We share with Bill Mailer’s Â having problems with” people who take the Constitution loosely and the Bible literally.” Jesus Â had wittily answered that question if the Jews should pay taxes to Caesar and showed a coin carved with the image of Caesar- and gave the above quoted answer.
Verily ,Christ did not come to earth to encourage man not to obey human authority.
In the Philippines, Religion is very much a part of one’s everyday life -unlike in the US , for instance, where religious influence is waning and about 30% do not belong to any religious group. Among the 100 million Filipinos , 80% of them are Roman Catholics and a large part belonging to the Protestant and Born Again groups.
Two great leaders have categorically stated their recognition of how politics and religion have become incorrigibly intertwined. Pope Francis, leader of billions of Catholics said “Â We are all Political Animals with a Capital P.Â We are all called to constructive political activity among the people.Â The preaching of human and religious values has a political consequence. Whether we like it or not, it is there.”
Another transcendent leader in India Â named Mahatma Gandhi stated: ” Ethical values emanating from Religion is an important part of politics.Politics divorced from Religion becomes debasing.”.For indeed, Religion sets moral discipline among its followers.
The wit Jerry Falwell was more sarcastic when he quoted: ” “The idea that Religion and Politics do not mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians from running their own country.” He is seconded by an deathless philosopher Â named Plato who illumined: ” One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is you end up being governed by your inferiors.”
No, not just intellectually, but Â morally as well- especially.
For the first time -and in the most dramatic way ever- organized Religion in the Philippines- Â in a big way- is taking an active part in the selection process for the candidates in the coming May presidential elections- for similar reasons above stated.Â This stemmed off from the initiative late last year of theÂ Â Pilipino Movement for Transformational Leadership (PMTL)Â led by its Chief Convenor and spokesperson Atty Alex Lacson.
It is a community of faithful- Catholics, Protestants and Born Again groups- who have come together and engage the work of God in the field of politics. Sewn together by a common desire of electing God-centered public servants , the group can muster up to 10 million voters , representing an estimated 25% of the 40 million faithful in the pool of 50 million Filipino voters of diverse faiths.
Using 20 criteria-items Â as part of theÂ Gabay KristoÂ matrix, the group had short-listed 2 candidates each for the president and 3 for vice president and will soon reduce the list to only 8 for senators.Â Â Senator Grace Poe and former DILG chief Mar RoxasÂ have been shortlisted for the presidency.
Rep Leni Robredo, Jesus Zosimo Paredes and Teodulo Malngen have been anointed as vice presidential candidates. The senate list of 15 is being trimmed down as we write to just eight candidates. Generally , their names were the result of a sieve that underscored integrity, honesty,competence, skills, fear of God and love for neighbor as many of the criteria being utilized.
Once the anointed servant leader-candidates are selected, the 10 million followers can either vote Â for them based on the collective discernment anchored on theÂ Gabay KristoÂ principles or even actively campaign for them in their dioceses.
In a bold move never before seen from the Catholic Philippine Hierarchy, the church speaking through the 11th Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Bishops Conference in Cebu City -recently not only praised the initiatives of the (PMTL) but has effectively endorsed their chosen candidates by encouraging the Diocesan Councils of the Laity to support the PMTL.
It is a very brave move of the group and could put to test if there is indeed a “Christian vote” in this Christian country- though not in the manner imposed by the rival INC (Iglesia ni Cristo) mandating a strict adherence of political choices dictated from above under pain of serious religious and physical consequences.
The Christian Group is, of course, proud of the fact that there was a process that started from the bottoms -up Â process and not imposed by an above hierarchy.
This new spiritual-political movement has a trajectory straight out of the Second Vatican Council of “Gaudium Spes” marking Â that “Christians Â must not shirk from their earthly duties..and think that Â religion consists in acts of worships alone Â and the discharge of certain moral obligations and must plunge Â into earthly affairs in such a way that are not divorced Â from the religious life.
The split between the faith that many profess and their daily lives deserve to be counted among the more serious errors of our age.”
GS:43 also states that the “Christian who neglects his temporal duties, neglects his duties toward his neighbor , and even God, and jeopardizes his eternal salvation…” Verily , one who professes Religion and Politics do not mix- has little understanding of both.
Religion is that one thing that injects “absolutes” to the world deeply mired in modern-day “moral relativism”.Â It straightens the clutter of intellectual justification of moral choices.
Today’s Christian actually still has a choice faced daily with the reality of many men wounded by the wayside Â one sees everyday. Either he can become a Good Samaritan or an indifferent bystander.
It is a a human choice full of spiritual undertones.Â That is the way to view the emergence of the Â 10 Million Christian Vote. SHALOM.
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