The Philippines Are About to Issue Christian Money

In the Philippines, new peso bills are being issued and they contain some mistakes (like the colors of the parrot on one particular bill). They will be corrected before the bills begin getting circulated.

But one mistake is going unnoticed, say the Filipino Freethinkers:

New bills will be containing this direct quotation from the Christian Bible: “Pinagpala ang bayan na ang Diyos ay ang Panginoon (Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord)”… which comes from Psalm 33:12. This statement can be found above the seal of the Republic of the Philippines.

But that’s in the Philippines? So it’s ok, right?

No. Their Constitution says what ours says:

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.

Maybe if this story gets enough attention, someone in power will pay attention and remove the unnecessary and illegal wording from the currency.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

    In a country where the Roman Catholic Church holds such sway and where political influence consistently trumps the law, I have a difficult time believing that this will be removed.
    Hopefully, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  • Chris

    It’s interesting that Australia has basically the same clause in our constitution but the High Court has interpreted it to mean that the Government can do practically anything except create a state church – a right that interestingly the sates retain…

  • Alissa

    Fat chance. In a country that doesn’t have the nerve to pass a reproductive health bill or legislate a divorce law because the Church says so, not to mention having the longest Christmas celebration in the world, taking off a religious text on a bill is the least of their concern.

  • Steve

    It’s not like religious money is illegal in the US. Though it’s only allowed through a very questionable and flimsy argument.

  • J.

    “Blessed is the nation whose God, MINE NOT YOURS is the Lord)”

    — All Fixed ! :_)

  • Rob

    Is some Filipino version of Senator McCarthy pushing this?

  • sf

    My husband and I looked into adopting a child from the Philipines. For about a minute and a half. they required a recommendation from our church leader.

  • Richard Wade

    Is some Filipino version of Senator McCarthy pushing this?

    The Philippines is the third largest Catholic nation in the world. Its spiritual leader is Cardinal Gaudencio Borbon Rosales, 78 years old. From what I have read, he wields tremendous power over public opinion, and he continually gets his fingers into politics, sometimes up to his elbows.

    I haven’t seen anything yet indicating his direct involvement in pushing this Biblical verse on the money, but a comparison might be made between the spineless U.S. politicians of the 1950′s who didn’t want to cross Joe McCarthy for fear of being labeled a “commie,” and the expedient politicians of the Philippines who face a much harder battle to be elected if the Cardinal denounces them. He has done that more than once, threatening excommunication of anyone supporting public policies that he dislikes, from abortion, to birth control, to issues about gay people. Even if the politicians privately don’t care about excommunication, they’ll lose big if their constituents see that they don’t care. So asses and rings get kissed.

    The Catholic Church touches everybody and everything in the Philippines, whether they are members of the flock or not.

  • Phoebe

    USA money has the same lies printed on it. Our gov’t doesn’t care about its own Constitution, brown-nosing an imaginary being takes precedence.

  • Fundie Troll

    But that’s in the Philippines? So it’s ok, right?

    No. Their Constitution says what ours says:

    Actually their constitution does not say what ours says. Their constitution makes a provision for “the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, WITHOUT DISCRIMINATION OR PREFERENCE.” I can certainly see how printing biblical scripture on currency could be contrued as preference. What I cannot see, however, is how a separation of church and state has been interpreted into our constitution, where nothing of the sort is stated in the Second Amendment.

    Please don’t misunderstand me – it wouldn’t bother me in the least if “In God We Trust” was removed from our currency (btw, which God are they trusting in? Satan is referred to in the bible as the god of this world, is he not?). It wouldn’t bother me if “One Nation Under God” was removed from our pledge of allegiance (why are Christians pledging allegiance to a nation anyway? I thought our allegiance was to Jesus Christ? And doesn’t Christ say that His kingdom is not of this world?). And it wouldn’t bother me in the least if organized prayer was banned from public schools (I certainly wouldn’t want someone forcing me to pray to another god. Here’s an idea – meet at your local church for a prayer meeting before graduation). Also many Christians mistakenly believe that this country was founded as a Christian Nation. It was not – it was a country founded on RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. Period. Freedom to practice your religion of choice (including the freedom not to exercice any religious beliefs).

