Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .
 The Latest Attack on Islam: It’s Not a Religion
The Times doesn’t seem to be aware of it, but this little nugget of bigotry probably entered American thought by way of Canada. Anyone who’s followed Canadian islamophobes has certainly heard this talking point before. It’s hard to know how to respond to this piece of batshittery without glancing sideways at the various Christian churches, like the Roman Catholic Church – which is a literal government in and of itself (unlike most other state churches, like the Anglican Church, which is not the government itself, but is “merely” a parallel entity to the actual government, advising it and serving as its official religion) – and wondering how that doesn’t also make Christianity “not a religion”.
 Saudi minister mocks Canadian demands for release of female activists
It’s worth reading this piece just to see the Saudi Foreign Minister’s comments, to know what a massive douchbag he is.
 Sex-ed is crucial to the rights of children
This is an interesting article, which is not only a joint effort of multiple experts in the field and packed with real data – backing it up with links to studies – it also seriously considers the issue of religion. The reality is that the vast majority of religious people are perfectly fine with the 2015 sex ed curriculum. The opposition is a tiny, but very, very vocal minority.
 “Kyla Lee – Cannabis impaired driving laws”(Audio: 46:47)
I haven’t really been following the upcoming cannabis legalization, and especially the changes to the driving laws to take driving high into account. But after listening to Kyla Lee’s presentation, I am aghast at the lack of evidence-based governance on the issue.
 David Stephan covers Calgary trial of parents charged in tot’s death
Fuck. This. Guy.
 Turning the sex ed clock back to 1998 puts our youth at risk
Dr. Gesink asks two important questions about the sex ed repeal: who suffers, and who benefits? She very ably answers the first question, and for that alone this piece is well worth the read. But unfortunately, she never answers the second, which I would be very interested in seeing discussed more.
 A Quebecer spoke out against the Saudis – then learned he had spyware on his iPhone
I’ve seen a lot of misunderstanding about this story, mostly based on people who’ve just read the headline and assumed this guy found spyware on his phone and just guessed the Saudi government was responsible. That’s not what happened at all; in fact that’s pretty much back-asswards. The true story is much more interesting… and terrifying. What happened was that the security researchers studying spyware operations by governments found a spyware network linked to targets of Saudi Arabia, and saw one of the compromised devices was in Québec. They used the data coming from the compromised phone to figure that it belonged to someone associated with Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke… and eventually narrowed it down to Abdulaziz. While they can’t prove the Saudi government was responsible, they have a ton of evidence, and it’s pretty damning that several of Abdulaziz’s relatives and friends – easily determined from his phone’s contact list – have been targeted by the Saudis. This story should be extremely concerning to anyone criticizing the Saudis… yes, even if you’re safely in Canada.
 ‘New Age’ beliefs common among both religious and nonreligious Americans
Pew has recently been doing remarkable and fascinating work trying to suss out the beliefs of the nonreligious population (in the US unfortunately, so take the numbers with a grain of salt), rather that just lumping everyone who doesn’t identify with a religion into one big category. Here again they show that there is a sharp difference between atheists, and the rest of the “unaffiliated” – the “nones”. Merely declaring that you’re not religious doesn’t imply that you’re a rational thinker; in fact, the people who declare themselves “spiritual but not religious” are by far the most woo-ey.
 The Most Crime-Ridden Neighbourhood In Canada
We are socially conditioned to think of “crime-ridden neighbourhoods” as poor areas, so it’s really disorienting to consider how wrong-headed that thinking is. It’s even more amazing to realize that Canada is one of the most financially corrupt nations in the world.
 Douglas Todd: Would Saudi Arabia’s jailed blogger be accused of ‘Islamophobia’ in Canada?
The general rule is that whenever a headline asks a question, the answer is almost always “no”. There: I’ve just spared you reading this bullshit piece, which is riddled with fallacies and outright lies. It’s so ridiculously bad, it verges on self-parody. It even has to dredge up old M-103 fears – after over a year-and-a-half’s worth of none of them coming to pass – in order to have even a pretense at having an argument.
 François Legault would invoke notwithstanding clause to ban hijabs from civil service
It may be all just bluster, but Legault is threatening to use the notwithstanding clause for several of his proposed ideas. Anyone who would trample over Canadians’ fundamental rights so brazenly isn’t fit to govern.
 Public and Catholic school board merge proposed by Windsor trustee candidates
The momentum to end separate schools in Ontario is really building; it’s starting to look like it might really happen. The elephant in the room is the current Ontario government, whose base is the extreme religious right, and whom they’ve already demonstrated they are very keen on pandering to.
