Article III - Bill of Rights - 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.Churches know that their Liberty is the Constitution's Liberty!
Filipinos ought to be proud that their Democracy, flawed and faltering as it is, has nevertheless apparently commanded the loyalty and powerful service of Religion, which is ineradicably in the hearts of most of the people. Today Religion rises to uphold the Constitution as the very conditions upon which the people grant their consent to be governed. Our religious leaders know their best bet for survival and expansion lie in the fold of Liberty's glorious protection.
Thus, it cannot be denied that perhaps even more than the Senate itself, it is an extraordinary coalition of churches and religious leaders that has forced the House Majority and its leader, Jose de Venecia, to beat a hasty retreat from unilaterally convening a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) by once more Taking to the Streets. This includes the pivotal Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) which called for protest demonstrations in all 86 dioceses. Mike Velarde of the El Shaddai Movement was very vocal the other day and promised to talk personally to the President about the mounting opposition and public outrage at the House's Con-Ass moves. Jesus Is Lord (JIL) and the varous "born-again" formations have also thrown their numbers into the push-back against the House move. Perhaps the last straw was word from political heavyweight Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) that the unilateral Con-Ass would not have its support. The head of the CBCP, Archbishop Angel Lagdameo has a blog worth visiting to see what the CBCP is thinking, saying an doing.
It is therefore a perpetual puzzlement to me that even the strongest supporters of Religion in the Media, the Catolico cerrado press, are ever nervous over the possible accusations that the Church is meddling in politics "again." But what does a plain reading of this say: No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.?
I suppose it is the very claim of Moral Authority that religions and churches tend to make that produces this impression of being able to interfere in politics with some kind of superior knowledge or authority.
As for me, it is crystal clear that Religion is as Free as Labor or Peasants or Students or any other free assembly of citizens, to express their opinion with whatever authority they actually possess.
The Church is just like an NGO.
Also, Filipinos are fast transcending the mental status of Sheep, just as the Shepherds are not so unsophisticated or dogmatic about "Religion."
The People of God may not know the details of the Constitution, but that may be because they believe that somehow God will speak through them, when it really counts--democratic elections.
This fight was about defending our rights to vote for our leaders and not to yield to the Unilateralists who wanted to take the May elections and the national vote away from every citizen.
Even Religion knows that. Now the so-called House Majority knows that the People know that, too.
Thank you, Your Reverences.
Perhaps, this is the beginning of a principled new Filipino political conservatism.