Religion in the Philippines
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Life in the Philippines
Religion in the Philippines is marked by a vast majority of the Christian faith (more than 90%), including Catholics, Iglesia ni Cristo, Aglipayans, Protestants, Sikhism, Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists, Agnostics, animists, and Hindus. It is central not as an abstract belief system, but rather as a host of experiences —rituals and adjurations that provide continuity in life, communal cohesion and moral purpose for existence. Religious associations are part of the system of vital kinship ties, patron-client bonds and other relationships outside the nuclear family.
Christianity and Islam have been superimposed on ancient traditions and acculturated. The special religious blends that have resulted, when combined with the strong personal faith of Filipinos, have given rise to numerous and diverse revivalist movements. Generally characterised by anti-modern bias, supernaturalism, and authoritarianism in the person of a charismatic messianic figure, these movements have attracted thousands of Filipino people, especially in areas like Mindanao, which have been subjected to extreme pressure of change over a short period of time. Many have been swept up in these movements, out of a renewed sense of fraternity and community. Like the highly visible examples of flagellation and reenacted crucifixion in the Philippines, these movements may seem to have little in common with organised Christianity or Islam. In the intensely personalistic Philippine religious context, however, these are less aberrations and more of extreme examples of religion's retaining its central role in society.
- 1 Ancient indigenous beliefs
- 2 Bahá'í Faith
- 3 Christianity
- 4 Islam
- 5 Judaism
- 6 Hinduism
- 7 Buddhism
- 8 Atheism and agnosticism
- 9 Religion and Politics
- 10 See also
- 11 References
Ancient indigenous beliefs
During pre-colonial times, a form of animism was widely practiced in the Philippines. Today, the Philippines is mostly Catholic and Christian, and only a handful of the indigenous tribes continue to practice the old traditions. These are a collection of beliefs and cultural mores anchored more or less in the idea that the world is inhabited by spirits and supernatural entities, both good and bad, and that respect be accorded to them through nature worship. These spirits all around nature are known as "diwatas", showing cultural relationship with Hinduism (Devatas).
Some worship specific deities, such as the Tagalog supreme deity, Bathala, and his children Adlaw, Mayari, and Tala, or the Visayan deity Kan-Laon; while others practice Ancestor worship (anitos). Variations of animistic practices occur in different ethnic groups. Magic, chants and prayers are often key features. Its practitioners were highly respected (and some feared) in the community, as they were healers, midwives (hilot), shamans, witches and warlocks (mangkukulam), priests/priestesses (babaylan/katalonan), tribal historians and wizened elders that provided the spiritual and traditional life of the community. In the Visayan regions, shamanistic and animistic beliefs in witchcraft (barang) and mythical creatures like aswang (vampires), duwende (dwarves), and bakonawa (a gigantic sea serpent), may exist in some indigenous peoples alongside more mainstream Christian and Islamic faiths.
In general, the spiritual and economic leadership in many pre-colonial Filipino ethnic groups was provided by women, as opposed to the political and military leadership according to men. Spanish occupiers during the 16th century arrived in the Philippines noting about warrior priestesses leading tribal spiritual affairs. Many were condemned as pagan heretics. Although suppressed, these matriarchal tendencies run deep in Filipino society and can still be seen in the strong leadership roles modern Filipino women are assuming in business, politics, academia, the arts and in religious institutions.
Folk religion remains a deep source of comfort, belief and cultural pride among many Filipinos. Nominally animists constitute about one percent of the population. But animism's influence pervade daily life and practice of the colonial religions that took root in the Philippines. Elements of folk belief melded with Christian and Islamic practices to give a unique perspective on these religions.
The Bahá'í Faith in the Philippines started in 1921 with the first Bahá'í first visiting the Philippines that year, and by 1944 a Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly was established. In the early 1960s, during a period of accelerated growth, the community grew from 200 in 1960 to 1000 by 1962 and 2000 by 1963. In 1964 the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the Philippines was elected and by 1980 there were 64,000 Bahá'ís and 45 local assemblies. The Bahá'ís have been active in multi/inter-faith developments. The 2005 World Christian Encyclopedia estimates the Bahá'í population of the Philippines at about 247,500.
Christianity arrived in the Philippines with the landing of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. In the late 16th century, the archipelago was claimed for Spain and named it after its king. Missionary activity during the country's colonial rule by Spain and the United States led the transformation of the Philippines into the first and then, along with East Timor, one of two predominantly Christian nations in East Asia, with approximately 92.5% of the population belonging to the Christian faith.
Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion and the largest Christian denomination, with estimates of approximately 80% of the population belonging to this faith in the Philippines. The country has a significant Spanish Catholic tradition, and Spanish style Catholicism is embedded in the culture, which was acquired from priests or friars. This is shown in traditions such as Misa de Gallo, Black Nazarene procession, Santo Niño Festivals (Santo Niño de Cebu, Ati-Atihan and others) and Aguinaldo procession, where large crowds gather, honouring their patron saint or saints. Processions and fiestas are conducted during feast days of the patron saints of various barrios or barangays.
Every year on 1 November, Filipino families celebrate the Day of the Dead, on which they spend much of the day and evening visiting their ancestral graves, showing respect and honor to their departed relatives by feasting and offering prayers. On 1 November Filipino families celebrate All Saint's Day, where they honor the saints of the Catholic Church. November 2 is All Soul's Day.
Christmas in the Philippines is a celebration spanning just more than the day itself. Christmas season starts in September. A number of traditions and customs are associated with this grand feast, along with New Year. Holy Week is also an important time for the country's Catholics. To help spread the gospel, the Roman Catholic Church established the Catholic Media Network with its main TV station TV Maria as a tool for evangelization. Other large Roman Catholic television channels like Eternal Word Television Network and Familyland are also available and watched in the Philippines.
Iglesia ni Cristo
Iglesia ni Cristo (English: Church of Christ;Spanish: Iglesia de Cristo) is the largest entirely indigenous religious organization that originated from Philippines. Felix Y. Manalo officially registered the church with the Philippine Government on July 27, 1914 and because of this, most publications refer to him as the founder of the church. Felix Manalo claimed that he was restoring the church of Christ that was lost for 2,000 years. He died on April 12, 1963, aged 76.
The Iglesia ni Cristo is widely regarded as very influential due to their ability to deliver votes through block voting during elections which is unique to the church due to their doctrine on unity and a practice that cannot be found outside INC. The primary purpose of the Church is to worship the almighty God based on his teachings as taught by Jesus Christ and as recorded in the bible. The church’s major activities include worship service, missionary works, and edification.
According to the March 2012 issue of PASUGO Magazine (p. 24), the Demographics of the Iglesia ni Cristo then was composed of 112 countries and 7 territories comprising 120 races. The majority of INC members are Filipino ex-Catholics, while most non-Filipino members converted prior to marrying Iglesia ni Cristo people. The earliest non-Filipino converts were American soldiers stationed in the Philippines.
The INC has outreach programs, such as its "Lingap sa Mamamayan (Filipino: Aid for Humanity)", offering free medical and dental services, community cleanups and tree planting projects. In California, Daly City twice declared a week in July as "Iglesia ni Cristo Week" in recognition of the efforts of the INC members in community service events such as community beautification projects, blood drives, and food distribution sessions. n July 7, 2012 the INC Lingap sa Mamamayan gained three Guinness world record seal in beating the three current records in The most people involved in a dental health check, The most blood pressure readings taken in 8 hours and The most blood glucose level tests in 8 hours. Tarika Vara, the official adjudicator for Guinness World Records was so impressed with the whole organization as she observed how dedicated the volunteers were in helping other people in one whole day even without fee.
On August 17, 2011, INC led the groundbreaking of the Philippine Arena- on a 75-hectare field straddling Bocaue and Sta. Maria, Bulacan. The 55,000-seater multi-purpose structure, touted to become the world's largest indoor domed arena (by seating capacity), is expected to be completed in time for the INC's centennial celebration in July 2014. Other major projects of the church as part of its centennial celebration are the EVM Convention Center and Iglesia Ni Cristo Museum along Central Avenue, Quezon City, the Legal Department Building and the INC Media Center Building inside the INC Central Office Complex in Quezon City, the 20,000 seat Philippine Stadium, and the Philippine Sports Center. In that area now called Ciudad de Victoria (City of Victory) will also rise the 600-bed capacity EGM Medical Center and the New Era University- Bocaue Campus. One of the most significant of these "centennial projects" is the new College of Evangelical Ministry being constructed along Central Avenue. Three levels higher and more than double the floor space of its four-story predecessor.
