Youth Party-list Representative Raymond Palatino Doesn’t Have a Prayer

So Youth Party-list Representative Raymond Palatino introduced a bill banning religious ceremonies and symbols in government buildings and institutions. Palatino states that his bill:

“…just wants to implement the constitutional provision on freedom of religion where the state should remain neutral and cannot favor any religion. There should be no state-sanctioned religious ceremonies”.

Supporters of the proposed bill such as atheists (Surprise! Surprise!) were quick to praise the proposed bill and treated Palatino as some sort of champion of the doctrine of the separation of Church and State.

My atheist friend Jong Atmosfera presented in his article an opinion by US Supreme Court Justice Black stating:

“The Establishment Clause, unlike the Free Exercise Clause, does not depend upon any showing of direct governmental compulsion and is violated by the enactment of laws which establish an official religion whether those laws operate directly to coerce nonobserving individuals or not. This is not to say, of course, that laws officially prescribing a particular form of religious worship do not involve coercion of such individuals. When the power, prestige and financial support of government is placed behind a particular religious belief, the indirect coercive pressure upon religious minorities to conform to the prevailing officially approved religion is plain.”

The last sentence (emphasis mine), I think, stands out. It can be argued that when financial support of government is placed behind a particular religious belief, such as the case of government facilities being allowed to be used for religious purposes at the expense of taxpayers (Yes I realize that maintenance of the facilities do cost taxpayer money.), I can see why there may be an objection.

But let’s put that angle in perspective. A lot of my atheist friends (and detractors) also support advocacies and freedom of expressions that have been funded in whole or in part by taxpayers or at least meant to be funded in whole or in part by taxpayers once in place.

Remember Mideo Cruz and his art “Poleteismo”? Yup, this is the artist who exhibited a poster of Jesus Christ with a wooden penis glued to his face. This exhibit was shown at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and last I heard, the CCP is funded in whole or at least in part by taxpayers. Mideo Cruz was treated as some rock star in the Philippine atheist circles. I don’t remember hearing a huge howl from them against such a display of sacrilege at the expense of taxpayer money.

Another popular advocacy of the Philippine atheists is the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill. Of course this RH Bill aims to promote sex education to the public teaching about reproductive health and birth control options. Who do we think will be forking the dough to support the making and presentation of videos or other presentations that show how to, say, put a condom on? Who do we think will be forking the dough to support pep talks about “Family Planning”? You guessed it! The taxpayers! Boy, are we getting good at this! Next correct guess and we can win a toaster oven or a set of steak knives!

I mean really, come on! Why is there such a big objection from atheists on the use of government or taxpayer funds when there seems to be an incidental benefit to religion but everything seems to be A-Ok when it comes to things that offend religious sensibilities? Is this really the kind of country atheists and Raymond Palatino envision? A country with a Constitution that was supposedly established by the sovereign Filipino people with the aid of Almighty God (as stated in the preamble) to be a country where taxpayers will subsidize “artistic” exhibits of religious icons with a wooden penis glued to its face. A country that will generously pay for condoms, other birth control devices and the promotion of planned parenthood but act as a Scrooge when it comes to allowing the use of government facilities (even just for a few lousy minutes) for the people to express their faith? Let’s stop thinking about putting up a crucifix in public buildings because that’s offensive and coercive and violative of people’s rights! It is a far better use of taxpayer money to provide a facility where figures of sexual organs glued on the faces of religious icons can be displayed!

It’s really amazing how the “Establishment Clause” seems to be taken as the most important rule to follow. I find it amazing because some people actually take it hook, line, and sinkers despite their use of it being really flimsy. Firstly, allowing religious ceremonies and religious symbols in public buildings does not establish a religion. Secondly, it is Congress that the Constitution (Art.3. Sec.5) prohibits from making any law that establishes a religion. The Constitutional provision is not about banning the exercise of religion, be it in a public or private setting. The law simply states Congress cannot make a law establishing a State religion, nor can it make a law prohibiting the State from the expression of religion. Allowing religious ceremonies or symbols in public places does not equate to Congress passing an actual law that establishes a religion.

Perhaps Palatino should get real because his bill really doesn’t have a prayer. Perhaps it would be better if he focuses on his actual mandate. You know… to craft laws that actually address the interests of his constituents – the youth. You know…. laws that the youth actually consider to be of paramount importance to them.

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Post Author: Hector Gamboa

Calling a spade, a spade...

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58 Comments on "Youth Party-list Representative Raymond Palatino Doesn’t Have a Prayer"

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jem
Guest
We have to remember that these Filipino atheists are what we could consider to be the far left as opposed to let’s say the CBCP. While the bishops do blatantly force religion in politics, these atheists also have an agenda up their sleeves; what I like to call the “religion of irreligion”. They may seem like polar opposites, but one may notice that they share the same fundamental; trying to promote a philosophy/ideology that they believe in into mainstream politics. Now that the credibility of both sides have been shattered, we can now look at the issues objectively. The RH… Read more »
jong
Guest

[Now that the credibility of both sides have been shattered, we can now look at the issues objectively.]

