How Too Much Religiosity Can be Dangerous in Times of Calamities

Posted by Javan Poblador | Posted on November 14, 2020

How Too Much Religiosity Can be Dangerous in Times of Calamities

by Joshua Villalobos
Bacolod City

 

“It is their fault because they didn’t leave.”

“They deserve that; They should have evacuated.”

 

These are the common lines of victim-blaming that circulate after a strong typhoon or a serious calamity happens. The concept of leavers (the ones who evacuate) and stayers (the ones who stay) are not unique to the Philippines but a common occurrence in different parts of the world.

During Hurricane Katrina in the United States in 2005, there are also a lot of stayers despite early warning signals (EWS) at that time. A 2009 study then followed entitled Why Did They ‘‘Choose’’ to Stay? Perspectives of Hurricane Katrina Observers and Survivors by Stanford and Princeton University researchers exploring various socio-cultural and psychological reasons why some people choose to stay.

Business World reporter Jasmine Cruz has put it well and consulted the researchers on how the research applies to Philippine-setting after the Yolanda onslaught in 2013.  (Link: Why don’t they evacuate?)

Another study done in Asia, Oceana, and Africa published in 2019 revealed that some people in Bangladesh and Nepal are hesitant to respond to early warning signals because “God would save them no matter where they were.” They believed that either they go to the evacuation centers or stay at their homes, a God will protect and save them from the impacts of the disaster.

I survived because Allah helped me. There were so many buildings that got washed away, but my house still stands,” one of the interviewees of the research that survived Cyclone Sidr and Mahasen.

“No one can save us but Allah. The NGOs [non‐governmental organizations] cannot do anything. If Allah does not want you to survive, all your efforts will be in vain and you will die,” he added.

They also understand disasters in the religious perspective as God’s punishment for their wrongdoings; hence they must accept it or that God is in control of all hazards, and He will not let his people down.

“Why are there so many disasters? Because we must have left his [Allah’s] path. Women are working outside the house and going here and there,” another interviewee commented.

While we respect these cultural and religious differences in seeing the world and its realities, we need to remember that most of the time, the people who stayed in their houses and refused to evacuate are always among that calamity’s casualties.

In a highly religious country like the Philippines, this line of thinking is not new to us. We have the “bahala na” culture that is very reflective of the population’s devout Catholic faith and religious fatalism. 

Congruently, we are also among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, experiencing an average of 20 typhoons a year.

Some people might simplify stayers as stupid and irrational but Sociologist Dr. Emma Porio of Ateneo de Manila University said that these people are not stupid and irrational.

It’s just their structure of rationality is different,” she added.

 

 

References:

Bibliography

  • Cruz, J. (2013, November 15). Why don’t they evacuate? Business World. Retrieved November 14, 2020, from https://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Weekender&title=why-dont-they-evacuate&id=79393
  • Ayeb‐Karlsson, S., Kniveton, D., Cannon, T., Geest, K., Ahmed, I., Derrington, E., . . . Opondo, D. (2019, September 02). I will not go, I cannot go: Cultural and social limitations of disaster preparedness in Asia, Africa, and Oceania. Retrieved November 14, 2020, from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/disa.12404

Other good reads...

Finding Humanism

Finding Humanism by Herb Burdeaux September 19, 2017 6PM (-8 GMT) Seattle, WA, USA We all have our story of how we found humanism, or like me, stumbled into it. Humanism being the great outlook of thought that attaches prime importance to human beings, rather than divine or supernatural entities. I was raised on an […]

HAPI Nutricamp with NUGEN

HAPI Nutricamp with NUGEN 7c, Ilaya Street, Alabang Muntinlupa,Philippines July 7, 2019 It’s another NUTRICAMP event by Humanist Alliance Philippines, International, and this time, teamed-up with NUGEN Entrepreneurs.  NUGEN Entrepreneurs This is a group of entrepreneurs based in Makati and Quezon. Most of the volunteers are composed of young couples who want to take part […]

HAPI Founder is new In-Sight Journal advisor

HAPI Founder is new In-Sight Journal advisor

In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, a Canada-based publication that operates in public interests rather than for profitable gains, has named the Founder and Chairperson Emeritus of Humanist Alliance Philippines, International (HAPI), Marissa Torres-Langseth, as new member of its Advisory Board, effective May 20th of 2018.   Publishing interviews, articles, and issues since the fall of 2012, […]

A HAPI Teaser of our General Assembly!

A Journey into Atheism

A Journey into Atheism By Eldemar R. Sabete Bacolod City Growing up in a Catholic family setting means, following the traditional way of living. To conserve, save, and protect the faith are expected to do by every member of the family. It’s natural to be conscious for a child who wants a sense of belongingness […]

Kids NutriCamp celebrates birthday of HAPI Founder

Kids NutriCamp celebrates HAPI Founder’s birthday

Children of Kids Nutrition Campaign were all smiles at the afternoon program in Barangay Alabang, Muntinlupa City on May 30th, 2018. Why wouldn’t they? It was also the 60th birthday of the Founder and Chairperson Emeritus of Humanist Alliance Philippine, International (HAPI), Marissa Torres-Langseth, RN, MSN, ANP. Since its inception in 2015, Kids Nutrition Campaign, […]

Guest Blogger : A HAPI Human Rights Advocate from Hawaii, USA

January 27, 2016 I joined HAPI in honour of the borderlands, “Other” child I used to be; to retroactively tell her that curiousity, wonder, and questions are not sins needing absolution, but rather, they are wings that make me soar above the clouds to get a better view of the human condition. Joining HAPI is […]

About The Author

Joshua Villalobos

Joshua is currently an AB Sociology freshie at Silliman University. He took Humanities and Social Sciences in Senior High School where he, along with his groupmates, conducted the research. He is a member of HAPI, HAPI Scholars, formerly head of HAPI Junior and co-founder of the Bacolod Pride Organizing Team – Tribu Duag.