Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte says he will quit if someone can prove God exists

'If there is one witness, I will announce my resignation immediately,' pledges president in latest broadside at Catholic Church 

Jane Dalton
Sunday 08 July 2018 20:01 BST
Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte says he'll step down 'if people can prove god exists'

The president of the Philippines has vowed to step down immediately if it can be proven to him that God is real through a selfie.

Rodrigo Duterte sparked outrage in his largely Roman Catholic country by saying that if just one Christian told him truthfully that they had been to heaven and had a conversation with God, he would quit.

He also attacked the Catholic Church for collecting funds from members, accusing it of using donations to "maintain the palaces and the luxurious things that the rest of humanity do not have".

“If you are really helping people, why do you ask money from them?” he asked.

Two weeks ago, the president angered believers by calling God "stupid" and "a son of a b****” and questioning certain beliefs, such as the story of creation, the concept of heaven and hell, and the last supper.

Christian groups accused him of insulting God and demanded an apology, to which he replied: “Not in a million years.”

Mr Duterte, who was giving an unrehearsed speech on Friday, said: “If there is any one of you...who say you’d been to heaven, talked to God, saw him personally, and that he exists, the God is yours, and if he does, it’s true, I will step down the presidency".

“I just need one witness who will say, ‘Those fools at the church ordered me to go to heaven and talk to God. God really exists. We have a picture together and I brought a selfie',” he added during the opening of a science and technology event.

"You do that today, one single witness, that there is a guy, a human being was able to talk and to see God. Of the so many billions, I just need one. And if there is one, ladies and gentlemen, I will announce my resignation immediatelyl."

The 73-year-old leader, who was born and raised as a Catholic, questioned some of the basic tenets of the Catholic faith, including the concept of original sin, which he said tainted even infants and could be removed only through baptism in a church for a fee.

"Where is the logic of God there?" he asked.

Even before his speech, the government had been to mend ties with the Catholic Church and Christian groups offended by his earlier remarks against God and Christianity.

Mr Duterte has been in office for two years but critics say he has “become isolated domestically and internationally” in part because of his spat with the Church, and may not finish his six-year term in office.

The president has repeatedly prompted international condemnation over his human rights record, war on drugs and military operations against militants. Last month he kissed an overseas Filipino worker on the lips during a public event in South Korea.

Weeks earlier, he told drug suspects to look for a way to get arrested and stay in jail if they want to live longer. In February he told soldiers to shoot female rebels in their genitals.

And in March, he pulled his country out of the international criminal court, shortly after human rights chief said the president needed a psychiatric assessment when his government included a UN special rapporteur on a list of people they want classed as “terrorists”.

Despite his challenge to believers, Mr Duterte suggested there must be a God or a supreme being that prevents billions of stars and planets from colliding in a frequency that could have long threatened the human race.

And he insisted he believed in his own God, whom he created after being abused by an American Catholic priest when he was young.

"I have this deep and abiding faith in God but my God, my concept of God is [based] on the lessons I learned in life the hard way," he said.

“I do not think of my God as a God that is applicable...otherwise there would be no widespread injustice: hunger, killings, and all,” he added.

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