Lately, we have experienced an unprecedented meddling of the Church with the State in the current times of our nation. This meddling is not only further tearing at Philippine society, it is also the root cause of the division of the Filipino people themselves. Why is the Church simply unable to keep its nose out of government affairs? Are they on the brink of desperation, perhaps even destruction, that they have to go this far in making its flock become so hateful of the present Administration of President Duterete?
There has to be separation of Church and State but the Church simply doesn’t get it. And as ferociously anti Church that I am, I cannot blame the Church for being the meddling cancer they have always been. Filipino culture is deeply rooted in Roman Catholicism and every facet of Filipino society (minus the 10% who are not Catholic) it becomes extremely difficult not to be following Church teachings on some level of Filipino consciousness. Sunday Catholics as 99% of all Catholics in the Philippines are, cannot help but think irrationally of things when their Church is questioned or challenged.
Separating Church teachings from the Filipino psyche is like trying to remove the words “bahala na and puwede na yan” from Filipino vocabulary. It just cannot be done unless we begin an overhaul of our culture to remove that destructive sickness of irrationality in our religious belief system. This begs the question and has created a irony of titanic proportions: how does a deeply Catholic nation also be one of the most corrupt, poor and non-progressive?
It is because almost all Filipinos (myself, included) are actually hypocritical assholes. And the worst part of it is that almost all of us are in denial of our hypocritical nature. We go to Church but park in the no parking zone or right after Church purposely not follow traffic rules just outside the building. So simple, so basic and yet so extremely telling of what kind of faith we really have. Dead faith. And when you take this lack of adherence to the most basic things, what can we imagine at the highest level? You have government leaders who go to Church but believe corruption to be the daily norm.
The reality is, if the Church were actually an institution that walked its talk there would have to be no separation between Church and State. Humans are spiritual beings as much as we are physical beings. Spirituality is part of our nature. The longing for that Ultimate Force called God separates our species from the rest of the animal kingdom. So why is the law saying that Church and State should be separate? Look at Islam. In Muslim countries, the teachings of Allah permeate every single facet of Muslim society. There is no separation of religion (Islam) and State in Muslim countries. But why is it different from Christian/Catholic nations? It is because of the hypocrisy of the Church, in general, and also the hypocrisy of the people themselves.
A real Church doesn’t need to be separate from its State. State leaders will be willing to embody and adhere to the tenets of a Church that fully and unequivocally supported the State and its laws. I dare say that a State that governs its people based on the highest spiritual teachings will produce the most disciplined, rational, logical, loving and caring people. The fact is the more we deny ourselves of our spiritual nature the deeper we will plunge into an unending state of confusion of whether it is the Church or the State that we should follow. In an enlightened country there is no confusion because there is no need for separation.
If the Catholic Church leaders learned to adapt and adjust to the times and began to come up with spiritual teachings that are applicable to today’s times then they would not have fallen into a near obsolescent state. But they are stuck in their 2000 year old something teachings and refuse to acknowledge that the world has progressed significantly since they stopped butchering scientists who said the earth revolved around the sun, right? But I digress, the point is the world has changed and the Church has remained in the Medieval Times.
The Philippines is fucked largely because Filipinos believe one thing (Church teaching) and do another (hypocrites). The State wants to push for family planning (practical, sensible) but the Church feels that this initiative will cut into their baptism profits (evil). The vast Catholic majority believes that they can do wrong and ask for forgiveness (stupid teaching) so integrity is never established in ingrained in Filipino Culture. The Church defies the brutality against drug pushers, drug dealers, terrorists and renegades because they know deep within their ranks they are even more diabolical and sinister. The Church will clamor for the sacredness of all life but cannot understand having children when you are not ready for them is just as sinful.
There are only two options left for the Philippines if we are to move forward in any significant way:
1. Ban the Catholic Church from any form of meddling (make Church meddling be punishable by death), or…
2. The vast majority who call themselves Christians/Catholics actually live up to their Savior’s words. If we actually tried to be real Christians for a change we would solve so many problems our country faces. State leaders who are Catholics/Christians wouldn’t have the face to steal even one peso from tax money because God’s righteousness dwells in them, and the rest of the people actually began to care and love every other Filipino seeing everyone else as brothers and sisters in God’s family.
Which option should we take? We need to decide soon before we plunge ourselves into another Dark Age.
By Raffy Gutierrez
All religious imagery from Ken Russell’s, The Devils (1971)