In the Philippines, the Catholic Church is Hastening Its Own Demise

Last month, Philippines President Benigno Aquino III signed a law that would make government-funded sex education and contraception widely available to the nation’s poor. It’s the type of law that makes so much sense and benefits such a large segment of society… which must be why the Catholic Church can’t deal with it:

President Benigno Aquino III

Catholic leaders consider the law an attack on the church’s core values — the sanctity of life — saying that contraceptives promote promiscuity and destroy life. Aquino and his allies see the legislation as a way to address how the poor — roughly a third of the country’s 94 million people — manage the number of children they have and provide for them.

What’s wonderful to see is that the Church has relatively little support from the people — including many faithful Catholics. The people know the law makes good sense and Church leaders are having no luck persuading them to remain celibate or not use condoms. (Maybe they’re being advised by 1Flesh.)

The comments countering the Church’s ideas in the Calgary Herald article are hilarious:

“If the church can provide milk, diapers and rice, then go ahead, let’s make more babies,” said Giselle Labadan, a 30-year-old roadside vendor. “But there are just too many people now, too many homeless people, and the church doesn’t help to feed them.

She said that even though she has used most types of contraceptives, she still considers herself among the faithful. “I still go to church and pray. It’s a part of my life,” Labadan said.

“I have prayed before not to have another child, but the condom worked better,” she said.

I need a bumper sticker with that last line.

The Catholic Church is just digging its own grave by stubbornly sticking to an ideas that make no logical sense:

The latest defeat of the church “can further weaken its moral authority at a time when this is most badly needed in many areas, including defence of a whole range of family values,” said the Rev. John J. Carroll, founding chairman of the Jesuit-run John J. Carroll Institute on Church and Social Issues. He said he wondered how many Catholics have been “turned off” by incessant sermons and prayers led by the church against the contraceptives law, and how much it contributed to rising anticlericalism and the erosion of church authority.

In America, too, the Church is its own worst enemy. They refuse to be on the side of women’s rights and civil rights for LGBT people — and we should really thank them. They’re encouraging more people to leave the pews than the New Atheists ever could.

(Thanks to Anu for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Sven2547

    They’re backwards and proud of it. Truly remarkable.

  • ggsillars

    Who knew the Catholic Church came with its own self-destruct button? That’s a nifty feature.

    • A3Kr0n

      I wish we could find their power pack and pull it out like Robot in Lost in Space.

  • pete084

    The people know the Catholic church lacks credibility on this issue, how can celibate old men begin to understand the struggle of parenthood with ONE child, let alone several.

    • http://twitter.com/arctangentleman ArcTanGentleman

      Actually, those Catholic priests probably listen to a lot of single Catholic mothers… confession? I do think, however, that certain people (Romney) need to be reminded that single mothers can come from divorce, death, and other reasons than the ‘lack of restraint’ he seems to have tunnel vision for.

    • Revyloution

      To be fair, many Catholic priests struggle with little children.

      • Artor

        I could have done without that image, thanks.

  • Michael

    The church will wait for the next natural disaster; blame it on condom use, and the believers will trample each other in the rush to get back inside the cathedral.

    • http://twitter.com/arctangentleman ArcTanGentleman

      The church: because there’s only one… XD The appropriate counter argument: But didn’t God claim he wouldn’t flood the world as punishment again.
      *reverend says something*
      “Still looks like flooding to me.”

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Catholic leaders consider the law an attack on the church’s core values — the sanctity of life…

    Sanctity of life my ass. The sanctity of your power base is more like it. What does sanctity have to do with hundreds of millions of lives of hopeless poverty, starvation, disease, and ignorance, all caused by the sheer weight of numbers of people overwhelming the resources they need to support themselves?

    • Brian

      So instead of dealing with government corruption, who are stealing and denying poor Filipinos the food and support they need, we need to prevent more human beings have the right to live – right.

      • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

        Perhaps you need to read the article more carefully. The law in question makes sex education and contraception more readily available to the poor. The Catholic Church wants to prevent them from having control over how many children they conceive. This is about preventing unwanted conceptions, not unwanted human beings.

