Archive | Religion

FF Podcast 68: Is the Internet Killing Religion?

FF Podcast 68: Is the Internet Killing Religion?

This week we talk about a study that observes declining religiosity coinciding with increased Internet use.

You may also download the podcast file here.

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Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

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Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Media, Podcast, Religion, Science, Video0 Comments

FF Podcast 67 (Audio): Freedom to Discriminate?

FF Podcast 67 (Audio): Freedom to Discriminate?

FF Audio Podcast 67: Freedom to Discriminate?

This week we talk about an Indiana state law that has effectively allowed discriminating against anyone for religious reasons.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

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FF Podcast 67: Freedom to Discriminate?

FF Podcast 67: Freedom to Discriminate?

This week we talk about an Indiana state law that has effectively allowed discriminating against anyone for religious reasons.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Media, Podcast, Politics, Religion, Secularism, Society, Video1 Comment

FF Podcast 65 (Audio): Decriminalizing Adultery

FF Podcast 65 (Audio): Decriminalizing Adultery

FF Podcast 65: Decriminalizing adultery

In the Philippines, adultery is a crime. This week, we discuss adultery and what reforms have been suggested.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in audio podcast, Religion, Secularism, Society0 Comments

FF Podcast 65: Decriminalizing Adultery

FF Podcast 65: Decriminalizing Adultery

The Philippines has strange laws about adultery. This week, we discuss adultery and what reforms have been suggested.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Media, Podcast, Religion, Society, Video0 Comments

A Conversation with Greta Christina

A Conversation with Greta Christina

This week, we talk with Greta Christina, feminist and atheist writer. We discuss how atheists deal with the finality of death and whether believers really are better at dealing with death.

Posted in Media, Religion, Society, Video0 Comments

FF Podcast 61 (Audio): Don’t Criticize the Pope!

FF Podcast 61 (Audio): Don’t Criticize the Pope!

FF Podcast 61: Don't criticize the pope!

Pope Summer Slam parody! We’ll discuss that in this episode. Then, we talk about whether Filipinos respect the right to free speech in this country.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in Audio, audio podcast, Media, Religion, Secularism, Society0 Comments

FF Podcast 61: Don’t Criticize the Pope!

FF Podcast 61: Don’t Criticize the Pope!

This week, we talk about an incident involving a Pope Summer Slam parody. Then, we talk about whether Filipinos respect the right to free speech in this country.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Entertainment, Media, Podcast, Pop Culture, Religion, Society, Video0 Comments

After The Pope Has Gone

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle describes the recently concluded papal visit as a “miracle,” though I wonder what constitutes a miracle for the good cardinal. Miracles must indeed be in short supply these days if what transpired could pass for one.

It would have been a miracle, for example, if our security personnel did not have to eat, drink or piss on duty, obviating the need for MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino to suggest that they wear adult diapers. Though it was a practical suggestion, it would have been another miracle if God had bestowed the good chairman with a little more wisdom not to make a public announcement of the matter, as it quickly became the subject of ridicule and embarrassment, so much so that the PNP had to make a statement that policemen won’t be wearing diapers while on duty.

It would have been a miracle if corrupt politicians suddenly burst into flames as the Pope delivered his message at Malacañang, urging political leaders to “be outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good.” Oh what a happy bonfire that would have been. On the other hand, we would probably be left with no political leaders. But then again, is that so bad? I wonder.

It would have been a miracle if government did not have to spend millions of taxpayers’ pesos (not all of which are from Catholics) to ensure the Pope’s and everyone’s safety and security during the event. As it is, papal visits probably cost us more than we think they do. A worker’s group, the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino, is demanding to know how much was spent on the Papal visit, in the spirit of transparency. I do not have the exact figures for this but the same source states that a total of 40,000 security personnel were employed during the 5-day visit. This does not include opportunity and business costs lost during the cancellation of flights and the declaration of non-working holidays.

I am not talking about expecting angels to appear from the sky to act as the Pope’s bodyguards, thus nullifying the need for our government to spend for security. That may be too much to ask. The Vatican opening its checkbooks and offering to reimburse this third-world country for all the expenses incurred would be miracle enough for me.

It would have been a miracle if Philippine media had enough sense and dignity to refrain from making major headlines of the Pope’s every move. “Pope Opens Car Door Himself,” for example. How is that news? I’m glad I didn’t see “Pope Goes to the Toilet Himself.”

It would have been a miracle if the Pope could have provided a clear answer to the girl who asked him why children like her have to suffer — have to be abandoned by their parents or forced into prostitution. Yet, in the end, all he could do was embrace her in silence, and he later on implored the audience to “learn to weep, truly weep.” Now I am not belittling this response as I have no answer myself. But I would hardly call it miraculous.

It would have been a miracle if Kristel Padasas, who was listening to the Pope’s mass in Tacloban, had not died when strong winds caused the scaffolding beside her to fall on her.

It would have been a miracle if Metro Manilans picked up their own trash instead of leaving a mess after the Pope’s mass in Luneta.

