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April 04, 2006

Comments

bert

Bert: I agree with number 1 to 4, but no.5 Hello?....what do you mean by number 5. - Remember-they were here first?

Dominique: In response to Bert: Muslim traders were plying the Philippine islands well before Magellan arrived. And the Spanish never managed to tame Mindanao.

So?

The Ifugaos' were carving the rice terraces hundreds of years before that...and the anito religion whatever, were much earlier in the Philippines than any form of recent organized religions were...muslim or catholic or whatever included. What I am saying is,...the point that they here were ealier...is, I dont know..but it sounds beyond logic, whatever.

peri

It is disturbing to me to see the rich neighborhoods of Manila area hold their Mary parades and the village I lived in sent out a village newsletter with articles stating that Mary is a co-redemptrix.
It is disturbing how at workplaces they expect that everyone "give" to the church during the holidays, as if the company should be using resources and staff to do their collections. They assume that Christian = Catholic which is disturbing.
In the US, however before 911, I heard people complaining that in certain tech companies, Muslim workers had special prayer rooms and breaks, but non-Muslim workers were not allowed to have a mini christmas tree or mini patriotic flag at their desk.
I think tolerance works both ways.

torn

Amadeo -- Interesting to get the view from Cagayan de Oro. "ethnic" is one of those modern words that we all bandy about, but which has an imprecise definition. The dictionary defines it as "of or relating to large groups of people classed according to common racial, national, tribal, religious, linguistic, or cultural origin or background". Philippine Muslims are racially, nationally, and linguistically indistinguishable from the Christian neighbours. The differences are religious and "cultural" (whatever that means). Personally, I'm not convinced that Philippine Muslims constitute a separate "ethnic group", but I accept that it could be argued.

Bert -- my point was just that many Filipinos seem to regard Catholicism as in some way a "natural" religion for Filipinos, whereas in fact Islam has been here for longer (and is thus just as "Filipino" as Catholicism). Both are imported world religions of course.

resty

Pray tell why the ff. is disturbing?:

"It is disturbing to me to see the rich neighborhoods of Manila area hold their Mary parades and the village I lived in sent out a village newsletter with articles stating that Mary is a co-redemptrix."

Public spaces need not be exempt from the practice of anybody's religion, not the least the majority's religion. I can't believe you.

bert

Bert -- my point was just that many Filipinos seem to regard Catholicism as in some way a "natural" religion for Filipinos, whereas in fact Islam has been here for longer (and is thus just as "Filipino" as Catholicism). Both are imported world religions of course.

Nope..age does not matter here; because its older it is more natural, hello?.. It's like saying, that man in its earlier evolution had tails, therefore to have tails is natural...what I am saying is, concepts like religion are dynamic...they maybe natural before magellan arrived here, but two hundred years later...they no longer are ...the point that they were here first is plain and simple...ewan.

torn

Bert — I am sorry to belabor this point, which is not really central to the main issue, but I don’t think I ever said that Islam was “more natural” for the Philippines. My point was simply that both religions have long historical traditions in this country and deserve mutual respect. By reminding people that Islam was, in fact, here even before Christianity I was pointing to its long history here (which I think some people forget), not saying it was in any way better or more natural than Christianity. If that’s not how it came out, my apologies.

cvj

While i recognize the separation between church and state (in matters such as divorce and birth control for example), public displays of religiosity, even in government offices, are something that is part of Filipino tradition. While i take your point that the majority Catholics have to be more sensitive to the existence of those who don't share their faith, the fact remains that being Catholic is an integral part of many Filipinos' individual and community identity. Others just have to deal with it. We have to find a way to respect, but not repress, each other's sacred cows.

Carla


cvj: Public displays of religiosity are fine, but not in public institutions because they undermine the public character of such institutions. This in turn is bound up with decision-making on policy matters such as divorce and population control--you can't separate these two issues. Example: There's a statue of Mary in the main lobby of Congress, masses are held there regularly, with devout Congressmen reading the Gospel now and then. Do you think that does not have any effect on deliberations on reproductive health bills or proposed divorce bills?

