Tag Archive | "church"

FF Podcast 53: Is the Church More LGBT-Friendly Now?


The Catholic Church recently held a synod and discussed how they treat LGBT members. This week, we talk about whether it’s all PR or if there has been real change.

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, VideoComments (0)

FF Podcast (Audio) 27: MMFF and Fired for Trying Out Atheism


We return for our first podcast of 2014! This week, we talk about the Metro Manila Film Fest and the quality of its films (or lack thereof). Then we talk about Ryan Bell, the pastor/professor who was fired for “trying out” atheism.

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, MediaComments (0)

Forty-four Thoughts of a Founding Freethinker


While the world watches Egypt in revolution, many are unaware that almost three centuries today, one of the greatest revolutionaries was born.

January 29, 1736 is the birthday of Thomas Paine, a man Thomas Edison regarded “as one of the greatest of all Americans.” He influenced intellectuals for centuries with works such as Common Sense, Rights of Man, and The Age of Reason. He inspired such great men as George Holyoake, the father of British secularism; Bertrand Russell, a champion of humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought; and Abraham Lincoln, who lead the fight to end slavery in the United States.

In the 1990s, Truthseeker magazine began celebrating Freethinkers Day on Paine’s birthday. If you doubt that these celebrations should coincide, you haven’t read any of his works, and I strongly suggest you start soon.

For now, here are some excerpts from the writings of Thomas Paine, a founding father who fought not only for freedom in the United States, but for freethought around the world. Happy Freethinkers Day!

