Whenever CBC tackles atheism on its news network, they bungle it hideously. Several times they’ve had panels discussing atheism without a single atheist present, and no one speaking for an atheist position – you can imagine how they’ve turned out.
Well on The National on Sunday night, Wendy Mesley – a serial offender when it comes to being boneheaded about secular and atheist issues – hosted a panel that was supposed to be discussing The Sunday Assembly (aka the “atheist church”) and, shock of shocks, there was actually an atheist present. But before you start getting your hopes up that someone at the CBC has actually decided to give atheists a fair voice on the network, I have to point out that no one knew he was an atheist until midway through the discussion.
Oh well, even if they only put an atheist on air by accident, let’s see how the panel went. You can view it on the CBC website – the panel starts at 31:45.
Fair warning, it doesn’t get off to a good start; Mesley begins with a recorded segment where she says: “Scratch the secular surface even now, and there might be more god than you think.” (The evidence she presents for that is God in the National Anthem and the prayers that open Parliament. Because those things are secular, I guess?)
Nevertheless, if you have ten minutes to spare, I recommend giving it a watch. They don’t really stay on the topic of The Sunday Assembly for long, and actually drift over many topics over the course of the discussion. It can be a little infuriating at times, of course; you might want to brace yourself against banging your head against the wall every time National Post columnist Tasha Kheiriddin opens her mouth – pretty much every time she speaks she slams atheists for having no morals, even when it’s a complete non sequitur. Surprisingly, the least ignorant non-atheist on the panel was the Catholic representative, Oriana Bertucci. Over the course of the discussion they touch on topics as diverse as religious symbols in government and in schools, the Census question about religious affiliation, secularism and inclusiveness in the workplace, and the growth of atheism.
So if you can spare ten minutes, check it out, then let’s hear your thoughts in the comments section.