Secularism For The Sake Of Progress

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Now, again, before I begin I would like to point out that that I am a practicing Catholic. This doesn’t mean I am a good person and that, on the contrary, I’m actually more than a little nasty. What it does mean is that I go to church on a weekly basis and pray as frequently as I can. On weekends, I light votive candles for my departed loved ones and every morning I take time to thank the Lord for whatever blessings I have in life. I take my religion very seriously, you understand, and do everything that I can to follow the spirit of morality it teaches such as respecting my benefactors, especially my parents (even if don’t like my dad for reasons I’ve already mentioned before) and avoiding hurting or inconveniencing others as much as I can.

However, do note that my relationship with the Lord is a personal one and I wouldn’t recommend my lifestyle to those who wouldn’t be comfortable with it. Indeed, I have always believed that religion should be a personal issue and not something you should force on society as that would defeat its actual purpose. After all, since God created all of us unique, it may stand to reason that not everyone has the same kind of relationship with God.

Anyway, I am writing this article as a response to all the negative criticism upcoming president Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is getting after he confronted the local branch of the Catholic Church about its illicit practices and immoral shenanigans. Truth be told, I’m not a Duterte supporter as I would’ve preferred Miriam Defensor Santiago over him. However, while I am indeed Catholic, I think it’s high time that the local branch of the Catholic Church owned up to its questionable activities here in the Philippines.

But of course, this article isn’t just about the Catholic Church anymore either…

There was this one time when I was in an internet cafe. I was well acquainted with the cafe owner who was actually a devout Iglesia ni Cristo member. As a matter of fact, the man had tried to convert me several times once I started frequenting his shop and befriended him.

At the time, I was just watching Diablo 3 videos when this rugged-looking boy came in. I couldn’t tell how old he was. He could’ve been upwards from thirteen but nowhere near past twenty. He walked around shirtless, strutting around like he had a body to brag about even though all he had to show were his ribs that poked through chest. He also had bizarrely colored hair which I think he had done to imitate an anime character but, needless to say, he looked less anime-like and more like a living manifestation of a hippie’s psychedelic drug-induced hallucination.

However, it wasn’t the boy’s appearance I found off-putting. As a matter of fact, had circumstances been different, I would’ve praised him for daring to be unique. What I, as well as a lot of the other people in the cafe, didn’t like was his constant begging so that he could either play DotA with other gamers in the shop or clandestinely watching porn.

The boy was at his antics again when the cafe owner confronted him about his shenanigans. The shop owner even knew the boy’s name which seemed to scare the latter into actually paying attention. When it was clear that the boy was cornered and that he couldn’t make a clear argument so that he could be allowed to stay, this was his response:

“Iglesia din po ako.” (I am also a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo.)

The cafe owner only stared at him hard and his reply was simply: “So?”

Having no option left, the boy ran out of the cafe at top speed, almost knocking over a woman who was just entering the shop.

The cafe owner then went on to remark that just because a person is a member of the Iglesia ni Cristo doesn’t automatically mean that he or she is a good person. He even went on to say that if the boy really wanted to make an issue of his religion, then perhaps he should’ve gone to a chapel. According to the owner, an internet cafe is a place where you pay money so you can use computers that can connect you to the internet. An internet cafe has very little to do with one’s religion as the boy was trying to insinuate.

Anyway, what I find really problematic about the Philippines is how mainstream society stubbornly holds on to religion the way a spoiled brat holds on to a plush toy. I suppose it’s just another way of proving that Pinoys are actually immature considering the way they treat their religion and how much the latter saturates their lives. Indeed, I can’t help but notice that they treat God like an imaginary friend or a fairy godmother that grants wishes rather than the embodiment of positivity in their lives that they should strive to emulate onto themselves.

And just so we’re clear, secularism isn’t the same thing as atheism, okay? Secularism is about not letting religion get in the way of doing what’s right. Heck, even Jesus himself supported this, what with helping widows, the destitute and lepers whom the religion of his time outright detested. Lastly, there was that whole bit about giving to Caesar what was Caesar’s and giving to God what was God’s.

Indeed, I think it’s high time that we no longer let the misguided trappings of ambitious and greedy religious leaders control our lives and instead make our individual steps towards progress and, together, move our country forward to the future. Let’s stop being beholden to wretched immorality of the CBCP, the questionable shenanigans of the INC leaders and the absenteeism of Manny Pacquiao who just loves to cherry pick the Bible for their own ends. Let us all find God within ourselves instead of listening to those who would only want to manipulate our beliefs to gain power for themselves.