In September 2011 the INC bought 59 parcels of land in Scenic, South Dakota for approximately $700,000. Scenic is a ghost town in western South Dakota. No plans for the land have been revealed by the church.
On November 27, 2012, the grand press launch for Ang Sugo: The Last Messenger was held at the Quezon City Sports Club, a film dramatizing the life of Felix Ysagun Manalo, and the growth of the Iglesia Ni Cristo to be released in 2014 in conjunction with the INC centennial. It is scheduled to be the largest and the most expensive movie in the history of the Philippine movie industry with over a US$7.5 million budget appointed for the production.
Members Church of God International
Members Church of God International is a nontrinitarian religious organization colloquially known through its television program, Ang Dating Daan (English for the "The Old Path"). This group is an offshoot of Nicholas Perez's Iglesia ng Diyos kay Kristo Hesus Haligi at Suhay ng Katotohanan (Church of God in Christ Jesus, Pillar and Support of the Truth). The church does not claim to be part of the restorationist movement but shows characteristics of such. They accept the divinity of Christ but reject the doctrine of Trinity. They also reject various doctrines fundamental for mainstream Christianity and more notably, the Roman Catholic Church. Thousands of local chapters are scattered throughout the Philippines and abroad because of increasing number of membership through mass baptisms.
The church is known for their "Bible Expositions", where guests and members are given a chance to ask any biblical question to Bro Eliseo Soriano directly from the Bible. Since 2005, Eliseo Soriano went outside the Philippines to host Bible Expositions around the world.
The Church has growing congregations in South America, particularly Brazil. Ang Dating Daan now airs in 73 countries worldwide including United States, Latin America, Papua New Guinea, Portugal (as "O Caminho Antigo"), Spain (as "El Camino Antiguo"), India, South Africa, Saipan and Canada.
Besides general preaching, they also established charity works. Among these humanitarian services are the charity homes for the senior citizens and orphaned children and teenagers; transient homes; medical missions; full college scholarship; start-up capital for livelihood projects; vocational trainings for the differently-abled; free legal assistance; free bus, jeepney, and train rides for commuters and senior citizens, and; and free Bible for everyone. In its effort to save lives, MCGI is now the number one blood donor in the Philippines acknowledged by the Philippine National Red Cross.
Although the Church does not keep formal count of members, its population is rising rapidly, as many as 1,000 new members per day in average.
Filipino Catholic Church
Philippine Independent Church more commonly known as the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, is a Christian Protestant denomination of the catholic tradition in the form of a national church in the Philippines. Its separation from the Catholic Church was proclaimed in 1902 by the members of the Union Obrera Democratica Filipina due to the alleged mistreatment of Filipinos by Spanish priests in the Philippines and the government execution of nationalist Jose Rizal.
Isabelo de los Reyes was one of the initiators of the separation, and suggested that former Catholic priest Gregorio Aglipay be the head of the church. It is also known as the Aglipayan Church after its first Obispo Maximo, Gregorio Aglipay.
The Philippine Independent Church is the only Nationalistic Church of the Philippines.
Apostolic Catholic Church
The Apostolic Catholic Church (ACC) is a catholic denomination founded in the 1980s in Hermosa, Bataan. It formally separated in the Roman Catholic Church in 1992 when Patriarch Dr. John Florentine Teruel registered it as a Protestant and Independent Catholic denomination. Today, it has more than 5 million members worldwide. The largest international congregations are in Japan, USA and Canada.
Orthodoxy has been continuously present in the Philippines for more than 200 years. It is represented by two groups, by the Exarchate of the Philippines (a jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople governed by the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and Southeast Asia), and by the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Mission in the Philippines (a jurisdiction of the Antiochian Orthodox Church governed by the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, New Zealand, and All Oceania). Today, there are about 560 Orthodox in the Philippines.
Protestantism arrived in the Philippines with the coming of the Americans at the turn of the 20th century. In 1898, Spain lost the Philippines to the United States. After a bitter fight for independence against its new occupiers, Filipinos surrendered and were again colonized. The arrival of Protestant American missionaries soon followed. Protestant church organizations established in the Philippines during the 20th century include the following:
- Association of Fundamental Baptist Churches in the Philippines
- Baptist Bible Fellowship in the Philippines (Baptist)
- Bread of Life Ministries International (Evangelical)
- Cathedral of Praise (Pentecostal)
- Christ's Commission Fellowship (Evangelical)
- Christ Living Epistle Ministries Inc. (Full Gospel/Pentecostal).
