Tag Archive | "Kulo"

Another Prayer


The following was published in Manila Standard Today on August 27, 2011

If you respect the separation of church and state mandated by our Constitution, you can find better ways to start Senate hearings than saying a prayer. Yet this is just what our senators do, and the start of the debates on the reproductive health bill were no different.

What bothers me more than the fact that a prayer was said in a supposedly secular setting was what the prayer implied, politically.

The prayer was supposed to be led by Senator Panfilo Lacson, but because of problems with his voice, he asked Senator Vicente Sotto to do it in his place. Considering the content of the prayer, I’m sure Sotto was more than happy to oblige.

The prayer was originally delivered in 1996 by American Pastor Joe Wright to the Kansas House of Representatives. Legislators, including the House minority leader, criticized the prayer for its “extreme, radical” views. At least one legislator walked out. When the same prayer was said in the Colorado House of Representatives later that year, more legislators were angered; several walked out.

The reaction of our own senators to the same prayer was apathy—it was just another prayer. But senators who respect secularism, especially those who support the reproductive health bill, should have reacted at least as strongly as the American legislators did.

Not only is the prayer sectarian, it’s also anti-choice, and therefore, anti-RH. Here it is in full:

Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and seek your direction and guidance. We know your Word says, “Woe to those who call evil good,” but that’s exactly what we’ve done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values.

We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of your Word and called it moral pluralism.

We have worshipped other gods and called it multi-culturalism.

We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.

We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.

We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation.

We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.

We have killed our unborn and called it choice.

We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.

We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building esteem.

We have abused power and called it political savvy.

We have coveted our neighbors’ possessions and called it ambition.

We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.

We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our fore-fathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us O God and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.

Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of Kansas, and who have been ordained by you, to govern this great state. Grant them your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of your will. I ask it in the name of your son, the living savior, Jesus Christ. Amen

What do these words imply?

“Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and seek your direction and guidance. We know your Word says, ‘Woe to those who call evil good,’ but that’s exactly what we’ve done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values.”

Right from the start, the prayer privileges Judeo-Christian religions over non-Abrahamic ones. It implies that talk on good and evil should be done in religious terms, and it precludes the possibility of secular morality.

“We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of your Word and called it moral pluralism.”

This implies that the Christian Bible is the basis for truth, and that pluralism —respecting the beliefs of many religions instead of just one—is bad.

“We have worshipped other gods and called it multi-culturalism.”

So belonging to religions other than Christianity is wrong?

“We have killed our unborn and called it choice.”

Although our senators do not support killing the unborn, this statement frames the discourse by associating choice with abortion, a tactic frequently used by anti-RH legislators and advocates.

“We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.”

This part is more relevant to a previous Senate hearing on the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ “Kulo” issue. Just the same, it privileges the Christian perspective as the arbiter of what’s profane and pornographic.

“We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.”

This implies that the “time-honored values” criticized by the Enlightenment —theocracy, anti-rationalism, clericalism, etc.—are better than Enlightenment values—democracy, rationalism, secularism.

“I ask it in the name of your son, the living savior, Jesus Christ.”

Although most senators are Christian, the content of the prayer promotes a particular brand of conservative Christianity. What’s worse, the prayer completely ignores the beliefs of Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and other non-Christian Filipinos our legislators are equally obligated to represent.

After Sotto concluded the prayer, not a single senator walked out. As far as I know, none have criticized it. Instead the other senators reverently made the sign of the cross and raised their bowed heads—like they always do. After all, it was just another prayer.

Posted in Politics, ReligionComments (125)

God Goes to a Freedom of Expression Rally


To the protesters of the artwork “Poleteismo,”

The universe is composed of millions and millions of galaxies. Inside a single galaxy are millions and millions of solar systems. In one solar system, among millions, there is a star Earthlings call the sun. Around that sun are several planets. One of those planets is called Earth. The planet Earth has around 6.94 billion people.

The planet Earth has several continents. One of those continents is called Asia. Somewhere in Southeast Asia you can find a country called the Philippines. The Philippines has 7,107 islands. Sometimes it has 7,108, depending on the tide or depending on my mood. Those islands are divided into three areas – Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

In Luzon, there is a city called Manila. In that city, there was an exhibit. In that exhibit, one artist displayed an artwork that was blasphemous.

So fucking what?

Gentlemen, I run the universe. Do you really think I’d give a fuck about one artwork, by one artist, in one exhibit, in one city, in one country, in one continent, in one planet, in one solar system, when I have billions of galaxies to worry about?