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18 Comments on “Secularism For The Sake Of Progress”

  1. So living realisticly is it?
    Athiesm it is then.

    Not a personal attack on you, just if you believe in an imiginary friend that allows children to die of cancer amd starvation but apparently is a god of love and also apparently all powerful and omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient,and anyone that is a member of any religious cult where poor people live on the street yet their place of worship is not open at night for safety and security of the homeless and still claims their religion is the right one, is obviously out of their mind.

    Now there is a point to my rant….. What was it?………
    Oh yeah.
    Choose realism.

  2. VoiceofReason
    “Athiesm it is then.”

    Atheism is impossible in a collectivistic, holistic country that the Philippines is. Atheism only stands a chance in an individualistic, non-holistic environment.

    1. I know a few filipino athiests.
      Some people here do break away from the programming but yeah basically in general you are right.

      In all honesty though all u need here is a one or two filipino idols to say they are athiest and half the country would follow suit.

      Hahaha

      1. I know of at least 1 atheist Philippine group (PATAS) but that group is affiliated/associated with foreign atheist groups (again a sign that Filipinos cant achieve anything on their own). That PH atheistic group also show clearly it has collectivistic traits. So it wont become a success.

        In my country we dont have any atheist groups (thank god; lol). For me it really looks silly to form/create an atheist group and have regular meetings. Ah well, nice try.

    2. I agree, It is entirely impossible for the Philippines. Reason itself seems impossible, well practical reasoning maybe.

  3. I do not even have any religion. I have my belief in God. However, I do not believe in Organized Religion of any kind. Most are the curse of mankind. See our wars…they are mostly caused by organized religion. Jihad, Inquisition, conquests, wars, tortures, etc…mostly caused by religions.

  4. It makes little sense to me to attack or inhibit religion as a means to enact progress. Sunni Islam is the official state religion of Morocco, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, and Brunei. All these countries are remarkably progressive and doing quite well. Roman Catholicism is the official state religion of Costa Rica, Monaco, Liechtenstein, and Malta. These countries are also doing just fine. Let’s face it: Filipinos are just shitty Catholics and shitty Muslims who have no idea how to properly implement faith in their culture and balance its purpose in society at large. They just don’t get it and most likely never will. Now some Filipinos are entertaining atheism? Sure, if you want your country to end up like Albania did. When has there ever been a successful atheist nation anyway? The Philippines is supposed to be secular and it also crashed and burned in that regard. So what are they going to try next on their laundry list of options? Deism?

    1. How about Canada, US, UK, France, Germany? All are secular states. State religion has no place in a modern society.

      1. And thanks to heavy secularism those countries you mentioned all have problems with mass immigration from the Third World, migrants who actually have a religious heritage to bring with them. They are slowly driving out the local populations, whose birth rates are now extremely low and are gradually being replaced. You can’t say anything about it or else you’ll be labeled a racist or a bigot in today’s liberal environment. Secularism on such a level typically leads to a free-for-all of any religion, and that just spells cultural chaos and demographic suicide. The Western world has largely given up on religion, and now religious immigrants are taking over with ease. Of the top 7 richest countries in the world by GDP per capita, 5 of them have either have a state religion or a state church: Qatar, Norway, Brunei, UAE, Kuwait. All are high income economies with stable governments and modern infrastructure. So I don’t want to hear that religion has no place in modern society.

      1. They tend to be less religious because once you accumulate a certain amount of material wealth they stop turning to religion. However, this has a setback. Look at the countries on that list: Netherlands, UK, Japan, Germany, Korea, Spain, etc. All are highly irreligious countries and all of them have low total fertility below the 2.1 population stability rate. When you start focusing on the accumulation of wealth, society turns its attention on economic competition. People delay having families until later in life, or don’t have families at all because of the competitive environment and increasingly costlier living expenses. The traditional family (the backbone of any society) that was once strengthened under religion has been replaced by an individualistic one. In order to keep the population level up they resort to immigration to ensure the workforce is replenished every generation. Netherlands is now less than 80% Dutch, and Germany is less than 80% German. Dying cultures.

        1. Staser,
          The Netherlands (my country) is a relatively small country (area-wise). So procreating and multiplying like rabbits will for sure lead to a civil war fighting for breathing space.
          (Now that was the academical and practical argument).

          All other reasons are made by the individual concerned. Such as the quality of life, future prospects for the kid(s). What will happen with the climate (about 50& of the land area will be under water if the sea levels will rise with a few inches/feet). So what you read are all educated reasons.

          And those immigrants. Well they will become the new losers. They bring in their own backwards, retarded culture, their own retarded religion and their low education. Not really features that constitutes future success in my country.