- Christian and Missionary Alliance Churches of the Philippines
- Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee)
- Church of the Foursquare Gospel in the Philippines (Full Gospel/Pentecostal)
- Church of the Nazarene (Holiness movement)
- Citichurch Cebu (Pentecostal)
- Conservative Baptist Association of the Philippines (Baptist)
- Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (Baptist)
- Day by Day Christian Ministries (Evangelical)
- Episcopal Church in the Philippines (Anglican)
- Every Nation Churches and Ministries (Pentecostal)
- Greenhills Christian Fellowship (Conservative Baptist)
- Heartland Covenant Church (formerly Jesus Cares Ministries)
- Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en las Islas Filipinas
- Iglesia Evangelica Unida de Cristo
- Jesus Is Lord Church (Pentecostal)
- Jesus the Anointed One Church (Pentecostal)
- Lutheran Church in the Philippines (Lutheran)
- Luzon Convention of Southern Baptists (Baptist)
- Mindanao and Visayas Convention of Southern Baptists (Baptist)
- New Life Christian Center (Pentecostal)
- Pentecostal Missionary Church of Christ (4th Watch)
- Philippine Evangelical Holiness Churches
- Philippines General Council of the Assemblies of God
- Presbyterian Church of the Philippines
- Redeeming Grace Christian Centre
- Tabernacle of Faith International Church
- TEAM Ministries international
- The Blessed Word International Church (Evangelical)
- The United Methodist Church (Methodist)
- Union Church Manila
- Union Espiritista Cristiana de Filipinas
- United Church of Christ in the Philippines (Congregationalist, Presbyterian, Disciples, United Brethren, Methodist).
- United Evangelical Church of the Philippines
- Victory Christian Fellowship (Evangelical)
- Word for the World Christian Fellowship (Evangelical)
- Word of Life World Mission Church (Pentecostal)
- His Life City Church (Pentecostal)
Latter Day Saints
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) in the Philippines was founded during the Spanish-American War in 1898. Two men from Utah who were members of the United States artillery battery, and who were also set apart as missionaries by the Church before they left the United States, preached while stationed in the Philippines. Missionary work picked up after World War II, and in 1961 the Church was officially registered in the Philippines. In 1969, the Church had spread to eight major islands and had the highest number of baptisms of any area in the Church. A temple was built in 1984 which located in Quezon City and another in Cebu City, completed in 2010. The Manila Missionary Training Center was established in 1983. Membership in 1984 was 76,000 and 237,000 in 1990. Membership was 675,000 in 2013.
- Jehovah's Witnesses in the Philippines was founded in 1912, when the then president of Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Charles T. Russell, gave a talk at the Manila Grand Opera House. In 1993, a Supreme Court case involving the Witnesses resulted in reversing a Supreme Court decision of 1959 and in upholding "the right of children of Jehovah’s Witnesses to refrain from saluting the flag, reciting the pledge of allegiance, and singing the national anthem." As of 2011, there were 176, 001 members (known to them as publishers) of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Philippines that make up 3, 091 congregations throughout the archipelago. Their annual observance of Memorial of Christ's death, attracted an attendance of 541, 214 in this country in 2011.
- The Most Holy Church of God in Christ Jesus is a Philippine religious organization established in May, 1922 by Teofilo D. Ora. This church is also known in the country through its radio program Ang Kabanalbanalan which airs on several radio stations nationwide.
- The Kingdom of Jesus Christ, the Name Above Every Name was founded by Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy on September 1, 1985. Pastor Quiboloy claims to be the "Appointed" Son of God, and that salvation is through him, that he is the residence of the Father and that he restores the Kingdom of God in the gentile settings.
- Seventh-day Adventist Church was founded by Ellen G. White, which is best known for its teaching that Saturday, the seventh day of the week, is the Sabbath, and that the second advent of Jesus Christ is imminent. As of 2007, there were 88,706 Adventist churches in the Philippines, with a membership of 571,653 and an annual membership growth rate of 5.6%.
- United Pentecostal Church International (Oneness) originated from the USA as an offshoot of the Pentecostal movements in the 1920s. The church is a proponent of the belief of modalism to describe God. They deny the Triune personhood of God.
- Jesus Christ To God be the Glory (Friends Again) was founded by Luis Ruiz Santos in 1988.
- Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry was founded by Wilde Almeda in February 14, 1975 is one of the largest and influential group in the Philippines.
