Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .
 Globe editorial: Don’t exaggerate the threat from returning Islamic State fighters
A call for reason amidst the politicized insanity being tossed around about people returning Daesh.
 Religion, Faith and the Public Square
A brief overview of the growing irreligiosity of Canadians, and their growing disdain for religion in matters of government (not so much “the public sphere”). Try not to be too distracted by the dire mood by the writer at the idea of declining religious power.
 ‘Good Samaritan’ shot dead trying to stop altercation in Hamilton identified as Brock University student
Yosif Al-Hasnawi, first-year Brock student and aspiring doctor, and son of an Iraqi immigrant, stepped out of his mosque and saw two men harassing and assaulting an older man. He could have looked away, but he stepped up to help… and was shot, and died in the hospital. He may have died because paramedics didn’t believe he was really shot.
 Controversy over Trinity Western’s law school should not be framed as religious freedoms vs. LGBT rights
The voices of LGBTQ students at TWU are too rarely heard in the debate.
 Humanists argue against religious law school at Supreme Court of Canada
A very nice explanation of the arguments made by secularists and humanists in the Trinity Western University law school case heard last week.
 2 Calgary women receive racially charged threats signed with altered Canadian flag
alterationto the flag is that the maple leaf is replaced with a cross. When you read what these women did to be targeted – particularly Misty Wind Shingoose – it’s astounding.
 The Samaritan’s Purse: Is The Bottom Falling Out of the Shoebox?
I hadn’t heard of Samaritan’s Purse, but they sound just as intolerant and skeevy as The Salvation Army.
 Trinity Western at the Supreme Court: Witnessing the debate
Another witness’s take on how things shook down at the Trinity Western University Supreme Court hearings.
 Innu women testify that Oblate missionary inappropriately touched them
The incident mentioned in the headline is only one of a number of cases of rape and child abuse by clergy described in this piece.
 Navigating free speech when the ‘debate’ is you, and you’re not invited
This is the must-read article of the week (and its second part, though that focuses more on the specifics of the trans struggle). Mercedes Allen describes, in brilliant detail, exactly how “free speech” becomes
weaponized, step-by-step. She highlights exactly where the mistakes are made, and where they are exploited by the agents of hate and intolerance. And she makes a point of naming names, and showing how,
[i]f you’re willing to plumb it to any depth, it quickly degenerates into straight-up bigotry, and kookiness… because, after all, it was never really about freedom of speech.
 Transphobia, Islamophobia and the free speech alibi
Of all the voices that we really should hear on the topic of free speech in Canada, I don’t think any is more important right now than a professor at Wilfred Laurier University – the university of the infamous Lindsay Shepherd incident – who also specializes in studying islamophobia, and testified in support of M-103 at the Parliamentary subcommittee.
 Templeton announce new prayer study. But what about their old one?
This is amusing. The Templeton Foundation announced a study on the effectiveness of prayer… for the prayer, not the prayee. The reason is obvious: since prayer is a lot like meditation, it’s a pretty safe bet that there will be positive effects for people who pray, just as there are positive effects from meditation… doesn’t really matter if there is no god and there’s no chance that your prayer will have any impact; the mere act of praying will probably be helpful to the prayer. However, in their announcement, Templeton made a point of saying that trying to study the effect of praying on the prayee was a
scientific (and theological!) dead end. But Professor Law is having none of that shit; he reminds that Templeton already did a study on the effects of prayer.
 Grey Matters: How to choose your charities wisely
This time of year, a lot of people are considering donations to charities. And every year, around this time, Canadian Atheist reminds Canadians that not all charities are equal, and that donations can have wildly different impacts depending on where they go. This is a very nice piece, describing some of the things you should consider when giving.
 Anti-Muslim documentary, rejected elsewhere, makes world premiere in Toronto
This is the way racist, white nationalist, and anti-Muslim propaganda should be reported on. The story doesn’t try to pretend that there isn’t a single, obvious conclusion; it doesn’t feign faux “balance” by pretending that there is a “both sides” to this story. The bigots’ claims are presented, but then immediately fact checked, and shown to be bullshit. If this was how journalism was normally done, especially with social justice and science stories, we’d have a much saner world.
