Posts Tagged ‘religion’

pop goes the world: you can dish it out, but you can’t take it

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  14 March 2013, Thursday

You can dish it out, but you can’t take it

Roman Catholic Church bigwigs in Bacolod City who started a campaign against pro-Reproductive Health bill senatorial candidates were red-faced when a text message circulated naming five priests of the Diocese of Bacolod who sired offspring.

The Church in that city hung huge tarpaulins marked “Team Patay” (Team Dead) identifying the candidates they were exhorting people not to vote for, but the tables were turned when the “Team Tatay” (Team Father) messages spread.

Seems the embarrassment could have been avoided if certain people had used contraceptives, hey?

Clergy having children are nothing new; one of my first cousins is the daughter of a monk. It was a scandal in the town where they lived, but not among the unconventional Ortuoste family, a tolerant and liberal bunch. They understood and accepted the situation especially because the monk in question was my uncle. (He left his order, married his partner, and they set up as a family in the United States.)

This problem is so old that no less than the nation’s superhero Jose Rizal wrote about father “fathers,” making the muddle-headed heroine of his iconic 19th century novels the daughter of a priest.

While those randy priests in Bacolod might justify their actions by saying they at least brought their children into the world by not using contraceptives and by not having them aborted, they and like-minded others always fail to take into consideration the welfare of the children. My cousin told us that she had to bear taunts like “anak ng pari!” (child of a priest) from her playmates, and this took a heavy mental toll on her. This was one of the reasons my uncle decided to make their home in the US.

What makes this incident of the Team Tatay – Team Patay appalling is that when the tables are turned on those holier-than-thou, they harrumph and claim they are being “blackmailed,” as Father Melvin Castro, executive secretary of the Commission on Family and Life, alleged.

He said, “We do not deny that there are instances (of priests fathering children) but that is not the issue now,” adding that Team Tatay were “changing the topic.”

“Do not throw stones because we all live in houses of glass,” he also said.

Look, if you can’t take the heat, then get out of the kitchen.

Why are they meddling when separation of Church and State is embodied in the law? If they insist on poking their noses into the things that are of Caesar then they had better get used to having the skeletons in their closets brought out into the light.

* * * * *

Good news for fans of poetry-in-Filipino enthusiasts in general and of poet-activist

Axel Pinpin in particular – his latest collection “Lover’s Lane” is finally in print in a limited-edition version.

The poems are on fire with erotic need, longing, and unrequited love – the stuff of much other writing, stemming as these emotions do from the natural human condition. Yet Axel’s work adds a revolutionary twist that makes these works different from the mainstream, and thus fresh and interesting.

Says writer and activist Ericson Acosta, “In “Lover’s Lane” continues our discovery of the extraordinary range of topic, style, and revolutionary possibilities of the poetry of Axel Pinpin. And here too, in “Pinpin Lane,” in truth, are our own voice – feelings, desires, dreams…”

“My poems are non-fiction,” says Axel, “they are not imagined narratives. They come from my own experiences and the stories of others.”

Here’s “Pusod” in its entirety:

“Ang lalim ba ng iyong pusod / ay siya ring lalim ng iyong puso? / Hayaan mong sukatin ko ito / ng aking daliri at salita / at nang ako’y malunod / at maglunoy sa iyong katubigan, / at mahulog din sa iyong bangin.” (Is the deepness of your navel / The same as your heart’s? / Let me measure this depth / With my fingers and words / That I may submerge, wade in your pools / And tumble into your clefts.”

The poems in “Lover’s Lane” are stories from real life, a curious look into and taking apart of the myriad emotions that war in the heart and soul of each person. In each phrase masterfully crafted by Axel Pinpin are the heat of love and desire and the chill of loss and leaving.

Place orders for the volume on Facebook – search for the open group page “Lover’s Lane ni Axel Pinpin” and leave a message there.   *** 

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pop goes the world: moving on

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  20 December 2012, Thursday

Moving On

“Divorce Next – Belmonte” blared the front page of another broadsheet in 70-point black type, signaling renewed interest in the topic after the recent landmark passage of the reproductive health bill.

PDI divorce next

Image here. Photo of House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte on the left.

The news article accompanying that headline cited House of Representatives Speaker Feliciano Belmonte as saying that he supports the divorce bill and thinks it possible that such a law could be passed by the next Congress.