  1. I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any Church that I know of. My own mind is my own Church. [Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason]
  2. It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what one does not believe. It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime. [Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason]
  3. The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason. I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall. [Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason]
  4. The Bible is a book that has been read more and examined less than any book that ever existed. [The Theological Works of Thomas Paine]
  5. Accustom a people to believe that priests, or any other class of men can forgive sins, and you will have sins in abundance.[The Theological Works of Thomas Paine, p.207]
  6. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication– after that it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it can not be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner; for it was not a revelation made to ME, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him. [Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason]
  7. Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifiying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for practice, it renders the heart torpid or produces only atheists or fanatics. As an engine of power, it serves the purpose of despotism, and as ameans of wealth, the avarice of priests, but so far as respects the good of man in general it leads to nothing here or hereafter. [Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason]
  8. It is far better that we admitted a thousand devils to roam at large than that we permitted one such imposter and monster as Moses, Joshua, Samuel, and the Bible prophets, to come with the pretended word of God and have credit among us.
  9. The continually progressive change to which the meaning of words is subject, the want of a universal language which renders translation necessary, the errors to which translations are again subject, the mistakes of copyists and printers, together with the possibility of willful alteration, are of themselves evidences that the human language, whether in speech or in print, cannot be the vehicle of the Word of God. The Word of God exists in something else. [Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason]
  10. It will be proper to take a review of the several sources from which governments have arisen, and on which they have been founded.
  11. They may be all comprehended under three heads — 1st, Superstition; 2d, Power; 3d, the common interests of society, and the common rights of man.
  12. The first was a government of priestcraft, the second of conquerors, and the third of reason. [Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man]
  13. Toleration is not the opposite of intoleration, but it is the counterfeit of it. Both are despotisms. The one assumes to itself the right of withholding liberty of conscience, and the other of granting it. The one is the pope, armed with fire and fagot, and the other is the pope selling or granting indulgences. [Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man]
  14. …Thomas did not believe the resurrection [John 20:25], and, as they say, would not believe without having ocular and manual demonstration himself. So neither will I, and the reason is equally as good for me, and for every other person, as for Thomas. [Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason]
  15. What is it the Bible teaches us? – raping, cruelty, and murder. What is it the New Testament teaches us? – to believe that the Almighty committed debauchery with a woman engaged to be married, and the belief of this debauchery is called faith.
  16. When I see throughout this book, called the Bible, a history of the grossest vices and a collection of the most paltry and contemptible tales and stories, I could not so dishonor my Creator by calling it by His name. [Thomas Paine, in Toward The Mystery]
  17. Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.
  18. Whence arose all the horrid assassinations of whole nations of men, women, and infants, with which the Bible is filled; and the bloody persecutions, and tortures unto death, and religious wars, that since that time have laid Europe in blood and ashes; whence arose they, but from this impious thing called religion, and this monstrous belief that God has spoken to man? [Thomas Paine, quoted in 2000 Years of Disbelief, Famous People with the Courage to Doubt by James Haught]
  19. The age of ignorance commenced with the Christian system. [Thomas Paine, quoted in 2000 Years of Disbelief, Famous People with the Courage to Doubt by James Haught]
  20. Prophesying is lying professionally. [Thomas Paine, quoted in 2000 Years of Disbelief, Famous People with the Courage to Doubt by James Haught]
  21. If thou trusteth to the book called the Scriptures, thou trusteth to the rotten staff of fables and of falsehood. [Thomas Paine, quoted in 2000 Years of Disbelief, Famous People with the Courage to Doubt by James Haught]
  22. One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests. [Thomas Paine, quoted in 2000 Years of Disbelief, Famous People with the Courage to Doubt by James Haught]
  23. Science is the true theology. [Thomas Paine, quoted in Emerson, The Mind on Fire pg 153]
  24. All this [Paul’s writing] is nothing better than the jargon of a conjurer who picks up phrases he does not understand to confound the credulous people who come to have their fortune told. [Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason]
  25. …to argue with a man who has renouced his reason is like giving medicine to the dead. [Thomas Paine, The Crisis, quoted in Ingersoll’s Works, Vol. 1, p.127]
  26. Everything wonderful in appearance has been ascribed to angels, to devils, or to saints. Everything ancient has some legendary tale annexed to it. The common operations of nature have not escaped their practice of corrupting everything.
  27. No falsehood is so fatal as that which is made an article of faith.
  28. When an objection cannot be made formidable, there is some policy in trying to make it frightful; and to substitute the yell and the war- whoop, in the place of reason, argument and good order. Jesuitical cunning always endeavors to disgrace what it cannot disprove.
  29. The story of the redemption will not stand examination. That man should redeem himself from the sin of eating an apple by committing a murder on Jesus Christ, is the strangest system of religion ever set up.
  30. Yet this is trash that the Church imposes upon the world as the Word of God; this is the collection of lies and contradictions called the Holy Bible! This is the rubbish called Revealed Religion!
  31. The Christian system of religion is an outrage on common sense.
  32. The countries the most famous and the most respected of antiquity are those which distinguished themselves by promoting and patronizing science, and on the contrary those which neglected or discouraged it are universally denominated rude and barbarous. The patronage which Britain has shown to Arts, Science and Literature has given her a better established and lasting rank in the world than she ever acquired by her arms. And Russia is a modern instance of the effect which the encouragement of those things produces both as to the internal improvement of a country and the character it raises abroad. The reign of Louis the fourteenth is more distinguished by being the Era of Science and Literature in France than by any other circumstance of those days.
  33. The Church was resolved to have a New Testament, and as, after the lapse of more than three hundred years, no handwriting could be proved or disproved, the Church, which like former impostors had then gotten possession of the State, had everything its own way. It invented creeds, such as that called the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicean Creed, the Athanasian Creed, and out of the loads of rubbish that were presented it voted four to be Gospels, and others to be Epistles, as we now find them arranged.
  34. The Christian religion begins with a dream and ends with a murder.
  35. All the tales of miracles, with which the Old and New Testament are filled, are fit only for imposters to preach and fools to believe.
  36. Had the news of salvation by Jesus Christ been inscribed on the face of the sun and the moon, in characters that all nations would have understood, the whole earth had known it in twenty-four hours, and all nations would have believed it; whereas, though it is now almost two thousand years since, as they tell us, Christ came upon earth, not a twentieth part of the people of the earth know anything of it, and among those who do, the wiser part do not believe it.
  37. There is scarcely any part of science, or anything in nature, which those imposters and blasphemers of science, called priests, as well Christians as Jews, have not, at some time or other, perverted, or sought to pervert to the purpose of superstition and falsehood.
  38. Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst; every other species of tyranny is limited to the world we live in; but this attempts to stride beyond the grave, and seeks to pursue us into eternity.
  39. I put the following work under your protection. It contains my opinion upon religion. You will do me the justice to remember, that I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.
  40. The study of theology, as it stands in the Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authority; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion.
  41. All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.
  42. Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be true.
  43. Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law.
  44. But though every created thing is, in this sense, a mystery, the word mystery cannot be applied to moral truth, any more than obscurity can be applied to light. … Mystery is the antagonist of truth. It is a fog of human invention, that obscures truth, and represents it in distortion. Truth never envelops itself in mystery, and the mystery in which it is at any time enveloped is the work of its antagonist, and never of itself.

