Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has called God “stupid”, sparking anger in the largely Catholic country.
In a televised speech, he slammed the story of Adam and Eve’s fall from grace in the Bible and the logic behind the Christian concept of original sin.
Mr Duterte is well known known for his outrageous statements and unfiltered attacks on his rivals.
While the church and many citizens condemned his remarks, his office said he was expressing personal beliefs.
The president has in the past also criticised the Pope in crude language and has racked up a string of other statements widely deemed as highly offensive, cruel or misogynist.
His latest comments came at a speech in Davao, the city he governed as a mayor before running as president.
Asking “Who is this stupid God?”, Mr Duterte criticised the Biblical story of creation and Adam and Eve being thrown out of the Garden of Eden after they ate the “forbidden fruit”.
“You created something perfect and then you think of an event that would tempt and destroy the quality of your work,” he said.
The president also slammed the concept of original sin – whereby all humans are tainted by Adam and Eve’s wrongdoing – saying: “You weren’t born yet, but now you have original sin.”
“What kind of religion is that? I can’t accept it.”
Local Catholic bishop Arturo Bastes responded by calling the president a “madman” and urging people to pray for his “blasphemous utterances and dictatorial tendencies” to end.
Mr Duterte is a known and open critic of the Catholic Church in a country where more than 90% of the population are Christian and the vast majority of those are Catholics.
His outbursts therefore triggered a predictable backlash and debate online.
Whether you think he is right or wrong, Duterte has a right to express his opinion just like everybody else. No one has a monopoly on being right. Duterte hasn’t turned his opinion about God into a policy so what’s the problem? You have your beliefs and he has his own.
— ilda (@ilda_talk) June 25, 2018
The president’s spokesman Harry Roque defended Mr Duterte’s comments as merely being his personal convictions. He also explained the outburst by referring to the president’s claim that he was abused by a priest at a Catholic school during his childhood.
Rodrigo Duterte took office in July 2016 on a hardline platform against crime and corruption. The brutal campaign of extrajudicial killings against drug dealers and users has since though sparked mounting criticism against the strongman.
Earlier this year, the International Criminal Court opened a preliminary inquiry into crimes committed during the drugs purge.
In 2017, Mr Duterte admitted to stabbing someone to death as a teenager.
A very controversial record
His frequent rhetorical outbursts are often far beyond what’s considered acceptable by his critics.
He said he would be “happy” to slaughter millions of drug addicts in the country and has responded to international criticism of his policies by calling former US President Barack Obama a “son of a whore” and slamming the EU as hypocrites.
It's so sad how Duterte calls God stupid and now the same people (Catholics) who didn't have anything to say about the thousands who died bc of the drug war suddenly care. Yes, it's offensive but it's hardly the worst thing he's ever said or done.
— Chaiz (@chzconcepcion) June 26, 2018
In April 2016, he spoke to an election campaign rally about the 1989 murder and rape of a female Australian missionary in Davao, where he was mayor at the time.
“I was angry because she was raped,” he said. “That’s one thing. But she was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first, what a waste.”
His office later apologised for the comments.
Earlier this year Mr Duterte told Filipino soldiers they should shoot female communist rebels in the vagina.
A few weeks ago he made headlines by making an overseas Filipina worker kiss him on stage during a live event.