Evangelical churches slam Duterte barbs vs 'stupid God'

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) on Tuesday, June 26, denounced President Rodrigo Duterte's tirades against "the God of the Christian faith" whom he blasted as "stupid."

"We, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), as firm believers in God and in the Bible as His inspired Word, are immensely offended by President Rodrigo R. Duterte's remarks that God and the Bible's teachings on creation are 'stupid,' at the National Information and Communications Technology Summit, which was held last June 22, 2018 in Davao City," the PCEC said.

Founded in 1965, the PCEC said it is now the largest network of Christian "denominations, churches, mission groups, and para-church organizations nationwide." 

Bishop Chito Sanchez, who represented the PCEC in an interfaith movement in 2016, said the PCEC is composed of about 30,000 Evangelical churches in the Philippines.

In its statement on Tuesday, the group said, "PCEC finds it completely inappropriate for our nation's President to derisively curse at the God of the Christian faith, who is deeply worshipped not only by a majority of Filipinos but also by a vast number of people from all over the world."

It added: "History teaches us that religious intolerance can lead to animosity and violent conflict. PCEC therefore denounces insulting another person's religion, which sadly, the President has on several occasions demonstrated."

The PCEC then appealed to Duterte "to refrain from issuing insulting statements against the Christian faith."

Duterte's remarks against God fueled public anger against him, as Catholic bishops also denounced his recent statements

"Paano siya magiging Pangulo para sa lahat ng Pilipino kung wala siyang paggalang sa mga mananampalatayang Katoliko?" said Caloocan Bishop Pablo Virgilio David on Monday, June 25. (How can he be a President for all Filipinos if he does not have respect for the Catholic faithful?) 

Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas said of Duterte: "He must have received so much rejection and hurts in the past that he blurts out so much hatred and angst now. If he had been loved much, he would be giving so much of that love, too. He could be a victim of his scarred past and his wounded background. Pray for him with compassion."

Facing outrage from religious groups, Duterte formed a 3-person committee to dialogue with the Catholic Church and other religious groups on his behalf.  

"The theme will be how to lessen the rift between the government and the Church," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in Filipino.

Read the PCEC's full statement below:

We, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), as firm believers in God and in the Bible as His inspired Word, are immensely offended by President Rodrigo R. Duterte's remarks that God and the Bible's teachings on creation are 'stupid,' at the National Information and Communications Technology Summit, which was held last June 22, 2018 in Davao City.

PCEC finds it completely inappropriate for our nation's President to derisively curse at the God of the Christian faith, who is deeply worshipped not only by a majority of Filipinos but also by a vast number of people from all over the world. The Preamble of the 1987 Constitution even recognizes the Filipino people's reliance on the aid of the Almighty God.

PCEC's objection to the religious insult of President Duterte also stems from the democratic principles of our country. In view of the diversity of faith traditions in our society, every Filipino is mandated to respect other faith convictions. History teaches us that religious intolerance can lead to animosity and violent conflict. PCEC therefore denounces insulting another person's religion, which sadly, the President has on several occasions demonstrated. 

We therefore appeal to President Duterte to refrain from issuing insulting statements against the Christian faith. We appeal to the President, as the foremost leader of a nation that is by nature religious, to instead lead in fostering respect toward different religious beliefs.

We also urge President Duterte to hold dialogues with the leaders of different Christian traditions and build better understanding with a segment of our society whose primary concern is the spiritual and moral uprightness of our nation.

We call on all Evangelical Christians in our country to continue in fervent prayer for President Duterte and his administration that they may be able to lead our nation with the knowledge, wisdom and righteousness that come from God.

– Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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