Excommunicate Me! November 18, 2010

Excommunicate Me!

In the Philippines, there’s a Reproductive Health (RH) bill that will be presented to the Congressional Committee of Population and Family Relations next week. It’s a response to the country’s rapidly growing population.

The bill, which proposes national funding for, and access to, reproductive healthcare services and products like birth control pills and condoms, has stalled in legislative debate for close to 15 years.

Birth control and condoms? Sounds perfectly reasonable… so guess who’s against it?

The Catholic Church, which holds sway over at least 80 percent of the population identified as Catholic, remains strongly opposed to the bill, considering all modern forms of contraception abortifacients.

In fact, the Church has threatened to excommunicate politicians who support the bill.

So the Filipino Freethinkers came back with a wonderful response 🙂

… a group of campaigners, led by the NGO Filipino Freethinkers, which promotes secularism, is hosting an “ex-communication party” on 26 November.

“The CBCP threatens to ex-communicate politicians who support the RH bill. They [pro-RH legislators] are willing to risk being excommunicated from the church; so are we,” said the group’s president, Ryan Tani, adding: “We are tired of the political and religious bullying of the Catholic Church.”

Bravo, Filipino Freethinkers, bravo.

The Excommunication Party takes place a little over a week from now.

Together with the various individuals and organizations that support the RH Bill, let us each declare:

“If supporting the RH bill means excommunication, then excommunicate me!”

That’s some great marketing… I hope it takes off.

“I was Excommunicated and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.”

“Kiss me! I’m Excommunicated!”

“Betcha can’t Excommunicate just one.”

It’s the least threatening thing Catholics can do to you. They’d be doing you a favor, really. Let’s hope this bill passes despite the ranting from the Church.

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  • flatlander100

    Things used to be different among American Catholics and church involvement in elections. More than half a century ago now, when I was growing up on Long Island, NY, there was a political brawl over whether public money should be used to provide public school bus service for students attending parochial [almost exclusively Catholic] schools. The local bishop sent out a pastoral letter to be read from every pulpit the Sunday before a state legislative election, admonishing Catholics not to vote for any candidate who did not approve public school buses serving parochial schools. In our district, the race had been called very close between an pro- and a con- candidate. Until the Bishop’s pastoral letter was read out, at which point the polls [and vote] swung heavily in favor of the candidate who opposed providing public buses for parochial schools. And much of the shift involved Catholic voters, including my dad, who left church that day, steaming, saying “no damned priest is going to tell ME how to vote.” He was not alone.

    Healthy approach to church meddling in elections, I thought. Seems to be different now in the US. We’ll see how it is in the Phillipines.

  • The horrors!

    Ximinez: So you think you are strong because you can survive the soft cushions. Well, we shall see. Biggles! Put her in the Comfy Chair!

    Ximinez [with a cruel leer]: Now — you will stay in the Comfy Chair until lunch time, with only a cup of coffee at eleven. [aside, to Biggles] Is that really all it is?

    Biggles: Yes, lord.

    Ximinez: I see. I suppose we make it worse by shouting a lot, do we? Confess, woman. Confess! Confess! Confess! Confess

  • Darwin’s Dagger

    You can’t excommunicate me, I excommuniquit!

  • Richard Wade

    Huzza for the Filipino Freethinkers! I’ve been so impressed by the energy and positive spirit of this group.

    Yes, call the Church’s bluff. Break the spell. If the worst they can do to you is to say “You can’t be in our club any more, nyah nyah nyahhhh!” Then tell them to go ahead.

    Overpopulation is at the root of just about all major social, economic, environmental and health challenges facing us around the globe. We must voluntarily limit our numbers or nature will do it for us in very unpleasant ways. Major population drops will happen in our lifetimes, either under our control or not.

    The Catholic Church has adopted the insect strategy for dominance over the last few centuries, laying thousands of eggs at a time and promoting large numbers of offspring with the trade-off of high mortality. The human toll of poverty, ignorance, famine, disease and high infant mortality is completely acceptable to the Church, as long as the Church as a whole continues to gain hegemony. Individual suffering is unimportant and immaterial to them.

    This strategy had merit centuries ago, but the world is overflowing with people now. Old models no longer apply.