- Churches of Christ (Churches of Christ 33 AD/ the Stone-Campbellites) a restorationist movement that distinctly believes in a set of steps/ways to attain salvation. Among of which is the requisite to be baptized in water.
- True Jesus Church a "oneness" movement that started in China.
- Jesus is Our Shield Worldwide Ministries (Oras ng Himala) was founded by Renato D. Carillo, who claims to be the end-time apostle.
- Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG Help Center) was founded by Edir Macedo in 1977 in Brazil. They claim that the Kingdom of God is down here[clarification needed] and that it can offer a solution to every possible problem, depression, unemployment, family and financial problems.
- Unification Church
The Muslim population of the Philippines is estimated at between 5% to 9%, the majority of whom are Sunnites with a Shiite minority. Islam is the oldest recorded monotheistic religion in the Philippines. Islam reached the Philippines in the 14th century with the arrival of Muslim traders from the Persian Gulf, Southern India, and their followers from several sultanate governments in Maritime Southeast Asia. Islam's predominance reached all the way to the shores of Manila Bay, home to several Muslim kingdoms. During the Spanish conquest, Islam reached a rapid decline as the predominant monotheistic faith in the Philippines as a result of the introducing of Roman Catholicism by Spanish missionaries. Only the southern Filipino tribes resisted Spanish rule and conversions to Roman Catholicism.
In 1380 Karim ul' Makhdum the first Arabian trader reached the Sulu Archipelago and Jolo in the Philippines and through trade throughout the island established Islam in the country. In 1390 the Minangkabau's Prince Rajah Baguinda and his followers preached Islam on the islands. The Sheik Karimal Makdum Mosque was the first mosque established in the Philippines on Simunul in Mindanao in the 14th century. Subsequent settlements by Arab missionaries traveling to Malaysia and Indonesia helped strengthen Islam in the Philippines and each settlement was governed by a Datu, Rajah and a Sultan. Islamic provinces founded in the Philippines included the Sultanate of Maguindanao, Sultanate of Sulu, Sultanate of Lanao and other parts of the southern Philippines.
By the next century conquests had reached the Sulu islands in the southern tip of the Philippines where the population was animistic and they took up the task of converting the animistic population to Islam with renewed zeal. By the 15th century, half of Luzon (Northern Philippines) and the islands of Mindanao in the south had become subject to the various Muslim sultanates of Borneo and much of the population in the South were converted to Islam. However, the Visayas was largely dominated by Hindu-Buddhist societies led by rajahs and datus who strongly resisted Islam. One reason could be due to the economic and political disasters prehispanic Muslim pirates from the Mindanao region bring during raids. These frequent attacks gave way to naming present-day Cebu as then-Sugbo or scorched earth which was a defensive technique implemented by the Visayans so the pirates have nothing much to loot. Islam had reached the Manila area by 1565. There was sporadic resistance from the local population.
Moro (derived from the Spanish word meaning Moors) is the appellation inherited from the Spaniards, for Filipino Muslims and tribal groups of Mindanao. The Moros seek to establish an independent Islamic province in Mindanao to be named Bangsamoro. The term Bangsamoro is a combination of an Old Malay word meaning nation or state with the Spanish word Moro. A significant Moro rebellion occurred during the Philippine-American War. Conflicts and rebellion have continued in the Philippines from the pre-colonial period up to the present. One related issue with the Moro secession is the territorial dispute for Sabah, Malaysia as claimed to be a lease from the British colony and also claimed to be a legal territory of the Sultanate of Sulu.
The Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) comprises the Philippines' predominantly Muslim provinces, namely: Basilan (except Isabela City), Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, and the Islamic City of Marawi. It is the only region with its own government. The regional capital is at Cotabato City, although this city is outside of its jurisdiction.
Even since the 1590s some Jews fleeing from The Inquisition were recorded to have come to the Philippines. As of 2005, Filipino Jews number at the very most 500 people. As of 2011[update], Metro Manila boasts the largest Jewish community in the Philippines, which consists of roughly 100 families.
The country's only synagogue, Beth Yaacov, is located in Makati. There are, of course, other Jews elsewhere in the country, but these are obviously fewer and almost all transients, either diplomats or business envoys, and their existence is almost totally unknown in mainstream society. There are a few Israelis in Manila recruiting caregivers for Israel, some work in call centers, businessmen and a few other executives. A number are converts to Judaism.