I’m God, dude. Like I told you in my last letter to mankind, I don’t sweat the small stuff because I have important things to do: plagues, diseases, earthquakes, epic, shock-and-awe, apocalyptic, God stuff.

Imagine a droplet of pee hanging at the edge of the rim of a random toilet bowl. Now, imagine that in that droplet of pee are millions of tiny little germs. Now, imagine that one germ from those million germs makes an artwork you do not appreciate. Are you going to go there and punish that germ?

You wouldn’t, right? Because the germ is so amazingly irrelevant, inconsequential, insignificant and unimportant to your existence that you would be embarrassed to even think of considering feeling even slightly bothered about some germ.

You know how you feel about the germ’s art? That’s how I feel about the “blasphemous” exhibit.

I am not offended.

In fact, I don’t care at all.

So, stop praying about how I should send fireballs from the sky and blow up some art because some dude put my image in vain. I told you, praying doesn’t work. I have a divine plan and my plan is divine so it’s better than your plan, so shut up.

I mean, seriously, do you think that the creator of the universe and a million galaxies would be “offended” by an artwork?

Just to show you how annoyed I am at these assumptions, I went out of my way and descended from heaven to attend the “free speech” rally myself.

I was there.

When I first got there, I was told that the march might not push through because of the rain. So, I was like, “Nah! I’ll handle that.” So, that’s me stopping the rain:

I was also introduced to Mideo Cruz. He was like, “I’m sorry if you were offended Jesus, there was a statement I wanted to make so I had to use your image in vain.” I was like, “Don’t worry about it, dude. Blasphemy is a human right.” So, that’s me forgiving Mideo Cruz:

That’s me NOT being offended:

That’s me being handsome:

That’s me having a little chat with Kenneth Keng. He’s like, “Hey Jesus, I’m a Christian.” I’m like, “Awesome, man. We’ll hang out later.” That guy on my left is Red Tani. He doesn’t talk to me. We will not “hang out” later:

I’m just kidding, people. I’m not really God.

I’m just some dude dressed up like this guy:

I seriously wanted to dress up like God, unfortunately, I didn’t know what God looked like. I’ve never seen Him before. Have you? See, when you accuse someone of using God’s image in vain, the premise has to be that you know what God’s image looks like, right?

So, tell me, what does God look like?

Posted in Humor, Religion, SocietyComments (6)

Filipino Freethinkers March in Solidarity with Palayain ang Sining


 

(August 21, 2011) Cultural Center of the Philippines, Pasay City – The Filipino Freethinkers marched with Palayain ang Sining to commemorate Kulo’s now-thwarted closing day, and to show solidarity with our country’s fearless and passionate artistic community. Filipino Freethinkers brought placards that, among other things, said the following:

One man’s belief is another man’s blasphemy.
“I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” – Voltaire
Censorship is so 12th century.
Censorship is offensive.
Censorship: protecting you from reality.
Blasphemy is a human right – United Nations
One freethinker marched in a Jesus costume and held a sign that said, “I am not offended.”

“The issue has definitely riled up individuals both in and out of the artistic community,” said Kenneth Keng, spokesperson of Filipino Freethinkers.

“It’s a reminder of our intrinsic right to freedom of expression,” said Keng. “In light of the UN’s affirmation that blasphemy is indeed a human right, it couldn’t have come at a more poignant time.”

Garrick Bercero of Filipino Freethinkers expounded on UN’s affirmation, at the same time reminding enemies of free speech of the resolution’s importance:

“It is encouraging that more enlightened bodies such as the Human Rights Council of the United Nations has released General Comment No. 34, which affirms the superiority of the right to free speech over the so-called right against blasphemy. Sorry, Atty. Imbong. General Comment No. 34 was put out by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), of which the Philippines is a member. As a signatory and ratifier, the Philippines is legally bound by international law to follow GC34.

“Members of the ICCPR are required ‘to guarantee the right to freedom of expression… This right includes… political discourse, commentary on one’s own and on public affairs, canvassing, discussion of human rights, journalism, cultural and artistic expression, teaching, and religious discourse. It may also include commercial advertising.’ The comment instructs members to embrace ‘even expression that may be regarded as deeply offensive….’”

For news coverage of the event, click here.

Image courtesy of GMA News

Posted in Press ReleasesComments (2)

Palayain ang Sining! A Solidarity March for Freedom of Expression


Calling all Freethinkers!

