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Religious persecution happens online

MANILA (UCAN): Despite the popular claim that The Philippines is a Catholic country, Archbishop Socrates Villegas insists that religious persecution is very much alive and well, even within the Church.

In a statement on November 14, the president of the bishops’ conference says, “Bashing in social media where truth is made to appear a lie and a lie the truth is another form of persecution.”

He points out, “Whenever we talk to call for respect for human life and dignity, we are tagged as an enemy and become targets of trolls,” the archbishop says.

In Internet slang a troll sets out to sow  discord by posting inflammatory, extraneous or off-the-topic messages in an online community.

The archbishop adds that throwing around the old catchphrase about separation of Church and state is really only playing on a misconception, as separation does not mean that the Church should remain silent, but rather, it is precisely because of separation that it is able to and has the right to talk.

Archbishop Villegas insists that the people and the leaders in the Church should not stop speaking the truth and speaking out on what is moral.

While people in the Church that have spoken out against the wholesale slaughter being perpetrated against the poor of the country under the guise of a war on drugs, they too have been murdered in another way on social media, where, as the archbishop says, truth becomes lie and lie becomes truth.

Archbishop Villegas adds that sad to say, even people within the Church work to silence it when it speaks about social justice or human rights.

“The persecution is not limited to the government, but people who are there trying to keep the Church quiet,” he says.

He points out that the absence of care and sympathy for others contributes to the persecution, as a lot of people do not care what happens to others, as long as they are not affected.

Archbishop Villegas was speaking at the launch of a report compiled by Aid to the Church in Need, which concludes that religious freedom has deteriorated or been drastically hampered in 82 countries across the world between 2012 and 2014.

It says that the study shows that Christians are currently the most vulnerable and persecuted minority in the world.

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