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Religious Freedom in the Philippines

Paper type: Essay
Pages: 12 (2827 words)
Categories: Christianity, Freedom, Islam, Religion, Religious Freedom
Downloads: 22
Views: 254

I. Introduction

Based on Dr. Jose Rizal’s symbolisms on the cover page of Noli Me Tangere, religion is a big influence with the perspective of the people. However, in the future, there will still be the influence of religion, but people are then educated. People stop continuing the old practices because they start to question the logic in doing these practices. This is only proof that even though the Filipino mind is deeply influenced by Christianity, being open to improving and revealing of oneself is not that far away.

We can never change history or force someone to change their beliefs, but let the youth be the ones to discover it themselves. The Filipino youth must be allowed to choose their religion. If not, they end up being confused, losing the essence of religion during marriage, and continuously discriminated due to offensive stereotyping. Inclining their personality with the appropriate beliefs will result to a better perspective for living and to discovering their self-identity.

Infant Baptism states that it wipes away original sin; this is a sacrament being practiced almost fully in the Philippines. Their parents are already binding them to be devoted to a belief that may or may not be suitable for their child. This is the simplest act of violation to the freedom of religion.

What will happen to those children who refuse to believe in the practices that their parents taught them? These children end up being outcast to their society, causing depression that sometimes leads to suicide. Majority of the Filipino population are Christian Catholics. At present, the essence of Christianity has been continuously forgotten by these Catholics themselves. For Christians, the Ten Commandments take on a whole new perspective. But it seems that the Ten Commandments are not followed, showing signs of unfaithfulness or betrayal to their owl religion. Then what is the logical explanation for being baptised as Christians if they are not devoted or loyal to Christianity? Based on their actions, they are clearly violating the Ten Commandments. The First Commandment states that “I am the Lord your God. You shall not have other gods beside me” (Ex 20:2-3; Dt 5:6-7), but to be loyal to their God is to follow His commandments. Unfortunately, there are violating the first commandment without them knowing it. At the same time, the Filipino population has a young population, meaning majority of the community are minors.

And in lieu with the majority of Christians in the Philippines, majority of these minors are Christians. Since Filipino Christians are mostly unfamiliar to their religion, they do not practice their religion fully despite that they are born Christians. They are growing to be more confused about their religion, and end up losing the essence of it as they grow older. Marriage is a part of adulthood, and marriage is a holy sacrament practiced by Christians to bond their relationship with the opposite sex, declaring them husband and wife, in the name of God. But do the Christians being wedded nowadays even recognise the essence of being married? Most of them get married to have the right to experience sexual intercourse legally, property rights of the mate, and in the name of love. Not knowing they are already forgetting the essence of getting married in the name of God. The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respected this right in practice.

Although Christianity was the predominant religion, there is no state religion, and under the Constitution church and State are separate. Muslims were the largest minority religious group in the country. There was widespread debate over the exact size of the Muslim population, as some officials and observers claimed that security concerns in western Mindanao prevented census takers from conducting accurate counts outside urban areas. Estimates ranged from 3.9 million to 7 million, or 5 to 9 % of the population. Muslims resided principally in Mindanao and nearby islands, but there were Muslim communities throughout the country. Historically, Muslims have been discriminated from the Christian majority. The national culture, with its emphasis on familial, tribal, and regional loyalties, forms informal barriers whereby access to jobs or resources is provided first to those of one’s own family or group network.

Muslims reported difficulty renting rooms in boarding houses or being hired for work if they used their real name or wore distinctive Muslim dress. As a result, some Muslims used a Christian pseudonym and did not wear distinctive dress when applying for housing or jobs. The Government’s crackdown on the terrorist ASG has led some human rights NGOs to accuse the police and military of unfairly targeting Muslims for arrest and detention. However, most observers believed that discrimination against Muslims was grounded on cultural differences, not religious beliefs or practices. There also were reports of Muslim discrimination against Christians in areas where Muslims were the majority.

In conclusion, freedom of religion must be strictly implemented in the Philippines. And the first step to continue practicing the freedom of religion is to let the youth have the freedom to choose their religion. As a result, Filipinos possibly will be more productive and will have a better point of view in life. This may be a solution to the major crisis of the Philippines with the economy. Workers, namely Filipinos, play a big part in the economy. So having better and devoted workers will help produce a greater economy for Philippines, and resulting to rise of the Filipinos from poverty.

