Dateline Seattle : No One’s God is Stupid
The past few days and weeks saw how Filipinos showed how they passionately opposed President Rodrigo Duterte’s comments that God is stupid. He was questioning the biblical story of creation when he said: “Who is this stupid God? This son of a bitch is then really stupid.” Obviously, his comments triggered various reactions.. Instead of trying to understand the level of emotion of those who opposed his comments – understandably mostly Christians – Duterte, in trying to save his face, lambasted what he described as the “God of his critics.” He alluded that he has his own perfect God who makes more sense. It is as if he was saying that there are many Gods – those who make sense and those who do not. Explained the president in Tagalog: “Wala akong sinabi na torpe ang Ginoo ko. (I said nothing about my God being stupid). Sabi ko, Your God is not my God because your God is stupid. Mine has a lot of common sense.” I am not a theologian, but I am sure that legitimate theologians – not the Bible warriors of the Pacquiao type – will agree that there is only one God of all religions and people. And this God is definitely not stupid. In one of his speeches, he made fun of the Last Supper story, calling the apostles ‘idiots.’ Basta ginawa na lang santo ang mga itong nasa painting (They just made the people in the painting saints). San Isidro, San Pablo, Saint Jude, Santo Rodrigo, kung sino na lang,” eliciting laughter from the audience. With Duterte’s demonization of certain biblical stories and one’s belief in God which is deeply personal, it should not come as a surprise that some believers lashed out at him and held him responsible for what he said. “If I choose not to believe in any God, what’s the fucking thing about it?” Duterte said. And he is right. But the people’s criticisms have nothing to do with Duterte’s right not to believe in God, but with his inability to respect the God of his constituents Let me be clear. It’s not about asking Duterte not to criticize the institutional Church, the priests, the nuns or the lay people. That would be wrong. This is about calling his attention to respect the God that people believe in. In fact, the people who criticized Duterte didn’t say: “Go to hell, Mr. President, for calling God stupid.” Their collective stance was to call the president’s lack of sensitivity and understanding of how God affects individual believers. Senator Joel Villanueva noted that “many individuals were offended” by Duterte’s remark, as “the Filipino nation is God-believing and God-honoring… We pray for the president’s enlightenment.” Bishop Pablo Virgilio David wrote on Facebook: “How can he be president for all Filipinos if he does not have respect for the Catholic faithful?” Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said: “May God bless his heart.” Senator Pampilo Lacson added: “Between him and my God to whom I pray every single day and with whom I’ve found solace and comfort in all my difficult times, I don’t even have to think of my choice. May my God forgive him and make him atone for all his sins,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque defended Duterte and said the remark ought to be seen as an expression of a personal belief. No one is targeting the president for expressing his personal belief. It is instinctively troubling for me to criticize the president merely for expressing his personal belief or opinion. The backlash is because he inappropriately insulted my God and the God of so many people. I am sure that God, Who is full of love, did not mind Duterte calling Him stupid. But as I learned in physics, for every action, there is an equal or opposite reaction. Given Duterte’s proclivity to bad mouth anybody who does not agree with him, I hope he takes to heart that in the future God may overreact the next time he calls Him stupid.