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In Defense of the Troublesome, Meddlesome Catholic Church

November 1, 2010
Who's the "real" Damaso here? Is it the card-bearing man in tuxedo or the Catholic priests who peacefully hold their mass?

Who’s the “real” Damaso here? Is it the card-bearing man in tuxedo or the Catholic priests who peacefully hold their mass?

The separation of church and state simply means the government must not favor any religion or make no law respecting an establishment of religion. This constitutional doctrine is a LIMITATION strictly applied to the state, not to private individuals or groups. It limits the state from making special favors or making a law respecting an establishment of religion. It does not LIMIT the freedom of religion or the rights of any individual. Why is this the case? Because the state or the government holds a monopoly on force.

I wrote a blog defending the right of the Catholic priests to practice their religion, to defend their faith and doctrines, and to even influence our politicians. Here’s what I wrote:

First, I’m a rabid atheist and I don’t like what the Church is doing. But I would never allow my atheism to distract my understanding of the concepts of individual rights and freedom. As a freedom loving individual (not an atheist), I believe that the Catholic priests or any religionists have the very right to spread their religious beliefs, defend their faith and doctrines, and even influence the government as long as they don’t initiate the use of force and fraud, and violate objective laws in this country.

Then a commenter made the following reaction: “So the solution is to up the ante by giving, not only the members but also, the institutions the right to be involved?”

Here’s my reply:

It is important to understand the concept of rights and freedom here, and then apply this understanding to the issue at hand.

Nobody is giving the members and the “institutions” the right to get involved in politics. “Members” of any religious institution have the right to speak their minds and get involved in any activities, whether political or secular, so long as they don’t initiate the use of physical force. That’s their constitutional right and it’s part of natural law. Rights are not granted or given; they’re merely recognized and respected by the Constitution. Nobody grants anyone such rights. We, as individuals, have to have “rights” in order for us to live as civilized human beings. Rights are part of our humanity. It’s part of the law of nature.

A charade of ignorance. These publicity-seeking fascists don't have a clue. Photo Credit: Filipino Freethinkers

A charade of ignorance. These publicity-seeking fascists don’t have a clue. Photo Credit: Filipino Freethinkers

I’d like to address here one big FALLACY that poisons the minds of those who’d like to strip the Church of their right to make political speeches and conduct political actions. This is the fallacy of “COLLECTIVE TERM.” Examples of collective terms are “Church”, “society,” “Association”, “community,” “nation,” “race”, “class,” and “us.” These collective terms as simply abstractions; they’re not concretes. They are, in the strictest sense of the term, figments of the imagination. A society, an association, a community, or a nation or race is not a breathing, living, thinking, and acting entity.  Thus, it is a fallacy to assume that the Catholic Church is a living, breathing, thinking entity.

Some people in this country whom I call “statists” or “collectivists” presume that a collective, such as the Catholic Church or the CBCP, is, in fact, a living, breathing, thinking, and acting entity. A collective has no right, because rights only pertain to living and thinking entities or to human beings. Only an individual has rights. Only the individual can have the capacity to think, act, and pursue certain goal-directed actions. That is, he is the only source of all human action.

So in this case, those who form part of an “institution”, which can be the Church or the CBCP, have the very right to make political speeches, defend their religious doctrines or faith, or even influence the government through their actions and activities. Influencing the government per se is NOT illegal, if the act of influence does not involve the use of force, fraud, or any immoral or unlawful means, such as giving bribes or favors.

Now, the implication here is: If you strip the members of any religious institution of their right to make political comments or to try to influence politicians, then do not expect that you are also entitled to exercise the same right denied of these people.

Some people accuse the priests of “meddling in” politics. But the problem is, what these people do not understand is that they’re also meddling in politics and trying their very best to influence the government. Again, the mere act of meddling is not illegal. It becomes illegal when such an act involves the use of force, undue influence, or any illegal means.