II. Significance of the Study

Religion is a system of belief that a group of people practice. It involves devotion and ritual observances. And often contains a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs. Religion is something that virtually all humans have in common. In all corners of the world and in all eras of history, people have wondered about the meaning of life, how to make the best of it, what happens afterwards, and if there is anyone or anything “out there.” Nowadays, religious devotion is being practiced by Filipinos. Sudden devotion to the Black Nazarene is being observed. But still, there are devotees to other religious groups who stay loyal. The freedom of religion is going to benefit majority of Filipinos because of the importance of religion to the Filipinos. The freedom of religion is giving Filipinos the right to practice their religion and still belong to the community without being discriminated; this will unite the Filipino community.

Freedom of religion can improve quality of education and man power. Children who are free to choose their belief will have a better perspective in life, and this will help increase man power. Man power is a basic element to greater economy which will be beneficial to the community. It is better to have a better set of generations to educate and nurture for the betterment of our country. Those who will be working or earning money can have a better life. Fewer crimes will be committed due to devotion to what you really want to believe. Democracy will be more effective, because even though there is a law including freedom of religion, namely Article III, section 5, stating free exercise of religious worship shall be allowed, we are not fully practicing freedom.

III. Body

A. Religion
a. Religions in the World
1. Major Religions

Religion is a belief where in people sometimes uses it as a way of life or a perspective. There are many, long established, major world religions, each with over three million followers. These religions that are considered as major religions include Christianity, Buddhism, Confucianism, Islam, Hinduism, Taoism, Baha’i Faith, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto’s, Sikhism, and Paganism; All from different countries of the world. If we had been born in a specific place, we are most likely to adapt the most common religion in the place. Given that you were born in Saudi Arabia, you would almost certainly hold Muslim beliefs. In much of Europe, there is Christianity. And in the Philippines, you are most likely to be Catholic; except if you were born in ARMM, you are to be a Muslim.

2. Neopagans

This religion is a modern-day reconstruction of ancient Pagan religions from various countries and eras. Majority of the followers of the Neopagans refer to themselves as Pagans. But the term Neopagans is used because the followers and the religion itself is less ambiguous compare to the Pagans. Neopagans include Asatru or Norse Paganism, Druidism, Wicca, and Witchcraft. But some followers of Asatru regard themselves as Heathens rather than Neopagans.

3. Atheist

An Atheist is seldom referred to as agnostic or infidel. Atheists are people who do not believe in the existence of a supreme being. They deny to be committed to the belief of creation of the universe by a particular deity. They spread free thoughts, sceptical inquiry, and subsequent increase in criticism of religion. One of the most famous groups of Atheists is the Scientology. b. History of Religions in the Philippines

1. Early Period

In this period of time, the Philippines were invaded by the Spaniards. The Spaniards were the ones who introduced Catholicism to the Filipinos. Specifically, Ferdinand Magellan was the one who introduced it to Lapu-lapu. The Spaniards were off on a search for Marianas Island, it is said to be rich in different spices. They got off the chart and accidentally went to the Philippines. Their goal was the three G’s; God, gold, and glory; God, to introduce Catholicism, gold, to be able to get a lot of resources, and glory, to invade the islands. They were successful with this because until now, most of the Filipinos practice the religion they introduced to us, Catholicism.

2. Revolutionary Era
In 1898, Spain ceded the Philippines to the United States. By February 1902, the United States defeated the forces of Spain. They established an independent state for the country. The Philippine Organic Act of 1902 was declared stating that no law shall be made to prohibit free will, and that free exercise must forever be allowed.

3. Late American Period
The Americans established a religious freedom by declaring the separation of church and state based on the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Filipinos still show signs of anti-friars; therefore, the Americans replaced the Spanish friars for Filipino one’s to take over. The Marcos regime continues to rein the country and imposed Martial Law, which some of the bishops opposed, trying to win back the hearts and loyalty of the country.

4. Post-Independence
Corazon Aquino took over Marcos’ presidency and brought back the unity of the government with the Catholic Church. This made way for church officials to make an impression on the 1986 Constitutional Commission.

B. Freedom of Religion in the Philippines
a. Constitutional Laws
1. Benevolent Neutrality
The Supreme Court of the Philippines, established the doctrine of benevolent neutrality-accommodation. The 2006 ruling, imposed by former Chief Justice Puno, explained benevolent-neutrality in the context of U.S. jurisprudence. It states that religious practices is a unanimous right and does not privilege the society to discriminate anyone who accommodates their religion under some circumstances.

