As expected, President Rodrigo Duterte received backlash after his recent tirade on the biblical creation story that is a pivotal part of Catholic doctrine, the belief of arguably a majority of those who voted for him.
Supported by some sects but critical of the largest church in the country, the statement reveals the chief executive’s fluctuating relationship with the religious sector.
A complicated relationship
Duterte’s recent comments on the Creator’s treatment of the biblical Adam and Eve has riled up not just the Catholic Church and its faithful, but colleagues in the government.
“Who is this stupid God? Estupido talaga itong p***** i** kung ganun,” said Duterte while commenting about temptation of Adam and Eve in the biblical creation story during a speech in Davao City. The president was questioning why the Tree of Knowledge was placed in the Garden of Eden in the first place.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, one of the president’s most vocal critics in the Congress, in a statement called Duterte “an evil man” following the controversial comments made during a recent speech.
Even allies of the President have called him out for his comments. In a statement, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a known supporter of a number of the administration’s policies, hoped for God to “forgive” the President.
Sen. Lacson on the President's reported remarks against God pic.twitter.com/bkK1odjTLj
— Office of Sen. Ping Lacson (@senatorlacson) June 24, 2018
“Between him and my God to Whom I pray every single day and with Whom I’ve found solace and comfort in all my difficult times, I don’t even have to think of my choice,” Lacson said.
Church groups and supporters have called out the head of state for the statement, saying that he “crossed the line” for the tirade.
Private citizens, meanwhile, have recalled how Duterte’s stance on the Christian God used to be much warmer not so long ago.
Duterte 2016: God made me President
Duterte 2018: Who is this stupid God? pic.twitter.com/nZT1ihPI7W
— K (@Legally_K) June 23, 2018
Just after his landslide victory in the May 2016 presidential race, Duterte clarified public speculation on his religious beliefs by saying that while he believed in God, he did not believe in organized religion.
In September 2016, Duterte publicly questioned the existence of the Almighty.
“So, where is God when a one-year-old baby…18-month…year-old baby is taken from the mother’s arms brought under a jeep and raped and killed. So where is God?“, said Duterte while defending his support for the return of the death penalty.
A month later, he credited his victory in the presidential race to God, as reported by the Inquirer. This was followed by a promise to his maker to curb his use of profanity, saying “a promise to God is a promise to the Filipino people.”
In January 2017, Duterte received some criticism after hurling invectives at the Catholic Church while discussing alleged corruption among bishops during the Arroyo administration.
Since then, the president was heavily criticized by church leaders who oppose his war on drugs.
Despite his rhetorical statements on the existence of a divine power and shaky relationship with the Catholic Church, which he belongs to as a nominal member, Duterte is known to have received much support from a number of religious groups.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque has defended Duterte, citing the president’s right to his own religious belief and trauma from alleged sexual harassment by a Catholic priest during his younger days.
Despite his criticism of a number of clergymen, Duterte in a recent speech claimed that he still respected the church.