PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte doubled down on his public questioning of core Christian precepts and the Christian God, as public backlash on his “stupid God” remark last week continued.
“Your God is not my God because your God is stupid,” Duterte said in remarks during oath-taking ceremonies for village officials in Cagayan de Oro City on Monday.
“Mine has a lot of common sense,” he added.
Duterte said his criticism of the biblical story of creation last week was a continuation of his tirades against an Australian missionary, Sr. Patricia Fox, who was earlier ordered deported by the immigration bureau for joining anti-government rallies but later allowed by the Justice department to stay.
“You created a perfect paradise, but why did you call a snake to give an apple to him and tempt them both,” Duterte said, as quoted by radio station dzRH.
“Now tell me if it is a perfect God. Luluhod ako dito. I will kneel down. I will stretch my hand and ask for forgiveness.”
In remarks before a gathering of government information officers in Davao City last week, Duterte attacked the Christian doctrine of original sin, questioning why God would be so “lonely” as to create man in his own image and “stupid” as to destroy his own creation.
He also questioned the display of crosses, saying people should no longer be reminded of Christ’s suffering.
The Catholic Church teaches that original sin pertains to mankind’s separation from God arising from disobedience, as illustrated by the biblical story of Adam and Eve eating the fruit of the forbiden tree in the Garden of Eden.
Because of original sin, mankind has a fallen or sinful nature, according to Church teachings. This necessitated the coming of a savior, Christ, or God the Son, who died on the cross as a sacrificial offering in atonement for the sins of mankind.
President ‘crossed the line’
Catholic and evangelical bishops issued separate condemnations of the “stupid God” remarks on Monday.
“We do not want our president to be vulgar and ill-mannered,” said Broderick Pabillo, auxiliary bishop of Manila, on Facebook on Monday.
Pabillo was reacting to Malacañang spokesman Harry Roque Jr.’s statement that Filipinos have long accepted Duterte’s manners.
“You are [an] educated person, Mr. Roque. Do not defend what is foolishly indefensible!” Pabillo said.
Speaking to the news program “Balitanghali” on GMA News TV, Bishop Noel Pantoja, national director of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches, said the President crossed the line when he mocked the story of creation in the Bible.
“We are immensely offended by the remarks of President Duterte, calling the God of creation stupid,” Pantoja said during the interview.
“We find it completely inappropriate for our nation’s President to curse God and the Christian faith,” he said.
Pantoja pointed out that 95 percent of the Filipino population is Christian, and that the preamble of the 1987 Constitution invoked the aid of the “Almighty God.”
“The PCEC denounces insulting other people’s religion, sadly, this came from the mouth of the President,” he said. “There are lots of Christians who admire the President, but he has crossed the line.”
‘One evil man’
On the ABS-CBN News Channel, a lay Catholic theologian, Raul Nidoy, said: “Objectively, it is a blasphemy to call God stupid.”
“We have to pray Duterte will stop what he’s doing because it’s blasphemous,” he said.
Opposition Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th said Duterte’s attack against Christianity and God himself clearly showed that the President is “one evil man.”
“It is the height of arrogance of power not only to disrespect and spit on an individual’s faith but also to act as though he is a god,” he added.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson said he would pray for God to forgive Duterte and make the President atone for his sins.
“Between him and my God to whom I pray to every single day and with whom I’ve found solace and comfort in all my difficult times, I don’t even have to think of my choice. May my God forgive him and make him atone for all his sins,” Lacson said.
Rep. Jose “Lito” Atienza of Buhay party-list hoped for divine intervention.
“I hope that the Holy Spirit will enlighten the mind of our dear President,” Atienza said in a statement.
Opinion, not blasphemy – Panelo
Duterte’s top legal counsel Salvador Panelo denied that the President described God as stupid, even if the official transcript showed otherwise.
“I don’t think he called God stupid. I saw the transcript. It says ‘Who is this stupid God?’ He was actually questioning the theory of creation as narrated by the writers of the Bible,” Panelo told reporters.
He claimed the President’s actions showed he was a very spiritual person, thus Catholics should not vilify him for his “opinion” about their religion.
“He (Duterte) may not believe or follow traditional rituals of the Catholic rites but remember what Jesus Christ said: ‘The greatest love that one can give to a fellow human being is the sacrifice of one’s life.’ And the President has many times over offered and put his life in danger to free persons in danger, like hostages. That, to me, is the highest demonstration of spirituality,” Panelo said.
Roque said Duterte was merely being honest about his religious views and that he has a “personal spirituality.”
“That is the personal belief of the President. You know, our free exercise of religion includes the freedom not to believe in any religion,” Roque said during an interview with GMA Network’s “Unang Hirit.”
“I think the President’s declaration stemmed from his bad experience when he was allegedly molested by a priest during his childhood,” he added, referring to Duterte’s repeated claim that he was molested by a priest when he was studying at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Davao University in his hometown Davao City.
with ARIC JOHN SY CUA, JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA, LLANESCA T. PANTI AND
CATHERINE S. VALENTE