  5. The Church should not be involved in politics. Well, if they do, as what is happening for many decades now, they should be prepared for criticism and backlash of the people who are sick and tired of being “manipulated” by few dogmatic beliefs. Secularism does not mean atheism. It is the respect of everyone’s belief through governance that does not distinguish between beliefs or religions among those who are being governed, hence, the religious leaders MUST refrain from being involved in politics, esp. in the choice of candidates. However, there are times that for despotic regime that could not anymore distinguish between right and wrong and has proven to have forgotten the governed through massive corruption, patronage politics, undermining of established institutions, perpetuation of power despite Constitutions limitation, abuse of power or blatant disregard for the welfare of the governed, the Church(es) could exert some form of pressure to the State, but not use such pressure irresponsibly when the affairs of the State have not reached the turning point for intervention through influencing the flocks. The problem with some Churches is that they are being used, ask favor from the State and losses the very essence of the Separation of the Church and State, esp. during election time. Hence,such inappropriate intervention or influence by the State affairs esp. during election time is uncalled for. It would also be very dangerous for the Church to be in politics and govern the State as there are other sectors of the State that do not have the same affiliation, belief or religion to the dominant Church who would want to mess up with the affairs of the State. Once they failed, there’s also the likelihood that their adherents would leave them enmassed so it is but imperative for the Church to leave the affairs of the State to those who will practice secularism but at the same time governing with righteousness.

  6. Simply, cut off religious influence on politics and other facets of life. Make steps to prevent any religious group’s being able to influence policy. Keep religious group influence in the private sector, if ever.

  7. Those who use religion for their own benefit are detestable. We are against such a situation and will not allow it. Those who use religion in such a manner have fooled our people; it is against just such people that we have fought and will continue to fight.

  8. We already have a secular government by virtue of the doctrine of separation . What else do we want? A secular society? Probably not. I’d push for pluralism if our culture were that, but it is a fact that we are composed of 80% Roman Catholic/Christian. And that’s a good thing in some respects because among all religions/views, a Judeo-Christian framework guarantees to a high degree, the freedom of other people to disagree, so your idea that religion “is not something you should force on society” is actually enshrined in Christianity. I think that is also exactly why societies with Christian roots (mostly Western democracies) have more empowered human rights and civil liberties. Singapore is a pluralistic country, very religious and conservative people, they’re okay, successful and first world. The US is another religious nation, the United Kingdom, according to its PM Cameron is “a Christian nation”, Germany still taxes people on behalf of the church (ugh), and there are others.

    The INC boy and INC owner episode just brilliantly highlights that within privately held property, the owner gets prerogative to set the rules and I think within the larger context in society, private individuals and groups can and should be able to freely associate and set rules within their territories.

    The main issue here I think isn’t religion per se, but how have we mangled religion to suit our purposes to the extent that we actually even violate the tenets of the religion we profess. It becomes an issue of education and critical thinking. We should critically examine all views including that of our own, whether it’s Christianity, Islam, Secular Humanism, Nihilism, Communism, Buddhism, etc.

    I don’t really think the statement “Secularism is about not letting religion get in the way of doing what’s right” is correct, not really. Seculum means “this worldly” and by philosophical analysis you don’t get any “doing what’s right” from “this worldly”; morality requires transcendence to be universally binding, it’s simply beyond this material universe can offer, no matter how we section it.

    Jesus rejected, not religion, but the kind of mangled religion the Pharisees instituted, pretty much what we seem to tend to do with anything. Pilate was even for the doctrine of separation when he told off the Pharisees “take him yourselves and judge him by your own laws”, but that kind of doctrine of separation is pretty extreme. That is why I don’t necessarily agree that we accomodated the Shariah Law within our laws, but sure, a Christian country accomodates Islamic Shariah Law to a large extent not contradictory to laws of the land ultimately undergirded by Christian principles. The apostle James tells us exactly what you said of Jesus, Grim, but not to the same effect as denouncing religion per se in the public sphere, I’m sure you know this: “Religion that is pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Yes, we give to Caesar what is his: taxes, certain responsibilities such as abiding by the laws, but we must never worship the state, or sacrifice civil liberties at its altar, never forget that intrinsic human rights derive from our creator and that’s part of giving to God what is His, our moral responsibility to disagree with the state if it is wrong, simply because the state does not and shouldn’t define morality for us. So you see, religion can both be a force for good or evil, we do not need secularism and its inconsistent philosophical implications. All laws have inescapable moral basis, the only question is which morality and truth would we have our constitution informed with. Thank you, Grim!

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