Friday, May 19, 2006

The Taliban In the Manila City Council

The Manila City Council is acting a lot like the Spanish Frailocracy did in theocratic times... Glenn Omanio of Newsroom Barkada has today's lead story on that bizarre unanimous Resolution by the 35-member Manila City Council, banning the Hollywood blockbuster, The Da Vinci Code, from being shown in the Ever-loyal City of Manila and urging the Mayor, Lito Atienza, to "take drastic action" to enforce it. It is a move more Catholic than the Bishops of the CBCP, who've wisely decided not to give the heretical and apostatic film and novel an even bigger publicity boost. The overwhelmingly Catholic population has apparently ignored all warnings of eternal damnation due to a shaken faith, as over 100 movie theatres reportedly played to packed audiences.

I can think of no better recent example of a culpable violation of the Principle of Separation of Church and State than this Resolution by the Manila City Council banning the Da Vinci film and so it is worth a careful Commentary.

Perhaps the most widespread misconception about the Constitutional Principle of the Separation of Church and State, is that it refers to the actions of religious believers and their leaders. You find lots of otherwise intelligent and knowledgeable people claiming that this principle is violated when priests or bishops meddle in politics. The truth is, this principle is addressed entirely to the State, and like virtually the entire Constitution, it is a carefully calibrated set of double prohibitions on the government and its officials regarding what they may or may not do with respect to "Religion." Here it is in the Bill of Rights:
Art 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.
It is crystal clear from the last line that in fact, the religious affiliation of any person engaged in the exercise of civil and political rights cannot be used as a test of whether such exercise is legitimate or not. For example, the Catholic Bishops may be seen to be meddling in political affairs far from their expertise, when they issue pastoral letters on burning issues of the day, but the Constitution does not forbid them from doing so. Indeed, I believe Catholic Archbishops may run for public office. Once elected however, as government officials, they may no longer pursue the full "freedom of religion."

What it does forbid is for the government to either promote or prohibit "Religion." Look at the first sentence, specifically at the two words "Religion" and "thereof." I think the key to really understanding the rhetorical heart of the Principle of Separation of Church and State, is to realize that these two words refer to one and exactly the same thing!

A law which is clearly unconstitutional because the State establishes or promotes religious acts, beliefs or expressions, would also be unconstitutional if the law were to forbid or prohibit such religious act or expression. For example, it would be unconstitutional for the State to require that all citizens worship as members of the El Shaddai. But it would be equally unconstitutional for the State to forbid people from joining El Shaddai.

No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

How compact and economical a principle!

Under this remarkable principle of neutrality, if some act or practice by the public is forbidden by the State, and we want to know if such policy is unconstitutional, we need only to ask whether we think that REQUIRING the public to undertake such acts or practices is unconstitutional. For if the answer is YES, then, almost certainly, forbidding that same act or practice would be unconstitutional by parity of reasoning in the first sentence of Section 5. For example, if the government passes a law requiring citizens to pray the Litany to the Virgin Mary whenever they visit Luneta Park, that would be unconstitutional if we think it would be unconstitutional to FORBID praying the Litany at Luneta Park.

Likewise, if the Manila City Council were to REQUIRE citizens to watch the Da Vinci Code movie, that would seem to be an unconstitutional requirement say on devout Catholics who might be disgusted with the movie and its premises that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had children. Likewise, it would be unconstitutional to FORBID citizens from watching the Da Vinci Code movie on grounds that it might shake their faith. This is clearly a case of religious discrimination, since it applies to all citizens and not all citizens are Catholics. Moreover, it seeks to make showing the movie illegal on purely religious grounds, a case of the State protecting Religion from secular fantabulists like Dan Brown, Ron Howard, Tom Hanks, and Leonardo da Vinci.

