[OPINION] What would Jesus do: The Christian dilemma in the time of Duterte

 

“Oh, be careful little feet where you go. Oh, be careful little feet where you go. For the Father up above is looking down in love. Oh, be careful little feet where you go.”

Some might remember this song from Sunday School. It's a song that taught us how to live right in the eyes of God. It's an effective reminder when we find ourselves in situations where we're made to ask: what would Jesus do? 

The “Christian vote”

I found myself in need of this song when I encountered my first major dilemma in my Christian faith and as a Filipino citizen. During the 2019 elections, I learned that the religious organization I was part of had endorsed politicians who went against the very teachings of my faith. Needless to say, I was disappointed with how the church was seemingly being used to win the ‘Christian vote’ and give these politicians leverage.

It did not sit well with me that Christian leaders would endorse candidates who were corrupt, sexist, misogynist, anti-poor, self-serving, whose loyalty is with one person and not with the country, and whose struggle is not with the very people they are supposed to represent. 

In response, I wrote an essay to remind my fellow Christians of our civic duty to elect deserving candidates. It was clearly one of those moments when we had to ask: what would Jesus do? In my parting statement, I wrote, “If Jesus were walking with us this day, you wouldn’t find him in fancy churches endorsing the corrupt and self-serving. He would be walking down the streets, struggling with the masses, hearing their concerns, and preaching God’s word. Let us pray and vote wisely.” 

120 years of existence

On January 16, the Baptist Churches of the Philippines celebrated its 120th year anniversary with President Duterte as the keynote speaker. 

In expected attendance were House Minority Leader Benny Abante (the organizer), SC CJ Peralta, Speaker Allan Cayetano, Senate Pres. Tito Sotto, Manila Isko Mayor Moreno, Sen. Bong Go, Sen. Cynthia Villar, Sen. Dick Gordon, Cong. Eddie Villanueva, Cong. Lani Cayetano, and other supporters of the administration. 

I had to struggle with the same dilemma as before, unsure if I should attend the said event. As a Christian, no sight is more troubling than a celebration of our faith being tampered by obvious politicking.

The event was not spared by Duterte’s infamous way of speaking. In the room full of Christian leaders, ministers, elders, members, and even children, he managed to say "bullshit" and "putangina," to which some of the attendees responded in uncomfortable laughter. (READ: [OPINION] National Baptist Day: Laughing instead of mourning)

I do not claim to be an expert of the Bible, but Romans 12:1 states, “And be not conformed to this world,” so I do not understand why the church needs to find validation from these politicians. I would like to think that our church leaders have the members’ interest in mind, but what do we make of things when there is already dissent and confusion among people because they choose to please these worldly politicians instead of God?

Hypocrisy?

How can we claim to represent our church people when we do not experience the struggles they face as everyday Filipinos? Most of them work for more than 8 hours every day and travel long distances just to make ends meet, and yet we support politicians who are for the TRAIN law

Most of the communities that we reach out to are urban-poor yet we support politicians who are for the war on drugs which was proven to be ineffective and unfairly targets the poor. 

We give great respect to the women who've worked hand-in-hand in fostering the next generation of our church, and yet we support a faux feminist and give a pass to sexist and misogynistic politicians. 

We teach in Sunday Schools where we nurture children to be God-fearing and Christ-like, and yet we support politicians who are for lowering the age of criminality, stripping kids away from the chance for a better life, when Jesus himself asked that these children be closer to him and not be locked in jail cells. 

We speak of the fear of God and yet we’re supporting a politician willing to kill for his master. We speak of honesty and yet we’re supporting politicians who are silent when asked about the struggles of the Filipino people. We speak of integrity and yet we’re supporting politicians who don’t have a clear stand on our sovereign rights. And we speak of conviction and yet we’re supporting politicians who blindly follow the directives of a man who cursed the name of God multiple times.

We cannot claim solidarity and unity in our religious organization when a consensus has not been met. We cannot just be expected to follow when it’s clear in our reactions and comments that there is confusion and dissent. I hope Christian leaders give respect to their members and explain how the politicians they support are the best representatives of our Christian faith. At the end of the day, our accountability is not to any man but God and God alone. – Rappler.com