The Philippines is the only country in the world that does not have a divorce law, an effect of prevailing cultural norms instilled during the Spanish colonial period and perpetuated by the Roman Catholic majority. Roman Catholicism forbids divorce but allows marriage annulment in a process governed by strict criteria.

However, divorce is available to Muslim Filipinos under Presidential Decree No. 1083, the “Code of Muslim Personal Laws of the Philippines.” Under its Chapter III, divorce is recognized between Muslims and a Muslim man and his non-Muslim wife if married under Muslim law or this particular code, which “recognizes the legal system of the Muslims in the Philippines as part of the law of the land…”

Historically, divorce was widely practiced during pre-colonial times, according to an interesting blog post dated 5 August 2008 at the website Philippine e-Legal Forum of Jaromay Laurente Pamaos (JLP) Law Offices.

In the 16th century, absolute divorce was practiced by tribes as widely scattered as  the Igorots and Sagadans of the Cordilleras to the Tagbanwas of Palawan to the Manobos, B’laans, and Muslims of Visayas and Mindanao.

Also according to the JLP post, divorce was available during the American colonial period from 1917 to 1950. Divorce was not allowed in the New Civil Code that took effect in August 1950; only legal separation was, and this was adopted by the 1988 Family Code, which also “introduced the concept of ‘psychological incapacity’ as a basis for declaring [a] marriage void.”

There have been various incarnations of divorce bills filed in Congress as far back as 1999 at least. That one was filed by Representative Manuel C. Ortega (House Bill No. 6993). Senator Rodolfo G. Biazon filed one in 2001 (Senate Bill No. 782) as did Rep. Bellaflor J. Angara-Castillo (HB No. 878). This was followed in 2005 by one filed by Reps. Liza Masa and Luzviminda Ilagan (HB 3461).

The most recent version is by Reps. Ilagan and Emerenciana de Jesus (HB 1799). Belmonte said that this bill is still at the committee level and will not be taken up soon, with congressmen busy preparing for next year’s elections.

Why do we need a divorce bill?

Because under existing laws, marriages may only be “annulled” or rendered void at the start. The process is long, tedious, and expensive (costing P200,000 or more), making it available only to the moneyed who can afford to hire lawyers and obtain the psychological report that affirms the psychological incapacity of one or both of the parties involved.

This is unfair to most Filipinos who do not have the means for this legal maneuver, and instead resort to separating from their spouses and living with other partners, often resulting in legal entanglements involving conjugal property, benefits, and inheritance – the fodder of telenovelas.

A divorce would recognize that the marriage did exist but should no longer continue for a number of reasons, including domestic violence, infidelity, abandonment, non-support, and so on.

The chief opponent to such a bill would be the Roman Catholic clergy. Having received a jarring setback in their campaign against the RH bill, proposing a divorce bill would quite likely further enrage them. [Postcript 20 Dec 2012: And it has - read here.]

But if Muslim Filipinos can have divorce, why can’t other Filipinos? Just because the Catholics don’t want to have divorces doesn’t mean they should stop others, especially non-Catholics, from having them.

Why should a religious group be allowed to dictate what other people should or shouldn’t do according to the tenets of their religion? Is that fair or just to others who don’t subscribe to their faith?

A person’s religion is often arbitrary, dictated by birth; the law then should be a support system that can care for all members of society regardless of the constructed and sometimes illogical regulations of whatever their religion may be. Laws are for the good of many, not the one (or the one group).

Let’s face it, our (predominantly Catholic) society is a hypocritical one. It bars divorce but to get around this, cultural norms developed where it is considered acceptable for men to have mistresses and illegitimate children while their wives have to suffer it for the sake of the family (unless they have their own intimate affairs), and legal go-arounds such as annulment have been devised that benefit the wealthy few, not everyone.

As adults with functioning brains we are all aware that some things don’t last forever, that people must move on from situations that don’t work anymore, that it is often better to cut and cut cleanly that to slog on in an unhappy marriage marred by misery and desperation.

We need a law that gives us a chance to move on and start over, and it is only abysmal stupidity and selfishness that will deny this.

And this is the best time to work for the divorce bill, right after the RH bill’s passage. The discourse on human rights in general and women’s rights in particular must continue and the momentum for struggle be sustained, because things need to change for the better and as soon as possible, because too many people have been suffering for far too long and delay is a disservice to the people.