2. Article II, Section 3

The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable. With the guarantee of religious freedom in the Philippines, the Roman Catholic Church clergy subsequently remained in the political background as a source of moral influence for many voters during elections until today. Political candidates generally court the clergy for support, although this does not guarantee victory for a candidate. The Philippines was placed under martial law by Dictator Ferdinand Marcos and relations changed dramatically, as some bishops opposed the martial law.

3. Article III, Section 5

No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights The former Philippine Organic Act of 1902. This law is now imposed in the 1987 Philippine Constitution. But the right to act in accordance with one’s belief cannot be absolute. Conduct remains subject to regulation and even prohibition for the protection of society.

It may not be used to justify an action or refusal inconsistent with general welfare of society (People vs. Diel, [CA] 44 O.G. 590, August 22, 1947). One of the regulations imposed in its exercise is the compliance of government employees to Section 5 of the Omnibus Rules relative to the number of working hours. While government employees of Muslim faith are excused from work between the hours of 10 o’clock in the morning up to 2 o’clock in the afternoon every Friday, they are obligated to compensate said lost working hours by adopting flexible time schedule to complete forty hours of work in a week.

4. Republic Act No. 3350
This was intended to serve the purpose of advancing the constitutional right to the free exercise of religion, by averting that some people be dismissed
from work, or be dispossessed of their right to work and of being impeded to pursue a modest means of livelihood, by reason of union security agreements.

b. Religious Conflicts
1. Religious Freedom in the Government Offices Act

Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino has withdrawn House Bill 6330 otherwise known as the Religious Freedom in Government Offices Act, which seeks to ban religious images and ceremonies in government offices. The fact that one legislator actually had the guts to file a bill like this in a country where the Roman Catholic Church holds considerable influence in politics is already an achievement in itself. As Palatino said in a statement,”We are encouraged by the fact that despite the misunderstandings, the bill initiated relevant discussions on freedom of religion as one of the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution.”

2. Muslim Discrimination

Muslims were the largest minority religious group in the country. Muslims resided principally in Mindanao and nearby islands, but there were Muslim communities throughout the country. Historically, Muslims have been alienated from the predominant Christian majority. The national culture, with its emphasis on familial, tribal, and regional loyalties, creates informal barriers whereby access to jobs or resources is provided first to those of one’s own family or group network. Muslims reported difficulty renting rooms in boarding houses or being hired for retail work if they used their real name or wore distinctive Muslim dress. As a result, some Muslims used a Christian pseudonym and did not wear distinctive dress when applying for housing or jobs

3. Separation of Church and State

The First Amendment is about the right to free exercise of religion. It’s interaction with non-discrimination law based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The right of a non-church-related employer to discriminate against gay employees based on religious belief is against a law prohibiting job discrimination. The enactment of employment protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, opponents of such laws have often raised concerns about the infringement of the religious freedom of business owners.

C. Current Religious State

Is religious freedom being practiced fully in the Philippines? Based on other researches, even though there are many laws regarding the separation of church and state, the Catholic Church still has a lot of influence in the system of the government. And in the minds of the Filipino community, they are not practicing this given democracy and the simple act of baptism to a child is a form of violation. Baptism is a form of surrendering yourself to a Supreme Being and you are already making a sin to that Supreme Being whenever he has doubts or decide to choose their own religion. This is giving pressure to the youth and sometimes lead to social discrimination and suicide.

IV. Conclusion

The Filipino youth is the foundation of the future of the Philippine community. That’s why we must nurture the youth and continue to educate them and guide them towards a life with more purpose. In our country, religion is one of the major factors that affect the society’s perspective. That is why as early as now; the youth must be guided properly and taught according to their choice of religion. Religion is a way of life, a system of belief wherein they give knowledge of people’s lives importance. And it will be an advantage for everyone in the way they behave. This will lead to a better community, the one that can provide a safe environment for Filipinos and foreigners. And freedom of religion can help produce educated people, and this results to greater man power and greater economy.

V. Bibliography

Agoncillo, Teodoro; Guerrero, Milagros (1970). History of the Filipino People. Malaya Books.

Bacani, Teodoro (1987). The Church and Politics. Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines: Clarentian Publications.

Schumacher, John (1976). Church and State in the Nineteenth and Twentieth
Centuries. Loyola School of Theology, Quezon City.

de la Costa, Horacio; John Schumacher (1976). Church and State: The Philippine Experience. Quezon City, Philippines: Loyola School of Theology.

Cite this essay

Religious Freedom in the Philippines. (2017, Jan 29). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/religious-freedom-in-the-philippines-essay

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