Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .
 OPINION: Reframe LGBTQ2 rights, religious freedom debate
Chris Gudgeon of It Gets Better Canada makes the case that the recent conflicts about gay-straight alliances, the Trinity Western law school, and conversion therapy advocates are not about LGBTQ rights versus religious freedom, and that we should “reframe” the discussion to be about the suffering of kids. I’m curious to hear readers’ positions on the idea. While I don’t disagree that my primary concern is for the well-being of LGBTQ people – kids or not – Gudgeon’s position sounds hopelessly naïve. Religious groups opposing LGBTQ rights have never given a fuck about the harm done to queer people by their dogmatic positions, and when they take action, we are forced to respond in the courts, where having clear understanding and language about our rights is exactly what we need to win those battles.
 Vatican opens door to apology for Catholic Church’s role in residential schools
While he hasn’t apologized yet, he’s made noises hinting he might. One wonders how all the bishops and other asshats who wrote long, abstruse excuses for why he absolutely couldn’t are going to spin this reversal.
 The naked truth about how the repealed sex ed program compares to the 1998 one that replaces it
This is the most complete explanation of exactly what the differences are between Ontario’s modern sex ed curriculum – which Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives have threatened to scrap to satisfy their religious supporters – and the old curriculum it was supposed to replace. Quite a few of the differences surprised me! For example, the modern curriculum doesn’t waste as much time in early grades on the mechanics of reproduction – sperm, eggs, and what not – and instead puts focus on recognizing diversity and practical concerns of safety (like Internet safety, and awareness of consent).
 Rehtaeh Parsons’ father: the 2015 sex ed curriculum could have saved my daughter
Man, it’s hard not to feel for Canning. This curriculum that’s being scrapped for – let’s not beat about the bush here – entirely religious reasons really might have saved his daughter, and now he’s seeing it turned into a political football by opportunistic louts playing up to their backward-ass base. Some of the stuff he says is pretty incisive, like this about one of the boys who raped his mostly-unconscious daughter, but who objects to being called a rapist:
He obviously knows what a rapist is, but he doesn’t know what rape is.
 Man denied exemption to union dues on religious grounds, after board rules his objections are political
A sound decision by the BC Labour Relations Board. While I generally support reasonable accommodation for sincere religious beliefs, it’s pretty obvious this asshole was just trying to play politics. However, it’s disturbing that some people are allowed to be exempt from union dues for religious reasons. Proper accommodation of religious belief doesn’t mean just waiving requirements put on others; if someone really wants to make the argument that they can’t pay union dues for religious reasons, then they should be required to make some other contribution, like community service.
 How not to defend free speech
Good piece by Professor Richard Moon. Free speech does protect odious views and the right to express them, but republishing those views or platforming “controversial” speakers is not “defending” it.
 TWU commentary: A win for equality and against religious intolerance
Very nice in-depth review of what exactly the recent Supreme Court TWU law school decision was about.
 Disqualified UCP candidate stands behind calling Islam an ‘evil cult’
It’s good that the UCP gave this asshole the boot, but do keep in mind that he was days away from being on the ballot. Given how close they skirt to crankdom in their official platform, you’d think the UCP wouldn’t be slacking on their screening. As a side note, can I just say how much I love the very Alberta-politics term: “bozo eruption”.
 “We” by Zach Weinersmith (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)
So I don’t want to raise any alarms or anything, but having read several of his comments about parenting, I have to ask: has anyone checked up on Weinersmith’s kids recently?
 REPORT: Rally in Ottawa reveals conflict in the far-right movement
I mean, it should really come as no surprise to anyone. They are hate groups. That some of that hate happens to be directed internally and among themselves? Nooooot really all that shocking. But what really needs to be made clear is that the reason Goudreau was a problem wasn’t because of his views – those were right in sync with the message of the “rally”. No, the reason Goudreau was a problem was because he’s too forthright about those views.
 Are Doug Ford’s proposed changes to sex education unconstitutional?
Well now here is a fascinating question. The gist of it is that if the government’s reasons for rejecting the curriculum are due to the fact that it teaches about gender identity… well, gender identity is now a protected characteristic in Canada! That would be a really fascinating legal challenge to see. Unfortunately – as Emmett MacFarlane points out in the article – it may be difficult to prove that the reason for scrapping the curriculum is homophobia or transphobia: The PCs have been pretty consistent in their (bullshit) claim that the issue with curriculum is a lack of consultation.