Religious events in public offices are also used by public officials to demonstrate their piety and mask their corruption and incompetence. By now it should be clear to us that religiosity has nothing to do with integrity or ability. We should deny them the physical space to link these two qualities up. In the office, they should be accountable as public servants alone--whether they go to mass becomes irrelevant.

torn

Carla -- Those are all good points, especially the one about politicians demonstrating their piety to mask their corruption and incompetence. You don't have to go much further than the current mayor of Manila for proof of that.

Still, there is something in what cvj says about "the fact remains that being Catholic is an integral part of many Filipinos' individual and community identity". In the UK, for example, I would tend to avoid supporting religious charities like the Salvation Army because I feared that my money would be used for evangelism rather than good works (or good works in the name of evangelism). However, if you exclude the Christian charities in the Philippines you ain't gonna get a lot done. I think the strict sequestration of religion that Carla argues so eloquently for is not going to be achievable here, though the pervasiveness of the church must be combatted for all the reasons she gives.

Resty

The problem with secularism is it really sounds good in that it is genuinely democratic, and I am personally in support of that, but please do not lose sight of this point: In the Christian majority's eyes, secularization is just another religion, atheism, clawing its way to make its own concept of law legal on the national sphere. You guys are missing this other esential point: A country's legal system and the resultant social contract thereof is based on the moral convictions, concept of ethics, if you will, of the majority of the founding fathers, which happened to be Christian, or in the case of the Philippines, Catholic. If you don't like that law, anyone is free to go to another country where the law is being forged by an increasingly atheistic society: Name any European country except Vatican City. There's another, third, point worth mentioning here: The law is all about ethics and justice, and if is laid out based on your religion of atheism, where would you get the wherewithal to make a law? Paradox. But, ah yes, atheists have their own concept of morality, of course, but atheists should win first, become the majority first, and see how they'd found a country that's totally godless, secular, paradisiacal. Wait, I should blog this entry.

Resty

Sorry, here's an edited version:

The problem with secularism is it really sounds good in that it is genuinely democratic, and I am personally in support of it, but please do not lose sight of this point: In the Christian majority's eyes, secularization is just another religion, atheism, clawing its way on top to make its own concept of law legal in the public national sphere.

You guys are missing this other esential point: A country's legal system and the resultant social contract thereof is based on the moral convictions, concept of ethics, if you will, of the majority of the founding fathers, which happened to be Protestant Christian/Catholic in the case of US/Europe, or in the case of the Philippines, Catholic. If anyone doesn't like that law, he or she is free to be in another country where the law is being forged by an increasingly atheistic society: Name any European country except Vatican City.

There's another, third, point worth mentioning here: The law is all about ethics and justice, and if it is based entirely on your religion of atheism, where would you get the wherewithal to make a law? Paradox. But, ah yes, atheists have their own concept of morality, of course, but atheists should win first, become the majority first, and from there, let's see how they'd found a country that's totally godless, secular, paradisiacal.

cvj

"If anyone doesn't like that law, he or she is free to be in another country where the law is being forged by an increasingly atheistic society" - Resty

Actually, the proper recourse for the secular Filipino citizen is to fight to ensure that the rights of the minority non-Catholics are upheld, particularly those that are guaranteed by the Constitutional provision for separation of Church and State. If the only option is to take refuge in another country, then that means that we are really just another [kinder, gentler] theocracy.

As to the foundations of a country's legal system, sure the influence of Christian tradition is there, but if you examine the belief systems of America's founding fathers, the leaders of the French revolution or even that of our own Revolution (i.e. Rizal), you would find that their belief systems are more secular, based on the Enlightenment, rather than clerical.

We can argue semantics on whether atheism is a religion, but even if it can be categorized as such by virtue of it being a belief system, it is one that is based on reason, not superstition (or revelation). In any case, it is not a matter of atheism trying to achieve hegemony, but rather allowing for pluralism of beliefs, an idea that's seems to be out of fashion these days.

Yoyoy

"If anyone doesn't like that law, he or she is free to be in another country where the law is being forged by an increasingly atheistic society"

What kind of logic is that? Do I need to argue against it? I don't. Let me just repeat it again and you will see how dumb it is.

"If anyone doesn't like that law, he or she is free to be in another country where the law is being forged by an increasingly atheistic society"

Resty

Hi cvj, you are right. I'm with you on that point, but see, secularism has the danger of banning God altogether in the public sphere, and it doesn't take a genius to see this point. Instead of religious pluralism, including the religion of atheism, what we have is the, let's say, hegemony of atheism.

