NOW that four bishops and three priests are officially charged with sedition, the supporters of the administration are shouting from the bottom of their hearts with joy. For those who have never been comfortable with the criticisms of the accused clergymen, victory has been achieved even before any formal court hearing could begin.
Streaming in social media are comments and remarks that seem to appear intelligent. The main thought and argument, especially of the critics of these clergymen, is that “it’s high time for the Catholic Church to learn a lesson.” The lesson referred to is none other than the repeated demand for Catholic priests (to be specific) to “stay away from politics.” I’m sure that even some Catholics are no less agitated: “Finally, this administration has made the boldest move to demolish the influence of the Catholic Church.”
I find the feelings of the jubilant supporters understandable. But I am not sure if they have realized the inconsistencies behind their position, and the dangers of the consequences of their political choice. Basically, I find the antagonism of some people towards the Catholic Church as somewhat selective. Truth to tell, the cry is not for separation of Church and State. They simply do not want the Catholic Church to say anything about politics.
This kind of attitude is unfair. It is not only uninformed but also fueled by a misguided interpretation of the separation clause. Apparently, the current administration is not distancing itself from religious influence. More correctly, it is in fact using religion to support its cause. The president in his decisions is even backed up by a religious leader who claims “divine identity.” How can the supporters of the administration say that the government is true to the provision in article II, section 6 of the Constitution when in fact the president no less is that close to someone who claims that he is the appointed Son of God and thus the owner of the universe?
It is not a secret that the president is a good friend of the Iglesia ni Cristo. In addition, it is also not a secret that one of the greatest allies of the president in the Senate is no less a well-known Born Again Christian: Manny Pacquiao. This renowned boxer talks more like a frustrated Old Testament prophet than a senator. He may also be called a quack-theologian.
So we have a secular State that is dominated by religious people. These are people who claim to be sharers of God’s divinity or simply overdosed by their religiosity. Unfortunately, no one is telling these “divine beings” that they are meddling in politics. Of course, no one would do that because the endorsement of these religious leaders is favorable to politicians especially in their aim to increase votes.
It is as obvious as daylight that during election season Bro. Mike Velarde of El Shaddai is most sought after for his blessings. But why is Velarde not accused of violating the constitution? What is the difference between Velarde and Soc Villegas? And why is Pacquiao’s invocation of Jesus Christ in the halls of Senate a privileged discourse?
Are we really true in our convictions that the separation of the Church and State should be observed? Or are we being selective in our application of secular principles depending on the strategic effect of whatever a religious group or person does in relation to politics?