 No proof B.C. boy’s migraines caused by Wi-Fi, tribunal rules
While the BC Human Rights Tribunal definitely made the correct decision (even if EHS were a real thing, the bizarre inconsistencies in the boy’s symptoms make it pretty clear that WiFi isn’t to blame), this is still a pretty tragic story. The boy ended up isolated from friends and eventually pulled out of school over this bullshit.
 CRA loses court challenge to its political-activity audits of charities
This is wonderful news! For those not up on this issue: Canadian charities have traditionally been prevented from using more than 10% of their resources on any “political activity”. The first problem with that is that it’s bullshit in practice – there aren’t many effective actions a charity can take that couldn’t be considered “political”. But the main problem is how selectively this idea of “political activity” has been enforced. The charity in this case was Canada Without Poverty, but I’ve personally written stories about things as ridiculous as the Harper government claiming “preventing poverty” is not a valid charitable goal because it is a “political activity”. Certain classes of charitable organization have been disproportionately affected by audit challenges, usually those dealing with things like environmental issues (especially anti-oilsands and anti-pipeline activists, and climate change activists who challenged the government)… and as noted just a couple weeks ago, certain other classes of charitable organization get away with being blatantly political, and never even get questioned about it. If the political activity restriction is lifted, the primary beneficiaries will be charitable organizations that annoy the government… which are really the charities we need most! Not having to fear politically-motivated audits will also mean one less existential threat for charities in general, so they’ll be more free to do their work.
 Suffer All Ye Ontario Children
Damn this piece pulls no punches, and Zerbisias makes a particular point of calling out Charles McVety. I particularly love the closing line:
[U]nlike Stephen Harper who found McVety useful but kept him under control, [Doug Ford] too dumb to know when he’s the one being used.It’s also worth mentioning that Zerbisias makes a point of giving credit where it’s to the religious populations of Ontario who don’t align themselves with the “social conservative” (translation: bigoted) base Ford is building his empire on.
 Secular countries can expect future economic growth, confirms new study
A very interesting result! We’ve always known that less religious countries are more prosperous, but does secularism lead to prosperity, or does prosperity lead to less interest in religion? Now we have at least part of the answer: secularism comes first, and prosperity follows… but only if human rights are respected. This doesn’t necessarily mean that secularization causes prosperity… but we’ve at least ruled out that secularism is generally caused by prosperity. The paper’s freely available, if you’re interested.
 Ontario Muslim Muhammed Abu Marzouk Attacked In Possible Hate Crime, Peel, Ont. Police Say
At first this story was being spun as a road rage incident, but now (since the article) police have confirmed they’re investigating it as a hate crime. Muhammed Abu Marzouk was beaten nearly to death in front of his wife and two daughters – four and six years-old – after a family picnic by two men. They claimed he almost hit them with his car when reversing in the parking lot. They didn’t just beat Abu Marzouk. They beat his wife when she threw herself over his bloody body to protect him. They beat a family friend who rushed over to help. And as terrible as this story is, it gets even worse when you look at how some people are responding to it. You have Kevin J Johnston – the man who put a bounty out on capturing videos of schoolkids praying, and who has recently been charged with hate speech – claiming the photos of Abu Marzouk in the hospital were staged by
a good make-up artist. And it just gets worse from there, with rants about this incident will enforce “political correctness”, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the fact that since the attackers were (allegedly) Serbian this is all really just because of immigrants.
 Who needs science advice anyway? Governments, for one
So a couple weeks back Weekly Update mentioned that one of Doug Ford’s first actions was to fire Ontario’s first chief scientist. Not a great start, to be sure, but no one was really surprised. But it did raise the question of whether firing the chief scientist was that big a deal or not. Turns out: it is.
 “The Best” by Zach Weinersmith (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)
I know it’s just a joke, but actually, this isn’t exactly inconsistent with Christian theology! Heaven is generally presented a land of allegorical milk and honey where you live free from suffering, misery, blah blah blah… but the thing is, God doesn’t go away when you go to Heaven. You’re still supposed to be worshipping him, obeying him, and serving his whims. If God wants you to work in the afterlife pulling the strings and levers of the universe… well, you’re kinda gonna have to do it! And it’s not like God doesn’t have a track record of dumping shit that he could theoretically do easily into our laps.
Canadian Atheist’s Weekly Update depends on the submissions of readers like you. If you see anything on the Internet that you think might be of interest to CA readers, please take a minute to make a submission.