Religion, Christian Faith, and Immorality
By Apolinario Villalobos
I am wondering whether those who profess religiosity based on what they practice really “understand” what they are doing. They claim that the bible contributes a lot to their spiritual development. The problem with these people though, is that, while some stick to just the New Testament, others devote their time more to the Old Testament, when the two sections of the bible are supposed to complement each other. So what happens is that, while some of them learn about the teachings of Jesus which are in the New Testament, they do not have a slight idea that the religion that they follow can be traced back to Abraham who is in the Old Testament, and whom they hear only as a name when mentioned in sermons. The ignorance came to light when I asked one Catholic Lay Minister if he has an idea on who the eldest son of Abraham is. I found out that all he knew was that Abraham has a son and that, he was Isaac. When I told him that Ishmael was his eldest son bore to him by Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah, he was surprised! He even asked, how can it be possible when the name Ishmael is a Muslim?
From the desert, the Abrahamaic faith, also called Mosaic faith that also hinges on the belief on the coming of a “redeemer” spread. When Jesus came, he followed a new path along which he spread his teachings that filled the pages of the New Testament. When he died on the cross, his followers insisted that he was the sacrificial lamb for the sins of mankind – the redeemer who have finally come and did the act of redemption. But many refused to accept this, as they even keep on questioning his identity if he, indeed, belongs to the House of David from where, the redeemer should come from, more so with the allegation of his being the son of God.
If Jesus was the result of a “virgin birth” that gives credence to the “annunciation” as one of the “mysteries”, then, he does not belong to the House of David, because Mary, herself, as his biological mother does not, but only Joseph, who is his “foster father”, therefore, not his “biological father”. In other words, he is not the prophesied “redeemer” as insisted by his followers. Such question is one of the so many asked since the medieval period when the pagan Romans were converted into Christianity, and overdid their religiosity by incorporating pagan practices into what was supposed to be a simplistic way of spirituality. Instead of giving enlightenment on the issue, the early church leaders added problems, one of which is the question on “Trinity” that even widened the “schism”. Is it not immoral to keep the truth from the people who thought they are following the right path?
The “extensions” of the Church of Rome distributed throughout Europe as the 15th century was ending, was purported to be the largest “landholders” during the time. That was also the time when Christianity was forced into the inhabitants of the islands that came to be known as Philippines, so named by Ruy Lopez de Villalobos, in honor of the Spanish king, Philip II. But before the Spaniards came to the shores of the archipelagic islands, they had already sacked the long- thriving Inca and other highly developed cities that they converted into their colonies, and they called the natives “Indios”. For the Spaniards, the natives that they suppressed and made to kneel in front of the cross are called “Indios” who, for them are ignorant… this is how the natives of the Philippines and America were first called, and not by their real indigenous names.
The Spanish Christian missionaries who were also fond of shouting “punyeta”, “sin verguenza”, and “hijo de puta” to the natives, did the same hideous conduct of conversion they used in South America, when they came to the Philippines, as they went into the frenzy of burning cultural and intellectual treasures, because for them those were “demonic” and did not conform with “Christianity” which for them still, was the “righteous way”. They even went to the extent of executing “babaylans” or native priestesses.
During the closing of the 15th century, the Roman Church owned practically, almost half of France and Germany, and two-fifths of Sweden and England, not to mention Mexico and other South American colonies and the Philippines where, the early haciendas were located in Cavite, Batangas, Bulacan, Pampanga, Rizal, as well as, the islands of Negros, Panay and Cebu. While the colonies in Europe were not so productive, in the Philippines, the vast tracts of land that were literally grabbed from the natives were planted to sugar cane, rice, and coconut. Today, a few Filipino families who are also into politics are “hold-over owners” of these haciendas. And, they are so much devoted Roman Catholics!…and so, exploitation goes on!
