased with what they heard, they walked out, in disrespect to the privilege they’d been given.

Such political meddling is what motivated Speaker Nograles to propose the removal of their tax exempt status. But the CBCP simply shrugged off the threat. A CBCP spokesman further said that removing their tax-exempt status would require a change in the Constitution. I presume it is out of fear that Nograles later clarified that he was not proposing to remove it, only to study what the Constitution really says about the issue.

So what’s actually written in the Constitution? First, let’s look at how the CBCP understands it.

Should religious leaders choose candidates for their flock? According to Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, “that should be left to the wisdom and conscience of the mature Christian voter.” That answer might have contributed to his losing the CBCP presidency. Because where the CBCP is concerned, it’s the wrong answer.

In 1998, the CBCP released Catechism on the Church and Politics. Here are some excerpts:

What does “separation of Church and State” mean?

Separation of Church and State is strictly defined in the 1987 Philippine Constitution to refer to two points: (1) that no religion may be established as the official religion of the State; and (2) that the State may not favor one religion over others. At the same time, the State shall forever allow the free exercise and enjoyment of religion and shall not require any religious test for the exercise of civil or political rights…

To be noted is the fact that nowhere does the Constitution prohibit Clergy and Religious from partisan politics. What prohibits them from active involvement in partisan politics is the Church’s own laws and traditional wisdom.

Is there any case when the Bishops can authoritatively order the lay faithful to vote for one particular and concrete option?

Yes, there is, and the case would certainly be extraordinary. This happens when a political option is clearly the only one demanded by the Gospel… In this case the Church may authoritatively demand the faithful, even under pain of sin, to vote against this particular candidate…

– Catechism on the Church and Politics Part 2

This tells us two things about how the CBCP understands secularism. First, that they can be involved in partisan politics. Second, that they should be involved and order their flock to vote for or against candidates in cases where it is “demanded by the Gospel.”

One such case is the RH Bill, as emphasized by CBCP President Angel Lagdameo:

Even as we recognize the right of the government to enact laws, we also reiterate that there must be no separation between God and Man. Without these conditions, the (Reproductive Health) Bill if enacted into law will separate our nation from Almighty God.

Now it becomes clear why the CBCP has been so active in politics, especially in opposing the RH Bill. They believe it is their divine obligation and constitutional right.

But in their understanding of the separation of church and state, they don’t see the full picture. What does our Constitution actually say?

“The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable.”

– Article 2, section 6 of the Philippine Constitution

“No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof… No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.”

– Article 3, section 5 of the Philippine Constitution

“No public money or property shall be appropriated, applied, paid, or employed, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, sectarian institution, or system of religion, or of any priest, preacher, minister, other religious teacher, or dignitary as such…”

– Article 6, section 29 of the Philippine Constitution

I think they read only this much, but even here they only see half the picture. Secularism means more than the state not interfering with church. It works both ways. The church must not interfere with the state. Religious organizations must not be involved in partisan politics. They totally missed this point even when our Constitution makes it absolutely clear:

“One-half of the seats allocated to the party-list representatives shall be filled, as provided by law, by selection or election from … sectors as may be provided by law, except the religious sector.”

– Art. 6, section 5(2) of the Philippine Constitution

Religious denominations and sects shall not be registered (as a political party, organization or coalition, by the Comelec)”

– Art. 9, C, section 2(5) of the Philippine Constitution

The last item makes it clear that religious organizations cannot register as political organizations. This is because religious organizations, unlike political ones, receive tax privileges:

“Charitable institutions, churches and personages or convents appurtenant thereto, mosques, non-profit cemeteries, and all lands, buildings, and improvements, actually, directly, and exclusively used for religious, charitable, or educational purposes shall be exempt from taxation.

– Art. 6, section 28(3) of the Philippine Constitution

This is repeated in the Corporation Code…

Non-stock corporations may be formed or organized for charitable, religious, educational, professional, cultural, fraternal, literary, scientific, social, civic service, or similar purposes, like trade, industry, agricultural and like chambers, or any combination thereof…

– Batas Pambansa Blg. 68 Title 11 Section 88

Any corporation sole may purchase and hold real estate and personal property for its church, charitable, benevolent or educational purposes, and may receive bequests or gifts for such purposes.

– Batas Pambansa Blg. 68 Title 11 Section 113

…and in the National Internal Revenue Code:

The following organizations shall not be taxed under this Title in respect to income received by them as such:

(E) Nonstock corporation or association organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, athletic, or cultural purposes, or for the rehabilitation of veterans, no part of its net income or asset shall belong to or inures to the benefit of any member, organizer, officer or any specific person;

– Republic Act 8424 Chapter 4, Section 30 E

Note that these 3 documents emphasize that religious organizations, who receive tax-exempt status, should be “organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, athletic, or cultural purposes, or for the rehabilitation of veterans.”

Partisan politics is not an authorized purpose. So once a religious group starts politicking, it no longer qualifies for tax exemption, and should be stripped of its tax privileges.