 Catholic archbishop asks forgiveness from Mi’kmaq for Shubenacadie Indian Residential School
We have to give credit where it’s due: the shitty Pope dumped responsibility for the residential schools atrocities on the local dioceses… which is complete bullshit, but if the Pope is too craven to accept responsibility, at least this archdiocese did. But do read down to the end of the article for a sobering reality check on the relationship between Catholicism and indigenous peoples.
 Most Canadians Support Mandatory Vaccinations for Children
It’s very uplifting to see survey results like this, to remind us that the anti-vax movement really is just a fringe movement. Which is not to say they can’t cause enormous harm, because they increase the risk of disease for everyone.
 Journal columnist Paula Simons one of three named to Canada’s Senate
You may have heard that Trudeau appointed three new senators this week – and all of the appointments look cool. What you may not have heard is that one of them, Paula Simons, is a self-described Humanist.
 Quebec’s highest court rules woman wearing hijab was entitled to be heard
CA has been following this story for years, and with this it may finally be over – as the Cour d’appel ruling was unanimous, it seems highly unlikely the Supreme Court will see any reason to bother reviewing it. (Which is a little unfortunate, because it means the ruling is only applicable to Québec, rather than all of Canada. On the other hand, it’s doubtful that the issue would even come up anywhere but Québec.) Rania El-Alloul deserves a fucking medal for everything she’s been through – this whole thing started because her son did something stupid (I have never been able to get a clear answer as to whether El-Alloul knew her son’s licence was suspended, or that he was driving her car regardless of his licence suspension, but I think the only way she could have got her car back – the whole reason she was in court before Judge Eliana Marengo to begin with – was if one of those things were true), but she didn’t back down from standing up for her rights.
 Kamloops parent says high school assignment used to push political views onto students
I don’t know much about education, and particularly what education is like in Canada, so I don’t know how normal this kind of worksheet is. Grade 10 seems a good time to teach about politics and the political landscape, but surely it doesn’t need to be dumbed down to this level. I mean, what really is the need to frame politics in terms such of a simplistic binary? All it does is suggest that there are only two sides… and one of them is racist, misogynist, and xenophobic, while the other is against beating children, for helping people, and both socialist and capitalist.
 The elimination of smallpox showed how humans can work together to solve deadly global problems
I’m an optimist about the fundamental goodness of human nature, but some days that’s hard stance to hold. I like the thesis of this piece: that the eradication of smallpox is an example that when we really want to, we can do amazing and wonderful things. Remembering that can help on the difficult days when ignorance, bigotry, and reactionary politics seem to be the only thing humans are capable of.
 The end of scientific, rational thinking: Donald Trump, Doug Ford and Jordan Peterson
Very interesting essay about the dangerous world we create when science is reduced to “just another worldview”.
 Canadian bishops announce new guidelines to prevent, investigate child sexual abuse
I mean, the fact that they needed guidelines for child sexual abuse in the first place is bad enough, but this is about the standard we’ve come to accept as normal for the Church. However, the fact that it took them five years to come up with “make sure we’re not hiring rapists, report crimes, and don’t treat victims as criminals themselves” is ridiculous. Seriously, read the recommendations and see for yourself: There are 69 of them – a truly unfortunate number in its own right – some of which include such useless shit as “pray for victims”… but none of which include “punish the offender” or “remove the offender from places where they might conceivably re-offend”. I’m not even joking: The “dealing with offenders” section is #4, and there are only 4 recommendations in it: 1)
identify and address public safety concerns; 2)
tackle as best as possible the complex issue of pastoral and canonical responsibility toward offenders; 3)
extend appropriate pastoral assistance; and 4)
respond with transparency to appropriate requests for information about an offender. That’s literally it; that’s the entire “dealing with offenders” section.
 What Can BC’s SOGI Supporters Learn from Ontario’s Sex-Ed Struggles?
This is a great article discussing the idea of explaining updated sex ed curricula – what they teach and why they’re needed – under the reasoning that most opposition to them is based on ignorance (something easily proven just by having a brief conversation with an opponent of SOGI 1 2 3 or the 2015 Ontario curriculum).
 Jason Kenney Headlined an Education Conference Sponsored By Homophobic and Creationist Fringe Groups
The interesting stuff in this piece isn’t the stuff about Kenney; I mean, we all already know he’s a far-right, religious-base-fellating, shitball. The real interesting stuff is the rogues gallery of people and organizations funding the homeschooling event, some of whom have come up on CA before.
 Jason Kenney and Doug Ford’s Plan to Ignore Climate Change Would Cost Canadians Over $20 Billion Per Year
You may be wondering what lefty think tank that $20b number comes from. The answer: one of the three Deputy Governors of The Bank of Canada. And that number is the low estimate: the actual range Lane mentioned was
between $21 billion and $43 billion.
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