    What does concern me, however, is that this particular interpretation of the constitution (separation of church and state) will turn “freedom of religion” into “freedom FROM religion”. It seems to me that if we are not careful, this is exactly what is going to happen. For example, what about artwork for a school assignment that has a religious theme? Should it be allowed? Is it freedom of expression and religion? Is it something that the constitution was written to protect? I think so. And if we are not careful, our dear constitution that was written to protect our freedoms will be the very device that is used to take those freedoms away.

    Sorry for the lengthy post, and thank you to all of you who took the time to read it!

  • Richard Wade

    Fundie Troll,
    Thank you for your very conscientious, intelligent, and accurate statements in the middle paragraph of your comment.

    I think that freedom from religion needs to be included in the idea of freedom of religion, as one of the alternative positions guaranteed. A free choice of any or none simply makes sense. A free choice of any, but one must be chosen does not make sense.

    Freedom from religion does not mean banning the free expression by individuals of their religious ideas. It just means that government at any level can not force one or any religious idea onto the unwilling, or endorse or promote having one over another, or over having none at all.

    So for instance, as in your example, a student in a public school is given an art assignment. If s/he wants to fulfill the assignment with a religiously-themed artwork s/he would and should be completely free to do so. It’s just that the teacher would not and should not be able to require all the students to create religiously-themed artworks. To fulfill the assignment the kids can paint Jesus, or an old man reading a Torah, or Krishna sitting in a garden, or a girl with a puppy, or Edmund Hillary reaching the top of Everest. The works would be graded on the artistic merit and the mastery of the technique being taught.

    I don’t think that the idea of freedom from religion will lead to prohibiting public school kids from praying privately or in groups at recess. It simply will keep the teacher from leading a prayer in class, where those students who wish to abstain will be technically free to do so, but will be singled out as targets for mistreatment later on the playground.

    I don’t think the idea of freedom from religion is a slippery slope toward a blanket suppression of religious expression, if that is your concern. It’s really an integral part of the idea of religious freedom for everyone.

  • JJ

    Well, this amounts to just hearsay really but my girlfriend is from the Phillipines and besides her own life, family, etc I am exposed to a lot of Filipino TV that she watches so I have some familarity with the place. That country is heavily Catholic, I mean heavy in a way that would blow the Christian fundies in the US out of the water. I doubt that it is much like the McCarthy thing here in that most politicians here were simply cowardly while most in the Philipines would probably be eager accomplices. Religion isn’t just political window dressing, a huge number appear to be genuine true believers. Religion pops up a lot in everything there, TV dramas, interviews, game shows, just everything. I would say there is close to zero chance that blurb gets removed from the money.

    And people absolutely should have freedom FROM religion. I simply never understood how that phrase caught on or what exactly it is supposed to imply unless it is supposed to mean that anyone that expressed a religious idea would be gathered up by the thought police and sent off to the gulags which I am pretty sure that almost nobody is advocating. In the artwork example of course the child should be able to draw whatever they want, but this seems to be worrying about a problem that doesn’t exists as I don’t know of anyone that is advocating that kind of silencing of free speech.

  • http://twoangryvoices.blogspot.com Aegis

    @Fundie Troll: Second Amendment?

  • Alissa

    It’s not hearsay at all, JJ. :) I’m from the Philippines, and I attest to that. This is a country where a formal gathering, even in government offices, cannot be without an opening prayer. It’s UNTHINKABLE not to have one here. And being “God-fearing” is a necessary virtue to be a good citizen.

