It is quite clear that in an allegedly secular nation, politicians here in the Philippines are largely guided by their religion, which is more often than not Roman Catholicism. This is evident from the chapels in public institutions such as Philippine Science High School to the President’s “advisers” that invariably include at least one man of the cloth. And, there is truly no cause for complaint, if Roman Catholicism is, in fact, the one true religion.
If you allow that no politician is simply abusing the gullibility of their constituents and that they actually believe in the truth of Roman Catholicism, then the people who govern us are simply running on what they think are accurate observations of the universe. Every prayer before Congress and every “year of our Lord” in Presidential Proclamations are not mere statements of opinion or rhetorical flourishes, these are reiterations of accepted facts. Or, rather, “facts.”
The claims of the religious, whether moral or theological, are factual claims. For the former, moral claims are facts about conscious experience. For the latter, theological claims are facts about how the universe in general operates. Both are claims about how material stuff (particles and such) interact with the world.
Avoiding the unimpressive arguments for the existence of the specific Catholic flavor of Yahweh, let us, like millions of Filipinos, simply take this on faith. How would the much-desired fully-realized Catholic Nation of the Philippines look?
For a start, all faith-based holidays not in the Roman Catholic calendar will be erased. This is because the truth of Catholicism necessarily negates the contradictory truth claims of all other religions, from similar Paganism to largely foreign Hinduism. This shouldn’t worry kids who pray for school cancellations since there’s still pretty much a saint for anything and any day. Secular holidays such as Labor Day may continue to exist, but in the form of feasts for one of the myriad saints “venerated” by Catholics. It may perhaps be replaced by a day for Saint Joseph the Carpenter, a model laborer and cuckold, or for Saint Matthew the Tax Collector, to remind us of the price of civilization.
A Catholic Nation of the Philippines would be different from the Vatican in that it would be a real state—with a permanent population, a defined territory, a functioning government, and a real capacity for diplomatic relations with other states. These are the criteria for statehood set out by international law, which the Vatican arguably does not meet.
Assuming that the Catholic Nation of the Philippines will continue with its sham democracy label (as it does now), there will be an entirely new branch of government to buttress the executive, legislative, and judicial branches—the ecclesiastical. This branch will oversee all actions of the government to make sure that they are in line with the will of God. The head of this branch will be the person who is most keen to discern that will, most likely a Cardinal (someone who God “communicates” with, on matters such as who deserves to be pope). This branch will also supplement (maybe event supplant) departments such as Education, Science and Technology, Health, Treasury, and Public Works and Highways, through prayer. It will hire battalions of “prayer warriors” in lieu of civil servants, since prayer would be enough anyway.
Perhaps surprisingly, religious freedom will have a place in a Catholic nation. Albeit, this will be limited to the private sphere. The Church no longer has any teachings advocating hate against other religions. They have already apologized for their indefensible establishment of the Crusades and the Inquisition. The humanism of the Enlightenment has seen to it that even our historically cruel religious institutions will find the torture and sadism of their past unthinkable. However, religious tests will be required of all members of government to ensure that the nation maintains its course following the will of God. While citizens may be free to believe anything in private, to hold beliefs contrary to Catholicism, when Catholicism is true, is like believing that circles have corners. It’s just absurd. Given the fact of Catholicism, religious freedom would exist as the freedom to be ignorant or insane.
Needless to say, most changes in our legal system will revolve around sex, the favorite whipping boy of Catholicism. Of course, all kinds of pharmaceutical birth control will be outlawed. And, given their definition of human personhood as beginning at some vague point called “when the sperm meets the egg”, all miscarriages will need to be investigated whether foul play was involved. All terminated pregnancies, whether intentional or not, will require death certificates for the unborn. Reflecting the Church’s “pro-life” stance, in vitro fertilization (IVF) will be illegal, and those who participate in it will be accessories to murder (since IVF involves fertilizing multiple eggs and discarding some embryos). Sex outside marriage will be expressly forbidden and periodical hymen checks for the unmarried will help enforce this law. Unwed women who no longer have hymens as a result of strenuous activity (such as horseback riding) or due to congenital or medical reasons will require permits to walk around with their ungodly genitals.
Homosexuality, as a “disordered sexual inclination”, will obviously be regulated. LGBT persons will be sent to ineffective psychiatric care. While they may remain homosexual in orientation, they cannot engage in “homosexual activity,” which will be illegal. Anti-sodomy laws will be passed and those suspected of homosexual activity will be prosecuted.
Like here in our universe, child rapists who happen to be priests will continue to enjoy impunity from the Catholic Church. The worst punishment, if any, they will ever receive would be removal from Holy Orders.
Jails and prisons will continue to exist, and the Philippines might even serve as the Vatican’s prison system (like Italy). Convicts will be forced to undergo religious counseling in order to save their souls (which will include the Sacrament of Penance for baptized Catholics).
But what exactly would a Catholic legal system protect us from? While earthly laws might be used to protect citizens from physical or material harm, Catholic laws will be constructed to protect citizens from hellfire. Dying or temporal suffering is trifling when compared to eternal torture. It would only be rational to true believers of hell to frame all laws in this context. If an act will lead to the eternal damnation of a citizen, it will be forbidden. Since Catholicism is true and all religions are false, the Catholic government’s control over you will not end in death. It will merely be continued by the true celestial dictator in the afterlife.
To accept the rule of Catholicism means that we must surrender our so-called liberties in this life for salvation in the next. The only true freedom is the freedom to choose God’s will over that of our own. This is what gets the monastics through their ascetic lifestyles. This justifies the personal sacrifices of those in religious orders, not to mention the torture and execution of heretics in the past. What is a hundred years in agony and discomfort if it means eternity in bliss? What is the point of establishing peace on Earth if it lasts only in a world that is destined to boil in five billion years from a dying expanding star? The true point of life here is to prove ourselves for the next.
What I’ve painted here is fictional, though I assert that it is not very far from how our world would look if we take Catholicism to its logical conclusions. Because of the cherry-picking of cafeteria Catholics who largely comprise the country, we can be thankful that this vision is rather unlikely. The Roman Catholic Church is far from the monolithic bloc of devotees the CBCP likes to present. We do not live in this disgusting world because most people who identify as Catholics are unconvinced of the orthodox conservative Catholic lifestyle choice of the minority, which is so vastly disconnected from the reality of temporal suffering and tangible well-being.
However, it is only fair to point out that if indeed Catholicism is the right religion, this vision would not be so bad, since it would deter people from acts that would lead to eternal damnation. But it is irredeemably repulsive if heaven does not. This would mean that the sacrifices conservative Catholics force upon pregnant victims of rape and victims of child indoctrination are wasted on nothing. This would mean that we would have to actually build a lasting society here on Earth and stop worrying about what God thinks about our private thoughts.
We have but one life to live. If the conservative Catholics are right, the best way to spend this life is in strict conformity with the will of God. If they are wrong, as tens of thousands of incompatible religions necessarily assert, then the best way to waste your life would be to listen to them and avoid enjoying this life.
Image Credit: Weird Worm