Weekly Update: to

by | September 1, 2018

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

[Pie chart with the title question. “Does the municipality give permissive tax exemptions to religious properties?” 86 do. 5 do not. 7 have no churches in their jurisdiction.]

It’s depressing that there are more municipalities that simply don’t have any churches than there are that won’t give them tax breaks.

  • [] Naturopathy Textbook

    Dunno how I missed this but someone put a copy of the premier naturopathy textbook into Dr. Harriet Hall’s hands, and… she took it to pieces. It’s amazing what’s in there; there are claims that prayer cures, whole chapters on ancient theories about the four humours, and some of the most basic facts are wrong (like saying ions are subatomic).

  • [] Universal Declaration of Atheist Rights

    Most human rights instruments, including the UDHR, describe “freedom of religion”; it’s one of the “four freedoms”. There has always been a struggle by nonbelievers to get it understood that “freedom of religion” includes “freedom from religion”. Both the United Nations and Canada – and most countries – have agreed that “freedom of religion” includes “freedom from religion”, but there are still some holdouts, and of course the idea still finds resistance in the general population. And of course, there’s plenty of open discrimination against atheists both by states and by extrajudicial mobs. A Universal Declaration of Atheist Rights is actually not a bad idea at all, but it will be a tough sell.

  • [] Anglican Church Staff Are Reuniting Families With Lost Victims Of Residential Schools

    Credit where it’s due, while some churches have resisted taking responsibility for their role in residential schools (*cough*Catholics*cough*), many are. And some are not just taking responsibility, they are taking real action toward trying to repair some of the harm they caused.

  • [] By secular standards, the Catholic Church is a corrupt organization: Neil Macdonald

    Neil Macdonald makes good use of his platform to make a full-throated, no-holds-barred criticism of the Catholic church.

  • [] Campaign Life Coalition Boasts ‘Social Conservatives Have Momentum’ After Tory Convention

    While they failed to get the Conservative Party to reopen the abortion debate, the regressives did manage to score a few wins against abortion rights and medical assistance in dying.

  • [] What BC cities give religious property tax exemptions? A look at our data

    In last week’s Update I mentioned the BCHA’s new series on municipal property taxes on church properties. Well, here’s some of the data they put together, and it’s fascinating. Of the 98 municipalities they got responses from, only 5 don’t give tax-free status. And of those that do, about 2⁄3 don’t bother to do a test for whether there is a public benefit worthy of tax-free status. All their data is on line if you’re curious.

  • [] A B.C. teacher tried to get a religious exemption from paying dues because unions are ‘a major part of the grand Marxist agenda’

    We’ve had an Update or two about this guy before, and his losing streak continues.

  • [] Montreal woman kicked out of courtroom for wearing hijab still looking for answers

    This case goes back quite a while! , Rania El-Alloul went to Court of Québec to get her car back, which had been impounded when her son drove it with a suspended licence. The Judge, Eliana Marengo, before the case even began, told El-Alloul to remove her hijab, and when El-Alloul refused, Marengo adjourned the case and walked out. The Court of Québec jumped to the defence of Judge Marengo, even though her actions violated standards set out by the Supreme Court (there was a similar case in the early 1990s in Ontario, where a judge ordered a Muslim man to remove his kufi, but in that case the Ontario Superior Court did not side with the judge). The last time this case came up was earlier this year, where Marengo’s attempts to shut down a judicial investigation were foiled. But Rania El-Alloul has been fighting this battle for over three years now, and not only has she never got any sort of justice – while there have been rulings that Marengo was wrong, she has faced no consequences, and I haven’t heard any news that she’s shown any remorse or wouldn’t do it again – she still hasn’t got a solid word from the Québec court system on what the actual policy is.

  • [] The Religious Typology

    This is very interesting new direction from Pew this week. Studying and categorizing belief has always been challenging; most surveys simply lump everyone not affiliated with a religion into “Nones” (as in, “What is your religious affiliation? None.”). This has always been problematic because: 1) many atheists do affiliate with religions (for example, there is a particular tradition of “atheist Jews”, people who are obviously atheist but still identify as Jewish because they feel to do otherwise would be to abandoned a beleaguered group); and 2) many people who don’t affiliate with a religion are nevertheless very religious (misunderstand that “not being affiliated with a religion” does not mean you’re atheist has been the cause of numerous stupid headlines, like this one). Pew has decided to refactor religious belief into seven categories; the two “non-religious” categories make up 29% (of the US; all this data is American) – the “religion resisters” at 12% and the “solidly secular” at 17%. I’d bet big money that on reading that, most atheists who read this site probably assumed they are “religion resisters”. Think again. The weird thing about their grouping is that the “religion resisters” are very religious: 91% believe in some form of god. More damningly, 98% believe “spiritual energy” is located in physical things (like crystals or natural objects), and 62% believe in psychics. This is definitely the “spiritual but not religious” crowd who insist that their woo-ey and mystical beliefs are not religious, and define “religious” as only “organized religion”. Most atheists by far are “solidly secular”; in fact, Pew offers a quiz to test yourself, and that’s where I scored. It’s far too early to say whether this typology will give us a better understanding of belief versus nonbelief – and of course, all the data is American-only so far – but what we have no is so bad, it can’t hurt to explore alternatives.

  • [] Treatment to remove metals from children with autism unproven and risky, but no clear regulations

    It is frustrating that doctors can offer patients dangerous quackery and face no consequences. But on the other hand, if a patient wants a quack treatment, then it makes more sense for them to get it under the eye of a licensed doctor rather than some back-alley fraudster. And it might even “work” for them, due to the power of placebo. As long as the doctor is making it clear that the treatment isn’t real medicine – as the doctor in this case at least claims to be doing – that should be good enough. On the other hand… chelation therapy for autism has a death toll. I’d be curious to hear the perspective of doctors and medical ethicists on this.

  • [] Gov. Gen. Julie Payette on what she learned from her controversial comments on science, religion and climate

    Last year Governor General and former astronaut Julie Payette was the keynote speaker at the Canadian Science Policy Convention, and she made some statements calling out unscientific thinking at the highest levels of power. It was magnificent. So of course, conservatives, climate deniers, religious groups, and so on freaked. Justin Trudeau stepped up to defend the GG, Andrew Scheer took the other side (of course). It was a completely bullshit controversy, but it was big enough that it earned Payette a nomination for Canadian Atheist’s Person of the Year. This interview sees Payette reflecting on the affair, and while she admits she has learned to be a bit more diplomatic about how stands up for science and reason, she still stands by her words.

  • [] Students at Trinity Western University don’t have to sign its covenant anymore — now what?

    “Now what?” indeed. The interesting thing about this piece is that it actually talks to TWU students and alumni, including one person who liked the Covenant until he saw how its mandatory application was hurting some people. The general consensus seems to be that it won’t really change anything, because it’s not like the removal of the Covenant’s mandatory nature will suddenly make TWU an LGBTQ haven.

  • [] Doug Ford’s Orwellian ‘Free Speech on Campus’ Policy Calls For Crack Down on Student Protests

    Doug Ford is only one of a number of conservative politicians blowing the dog-whistle about “free speech” in schools, and floating the idea of ending the “threat” of “compulsory speech” on campuses by… instituting… compulsory speech… rules…. Yeah, I know, it doesn’t make much sense. But there doesn’t seem to be a dumb policy idea that Ford won’t try to implement.

  • [] “God Mode” by Zach Weinersmith (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)

    I’ve seen some people do some absolutely horrible things in games like The Sims, but I still don’t think I’ve seen a level of malevolence that quite reaches what God would have to have.

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