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Mark Richardson — Member, Humanist Alliance Philippines, International


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

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

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/07/10

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What is your own affiliation or relationship with the non-religious community in the Philippines?

Mark Richardson: My connection with the Philippines started when I was introduced to a Filipina, at IDIC a community group, mainly for seniors, here in Seattle. I actually can’t remember how my association with Marissa and the HAPI group started except to say it was through Facebook somehow.

Jacobsen: What is your own perspective on Filipino lack of religion? That small number of people who do not adhere to a formal religion?

Richardson: I consider the atheists, humanists and freethinkers in the Philippines to be amongst the most respected of groups in my mind, not quite up there with ex-Muslims, but close. They, especially the youth, are at the front line in the battle with the church establishment. The saturation of religion throughout Filipino society and the immense societal pressure to conform from family, friends and community elders must make any expression of secular thought very difficult. It must take much courage for anyone to break out. I know Filipinos are one, if not the, greatest user of social media in the world and I hope they use this to counteract the influences of religion.

Jacobsen: What do you consider the best argument for reason and against superstition?

Richardson: I think Epicurious’ concise logic on the existence of evil adequately deals with the notion of God, the “loving”, omnipresent, omnipotent entity featured in the monotheistic religions. Other less perfect and less powerful entities that might be called gods I dismiss like they are in science fiction shows like Star Trek TOS (the episode “Who Mourns for Adonis” springs to mind) where false gods only appear god-like by having more advanced technology. I must make it clear, at this point, that I do not want to take away a persons need to have faith and believe in whatever they want. Without some form of sinister mind-control this would be impossible anyway. What is absolutely essential, though, is that this religious freedom does not impinge on the other aspects of our lives. Both historically and currently, it is clear that religious dogma, or interpretations of it, has led to persecutions towards minority groups, racism, generally bigoted behavior, hostility and, unfortunately, much bloodshed. The wall of separation between church and state is a concept of paramount importance that must be maintained and defended. Laws ands public policy in general must be determined through secular thought only.

Jacobsen: Do you have any recommendations for the young in terms of building a coalition of activists for secularism?

Richardson: Continuing the great work of the HAPI group (and others) with the focus on educational programs for the young, and building up the grass roots activism, is the best way forward I think. One concern I have is that the secular groups do not become too fragmented and thus lose the ability to effect change. This is an issue for the secular movement in the USA, in my opinion, and there is a definite benefit of having strength in numbers. With a strong grass roots membership and a minimum of organizations to represent them, I think it will be easier to influence the politicians, law makers and educators.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Mark.


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


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