The Problem With Pinoy Religiosity

To be honest, I was just going to make this a comment to Midway Haven’s latest article about spirituality in the Philippines. However, I decided to make it a full-on article because I have points to share that really need to be addressed to our society. The thing is, while I myself hold religious beliefs as a practicing Catholic, I think that a number of our practices need to change because even our religion is saturated with the many dysfunctions of our broken culture. Now, I know I’ve said a lot of this all before, but I’m bringing them up again due to the recent issues surrounding the Black Nazarene Festival.

Like I said, I’m a practicing Catholic in real life. In fact, if you actually happen to know me, it’s not that hard to assume that I’m just another one of the nuttier members of the Catholic Church. Heck, now that I think about it, maybe I actually am just another religious nut. I wouldn’t mind one bit if some of you out there see me as such. However, despite my religious insanity, I still have my limits and there are still a good number of things that I consider acceptable and unacceptable.


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So, here’s what I have to say:

Our Prayers Often Amount To “Begging” And “Wishing”

Granted, this is usually just something I see on TV. However, due to the fact that it’s on TV, I can assume that a good number of our fellows out there think it’s a good example of how to pray. This is sad on so many levels as this is just another example of how our “fairy tale mindset” corrupts even the religious aspect of our society.

I have always thought of prayer as a good thing. Being a practicing Catholic, I have always been taught to pray often so that I might be able to communicate with God in some fashion. I know you non-Christians probably don’t agree but praying has it’s own practical application as it has helped me calm myself down in certain situations enough to make sound decisions.

However, the problem with the way a lot of typical Pinoys pray is that their prayers all too often amount to “begging” and “wishing”. As I was taught to pray both at home and at school, I was told to first thank the Lord for whatever blessings He had granted me, to swear my loyalty to the goodness He stands for, to ask for strength that I might be able to fulfill my duties as an instrument of His will and then I could, you know, ask for goodies. The issue here is that most Pinoys just seem to ask for goodies when they pray but refuse to work or act to bring them forth or, even when they do get them, they rarely (if ever) remember to thank the Lord for their blessings.

As I’ve said in a number of articles before, a lot of Pinoys have turned God into a fairy or genie that they can make wishes to. It never occurs to them that God doesn’t simply fulfill wishes because He expects us to do our part too. Indeed, it’s very rarely: “God give me strength so that I can do what must be done!” but: “God, please solve all of my problems for me!”

Our prayers are less about extolling the Almighty and asking for his boons that we may be able to better serve him but rather wishing that he’ll just make our problems disappear without us having to do anything about them. What’s worse is that, even when He does something to help, there are only a precious few who remember to thank Him. This idea only ties in with Benign0’s article about Pinoys always wanting to be spoon-fed.

Our Idolatry

Of course, I’ve mentioned this several times already but I can still see a lot of people who don’t seem to get it. Still they insist that idols like the Black Nazarene are “icons” and that they are merely images that we venerate the same way some of us carry the photos of our loved ones when we are far away. However, here’s the thing: Are you willing to hurt or kill someone for the photos of your loved ones? Do you treat those photos as if they really were your loved ones and talk to them regularly? Will you wipe cloth on the photos of your loved ones because you think that that cloth will carry the smell and essence of your loved ones?

If your answer to the questions above are yes, then I think you have an unhealthy obsession with your loved ones…

Anyway, what I’m saying here is that we really need to review how we define the difference between “icons” and “idols”. I mean (besides the obvious spelling), we should note that icons and iconography are merely decorative images. They’re in our churches to give us an idea of what God, angels and Heaven must be like. They were never meant to fully represent a given figure and we’re not supposed to give these images any kind of special attention asides from cleaning them when they’re dirty and sometimes not even then.

Actually, I think the Santo Nino in my room looks good when it’s dusty because that would mean it isn’t moving around on its own…

On Our Superficial Beliefs

Tying in with the “black and white insanity” of our culture, I know a lot of people who still see the Catholic Church as the go-to people when it comes to morality. Indeed, many members of the MTRCB as well as a good number of its founders are originally from the Catholic Church. The issue here is that, while they can be good, they are neither the only examples of goodness in the world nor do they have any kind of monopoly on goodness in itself.