The separation of church and state simply means the government must not favor any religion or make no law respecting an establishment of religion. This constitutional doctrine is a LIMITATION strictly applied to the state, not to private individuals or groups. It limits the state from making special favors or making a law respecting an establishment of religion. It does not LIMIT the freedom of religion or the rights of any individual. Why is this the case? Because the state or the government holds a monopoly on force. The Catholic Church or any religious institution does not wield the same “force”. Today, the Catholic Church no longer has the political power it enjoyed over 100 years ago.

This non-establishment clause, according to Thomas Jefferson in his letter to Danbury Baptists in 1802, is a “building a wall of separation between Church and State”. Jefferson said that “[a]dhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.”

Also in the Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom in 1779 Jefferson, the man who penned The Declaration of Independence that is the fountainhead of freedom in the modern world, states that “Well aware that Almighty God hath created the mind free:

that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do;

that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time;

that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical;

that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporal rewards, which proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labors for the instruction of mankind;

that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, more than our opinions in physics or geometry;

that, therefore, the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to the offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow citizens he has a natural right;

that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honors and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it;

that though indeed these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way;

that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles, on the supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency, will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own;

that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order;

and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.

The United States Constitution on which we partially based our 1987 charter, provides the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment that bans the establishment of a national religion by the legislature or the preference of one religion over another, atheism or irreligion over religion, or religion over irreligion. A long line of court cases in the United States and also in the Philippines highlights this limitation or restriction against the government or the state to promote a state religion or any religion. Justice David Scouter, in the Board of Education of Kiryas Joel Village School District v. Grumet, 512 U.S. 687 (1994), wrote that “government should not prefer one religion to another, or religion to irreligion.”

However, the Philippine Supreme Court in 1939 had a very different, or should I say, very unconstitutional, interpretation of the Separation clause. In the case of Aglipay v. Ruiz involving the Establishment Clause, the Court concluded that the government may have preference of one religion over another if the action or preference is “deemed advantageous to the Government.” The case stemmed from a petition filed by Mons. Gregorio Aglipay, Supreme Head of the Philippine Independent Church, to prevent the respondent Director of Posts from issuing and selling postage stamps commemorative of the Thirty-third International Eucharistic Congress. Aglipay alleged that the respondent’s action was violative of the provisions of section 23, subsection 3, Article VI, of the Constitution of the Philippines, which provides as follows:

No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, secretarian, institution, or system of religion, or for the use, benefit, or support of any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary as such, except when such priest, preacher, minister, or dignitary is assigned to the armed forces or to any penal institution, orphanage, or leprosarium.

The ponente of the case, Justice Laurel, who ruled against the petition, concluded: “Even if we were to assume that these officials made use of a poor judgment in issuing and selling the postage stamps in question still, the case of the petitioner would fail to take in weight. Between the exercise of a poor judgment and the unconstitutionality of the step taken, a gap exists which is yet to be filled to justify the court in setting aside the official act assailed as coming within a constitutional inhibition.”

Of course I’m disgusted by the Church’s meddling in secular and political affairs in this country. But the solution is not to obliterate the rights of the Catholic priests or any religionists. The solution is not to deny them of their inalienable rights guaranteed by our Constitution. The only solution is to vote out the politicians who pander to the religious wishes and will of the Catholic priests or any religionists. The solution is to remove the tax exempt status enjoyed by religions by means of constitutional amendment or revision. And the solution is proper, private or non-state-funded education.

So to all the anti-rights IGNORAMUSES out there, BACK OFF!

Of course, SOCIALISTS... Photo credit: Filipino Freethinkers

Of course, SOCIALISTS… Photo credit: Filipino Freethinkers

The future DAMASOs in the Philippines. These publicity-seeking neo-fascists want political power. A secular government does not disrespect rights and religious freedom. It upholds them. Photo Credit: Filipino Freethinkers

The future DAMASOs in the Philippines. These publicity-seeking neo-fascists want political power. A secular government does not disrespect rights and religious freedom. It upholds them. Photo Credit: Filipino Freethinkers

RELATED BLOG POSTS:

The Catholic Priests have a Right to Influence the Government!

