Will Bible-believing Christians be discriminated against in the SOGIE Bill?
In a rare and dramatic display of opposition to a “lifestyle-altering” legislation in recent history, hundreds of Filipino Bible-believing Christians appealed to the Senate recently and held a peaceful rally against the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity or Expression (SOGIE), also referred to as the Anti-Discrimination Bill.
The protestors -who are members of the Coalition of Christians for Righteousness, Justice and Truth (CCRJT) - maintained the measure is discriminatory against one sector of society because it “favors one lifestyle against another lifestyle.”
The group spokesperson, Atty. Lyndon Cana, said the bill violates the Constitution, specifically on certain fundamental human rights, including freedom of conscience, freedom of religion and freedom of expression.
“We believe the legislation will create confusion because we will redefine everything—what is a man, what is a woman simply based on feeling and preference or orientation. We also believe that this is, very importantly, against the will of God,” he noted.
He went on to say that there is no need for the measure at this time. “We believe it is not necessary. There is already so much protection for everybody with existing laws, Constitution, civil service law, labor law, bill of rights. There is nothing that prevents our friends from LGBTQ community from doing what they want.
Cana however clarified the movement is not against members of the LGBTQ. “What we are against is the legislation. We are not against the community, we are not against gays, lesbians. We are not against transgender. We love them. We affirm God’s love for them but we are against this particular piece of legislation for all the reasons that we have explained.
He also asserted the Church’s right to be heard: “faith-based people and Churches should also be heard because they are also contributing to nation-building.”
Christian Senator Joel Villanueva joined the “rallyists” in their advocacy and noted he and several of his colleagues are working together to stop the passage of the bill at the Senate, which was filed by Sen. Riza Hontiveros.
The House of Representatives recently passed its own version and its provisions are the bone of contention the senators and the Christian group are raising.
“We are not advancing anybody’s interest here, but God’s purposes for our country. I myself am against any form of discrimination. The Constitution itself upholds equal rights and fairness, especially the right to uphold the sanctity of having and keeping families. Unfortunately, the Lower House’s SOGIE bill is espousing discrimination against Christians and other believers,” the senator stressed.
Villanueva deplores what he claims can be deduced from the series of committee hearings and plenary debates congressmen held on the SOGIE bill.
“I was surprised that even a businessman, for instance, who refuses to create a cake that depicts same-sex affairs, will be held liable and can be jailed under the Lower House measure.”
The senator also disdains other penalties being prepared, for example, on Bible school owners who would maintain certain policies according to the owners’ faith and religious stand.
Villanueva, a neophyte senator who ranked number one among the senators elected in 2016, vows to block the passage of the bill, along with Senator and World Boxing Champ Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, a Bible-believing Christian, and Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, married to born again Christian actress, Helen Gamboa.
“We will not allow the passage of a bill that will not only discriminate us (Christians) , but will wound God’s heart,” he stressed.
Villanueva’s dad, Jesus is Lord Evangelist and Pastor Eddie Villanueva, who ran for President few elections ago, fully supported the fight against the SOGIE bill, stressing this is a prelude to same-sex marriage in the country.
“Once this bill is approved, according to some legal experts, there is no need for any other new law for marriage of same-sex because within this bill, the same-sex is already implied and therefore, this may lead the nation to be a modern Sodom and Gomorrah. As we all know in history, because of the wickedness in the Sodom and Gomorrah, God had no alternative but to destroy it. We don’t’ want to destroy our country and our people by this, I would say this humbly, with love and concern for our people, this could be unintentional rebellion against God,” he said.
With the mid-term elections looming, the SOGIE bill may take on a new shape, be placed in the back burner, or be trashed outright by both or by either well-meaning legislators who seek the good, as defined by the Bible, or those who are just occupying their positions for the sake of politics and personal agenda.
Whatever the case may be, the electorate may hold the ultimate decision on whether or not to adopt the country’s own SOGIE law and decide which way the “only Christian nation” in Asia may be headed, in a generation that is being defined by “modern preferences.”
The plot thickens.