EDITORIAL: Spiritual or Secular?
Gradually, it is becoming clearer that religious affiliation will matter significantly in the upcoming Presidential elections. While it may be true that the Catholic Church itself is not openly supporting any candidate, the body language of those belonging to the largest religious denomination in the Philippines is becoming easy to fathom.
While official statements of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), which had been read in masses almost simultaneously, clarified that they are not supporting any political aspirant, the fact is the laity has already been guided and directed which course to take.
The course of action being taken by a large segment of the Filipino Catholic faithful should be the last recourse, given the time honored principle about separation of Church and State.
Pragmatism, however, dictates that Filipino Catholics are also Filipino citizens, which therefore creates a very complicated situation highlighting the difficulty in choosing which attracts them more between loyalty to religious affiliation, and loyalty to the state.
The situation has reached a sordid status. Though lawful, religious denominations motivated by institutional preservation by secular interest, have overtaken spiritual consideration. As a consequence, some denominations, in order to further their cause, have used political connections to attract more members.
The strategy of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ Church by influencing those occupying powerful government positions has proven very effective to attract followers. The same holds true to the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) with some of its followers landing into juicy government positions.
It is not surprising therefore that several other religious denominations led by Catholics, Protestants, Seventh Day Adventists, and others, felt the pressing necessity by influencing their followers directly or indirectly for the practical reason of self-preservation or promotion.
Admittedly, the atmosphere threatens to turn from bad to worst. For this reason, in the spirit of ecumenism, the top personalities of various denominations should come back to reality and agree with a sort of modus vivendi if only to cushion the very negative impact of mixing politics with religion.
Without their noticing it, there is a strong indication that the Philippines might eventually adopt a state sponsored religion. By that time, all these skirmishes could lead to perdition. The constitutional guarantee for the enjoyment of the freedom of religion might simply vanish.
This is manifested by the increasing number of aspirants for political positions seeking to be “prayed over” by the personalities claiming moral ascendancy and has become a common sight, during which time bigotry instead of reason has become prevalent. Those raising issue against some personalities attending masses and visiting churches may actually be jealous or worse, envious.
Time will come when every Tom, Dick and Harry, shall solicit being prayed over without any spiritual significance but purely for a show.
In the end, it will be a matter of conscience. But then there is such a thing as erroneous conscience. Spiritual or Secular?