Philippine Men Shame Bigots
IN Mangaldan, Philippine Republic, Jehovah’s witnesses made arrangements with the mayor for the use of the public plaza and kiosk (circular covered bandstand) for a series of four public lectures. The last of these was to be given on March 1, 1953, at 5 p.m., as the climax of a three-day assembly of Jehovah’s witnesses.
Upon hearing that an assembly of Jehovah’s witnesses was to be held the Catholic priest, Francisco Posadas, gave a sermon warning Catholics not to accept Jehovah’s witnesses into their homes, because, if they did, their homes would be burned. He also personally went from home to home, urging householders who had agreed to house Jehovah’s witnesses for the duration of the assembly not to admit the witnesses. A Mr. Lambino, who took in two of the witnesses, told them how he answered the priest. Said Mr. Lambino:
“Is it not written in the Scriptures, Love your fellow creature as you love yourself? Are the witnesses animals that I should not accept them? Are they bad people? I cannot find any scripture which says, Love only your fellow Catholics. Suppose I also visit places of Jehovah’s witnesses and request them to accommodate me in their homes. I do not think they would tell me, ‘Do not stay in our homes because you are a Catholic.’ Therefore I will let the witnesses stay in my home as long as they want to.”
Three days before the public lecture was to be given, the witnesses were informed by the acting mayor that arrangements had been made to give the Mangaldan Fiesta Executive Committee the use of the plaza on March 1. The governor of the province and the captain of the federal police were appealed to, both of whom issued instructions supporting the witnesses in their position.
Nevertheless, when the witnesses entered the plaza they found a mob of toughs armed with clubs and empty bottles, the local police and the acting mayor, all determined to prevent the public lecture. Dr. Garcia, who headed the Fiesta committee, threatened to kill the speaker if he entered the kiosk, which was to serve as the speaker’s stand, and another official reminded him of the fact that one of Jehovah’s witnesses had recently been killed under similar circumstances.
The witnesses, however, went ahead with the lecture with the help of a portable sound system, at which the band began to play to drown out the speaker’s voice. Federal police arrived and made the band stop. Shortly after the lecture Governor Rodriguez arrived. He had come to give the speech of dedication, but upon learning what had taken place he prefaced his speech with the following remarks:
“What happened this afternoon? What did you do to the witnesses of Jehovah? Why did you disturb their meeting? Don’t you know our God the Creator is a God of love and justice? Don’t you know that God said, Love your fellow creature as you love yourself? Are the witnesses of Jehovah troublemakers? Why didn’t you give them their constitutional rights? Don’t you know that the witnesses came from practically all the towns of Pangasinan? What will they relate to their friends and relatives when they return? They will say the Mangaldan town officials are religious bigots. Where did you put your heads this afternoon? You have made a bad impression. You have shown a shameful attitude toward the witnesses of Jehovah. Do you think that when you die God will accept you because you were a doctor, a mayor, an attorney or a governor? No! But God wants people who exercise love, justice, patience and kindness. What you have shown to the witnesses of Jehovah is an abomination in the sight of God. Shame on you Mangaldan officials!” After completing his dedication speech it was Dr. Garcia’s turn to speak, the one who headed the opposition to Jehovah’s witnesses. However, he was so taken back by what the governor had said that he asked to be excused on the grounds of weakness. Needless to say, this incident has become widely known in the province of Pangasinan, even as the governor had said.
Thus Philippine men of good will are helping to expose and shame religious bigots.
All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them; this, in fact, is what the Law and the Prophets mean.—Matt. 7:12, NW.