The Height of Stupidity of Filipino Fascists

The Right to Ridicule

NO To RH Bill!

French Founders to 1987 Constitution Framers: IGNORAMUSES!

12 Comments leave one →
  1. November 1, 2010 3:38

    Very true – imagined communities are just that. Imagined into existance. This doesn’t mean that they don’t have real effects, but saying that people are linked by a bond of nationality, religion, etc, is very tentative. And the church have a right to comment on politics, just as I have a right to ignore them. Free speech doesn’t just apply to those people I agree with.

  2. CMB permalink
    November 23, 2010 3:38

    I don’t agree with a lot of stuff on your blog, but to be honest, with this particular post you do have a point. While I am pro-RH myself for a number of reasons (which may be construed as “socialist” or maybe even “fascist” though I personally am not here to debate about that) I do agree that the Church should not be denied free speech, and that free speech should not be misconstrued as trying to “take control of the state.”

    However, I think the line of free speech ends when the Church AND their believers to resort to misinformation and scare tactics (condoms causing AIDS and sex education actually contributing to unwanted pregnancies being among them) in order to get people to come to their side, or when they make threats such as “civil disobedience” to politicians whose views run contrary to their own.

    (I didn’t say excommunication even though that’s another threat they have made, because at the end of the day the Church’s membership is their own business and also within their rights.)

    I guess my point is that if they want to get their point across, all they have to do is keep spreading their message (without resorting to underhanded tactics, of course. I’ll be the first to admit that there are some pro-RH secularists who also resort to underhanded tactics, and that’s something we have to take care of). At the end of the day, they’ll get their converts. The pro-RH Catholics can spread their message. The pro-RH secularists like myself will spread our message. And the anti-RH secularists like yourself can spread your message as well. And we’ll get our respective converts.

    I believe that can tend to our respective flocks within our rights. It just pisses me off when people (Church or otherwise) go beyond those rights and start resorting to deception and mental warfare to get their point across.

    • November 23, 2010 3:38

      I believe it’s OK to disagree on certain issues so long as the parties don’t resort to force – or the advocacy thereof, whether consciously or subconsciously- dishonesty, and propaganda. When one resorts to these disgusting, anti-intellectual tactics, that’s when the other party has to make a moral judgment. By ‘moral judgment’ I mean one must be ready to judge and be judged, for this is the rule in a rational society. Of all the social groups and interested collectives that I detest, on top of them are the socialists and the Filipino Freethinkers. These people know what they’re doing, which makes them morally guilty. However, it is very possible that a lot of them are not that conscious of the kind of movement or advocacy they’re trying to promote. For instance, the “leaders” of the socialists know what they’re doing while those in the lower ranks or the new recruits (physically and mentally) do not understand the nature of the organization or movement they support. As for the freethinkers, these people have a lot of contradictions. They claim they’re for the propagation of reason, science and freedom, yet they support social programs that are opposed to these ideals. I’ve explained this very extensively in my previous posts. That’s the reason why this group must be opposed intellectually. The way I see it, the FF is like the new “liberal of socialist” America many decades ago when the leftists hijacked the term “liberalism” for their revolutionary struggle. Liberalism is now a new faction, a new collective, of socialists in the United States. Now the FF serves as the new sanctuary for “confused” wannabe leftists, leftists-in-denial, confused statists, Machiavellians, neo-fasctists-by-heart, and ordinary individuals who just want to have an “intellectual refuge”.

      You said: “However, I think the line of free speech ends when the Church AND their believers to resort to misinformation and scare tactics (condoms causing AIDS and sex education actually contributing to unwanted pregnancies being among them) in order to get people to come to their side, or when they make threats such as “civil disobedience” to politicians whose views run contrary to their own.”

