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Austin Cline

Separation of Church and State in the Philippines

By July 10, 2003

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Many people may not realize that the separation of church and state can, in theory at least, be much more strict in the Philippines than in the United States. The Manila Regional Trial Court, has ruled, for example, that religious leaders cannot endorse political candidates running for office. Even more strict was another ruling which held that if the head of a religious organization "influences or threatens to punish" members of that group, he or she could be charged with coercion and with a violation of the members' right to vote freely.

Recently, Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin has been accused of violating the first principle - that religious leaders are not allowed to endorse any political candidates. According to the Inquirer News Service:

Sin on Friday told First Gentleman Mike Arroyo that the President should run, and that she should start campaigning in the countryside. The archdiocese immediately announced that Sin's remark was nothing more than a "light-hearted comment."

I wonder if stricter separation of church and state would work in the United States as well? Unfortunately, the reality of the separation of church and state in the Philippines does not always match the theory:

[E]ven government TV stations urge prayer every day at 3 p.m., Supreme Court justices avow with straight faces that some of their decisions were divinely inspired, public-school children pray at the beginning of each class day, professors at UP (a state university) send their students to Opus Dei rallies, and Santo Niņo shrines adorn every government office. The Philippine Church knows the union of Church and State to be the solid basis of its influence and power, and no Church dignitary ever says or does anything only as an individual.

Thus, the Catholic Church appears to have a strong hold on political and social power in the Philippines.

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January 26, 2011 at 4:45 pm
(1) romeo.macapobre says:

the link .. does not always match the theory: .. no longer works ;p more power

December 12, 2011 at 4:53 am
(2) Kim Orven says:

There is a case about a priest running for candidacy, in Pamil vs. Teleron but in that case it is undecided about priest candidacy

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