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Interview with Lee Sakura — Administrator, Atheist Republic Manila Consulate

2022-12-13

Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/01/11

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Was there a background in atheism, familially? How was the culture growing up in Manila? How is it now regarding religion and irreligion?

Lee SakuraNone both of my parents and grandparents are Roman Catholics. The culture here in the Philippines has a majority with conservative Catholics, but Catholics here are tolerant. The other Christian sects here; they are the ones who are so annoying.

I mean typical Catholics here do not read the Bible, unlike another sect who had been poison by the word of the Bible. They are more oppressive than Catholics, the majority of those sects are the ones who teach their faith in school, e.g. creationism instead of science and history.

Catholics also do that if you are in a Catholic school.

If you watched TV here in the Philippines, the morning ‘till evening the word “God” will be mentioned at least 100 times, in all programs, even if it is a science program or medical program. -_-

Atheism here in the past years has been taboo, even me becoming an atheist. I did not know the word atheism. But now, I see people nowadays are aware of atheism. Thanks to the internet and Mark Zuckerberg. 🙂

Of course, there are always misconceptions about atheism, like we worship Satan. We are evil. We think ourselves all knowledgeable, etc., but there are also people here who understand atheists are the irreligious/secularist minority, but at least the Philippines are not like Islamic nations with a Sharia law persecuting atheists.

Jacobsen: Within that family background, was there a surrounding culture that brought forth a critical mindset towards religion? If so, how? If not, why not?

Sakura: Yes, there is a culture. My parents are typical devoted Catholics, but not religious. I am skeptics since child, growing up my father taught me to be open minded, to always listen to the point of view of others.

The reason why, my father does not stop me questioning or wondering about things that I thought are not right. My parents even criticize the Catholic religion. I can say that they are faithful secularists.

Jacobsen: Through these threads of family and surrounding culture, what made for the pivotal moments in development as an atheist?

Sakura: The pivotal point, since childhood science has been my favorite subject. I even come to a point that the Bible is obviously contradictory with modern science. That is where I started questioning myself: Is there really a God? Or is it just a product of human imagination just like ghosts?

Jacobsen: Also, “a-” as a prefix in atheism means many things because it is both denial and affirmation. What is affirmed there to you? What is denied to you?

Sakura: I’m kinda lost with that “a” prefix’; all I can say is atheism is the disbelief in God/gods existence. It does not give an affirmative answer that God does not exist for God existence is under Gnosticism or agnosticism. I am a gnostic atheist by the way; I can prove that God does not exist at least at this test of time. 🙂

Jacobsen: How did you find the Atheist Republic? What do you do for them? What are your tasks and responsibilities for the Metro Manila consulate?

Sakura: If you are talking about the page, an atheist friend recommended it to me; but if you are talking about ARMMC, a Filipino atheist which I encountered in the AR page added me in Metro Manila consulate.

I am a moderator.

Jacobsen: How does an Atheist Republic consulate work? What are its daily operations? How do you make sure the operations function smoothly?

Sakura: Along with the other administrators, I am filtering who would like to join the group. The group is exclusively for atheists only, removing a member if the member does not follow the rules, they receive warning by the way 🙂 and observing the status of the group.

It’s an online group, the main objective of every consulate is to build a community of atheism, to have a discussion not only in atheism, but a discussion between atheist so communication is very important without it there would be no bonds there would be no successful meet ups.

Jacobsen: How does the political situation influence the potential spread of non-religious stances and belief systems in Manila and the surrounding area?

Sakura: Ah, because the Philippines has a separation of church and state, at least, there is a freedom of religion, where the believers are free to get out of their religion unlike Islamic countries. Those countries where the government will hunt you, just like has been currently happening now in Malaysia.

Jacobsen: Why volunteer for them? What meaning comes from it?

Sakura: Because I like AR more than other atheist groups, where you can only talk about atheism or you have to be intelligent. But that doesn’t mean I do not like other atheist groups; it’s just that I am comfortable with AR’s rules, where we can have talked everything under the sun, I can really feel the freedom of expression.

Jacobsen: How does Atheist Republic, in your own experience and in conversing with others, give back to the atheist community and provide a platform for them — even to simply vent from social and political conventions that hold them either in contempt or in begrudging silence for fear of loss of life quality?

Sakura: Atheist Republic gives a safe haven for atheists and closet atheist here. In the consulate of AR, we are also aware atheists are not alone. The AR page also reminded us that we atheist should not hate religious people. The islamophobia is another case; although some butthurt ex-Muslims do not know the difference between disrespecting a belief and disrespecting people are different.

Jacobsen: What do you hope for the future of atheism? What are the movements next steps?

Sakura: I do hope that atheism is no longer given a stigma. I hope the world would become just like other European countries or Japan.

In AR Manila consulates, we are supporting other atheist organizations like HAPI and PATAS to urge our members to join their project. Last month, the LGBTQ+ community invited us to join the parade. We did join, the manila consulates will support any movement that are connected to the path of secularism or humanitarian purpose.

Jacobsen: Any feelings or thoughts in conclusion?

Sakura: My only conclusion is the more we atheist exposed ourselves the more people could understand us, I mean, it’s a human nature to be afraid of something you do not know. Atheists and LGBTQ+ are just like cousins in a way because they feel the same discrimination.

Although, the LGBT are more acceptable than now, we atheist should learned how LGBT become accepted or tolerated in the world. we should learn their tactics.

Jacobsen: Thank you for your time, Lee.

Sakura: Thank you too, Mr. Scott Jacobsen. 🙂

License

In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at www.in-sightpublishing.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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