Wow, right after poisoning the well, you now claim that we can look at the issues objectively. How brilliant and rational!

jem
Guest

It was meant to be hypothetical and for the sake of argument.

cheers!

Kenneth Keng
Guest
I’m not an atheist, but I wholeheartedly support and admire the intent behind this bill, as do most friends of mine in church and work circles. I’m not sure its correct to paint this issue, as well as the Mideo Cruz issue on which I’ve gone on record as being very strongly on his side, as an atheist vs. catholic thing. I for one am proud that we’ve gotten to the point where a lawmaker feels that he can push something like this forward openly. I happily go to mass every Sunday, but feel deeply uneasy about a government that… Read more »
ChinoF
Member

Palatino I think did admit somewhere that he was on the left. That time, I decided to take what he says with a grain of salt.

jong
Guest
[Firstly, allowing religious ceremonies and religious symbols in public buildings does not establish a religion. Secondly, it is Congress that the Constitution (Art.3. Sec.5) prohibits from making any law that establishes a religion. The Constitutional provision is not about banning the exercise of religion, be it in a public or private setting. The law simply states Congress cannot make a law establishing a State religion, nor can it make a law prohibiting the State from the expression of religion. Allowing religious ceremonies or symbols in public places does not equate to Congress passing an actual law that establishes a religion.]… Read more »
jong
Guest

Addendum:

I would like to insert “in the absence of Philippine jurisprudence that contradicts Engel v. Vitale” in the last paragraph to make it read:

Now I’m not saying that US Jurisprudence automatically and absolutely determines how Philippine laws should be interpreted. I’m merely saying that in the absence of Philippine jurisprudence that contradicts Engel v. Vitale, the majority opinion of the US Supreme Court weighs more than that of a non-lawyer especially since our establishment clause was copied from the US Constitution.

BenK
Editor

No, sorry, I agree with the intent of the bill and disagree with your article. Religion has no place in government, full stop. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I attend a meeting at a government agency, I sure as hell don’t intend to throw my hands up and wait for the positive vibes from an imaginary man living in the clouds to guide my business, as the prayer that is always offered before any work can start, and which assumes everyone in the room is a Catholic or at least a Christian, suggests I do.

alconce
Guest

I fully support Palatino’s bill. The impression that atheist/non-believers are part of that “ideological” representation is totally unfounded and ridiculous because most of us still believe and perceive things according to the dictates of our religion that makes us believe but prevents us to know.

Gogs
Member

Hector. This is what I got from reading your piece. ” I am for freedom of speech as long as it agrees with my point of view “. It’s not about leveling the playing field but still about pushing an agenda. Double standard. Thanks!

BenK
Editor

Hey, totally off the subject, but how is it that there’s a “youth” partylist? Since when are youth in this country (a country with a median age of 22.9 years) a “marginalized sector”?

K3
Guest
I agree with some parts of the bill and disagree with some. 1) I disagree holding masses or any non-work related event in Gov’t offices during 8-5 pm. If they want a mass, do it out of office time. 2) As for the funds, those are under the discretion of the head of the office. Others will protest but I simply do not care. I think it’s a waste of resources but Gov’t workers are not robots, we should cut them some slack, especially when it (waste of money) can improve morale and/or performance. 3) Icons/statues/pictures are fine with me,… Read more »
Hyden Toro
Guest

If you believe in a God. You can pray from your heart, anywhere, anytime. Nobody can prevent you from thinking…keeping your prayers for a few minutes. If they haul you in jail…then, pray in jail. What you believe is your business. What you do not believe, is also your business…I am more concerned with Politicians, who use religion; to deceive people. To get votes. And to get block votes from certain religion. Religion is not used as a means of worship; or to find our ways to the Divine. But , are used in a perverted political way…

BlueStreak
Guest
One of the best comments so far along with K3. That is the point. Then if you want such a bill, I prefer to be revised in a way K3 sees it. Any law requires to support JUSTICE FOR ALL. I may be religious but I see the point that the Congressman is talking yet the current format of the proposed bill is not at the interest of fairness. Even if there are biases, I believe that just judgement must prevail not for the sake of “leveling the field” per se but to allow personal choices for people as it… Read more »
jaks
Guest

you can pray from the heart privately but you can also fly planes into buildings. then you become everyone’s business

Hyden Toro
Guest

It’s the Islamic Dogma of “Martyrdom” that caused this. You kill the “Infidels”, then you’ll have rewards in Paradise of 72 virgins, and 72 mansions. It was used by the Islamic Hordes conquering Europe. To win wars; and to make their warriors sacrifice for the sake of Islam…unfortunately: it has a “hangover”, up to our present time…

Amir Al Bahr
Guest
One of the questions I haven’t really heard asked: Are those who oppose the bill doing so because they are afraid it’s an attack on their religion, or is it because as balat-sibuyas Pinoys they think they’re being victimized again? Religion is a personal thing. Darn right too that the state shouldn’t be sponsoring any one as the official religion. Maybe Mong Palatino had a good intention, but something got lost in translation. What I do believe, though, is that since religion is a personal thing, then it must be kept just that – to oneself. Once you work in… Read more »
ChinoF
Member

I think your assessment is more like it. Good intention, bad execution. As Filipinos often do it.

