Church and State: Mixing Oil and Water

I hate social science 2. I hate studying world political history, moreso about leviathans, revolutionists, conflicts of church and state and philosophers. In other words, I hate politics and everything that has to do with it. I usually tell myself “Who cares about these stuff anyway?”. As an individual, I do not see the relevance of the subject to my life. As long as I get to do what I want to do, I am happy and satisfied.

But four years after taking up the subject, the young, immature, and careless version of myself have grown and suddenly became very much aware of Philipine politics, and occasionally, world politics. Specifically, the role of the church in the state.

The legitimacy of choosing the best person to spearhead the Philippines as President stopped at the first election of Ferdinand Marcos on 1966. Previous heads-of-state upto Marcos have been elected due to their smart and service-oriented leadership. But because of the sudden change of approach by Marcos, he has awakened a sleeping giant that was eagerly waiting to run over matters of state: the church.

From the downfall of Marcosand martial law on 1986, the church has greatly influenced the decision on who would sit on the Presidential chair. It has been the practice of Filipinos that whenever the church has something to say, we should abide and listen.

We take for example the time when then President Corazon Aquino was plumetted into the country’s top post. Though the revolution was sparked by the desire of people to stop the dictatorial rule of Marcos, the church (led by Manila Archbishop, Cardinal Sin) had one of the loudest voices among those who spat out their disgust over the administration. And being victorious quite encouraged the church, with its vast number of followers behind it, to have their own opinion over almost all issues to be decided by the state.

During the 1992 and 1998 Presidential elections, both Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada did not get much help from the Catholic community but rather concentrated on the protestant religious groups to get the much-wanted victory. Still, the church was a major factor for the triumph of the President.

But then again, the popular saying: “The one who makes you, can also unmake you” proved to be a bitter passage for Estrada . The church, which pushed for his victory, led the massive protest in EDSA requesting for his resignation. And once more, the powerful Cardinal Sin, together with his Catholic constituents, emerged successful.

And it does not end there. With the Arroyo administration being bombarded by numerous allegations and political stability being questioned, churches are leading the mob once again to oust another president. Eduardo Villanueva, better known as Bro. Eddie of Jesus Is Lord (JIL) church, is leadig the protest by bringing in the constituents of his church to mass-ups to call for the resignation of Mrs. Arroyo. And this is really hurting the current administration.
This is just a glimpse of how powerful the curch has become in matters of state. And in my humble opinion, this should not be the case.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that voicing out one’s opinion is bad, but from what is happening, the church has become politically very active that it has forgotten why they are called a church in the first place. I grew up in a Christian family and was exposed to church activities even at my young age (I am a Mehtodist by the way) and as such, I have witnessed what the hurch is supposed to do and I have read and experienced the goals of the church. Every church has their own central themes and in my case, He is Jesus Christ. What I am trying to say is, church people nowadays are more concerned with how they apear to the public than their supposed task of trying to guide lost sould back to the Lord.

Just like Bro. Eddie, he has become too pre-occupied with politics that he has somehow lost his view on what really matters for the church. From what it looks like, he has roamed the streets more than he has worked for his ministry. The Bible says “You cannot serve two masters at the same time”. Consequently, people must choose what they really want to with their lives.

I recall attending a church service here in Los Baños. The pastor started his sermon and he talked about the hottest topic during that time: EDSA 2. He started out fine and then mentions something about pastors trying to consolidate themselves to pray for the people who were rallying in EDSA. He said further that the prayer meeting was going to be held at a hotel which was relatively far from the scene of the rally. He suddenly points out “Why should we pray in a place away from EDSA? We (the pastors) should be praying with the rest of the rallyists in EDSA and show our support!”. Excuse me, but did I hear a pastor say that? According to the bible, pray in private and not be like the hypocrites who like to pray standing up i synagogues to be seen by men (Matthew 6:6). For the record, I never entered that church again. I go to church to be nurtured and hearing something that directly opposes the ideas in the Bible makes me feel disgusted.

Same goes with the church and student politics. The University of the Philippines- Los Baños has always been one of the premiere places for student activism. Personally, I hated the fact that UPLB was an activist community. All issues, whether inside or outside the campus, were always seen as an opportunity for the so-called “tibaks” to parade the streets and call out for their supposed rights and demands. Yes, it was a tiring and boring show for as I have seen the same scenario ever since I entered UPLB. And now after how many years, the political giant SAKABAYAN has been toppled out of position from the University Student Council (USC) by a new political party, BUKLOD.

Everybody, myself included, was attracted to the platform of government of the new party which revolved around reconciliation with University Officials and better service for the studentry. And they were able to reconcile the USC with the much discussed David-administration. They were able to successfully hold a rather peaceful holding of the February Fair (you really hurt my nose with that teargas), stage a once in a bluemoon Inter-college sportsfest and very inspiring Leadership Training Seminar (LTS). But then there have been so many issues affecting the UPLB community that we have not heard anything from the USC. From the rising of jeepney fares, to the never-ending talks about the status of the Dao tree, and more importantly – the issue on present events on the Arroyo administration. They did make a statement on the issue, but it was so late and they did not have a clear stand. My hunch is that the current USC is also protecting their hidden identity, and I guess most of us know that a church is behind their every move. We can consider this as a case of conflicting interest because the delay in the action of the governing body is due to the fact that they will be hurting the image of the church.

The silence of the UPLB campus for the past year has opened my eyes and made me appreciate the efforts of those people who cared to tackle every issue faced by our communityduring the past years before the change. I miss the old UPLB.

These are just my ideas on the subject involving church and state, particularly church in state. The state is letting the church do their duties without much question. In the same sense, let the state accomplish their duties without the over-participation of the church.

We can never mix oil and water.

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