(An excommunication party organized by the Filipino Freethinkers, November 26, 2010.)
Welcome, everyone—atheists, agnostics, deists, humanists, Wiccans, Catholics and all other religious friends.
Let me start by qualifying the word, “Catholic”. Last week, Mr. Eric Manalang, President of Pro-Life Philippines, said to those of you who went to the Manila Cathedral that you are not “Catholics in the sense of real Catholics, you are dissident Catholics, what are you freethinkers?”
By this reasoning the majority of Philippine Catholics, who according to reliable surveys support the reproductive heath bill, are also bogus. If such is the case, the Roman Catholic religion has just become a minority religion in the country.
But lest I be accused of disrespect, I want to wish our Catholic comrades well in their fight to democratize their Church and return their faith to values truly worthy of Christ. I doubt very much that Christ would approve of Manalang's taunt from the steps of the Manila Cathedral, “You tell your mother to abort you!”
While I am on this topic, the Roman Catholic Church is in an uproar over Pope Benedict's remarks that condoms are now acceptable if the intent is to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. I hope that this concession that real problems happen outside the fantasy land of religious dogma on sexuality, can be brought to a logical conclusion. If the goal is to protect from infection, then all men should just use a condom. Given what we know of human sexual behavior, few of us can be certain of our partners' HIV status.
Permit me now, a moment of confession. I find making opening remarks somewhat wearisome. Recently, I have had to do more openings than I prefer.
Yet I insisted that I open tonight's festivities. During the preparations for this party, I was a shameless publicity hound. It is an honor to open the very first excommunication party ever. I want to claim ownership of this idea. The idea of requesting excommunication as a sign of support for the RH bill, had been thought of by several people independently. But I may be the first to think of “party”. I am tickled pink that I will now have a new image---from nerd to party animal.
Many of you know that I am an agnostic. When I was born, my parents were both agnostics. This is my identity and moral tradition. Unfortunately, pushy relatives prevailed upon my parents to baptize me. I used to think of my baptism as a trivial matter, not even of real interest to me. Yet it has become a burdensome truth each time the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines claims to speak for millions of Catholics. Those of us gathered here know, that which Mr. Eric Manalang wished to imply. Millions of those counted as Catholics are nominal Catholics.
I will no longer be spoken for by the bigoted. I seek excommunication and welcome it!
I stand to be counted with you here tonight and with those who wanted to come but could not (as we seemed to have filled the place, among other things). I will be counted among the tolerant, the thoughtful and the moral. I will stand for human rights including sexual and reproductive rights.
In behalf of the Filipino Freethinkers, particularly its Diliman chapter, I thank you for being here and formally open this party.
*Revised and edited prior to posting.
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