Let’s end the hypocrisy. The divorce bill should be next. *** 

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pop goes the world: and a little child shall lead them

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today18 October 2012, Thursday

And A Little Child Shall Lead Them

A 14-year-old girl was shot in the head for wanting to go to school.

Something that our children take for granted and even complain about – an education – is to another child who does not have it a precious thing to fight for and die for.

Malala Yousafzai was shot last week by Taliban assassins because she defied a Taliban ban against female education in the Swat Valley of Pakistan.

Also injured were her schoolmates Kainat Ahmed and Shazia Ramzan.

“I don’t mind if I have to sit on the floor at school. All I want is education. And I’m afraid of no one,” Malala has said before.

The young activist first came to public attention in 2009, in a documentary about the shutdown by the Taliban of the girls’ school she attended.

Her father operated one of the last girls’ schools in the area, and since then she and her family have been the target of Taliban ire.

The world erupted in indignation and anger after her shooting. Among the comments on Facebook were those of Curt Olsen – “Only a coward would shoot an unarmed child” – and Edward Clements – “She should be awarded the Nobel Prize for such bravery.”

Others pointed to the need to bring the Taliban to account for the human rights abuses they continue to perpetrate in the name of religion.

“A very brave girl,” Facebook commenter Andy Poljevka called her. “The world needs to rise up against this craziness.”

Sudhansu Jena lauded Malala’s courage: “No words to appreciate the ‘fight for right.’ The cowards who shot at her are highly condemnable.”

Roger Greatorex opined, “She could be the turning point in the struggle against the so-called ‘Taliban.’ How ironic that ‘Taliban’ means ‘students’ in Arabic.”

 Salt Lake Tribune editorial cartoon here.

The Pakistani government will pay for Malala’s treatment at the Queen Elizabeth hospital in the United Kingdom, where she arrived last Monday for the removal of a bullet lodged in her brain.

Meanwhile, as Malala was being airlifted to the United Kingdom for medical treatment, Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner jumped from the edge of space to freefall down to earth, breaking his 24-mile fall with a parachute and, in a show of incredible skill, landing on his feet.

This, said some netizens, comparing the record-breaking skydive to the shooting of Malala, shows the difference between science and religion.

That is too simplistic a comparison. Islam condemns the murder of innocents. The Taliban are extremists and in no way represent the whole of the Islamic world. But what the two events do show are the triumph of science over religious fundamentalism, of curiosity and the quest for knowledge over intolerance and fanaticism, and of the human desire to explore new frontiers against the human need to cling to old traditions even when they are cruel and destructive.

Malala is the same age as my younger daughter, who is a high school sophomore, now taking her quarterly exams and preparing for the annual school play and cheerdance competition.

Halfway around the world, a girl who could have been her classmate and friend is on the Taliban hitlist for wanting and striving for what my daughter has, an education and a normal life, the chance to be what she can be, perhaps even a spacejumper like Baumgartner.

What is clear is that the abuse of women and children around the world must stop. Malala na ito. (This is at its worst.) This is a battle that must be waged, with constancy and vigilance, on the platform of public opinion so that people may be made aware and changes come about.

Activists denounce the attack on Malala. Image here. 

This is a fight, and those who care about the rights of women and children are all its defenders.

There are many cultural and political attitudes that were once thought to be ineradicable, such as apartheid and its policy of white supremacy in South Africa and totalitarian communism in Soviet Russia and East Germany. But both were slowly eliminated over time and through fervent struggle.

Religious intolerance will be harder to conquer. Hatred, one of its manifestations, will always lurk in a corner of the human heart.

The way to evolving into a better society that treats all its members with equality and respect is to prevent hatred and injustice from winning.

We need to be brave enough to keep on fighting for the rights of women and children, because if a child like Malala has the courage, then so must we.  *** 

Image of Malala here. Image of Felix’s record-breaking jump here.

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pop goes the world: science, not superstition

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today9 August 2012, Thursday

Science, Not Superstition

Early in the morning of August 6, the global scientific community celebrated the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s spectacular achievement of landing their Mars Science Laboratory in the Gale Crater on Mars.

