Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

  • [] Russia’s Journey from Orthodoxy to Atheism, and Back Again

    This piece is a review of a book that promises to be an absolutely fascinating read. The Soviet Union was one of a very, very small number of nations in all history that was explicitly and officially atheistic. Not only that, it was aggressively atheist, with a leadership that consciously tried to stamp out religion, and for a time seemed to be successful. And yet, look at Russia today; it’s one of the most shamelessly theocratic countries in the world. What happened? Quite a bit, it turns out! Even the small taste of the story this review gives forces me to completely reexamine everything I thought I knew about atheism in Soviet Russia. (As an aside, I am even more intrigued by the book because of one of the disagreements the reviewer has. Smolkin wrote: Soviet atheism was not secularization or secularism but instead conversion. Soviet atheism was not secular because secularism can tolerate indifference. Contrary to the reviewer, I find this to be a perfectly correct view of secularism, and this idea that secularism is “indifference” toward religion – rather than antipathy – is very relevant to what is happening today in Québec.)

  • [] Here are 9 questions atheists probably find insulting — and the answers

    Greta Christina has always been good at identifying the frustrations of being an atheist, and calling out their sources. We’ve all heard these questions, and we’ve all been irritated by them. But Christina gives voice to why they’re so irritating, and why we don’t deserve them. This is something I wish more non-atheists would read.

  • [] Kramberger: West Islanders dump on dubious secularism proposals

    Here’s an interesting notion: If Québec had had a fair electoral system in its most recent election, the CAQ might not have won a majority. I haven’t seen the results of simulations on alternate electoral systems for the Québec election yet, but for the Ontario election a fair system would have either given us a Conservative minority, or an NDP/Liberal coalition. In Québec, there is another factor in addition to simply fairly allocating the existing votes: a lot of people may simply have not bothered to vote because it was pointless – their votes wouldn’t have counted under the existing system. And the majority of those lost votes don’t seem to have been likely CAQ votes.

  • [] Jury finds Calgary parents guilty in 2013 death of toddler son

    A very satisfying ruling, with another set of parents guilty of murdering their child with woo facing the consequences. It’s especially satisfying because those asshole parents tried to pin the blame for their son’s death on the doctors who tried desperately to save him. As a bonus, that fuckface David Stephan was basically live-tweeting the whole trial, under the bizarre notion that the Clarks would be found innocent and that would indirectly exonerate him in advance of his retrial. I hope that instead the verdict scared the shit out of him, and serves as a sign of what’s to come for him, too.

  • [] Oblate religious order covered up decades of sexual abuse of First Nations children, victims allege

    This article is just an English-language summary of a much more in-depth French investigative piece into the rampant abuse of indigenous kids by one particular order of Catholic priests, up to as late as the mid-1990s. The abuse is the subject of an ongoing class-action lawsuit.

  • [] School trustee says everyone should have a vote in Catholic school board elections

    So the argument here is that because non-Catholics’ money is supporting the Catholic school boards (something that not many people are aware of), they should be able to vote for Catholic trustees. Here is a similar argument from Ontario, saying that a lot of non-Catholic kids attend Catholic schools, so their parents should be allowed to vote for the trustees. It sounds reasonable on its face, but I’m not keen on the idea at all. A better solution would be to not use non-Catholic taxes to fund Catholic schools. Of course, that would pretty much spell the end of Catholic schools because Catholic taxes alone are obviously not enough to support them… but I don’t have a problem with that. If Catholics want a Catholic system, they – and anyone who wants to send their kids to a Catholic school – should pay for it, even if that means they have to pay much more in taxes; a Catholic school system should not be funded by even one penny out of the pockets of non-Catholics.

  • [] Milton, Ont. ‘Psychic’ Dorie ‘Madeena’ Stevenson Charged With ‘Witchcraft’

    I’m honestly baffled as to why the Halton cops are rolling out this ridiculous “witchcraft” charge. It’s not like they need it; they’ve already got the woman on charges of extortion and fraud. Maybe they just figured that with C-51 almost passed, this could be the last time they could get away with using it so, what the hell, right?

  • [] Quebec politicians who pander to xenophobia forget human rights are non-negotiable

    Hassan Yussuff reminds that Québec used to be a leader in human rights in Canada. That can hardly be considered true anymore, with the rise of xenophobic dog-whistling in the politics, and the dogmatically stubborn denial of the existence of systemic racism. But then which province or territory could be considered the modern Canadian human rights leader?