Yoyoy, sorry I let that one slip out of emotion; because I am incensed that people can talk about Christian hegemony and yet ignore the awful hegemony that's Islamist, or worst, jihadist, hegemony. C'mon, people, please be more consistent.

Resty

And to rub it it, I find it even more inconsistent that people unwittingly would not support freedom of religion when it mattered the most. Where were you folks when the Afghan government, taht's right, government and Afghan clerics condemned to death a man just because he's a Christian convert, and who's now being reported as a nutcase? And just because it's their law (sharia)? If you really believe in freedom or expression, freedom of religion, or freedom at all, you shouldn't have missed the point of that one being such a blatant violation of human rights, a violation right at core of the concept of freedom and democracy.

cvj

Resty, i'm with you as far as not banning God from the public sphere. Any move to prohibit religious activities in government offices or other public places would be counterproductive as they are also community activities that help build social capital. However, i wouldn't fear atheists taking over soon. The hegemony of atheism will only happen when enough people voluntarily come around to that belief system and that won't happen in our generation, if at all. Even in America, there's a survey that finds atheists less popular than Muslims among the public.

Personally, i think the 21st century world is getting too small for organized religion. Who has been responsible for the major wars this century: Bin Laden - a Wahabbi Muslim and George W. Bush - an evangelical. To its credit, the Catholic Church has taken a stand against the war, but i hold it responsible for withholding vital AIDS-related education in Sub-Saharan Africa, leading to the spread of the disease which is now decimating its flock. However, as long as people find it important to search for meaning, there will always be religion, so there's no use fighting it.

I don't approve of what is happening in Afghanistan not because of the man's religion but because it violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Would you have protested as vocally if that person was Falun Gong?

Resty

I sure would! This topic is getting so unwieldy. Here's a piece that I hope is coherent (where I advance my position that atheist hegemony is as real as Christian hegemony):
http://restyo.blogspot.com/2006/04/how-about-atheist-hegemony.html

shasha

religious association in the philippines is a matter of ones choice. once you made the choice you go with the rules that a certain religious group may impose to reflect their distinct characteristics as an organization.
What the book, "twelve little..." means by suggesting that we support our local church is that we must reflect what our church of choice espouses on certain issue. it does not directly pinpoint a Christian Church, like the Catholic Church. It could include the Muslim Church or what have you.

torn

But Shasha that’s exactly my point—people here expect Muslims and people of other religions to mentally translate “support your local church” into their own place of worship as if it is exactly the same thing.

Let me put it another way, let’s say you are part of a Christian minority in Turkey, a majority Islamic country. Someone publishes a book saying that “every Turk” should go to the mosque on Friday and undertake the Haj. Wouldn’t that rather deflate your identification with Turkish nationalism, even if someone came along later and said “oh sure, Christians can do their own thing”?

Betol

Of all the problems in the philippines this is probably most innocuous of them all. Sure, there are plenty of incindence of religious bigotry but by no means is it brutal or violent, at least for the most part. Or at least since the days of Spanish Friars.

Besides, you could use some religion yourself. "Humanist" my ass!!! Stop this nonsense of a euphemism for an atheist and lets call a spade a spade.

cvj

A humanist can cover both agnostics and atheists so the terms are not fully interchangeable. Besides, to label the term 'humanist' a euphemism for 'atheist' assumes that the latter is a derogatory term, which it is not, except maybe when used by religious bigots.

torn

Thanks cvj--on the money on both counts.

frayed

Betol, I don't think the problem of religious bigotry is innocuous. It is religious bigotry that created all these wars down south and around the world. Don't know about you but I think killing people because they are Christians or Muslims is violent and brutal. And I'm not talking about Spanish friars. It is religious bigotry that has Bush and his apostles believing that what they are doing in Iraq is right.

ed

hi there, a correction: one of the short-term programmers in the IT dept of the UN agency you used to work for is muslim. one out of 250 local staff though still proves your point.

torn

Hi Ed -- Nice to hear from you! I hope everything is going well at that un-named UN agency. That's a nice photo blog you've got there -- did you notice that all those UST students are wearing white? That's encouraged me to write a post about Filipinos' favorite colour -- white. Perhaps that is more Catholic hegemony! Just kidding gentle readers. Or perhaps there is a uniform at UST?

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