THERE WAS a time in this corner when I wrote about a visiting American Jew who expressed surprise why most Filipinos were Christians. He wished there were more Filipinos embracing his religion, Judaism.
When I asked him why he chose to be a Jew, he answered, “Why? It’s to follow Jesus Christ. He was a Jew!”
Looking back to that incident today, I remember that he was born to Jewish parents, just as most Filipinos were born to Christian parents. He must have seen that parallelism, for I showed no interest in his religion.
At that time, I had become a religious maverick who would no longer go to church except to attend weddings, funerals and baptisms. Born to an Aglipayan mother and a Seventh-Day Adventist father, I had repeatedly allowed myself to be “towed” to various sanctums of worship, only to shake my head.
I vividly recall that Saturday when three women invited me to attend their church service. But the moment we entered their church, two pastors – one outgoing, the other incoming – were quarrelling over who would preach the sermon. I could only shake my head disapprovingly.
I don’t remember who eventually preached the sermon, but he questioned the legitimacy of the Roman Catholic Church. Why, he asked, embrace that religion just because most Filipinos are Catholics?
The Latin saying, “Vox populi, vox Dei” could not be right. If the voice of the majority of Filipinos were the voice of God, then Roman Catholicism would be “it” because most of us are Roman Catholics. It could not be right because it was merely imposed by the oppressive Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century.
Otherwise, this nation could have remained paganistic or could have turned embraced Islam like Indonesia and Malaysia because, by then, our southern forebears had already known Allah.
Christianity has evolved into so many sects and subjects that we choose one we are most comfortable with.
Priests and pastors preach whatever beliefs their Church hands down, or they could organize their own flock using “gift of gab” as their most potent bait. A pastor of one of them has influenced many, using the powerful TV media to proclaim himself “appointed son of God”. With sacks of tithe money pouring in, he has built himself a “paradise” on a mountain top in Davao City.
The unconvinced, of course, think of his organization as just another money-making cult.
There are non-priests who advertise themselves as Roman Catholic servant-leaders and establish so-called “fellowship” organizations. Naturally, they draw gullible Catholics to their prayer rallies and collect from them “love offerings.”
You must have heard the popular joke on three lords who make fast and tax-free money: the drug lord, the gambling lord and the “praise the lord.”
One thing is therefore indisputable: The flood of money cascading from millions of followers has fueled the rise of many religious founders.
Religious organizations also amass money from politicians who generously “donate” in exchange for “blocked votes.”
The more I read the Bible verses – say, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” — the more I disbelieve religious dogmas with dubious origin, such as the concept of hell as a perpetual fire burning sinners.
A dogmatic believer, however, may always defend his beliefs. For example, when Daang Matuwid preacher Ely Soriano mocked the Catholics for calling Virgin Mary “Gino-o” as if he were a man, a Catholic in the audience stood up to say that during Spanish times, the word “ginoo” was given to a lady of rank. ([email protected]/PN)