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San Juan Gossip Mills Outlet

A veritable fanatic of the Internet. His avocation is teaching while his main vocation is practicing the much maligned law profession. Currently teaching Constitutional Law at the FEU Institute of Law and a guest lecturer at the De La Salle University teaching "Freedom and Regulation in Cyberspace" in the Graduate Program of the Department of Communication. He is married to his beautiful Ateneo law school classmate and is blessed with a daughter and a son.

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Location: San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Religion & Hypocrisy in Government

We have a state religion although we do not admit it.

Despite borrowing heavily from the US Constitution, the Philippines exists as though the Spaniards and the frailocracy never left our shores. Our Constitution emphasizes non-establishment of religion. But one could be easily fooled.

You go to government offices and one gets overwhelmed with the statues of the Virgin, the Sto. NiƱo, the lighted icons of the Perpetual Help peppered in corners, adorned in hallways and crucifixes hung in offices. Some government offices are chapels in all but name. Just yesterday, I met the second highest bureaucrat in a government agency and he proudly proclaimed that his office is filled with religous icons. Nothing wrong with that except they are just violating the highest law of the land.

Why fuss about it? First, because the Constitution forbids it. The very essence of non-establishment is that no religion must be patronized by the State. Though seemingly harmless, the statues and icons found in government offices smack of endorsement and it is taxpayer's money that subsidizes the maintenance of these items. Were I a Muslim, a born again or even an atheist taxpayer, I would have been gravely offended. The latent tolerance of government in displaying religious articles is an insult to adherents of other faiths and a clear but tacit violation of the Constitution.

Second, despite the presence of these icons, our government bureaucracy is considered one of the most corrupt in Asia, and even the world. One would think that these artifacts would put the fear of God in their hearts or encourage honesty, integrity and civic esprit de corps. But all to naught. Religion and its ornaments are propped up as a facade for decency in some government offices where there is little or none to speak of. If religion has no effect on our bureaucrats, what do these icons serve? Save for wearing religion on their sleeves, nada.

Corruption and hypocrisy are two sides of a coin. And they are inversely proportional to the pervasive and declining influence of religion in this country. More and more people speak of moral regeneration but where are the leaders we seek to emulate? The Church has lost much of her credibility because she chose to play footsies with Pagcor. The politicians never had the sincere respect of the people except during campaign doleouts where they are willingly led to slaughter. The private sector is fragmented that there is no common voice except during EDSA uprisings. Public religiosity has wrought largely nothing but ill and hypocrisy to government.

And so I say, let us do away with the hypocrisy of religion in government. The physical manifestations of religion appear to serve no lasting moral or beneficial purpose to the men and women serving the public good. Let our Constitution justify their removal. After all, a man is justified by his faith and good works, not by the sheer number of statues in his office.

But in the meantime, as a concerned citizen meditating in his private room, let us pray that God will raise up a prophet in our midst to proclaim the good news to the nation, to make straight the path of the Lord, and to lead us out of this seemingly endless moral desert. Oh, and religious hyprocrisy!

Salve Regina.....

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that government offices or at most times, even just desks, should not be used as altars to show one's religious affiliation. However, I do believe that it is not an impossibility for an image of Jesus or Mary to awaken the conscience of a person who may at a moment of weakness, still choose to do the right thing.

12:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sir ako si jun dun sa last class mo nung last sem sa lasal. tanung ko lang po totoo ba yung manghuhuli ng pirated pati mga bumibili? ngek kawawa naman kami. kaya i try to buy them pagumaga talaga. may sked ba kayu sir ng raid para maiwasan ko hehehhehe. Neways thanks sir last term and God bless. take care always.

12:34 AM  

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