AMIDST protests from various religious sectors, the Department of Education has announced that it will release a new vision statement, despite only having revised it recently. The issue traces its roots back to when the Filipino Freethinkers (FF) wrote to DepEd last February 2013, protesting the wording of the previous statement which said "By 2030, DepEd is globally recognized for good governance and for developing functionally-literate and God-loving Filipinos."
According to FF, this is a clear violation of the principle of secularism as it "enshrines theism as a preferred belief system and imply that those who do not subscribe to belief in a deity are at best second-class citizens who have flawed or incomplete values."
Seemingly in response to that, DepEd recently released a new vision statement which states "We dream of Filipinos who passionately love their country and whose values and competencies enable them to realize their full potential and contribute meaningfully to building the nation. As a learner-centered public institution, the Department of Education continuously improves itself to better serve its stakeholders."
This change elicited strong reactions from different religious communities. "This small minority has some nerve trying to speak for all Filipinos. If they do not want God, that is their problem, but majority of Filipinos believe in God and we have to shout louder and show them our numbers," wrote Reverend Sye D. Sins of the Winning Christ Church.
"This is the beginning of the end. When you remove Brahma from your life, evil things will follow. This is bad karma," wrote Rajesh Chotrani of the Hindu Society of the Philippines.
On the other hand, the DepEd also received a complaint from the Philippine Fellowship of Isis stating, "We decry both atheism and sexism. Not only should you bring back God-loving but also include Goddess-loving for those of us who worship the Divine Mother."
There was also a handwritten letter with dark-red ink, whom some suspect to be dried blood, from the Secret Satanic Society of the Philippines, "How about Satanists? DepEd should include Satan-loving also for us. We want to educate people about Satan as he has often been unfairly portrayed as evil. That is certainly not true. Demanding God-loving or non-God-loving is both offensive to us."
Meanwhile, Red Tani, president of the Filipino Freethinkers said in a recent video podcast, "We are not trying to remove God or impose atheism. In fact, if the constitution were to have a clause forcing people to be atheists, we would be against that as well. We are simply ensuring that DepEd does not violate any constitutional provisions by favoring one religion over another, or even religion over irreligion, as said by constitutional expert Fr. Joaquin Bernas."
However, mounting pressure from hundreds of religious groups all over the country have taken their toll on Department Secretary Armin Luistro, who released a statement saying "When we revised the vision, we did so in the spirit of fairness to the other religious and even non-religious in the country. However, our office has now been literally flooded with letters of complaints, suggestions, and even threats. Our staff are working overtime to process these letters and emails as well. Almost every religious group has written in with their official statements on the matter demanding action from us.
Of course, as a national institution, we try as much as possible to weigh the different options available to us, and in the end, we have decided to once again revise our vision statement to appease everyone concerned. It is not yet in its final form as our committee is still reviewing it to see if we have left anything out. But we can already release the working copy to the media, and even in this form, I hope there will be no more complaints that we are no longer a God-loving institution."
This is the working copy of the new vision statement of the Department of Education:
"We dream of Filipinos who passionately love their country, who are functionally literate, can think critically, and for those so inclined, be God-loving, Goddess-loving, Allah-loving, Brahma-loving, Shiva-loving, Brahma-loving, Zeus-loving, Isis-loving, Satan-loving, Buddha-loving, Jesus-loving, Aphrodite-loving, Yahweh-loving, Na Tu Kong-loving, Bathala-loving, Baal-loving, Bast-loving, Ra-loving, Dagon-loving, Odin-loving, Jupiter-loving, Shangdi-loving, Lakapati-loving, Quetzalcotl-loving, Coyolxauhqui-loving, Ah Peku-loving, Kamilaroi-loving, Bundjalong-loving, Colel Cab-loving, Cthulu-loving, Quiboloy-loving, Flying Spaghetti Monster-loving..."
The final copy of the vision statement will be officially published once DepEd has finished including all the deities of all religious groups in the Philippines, no matter how small, to ensure that no one is left out.
Send me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org. View previous articles at www.freethinking.me. And to those who are wondering, yes, this IS satire with some smattering of fact scattered here and there. Religious organizations and characters mentioned are fictional and any resemblance to actual persons is purely coincidental and unintentional.
If you are based in Davao City, you are invited to join the next Filipino Freethinkers Davao Meetup on September 6, Saturday, 7:30 p.m. at Cafe Demitasse, F. Torres St., Davao City. Topic: The Pursuit of Immortality - A Secular Perspective; Speaker: Mr. Arnold Vandenbroeck.