Posted in Philosophy, ReligionComments (2)

FF Podcast 002: The Black Nazarene


Second episode of the Podcast, now with better lighting! In this episode we talk about the Black Nazarene, Power Balance, works of fiction and the secular movement in Pakistan.

Posted in Media, Podcast, VideoComments (4)

The Justice System, Courtroom Fashion, Typos and Why You Need to Read the Noli Me Tangere


The Trial of Carlos CeldranLast Tuesday was the first day of Carlos Celdran‘s trial. The charge? Apparently, he hurt some people’s feelings toward their imaginary friend — a crime in the Philippines. His trial is one of the highlights of the fight for the Reproductive Health Bill, which is encountering a ton of opposition from the Catholic Church and other Catholic organizations, even though the people themselves seem to be all for it. When Carlos entered that church in Ibarra garb, held up a sign saying “Damaso” and shouted to the priests to stop interfering with politics, it was because the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) had been trying to use religion to influence the outcome of the RH Bill’s passing, such as making thinly veiled threats of excommunication towards the president of the country.

The court session was scheduled at 1.30 pm, so some of us from the Filipino Freethinkers met up with Carlos at Starbucks around noon. I was trying to hold up one of the posters from the people at Sex and Sensibilities, but turns out I was holding it upside down.

Today in court

Carlos was in good spirits, even giving us a short demo of his current favorite gadget, the Samsung Galaxy Tab. (Which totally rocks, by the way.)

Today in court

Inside the courthouse, we saw a bunch of people in anti-RH bill shirts. These shirts were unfortunately colored bright yellow — the exact same color as that of the detainees who were there for their criminal trials. (Note to self: when dressing for court or planning propaganda shirts to wear to court, make sure to not wear the same regulation prison colors as suspects in custody. Because when you leave, the judge will try to get security to stop you.) I was wearing the grey “excommunication” shirt, while the others were in white, “Damaso” printed on the front and “Pass the RH Bill Now!” on the back. (Speaking of suspects, it was interesting that there was no effort made to separate the detainees and the spectators. There were guys in prison outfits and handcuffs standing right next to me during the session.) The room was airconditioned but there were too many people inside so it was still hot, and I kept fanning myself with my poster. It looked like this. I was seated close to the anti-RH bill people, so I’m pretty sure they saw it. No one said or did anything confrontational, though, which was promising.

It was over under an hour, I think. The complainant presented their case, the defense denied everything. The judge advised them to settle out of court. I don’t blame him. There was a woman who was jailed because she stole clothes amounting to around 1 to 2 thousand pesos, which was bailable, but apparently she couldn’t afford bail, so she’s been in jail for months. I believe our judges have better things to do than entertain ridiculous cases like “offending religious feelings”. After all, who here thinks we should go to prison for mocking Xenu? Oh, and next trial date was set for March 10. (Or was it May? I’m getting old.)

Today in court

When it was over, we trooped outside with the other pro-RH Bill advocates from the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP) in the parking lot and waited for Carlos and his attorney to finish up the last details with the MTC. There were a few media people there with cameras and they took photos of us. When Carlos appeared, he posed for photos with us, holding up the posters.

Today in court

Today in court

The anti-RH Bill advocates had a banner. Don’t ask me why being the world’s greatest boxer should make your opinion on whether or not women should have access to reproductive health care weigh more than the rest of ours, because I’m stumped. Don’t ask me either why they spelled Pacquiao’s name wrong — I didn’t notice because I was too distracted by that colon. Later, a friend had to point out to me the missing ” ‘s “.

Today in court

Oddly, the Anti-RH advocates wanted to have photos taken with Carlos, too. They did not appear hostile in any way. In fact they were quite nice, logical fallacy and typos notwithstanding.