 Justin Trudeau’s Apology Will Resonate Globally
I knew Justin Trudeau’s apology to LGBTQ people victimized by government policies of the past was monumentally important to Canadians and Canada. I didn’t appreciate how important it was internationally. As the article points out, Trudeau isn’t the first head of state to issue a formal apology for past injustices against LGBTQ people… but he went much further than most, in promising compensation, and vowing “never again”.
 “’Willful ignorance cannot be an excuse’: How to navigate complicity ”(Audio: 18:56)
“complict” was the Dictionary.com Word of the Year for 2017, so The Current put together this really neat piece on the nature of complicity, and the social responsibility to step in and do something. There’s a lot more to it than you’d think!
 Vancouver 6th-graders say school won’t allow Jewish holiday decorations
Left out of the headline is that the decorations were refused because the school was refusing all religious decorations. One of the kids even says:
you should either have no religion showing in the school…or you should include everybody, and I really like that.Yeah, that’s exactly the point. The problem is that she sees Christmas trees, Santa Claus, and reindeer as “Christian”… which is ridiculous; while some of those things have religious roots, none of them are Christian roots (Santa Claus include elements of a Christian saint, but isn’t actually part of the Christian celebration), and in any case, the religious associations are long forgotten. Presumably if there were any non-religious parts of Hanukkah, they’d be welcome – the dreidel, for example, is actually used for a game of chance (originally of Germanic origin), sometimes played with chocolate gelt (coins).
 “Beverley McLachlin Bids Farewell to Supreme Court” (Video: 17:28)
It is the end of an era, as Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, Canada’s first female Chief Justice, Canada’s longest serving Chief Justice, retires. Appointed by Chrétien in 2000, McLachlin has long been a friend to secularists, humanists, and freethinkers – to anyone on the side of reason, compassion, empathy, and hope. That Canada today is a world leader in human rights, even as our neighbour to the south implodes, is thanks in no small part to the integrity of the McLachlin court. McLachlin heard her last case , and will officially retire .
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“He understood better than most that politics is a function of culture, and culture is ultimately a function of religion.”
Trump’s base is Evangelical. They are all primed for a return of a Jewish messiah. How can rational secularists counter this religious enthusiasm? One of the possible ways is to help these Evangelicals understand where these religious predictions came from.
Now that the Evangelicals’ attention has been focused on this 2000 year old Middle Eastern story, the time may be ripe for some disclosure of the probable writing staff who composed these Biblical writings. These fantasies, traditionally referred to as prophecies, were actually created as political expediencies following the Roman / Jewish wars of the first century.
Recent investigations into this Roman ‘political expediency’ include works such as ‘Creating Crist’ by James Valliant or ‘Caesar’s Messiah’ by Joseph Atwill.
Now is probably the most opportune time to assert that the roots of the Evangelical Christians’ fantasies are ancient wartime propagandas. After all, their culture is ultimately a function of their religion.
I just finished reading a book I got from the Toronto Public Library called “The Near East: A Cultural History” by Arthur Cotterell. It is a very timely read, especially at this time of year when the Christians start beating their drums so loudly. The book begins right at the beginning in the near east with the Sumerians and finishes up with the latest developments in 2017. It factually explains were all the nonsense espoused by Judaism, Christianity and Islam really came from. If you haven’t read it I highly recommend it especially at this time of year, about 300 pages and very well illustrated. If there is one book I have ever read that I would really like to have my own copy of, this is it. To use a reference whenever the religious nonsense becomes just a little bit too overwhelming.
I have a book on order right now similar to this one. On Amazon.com there is a discouraging review of ‘The Near East’ by what is probably a devout Muslim reader. He wasn’t satisfied with the focus of the text. The book probably only lightly, or inappropriately, covers the Islam story; in his opinion.
This is just another example of how tightly cultural tribes are wound around foundational stories.