August 21, Sunday, was supposed to be the last day of the Kulo Exhibit, but due to all the furor surrounding Mideo Cruz’s Poleteismo,it has been regrettably shut down. The issue has definitely riled up individuals both in and out of the artistic community, reminding them of our intrinsic right to freedom of speech and expression. And in light of the UN’s affirmation that blasphemy is indeed a human right(http://filipinofreethinkers.org/2011/08/14/un-affirms-blasphemy-as-a-human-right/), it couldn’t have come at a more poignant time.

In commemoration of Kulo’s now-thwarted closing day, and to show our solidarity with our country’s fearless and passionate artistic community, a march for freedom of expression will take place on the afternoon of the 21st.

Marchers will congregate at the side entrance of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (across the Harbor Square-side parking lot) at 1 PM, and will march up the center’s main ramp. Bring banners, placards, small artworks, and your own unique way of supporting the freedom of expression, and rejecting censorship and persecution. Please wear white.

For coordination, you can text Kenneth Keng at 09179681387.

We’ll see you there!

Posted in AnnouncementsComments (0)

This is Not a Church?


The following is a note on the forum entitled Dakdakan: Kulo, which was held last August 5 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Main Gallery regarding the controversy surrounding Mideo Cruz’s artwork. It was written by the CCP’s Visual Arts Officer-in-Charge Karen Ocampo Flores, who has permitted us to publish it on the site. 

Maraming salamat.  I’m certain there were true believers there who simply came to express their reactions.  This forum was formed to hear you out.

Maraming salamat, artists, students and other supporters.  Your presence helped achieve balance.

Kaso, SIMBAHAN PALA ITO! It wasn’t about art.  It wasn’t about religion.  It was really about politics.

We expected devotees coming in with their grievances.  But this group was something else. They came ready, they were organized (clapping cues included) and they are well-honed bullies.

I agreed with Precious Leano, our moderator, that to prevent tensions, she will regulate the forum by allowing only one-way talks by each speaker.  The rule was: no responses, no debates, no profanities.

Even with that, we were surprised by the first burst of rudeness. We were in effect told to shut up as we opened the forum with slides about “Kulo” and some points on the VA policies for exhibit proposals.  We shouldn’t make them wait.  Did I say, “Ayaw nyo ba ng forum?”  They were eager beaver for it.   “This is about that work, anyway” one began impatiently, pointing to “Poleteismo.”

Thus the Mideo-bashing and all the horrors and sins of the work in question began. They had their statements in print (same things they’ve been giving out in media). And they were performing to the cameras.  Fire, brimstone, ice, meron ding boses na matubig, na malumanay.  They worked with every ingredient laced with intimidation.

Good thing, I could hardly speak anymore (dry mouth and sore throat had set in).  Good thing, Precious was an assertive moderator.  It was so hard to follow the rules.

But some people seemed to be very used to these people’s (because they keep calling us ‘you people’) antics.  Thank you for coming, Filipino Freethinkers, you helped meet the first barrage.  Thank you, Concerned Artists of the Philippines for reading your statement of support.

So why did this forum turn into a tacit skirmish?  Because it was for them a takeover.  They ARE really telling us what to do.  It’s not a debate about art, it’s not a debate about religion: it’s about imposing their power on the CCP.  Mandates on art and culture, easy enough to subject to their virtuous interpretations, then yup, dig up an old 70s law.  Same with VA policies replete with niceties– oh yes, so bad of us not to be so nice to 85%  majority.  There, may the fear of prision mayor or the ombudsman be with you for risking the rights and welfare of the dominant religion.  CCP is fair game for their strategies to frame the RH stance within this great drama about art attacking religion.

We have seen riskier art with religious images at the CCP and other galleries;  people complained, but never at a scale such as this.  Why?  Because back then only the artist gains from the attention.

Now they have a big stake once they establish that the CCP as a government institution made a mistake in the same way that RH should be a big mistake.  So that’s why we keep getting that from out of the blue; that’s why they keep insisting that we’re doing RH even if it was an exhibit that identifies with Rizal’s conflicts with the UST.  If we were presenting RH, we would say so.

Hence the ultimatum was not simply to stop the exhibit.  They kept repeating the need for amends, for apology; that we should admit we made a mistake.  They didn’t need that from Mideo.  They want it from CCP.  And good old CBCP need not even make a statement.  It simply had to take the artist’s hand gently and ask him: why?

Am I offending a religion?  Oh, I was simply reflecting on a forum.

Posted in Personal, Politics, Religion, SocietyComments (2)


Facebook.com/Freethinkers