Nicknamed “Curiosity,” the $2.6 billion MSL treads in the tire prints of other Martian NASA rovers, the last launched being Spirit and Opportunity in 2004. Twice as long, five times as heavy, and loaded with ten times the number of science instruments, Curiosity is a roving science robot that will send back data that will pave the way for future human exploration.

Technicians work on Curiosity in a “clean room” at NASA. Image here.

“Ad astra per aspera” – “to the stars through hardships” – indeed, but the hard work of NASA and mission control handler Jet Propulsion Laboratory will pay off through the invaluable knowledge that will be acquired about our neighboring planet.

Curiosity carries 17 cameras. Image here.

There are at least two Filipino-Americans working in space flight and exploration in the US  – Gregory Galgana Villar III and Lloyd Manglapus.

Manglapus studied at the University of Santo Tomas and the University of Southern California, and has been a senior software engineer with JPL for the past eight years.

Villar is one of the youngest engineers on the Curiosity mission. According to a Huffington Post article by Anna Almendrala, he “attended…St. Louis University Laboratory High School in Baguio City, where his parents are from [and] has been working for NASA since he was a junior at [California State Polytechnic University in] Pomona. After he graduated, his internships turned into a full-time engineering job.”

The young engineer was quoted as saying, “…these types of missions are essential to our progress as humans. And I hope the youth are inspired.”

Inspiration is not a problem; achievements like these that “dare mighty things” (the Twitter hashtag made popular by scientists on the Curiosity mission) set fire to the imaginations of young people that they too can explore the final frontier.

For Filipinos to do so, we need to support education in the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. We have more than enough nurses who can’t find jobs – let’s develop engineers and scientists.

Mohawked NASA engineer Bobak Ferdowsi served as flight director of the Curiosity mission and became an Internet sensation. Image here.

Meanwhile, what where we doing at around that same time Curiosity landed on the Red Planet?

In the Philippines, fierce debates swirled in Congress when the date for voting on the ending of debates on the Reproductive Health bill was moved up to the 6th from the 7th.

Fresh from the anti-RH bill rally led by the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines the day before, anti-RH bill lawmakers urged their colleagues to resist terminating the plenary discussions on the controversial bill, with one of them questioning the propriety of the change of date because it was an unlucky number.

That’s the Philippines for you. Is it more fun yet?

Others have put forth arguments for and against the RH bill which I shall not go into here for lack of space and to avoid redundancy. What I present is my own conviction that the country needs not only the RH bill, but also a divorce bill and secularism in government.

We need to truly and seriously implement the laws about the separation of church and state. Not everyone in the Philippines is Catholic. Islamic, Protestant, and Iglesia ni Cristo church leaders have opined that their faiths have no problems with accepting the RH Bill.

We are behind many of the developed countries not only in economic and scientific aspects but also in societal attitudes. Where logic, reason, science, and the rule of just and fair laws should prevail, we are instead swayed by some irate priests clinging to the last vestiges of their medieval power, and guided by lucky numbers and supernatural forebodings – a contradiction in beliefs that boggles the rational mind.

“Where religion is, there is peace,” is a sometime truism; more often than not, where there is religion, there is strife, especially when churches and politicians prey on the masses’ religious fears to advance their own agenda.

Archbishop Socrates Villegas said, “Contraception is corruption.” Excuse me. Corruption is corruption. That means things like vote-buying, padding votes, extortion, bribery, and misuse of government funds.

Contraception is a personal choice that has to do with whether an individual wishes to have a child or not. It hinges on whether that person has the resources to properly support a child in comparative comfort and provide him or her basic needs including a life free from abuse and poverty, for I believe these are inalienable rights of humans.

Let us support hard science education to develop engineers like Gregory Villar and Lloyd Manglapus. Let us pass laws like the RH bill that will safeguard the welfare of women and children. Let us release our fear of the Church and irrational superstitions and dare mighty things for the Philippines.

Let us reach for the stars.  *** 

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pop goes the world: holey week

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 12 April 2012, Thursday

Holey Week

Last Good Friday, two photos spread all over Facebook and other Internet sites. Both elicited comments of outrage. Only one made it to the traditional news.

One photo was taken by Karlos Manlupig, who uploaded it to Facebook and tagged it “Public”. Inside a church, a uniformed security guard points a rattan baton at a shirtless man whose back is to the camera, his profile blurred to preserve his identity.