Today Hinduism is largely confined to the Indian Filipinos and the expatriate Indian community. Theravada and Vajrayana Buddhism, which are very close to Hinduism, are practiced by Tibetans, Sri Lankan, Burmese and Thai nationals. There are Hindu temples in Manila, as well as in the provinces. There are temples also for Sikhism, sometimes located near Hindu temples. The two Paco temples are well known, comprising a Hindu temple and a Sikh temple.
Hinduism and Vajrayana Buddhism has existed in the Philippines for centuries. A great deal of Philippine mythology is derived from Hindu mythology. Hinduism arrived when the Hindu religion and culture arrived from India by southern Indians to Southeast Asia from the 4th centuries to the 14th century. The Srivijaya Empire and Majapahit Empire on what is now Malaysia and Indonesia, introduced Hinduism and Buddhism to the islands. Statues of Hindu-Buddhist gods have been found in the Philippines.
Many Filipino customs have strong Buddhist influences. Buddhism in the Philippines is growing fast, mainly because of increasing immigration to the country. Buddhism is largely confined to the Filipino Chinese, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese communities though local adherents are on the rise. There are temples in Manila, Davao, and Cebu, and other places. Several schools of Buddhism are present in the Philippines – Mahayana, Vajrayana, Theravada, as well as groups such as Soka Gakkai International.
Atheism and agnosticism
Discussions on atheism are active in academic institutions such as the University of the Philippines. One of the well known atheist organizations in UP is UPAC (University of the Philippines Atheist Circle).
The advent of the Internet in the 1990s was a landmark in Philippine atheism. A lot of Filipino atheist went "out" and started posting their atheism on their personal blogs.
On February 2009, Filipino Freethinkers was formed. The group, composed mostly of atheists, agnostics, and humanists, has daily discussions through its online channels, with a combined membership of more than 18,500+ members spread across their mailing list, forum, and social networking group. Aside from weekly meetings, they have held two open forums, with a combined attendance of hundreds of members.
Since 2011, the Philippine Atheists and Agnostics Society has held its OUT Campaigns in Rizal Park and Quezon Memorial Circle. Also it held two feeding programs "Good without Religion" in Bacoor, Cavite. The society also is a member affiliate and associate of various international atheist organizations such as the Atheist Alliance International, Institute for Science and Human Values, and the International Humanist and Ethical Union, as one among secular organizations that promotes free thought and scientific development in the Philippines.
Religion and Politics
The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines declares: The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable. (Article II, Section 6), and, 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. (Article III, Section 5). Joaquin Bernas, a Filipino Jesuit specializing in constitutional law, acknowledges that there were complex issues that were brought to court and numerous attempts to use the separation of Church and State against the Roman Catholic Church, but he defends the statement, saying that the fact that he [Marcos] tried to do it does not deny the validity of the separation of church and state.
On April 28, 2004, the Philippines Supreme Court reversed the ruling of a lower court ordering five religious leaders to refrain from endorsing a candidate for elective office. Manila Judge Conception Alarcon-Vergara ruled that the "head of a religious organization who influences or threatens to punish members could be held liable for coercion and violation of citizen's right to vote freely". The lawsuit filed by Social Justice Society party stated that "the Church’s active participation in partisan politics, using the awesome voting strength of its faithful flock, will enable it to elect men to public office who will in turn be forever beholden to its leaders, enabling them to control the government". They claimed that this violates the Philippine constitution's separation of Church and State clause. The named respondents were Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, El Shaddai Movement Leader Mike Velarde, Iglesia ni Cristo Executive Minister Eduardo V. Manalo, Jesus Is Lord Church leader Eddie Villanueva and Members Church of God International leader Eliseo Soriano. Manalo's Iglesia ni Cristo practices bloc voting. Former Catholic Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin had been instrumental in rallying support for the assumption to power of Corazon Aquino and Gloria Arroyo. Velarde supported Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Arroyo while Villanueva endorsed Fidel Ramos and Jose De Venecia. The papal nuncio agreed with the decision of the lower court while the other respondents challenged the decision.
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- No role for Church in politics. Manila Standard. June 22, 2003
- Philip C. Tubeza Iglesia appeals court ruling infringing on group's belief. Philippine Daily Inquirer. July 20, 2003
- SC ruling sought on sect's vote. Philippine Daily Inquirer. April 1, 2004