  • Everybody’s always so fired-up up going ‘green’, sustainability, feeding the hungry, making sure all the babies get immunization shots, etc, but the REAL issue is to get people to stop reproducing. Can you imagine how much better the world would be if we were to cut our reproduction rates in half over the next thirty years? Instead of throwing billions of dollars at the threat of disease or hunger or tainted water, we should be educating people on the importance of not breeding! This begins with the passage of reproductive health bills like this one in the Philippines.

  • Ah, yes. This all sounds so very reasonable. Once again, the Catholic Church which “holds sway” over 80% of the population is to blame. The Catholic Church, that political and religious bully!, is the real problem, here.

    I mean, who DOESN’T want to get excommunicated?!

    The only reasonable thing about this post is that an atheist thinks excommunication is a good thing.

  • I just finished reading Carl Sagan’s Cosmos (I always meant to get around to it; I should’ve read it long ago) – he had a pretty good argument why, if we want to ever have hope of surviving as a species and advancing outward from this planet, zero population growth was something we should strive toward.

    Between that, and his chilling arguments against the nuclear weapon threat, and seeing where we are today, this teeter-totter isn’t looking like a good ride any longer. Our politicians here in America are still arguing over START, like its some kind of “game”! Its an existential crisis, ultimately.

    …and now, humankind has managed to trap and hold on to (for a brief amount of time) 38 atoms of hydrogen anti-matter. Don’t get me wrong, this is wonderful news – if we were truely a rational species with humanism as a core value.

  • I think an exchange program is in order.
    Here in Ireland, you see, the RCC has stopped accepting defections. In the Phillipines, they are looking to excommunicate people. Anyone else see potential for a bit of swappage here? 😉

  • Tim

    I apologize in advance for being oblivious to many customs of the Catholic faith but are there newsletters or retracted special rights that actually constitutes being excommunicated? If someone does not agree with the main precepts that their church is teaching as divine truth, the person is not really a part of that church anyway. Why is there a need or desire for “official excommunication”?

  • The Philippines knows how to hold good riots and protests, too. Might get interesting.

  • That’s f’ing awesome…

    Got to fill those pews somehow, and I guess that cant talk people into joining so they have to rely on childhood indoctrination.

  • Jeiel Aranal

    Thanks for posting about our event, I like those taglines for the party!

    @considertheteacosy: ahh but one thing remains constant between the RCC of our two countries. They protect child rapists equally. Sigh.

  • drowsypoppy

    Sounds like those people who can’t get their baptism records wiped have found a loophole!

  • Hemant, Richard, thanks as always for your support 🙂 We’ve been more public as a group lately, and this event is a milestone — no turning back from here. We’ll need all the help we can get — the Catholic Church hierarchy does hold considerable influence. But the great thing is, freethinkers of all sorts have been stepping up and accepting the challenge 🙂

  • @Elizabeth

    A bully in more ways than one.

    The local churches have consistently blocked any attempts at a proper Reproductive Health program here in RP, either through demanding dialogue with the Gov’t as if it represented the morals of the rest of the country, or by threatening Catholic congressmen who supported the bill by turning their voter blocs against them, or with outright excommunication.

    One of their recent screeds was accusing the RH program was that it would make us a lapdog for foreign interests and the UN, which I find rather ironic given that their bishops take their orders from the Vatican – another foreign power.

    Bullying is an understatement. It’s like trying to deal with a Mafia in drag.

  • ElizabethEsther – you may have been sarcastic when you said “The Catholic Church, that political and religious bully!, is the real problem, here”, but before you unleash the snark, try walking a few miles in our shoes, here in the Philippines.

    The Catholic Church exerts a level of political power in the Philippines that your evangelical preachers in the U.S. can only dream about. Divorce and abortion are illegal in the Philippines. Even getting government clinics to provide artificial contraception is a BIG struggle, as many politicians rely on the good graces of the local bishops for votes, and are wary of supporting anything that the Catholic Church opposes.

    That’s why you have the City of Manila banning contraceptives, and firing doctors who prescribe them. And for years, the last President ordered government clinics to ONLY provide natural family planning methods, excluding pills and condoms.

    This is not a small matter, as a great majority of the population cannot afford to go to private hospitals, and rely on government facilities and resources for their well-being. We’re talking about people who have difficulty feeding their kids, do you think they have any motivation to dig a little more into their sparse home budgets for pills?

