Humanist Voices
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Humanist Voices

Interview with Masereka Sebastian on Freethinking — Secretary, Buhanga Thuligahuma Women’s Collective

Photo by Ghost Presenter on Unsplash

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How was religion part of family and community in early life?

Masereka Sebastian: - It was a way of identity so that you can belong to a Catholic, Protestant and/or Muslim family.

- It was a ways in which family heads and community members influenced their own approach to parenting and shape required behaviors

- Helped families/communities to meet at worshiping centers and be able to plan for certain issues.

- Religions were tools to help poor or sick people. People in worshiping centers used to collect food or money to help the needy.

- Religion was a way of helping to speak to God to give what a family or community wanted. People in a family or religion prayed together to their God to be answered in turn.

Jacobsen: What is the common view of religion, in general, throughout much of Africa?

Sebastian: - Religious people are the only ones who will go to heaven.

- If you are religious and keep praying to God every time and now, you will become rich.

- Religion is viewed as a way to good life; people who don’t belong to religion belong to Satan.

- Religion is viewed as a way to believe in God.

Jacobsen: When did freethinking become a life-affirming and intellectually fulfilling view for you?

Sebastian: In 2016, freethinking became a life-affirming and intellectually fulfilling view for me because of the following reasons:

- Superstitions associated with religion, e.g., the Muslim communities which believe that other people who are not Muslims are Haram/unwanted.

- That prayer can bring rain and where religious people cannot put much emphasis on protecting the environment, e.g., planting trees.

- That people die because the first man sinned.

The above among others prompted me to become a free thinker who believes in science.

Jacobsen: What are the common arguments given for religion in Africa? What seem like some decent to strong counter-arguments to those reasons?

Sebastian: - That free thinkers are Illuminati, yet for them they don’t know and don’t believe in that.

-That freethinkers are satanic.

-They think that associating with freethinkers will lead to loss of their cultures and religions.

What is decent is that some religious teachings are good, e.g., that do not kill and love your neighbor as you love yourself. These are also stipulated in the freethinkers’ principles.

Jacobsen: What are some of the more prominent organizations for the non-religious and freethinking in Africa known to you? Those you would recommend supporting and bolstering financially, with volunteering, with skills and assets, and through the provision of news and notoriety.

Sebastian: - I know Save the Children Uganda and HIVOS.

Jacobsen: What are the importance of scientific training, implementation of women’s rights, and the separation of religion and state for the flourishing of Africans?

Sebastian: - Scientific training will help people learn how to protect the environment so that they may leave healthier.

- Scientific training helps communities to protect themselves from diseases and not believe that God will protect.

- Implementation of women’s rights protects women from being poor; women’s rights enable them to work where also men can work and get paid equally.

- Implementation of women’s rights make women empowered ready and able to speak and express their needs and solutions made or got by women.

- Separation of religion will safeguard people from losing in worshiping centers that would be spent on working in farms and other works.

- Separation of religion will help people get saved from exploitation by religious clerics who demand money at what they call baptism, confirmation, and other business sacraments.

Jacobsen: What is your current work in the freethinking community? What are your hopes and fears for the rest of 2018/19?

Sebastian: My current work in the freethinking community is riding my motorcycle, which has even aged to work with women and other people to create peace and harmony.

There is circular education at Mother Givers Humanist School: focusing on women’s economic empowerment, diseases control and treatment at Pellissier healthy centre at our humanist school, tree planting to sustain life and the environment, dressing the poor children and orphans, feeding children and bringing water, etc.

My hopes

Having more children enrolled into our school to acquire circular education and women empowered with rights.

My Fears

Some religious people may criticize our works negatively.

Our free thinking promotion works may have inadequate funds for facilitation after BBI has pulled out’ we have no strong sustainable projects.

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

Photo by Ghost Presenter on Unsplash

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