(see photo in my previous blog post here)

Here’s the caption Manlupig posted: “FILTHY HYPOCRITES. As I was shooting in Davao City’s San Pedro Cathedral during the observance of Good Friday, I noticed a Tagalog-speaking man instructing this security guard to throw out a half-naked man who is (sic) silently kneeling and praying inside the church, saying that the churches in Manila prohibit persons with mental disabilities and vagrants to enter its premises.

“The security guard then assaulted the poor man without any warning, poking him in the ribs several times using a ‘ratan’ truncheon…I immediately took several burst shots of the detestable incident.

“Suddenly, an old man with a Bible in his hand tapped me on my shoulder and told me that it is improper to take photos of the incident and that it is also improper to take photos inside their heavenly church.”

“What the hell is wrong with you people?” the aghast photographer asked.

In less than three hours of the upload, the image had been shared on Facebook 1,967 times.

The second photo shows a pretty young girl in sexy shorts and sleeveless floral top, her eyes covered with sunglasses, clinging to a cross, in a manner and position construed by viewers as “sexy.”

It was taken in Barangay Lourdes Northwest, Angeles City, where a traditional senakulo was held. The young girl wasn’t the only one who posed that way that day; two other images on the Internet are of a woman in a body-hugging black maxi dress, pink shawl, and sunglasses, and of a young man in a blue shirt and khaki shorts.

Another photo taken there shows two women in a “jump shot.”

Image here.

The majority of the comments on the photos scored the security guard for being cruel and unkind, and the cross-posers and jumpers for behaving inappropriately, showing “disrespect and impropriety.”

Only the incident of the girl on the cross was picked up by traditional media. That of the security guard in Davao was not.

This question, accompanied by the photos, made the rounds on Facebook: “Which of the two was worse?”

A Mindoro-based physician answered, “Both are disgusting! Both are a mockery!”

These two incidents reinforce the perception of our society as a “hypocriciety”, as I wrote about in an earlier column. Religion in this country has been trivialized. Churches and other places of worship are treated as tourist destinations, in the sense that people who visit there behave as tourists would in secular places such as museums or parks.

Worse, the incident of the security guard and the shirtless man shows that poverty and mental illness are stigmas that negatively influence a person’s standing in society; that our culture allows the marginalized to be treated without compassion and respect.

And for this incident to happen inside a cathedral on a Good Friday underscores the idea that Christianity is only lip service to a great many believers.

Poor shirtless man, scorned and repulsed by those who should have helped him. Jesus Christ himself said, “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

“Blessed are the poor,” Jesus also said, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” It’s too bad that they can’t get a decent break here on earth.

Believing is not doing. There are gaps in our sensibilities, great big holes through which common sense has evaporated, leaving a mindset which sees nothing wrong with this sort of behavior.

Can our society change for the better? Or is this decline into desensitization an overwhelming, unstoppable juggernaut? Is there a force strong enough to turn the tide?

Public opinion might do it. Reality, after all, is socially constructed, created by people. If enough people want to bring about change, with awareness and determination they can.

I hope so. Otherwise, we’ll be seeing more images like this next year, if not worse. ***

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buddha says: on belief

“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it – even if I have said it – unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” – Siddharta Gautama Buddha

He who was Shakyamuni was born in what is now known as Nepal, around 563 BCE. He spent the early part of his life as a prince, but later renounced his life of power and wealth to seek spiritual enlightenment through the practice of extreme austerities; when he almost died from starvation, he meditated, and realized that the proper path was through the Middle Way – moderation.

Image here.


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pop goes the world: pinoy private lives

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, 30 September 2010, Thursday

Pinoy Private Lives

Filipinos are chismoso. We are interested in other people – what they are doing, who they are doing it with, why they are doing it. Pakikialam is a cultural norm, ‘norm’ defined by some as ‘the way we do things around here’. Norms are behavior patterns typical of societies or specific groups, and are deeply embedded in culture, ‘culture’ being the whole hodgepodge of what makes us uniquely Filipino, with norms just a part of it. Other elements of culture are values, belief systems, goals, attitudes, and the like.

Which brings me now to the point at hand – do Filipinos still have privacy? Or has our being pakialamero with each other diminished this to the point that social freedoms are being curtailed?

An alarming trend in local and world news is the rise of church-backed conservatism in sexual matters, despite the provision in the constitutions of many countries regarding the separation of Church and State.