  • Jose Hidalgo

    I came from the Philippines, and I’ve been brought up religiously too! I think every Goddamn Child is brought up this way…

    For I’m thankful I saw the “light” of Disbelief…

    And I’d like to thank you Richard for spreading and informing the world of one of our Problems… Thanks! :D

  • http://www.correntewire.com chicago dyke

    And being “God-fearing” is a necessary virtue to be a good citizen.

    that is our job. here in amurka. we can’t let them pass laws that require obeisance from everyone. our fundies would like to do that. here, it would be worship enforced by domestic security forces. nasty. we’re on the front lines of that battle, as freethinkers.

  • dormanmu

    The Philippines is a medieval backwater of civilization. That’s why.

  • http://freethought.posterous.com Dan

    The current 500 peso bill already has a religious message:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/d0/Php500Ninoy.jpg

    If other filipino atheists are concerned about it, they can trade me their 500 bills for 400 pesos. :p

    BTW, I don’t think the other mistakes will be fixed before circulation (it’s already being circulated right now). For instance, the miscoloration of the Blue-naped parrot’s bill that you referred to above “cannot” be fixed due to the limitations of the printing process (according to the Philippine Central Bank spokesperson).

  • Chünder

    Hoo boy this is going to piss off the Muslims who have been fighting the government for years (lookup “Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao” ).

  • Richard Wade

    Jose Hidalgo,
    Thank Hemant for finding and publishing this one. I wish you and your freethinking friends all the best.

  • Fundie Troll

    @ Aegis

    Oops my bad. First amendment.

    LOL

  • Fundie Troll

    Ok so I’ve thought some more about this “separation of church and state” and why in some ways it bothers me very much (besides the fact that it is unconstitutional). I tried to give one example regarding an art project – which is a real world example, btw. A Wisconsin student was given a zero for an art project after he refused to remove the words “John 3:16 A sign of love” from his drawing. Other art projects with religious themes, including a statue of Buddha, were on display in the school, but this young man had to take the school district to court to uphold his right to freedom of speech and religion (he eventually won). So there is one example…

    Another example – one of my sons, who is a sophomore in high school, has a class called “Reading Strategies”, which is basically a glorified study hall. The students are required to read for the entire period, but my son is not allowed to read his bible. Why I have no idea. Other students read magazines that are unrelated to class or school, and the teachers have no problem with that. But my son can’t read his bible. I don’t make a big deal about it, and I advised my son to do the same.

    My biggest fear is that in the quest to make everybody feel “comfortable” and “accepted” that we will eventually sanitize every last vestige of religion from our society. No more ten commandments on display in the courthouse. No more “In God We Trust” on our currency. No more “One Nation Under God” in our pledge of allegiance. No more nativity scenes during Christmas. This is what I mean when I refer to “Freedom FROM religion”. In essence it is a society that is “Free” from every and all public displays of religious expression. It is a religious “free” society. Is this a healthy thing? I don’t think so. What I do know is that while there are people who would like to live in a society that is free from these things, I personally would like to live in a society that celebrates these things (of course MY currency would say “In Christ We Trust”). And why shouldn’t I have the freedom to do these things? Why are the two mutually exclusive? Shouldn’t this be an issue that is decided at the local and state gov’t levels, instead of the federal gov’t? I really believe that the federal gov’t has overstepped its authority. Really any time the fed is telling the states what to do we lose. So why can’t there be counties that are “Nativity scene free” and others that have a nativity scene on every corner? Why can’t one state issue currency that says “In Reason We Trust” while another state issues currency that says “In God We Trust”. Do you see my point?

    Well gotta go, take care my atheist friends…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000586562927 Donna Hamel (muggle)

    Maybe if this story gets enough attention, someone in power will pay attention and remove the unnecessary and illegal wording from the currency.

    You mean like here in the good old US of A?