We essentially see our religious leaders (not just in the Catholic Church, mind you) not as guides to goodness but as almost extensions of the Lord Himself. Relatively few of us ever think outside the box and fail to realize that some religious leaders are every bit as flawed, broken and fallible as the rest of us.

20 Replies to “The Problem With Pinoy Religiosity”

  1. Most of the replies of my article (especially on Facebook) were reactions from the devout that I was apparently “attacking their religious beliefs.” That was never my intention.

    (There was even this guy, who kind of reminds me of Anders Breivik, who even claimed that progressive thought was a “superstition” and an affront to the Catholic Church. But that’s another story altogether.)

    My goal was basically to let Filipinos question the tenets of their belief (or lack thereof) within their system and phenomenology.

  2. The most common response to such tirade, is to respect their belief, but no! How could we respect that belief if some already died out there and many are getting hurt, and didnt they realize that response is mere selfishnes on their part, because catholic or christianity is suppose to be serving god, not serving their beliefs. And in serving god we need to know what He wants us to do, and that could only be known if we really studied the bible, which for most people, they only select verses that are beneficial for them. I dont promote ang dating daan of brother eli soriano, but there were times when i was bored and jobless that i watch his tv channel, and actually he makes a lot of sense when it comes to how to serve god. Honestly, watching that channel, enlighten me, and it has nothing to do about the messenger but the word from the bible itself. He even told that “kahit wag nio na ko pansinin, salita ng diyos ang pakinggan nio at sundin”. So that is why i dont go to church anymore when people discover that, they freak out and think that im a nonbeliever, they have no idea.

  3. The problem with many Catholics is that they can’t read their text book. Either they are too lazy, too illiterate or forbidden to.

    Nuns in one Catholic school actually threatened a group of young boys who we’re starting a Bible study.

    Why don’t they just post this big sign on the 10 commandments in every Catholic Church:

    Exodus 20. Command#2: You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them…

    Can it get any clearer than that? I’m beginning to wonder if what the Jewish woman I heard in one interview had some truth to it when she said “religion is for people who can’t think for themselves”.

    1. If you read the Catholic catechism, is is explicitly stated that the allegiance of a good Catholic is to the CHURCH, and secondarily to God. There is no salvation without the Church. This is blasphemous:

      “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

      Catholicism is a synthetic religion. It was created explicitly by the ruling classes to control the masses and to keep them poor and stupid, and in that regard it’s been astoundingly successful wherever it’s been imported.

      In the bad old days – when being burned at the stake as a heretic was a real possibility – reading the Bible for yourself was forbidden (most people at the time couldn’t read Latin anyway) because what is written there clearly contradicts what the priests say.

    2. @marius
      >> reading the Bible for yourself was forbidden

      You’re right. Item#3 below. That’s like forbidding citizens to read the PH constitution because only our “trustworthy” politicians & judges are allowed to interpret it. What the crap?!?!?!?!

      1.The Catholic Church is the one true church (CCC 2105),
      2.Infallibility of the Catholic Church, (CCC 2035),
      3.Only the Roman Catholic Church has authority to interpret Scripture (CCC 100),
      4.The Pope is the head of the church and has the authority of Christ (CCC 2034),
      5.The Roman Catholic Church is necessary for salvation (CCC 846),
      6.Sacred Tradition equal to scripture (CCC 82), 7.Forgiveness of sins, salvation, is by faith and works (CCC 2036 CCC 2080 2068),
      8.Full benefit of Salvation is only through the Roman Catholic Church (Vatican 2, Decree on Ecumenism, 3),
      9.Grace can be merited (CCC 2010 CCC 2027),
      10.The merit of Mary and the Saints can be applied to Catholics and others (1477),
      11.Penance is necessary for salvation (CCC 980), 12.Purgatory (CCC 1031 CCC 1475),
      13.Indulgences (CCC 1471 CCC 1478 CCC 1498 CCC 1472),
      14.Mary is Mediatrix (CCC 969), Mary brings us the gifts of eternal salvation (CCC 969), Mary delivers souls from death (CCC 966),
      15.Prayer to the saints (CCC 2677),
      16.The Communion elements become the actual body and blood of Christ (CCC 1374 CCC 1376).