In the Philippines, both are still entwined. Church groups have huge impact on politics – for instance, the Iglesia ni Kristo bloc vote especially during national elections. The Roman Catholic Church, which claims nearly 80% of the population as believers, sways opinion enough to influence laws. Most, if not all, government agencies have some sort of prayers during flag ceremonies, and hold Masses at anniversaries and other corporate gatherings, without regarding the feelings of non-Catholics, non-Christians, and non-believers, who are marginalized during such occasions.

The latest example of the impact of religion upon the law and society is the Church’s reaction to President Benigno S. Aquino III’s recent remark about Filipinos who opt to limit family size using contraceptives. The President said contraceptive use is a matter of choice, and that the government would “provide assistance to those who are without means if they want to employ a particular method.”

Fr. Melvin Castro, executive director of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life, insinuated that the President’s statement was a direct result of the $434 million grant given by the United States to support Philippine poverty alleviation efforts.

“It’s just a small amount,” he said, “compared to the moral values that we are going to lose.” He said the grant, equivalent to P19 billion, is a “measly sum of money in the name of fighting poverty.” Castro was quoted by a daily newspaper as having said that the Church “would rather focus directly on the people to give them the needed values formation so that whatever the government does, their moral values and thinking will remain intact.” The Catholic Church remains strictly opposed to all forms of contraception except the unreliable rhythm and abstinence methods.

The crux of the matter is choice. The Church does not allow its adherents freedom in the privacy of their bedrooms – nakikialam sila by forbidding science and quoting dogma. Should not choice in such matters be left to the people involved? When a couple shuts the bedroom door, what they do in there is no one else’s business but their own.

Why would some Filipinos wish to limit family size? Because of poverty – the lack of sufficient income to raise and care for children and give them the advantages that they deserve. Filipinos are not only chismoso, they are alsomapagmahal. What parent can stand to see their children suffer from disease and malnutrition because they cannot afford to provide enough food and proper medical care? A good education in a private Catholic school, the ticket to good jobs and better opportunities, is only a dream for the masses, many of whom do not finish high school and  live miserable lives in dead-end jobs, perpetuating a vicious cycle.

The truth of the matter is, contraceptives such as birth control pills and condoms are widely used because experience has shown that they are more reliable than natural methods in preventing pregnancy.

As for values formation by the Catholic Church, it has had over 400 years to instill that in Filipinos. Have they made much headway? “Not much”, is the straight answer.

Perhaps the Philippines is one of their last bastions – a country that is one of only two in the world that does not recognize absolute divorce. “Mother Spain” that gave us Catholicism, Portugal, France – once staunchly Catholic countries – all have divorce laws and provide their citizens access to scientific methods of birth control, among other social freedoms.

But it is not only in the Philippines that conservatives are up in arms. In the United States, Sarah Palin, and lately Christine O’Donnell, are pushing Bible-belt beliefs to the detriment of science and logic. O’Donnell is famous for such illogical one-liners as: “Why aren’t monkeys evolving into humans?” and “The Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery. So you can’t masturbate without lust.” In the Middle East, conservative Islamic groups in Iran are cracking down on women’s clothing and men’s haircuts.

Non-believers are pushing back against this trend. The rise of the “New Atheism” in the West, spearheaded by scientist Richard Dawkins and philosopher Christopher Hitchens has been meteoric in recent years, with billboards along highways in the US and on buses in the United Kingdom making people aware that they may still lead good, moral lives based on secular humanist principles. In the Philippines, groups such as Filipino Freethinkers and Pinoy Atheist are growing and holding more meetups, venues for debate and discussion.

Biopsychologist Nigel Barber said in a recent Huffington article that anthropologist James Fraser“proposed that scientific prediction and control of nature supplants religion as a means of controlling uncertainty in our lives.” Again, this points to faith and belief as matters of choice – the same as contraceptive use.

Why are religions nakikialam in government and the state? Laws should be based on reason and logic, not on the belief systems that often differ widely from each other in petty details. The Church should not be chismoso. Let government provide options. Let private lives remain exactly that.

Maybe someday, religion’s influence on government will stem from the positive elements most faiths share – peace, love, and acceptance. May that day come soon.   ***

Photos from the ‘Net. Click on photo to go to image source.

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