Today in court

The epic moment was when they shook hands with Carlos.

Today in court

Oh, and someone asked for Carlos’s autograph on a poster.

Today in court

There were some spectators watching us speak with the anti-RH Bill advocates and talk to the press. Lots of them wanted to have their photos taken with Carlos, and even one of them asked Carlos to kiss her baby (he obliged, laughingly). The funny thing was, some of them thought he was a priest. Most of them thought his name was Damaso. I’m not sure they knew what exactly was going on, it just seemed they wanted to have their photo taken with him.

“Magpapa-picture ako kasama si Father!” (I’m having my photo taken with Father.)

“Hindi siya pari! Tour guide siya.” (He’s not a priest, he’s a tour guide.)

“Oo, pangalan lang niya Damaso.” (Yes, he’s just named Damaso.)

(Ah, so they know Damaso was a priest, at least. Madame, I suggest you should put down your books once in a while and turn on the TV to watch the news. Haha.)

One of them asked me if I was the girl in the poster. Flattering, but no. For one, she clearly had better hair than I did.

Today in court

The posters were a hit, though. Lots of women (the spectators were mostly women) asked us if they could have some. One of them asked me what they meant. Before going home, we gave Carlos the remaining posters so he could distribute them on his tours.

Some of us stopped by Makati for a late lunch before braving the traffic home. The trains were full and the lines at the taxi stand were ridiculously long, so we took the bus. It took me more than an hour to get home. The truth is, no matter what side of the condom debate you’re on, we all get screwed by rush hour.

This post was reposted by the author from her personal blog.

Posted in Media, Pictures, Politics, Religion, SocietyComments (7)

Fighting may be “inutile,” but reform is inevitable


Ex-CBCP President Oscar V. Cruz has been assimilated by the Borg. Or at least he sounds like one: “Fighting is [sic] the Catholic Church is inutile!” he wrote in a recent post on his blog.

Unfortunately, some screws are loose in his language processor. First of all, inutile means “lacking in utility or serviceability; not useful.”  He probably meant “futile,” which means ” having no useful result” or “completely ineffective.”

To his credit he made it clear that this was not meant for “for agnostics who acknowledge no God” or “eclectics who simply choose what they want to believe as their own private and personal choice” or “people who subscribe to any sect here and there that come and go, or any system of beliefs that blatantly defies all logic and reason.”

In other words, this is meant for the Katoliko Sarado (fundamentalist Catholic). But why is he giving the “Resistance is Futile” speech to the already assimilated?

This and the following fallacies and faulty reasoning shows that his rational processor needs upgrading as well.

“The Catholic Church is the only worldwide institution that is some 2000 years old and counting.”

Old Paganism – 30,000 years ago
Modern Paganism – 1,000 BCE
Hinduism – 1,500 BCE
Judaism – 1,400 BCE
Buddhism – 500 BCE

“There is not a single entity in the whole universe that is as one and universal, that has remained that global and vibrant as the Catholic Church. Yes, they are other old creeds – but there are neither one and universal.”

First , where did Cruz get his data about the whole universe?

Second, is he sure that “there is not a single entity in the whole universe that is as one and universal”? Even God? And please don’t tell me that God is the same as the Catholic Church — panentheism is anathema.

And yes, “Catholic” translates to “universal,” but that’s all. That there are more than a thousand other religions (and over 30,000 denominations of Christianity alone) tells us how no single organized religion has been and can be “one and universal.”

“The fact is that the central site of the Catholic Church is officially known, called and acknowledge by the civilized word as the “Vatican City State” that has formal diplomatic relations with most Countries, that sends to and receives Ambassadors from said Countries.”

Are you sure you want to play that card, Oscar? The Vatican was only made a state in exchange for recognizing the fascist government of Benito Mussolini.

“One: In the past, there were Priests, Bishops and even Popes who tried to destroy and erase the Catholic Church from the face of the earth – not to mention secular potentates of all kinds that attempted to do the same. Yet, the Church is still here.”

The Church of 2,000 years ago is no longer here. It has gone through several schisms which resulted in over 30,000 different denominations. The Roman Catholic denomination may be the largest, but it is a modern creation, influenced by all the schisms, internal improvements, and changes in culture caused by mostly secular influences.

