This Week in Canadian Religion 2018-05-06


By Scott Douglas Jacobsen 

“We’ve talked a lot lately about what Albertans think, as part of our polling series for The Road Ahead project.

We’ve heard how voters, at this point in time, heavily favour the United Conservative Party over the governing NDP. We’ve also heard how their views on the leader of each party don’t necessarily align with their voting intentions. And we’ve heard that Albertans, as a group, aren’t as conservative as you might think.

We’ve learned all this through an unusually large and in-depth survey. We asked people a lot of questions, about what they believe — and about themselves. ”


“Newfoundland and Labrador may have one of the oldest and unhealthiest populations in Canada, but when it comes to medical assistance in dying, or MAiD, the rates are well below the Canadian average.

Stiff opposition from religious groups is one factor, with some denominations refusing to allow doctor-assisted deaths at publicly funded, faith-based nursing homes, except under extreme circumstances.

Sister Elizabeth Davis is leader of the Sisters of Mercy in St. John’s, which owns and operates St. Patrick’s Mercy Home. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

“We would facilitate a transfer to a site where it would be offered,” said Sister Elizabeth Davis, who serves on the board of St. Patrick’s Mercy Home in St. John’s, which is owned by the Sisters of Mercy but is government-funded — nearly $22 million in 2016-17 — through Eastern Health.

The same policy exists at the Salvation Army Glenbrook Lodge on Torbay Road, which received more than $11 million from the province last year.”


“Canada is the fourth most-accepting country in the world when it comes to immigrants, a new study by Gallup says.

Canada scored 8.14 out of a possible 9 in Gallup’s Migrant Acceptance Index, which put it fourth out of 140 countries in terms of how accepting each country’s population is of newcomers. Iceland was ranked first, followed by New Zealand and Rwanda.

Gallup says it created the index to assess people’s acceptance of immigrants based on what it calls “increasing degrees of proximity.” This is assessed through three questions that ask respondents whether immigrants living in their country, becoming their neighbours and marrying into their homes are “good things or bad things.”

Canada’s score is based on the answers of 2,000 Canadians aged 15 and older who were surveyed between August 10 and November 29, 2017. The summer of 2017 saw a significant spike in the number of people crossing into Canada from the United States and claiming asylum in response to immigration policies introduced by U.S. President Donald Trump.”


“India’s counter-terrorism law enforcement agency has registered  First Information Report (FIR) against a Surrey, B.C. man accused of plotting to carry out a major terrorist attack in India’s Punjab state.

Hardeep Singh Nijjar is accused of “conspiring and planning to carry out a major terrorist attack in India,” the National Investigation Agency said in its Thursday FIR filing, a key step towards pursuing extradition per India’s extradition treaty with Canada.

Nijjar’s associates in India have been carrying out reconnaissance of gatherings of the hardline Hindu nationalist group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), “with an intention to target them and strike terror,” states the report.”


“EDMONTON – The Alberta government has reversed a decision which denied an evangelical Christian couple’s request to adopt a child because of their religious views on sexuality and gender identity.

The unnamed Edmonton couple filed for a judicial review last year after their application to adopt was rejected.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, arguing that the decision violated their rights, helped the man and woman with their court case.”


“Laughter floated in the air with the smells of Arabic coffee as the Masjid Dar As-Salam mosque in Charlottetown welcomed all visitors during an open house on Saturday.

The event was hosted at the mosque on MacAleer Drive by the Muslim Society of P.E.I. to give the curious a chance to come inside and learn more about the city’s mosque and Islamic religion.

Organizers say it was an opportunity to welcome anyone, and for everyone to learn more.

“To educate the people and to create awareness so that people can understand that we are no different, just like any other parishioner,” said Najam Chishti, president of the Muslim Society of P.E.I. “We come and pray and we live in peace and tranquility.””

MONTREAL — As Nigerian asylum seekers flood into Canada across a ditch in upstate New York, Canadian authorities are asking the United States for help — but not with managing the influx at the border.Instead, they want U.S. immigration officials to reduce the foot traffic by screening Nigerians more stringently before granting them U.S. visas.

It is a ripple effect that few expected last summer when people, mostly Haitians, began to walk into Quebec via an “irregular” border crossing north of Plattsburgh, N.Y., and seek refugee status.”


“Muslim women gathered in Calgary for a day-long conference Saturday to talk about what can sometimes be a taboo topic — intimacy.

The Being ME (Muslimah Empowered) conference was founded in Toronto seven years ago, and is in its fourth year in Calgary. Workshops included an introduction to breast health, career networking, and talks about sex and marriage, and healing after divorce.

“There is this really safe space for women to come together and talk about issues that are important to them, whether it’s mental health, sexual health, things that are often taboo,” said Farah Islam, who travelled from Toronto to attend Saturday’s event. “Love it, love the sisterhood, love the energy. I learn so much about our religion this way.””


“Perhaps no other entertainment franchise has fans as dedicated and passionate as Star Wars, but what is it that keeps fans coming back to the galaxy far, far away after more than 40 years?

It could be the raw fun of space battles, lightsaber duels and alien creatures, or it could be that Star Wars taps into something much deeper — the human appetite for myths, legends and even spirituality and religion.

“It deals with spiritual questions that are timeless. It deals with good versus evil, right versus wrong, light versus darkness,” said Tony Bidgood, a Catholic priest at St. Teresa’s Parish in St. John’s.

“It deals with people who do well and then fall, and then get redeemed again. It deals with questions about eternal life. Those are universal, philosophical human questions.””


“The great debate between the religious and the secular can in many ways be boiled down to one word: Faith. It is something that you either have or do not have, and the chasm between believers and non-believers is virtually unbridgeable. For those who have faith in a Christian context, the Bible is the inspired word of God, true in all of its essentials. It provides an explanation of human life on Earth, it provides guidance and commands on how human beings should relate to God and to one another. It stipulates rituals and sacraments. It holds forth the promise of an after life to which all should aspire. For those who do not have faith, the Bible is no more than a collection of the myths and legends of an ancient semi-pastoral, semi-nomadic people. The God of the Bible, whether Yaweh or Jehovah, is as relevant to them as Zeus or Jupiter. The Bible may be of literary or anthropological interest, but as a guide to life today it is no more significant than The Iliad or The Aeneid. For them, the Bible is a sometimes amusing, sometimes totally incredible account of what supposedly took place several thousand years ago, but it is of human, not divine, origin. There is thus an enormous gap between believers and non-believers.”


Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.

One thought on “This Week in Canadian Religion 2018-05-06

  1. Tim Underwood

    “…the Bible is no more than a collection of the myths and legends of an ancient semi-pastoral, semi-nomadic people.”

    I disagree. The Old Testament is a reworking of Persian and Egyptian tales woven together to provide a unifying mythos for the amalgamation of many differing, and not very pastoral, tribal entities living in the Palestinian or Israeli area.

    The Gospels were composed by Roman Elite to offer the enslaved and the military enlisted hope for a better world tomorrow. Obedience was the Roman Elite’s objective.

    The Pauline Letters were probably composed, by Romans, to compete with Judaism for the sole purpose of weakening the Jewish control in Israel.

    In short, all the biblical writings are examples of Imperial propaganda.

    The many other, related gospels and scriptures are just examples of less useful propagandas or possibly just trivia.

    In an age where Donny Trump sits on the right-hand of God, in Pat Roberson’s hallucination, we can see how easily devotees are enchanted. A recent cult leader has now been surpassed by an even more powerful, presidential cult leader. The core American voters have moved on from Jimmy Jones to Donny Trump.


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