Chapter 49: - Page 6 of 9

The Voice of the Hunted

(English version of “Noli Me Tangere”)

Against the religious orders?

Against their oppressors, sir.

Has the Philippines forgotten what she owes to those orders? Has she forgotten the immense debt of gratitude that is due from her to those who snatched her from error to give her the true faith, to those who have protected her against the tyrannical acts of the civil power? This is the evil result of not knowing the history of our native land!

The surprised Elias could hardly credit what he heard. Sir, he replied in a grave tone, you accuse these people of ingratitude; let me, one of the people who suffer, defend them. Favors rendered, in order to have any claims to recognition, must be disinterested.  Let us pass over its missionary work, the much-invoked Christian charity; let us brush history aside and not ask what Spain has done with the Jewish people, who gave all Europe a Book, a Religion, and a God; what she has done with the Arabic people, who gave her culture, who were tolerant with her religious beliefs, and who awoke her lethargic national spirit, so nearly destroyed during the Roman and Gothic dominations.  You say that she snatched us from error and gave us the true faith: do you call faith these outward forms, do you call religion this traffic in girdles and scapularies, truth these miracles and wonderful tales that we hear daily? Is this the law of Jesus Christ? For this it was hardly necessary that a God should allow Himself to be crucified or that we should be obliged to show eternal gratitude.  Superstition existed long before—it was only necessary to systematize it and raise the price of its merchandise!

You will tell me that however imperfect our religion may be at present, it is preferable to what we had before.  I believe that, too, and would agree with you in saying so, but the cost is too great, since for it we have given up our nationality, our independence.  For it we have given over to its priests our best towns, our fields, and still give up our savings by the purchase of religious objects.  An article of foreign manufacture has been introduced among us, we have paid well for it, and we are even.

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