And it would be a miracle, if after all this hullaballoo over the Pope’s visit, we see a decline in corruption and TRAPO politics. It would be a miracle if we see a decline in poverty levels, if we have more level-headed officials making sound and fair policies.

But as evidenced by a senator who doubts the Pope’s own words when he admonished Catholics to not breed like rabbits, even if it was clearly caught on video, and could easily be verified with the Big “G” (Google), nothing much has changed. Government is still filled with corrupt and inept people. The poor and suffering are still poor and suffering.

Miracles are indeed in short supply and I wouldn’t put much stock in them.

The pope has gone back home. The euphoria is over. There are no miracles or superheroes. If we want change, we better get to work.

Originally published in Sunstar Davao. Also appears in Freethinking Me.

Send me your thoughts at [email protected]. View previous articles at www.freethinking.me.

 

Posted in Religion, Secularism0 Comments

FF Podcast 60 (Audio): Pope’s Coming! Look Busy!

FF Podcast 60 (Audio): Pope’s Coming! Look Busy!

FF Podcast 60: Pope’s Coming! Look Busy!

This week, we talk about the visit of Pope Francis. We also discuss some of the child rape cases Pope Francis was involved with during his time as a cardinal in Argentina.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in audio podcast, Religion, Society1 Comment

FF Podcast 60: Pope’s Coming! Look Busy!

FF Podcast 60: Pope’s Coming! Look Busy!

This week, we talk about the visit of Pope Francis. We also discuss some of the child rape cases Pope Francis was involved with during his time as a cardinal in Argentina.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Media, Podcast, Politics, Religion, Video2 Comments

The Many Faces of Pope Francis

As the arrival of Pope Francis draws near, his visit has been heralded by all sorts of papal kitsch. Apart from the strange painting of the pope being surrounded by local celebrities dressed up as farmers (a piece of work that would have been biting in insight, had it not been so sincere), several media outlets have also come out with their own T-shirt designs with sayings attributed to the popular pontiff.

Pope_Francis_at_Vargihna

People have grasped onto one particular quotation from the pope: “Who am I to judge?” You can buy a shirt with this printed on it from whichever TV channel you feel loyal to. This quote has resonated strongly with people with the Catholic Church who have been aching for any semblance of change. Pope Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, after all said that the “homosexual inclination” was an “objective disorder.” It is certainly a breath of fresh air in a Church legendary for its glacial pace of progress… if Francis had meant that homosexuals were finally accepted by the Church.

Of course, the people Pope Francis was referring to were gay priests—people already required to be celibate. And not only that, he hedged that if a gay priest were “seeking God”, then who would he be to judge him? In so many words, Pope Francis was not accepting homosexuals, rather he was describing a person who was aware that it was wrong to act on homosexual desires. Who was he to judge a contrite homosexual priest who would never again act on his homosexuality? This is worlds apart from how the phrase has been used since then.

Had people listened a little more to what Pope Francis actually said, they would have heard the following. “The problem is lobbying by this orientation, or lobbies of greedy people, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the worst problem.” To be fair, I don’t think this would have fit on a T-shirt.

So, how can such an accepting message be construed from such a specific and narrow meaning? For one thing, the quote is so compact and slogan-worthy that it, like all other clichés, has lost its context. But, the far greater reason is that people are reading into Pope Francis whatever they want to believe.

 

You’re so vain

In a 1999 study, Raymond Nickerson of Tufts University found that people assume that the knowledge they have is, by default, shared by everyone else. And, because of this, people tend to think that other people would have the same beliefs as they do.

A 2009 follow-up by researchers from Columbia university showed that not only do people project their beliefs onto others, they particularly do so on people they admire and, especially, God.

When asked about what they thought the opinions of God, George Bush (someone with well-known beliefs), Bill Gates (a well-liked person with largely unknown beliefs), Barry Bonds (a disliked person with largely unknown beliefs) and the average American were on controversial matters such as abortion and same-sex marriage, participants in the study considered the beliefs of Bill Gates and God to correlate well with their own beliefs. That is to say, when the participants admired someone, they tended to assume that they probably believed the same things they did.

I contend that the same thing is happening with the so-called “People’s Pope.”

 

Holding out for a hero

On the outside, Pope Francis appears to have rocked the Church to its foundations. He has abandoned many of the luxuries of popes, such as the papal limo and the papal apartments, which people had seen as extravagant and disconnected from the realities of the suffering of Catholics worldwide. He has been seen kissing babies and taking selfies with teenagers. This pope certainly appears more in touch with believers on the ground.

And yet, after each seemingly progressive statement by the pope, the Vatican would come out to backtrack, or rather clarify. After a synod that seemed to contain language friendly to LGBT persons (“homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community”), later versions of the document came out without this statement. And, after the pope appeared to have opened the possibility of atheists going to heaven, the Vatican came out to say that people “cannot be saved” if they knowingly refuse “to enter [the Church] or remain in her.” So, yes, atheists can be saved, if they renounce their atheism and join the Catholic Church.