The CBCP’s involvement in politics should put their tax exempt status into question. Which is what Speaker Nograles did in February 2008:

Speaker Nograles said that in the US, tax exempt privileges being accorded to religious organizations, charitable institutions and non-profit organizations has some preconditions under its Internal Revenue Code (Section 501) and among which is the prohibition for any organization or institution which availed of tax privileges from “conducting lobbying activities and in participating and intervening, directly or indirectly, in political campaigns.”

Let me remind you that our Constitution, Corporation Code, and Tax Code do have the same preconditions. But in our case, what’s mentioned is what a religious organization can do. It only says what cannot be done implicitly (by its not being mentioned).

But the US, whose constitution and secularism are the basis of our own, explicitly states what a religious organization cannot do:

All IRC section 501(c)(3) organizations, including churches and religious organizations, are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office…

Religious leaders cannot make partisan comments in official organization publications or at official church functions.

Religious leaders who speak or write in their individual capacity are encouraged to clearly indicate that their comments are personal and not intended to represent the views of the organization.

– IRS Tax Guide For Churches And Religious Organizations

They also elaborate on how churches can avoid politicking when it invites candidates to speak, holds public forums, and releases voter guides. But in every case, they make it very clear that the mere indication that a church supports or opposes a certain candidate is grounds for removal of tax privileges.

Now let’s review:

Does the CBCP support or oppose certain candidates? Do their religious leaders “clearly indicate that their comments are personal and not intended to represent the views of the organization”?

“If you know of a congressman or senator who voted in favor of the Reproductive Health Bill, my request is not to vote for them in the next elections.” .
Bishop Arturo Bastes over Radio Veritas

(Cardinal Vidal) is now considering whether Aquino should be included in the Church’s list of politicians who should not be voted.

Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal

Castro also said the Church’s family and life ministry with its affiliate groups nationwide might resort to bloc voting in the 2010 elections to ensure the defeat of “anti-life” politicians.

Fr. Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the CBCP’s Commission on Family and Life

As you can see, CBCP’s politicking has gone beyond mere indication into blatant intervention. These are only three of the many similar cases you can find on their website alone.

What about the thousands of violations that go unchecked when priests give sermons about who Catholics should vote? The pulpits and church buildings, like the website and Radyo Veritas, are tax-exempt properties that should not be used for political, taxable purposes.

The CBCP has to decide what to use their resources for. Either they use it exclusively for religious purposes, or occasionally for political intervention. They can’t have it both ways.

In any case, our lawmakers must require CBCP to stop politicking or lose their tax-exempt status. What’s taking them so long to do this? Maybe they’re not sure whether there are violations in the first place. Or perhaps they just don’t understand what separation of church and state really means. If they did, speaker Nograles wouldn’t think that the issue needed to be studied.

In that case, why don’t they do the study already? I imagine it won’t take much effort. I got all this from a few hours of research online. With their experts, research teams, and related cases in other secular countries around the world (even the cases in the US are more than enough), they have all the resources they need.

More importantly, it’s their responsibility. If there’s the slightest chance that our Constitution is being violated, then our politicians should not put off the study any longer.

Unless, of course, our Congressmen are paralyzed by fear. I’m afraid no Church-fearing candidate would want to follow through and risk losing the Catholic vote. But our Congressmen must not forget. As public servants, it’s not the Church, not the bishops, not even the Catholics they should be afraid of. It’s the Filipino citizens — regardless of religion — that our representatives should respect.

“The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable.”

– Article 2, section 6 of the Philippine Constitution

78 thoughts on “How the CBCP turned our Congressmen into Cowards

  1. Great post. But we shouldn’t forget the ever-powerful INC who may have strated all these.
    I can understand why these religious go into politics, but I think they should do some house cleaning first before delving into politics [e.g., int he case of the Catholics, “ex-communicate” or censure those Catholics who have mistresses, and corrupt.

  2. The church only participates in politics on issues concerning faith and morals as in the RH Bill. It is the right of the church to rally its people to go against politicians who are out to destroy the foundations of faith and morality. How come no one looks at the INC who perenially issues clear directives on who to vote for simply based on who will serve the interest of the INC. EDSA 1 is a classic example of how the church used its power to prevent a bloodbath in Edsa. A clear and unbiased understanding of history, the facts, and the issues will help you come up with a more balanced opinion of things. Otherwise you will simply end up with a biased work which is far from the truth. Isn’t the search for truth the pinnacle of journalism? You have successfully shown your bias against the church and your lack of understanding about how the church works.

    • @PV Beley – Congratulations, you have successfully shown your lack of understanding about how the church works. And about EDSA1, show me how the church prevented a bloodbath. They put people on the streets, and if Marcos hadn’t stopped Ver (for fear of losing US support), those people would have been massacred. Get educated.

      • The EDSA Revolution is not the Catholic Church’s fault perse. It’s the late Cardinal Sin’s fault. Yes, he used to be the leader of the Philippine Catholic hierarchy. But mind you, he was censured by The Vatican for what he did at EDSA (this can be attested by The Daily Tribune which discovered the official Vatican document denouncing Cardinal Sin’s actions).

