This is the very definition of Christian fascism. The people who came up with the ordinance are forcing their Christian agenda on everyone. And because it's a state-supported ordinance, the tricycle drivers have no choice but adhere to it or else they lose their license to ply the streets of Tagbilaran and earn a living.
Now, I'm sure there will be people who will be saying, "Bohol has a population that's composed mostly of Christians so it's okay for them to do so." But here's the thing: the Philippines is a secular country, at least it's supposed to be. Just because the majority believes in the Christian God doesn't mean laws and ordinances will be established based on their beliefs at the same time alienating the minority groups.
There's this thing called "separation of church and state". Needless to say, whoever came up with the ordinance requiring tricycle drivers to put Bible verses on their machines clearly don't understand this. Or they understand it but they think they can break it and escape with it. The Philippine Constitution clearly states that the state should not endorse a religious group. And it's mind-blowing to think that this ordinance has reportedly been around for over 20 years.
Let's say the tricycle drivers love putting the Bible verses on their cars. And Tagbilaran's population loves reading the verses while they commute. There doesn't seem to be any harm being done, right? Everybody's happy! Wrong. This is a secular country. The ordinance is violating the Constitution. And most important of all, there are people in the city who are not Christians. These people who are outside of the Christian faith, no matter how minuscule they are, are being alienated. Just because they aren't speaking out to criticize the ordinance doesn't mean they aren't there.
|Screengrab from a video by the Christian Broadcasting Network.|
This ordinance in Tagbilaran came to my attention after reading an article from the website of the Christian Broadcasting Network. The article carried the title "Mandatory Verses Have City Driving For Jesus". The tone of the article is of course celebratory because it's a Christian website for a Christian audience. And of course, the article didn't mention the fact that the ordinance is violating the law of the land and is infringing on the rights of others.
And it's scary how passive the article was in mentioning that those who don't follow the ordinance will be fined or have their license revoked as if fining a person for not adhering to the whims of a religion is the most common thing in the world. The article is bathed in perceived theistic privilege.
Imagine if a city in Southern Mindanao (the population of which is hypothetically composed mostly of Muslims) put out an ordinance requiring drivers to print Koran quotes on their cars or else they'll be fined or have their licenses revoked. What would the Christian minority think?
The Christian Broadcasting Network also made a video about the ordinance. You can watch it here.
Also, according to the report, the ordinance has resulted to lower crime rates, stronger families, and a relatively peaceful city. This could be just the Christian reporter talking but if Lagunay or anyone from the city hall fed him the information, it would be nice if Lagunay could provide proof or statistics showing that the ordinance did result to such improvements.
Lagunay is basically making the claim that people who read the Bible are less likely to commit crimes than those who don't. However, facts don't support such a claim. The Philippines which is considered to be a very religious country has a much higher crime rate compared to less religious countries like Denmark, Japan, South Korea, etc. Some of these countries don't even believe in the Christian God. How come they live in much better conditions than the Philippines?
As to the verses being put on the tricycles, I'm sure whoever is providing the verses are cherry-picking them. Imagine reading this while in a tricycle, "Happy is the one who takes your babies and smashes them against the rocks!" This is from the book of Psalm, chapter 137, verse 9.
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