    It’s no exaggeration that the Catholic Church’s retrograde policies on contraception and family planning are mostly responsible for the huge population in the Philippines, which our government is currently straining to support.

    Yeah, I get it that you’re sympathetic to the Catholic Church, but please do try to check the situation before you snark – it helps you not look stupid before people who live with the situation every day.

  • Peter Mahoney

    Awesome. LOVE IT. “Ex-communicate me” parties! They should bring the hair-dryer labeled “Reason” and do the De-baptisms while they are at it!

    Keep up the great work, Filipino Freethinkers! All it takes is a few brave folks on the forefront to show the RCC that their bluff is as silly as their faith, then others realize that the Church can be openly questioned/challenged/criticized, thus breaking the spell, and eventually (although never soon enough) things will reach a tipping point where reason reigns over ancient superstitions.

  • Thanks for the support!

    Unlike the US where even Priests and the Church can be held more accountable, in the Philippines we can’t even settle a sex abuse case. Here is another link.

    That’s how much unchecked power the Catholic Church has.

  • @Nikolas

    From your link:

    She said she finally summoned the courage to complain against Pardillada when he got her pregnant twice and forced her to abort the babies. She said she also suffered one miscarriage.

    They certainly don’t practice what they preach, do they?

  • For the first time in my life I wish I was Catholic and Filipino.
    Kudos to my Filipino atheist brothers.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been reading a bit about the politics in the Philippines vs the Catholic Church – it’s been fascinating. Good luck to y’all!

    Sounds like those people who can’t get their baptism records wiped have found a loophole!

    LOL. My thoughts exactly.

  • Just a little extra added context – a few months back, a Bishop mentioned excommunication as a “proximate possibility” for the President should he support the pending Reproductive Health Bill. Yeah, the Catholic Church, that bully (elbows ElizabethEsther).

  • yes, the RCC is an evil institution. as the saying goes, ‘evil must be opposed.’ i wish you the best of luck, freethinkers.

    in the end, most women of any faith (or not) want reproductive control. that’s really the best way to go about this: get the women on board, and more will follow. mothers in particular. no mother wants to watch her child die of starvation when a simple pill can grant her the freedom to avoid that.

  • Valhar2000

    Actually, was ElizabethEsther being snarky? I’ve read her comment several times already and I simply cannot make sense of it at all. I gather that she disapproves of Hemant’s post in some way, but more than that I cannot fathom.

    ElizabethEsther, could you clarify your comment for me? Could one of the more perceptive commenters on this thread translate ElizabethEsther’s comment for me?

    On another note, well done Filipino Freethinkers! You guys have figurative balls of steel!

  • lol! I think the clueless as always Catholic Church is overestimating the number of people who care about being excommunicated!

  • @chicago dyke: I agree that we should get the women on board. However, based on the local context that Twin-Skies and micketymoc presented, even the local womens’ groups can’t go full force. Abortion is an talking point they try to avoid (understandably for tactical reasons), and at times when they organize forums to come up with policy suggestions, there’s always the Catholic hierarchy as the elephant-in-the-room.

    However, by igniting the culture war with our current initiatives, we hope to change the playing field soon. It’s a nice feeling to be on the offensive now. 🙂

  • Ben Finney

    Sounds like those people who can’t get their baptism records wiped have found a loophole!

    I highly doubt that. The Church will still count the person as Catholic and use them to boast of huge membership, even after the person is excommunicated.

  • Valhar2000 – she’s a Roman Catholic recovering from fundamentalism, make of that what you will. On the other hand, many of us in Filipino Freethinkers are recovering from Catholicism, make of that what you will. 😉

  • Boccko

    Hello, Church, this is the Exponential Function. Exponential Function, this is Church. Please be aquainted.

    Church: I’m sorry, but I do not believe in Exponential Function.

  • Ricardo da Silva

    If supporting the RH bill means excommunication, then excommunicate me!
    I join Filipino freethinkers. Count me in.
    The Leaders of the Roman Catholic Church must know some facts.

    Contraception does not kill.
    Only abortion kills.
    Never-married Catholic leaders do not understand how to pregnant, how to give birth a child, how to raise a child etc etc.
    Never-married Catholic leaders do not understand married Catholic couples’ life.
    Catholic leaders force married lay Catholics not to use artificial contraception.
    My sister once said that nieces of Pope may use artificial contraception without obeying their uncle.

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