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Throwing the first stone
By Elson T. Elizaga, January 4, 2020.
Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery
"Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery" by Guercino (1591–1666), Dulwich Picture Gallery. Published in Wikipedia Commons.

Even if most of us do not speak German, we can get the meaning of the following paragraph. Read the first five words, and the last seven. They are part of a report in Der Spiegel in January 2018:

"Der philippinische Präsident Rodrigo Duterte ist für derbe Äußerungen bekannt. Nach einer erneuten Entgleisung schlägt ihm nun heftige Empörung entgegen: Duterte hatte in einer Rede zum Jahresende beschrieben, wie er als Teenager ein Dienstmädchen massiv sexuell belästigt habe."

For other readers, the report says the president admitted that he had sexually molested a teenage girl. But Congress has no comment about this alleged incident. Nobody asks if it is true, or just a joke, in fairness to Duterte. Instead, four members made fun of Senator Leila de Lima's relationship with her driver.

In social media, a strange phenomenon sometimes happens. When a person criticizes the President, some readers react by quoting part of the Gospel of John 8:7: "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."

This practice usually stops any Christian in their tracks, especially those who accept the Bible as holy and completely without error, unaware that the passage is absent in the oldest manuscript. Biblical scholars consider John 7:53–8:11 a debatable insertion in later copies.

The other oddity is, while the passage refers to Jesus' forgiveness of an alleged adulterous woman, some Christians do not use the story to defend Senator Leila de Lima, in spite of  her gender and the misogynistic attacks against her. Instead, they participate in slut-shaming, and consider her imprisonment as proof that she is guilty of the charges.

But they accept John 8:7 as a valid defense for the shortcomings of the male President who, during one of his speeches, had encouraged soldiers to shoot the vaginas of rebels. They do not use the text to shield Vice President Leni Robredo from fake news.

And then, of course, a lot of people follow Mocha Uson's Facebook posts.

So, there exists a selective, political application of John 8:7. And it seems to indicate that the flock is somewhat confused and scattered, even without the assistance of the Appointed Son of God. The Reverend Manny Pacquiao should invite the distinguished Biblical scholars Bart Ehrman and Reza Aslan to give lectures in the Philippine Arena in January, to help Christians acquire what Ehrman calls "informed faith."  January is National Bible Month in the Philippines, but the number of events associated with it, since its declaration in 2017, has been, most curiously, zero. There are no parades, parties, and beauty pageants during the celebration of the National Bible Month. There are no public burning of heretics. End

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