        Get educated.

        • well like any organization or corporation, shouldn’t its leaders actions represent the position of the organization it heads? why didn’t the vatican do anything about this? they shouldve taken action. The lack of action from the vatican should be taken as something bad in itself. Seems like they just decided to ignore the issue at hand. something they always do

          • The Vatican may have censured Sin, but that didn’t stop him from leading the flock at EDSA. He still maintained his authority.

            Welcome to Rational Hero, Pepe. Enjoy your stay.

  3. @Mario: Thanks!

    @PV: You seem to have missed the point of the post. The church CANNOT participate in politics. At least not if they want to keep their tax privileges.

    They can, however, talk about issues concerning faith and morals. But that’s where they should stop. On the issues. Not on who their flock should vote for.

    I am aware of similar violations by other religious organizations. I simply chose to focus on a small part of a really big picture. The post is not intended to be the final say on ALL the violations against secularism in the country.

    But that the INC also violates our secular constitution does not make the Catholic Church’s meddling any less wrong.

    You seem to think that I have missed something in history that could change my mind about how Church meddling in politics is a good idea. Care to enlighten me before making such accusations? EDSA is an isolated case. The Catholic Church has always kept society in the dark ages by interfering with all forms of progress. Maybe it is you who needs to learn more about Church history.

    And while you’re at it, tell me what I do not know about how the church works. I appreciate if you add value to the discussion instead of just asserting baseless accusations.

    Thanks!

  4. PV: I would want to contest PV’s understanding of History and The Church.

    The Church’s Role in the Edsa Revolution was against a Dictator that ruled for 21 years. The context of that is it was a struggle that crossed all boundaries and had in it all factions.

    Judging an Organization by One event instead of their History and Consistency of events is not Fair (since you are advocating fairness). Since you claim that HISTORY will verify your position, please check your staple History of the Philippine People of agoncilio to LIST all the things the Church has done to the Philippines, including the slaughter of thousands (ermano pule), martyr of heroes, and excommunication of revolutionaries.

    I would say that Edsa I is not even a very good example because, even with their Religous Leadership, it took them 10 years to get their act together. As compared to Edsa II and “III” manipulating a mass of people to do anything doesn’t make one particularly a force of good.

    Like the role of the Church in the holocaust and through history it is always a matter when it serves them the more instead of it serving the people they are supposed to protect.

      • I don’t blame PV i grew up with the same trash being forced down my throat. When i read several history books and talked to several foreign professors (via email), I learned a lot of inconsistencies and how to sort through the details.

        Much of the sh*t they teach is unverifiable and they expect you to take them at their word only to let you stumble and screw up when you go to the real world. Its irresponsible but thats life, you learn to trust your own senses, verify your own sources and make your own decisions.

        Hopefully one of these guys come back citing sources and pointing out some flaws to my argument using some good old fashioned Reading and Cross Reference. That would be much better than a concession, silence, or grumbling baseless contradiction.

  5. >>The Catholic Church has always kept society in the dark ages by interfering with all forms of progress.

    Just a bit of digression. It was during those dark ages that the church (along with numerous other groups, to be sure) did its best work in preserving the knowledge of the roman and greek civilizations, so that they would not be lost to time. And in the renaissance, the Catholic Church was one of the largest patrons of the arts (less so for the science, though artist/scientists certainly benefitted regardless).

    Now, onto the topic.

    Unfortunately even if the law prescribes against such actions by the catholic church, people can always hide behind the excuse that “it is my right to state my opinion” and “freedom of speech.” The church’s opinions cannot be curbed, and indeed even the Catholic vote has been (and is now increasingly) an issue: look up Cardinal Spellman for a bit of background.

    So what are congressmen to do? Ignore the CBCP and its bluster. Call their bluff. See if you can win without bowing down to their support. Easier said than done of course, when winning is more important that creating real change.

  6. @Ryan Sumo: The Dark Ages (the Middle Ages actually)were the Age of Faith, when Reason was subjugated and progress in many areas of social development were hindered.

    If it were up to the Church, we would still be in the Dark Ages. Luckily, the Enlightenment happened and the Age of Reason began, which we can thank for most of the social progress we enjoy today.

    And onto the topic :)

    They can use free speech outside the church’s walls and its tax-free media outlets (radio, website, etc.) But they can’t use that excuse when they invoke the Church institution as a whole.

    But it is indeed a problem, as I’ve written and as you’ve said. Winning is more important for most of these politicians. I wonder how we can support secularism in our constitution when even our Congressmen can’t.

  7. ryan

    the only reason the church was the largest patron of the arts during the renaissance was because the arts were seen more as a statue symbol than anything else. They were not funding the creation of art because of its cultural value.

    and it was Charlemagne who started the preservation of knowledge of Greek and Roman civilizations. he instructed the monks and scholars of his empires to do so.

    not a very strong disgression.

