Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte joked Thursday to an audience of Baptists celebrating their 120th anniversary in the predominately Catholic country. He said, “When the results of the election came, I got six million over the next [candidate] and so maybe it’s good to bu----it the bishops. It might make you win. Take it from my experience,” referring to his successful campaign for the nation’s top job.

The comment drew laughter from the crowd but in a more serious tone, he said he was the first politician (in the Philippines) to speak out against the Catholic church. The president has repeatedly taken jabs at Catholic bishops in response to their vocal criticism of him, sometimes going as far as to wish for their deaths.

Catholic leaders in the Philippines have been critical of Duterte over his war on drugs that has caused many deaths and are described as extrajudicial by his critics and foreign human rights activists.

In his 2015 campaign’s formal declaration of his candidacy, he used the term that in English translates to “son-of-a-b---h” blaming Pope Francis for a traffic jam that caused a five-hour delay in Duterte’s schedule. It should be noted that issuing curse-filled diatribes is typical of the 74-year-old leader.

The president was raised as Catholic but in a meeting in 2016 with some businessmen, he said he had not attended Mass for “quite some time” and said, "If I listened to the Ten Commandments or to the priests, I would not be able to do anything as a mayor,” referring to his time as mayor of Davao City.

Later that year he said he was a Christian but then said he believed, "…in one God, Allah" indicating a turn toward the Islamic faith. On another occasion, he argued against the existence of God while describing himself as neither atheist nor agnostic.

The president is likely aware that the best way to draw applause from a Baptist audience is to criticize Catholics, but he also may be catering to the religion of whatever crowd he is addressing. This is not an uncommon characteristic of politicians around the globe.

The Philippines is about 80% Catholic while the Baptists make up less than 1%. The next time he speaks to a Catholic audience it will be interesting to see if he has any disparaging comments toward Baptists.