        –Unless you presume that human beings preexist conception in some noncorporeal realm somewhere, and contraception prevents their “right to live.”

        Citation needed for that one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.crook.3 Jeffrey Crook

    FWIW, I understand it is still illegal to get a divorce or have an abortion in the Philippines.

    • http://twitter.com/arctangentleman ArcTanGentleman

      The Catholic church once lost an entire country, including every church therein for ONE divorce. Wikipedia: Anglican for more. History is fun. It was once illegal for everyone to get a divorce. The king of England had to get his wives beheaded… he finally had to split when he realized he liked his current wife (just not enough to keep her as his wife) and didn’t want to behead her/stay married.

      • Erp

        Not quite accurate. He was seeking an annulment for his first marriage, which the Catholic Church allows. on the grounds that his first wife was his dead brother’s widow and therefore the marriage was against canon law. This was true and he had gotten an exception when he married her in the first place. He was arguing he should never have been given the exception.

        He probably would have gotten the annulment except his wife opposed it and her nephew had a large army just outside Rome. The Pope given a choice of which ruler to infuriate chose the one further away.

        The two wives he executed were married after the split from Rome (and in the case of the first he had their marriage annulled and then executed her).

  • kaydenpat

    Irrelevant question but where in the Bible is contraception prohibited?

    Wonder why the Catholic church wants boatloads of children to be added to families which are struggling and poor.

    • Quintin van Zuijlen

      Remember, the Catholics are the ones that don’t give a damn about the Bible. It’s why Protestants exist at all.

    • AntonioPeYangIII

      Because literate kids are more likely to see through their facade as they grow up, and leave the faith.

      Take me for example. FSM bless the Jesuits for valuing my academic well-being over their church’s dogma.

    • Revyloution

      I believe it’s ‘Be fruitful, and multiply.’

    • http://twitter.com/arctangentleman ArcTanGentleman

      They’re citing Onan, there are two main interpretations. One is that he was told to fulfill the law, disobeyed God, and died. The other interpretation is that he wasted life. Most Catholic women in America still use birth control. (Before you say that makes them hipocrits… most people are hipocrits).

    • Artor

      Banning contraception serves the purpose of keeping women in a second-class status, which is the ultimate objective. Once the goal has been established, Xtians will perform amazing leaps of logic, rhetorical contortions, and fabrications from whole cloth to support it. The inconvenient fact that the Bible doesn’t support their position is irrelevant to Biblical support of their position.

  • Miss_Beara

    It is not about “sanctity of life.” It is all about keeping the control over the people. If it was about “sanctity of life,” then they would be cleaning up the slums, providing food and clean water, giving children an education, providing health care to the sick… the life that is already living.

    • http://twitter.com/arctangentleman ArcTanGentleman

      Who says they’re not? In my city you can get health care and food from the catholic church. For clean water you usually have to use the tap. (It’s illegal to shut off the water if there’s a baby in the house, even if they don’t pay).

      • TheBlackCat13

        The woman quoted certainly didn’t seem to consider the church much of a help.

  • http://twitter.com/arctangentleman ArcTanGentleman

    I’ve read studies that say that 90%+ of Catholics don’t use contraception. (The specific study I’ve read said 98…) There’s that whole ‘the way is narrow’. We know it’s wrong, we do it anyway, it is what it is to be human.

    • Sven2547

      I think you meant to say 90%+ of Catholics DO use contraception.

    • Baby_Raptor

      What the hell do shotgun weddings have to do with preventing AIDS? And why would you encourage someone to rush into a supposedly life-long commitment just so they can have sex, when there are a myriad of ways to do so safely WITHOUT ruining their lives?

      Also, you do realize that there are people in this world who don’t buy into Christianity, yes? So why are you okay with forcing us to live by your personal beliefs? Why do we not matter?

    • Brian Scott

      We don’t know it’s wrong. We know it’s not wrong. That would likely include a good chunk of Catholics, dogma notwithstanding.

      People can actually make good, ethically sound choices for themselves.