      • The preservation of the arts had been shouldered by the Church even it would be a liability in terms of the enormous expenses in maintenance (that the state should be taking care of in the first place) is because of its theological relevance (being a testimony of an eternal beauty through human ingenuity and artistic excellence) and for the enjoyment of future generations.

  8. Ryan Tani:
    Excellent article. To add to this. In congress, they stop session for a 3 oclock prayer. And in the senate, they begin session with a prayer. The separation of church and state is violated day to day in our very own governments.

  9. Most political issues concern morality, and if any religious group is allowed to meddle with that, then the separation clause becomes meaningless. The only reason I see that the church can protest against political issues is when the state violates the separation, i.e. when the state forces the people to do something against their faith.

    • Political debates will turn into religious debates, and we all know how that ends — with either side convinced, because the evidence cannot be found in this world.

      Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of waiting for the after life. We have to make decisions on issues affecting this life, here and now, because people are actually suffering for our indecision.

  10. It is inescapable for most of our politicina to be fearful and cowards due to the church ideas and request. For they themselves are members of that establishment. As a member of the church you have no right to go against it; it is immoral. The only moral thing for you to do is OBEY, SACRIFICE. Isn’t it logical.

  11. @ryan: excellent article
    @mikong: good point

    sorry for the senseless fb like comment, but i’m not in the mood to add anything just yet.

  12. I recall Edsa I started out as a planned coup with Ramos, Enrile and (who else but) Honasan. It leaked out. Then Cardinal asked for people to go to the streets and prevent the bloodbath by making it a peaceful demonstration. But I think other people wanted to do it anyway. The church’s role in Edsa I may have been overrated.

    I agree that the government should start some resistance to the CBCP. The CBCP seemed to have gotten cocky after Edsa 1.

    • The Church did play a role in EDSA 1, but I agree — it’s highly overrated. And I think with everything they’ve done to society today — especially to women, homosexuals, the poor and uneducated — they deserve another revolution, but with them on the other end this time.

  13. @ Ryan: brief, straightforward, and right at the target.

    To support Ryan’s initiative (re: CBCP as the initial target), he mainly raised how the dominant church here controls our politics with the issue of the passage of the RH bill. To those who will point out all other groups, i feel you, but i think you would agree that we should bring down one enemy at a time (if we treat this in the context of war).

    The comments pointing out the other organized religions’ actions aren’t really a bad thing – it actually is great that people are beginning to see the interconnectedness of a lot of problems we are facing, caused mainly by the gross violation of the separation of church and state, which is obviously enshrined in this state’s constitution. Maybe it’s time we put ourselves to work and take this seriously and do something about it.

    • Thanks Ram. Like I said, this is just an article focused on the worst criminals (CBCP) who commit the worst crimes (against secularism).

      The other criminals will have their time, too, but the prosecution and defense will be better off talking about one case at a time.

  14. <>>

    Actually NO. I’m a big history nut and I would LOVE to quash that fallacy. When the Roman Empire split in the 4C it was the Byzantine Empire that Preserved the knowledge, this was the Orthodox Church by the way. When Justinan Closed the Academy of Athens, the knowledge was passed to the East: to Persia. At the Fall of Byzantium in the 15C this was the only time the West ever got their hands on the writings of and knowledge passed down the Classical Era.

    And for those who might think the CHURCH’s crusade was a good thing, please read up on the crusade before using it in defense of the church. The reason for Islam extremism now was because of the Crusades and back before the 11C it was more liberal, tolerant and progressive than the Church.

    • Thanks for reiterating this, nikolas. And even IF the Church did help in preserving knowledge, the atrocities committed in its name should be enough to erase any debt we owe to them. How the Dark Ages can be seen as a societal contribution by the Church is still beyond me.

  15. excelent article!

    Unfortunately you will always have people making excuses for the church and their questionable action. It must part of their strategy, no wonder they hate reproductive heath services, if people attain a higher quality of life they’ll know better and there would be less people defending their actions.

    • Thanks! I agree with you. Notice that the article does not even mention issues of religion or morality. It just says that the Church does not have the right to intervene in politics.

      And still a commenter (PV Beley)tried to defend the Church against attacks I didn’t even make. I only said their political meddling was unconstitutional.

      • it is not an intervention/meddling. the priest, bishops, and Lay Catholics are citizens of the Philippines with the same constitutional rights that all of us have, enjoy, and exercise.

        it is nothing more than your freedom and your ability to say what you will against the priests, the believers, and the Church.

  16. Personally for me, i wouldn’t necessarily vote for someone recommended by church leaders, nor would i NOT vote for someone opposed by them.

    I have to agree with them, though, that those moral issues are something that has to be strongly considered in choosing the next leaders of our county. But i stress that it’s not the only factor.

    I can’t imagine myself participating in a bloc vote.

    • Thanks Kerwin. It’s worth repeating that it’s their right to speak about the issues. But can’t they stop there? Can’t they trust their flock to make their own minds? But I guess the saying applies:

      “Pastors feed and lead, believers swallow and follow.”

