Inviolable wall of separation | Inquirer Opinion

Inviolable wall of separation

/ 10:34 PM August 02, 2011

In his “God in politics,” Prof. Randy David, a highly respected Inquirer columnist, asserted—apparently to bolster the arguments against the RH bill—that the Constitution guarantees the full exercise of religious freedom and provides that the State shall not establish any religion. “Nothing in this provision bars the expression of religious beliefs on matters that are considered political. Indeed, nothing in this provision prohibits the clergy from running for public office.” (Inquirer, 5/26/11)

Fortunately, there is such a provision, a most fundamental one. The Constitution provides: “The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable.” (Article II, Sec. 6) The command is categorical and unequivocal. The Church is simply barred from interfering with the affairs of the State, and vice versa. Whether we like or not, the Church is constitutionally forbidden to meddle in state policies and initiatives, such as population control program, sex education, RH bill and divorce.

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Even under the 1935 Constitution, authors and constitutionalists like Recto, Tañada, Carreon, Cruz maintained that a “wall of separation” exists between Church and State, rendering, as articulated before by David, unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. The 1973 Charter, then the 1987 Constitution, finally made this separation “inviolable.”

Coincidentally, the professor’s view on Church and State echoes that of Fr. Joaquin Bernas’, a noted constitutionalist. Seemingly allergic to the RH bill like David, Bernas also failed to mention the aforequoted Sec. 6 of Article II in at least two instances in his discussions on the separation of Church and State. When a reader pointed out this oversight, Bernas pontificated that the provision was a “superfluity”; hence, freedom of religion would overrule the more fundamental precept of separation, to allow prelates, like a cardinal, to run for public office.

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Obviously, Bernas’ contention of “superfluity” could not be sustained because, firstly, it would render the other basic principles and state policies in Article II mere surplusages too; secondly, Bernas was a member of the Constitutional Commission and should have excised redundant provisions; and thirdly, his opinion would radically change the form of our government

without formal amendments.

The dream of the two gentlemen is anathema to the fundamental law. They ache for the resurrection of obsolete notions of priest—king, cardinal-statesman, pope-general, god-emperor. Their liberal position on religious freedom is a subtle prescription for theocracy—an aberration of possibly installing a cardinal-president, for the first time in history, in our hapless country.

—NELSON D. LAVIÑA,

retired ambassador, [email protected]

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TAGS: church, Constitution, Letters to the Editor, Religion, Reproductive Health Bill
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