LC
Guest

an actual example why i support the bill:

a BIR office in my city… doesn’t observe lunch breaks to cater to the public, but there’s a long line of people that hasn’t moved for an hour because the staff is having a prayer meeting.

ChinoF
Member

Don’t blame it on the prayer meeting. Blame it on the lack of proper management to have the prayer meeting some other time or to forget having someone keep the line moving.

DomineLuxmea
Guest
1) If the Bill prohibits Religious services on public and government domain nunc et semper, I will say NO to it for it is contra constitutionem, Article 3 sec. 5, BUT if it only prohibits in Government offices ON HOURS dedicated in serving the people then I’m OK with it since there is time to pray and time to work (Ora et labore) I myself wouldn’t want to wait for government officials in prayer meeting on office hours. 2) The constitution upholds “The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship” so that means I am free to exercise… Read more »
BenK
Editor

Yes, in fact, the Mayor does represent the State. Explain how he does not. If he puts a BVM in his house, he’s representing himself. If he puts one in city hall — where he is an elected steward and not the owner — that’s a different story.

ChinoF
Member

I agree with that quoting of the 1987 Constitution. Palatino’s bill stands to violate it.

And Art. 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in PUBLIC OR PRIVATE, TO MANIFEST HIS RELIGION or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

ChinoF
Member

I think the Constitution’s “The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed,” expressly forbids banning religious activities in even government office.

It however does not ban regulating such activities if it seems needed.

ChinoF
Member
I think Palatino should reword his bill to just say, prohibit government sponsorship of religious activities, or prohibit using one’s position in the office to COMPEL other people to take part in such activities, or something like that. I believe compulsion is what the non-religious people are against. There are situations like a group of worshippers from the same denomination in the office would like to have a prayer meeting in there since that’s the most convenient place for it, and going somewhere else is too inconvenient and expensive. They can just stay in a small function room after office… Read more »
Aegis-Judex
Guest

Reminds me of a certain someone in the GRPC who hated religion so much… If ever he assumes power, my first guess as to what he’d do would be to purge PH of religion a la Stalin. In that case, I’ll probably be among the first Martyrs if not the first Underground.

Frankly, I’m surprised he hasn’t acted on his hatred and killed people just because they go to church.

ChinoF
Member

I know who that guy is… hehe

ChinoF
Member
Hold on. I think I have an idea how this bill got started. I think Palatino or some other atheist he knows ran into a charismatic or some of those types BenK describes as waving hands and getting emotional when they worship. When those guys found they ran into an atheist, they probably got into an argument, or one of the charismatics did one of those “pray-over” things on the atheist, or said the atheist is going to hell and all that… you know. Yes, that is PRETTY ANNOYING. I’ll admit, I also dislike the charismatic form of worship and… Read more »
Joey SG
Guest
I work in an international organization that champions religious liberty, or free expression of faith. I go to countries where ethnic and religious minorities do not have it. Yes, even in countries that are self-proclaimed secular and atheists, where there is not a single religious symbol inside their public halls–not even a shadow. Yet, minorities suffer atrocities everday in those countries. I’ve sat with the victims and heard their stories. If Rep. Palatino is really serious about free expression, He should pull out his proposal, study harder, go to places where I’ve been, and start thinking of solutions that are… Read more »
ChinoF
Member

Latest news is he pulled it out. I hope he rewrites it akin to what I suggested. Just ban COMPULSION OF OTHERS, and set guidelines on how religious groups may act within government institutions. That is enough.

Joey SG
Guest

Hallelujah! (no pun intended)

ChinoF
Member

Here’s the news:

Representative Palatino apologizes, withdraws anti-God bill
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/217369/representative-palatino-apologizes-withdraws-anti-god-bill

ChinoF
Member

The younger generation of lawmakers seems so aloof and far removed from the realities of Philippine society:

http://jethernandez.multiply.com/journal/item/71/Ang-kamangmangan-ng-mga-panukala-ni-Palatino-at-ni-Bonoan

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[…] recent article on Rep. Palatino’s HB 6330 drew some comments and criticisms from a few atheists. Proponents of the Bill use the argument of […]

Carl Marks
Guest

I do not get your sense here. I am sorry.

For the bills of Palatino that really concern the youth, the party-list has a website. You can check for your reference.

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