As such, Manila's councilors are guilty of a culpable violation of the Constitution and ought to be so charged. But the Executive Secretary has also called for a banning of the movie, even if the Bishops haven't. I seem to recall that just a few months after seizing political power from Joseph Estrada in 2001, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo sided with the Bishops in calling for the X rating on a movie entitled Toro, by Joey Reyes. The Taliban control the Palace too, I see.

But the most amazing admission comes from Vice Mayor "Mullah Omar" Danilo Lacuna who claimed on ABSCBN New's noon time show that they were concerned we could have a situation like the Danish Mohammed Cartoon controversy. Well, I guess in fact we do have such a situation. Except that the Manila City Council is playing the role of rioting Islamist mobs decrying blasphemy and passing illegal, unconstitutional Resolutions.

If the Manila City Council is right, however, we should begin to see large demonic bacchanals as the previously devout members of the faith emerge from the hypnotic brainwashing in the cinema houses now believing that Jesus Christ was a -- gasp -- married man with children. I suppose priests and nuns will dispense with the their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, should they be so unfortunate as to transgress the Manila City Fathers' wise and prudent establishment of a ban on a clearly heretic and apostatic expression of unbelief in the Catholic Religion.

But no, I don't think we are going to see crazed excommunicated Catholics running around rioting and calling for the beheading of Tom Hanks. However, the City Council should get a cut of the resulting windfall from movie theatre owners.


Dominique said...

Hi, Dean: thanks for that pic. It was my turn for an extended laugh-out-loud moment. Thankfully, it's the middle of the day and lunch was a couple of hours ago :-D

Lord Dracula said...

Vice Mayor "Mullah Omar" Danilo Lacuna - I voted for this guy! Back in 2004, I voted for almost all candidates against Taliban Lito Atienza, not knowing that Lacuna is worse. Yet again, I wouldn't be surprised if the Taliban Council was persuaded to Head Taliban Atienza. He has the Council on his hands, anyway.

Lacuna et al, I will not vote for you again, ever.

Anonymous said...

All the the major movie houses aside from the one's in recto or elsewhere are located in malls which have branches all over the metro.They can not stop the people from watching outside Manila...if they are trying to make a point i am not getting it.



Dean, this is a funny article!

Rizalist said...

All kinds of strange characters are popping up on broadcast radio and television. it's just amazing how some people think. But Lacuna's statement about the Mohammed Cartoons really floored me. I suppose they're playing up to the Church or something coz of the coming elections. Yet the CBCP was downright liberal compared to the Manila City Council.

Anonymous said...

i remember a few months back when we were discussing the mohammmed cartoons and bigotry i mentioned the davinci code about if catholics or christianity as a whole are bigotted they should have killed dan brown.....

di pa uso yung davinci code non kaya dedma ang nagyari sa comment ko...

ay baka nabasa ni vice mayor yung comment ko dito....


manuelbuencamino said...

Living up to one's name.

Lacuna 1. a space where something has been omitted or has come out; gap; hiatus; esp., a missing portion in a manuscript, text, etc.
2. Anat.Biol. a space, a cavity, or depression:

Seven Star Hand said...

Hello Dean and all,

There is a foolproof way to verify the truth...

Perhaps you could get those who think banning free discussion about the truthfulness of religion to understand the truth about Christianity and learn from their folly. Read my missive below to learn the truth.

Pay close attention, profundity knocks at the door, listen for the key. Be aware, scoffing leads to blindness...

Yes, the DaVinci Code novel is better than the movie. Both are no more accurate as a literal version of history than is the New Testament. In other words, none of them is the literal truth, which is a key fact of the story and ancient history. The primary sub-plot is about purposeful symbology being used to encode hidden meanings, exactly like the Bible and related texts. Arguing about whether the DaVinci Code, Gospel of Judas, or the Bible are accurate history is a Machiavellian red herring.