      I don’t think so. When no one’s individual rights is deprived or violated in the exercise of the Catholics’ right to free speech, then the Catholics should not be legally condemned. This is not just my view. This is part of our laws and jurisprudence, which we based on America’s legal and judicial system. This is the essence of freedom and individual liberties, things that some FF fanatics might reject because probably they’re not “scientific”.

      I find this line so disturbing: “the line of free speech ends…” This is my problem with the leftists and the FF- they don’t really understand the proper concepts of individual rights, freedom, and government role. The implication of that line- “the line of free speech ends…”- is that the fear-mongering Catholics and religionists who spread false information may be held liable under the law. That’s the mentality of the leftists and communists. That’s EXACTLY the mentality of Edcel Lagman, author of the RHB, who’d like to punish ANYONE who’d engage in what he calls “malicious disinformation” about the “intents” and provisions of his bill. I read the bill. Did you?

      Free speech is the hallmark of a free society. A mere act of disinformation is not and should not be made punishable simply because it’s against society’s norm or the taste of some group of people. If that’s the case, then we would slide back to the rule of savages again. That’s why I’m against that crime committed by Carlos Celdran called violation or infraction of “religious feelings.”

      The Catholics have the very right to spread their alleged “disinformation campaign” just as the socialists and freethinkers also have the right to spread their lies and evil propaganda. If you want to prosecute the Catholics for spreading false disinformation (because that’s the implication of your statement) then what assurance do you have that the leftists and socialists should be exempt from this rule?

      Lest I be misunderstood, I am against the Catholics position on the RHB. I am for the use of condoms, contraception and even abortion, however, I don’t believe these must be “financially” and “legally” guaranteed by the state/government. Don’t we all have the right to buy condoms, undergo vasectomy and legation for women, practice family planning under the current setup?

      You RH bill people are barking at the wrong tree! Well, it’s because you want the government to provide the poor and women with their RH needs. Reason? Poverty and overpopulation. This is what I hate about these freethinker whom I call freefarters. They claim they’re for science, but their position on the RH bill issue is so unscientific. It is true that as long as human beings exist on earth, population continues to grow. But it’s against freedom, against science, and against individual rights to give the state the power to control population in the name of poverty and the poor. Capitalism is the best tool of population control and the best way to fight poverty and I explained this matter in my previous posts so extensively.

      By the way, I claim that I offer the best and the most comprehensive argument against RHB in the Philippines.

      • November 24, 2010 3:38

        I made a new post of my reply https://fvdb.wordpress.com/2010/11/23/free-speech-versus-socialists-and-filipino-freefarters/

    • barefoot_cinderella permalink
      October 17, 2011 3:38

      (I didn’t say excommunication even though that’s another threat they have made, because at the end of the day the Church’s membership is their own business and also within their rights.) <— the RC never threatened anyone who supported the rh bill with excommunication.. that's just a horrible internet meme that went unchecked for a long time.. I don't know why people still subscribe to that notion despite being refuted a hundred times over..

      http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/09/30/10/cbcp-chief-denies-saying-aquino-should-be-excommunicated

  3. barefoot_cinderella permalink
    October 17, 2011 3:38

    However, I think the line of free speech ends when the Church AND their believers to resort to misinformation and scare tactics (condoms causing AIDS and sex education actually contributing to unwanted pregnancies being among them) in order to get people to come to their side, or when they make threats such as “civil disobedience” to politicians whose views run contrary to their own. <– all of these are patently untrue, it was never the stand of the RC that condoms cause AIDS, do you have a source which says that? sex education causing unwanted pregnancies is just a corruption, nay, strawman of the correlation studies between prevalent access to contraceptives and teen pregnancies in 1st world countries, the threats of civil disobedience was never the official stand of the church

    http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/05/18/11/civil-disobedience-vs-rh-not-official-cbcp-stand

    I don't know where you get your "facts" but for the love of critical thinking, double check all your facts before another idiot believes them to be true

Trackbacks

  1. The Catholic Priests have a Right to Influence the Government! « THE VINCENTON POST
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