    Fundie, I’ve got to weigh in. I don’t see why your son can’t read the bible in that or any study hall. Would they react the same to the Left Behind series or any other Christian novels. Would they prohibit another kid reading “The God Delusion”; I don’t think the school’s right in that case. When it comes to schools making the decison to fight bullshit is tough. I wish I’d had more discretion in hindsight because some of those teachers got vindictive towards my daughter. Not as viciously as in some places but they still did. So, I understand why you’re not but the school is wrong.

    However, for public endorsement of religion, the difference is whether it involves government endorsing it. So Glen Beck invoking god at his rally is one thing but the President asking me to pray is quite another. Mangers on town squares or 10 Commandments on courtroom walls run smack into using the government to endorse these things so, no, that shouldn’t be even if the majority is Christian. Heck, even it’s 100% Christian since the government can’t endorse it and well somebody not could move in or someone there since birth could lose their faith. Would you want to be in their shoes if your town is promoting religion?

    However, likewise, government should not say there is no god either. Ventura pissed me off just as much as politicians spouting this is a god-fearing country did. He had no right to use his public office to call religion a crutch for the weak or some of the other things he said. I protested that just as loudly and vehemently. He had every right to hold that view privately but he should not have used his public office to say them.

  • dyurasik

    I am from the Philippines, brought up Roman Catholic (Catolico serrado), but we do respect other people’s beliefs. Indeed, the Philippines is a Christian (not just Catholic) nation, with minority Muslim (and from other religions) population. I don’t see anything wrong with the phrase in our currency, but I do detest too much politicking by the religious leaders (not just the Catholic bishops but even from other sects and religions). Can you raise the same issue against Islamic countries? Can you tell the Imams, the Ayatollahs, the Lamas, etc and their political leaders to respect other beliefs as well?

  • P. Coyle

    Shouldn’t this be an issue that is decided at the local and state gov’t levels, instead of the federal gov’t? I really believe that the federal gov’t has overstepped its authority. Really any time the fed is telling the states what to do we lose. So why can’t there be counties that are “Nativity scene free” and others that have a nativity scene on every corner? Why can’t one state issue currency that says “In Reason We Trust” while another state issues currency that says “In God We Trust”.

    Fundie Troll, the First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” I would argue that because “In God We Trust” was made the national motto by act of Congress and appears on US currency by act of Congress, and because the words “under God” appear in the official form of the Pledge of Allegiance by act of Congress, Congress has certainly overstepped its authority. Would you not agree?

    What the First Amendment does not say is that a state cannot “establish religion.” Thus, it would not preclude, say, the state of Utah from establishing the Mormon Church as the state church of Utah and requiring that all “gentiles” residing in the state pay a tax for the support of said church. Neither does it say that a state could not, for example, compel religious believers to pay a tax for the purpose of disseminating anti-religious propaganda. Perhaps, just perhaps, such acts are precluded by the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, but they are not precluded by the First.

    By the way, the reason that one state can’t issue currency that says “In Reason We Trust” while another state issues currency that says “In God We Trust” is because the Constitution says that “No State shall … coin Money” (Article I, Section 10 — you can look it up).

  • Daniel

    I was once a glorified bodyguard/babysitter for my sister on a trip there. You drive down a road, and if there’s a school, there is almost ALWAYS a church opposite or beside it.

    There’s no chance there – if you’re a kid, you will be indoctrinated.

    It’s crazy – even buses are decorated to the extreme as if they were religious shrines. Poor people. They are genuinely nice… just brainwashed.

  • Steve

    @P. Coyle

    The reason the states can’t do any of that – despite it literally saying “Congress” – is because the First Amendment has been incorporated to also apply to the states via the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Just like much of the Bill of Rights.

  • P. Coyle

    The reason the states can’t do any of that – despite it literally saying “Congress” – is because the First Amendment has been incorporated to also apply to the states via the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Just like much of the Bill of Rights.

