Photo: Humanist Society (Singapore) treasurer Tatt Si (left) and Wade Kardaal (right) from Taichung Atheists, Freethinkers, and Humanists
By Tan Tatt Si
Wade Kardaal and I met in this Taipei Kanpai restaurant in Taiwan, both hailing from different locales: Wade of Minnesota / Taichung , and me a Singaporean at the back end of a Greater-China photography trip.
The majority of Taiwanese follow Buddhism and Taoism. However, Wade expressed his dismay at ordinary Taiwanese not being able to distinguish among Buddhism, Taoism and folk religions, seeing similarities with his American midwest, mostly Lutheran-isque experience and upbringing, where followers are more focused on rituals and community concepts are relatively weak.
However, he noted that disciples and followers from the four major Buddhist organizations in Taiwan (Fo Guang Shan 佛光山，Chung Tai Chan 中台山，Dharma Drum Mountain 法鼓山，Tzu Chi 慈济精舍）run their religions the neuveau and more charismatic way, and are rather successful in their Buddhist missions. All four are able to touch people personally through effective community outreach strategies.
Wade, who works as an English teacher in Taiwan, is currently the administrator of Taichung Atheists, Freethinkers, and Humanists, a Taiwan-based Facebook group with about 150 members. He is also the Acting Chairperson at International Humanist and Ethical Youth Organisation (IHEYO) Asia Working Group.
About one in five Taiwanese are non-religious. At an IHEYO meeting earlier this week, Taiwan has been chosen by the as host country for the next IHEYO international conference. The Humanist Society (Singapore), having hosted the previous conference last June, will provide support to our friends in Taiwan.
Wade is a genuine stickler to due process and humbly accepts a position only when he knows everyone’s happy. Taiwan and East Asia will be in good hands with Wade and his contacts in Hong Kong and Japan!