There seems to be a concerted effort nowadays to discredit the Catholic Church in the Philippines by conditioning the mind of the people to doubt Her integrity and credibility. In the past week, there was the SWS survey saying that “Catholics are less religious and attend church less frequently than those of other religions”. The same survey found that “one in every ten (or eleven) Catholics sometimes think of leaving the Church”. The pollster also noted that “Of the 1,200 respondents who answered the survey, 81 percent were Catholic, six percent were Protestant, six percent were Muslim, three percent are members of the Iglesia ni Cristo sect, and three percent belong to other Christian denominations”.
It’s not that I suffer a scarcity of trust in the Science of Statistics, but can the 81% of 1,200 respondents be enough to represent the over 70 million Filipino Catholics? And from the point of view of responsible journalism, would the “one-out-of-eleven” ratio constitute a news story? GMA news online is even more detailed. It says, “Pollster Social Weather Stations’ February survey has found that 9.2 percent, or nearly one out of every 10 Catholics who are registered voters, ‘sometimes think of leaving the Church’”. You see, not even one, but only “nearly one” – it could be a “half-ling Catholic” – who is “sometimes thinking” of leaving the Church!
And they are making a sensational news out of it!
Sensationalism is the media’s cup of tea, bread and butter, and Deus ex machina especially when what is behind its stories is the malicious intention to malign the credibility and integrity of the ecclesial institution. We call this strategy, “mind conditioning”. Whether it is true or not that “nearly one out of every 10 Catholics” is contemplating of leaving the Church is not really what interests the promoter of the survey and the media; rather, its effect in the society as a whole. Sensationalism is always like that: it is more interested in what is “sensational” rather than in what is true!
But a wise and analytic person is never persuaded by sensationalism. The truth is the only thing that convinces him. I don’t mean to deny that there are really some Catholics who, because they misunderstood their faith or lack sufficient and deep appreciation of it, would rather embrace another religion or denomination. But that is not news! That is merely sensationalism! What is news is that over 1.2 billion Catholics in the world and nearly 90% of the 90 million Filipinos are Catholics who are trying to live and understand deeply their faith. That is news!
By sensationalizing that a very few Catholics are leaving the Church, the media is implying that something is wrong with the Catholic Church. But that is a fallacious conclusion. Something must be wrong with these Catholics who are leaving the Church! If the majority of Filipino Catholics are staying and a very small minority is leaving, why imply that something is wrong with the majority? The truth is that “something must be seriously wrong with the minority that leaves or thinking of leaving the Church”.
Perhaps, they don’t understand the Catholic Church. But if you don’t understand Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, you don’t conclude that something is wrong with the theory. Yet, why would one think that something is wrong with the Catholic Church simply because we cannot understand or agree with Her teachings?
If the media and the survey are not merely sensationalizing, they could have presented a more interesting story: why the majority Filipino Catholics are staying. This could have been more of news – truthful news! Sensationalizing is when you focus your attention to the diminutive and insignificant; while you intentionally neglect the informative and important. One sensationalizes especially when one aims to condition the mentality of the people. Sensationalism is the tool for mind conditioning.
Hence, let us be very wary and vigilant with the media’s sensationalism and mind-conditioning!