  • [] Motion against proposed ban on religious symbols presented to Montreal City Council

    This seems a little pointless, and not just because as a symbolic motion it doesn’t really do anything. Nobody knows yet what the CAQ’s religious symbols ban is going to look like – not even the CAQ, so it seems premature to be making motions about it. But this is a sign of the shitstorm brewing should the CAQ follow through on their threats. I mean, they absolutely will – they’ve dug themselves into a political hole, and there’s no way out but to keep digging at this point. And thus the shitstorm absolutely will follow. Interesting times head in Québec!

  • [] The hypocrisy of Québec’s move to ban religious dress

    This is a decent piece with some really weird, non sequitur closing sentences that doesn’t seem to rationally connect with the rest of the piece. I mean, you just managed to figure out that what’s going on in Québec isn’t actually neutrality, but rather the covert linking Québécois identity with Christianity to the exclusion of all other religious identities. Good for you – while that’s not exactly hard to spot, it’s not something that most commentators seem to be picking up. But then the last two sentences are written as if the person who’d been writing the piece up to that point had got up and left, and some rando intern had stepped in at the last moment to finish it up just in time to publish. Right after correctly sussing out the latent Christianity behind Québec’s faux “secularism”, the article suddenly forgets all that and talks about civic/secular culture and [t]he commitment to inclusion and religious neutrality. Is he just being sarcastic in those last couple of sentences?

  • [] Ontario’s Sex-Ed Consultation Is An Insult To Parents And Students

    The entire justification for scrapping the 2015 sex ed curriculum was – the Conservatives claimed – because there had never been any consultation. That was a lie, but alright, if that was the claim, then sure there was going to be extensive consultation this time around, right? Right? Ha! In fact, the current consultation process is a hollow joke compared to the previous curriculum’s consultation process.

  • [] Bible Museum says five of its Dead Sea Scrolls are fake

    Okay, if you’re like me, you probably heard this story and thought: “Who really is surprised at discovering that something in the Bible Museum is fake?” But there’s actually a fascinating story here. First of all, keep in mind that these scrolls were obtained by the same people who were caught just a few months back trying to get black market antiquities; these scrolls were probably purchased on the black market too. And these scrolls were not just fakes… they were obvious fakes. Like, literally, they brought a junior scholar in to write up a blurb about their display, and he could tell just by looking at pictures of the fragments that they were fake – one even had an annotation from a 1937 Bible! So they had them properly examined, and whaddaykno’, five of them were fake. Wait, five were found to be fake, but five out of how many? How many were sent to be examined? Five. Yup. 100% of the fragments examined were fake. The real story here may be just how unscrupulous and cavalier evangelicals are in their quest for religious validation, making them easy marks for fraudsters. Isn’t it ironic?

  • [] Patient wheeled outside Alberta Catholic hospital to have assisted death assessment

    I don’t know for sure if this story is one of several similar stories that we reported on last year and earlier this year, because most of those were anonymized. But this one has gone viral, and has even been picked up in the States. To reiterate, this wasn’t an isolated incident (don’t be fooled by the weaselly isn’t aware of any similar cases language, because that’s only referring to cases with specific similarities, like getting the assessment out on the sidewalk across the street), and it isn’t just Alberta where there’s a problem.

  • [] Younger Americans are better than older Americans at telling factual news statements from opinions

    America data, but fascinating even if it doesn’t carry over to Canada, and it probably does. It’s taken for granted that older people are more politically astute, but the evidence just keeps rolling in that that’s not the case. Maybe it really is long past due that we lower the voting age.

  • [] This is not my Chilliwack

    In the municipal elections this past week, most places in Canada came out pretty okay. And then there was Chilliwack. Not only did they elect three anti-SOGI activists… one of them is a creationist.

  • [] Racial purity is “scientifically meaningless,” say 8,000 geneticists

    The fact isn’t news to anyone who’s been paying attention to science for the last thirty years. What’s news is that the scientists are speaking out about the fact. Scientists have always said that “race” is complete bullshit, genetically speaking… they’ve just never bothered to say that directly to racists. But the times seem to demand it, so it’s good to see it happening.

  • [] Quebec wants to expand religious symbol ban, blocking Muslim garments in civil service

    So a week or so back, it was looking like the CAQ was finally beginning to pick up on the fact that virtually everyone in the world – from the majority of Québécois to even international organizations like the International Humanist and Ethical Union – was saying their religious symbols ban proposals were stupid, and were considering maybe toning it down a little. But no, it was too much to hope for any reason or sanity on that front. Instead, the CAQ are going all in. Or are they? New Liberal dude Arcand makes a cogent observation when he says the CAQ are basically floating a new trial balloon on the issue almost daily, because they don’t really have a coherent plan. He’s probably right that the wise thing to do right now is just wait until they finally draft a bill.

