Sunday, October 03, 2010

On Violating the Separation of Church and State (Part 2)

In continuation of the discussion I referred to in my previous post, my friend gave this response:

I explained how D does not violate a person's right to practice his/her religion. Again, the RH bill would only make access to contraceptives easier to people. It would not force them to use contraceptives which would be against their religious beliefs. I would like you to explain how D violates the separation of church and state to contradict my statement. 
About the CBCP having a voice about the government, I would like to explain again that separation goes both ways. Since you like letters, an object A (let's call this the state) cannot be separated from object B (the church) if object B keeps on meddling with what object A does. If the State does not comment on how church should handle its followers then the church should equally not be allowed to meddle in how the state governs the people. I'm not against bishops voicing out their opinions as individuals, but when they, as a whole, use the name of the church as their identity would be violation of the separation of church and state.

My response:

You did not think about Exhibit D very thoroughly. It is not an unknown occurrence in Leftist countries for Catholic establishments to be persecuted and closed down by the government for not complying with laws that are against Catholic moral conscience. On one hand, the government does have the obligation to enforce its laws, and so the RH bill, if passed, will be used to enforce the contraceptive distribution policies in *all* health care establishments. On the other hand, such laws that would legally persecute a business-owner for following his religion is a violation of the principle of the separation of Church and State.

Speaking of which, you are still muddled about the separation of Church and State thing. Philippine legislators are in no way legally bound to give in to any kind of meddling. Anyone can meddle all they want (in fact it is their right!), but the act of actually legislating is the sole responsibility of the legislative branch of government. Your argument that meddling renders A inseparable from B is therefore false to facts; A has always been able to ignore B's meddling if he so wants. That's why we have condoms of all kinds legally sold in the country despite the Church's meddling. Or do you claim that non-religious kinds of "meddling", like the lobbying done by various secular groups, should also be banned?

And, forgive me, but your suggested compromise is rather baffling. Are you saying that non-religious groups may lobby as a collective, but the bishops cannot? What is your basis? You may daydream all you want about the the destruction of the Catholic bishops' right to form a conference in this country, but it won't make it a reality.

Finally, what is your answer to my Exhibit C? Do we not have the right to protest to the government if it is trying to use the tax money of the people to promote acts that we denounce as immoral? As contraception is legal in the Philippines, people have the right to choose it if they want, but God forbid I help them with my own money, or that my money goes to actually spreading the practice!