Because of her exploitation disguised by evangelization, Rome grew splendidly and gloriously. To maintain such splendor and glory, the papacy resorted to requiring all ecclesiastical appointees to remit their revenues to the “papal curia” in Vatican. A scandal that gave birth to the Reformation movement and also widened further the “schism” is about the pope’s selling of indulgences. Imagine the pope selling “tickets” to heaven! The large sum of money that flowed into the Vatican’s coffer led to more corruption, most prominent of which were committed by:
- Sixtus IV (reign: 1471-84), who spent enormous sum of money in building the “chapel” that he named after himself, the “Sistine”, aside from causing the enrichment of his nephews and nieces;
- Alexander VI, a.ka., Rodrigo Borgia (reign: 1492-1503) who allegedly, openly acknowledged and afforded financial opportunities to his illegitimate children;
- Julius II (reign: 153-13), nephew of Sixtus IV, and who was said to be warlike, notorious politician, and who also spent lavishly on art, but failed in his duties as Head of the Roman Church.
During the time, the papacy did not monopolize immorality, as there was a popular adage then, that said, “if you want your son to be corrupted, make him decide to become a priest”.
It was alleged that confessors solicited sexual favors from female penitents, and thousands of priests were said to maintain concubines. Reformists were making a mockery of the church by saying that for Jesus’ ministers, it’s always money – from baptism, marriage, till death, with such greed and perversion spreading to Hispanic colonies.
Today, in the Philippines, so many Christian ministries have sprung up in almost every corner of big cities, sporting different names and congregate in inauspicious apartment units, former offices, multi-purpose halls of subdivisions, former movie theaters, and for the richy…Cultural Center of the Philippines and Folk Arts Theater which are the projects of Imelda Marcos within the Cultural Center of the Philippines.
There is a joke today about the unemployed, but with an oratorical gift to just put up a “ministry” in order to survive out of the tithes or “love offering” from members. These followers attend the gatherings and listen to the same never changing themes about love that they fail to put into practice, as they go back to their old “selfish” ways when they go home by keeping to themselves – within the security of their homes and company of select friends. Still, some enterprising bible-toting ministers even go to the extent of using the religious book in soliciting money from commuters by hopping on to buses and jeepneys to “share” the words from the bible in exchange for money to be put in envelops that they patiently distribute. As this kind of undertaking is some kind of a money-making enterprise, those who conduct such should be taxed!
The pope, himself, acknowledges the proliferation of immorality and corruption in the Roman Catholic Church that is why lately, an external auditing firm has been contracted to check on the Vatican records. He even apologized for the abuse committed by some members of the clergy. In other words, nobody among the members of the Vatican-based church is free from the stain of immorality. Still, in the Philippines, the Iglesia ni Cristo, biggest Christian church next to the Roman Catholic, is rocked with a scandal that is undergoing an investigation. There could still be other religious scandals going around, but just get to be contained due to their insignificance, compared to the cursing of Duterte who is running for presidency during the 2016 election.
The world today is full of “habitual” sinners – “immorals” in the eyes of the “moralists”, just because these people that they despise do not attend religious services or utter curses habitually, or just simply, polygamous. Can they be compared with those who attend these so-called religious services but got no slightest idea what compassion means? Can they be compared with husbands who fool their wives by playing around with their “queridas”, or wives who squander the wage hard- earned by their husband abroad, on their kept “lovers”?
Worst, these “moralists” are emboldened by the thought that it is alright for them to commit sin because they can go to confession, afterwards anyway! ….or worse, eat the host, bread or biscuit that symbolize the body of Christ, the better for them to get “cleansed” immediately! (I read stories about pagan tribes who eat the body of their brave opponents so that such character can be made part of them).
Some of these “good” people do not even know the name of their neighbors, so how can they say they love God that they cannot see, but cannot love their neighbors who are just a few steps away from them? Is it not sheer hypocrisy which is just another form of immorality? Some of them still, who have become more financially stable than the rest, act like horses pulling indigenous “calesas”, that are allowed to look just straight ahead, which is a manifestation of selfishness.
By the way, I do not deny that I am a sinner through and through!…please pray for me!