      So I’m glad you’re not one of their “Sheep” in this sense.

  17. Excellent post. If only the sheep agreed that Church and State should be separate. But there will always be idiots who believe it’s the Church’s “right” to meddle, which is a sad sad thing.

  18. We, the sovereign Filipino people,imploring the aid of Almighty God (Philippine Constitution Preamble) …. It seems the Constitution itself is pro-God and takes belief in God as top priority.

    “my request is not to vote”, “is considering” “might resort” : these do not sound like marching orders of a meddling bully, do they? the last two have not even been done yet! they are just in the mind!

    then you yourself said there is no Catholic vote.

    why the fear?

    • The phrase “separation of church and state” came from Thomas Jefferson, a deist/freethinker, and the idea of secularism came from the US founding fathers, who were mostly deist. The God in the preamble is the deist God and not a god of any particular religion. Otherwise, ours wouldn’t be a secular Constitution. If our Constitution was a Christian one, why do you think they’d need to add the separation of church and state?

      It seems you are in denial about whether the Church is campaigning against certain politicians. If so, please read the posts the quotes link to, so you’ll have a better understanding of the context.

      In any case, even if they have not actually told anyone to vote, threatening to do it to coerce politicians is meddling enough, don’t you think?

      • “If our Constitution was a Christian one, why do you think they’d need to add the separation of church and state?” -Ryan

        The wall of separation between the church and state is meant to protect the church from the state. This is supposedly a common knowledge, a quick search about the separation will provide facts. it is not difficult at all to get it right.

  19. fyi, I hate it when priests meddle in politics, but not when they teach morals….

    the vast majority of those who wrote our 1987 RP Constitution were christians, not deists…its cory constitution remember?…. in jurisprudence, you use the commentary of the writers of your constitution

    XT said: give unto caesar …give unto God… no other one preceded him….http://www.zenit.org/article-24078?l=english

    the church in its official statements only give secular arguments…beware of some distortions by the media…a lot of money from foreign powers and businesses pushing RH bill…

    can’t grandparents, parents, teachers, gurus, principals, businessmen, preachers tell their students, employees, and flock, do not kill, do not cheat, do not harm babies, do not harm women, do not imprison good employers, do not make laws that make these immoralities to happen, if not “we won’t vote for you, and we will advice people whom we are teaching to do so?” meddling?

    • You seem to have missed my point. The “separation of church and state” clause, invoking Almighty God — these were not invented by the writers of the 1987 constitution. These were just carried forward from earlier constitutions back to the one written on 1899 by the Malolos Congress, which was in turn, based on the US Constitution.

      “Separation of church and state” is not a Filipino invention, and its meaning cannot be taken out of the context from which it was crafted, which as I’ve mentioned, is the one dating back to Thomas Jefferson and the founding fathers of the US constitution.

      The church inn its official statements do not give secular arguments. “If the RH bill is enacted into law, it will separate our nation from God” is as far from secular as you can get. Did you even read my post?

      To your last question, yes, this is political meddling. But it is in their right to do so. The church, when they speak as an institution, does not have the same right because they are a tax-exempt religious organization. But once they lose their tax-privileges, they can meddle all they want.

      I advise you to reread my post. And for the record, I do not believe that you hate it when priests meddle in politics. Aside from that statement, your argument has basically gone in the other direction. Please do not contradict yourself.

      • “To your last question, yes, this is political meddling. But it is in their right to do so. The church, when they speak as an institution, does not have the same right because they are a tax-exempt religious organization. But once they lose their tax-privileges, they can meddle all they want. ”

        The tax-exemption is not a “reward” of a “favor” given to the Church. Given the services that the Church provides to the citizens of the state (e.g. charity, healthcare, education, etc…) which the state should be providing in the first place it is only logical and reasonable to not burden her with taxes. it is the least that the government can extend to an organization that does the job that they should be doing.

        also, meddling is always wrong…tax free or not.

  20. You said: The church in its official statements do not give secular arguments

    …how about these?

    check out britannica’s take on moral conduct, includes moral conduct….the problem is a problem of definition of terms…”exclusively religious” means including morals….morals is also “beneficent”….unless one thinks that killing is beneficent ;)

    God is in RP constitution…can’t be deist God if we can implore his aid, don’t you think?

    politics as the art of government not equal to morals of politics… priests not ok in former, but ok in latter…hairsplitting but true….not contradictory

    • Sorry. I simply meant to negate your statement: “the church in its official statements only give secular arguments.”

      What i meant was that the church in its official statements does not give ONLY secular arguments.

      It is quite easy to give a secular argument, and when they do that I have no problem. What bothers me is when they try to inject religious issues into political debates, which is irrelevant and muddles the real issues.

      Whateven the god in the preamble is, it does not change the fact that ours is a secular constitution. Can’t you accept this? Sure, most of our people ARE religious, but secularism is there because the constitution is followed not only by people of a certain religion.

      This truth, that citizens are required to respect the constitution no matter their religion, is why secularism is there. And in practice, our government should not respect any religion, regardless of whether they believe in this or that god.