Lest it be said that the pope is trying to move the Church forward while he is being held back by conservative elements, it should be noted that when it comes to certain progressive matters, Pope Francis is a lot less vague than “who am I to judge” and more direct, like in calling abortion, euthanasia, and IVF “playing with life,” which is “a sin against the Creator” and in saying that children ought to have both a mother and a father. On the matter of women priests Pope Francis has said, “The church has spoken and says no… That door is closed.”

The epidemic of child rape that has plagued the Catholic Church shows quite clearly what kind of pope we really have. While the pope has criticized and apologized for those who have helped shield rapists from prosecution, he has gone ahead and appointed as top Vatican prosecutor a person who had failed to report a notorious child abuser. We see a pattern in Pope Francis’ Church—vague but impressive words, followed by clear but contradictory actions.

The fact is, Pope Francis has either been against progressive advocacy issues such as women’s rights and LGBT rights or just plainly silent about them. And in this absence of a clear narrative, people have made graven images of their own Pope Francis and ascribed to it their own beliefs, which they think the pope must certainly also believe.

The bigotry of low expectations underlies the popularity of Pope Francis. So much so that even matters such as whether pets go to heaven are misconstrued and lied about. The Church has had such a terrible reputation that even the most obvious pandering is enough to impress. This is unsurprising since the largely silent bloc of progressive Catholics have been famished for someone like Pope Francis for a long time. Even atheists have joined the bandwagon of wishful thinking. After years of burying their heads in their hands, sitting through anti-RH and anti-LGBT sermons in church, here comes the representative of Jesus Christ Himself and he seems to be the change that they’d been waiting for. Finally, the Church is going to change into the way they want it to be.

 

Look at all these rumors

But, this all seems to be some illusion induced by that same hunger. In the gaps of the feel-good platitudes from the pope, progressives try to find wiggle room in an institution that was never built for them. For if the Church were to surrender that maybe God can change his mind about homosexuality, maybe He can change his mind about condoms or women priests. And that’s not going to happen, not under Pope Francis and not under whoever comes after.

Compounding the trouble of people ascribing to the pope their own beliefs is a psychological phenomenon called “the backfire effect.” Researchers Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler found that when people are shown definitive facts that refute misconceptions, they are even more likely to hold fast to their false notions. In effect, this creates the whole endeavor of correcting pointless, which, in turn, makes articles such as the one you’re reading now practically Sisyphean. But, the optimist in me wants to believe, even against evidence, that through reading the pope’s actual words and seeing his actual deeds, some people will see through the many faces hiding the true one of Pope Francis.

Cardinal Tagle quoted the pope as saying that he hopes that he would not be the focus of his visit to the Philippines. It’s hard not to find this statement ironic as our traffic enforcers prepare to wear diapers in anticipation for the pope, as flights have been cancelled, as holidays have been declared, and as roads have been closed. He could easily have sent word that the Philippine government had gone overboard, but he hasn’t. No other head of state will be welcomed as Pope Francis will be. And why wouldn’t he be? No other pope in history has been as clever in creating an image. The trick was to let the people make it for him.

 

Image Credit: Tânia Rêgo/Agência Brasil
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Brazil

Posted in Politics, Religion, Secularism3 Comments

CCF Executive Pastor dresses up as Arabic suicide bomber for Church Christmas party

CCF Executive Pastor Ricky as Arabic suicide bomber

CCF Executive Pastor Ricky Sarthou poses as an Arabic suicide bomber with another CCF Pastor Ickhoy de Leon

(December 20, 2014 Update Below)

For their Christmas party this year, Christ’s Commission Fellowship Executive Pastor Ricky Sarthou dressed up in traditional Arabic garments. The twist, however, is that strapped to his chest was a mock explosive device.

The Executive Pastor of one of the country’s largest Christian churches chose the outfit for their Church’s party’s theme, “Heroes and Villains.” The photo shown here is a screen-capture of a now-deleted post on Instagram by Ickhoy de Leon, another CCF Pastor. Along with a mock improvised explosive device, Pastor Sarthou can be seen in the photo wearing the traditional Arabic headdress called a keffiyeh.

While the intentions for dressing up in the costume may have been innocent, what message does it send for a high-ranking official in a Christian church to portray a violent stereotype of another religion?

Update (December 20, 2014): On the comments section of this article, a person claiming to relay the words of pastors from the CCF said the following.

“From Pastors Fenix of CCF: Good day everyone, since the post of Filipino Freethinkers has gone viral I would like to encourage everyone to be loving, prayerful & sober–keeping our emotions in check. ptr Ricky has sent a letter of apology to the CCF leadership & staff for going to the party as BIN LADEN. Ickhoy has also sent his letter of apology for posting the original pic on his instagram. I would like encourage everyone not to react or rebutt esp on social media bec that is what FF wants. Have a blessed Christmas.”

Posted in Religion, Society66 Comments

FF Podcast 58: That Abstinence Video

FF Podcast 58: That Abstinence Video

Are you a bobo boy or a gaga girl? This week, we talk about the Department of Health’s abstinence dance video.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Advocacy, HIV/AIDS, Podcast, Politics, Religion, RH Bill, Society1 Comment

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