There is a foolproof way to verify the truth and expose religious deceptions. It is the common thread connecting the ancient Hebrews, Yahad/Essene, Jews, Gnostics, Cathars, Templars, Dead Sea Scrolls, DaVinci Code, and others who have all been targets of Rome’s evil machinations. What the Vatican and its secret society cohorts don’t want you to understand is that the ancient Hebrew symbology in all of these texts purposely encodes and exposes the truth about them. Furthermore, the structure of ancient symbology verifiably encodes the rules to decode messages built with it. This is what they most fear you will discover.

It is undeniable the New Testament is framed by ancient Hebrew symbolism and allegory. The same is evidenced in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Gnostic texts, biblical apocrypha, DaVinci Code, and other related texts. All ancient religious, mystical, and wisdom texts have been shrouded in mystery for millennia for one primary reason: The ability to understand their widely evidenced symbology was lost in antiquity. How do we finally solve these ages-old mysteries? To recast an often-used political adage: It’s [the] symbology, stupid!

It is amazing the Vatican still tries to insist the Gospels are literal truth. It is beyond obvious they are replete with ancient Hebrew symbology. Every miracle purported for Jesus has multiple direct symbolic parallels in other symbolic narratives and traditions. This is the secret held by the ancient Gnostics, Templars, and Cathars, which is presented with dramatic effect in the DaVinci Code. None of these narratives or stories were ever intended as the literal truth.

Likewise, the following Washington Post article ( The Book of Bart) describes the many embellishments made to the New Testament over the centuries, demonstrating it is not original, infallible, or truthful.

What then is the purpose of "faith" but to keep good people from seeking to understand truth and wisdom? It's no wonder the Vatican fears the truth more than anything else. Now comes justice, hot on its heels... (symbolism...)

Revelations from the Apocalypse

ellen said...

Kawawa naman ang mga taga-maynila. Go to makati na lang.


The weather is kinda foul today (halestorm) so am taking the whole family to watch the da vinci code and judge for myself what the brouhaha is all about.

Rizalist said...

Seven Star,

Welcome to Philippine Commentary!

I've been thinking some very similar thoughts.

It is pretty clear that the Gospels are not history, certainly not like Josephus' Jewish Antiquities, which WAS history as we might recognize it today (better!) Josephus was of course a 1st century Jewish historian who was published in Rome. That's why we know about him, in context of other well known historical events and sources.
But the Gospels were a "genre" of "Jesus stories" of which the Roman Church chose to regard as divinely inspired probably the four best known of these works, or best loved, or most believed by the scattered early Christian congregations.

But to your point, I do think that if we regard these Greek stories (the original Gospels were written in Greek, a fact I find a bit puzzling!) as a kind of fiction at least after 2000 years, what we have done by accepting them as "Gospel truth" is to elevate such "fiction" to a kind of uber-history.

This I find interesting, for it seems it doesn't matter what "fiction" one elevates to God's inspired word, as long as it leads to godliness in men. (and women!)

IN an earlier post, I hypothesized that the fictional premise of a married Christ with Children, could ultimately subvert priestly celibacy, the all male priesthood and married priests.



I just saw the movie with the three kids; the book is better (but have only read 2/3 of the book).

A good motion pic thriller it is but I don't know why Pinoy officials are making a big deal of a film based on fiction.

Some of the serious scenes bordered on the awkward and the hilarious, so must be an ok film; Must say was a bit disappointed by performance of Tom Hanks; he was a bit forrest gumpish in the movie; not quite what one might expect of an erudite, high flying scholar, etc.

The perfomance of the English actor (teacher) was the better one of them all.

Kids were not really impressed...



I just saw the movie with the three kids; the book is better (but have only read 2/3 of the book).

A good motion pic thriller it is but I don't know why Pinoy officials are making a big deal of a film based on fiction.

Some of the serious scenes bordered on the awkward and the hilarious, so must be an ok film; Must say was a bit disappointed by performance of Tom Hanks; he was a bit forrest gumpish in the movie; not quite what one might expect of an erudite, high flying scholar, etc.

The perfomance of the English actor (teacher) was the better one of them all.

Kids were not really impressed...