      My issue is with partisan politics, not the morality of political issues. The difference is in partisan politics, you clearly endorse or oppose a candidate instead of just sticking to the issues.

      So are you against the church’s partisan politics or not?

  21. excellent article..

    bah.. shit really happens if the church continues to intervene over political matters.. they’re not rational enough to understand the Constitution(separation of church and state).. tsk.. shame on their beliefs.. people should make decisions and not base morality through religion.. i think humanity is rational enough to distinguish good and bad without dwelling into some celestial being.. i hate the church.. they’re brainwashing the people and blinding reason alone..

  22. @Ryan I agree with Chito that the god in our constitution is Christian, not deist. Its framers were Christians, even priests and nuns. And, I read in our pgc textbook that this invocation of God is an indication that the Philippine nation asks him to guide their pledges to justice, freedom, morality, etc., which is not possible in a ‘godless’ society. Pretty much Christian indeed.

    And even though most of the us founding fathers were deists, they made no mention of any god in their constitution.

    Even if that god in our constitution is deist and not of any religion, it is still offensive and disturbing to those who do not believe, the people which it’s suppose to protect and secure.

  23. So our constitution is contradictory in nature. an amendment should be made to it, but it’ll be very difficult to push this cause in congress and the senate

  24. tnks for agreeing secular noypi…rp constitution as thought by these framers is protecting filipinos from godlessness… right now there are only 16% of world popul who think there is no God… rp framers think 84% are right in the same way that vast majority of world pop think that prostitution or taking drugs is wrong….don’t get me wrong…am not attacking atheists… just clarifying how the thinking of framers was…. kako is correct… very difficult (if not impossible) to change constitution on this one….

    • Well…I agree that the “God” in our Preamble is not based in the deist god (like the Americans).

      Roman Catholic religious and clergy like Sr. Christine Tan, R.G.S., a nun, Fr. Joaquin Bernas, S.J., a priest, and Bishop Teodoro C. Bacani became part of the 1986 Constitutional Commission and left their mark on the promulgation of the charter and its numerous provisions on the Church and state.

  25. Chito.

    The issue is not protecting the Philippines from godlessness. The issue at hand is the prevention of letting factions dominate each other. Our constitution was modeled after the US constitution. We did this because we recognize how much of a success it has been in the US and we hope to emulate that success at home. The US Constitution was designed to prevent the majority from imposing and dominating the minority, and vise versa. The topic of whether godlessness is bad or good is out of the question here. That is subjective. If this god in our constitution is in fact the Christian god, then our constitution has failed by design. This is because by acknowledging the Christian god, it has imposed one factions beliefs (Majority) over the rest(Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Polytheists, Buddhists, non-believers, etc). This is why the separation of Church and State is so vital, because it is one of the mechanisms which prevent factionalism and the corrosion of freedom.

    If the Philippine constitution was designed with equality and rights in mind and the protection of these freedoms, then imho it has failed for two reasons. Firstly because I honestly think that the god mentioned in the Constitution is christian and not representative of the consensus of the population. And secondly because so many violations of the separation of church and state happen in our government everyday. One good recent example was the rejection of Ang Ladlad Party by the COMELEC.

  26. @kako

    distinguish btw the issue of the framers (what I wrote) and the issue at hand here …again distinctions are important….I don’t agree it is the Xtian God in rp consti, there were moslems among framers…although yes plausible also xtn God there… but clearly consti INSPIRED by XTn thought of give unto caesar and give unto God…separation of powers…not separation of state from God…again clear distinctions….rp state believes in God who gives aid does not mean that state appoints bishops and bishops appoint presidents… this is distinction is rooted in solution to lay investiture in medieval ages…it is a Xtn concept…. sorry to tell atheists this…but it is true what Benedict said…separation of church and state (in the sense of powers) is achievement of Xtianity…US national anthem and national motto mention God…not to favor one religion but to show its religiousness..religiousness according to some studies good for devt…

  27. If the CBCP is indeed a vanguard of morality, or that they command the opinion of the Catholic community, how come GMA is still around (i.e. why not choose to rally against the biggest termite in the wooden block of morality?)

    I feel that it’s just a matter of politicians’ perception of the
    “power” of the Council over their flock that they feel they need to get into the good graces of the bishop in order to remain in their posts. (gamitan lang, kumbaga).