  • C’mon, man

    Herp derp derp

  • Rain

    “Catholic leaders consider the law an attack on the church’s core values — the sanctity of life”

    Genesis 2:17 “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

    Yeah, they might want to consider their god an attack on the church’s core values — the sanctity of life. There are further examples, like for example, oh, the flood. Yeah, sounds real “sanctity”.

    Genesis 3:9 “And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?”

    A rhetorical question, no doubt.

  • AntonioPeYangIII

    That’s FATHER John. J. Carroll, S.J.

    The Jesuits are among the few priests I have any respect for in the church here in the Philippines, given that they often present the more progressive views in the RCC.

    Fr. Carroll himself – based on his experience working in the slums for more than 20 years – has repeatedly advocated for responsible family planning. He can’t say it out loud due to his position as a priest, but based on his phrasing, a lot of us are convinced he’s for the RH law.

    Another Jesuit I think would be worth mentioning is Fr. Joaquin Bernas, the current dean of the Ateneo law school, and one of authors of our 1987 constitution. He’s been a very vocal critic of the Philippine RCC’s attempts to strong-arm politicians into voting against the RH bill in the past.

    Ironically, he’s also one of the Bill’s more vocal critics, but in a positive way. Most of the issue’s he’s raised have actually helped the backers of the law revise it in such a way to make it more compatible with the constitution and other existing legalese.

    The Jesuits also threw a very polite “Thank you, we’ll take your advise into consideration, now kindly fuck off.” to the RCC when they demanded that they (the Jesuits) sanction or even fire several professors in Ateneo De Manila University who vocally declared their support for the RH Bill.

    I know they’re not perfect – I recall at least one Jesuit parish being under fire for a sex abuse case – but here in the Philippines, the Jesuits have been a valuable, if somewhat indirect, ally in the push for this new law.

  • AntonioPeYangIII

    It didn’t help any that two of the allies of the RCC – Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, and Bishop Gilbrt Garcera – were in the news recently for insinuating that our country’s overpopulation issue was a good thing because OFWs are our “biggest export, which equalled more cash for the gov’t, and because we could potentially “repopulate” countries on a demographic decline.

    I wish I were making this shit up.

    http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/331529/overpopulation-good-for-filipinos-says-bishop

    http://www.rappler.com/nation/16987-enrile-our-biggest-export-is-ofws-that-s-why-im-against-rh-bill

  • http://twitter.com/ErnestValdemar Ernest Valdemar

    While I agree that the Catholic Church is slowly withering into irrelevance throughout its sphere of influence across the world, it’s still depressing to see “Aquino III’ appended to the title “President” when considering the history of democracy in the Philippines.

    Religion may be an enemy of progress, but I’m still disturbed by political dynasties and de facto aristocracy in nominal democracies.

  • Baby_Raptor

    You know what? I’m getting reeeeally tired of these so-called “moralists” and their push to force everyone to live by their rules.

    “Don’t want kids? Don’t have sex!” is not a moral argument. If a person *chooses* to live that way, fine and dandy. But attempting to force others to do so, to deprive themselves of something they need and enjoy, when there are perfectly safe ways they could do it, is wrong.

    If you have personal hang-ups about sex before marriage, don’t go Fuck someone before you have the stupid little piece of paper. If you choose to believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that life starts at ejaculation, don’t use birth control and don’t have an abortion. If you have issues with homosexuality, don’t marry someone of the same gender.

    But trying to force others to live by your personal decisions-because that’s what they are, personal decisions, none of those views is based on fact-is wrong. It’s morally wrong, ethically wrong and all around just a jack-ass thing to do. People who go around forcing their views on others DO NOT have the moral high ground, no matter what stupid reasonings they use to convince themselves otherwise.

    It’s high-Fucking-time we started treating these assholes the way they deserve to be treated. Strip them of the rights they’re trying to take from others. Or at the very least put them somewhere they can no longer hurt others. It’s been respected way too long.