    3. I noticed another thing. Once Catholics start reading the Bible for themselves, and discover all the disconnect between what the Church practices/preaches and what’s written…

      many end up becoming Protestants.

      For Catholics who are starting to get enlightened, there are 2 options:
      1. stick it out with the Catholic church BUT filter out all the baloney (like false teachings I listed above)
      2. join the protestants, major branches of which are:

      Baptist churches

      Here are more concrete examples of disconnect:
      1. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth” – Catholic church is amassing so much wealth
      2. “when you pray do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do, for they think they will be heard for their many words” – Catholic priests ask you do the rosary repeatedly like a broken record
      3. “But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ ” – Catholic priests expect to be addressed as “Father” and their highest leader “Papa”.
      4. “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” – Catholic priests teach you to pray to Mary or some other dead soul. Catholic priests expect you to confess sins to them (kumpisal).

      It’s common sense; can Mary be listening to all your prayers simultaneously all over the world at once – REALLY? So she’s Omniscient? Wow she’s really equal to or greater than God then – oh yeah, I forgot – Catholics teach that Mary’s the MOTHER of God.

    4. zaxx:

      >> join the protestants, major branches of which are

      you’ll note that members of all of those denominations, if asked, will simply refer to themselves as “Christians”, and share very similar beliefs. Catholics tend to answer that they are Catholics.

      >> Catholic priests teach you to pray to Mary or some other dead soul

      This, to me, explains the evil culture that exists in most Catholic countries. A major aspect of Christianity is ‘inviting Christ in’. The implication is that it is theoretically possible to invite in OTHER THINGS.

      I’ve met a couple of people who have done this. It is terrifying to see it. These people choose to pray to the dead, to spirits, or to demons. I met one poor girl who told me she had invited in Satan. She was on the verge of suicide but afraid of what awaited her on the other side. I never did find out what happened to her. I believe the Bible advises against worshipping idols or spirits for a very very good reason: it’s not because these things aren’t ‘real’, but because they are. When Catholics pray to Mary – who was an ordinary human being and thus has no further contact with this world – I wonder who or what it is that answers?

      1. The correct umbrella term for Christ-worshipers (which includes catholics) are “Christian”. So in that way, BA/protestants identifying as “Christian” and catholics claiming “Katoliko ako, hindi Kristiyano” is just plain insane. and funny.

        1. My point was that it isn’t insane at all, because their beliefs are not in accord with Christian beliefs. Catholicism is a separate religion.

          Some Catholics do self-identify as Christians of course; those are the ones (I suspect) who are looking for the truth of the matter, as zaxx describes above.

  4. Whatever they believe. It is their sole right to worship, in any way they can…as long as they don’t bomb themselves and non believers.

    I don’t mind…

  5. Hey, Grim! Regarding prayer, did you know that “The Lord’s Prayer” demands more action on our part than that God will just grant what we pray for on that prayer? Like for example, when we hallowed be God’s name, we need to attend the mass/service, read and understand our Bible, praise and worship God, share our faith or disciple, etc. “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” If it’s the will of God that earth will be like heaven, we have to follow his will and work on making our world like heaven. That’s why Fr Alfred D’Souza said “Live as though heaven is on earth.” What can you do when you’re dead? You do good things while you’re alive; you give it your best when you’re on earth. “Give us today our daily bread” obviously God already did. All that we need God already lay it down for us but not in a form of dole-outs. God was like saying “Use what I gave you; follow what I teach you so you may have what you want.” Up to the end of the prayer, you have to make an effort to make what you’re praying for happen.

  6. And all Filipinos have created these delusions in their minds that it is the other Filipinos’faults–not theirs–on why their country and people are failing. These delusions inevitably transformed themselves into a country-destructive behavior of aristocracy and self-servingness.

  7. We have the logical part in our brain, why still fully depend on what those old men inside their air coonditioned room say about everything and follow them. If you have difficulty raising three kids and you skip meal just to provide for them, isnt it the time to think about how to stop producing more kids. God is not a spoiled deity that will impose something even if it makes his creations suffer, He loves us anyway according to bible. Even jesus christ adjusted the law hence the new testament and voiding the laws from the old testament because it was “outdated”.

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