  28. Chito I think you are horribly mistaken.
    Separation of church and state was the achievement of secular thought. It would be in the last interest of Christian leaders to separate church and state.
    Just so you know it was Jefferson who coined the term “separation of church and state”. He was a deist and not a theist. Being a deist means he did not subscribe to any religion and thus any religiosity. And the very meaning of deism is belief in a god that created the universe but not interfering in it afterwards, so it doesn’t make sense to say that separation of church and state was a christian invention because jefferson was anything but religious or christian. He probably believed in the deist god for natural reasons, not the supernatural.
    The Original motto of the US is e pluribus unum (from many, one). And the only reason the star spangled banner and the motto “one nation under god” mention god is because of increased pressure during the civil war to do so. Nowhere is God mentioned in the US constitution or its amendments, which is THE document that represents the US. So even if the two things above mention god, this does not mean that the US is a religious state.
    Even if “The separation of church and state shall be inviolable” was inspired by Matthew 22:21, Nowhere in Matthew 22:21 does it say “but not separation of state from God”. So that is your own interpretation. And if it is the interpretation of any church or denomination, then citing this reason as to not separate god from the state is a violation of the separation of church and state. IF the framers really wanted to say “but the state must not be separate from god”, then they would have explicitly done so. There is no evidence of this in our constitution
    Furthermore, if it is really true that god was written into the constitution to “protect from godlessness”, then this, I feel should be removed from the constitution because it again imposes the thoughts of the majority on the minority, and thus impedes on the rights of non-believers (minority). Believing in god is not, and should not; be a prerequisite for being a patriotic, law abiding, rational Filipino. One should be able to be Filipino whether he believes in god or not. Also an important note is that nowhere in the PR constitution does it say that we must protect the state from godlessness, So I find this argument to be faulty.
    I think the god mentioned in the preamble is a christian god, because the title almighty is written before god. This title is something that is very indicative of Christian tradition, specifically roman catholic. How can you argue that this represents the god(s) of the other religions? There is no evidence for it. The protestants and jews if not never, rarely say almighty god. The Muslims definitely don’t state this. Neither do hindus nor Buddhists or the animalists that reside in the provinces. So this IS a contradiction to the separation of church and state.
    How on earth can religiosity foster development??? Religiosity embraces never changing doctrine and frowns upon inquiry. That really does not make sense. If this was true, then the US would be one of the poorest nations in the world and Pakistan, Afghanistan, The Vatican, and the Middle Eastern countries would be the most powerful nations. This is clearly not true. Can you show us these studies?

    • “Separation of church and state was the achievement of secular thought. It would be in the last interest of Christian leaders to separate church and state.” – Kako

      It was derived from Thomas Jefferson’s reply to the request of Danbury Baptists for the protection of their religious liberty.

      The wall of separation was there not to limit the church or banish them from the public square or state affairs but in order to be protected from the state; to make sure that no restrictions, limitations, and/or authority will be exerted by the state over the church.

      The wall is for the protection of the church from the state.

      • Thus implying that the inverse is inapplicable, huh? That the state cannot meddle with the affairs of the church but the church can mess around with legislation and public policy?

        • Advocacy is not meddling. The Church only defends the right of the people, especially in practicing their religious beliefs. The wall is there because the state should remain within its boundaries making sure that its people have their freedom to do what their right and moral conscience are dictating them to do.

          Implying the inverse is letting the state establish its own religion which we all know is, not only wrong, but also against our constitution.

  29. Furthermore, Muslims call god Allah. so yes they say almighty God but they have a different word for God. If the god in the preamble also signifies other deities, they should have said almighty god, allah, yahweh, vishnu, buddha, etc etc etc. they should have recognized the other gods of other religions. The fact that they don’t shows how very Christian this god is. Point is that formally, Christians call their god God. YES your casual jew will call yahweh God, but when they are practising their religion, they refer to him as Yahweh.

    Even if I do agree to your argument that “Almighty God” is the god of Christians, Jews, and Muslims, you are still leaving out the other religions that people believe in in the philippines and non-believers. Think of all the animalists and witch doctors in the provinces. Many East asians that migrated to the pinas are buddhists, shinto and/ or taoist. What about the Indian hindus? By favoring one god over the others in the preamble, it is a violation of the separation of church and state! because the constitution is favoring the god of the abrahamic religions over other religions.

    YES there is a history to the separation of church and state. but having a country REQUIRE its people to believe in god is a limitation on freedom of speech and expression, and that does not seem like the intent of the writers of the US constitution.

    And I agree with the article you posted. Religion was a way which ancient civilizations formed cohesion. I never said this wasn’t true. But we live in a modern world and we don’t need religion for social cohesion anymore. We have more effective means of social cohesion. We have the concept of the state and the rule of law. If you look at the top 10 nations with the highest standards of living and development, I will guarantee you that most, if not all the populations of these countries have a high rate of agnostics and nonbelievers. In a modern society, you do not need religion to as a “glue” and this is proof of it.

  30. but there are many things i disagree with the article you wrote. For one, assumption that religion boosts productivity through certain traits. Tell that to many agnostics and atheists who are hard working.

  31. hope you see logical fallacy in your last post: paper say A causes B but you say C causes B too…your argumentation does not refute A causes B.

    hope you also see the linguisitic fallacy of your first post… english is not the only language in the world to express the concept of divinity….

    sorry won’t continue posting and arguing if things are like this….not to be rude but…logical mind is important to understand many things… including there is a God… hope you guys well… I seriously suggest you read http://www.doxa.ws/Menues/DoxaGod.html its very logical…can help think well…have rational mind of Rizal…

  32. also you argue that religion only good for ancient religions but article cites studies of modern societies…. facts are important to reach reality… and if one does not touch reality then that is called insanity… again not to be rude…not to attack atheists ad hominem but to state truth of situation… also to help you guys stay in touch with facts through logic…that includes knowledge of loving God….Godspeed….