    • MyOpinions

      Why is it that I, a Filipino who doesn’t often go to church but a Catholic nonetheless, see some points in your argument that “can” be viewed wrong based on moral grounds? I accept that the church shouldn’t force people who do not share the same belief, but that’s just where the crux of the matter lies! As the Catholic church, I believe it’s their responsibility to campaign against those beliefs they deem morally wrong, like a parent reminding his child not to play with fire. It’s only that people have different morals they subscribe to, thus the conflict. And since many people believe that sex is merely a form of enjoyment that everyone’s entitled to have “if they choose to” – then the conflict seems to stem from the very core of every person – then it is one man’s morality against another’s and not the people versus the church. That’s why I believe that the clergymen running the church in the Philippines are the ones to blame for tainting the religion with politics, but not the organized religion itself.

      My personal stand is that the RH Law could apply to married couples to resolve the overpopulation issue. But based on my “own” personal morals, I do not think unmarried couple should have access to condoms and such. I don’t want to go preaching but I don’t think that “marriage is just a paper” or “sex is just sex”. And most of all, no to abortion.

      • Baby_Raptor

        1) Wow, this comment is 6 months old. I must have really hit some buttons for you to feel the need to scold me half a year later.

        2) Why do you believe that the church has a responsibility to campaign against personal beliefs that they deem wrong? Why are you not content to just leave well enough alone and let everyone live their own lives? What does it harm you, or the church, if unmarried people have access to contraception? And why do you feel that you, or the church, have any business having that kind of a say in other peoples’ lives?

        3) Why would you rather see people suffer and see problems get worse than just acknowledging that some people don’t believe the way you do and that’s totally fine?

        4) The stances are church-wide, as are the actions of trying to make them law. they happen in lots of countries. That basic fact means that the issue is with the entire church, not just some men in your country.

        5) As I said, if you don’t like abortion, don’t have one. If you don’t think unmarried people should have sex, or access to contraceptives, then don’t take advantage of either. But keep your personal beliefs in your personal life. Don’t advocate to take those rights from other people who don’t believe as you do.

        • MyOpinions

          LOL. It’s just that I was only able to read the article and the comments recently. Whether months or years pass, your statement wouldn’t depreciate in value though.

          First of all, let me reiterate that the conflict seems to stem from the very core of every person – in this case, you and I.

          Let’s admit it. The most enjoyable things in life are those which are claimed to be morally wrong. (Who knows? Maybe people find them enjoyable for that very reason.) So it’s really hard to argue why they are wrong in the first place. I’d like to validate my response with the teachings I learned from the Bible, but then you’d question its authority and I’d say “faith”. Again, the core of my person.

          It’s also unfair to argue “rights”. I feel that one of the main reasons why the church is against those bills being made into laws is the fact that they would affect the future generation’s view of what is right and wrong, what are their rights and limitations. Honestly, if other people want to do it, let them be – just don’t deprive the future generation of the “right” state of mind and the “right” to choose on their own. So you see, I’m not advocating to take away their rights, in fact I’m trying to protect them.

          Please reread my earlier comment. I actually kept on acknowledging that some people don’t share my beliefs but “it” being totally fine is a different issue. Rather than claiming outright that “it is not fine”, I’d say that “it concerns me” more. But it’s futile to argue why since we don’t share the same beliefs in the first place.

          Lastly, the church, I believe, is an institution that has the inherent purpose to teach the “Word of God”. Responsibility comes with the territory as with any person or entity. I could easily throw your argument back at you. (Why do you feel that you have any business having that kind of a say in the church’s responsibility?) Now, they didn’t create any conflict, those rose on occasion. The rest of your sentiments are purely based on morals and I’ve already stated my opinion on that.

          In the end, it’s the voice of reason against faith, facts vs feelings, morals vs rights, freedom vs limitations. We should compromise by removing the double-standard.

          –Some people would say that the Church is losing power because more and more people open their minds and see the light.
          –But too much dependence on the voice of reason was what caused the “Fall of Man” in the first place.

          –Some people would say trust is good but blind faith is simply stupid. What’s up with that mentality?
          –But that’s what Faith requires.

          –Some people would say that the Bible is being manipulated/interpreted by the Church in a way that could forward their own agenda.
          –Again, it’s the men in robes!

          –Some people would say that these are the signs of the end times.
          –That’s what concerns me – I wanna reach 70! :)

          –Some people would say “mind your own business!”
          –But our lives intertwine and if we truly “love our neighbor”, we’d care enough to protect them even when they cast stones at us.

