MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte violated the Constitution by calling God stupid, said Jesus Is Lord (JIL) Church founder Brother Eddie Villanueva, as the top Christian preacher said he felt "holy anger" at the Chief Executive's tirades.
"It's very clear – to me, for the sake of argument, that is already a violation of the Constitution, because the very Constitution, the soul of the Filipino people, believes in God," Villanueva said in an interview with journalist Karen Davila on ANC's Headstart.
"When you are a leader, especially the highest leader of the nation, and you mock, wittingly or unwittingly, the God being acknowledged by your Constitution, you are actually violating the soul of the nation," he said.
The Preamble of the Philippines' 1987 Constitution includes the name of God, stating:
We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God, in order to build a just and humane society, and establish a Government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and develop our patrimony, and secure to ourselves and our posterity, the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace, do ordain and promulgate this Constitution.
Duterte, in his presidential oath, "pledged to protect the Constitution of the Philippines," Villanueva also pointed out.
A former atheist, Villanueva is the latest Christian leader to blast Duterte for calling God stupid. Villanueva's group, the JIL, is a 39-year-old Christian church that now has 5 million members in 60 countries.
In his Headstart interview, Villanueva said Duterte's remarks against God angered him as a preacher.
"I was so sad when I saw it, and of course at first, I felt holy anger, because I cannot be a traitor to God. My loyalty to anyone ends when my loyalty to my God begins," Villanueva said.
After all, he said, "the God of the Roman Catholic Church composing the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit – is the same God being believed by the Evangelicals, being believed by the Born Again."
Davila asked Villanueva about "what makes it different" when the President does it, "when you can have a child, anyone in a university, doing the same thing."
Villanueva answered: "First, he is the President of the Republic of the Philippines. He should be the true President of the entire Filipino people. He should respect the religious faiths of every sector of society. He is not only the President of the agnostics or the atheists."
Villanueva, father of administration ally Senator Joel Villanueva, is a high-profile preacher who twice ran for president and once for senator, but lost.
In his church's 39th anniversary in October 2017, Villanueva had slammed extrajudicial killings and blamed them on "scalawag" police. He also said Duterte's policy against drugs "should not be at the expense of the rule of law."
A day before Villanueva issued a statement against Duterte's remarks against God, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches said that it was "immensely offended" by Duterte's tirades.
The Christian group Intercessors for the Philippines on Tuesday, June 26, said Duterte committed "the ultimate sin that only Satan can do."