  • [] Ontario high-school incident highlights dress code tensions in the age of #MeToo

    Oh, for fuck’s sake, how you can be this stupid and still hold a job as a high-school principal? How can you not understand that hauling out all the girls in the class and having an adult male measure the lengths of their skirts while the boys are all there watching is a horrifyingly humiliating thing to subject the girls to, not to mention sexist to an almost absurd extreme? How can you not see all the many, many, many things that are wrong with that?

  • [] Windsor man crying foul after failing to win seat on Catholic board

    At first blush this looks like just another case of sour grapes after losing an election. But if the facts suggested in this piece are true, there may actually be something to the allegations. Apparently the Catholic school board, in conjunction with the Catholic teachers’ union and the Diocese of London, sent out a letter just before the election bashing the idea of amalgamating the school boards (which candidate Eric Renaud was advocating). The letter didn’t name any candidates specifically, but it was apparently chock-full of bullshit. I don’t know whether that rises to the level of election interference, but it is unquestionably unethical.

  • [] One public school system should be an election issue, trustees say

    I would be shocked if Alberta actually manages to not only make amalgamation an election issue, but to actually vote the right way on the issue. It would be a happy shock, but a shock nonetheless. Shock me, Alberta.

  • [] Supreme Court won’t hear appeal of Quebec legislature’s kirpan ban

    There’s a lot of misinformation going around about this decision; the usual with this kind of thing. It is not true that the Supreme Court (or any of the lower courts) said that banning the kirpan in the Québec legislature was necessary, or even okay. What the courts decided was that they have no right to say whether the Québec Assemblée nationale can ban kirpans in their house. This is the same reason that the federal parliament can keep praying even after the Saguenay ruling. Even though the courts ruled that government prayer was wrong, the legislature has special authority to set its own rules… and the feds did when they said, “fuck the Charter, we’re going to pray in the legislature”. Similarly, even though the courts ruled that observant Sikhs can carry kirpans everywhere (more or less), the Québec Assemblée nationale has special authority to set its own rules… and they decided, “fuck the Charter, we’re going to ban kirpans in the legislature”. This decision is only affirming: “yes, they can do that.” It changes nothing about the actual court decisions that allow the kirpan to be worn basically everywhere, or the federal parliament’s decision to allow kirpans in the federal legislature, or anything else.

  • [] Calling out the Toronto Sun’s Islamophobia

    It is quite refreshing to see what I hope are the harbingers of change in Canadian journalism media, with commentators not just willing to identify and call out racism and islamophobia in big-name outlets, but also to name names and highlight specifically egregious cases. Everyone has always known the Toronto Sun is a rag, and a right-wing rag at that, and we’ve allowed it to get away with blue murder because, hey, a rag’s gonna do what a rag’s gonna do. But it’s gotten worse – much worse – and it’s not just Sun hacks at it, either; even Conrad Black is arguing for – I shit you not – Faith Goldy. It’s just not good enough anymore to let this kind of bullshit slide, so let’s shine a bright light on what’s been going on, and let’s not be shy about naming names.

  • [] Freedom to follow: Politicians blocking their critics

    It’s a really thorny question: Should a politician have the right to block their critics on social media? Granted, the question is only thorny because of the nature of corporate-controlled media as it currently exists: When an elected official blocks a critic, not only do they no longer see the critic’s posts – which is not a problem (assuming the critic has other channels to communicate with the official, which they always do) – the critic can also no longer see the official’s posts – which is a problem, because it means the critic can no longer see what the public official is doing publicly. There is room here to be reasonable; if someone is being straight up abusive or harassing it, then sure, they should lose the privilege of having a direct line to the politician’s ear… but even in that case, shouldn’t they still be able to follow the politician’s public actions? An asshole citizen is still a citizen, after all. And even more importantly, if the critic is not being abusive or harassing, just critical, shouldn’t the politician be required to put up with their critical input?

  • [] Why Are Americans Still Uncomfortable with Atheism?

    This is an interesting piece, but don’t expect too much from it. It never really bothers to answer the title question, and instead offers up a fairy prosaic recounting of a history virtually all atheists already know, followed by a weirdly rambling attempt to categorize atheistic beliefs, and then ends with the usual tedious and pithy “atheists have faith too” observation.

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