Color-coding politics

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JOSE V. ROMERO JR., PHD.

JOSE V. ROMERO JR., PHD.

THE Catholic Church is made up of laity and clergy. That is what makes the principle of the separation of church and state (which was intended in the first place to protect the Vatican from prince predators) mythical. The church is composed of sinners and saints. Pope Francis describes it as a hospital for sinners rather than a museum of saints. The citizens in this country who are professed Catholics belong to one or the other category. In our state in life as politicians, professionals, professors, etc. we all belong to the church.

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The church guards the absolute political freedom of the faithful with regard to political choices. Given its lack of competence in this field, the church relies on the laity to make a wise and moral judgment regarding the choice of public servants. As our Lord put it—leave to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.

Cardinal Sin was associated with the EDSA revolution not because he made a political judgment but to save the hides of Defense Secretary Enrile and General Ramos. It was a moral judgment call.

If there is opposition to President Duterte’s rule, this must come from victims of collateral damage associated with the war on drugs and his empathy for Marcos. Some columnists call them the yellow horde (of the Mongolian era?) or the yellow (plague or fever?) that decimated the world’s population or simply the yellows (cowards?). This is clearly absurd as we all belong to the brown race, and if there are of the yellows in this, it is a tiny minority which include the Koh Huang Cos.

The assertion that the new opposition is now church-led rather than yellow-spearheaded is probably not accurate. To be sure, there are princes of the church and excellencies who are biased in favor of or against President Duterte but to say that the church, that Catholics in the country, are now oppositionist, seem not supported by the facts given that he continues to enjoy a hightrust rating, according to the surveys, even if a minority decry his coarse language and criticism of some of the clergy.

Color-coding politics came about when the sympathizers of the martyred Ninoy used the ballad “Tie a yellow ribbon on the old oak tree” to express their welcome of his return to the country. Henceforth, Coryites adopted yellow as a color of opposition to martial rule.

In recent Thai elections, the right—the” yellows” associated with royalty and the generals— were pitted against the “reds” led by the populist-leaning opposition. During the Russian revolution, the Reds overthrew the Whites. In this country we have labeled the communists as Reds.

In sum, color-coding politics has become a shorthand to describe the complexities of politics!

In recent years, there has been much public debate on the role of religion in politics. Does religion play any part in the dynamics of politics and do believers have the right to impose moral values on the state?

The short answer is that citizens should not sacrifice their deeply held moral and religious beliefs on the altar of public policy. In fact, it requires exactly the opposite. San Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei, used to say that a Christian should not leave his moral principles at the door as he enters a public place as he would his hat.

Since even government officials are fallible and voters have been shown time and again to be ignorant, capricious and simply uninformed and biased, people of character, including religious believers, must perforce fight for their beliefs in the political arena with vigor. Anything less would be unworthy of a citizen. As the saying goes, it just takes the silence of the citizenry for evil to thrive.

Indeed, Christians must play their God-given role in society, which is to take an active, vocal and morally consistent role in public discourse.

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