The Catholic Church of 2,000 years ago no longer exists, and that’s a good thing. The Crusades and religious wars, the Inquisition and witch hunts, banning books, allowing slavery — these are gone today, and so is the version of the church that condoned it.

“Two: In this period of Phil. History, there are a number of politicians and citizens who harbor hatred for the Church — and if possible, want her out of their way. But as sure as the sun will shine tomorrow, the Church will be then up and about.”

I don’t really get what Cruz wants to prove when he argues for the Church’s power and resilience. There is one institution that is more widespread and resilient than the Catholic Church — slavery.

Does the fact that it was practiced in all continents and that it’s been around for 11,000 years validate its existence? If Cruz wanted to prove the value of the Catholic Church, why didn’t he give reasons it’s a force for good in the world instead of spouting appeals to antiquity and popularity?

“Three, finally, it is good to remember an ominous reality, viz., those Catholics of whatever political affiliation and ideological persuasion, will be usually brought to the cemetery by the Church.”

Ominous means “giving the impression that something bad or unpleasant is going to happen.” At least Cruz got one thing right.

“Lesson: Fighting is the Catholic Church is inutile!”

Trying to reform an institution is different from fighting it. You might not like the word “reformation” but it is inevitable. (Please review Church history, Oscar.)

If the Church has become a more humane, more beneficial, and more relevant institution than it was 2,000 years ago, it is thanks to the people who have fought to reform it.

Awesome image by Jeiel

Posted in Politics, Religion, SocietyComments (44)

L2MF Post #06: How to Establish a Religious Corporation


Dear Dad,

It’s been a while since I last wrote a letter. I have been busy for the past five months. The good thing about it is that I have found a job that gave me the opportunity to learn and to earn a living. In the second half of 2009, I was without what you would call a regular job. It was a time when I had to gain more knowledge, to hone my skills, and to gain perspective. The job market was not in a good condition and I was feeling desperate, even depressed.

One fine Sunday morning, while I was attending church, it occurred to me, “Even in a bad economy, these churches still thrive. They offer hope to people who feel that there’s no hope in sight and that only God can help them.” I also recalled that when I was in the United States, I saw at least two churches in every town that I passed through during my road trips. “Hmm… What worked for fast food restaurants, coffee shops and supermarkets also worked for churches. Those churches must have had a lot of property and tax-free earnings.”, I thought. As I was churning a lot of ideas in my mind, I had an “Aha!” moment. “If I can’t find a job, I might as well establish a business… *cough, cough* No, a church. Then, I’ll journey to the West and propagate the bu.. *cough, cough* gospel and gain ca… *cough,cough* converts.” I then did some research on how some Christian churches and denominations were founded. After hours of research, I found out that it is possible to establish a church by forming a religious corporation.

I have come up with a how-to guide for establishing a religious corporation. The procedures may vary depending on the would-be entre… *cough, cough* executive minister.