    Let’s be clear about that passive voice construction you used, “has been incorporated.” What that actually means is that “the Supreme Court declared that Establishment Clause of the First Amendment applies to the states because of the Fourteenth Amendment.” It made this declaration in the case of Everson v. Board of Education, 1947.

    When we consult the text of that decision, we find that it contains the following sentence:

    The ‘establishment of religion’ clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church.

    With all due respect to the honorable Court, I submit that this has got to be one of the dumbest sentences ever to make it into a Supreme Court opinion. The First Amendment explicitly declares what Congress may not do (and surely one of the things that Congress may not do is to set up a church), but nowhere does it assert that states, too, may not do what Congress may not do.

    Frankly, I find the current application of the Establishment Clause to be entirely illogical and chaotic. How can the legal right of an Indiana high school class to open a graduation ceremony with prayer reasonably be held to be unconstitutional while at the same time Congress opens its own sessions with prayers and maintains chaplains hired pursuant to statute and paid at taxpayer expense?

    Here, by the way, is the opening prayer delivered at the opening of yesterday’s session of the House of Representatives by the day’s guest chaplain, the very Catholic Monsignor Stephen J. Rossetti (he’s in Wikipedia, look him up):

    Good and gracious God,
    as the year draws to a close,
    we reflect upon all that has taken place…
    it is easy for us to thank and praise you for many good things.
    It is more difficult to see your hand in the hard times.
    Help us to treasure each event, each moment of our lives.
    Help us to know that your all powerful Spirit brings life and grace out of everything in our lives.
    May we embrace the joys and the sorrows.
    May we embrace the signs of new life and the crosses.
    As we look forward to a new year,
    may we look to it with expectation and hope,
    knowing that you will guide and direct our lives,
    in everything that comes our way.
    May we praise and thank you for the year that is passing
    and for the year that is to come.
    We pray this in your holy Name.
    Amen.

  • Steve

    How can the legal right of an Indiana high school class to open a graduation ceremony with prayer reasonably be held to be unconstitutional while at the same time Congress opens its own sessions with prayers and maintains chaplains hired pursuant to statute and paid at taxpayer expense?

    What I read from that is “If Congress can pray, so should schools”. I’d say both are unconstitutional.

    Congress can unfortunately get away with more. In a school setting, you can find someone claiming injury relatively easily. And even then, the court battle is not that easy. It’s all but impossible to find a politician who will declare themselves an atheist and say that they are offended by the prayer. To do so would be career suicide.

  • P. Coyle

    What I read from that is “If Congress can pray, so should schools”.

    The way I intended it to be read was, “As long as Congress can pray, it’s awfully hard to make a reasonable case that local high school classes can’t.”

    To take another example from Indiana, there was a controversy that arose in the state because the government began offering auto license plates containing the words “In God We Trust,” superimposed over an image of the American flag. The plates were offered at the same rate as the standard Indiana plate (unlike other specialty plates, which cost more). Is this constitutional? Well, it’s rather difficult to argue that it isn’t as long as “In God We Trust” is the freakin’ national motto, by act of Congress, and that act has been upheld by the Supreme Court.

    I’d say both are unconstitutional.

    I’m not so sure, particularly if we consider only the First Amendment. I would imagine that congressional prayers take place per the internal rules of each house, which are not “laws” in the sense covered by the amendment.

    Congress can unfortunately get away with more. In a school setting, you can find someone claiming injury relatively easily. And even then, the court battle is not that easy. It’s all but impossible to find a politician who will declare themselves an atheist and say that they are offended by the prayer. To do so would be career suicide.

    Well, there’s Pete Stark, the first and so far only openly atheist member of Congress. He won re-election this year with 76% of the vote. He’s not the kind of guy who would back down from a fight, but he has not (as far as I know) objected to congressional prayers. But given that he’s on record as having said that the federal government can do pretty much whatever it wants, by implication Congress can do pretty much whatever it wants, even if that’s to start sessions with prayers, or to hire chaplains.


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