          • Baby_Raptor

            Your entire wall of text is really just cover for one thing: Religion butting it’s head into the lives of people who don’t buy into it, sometimes at the detriment of peoples’ rights and at the cost of actual facts. (“Rights” and “facts” being actual things, not just “false debate points.” I’m sure you don’t treat your own rights so carelessly, so please attempt to not do so with the rights of others.)

            If you truly “loved your neighbor,” you would respect that person. You would assume that your neighbor knows what’s best for them better than you ever could, knows their circumstances and personal beliefs better than you ever could, and you would keep out. You would recognize that your beliefs are exactly that, YOURS, and if they don’t share them, then what you believe isn’t best for their situation.

            Presuming that your advice is wanted and actually right is the “sin” called pride. It’s also just plain rude. You would not be happy if a bunch of Muslims came in and started attempting to influence the laws with their religion because they oh-so-honestly believe that what they think is best, so why is it okay for you (and the people who believe as you do)?

            If people wanted the Church’s doctrine, rules and guidance in their lives, they would join the Church. The Church, of course, isn’t happy with this. They plainly see that if they can influence laws, they can make everyone toe their line. This, by the way, is against the bible, but it’s one of those lines that everyone ignores “Because Jesus said X!”

            As I said in my first post, it all comes down to minding your own business and letting people live their lives as they see fit. The vast majority of the choices your “neighbor” will ever make will affect you in no way at all. That includes the choice to have an abortion. Keeping your nose in your own business unless your ass is on the line is something religion as a whole desperately needs a lesson in.

            • MyOpinions

              Let’s not talk about the church anymore (though I still believe it’s the men in robes’ fault) because no one really has enough wisdom to fathom religion. I take your point on the Muslims but that of neighbors is still arguable. I’ll spare us both the rhetorics – it’s Man vs. Self!

              I guess it would be best to say that no law should be passed at all, but the earlier hindrances should be revoked as well. Yes, I believe so. That way, no one now or in the future would be influenced by the law to make their choices and reevaluate their morals. No one would allow them but no one would stop them either. If you want it, seek it yourself. If you disapprove it, just don’t bother. This would be my personal stand with regards to the law and the law only.

              I guess it’s almost the same as passing the bill but it’s the best compromise I could come up with. At least, there’s no spoon-feeding of such laws to the public on the part of the government. Thanks for your insights, quite helpful!

      • Concerned Citizen

        To: MyOpinions

        I just read this post/forum today and I read your words. If I didn’t know any better I would guess that you’re actually a catholic priest. Either way, I believe that it is people who think like you are the ones who are preventing countries like the Philippines from moving onward and making better decisions for the future. I’m no expert of history but I’m pretty sure there were many (read: hundreds of…) instances where religion had a big role in the unhappiness of citizens. I’m sure historical facts regarding church abuses like the Inquisitions (yes, that’s plural. There were many. Not only in Spain) are something you pretend you’re not familiar with. Fact is, more helpless people died under religious leadership than any other kind in history. That was before democracy gained international status. Even at the present, some catholic priests oppress the students in their own catholic schools. The students are afraid to fight back because they’re trained since childhood that priests are representatives of God. So stop pretending that you’re wiser than the practical people who believe that there is an actual correlation between overpopulation to poverty, social decay, and pollution.

  • roberthughmclean

    The catliks are doing a good job of shooting themselves in their feet but can they speed it up a bit? I know it’s always entertaining watching them appear even sillier with every opening of the mouth but it’s still taking too long. Get that pope person to open its mouth more often, that’d help.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    Of course non-human life isn’t nearly so sacrosanct. The rapid rate of species extinction, mostly due to human activity, isn’t so much of a problem. It’s a wonder they don’t see the long term results of population imbalance.

  • baal

    “They’re encouraging more people to leave the pews than the New Atheists ever could.”

    Which is why atheists / secular folks need to ‘come out’ and have a positive message for the ever growing ‘nones’ class.

  • Jenefer Lapinig

    Did Aquino signed what they called “RH Bill”?


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