  1. Have some prior knowledge. In order to establish a church, you must first have a foundation, a body of knowledge to work with. You can gain this knowledge by joining other religions. Learn about their doctrines or dogmas. Read the Bible and other holy texts. You may have to doubt and jump ship from time to time in your quest for the true church.
  2. Do an intensive study of the Bible. This is best done in isolation. Have a pen, a notebook or two, and at least two different versions of the Bible. The more versions, the better, for you might need to refer to more than one interpretation in the future. Read and understand the book/s from cover to cover, for that will give you an edge over your would-be rivals.
  3. Look for Biblical prophecies that coincide with the events of the time (e.g. wars and rumors of wars, natural disasters, widespread poverty, advancement of knowledge). Reading Isaiah, the four Gospels, and the Book of Revelation would be a good start. This step will help your church appear to be based on the Bible.
  4. Go out and preach. Over the course of a few days, you may have gained divine inspiration and you are certain that God has commissioned you to preach the gospel. Start preaching to a small audience, say, to your family, friends and community. Organize a small religious meeting. Make sure that what you preach has a strong Biblical foundation so that you can win converts. You may also train some of your converts to become ministers in your fledgling church.
  5. Register the church as a corporation sole. In order to avoid problems in the future, have the church registered in the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a corporation sole, with you as the chief bishop, pastor, executive minister, rabbi or any other designation as a presiding church elder. (NOTE: In the Title XIII, Chapter II of the Corporation Code of the Philippines, a religious corporation is classified as a special corporation.) The registration should coincide with a historic event, something that would change the world (e.g. The Great War). Once you are in the SEC, conduct yourself with firmness of purpose. The officer who is in charge of your case may ask you if you are certain about your course of action. Respond with a steely conviction, knowing that you are doing God’s work.
  6. Strengthen and expand the church. Since you are doing God’s work here on Earth, you will have to edify the faith of your followers and fellow church workers. You will certainly encounter detractors, critics, skeptics, you name it. View the religious persecution as an opportunity to unite the flock. Tell your disciples that this is part of being in the church chosen by God, that they are sharing the same hardships that Jesus Christ had experienced. Keep on doing the work that God has assigned to you. You may have to travel to town after town, establishing congregation after congregation so that church membership will increase.
  7. Expand further. Once you have established congregations and built houses of worship in towns and cities, you may have to tap your pioneer spirit and journey beyond your native land. Don’t be afraid to establish the church in other lands, for it is God’s will that the gospel may be heard by more people worldwide. Preaching to expatriates would be a good start.
  8. Attract attention. Your church has grown and is still expanding. It’s about time that you become known. Don’t fight the critics and detractors, but rather use them for your purposes. The tree that bears a lot of fruit is a good target for stone throwers. Always occupy the moral high ground and lead a decent way of life. Let the people see your church members as different from the rest of society. Maintain unity in the church so that it would become a force to reckon with. Let everyone see the church as someone to be courted, especially when the elections are near.
  9. Use all available media. The 21st century is a great time to propagate the church, thanks to developments in information and communications technology (ICT). Use print media, radio, television, and even the Internet to spread the gospel.
  10. Do what other corporations do. There are corporations that not only do well in their core businesses but also go to other avenues of growth. You may establish schools, hospitals, media companies, and other ventures. Your flock is also a good source of human capital. Discourage church members from joining labor unions, for big name tycoons would prefer to hire them over union workers. Another thing that your religious corporation can do is to have corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. Extend help to communities affected by calamities. Conduct medical and dental missions, community cleanups, and other worthy projects. Your church may also participate in environmental programs such as the Earth Hour. (Yes Dad, it’s good to be green these days.)

This how-to guide is a product of months of research and observation. It was conceived during a time when I did not have a regular job. Now that I am back on track in my career, I may not be able to use this guide. Maybe in the future, someone will find this guide useful.

On a final note, I am not of the religious kind, for my spirituality is personal, meditative and nondenominational. If I would be a member of a religious corporation, I don’t want to be an executive minister or a Sunday school president. I would rather become the Chairman of the Bored.

(J) The Freethinking Geek

Posted in Personal, ReligionComments (8)

The Shepherd and The Sheep


The Shepherd
We’ve all heard of the parables that the Church or just about any Bible preacher likes to preach. There is one called the “Parable of the Lost Sheep.” Christianity is supposed to be the sheep and the Church is its shepherd. Let’s call shepherds for what they really are: ‘rulers’ – for a shepherd rules over the sheep like the Church rules over its flock in the name of Jesus Christ. Naturally, the Church doesn’t want its sheep to go astray or else it would lose its position of power. One way they stay in power is by not letting their subjects forget them. That’s why they always remind you, the ordinary person, about God’s Promises.

When you first hear of this, that “God is your shepherd” and you are His sheep, it seems like an idea that you’d like to hold on to. The church makes it sound so attractive, especially to someone who is still dependent on others, making them feel that no harm will come to them thereby giving a feeling of security. But is being just a sheep good enough for a person who is free and alive? And, can this ‘shepherd’ really protect you from all the pain and suffering in the world? Is that really what you want? Let me tell you, neither the Church nor God thinks you’re special, to them you’re just another sheep in the crowd. Catholic priests would want nothing better than for you to be the perfect sheep, helpless and without any will of your own, who does everything they say and does nothing but graze in the fields and eat grass.