  33. sorry let me correct my earlier post. I was awake for 2 days because I had to finish a 15 page paper. But I will reread the journal and get back to you.

    And let me correct your allegation. I never said that it only implies to ancient civilizations. What I said is that it can still be used as a “social glue” today, but why use it when there are better systems out there, that don’t rely on superstition? Examples being The rule of law, government, credit system, academia, schools, clubs, unions etc. I will get back to you. Just let me read the article properly.

    And i stand by what I said. look at the most developed nations of the world and their rate of disbelief. There is a correlation there, but again, don’t think I’m implying causation. what I’m getting at is that religiosity isn’t a requirement for development.

  34. this is the problem i have with one part of the article

    “For most religions, hard work is a norm. Work is a duty to God and one should put diligent effort in his work. To the believers, work not
    only helps them to stay away from a sensual, immoral life but also is the best means for glorifying God.”

    can this really be measured? even if the basic tenet of “most religions” is hard work. Do people really follow it? It seems more like an assumption to me than something proven because it classifies religious people as all being the same.

    and why is a sensual life an immoral one? i don’t understand that. how does he establish that?

    he also states that there is a difference between “believing” and “attending”. Then he cites the developed countries as “believing” countries while the underdevoped countries as “attending” countries.
    The first problem I have with this is that these two classifications are not distinct enough. He does not show the methodology behind how he classifies one country as a believing country or an attending country. Secondly He does not cite any statistics or figures to support these assertions. This assertion he makes is flimsy. Go to Latin America and I guarantee you will find that most people in latin america, believe in the Christian God. Go to India and you will find that most are firm believers in hinuism. what makes their belief so different from successful countries’ beliefs?

    He cites the findings of the study of Barro and McCleary as evidence for his assertion. But the study’s methodology is also biased because they mostly got information from rich countries and not poor ones. In addition to this, the data they collected was from mostly christian counties. they don’t have any information from the other types of countries. This will definitely skew the results of their studies and I don’t see how the results can be viewed as reliable.

    The author states that Guiso’s findings shows that religion is good for cooperation, government, etc. But he doesn’t state how they are good. He also has this assumption that catholics and protestants are the only one who attend service regularly, and thus are stronger “believers”. This paper is filled with flaws and lapses in logic. How can you not see this?

    He even states towards the end that there is criticism of the methodology of his paper. a number of scholars think that there isn’t sufficient empirical information to show a linkage between religion and economic development. Why doesn’t he try to rebut this assertion at all? all he does is state in the conclusion that the two are inseperable.

    The problem I have with the paper is the way he classifies things and the assumptions he asserts which he never proves to be true. Also he doesn’t seem to address the criticisms of his cited studies’ methods. He doesn’t get anything done with the paper. This does not prove that religion is vital for development.

  35. I’m sorry if you thought i was just rejecting the so called evidence the paper was giving out because it conflicted with my views, but that simply isn’t true. The papers methods are flimsy, and thats why I reject it

  36. the church’s moral stand against the bill is unquestionable. it is the bishop or the priest or the lay people who commited significant sin should be on the hotseat before GOD. some of the ideas here are displaying extreme arrogance and ignorance even so believing that they possess that superb intellect… i am not excused, yes and this is just to tell you that nobody has the right to exalt himself and insult others. To those who believe GOD must continue to belive and practice that faith and for those who dont might still enjoy breathing and live according to what is due and right.

  37. Hypocrites! Well, if that is the game, harassment, bullying and all, politicians could easily expose all the sex scandals that these bishops and priests are involved with here in the Philippines. Mark my words, sex scandals perpetrated by priests and bishops in the Philippines is worse than in the U.S. They should rot in hell, you know-it-all we-are-upright men of the Church

  38. Pingback: Stop CBCP politicking now! | Rational Hero

  39. Pingback: Stop CBCP politicking now! | Filipino Voices

  40. Politicians are afraid of church leaders? It is logically reasonable, for they themselves are members of the church. To separate the state from the church, in the Philippines seems impossible missions, but doable. Well, let’s start promoting atheism objectively. Let’s market the idea of disbelief in God. Let’s build schools based on objective atheism: from nursery to colleges. Yes, it will take decades to achieved that mission. LOL!!!

    • @atheist boom

      Regarding Villegas and De Vera’s papers, I can’t say regarding credibility given they’re both affiliated with the Opus Dei – a group that to my experience has a habit of distoring their own research to suit their religious dogma.

  41. @Ryan Tani:
    Excellent article! I’ve really enjoyed reading this.

    Also, I’d like to share it with quite a few FB groups, if you don’t mind. Its amazing how 2 years after you’ve written this, we’re still concerned about the same issue.

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