Let’s talk about herding. How do modern shepherds herd their sheep? They use a herding dog to bark the sheep into their fences. The Catholic Church does the same thing, only their dog can be a lot of things. It can be the threat of going to hell, societal pressure, or it can be actual political influence. Barking is a way of scaring sheep into place without the need of physically forcing them because, like sheep, people like to go in different directions. You only need one dog/one priest to manage a whole flock of sheep or churchgoers. In time the sheep will be trained and will follow without the need to be barked at. Christians now have an internalized herding dog, the all-knowing God speaking to them or something I can also think of as the person’s conscience. Either of the two will begin to bark if they start to go astray. This dog is no ordinary dog; it knows their secrets, their thoughts and every detail of every action in their lives.

Once we realize that this dog is only in our minds. They can’t herd us into a corner anymore and we will be free to relax and go in the direction we choose to go in this life.

I’ll end with these questions. Why will you allow some God to read your thoughts/prayers or record your whole life experience only to hold you accountable about it in the afterlife? How can God actually monitor your every move? Where do we get a conscience? Do you actually need a conscience to do good acts?

Posted in ReligionComments (50)

He believes in miracles


he_believes_in_miracles_image2My friend is not a very religious person, but he prays before every meal and goes to mass every Sunday with his family. He is aware of and has great respect for my lack of faith, and we occasionally find ourselves discussing and debating on religion. Some of our discussions revolve around our contrasting views of Jesus Christ – he firmly believes in him and his preachings, while I take him to be nothing more than a compelling historical figure. Other discussions are about our similar negative views on the overly-structural methods of the Catholic Church in propagating their faith. Sometimes, our minds repel, while in other times, they are in sync. He is always open to the thought-provoking ideas I lay on the table and tries to judge them without bias.

During one of these discussions, he narrated to me a story about his grandfather. This story had a great impact on him, and he admits himself that it has strongly solidified his belief in God. He told me that a long time ago, his grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. He has consulted with several doctors, all of which were consistent with the cancer diagnosis. He was told to have surgery. On the day of the surgery, he managed to escape from the hospital to go to a nearby church to pray. Eventually, he was found by his family and/or hospital personnel and was brought back to the hospital. After a series of medical tests, they found his cancer to have completely vanished. So he never had that surgery and went home cancer free.

My friend told me that he sometimes thinks his grandfather to be overly-religious, but softens his judgment because he knows what his grandfather had been through. That reminded me of my overly-religious mother, who initially was not a very religious person. But there was a time when she was going through a difficult crisis, and with the help of Opus Dei and its teachings, she was able to cope with it and actually managed to resolve the crisis. It may not be as life-changing as the cure of cancer, but it was very significant for her. Now, she is a devout Catholic, and a supernumerary in Opus Dei. These two individuals have had significant experiences in their lives which they attribute to their faith. We cannot just easily tell them that they must resort to reason, that their belief in God is wrong, when their lives are changed by it.

I am in no position to confirm or disprove the validity of my friend’s story. I did suggest certain other possibilities such as: a non-threatening easily curable disease that mimics the signs and symptoms of that specific cancer but cannot be easily detected by medical practitioners of that time and may have been cured medically by some chemical component of the medicines he was taking or cured naturally by his immune system sometime within the duration after his last medical test prior to his escape and the time he was tested after he was found. Yes, that was a very long sentence. The point is, it may just be a coincidence. However, it was a pretty compelling coincidence that I, myself, could not fault his grandfather, who is by all means a normal human being with human thoughts and emotions, to immediately assume it as some divine miracle.

For whatever the scientific explanation behind it, one can still argue that the timing of its occurrence may be the decision of God. Another example would be the parting of the Red Sea. Even if it may have been caused by some natural phenomenon like shifting tectonic plates or unstable magnetic fields, the fact is, it happened at the moment when Moses raised his staff and the Israelites needed an escape route. By their knowledge of seas (they just don’t part) or staffs (they don’t cause seas to part) how else could the Israelites have interpreted it other than as a miracle of God? Whether by lack of knowledge or lack of mental health (let’s say they may have all taken hallucinogenic herbs and may have hallucinated the whole ordeal), the fact is, they believed it to have happened that way, was not presented with enough explanations that disproves that belief, and was greatly and personally affected by its occurrence, and most especially, its timing. The natural phenomenon could have happened on any normal day, but the fact that it happened at that specific time could easily (though not necessarily correctly) be assumed as the will of God. Disclaimer: I do not know if the parting of the Red Sea actually happened. It’s just an example.

My friend believed the story of his grandfather to be true, to have been caused by God, whether miracle or explainable. And he says that I am too mistrusting and over-skeptical to be so vehement in disproving it to the point of trying to come up with some weird disease. Eventually, our discussion ended without any joint conclusion. He stands firm in his belief in God and this so-called miracle, and I still maintain that it may be caused by the weird disease.. or other explainable thing. And then we ate pizza and went to videoke with friends.

Posted in Personal, Religion, SocietyComments (8)

Freethinkers in the Philippines?


When I was still a child back in the small town of Tinajeros, Malabon, I am as deeply religious as the ordinary Filipino. We all grow up knowing God. In fact, it is very impossible to imagine a Filipino not believing God and the church. God and church are an important part of the Philippine society.

Freethinking is not a part of the Filipino vocabulary. There is no translation available. If you deny the church’s doctrines and dogma you are denying the irrefutable. To a typical Filipino, the pronouncement of the church is undeniable.

Since childhood, I have been thought that there are four pillars of society, namely the family, the school, the church and the government. Yep! THE CHURCH. The church is a part of the Philippine society. We are made to believe that moral and values are impossible without the church, without God!

So where did this idea lead us? The government is still known to be the most corrupt in this corner of the globe. Crime rate is still high. As Philippine economy goes down the drain, and Filipino politicians are pulling each other’s leg, the church keeps blessing the guy who they think they can use. “Oh my papaya! This idea has degenerated the Filipinos to become non-thinking automation, whose only sense of hope is through prayers.

The Filipino: As a non-thinking culture.
If you go to this country every Holy Week, you will notice how Filipinos try to redeem themselves from sin. Sin from what? How do self-flagellation will clean my nation? Can those people think of anything more useful? What useless act of theatrics can achieve for my country?

Since the beginning, Filipinos have let everything to God and fate. It has been the idea ever since, that God will always show the Filipino the way. “Ika nga, Nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa Tao ang gawa.” So as a society, the Filipinos have never taken anything that they think may endanger their belief seriously. For example, we now have prayer rallies. Well I really do not know what the significance of these actions is, but I think it has something to do with good governance. WHAT!!!! Heck, like God can do something to show us how to run the government. The dumb nut they called God, cannot even create a foolproof plan. So much on being omnipotent.

In the Philippines, science is just considered a child’s plaything. We never took our inventors thoughtfully. Heck! We even do not support them. Filipino inventors lack the support from the Philippine government. Some surveys, found out, that Filipino never really read books except for comics and the Bible. Well, too much “telenovelas” I suppose.

Now look at us as people…a government in shambles, all leaches trying to step on each other’s head. (Religious leaders included. Diba Bro. Eddie Villanueva and Bro. Mike Villarde?) Ah! The church! Even this so-called church is running to grab power and money. There goes the separation of church and state.

What did it bring the Filipinos?

“If you take away my God, what will you replace it with?”
Now, if you try to take away this “God” to the mind of the Filipinos, what is left?
Hmmmmm….. The question was asked on my last debate to a Christian fundy.
In a desperate answer, my rival asked me, “What will you replace God if you take it away from me?”
But Sir, I responded back, “I’m just giving you something that was taken from you by these pastors.”
“And what is it.” He sneered as a retort.
I smiled at him and said, “Your ability to think.”

The Filipino people are losing hope, and God is the representation of this lost hope. That is why they are holding at it very tightly. The problem is, instead of finding the solution; they just hang into that image.

Rationality is spreading all over Asia. People are starting to work for solutions rather relying on prayers. Unfortunately, to the Filipinos it’s the other way around.

Freethinking is still not for every Filipino. Maybe some of us Filipino Freethinkers are in a wrong place and in the wrong time.When are we are going to wake up? When will be the right place and the right time?

Today is the right time and this is the right place! Perhaps someday more Filipinos will wake from this deep slumber and let rationality make the call.

Posted in SocietyComments (4)


Facebook.com/Freethinkers