Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

[A photo of a two-part poster made up of simple black-and-white text on plain paper, titled: “Hitler compared to prophet Muhammad”. The first part is titled “Similarities”, and lists: “both started many wars and spread aggressively”, “both hated Jews and ordered their massacre”, “both followers hate Jews”, “both preached supremacism and xenophobia”, “both persecuted homosexuals”, “both obsessed with war”, “both believe to be on a divine mission”, “both oppressed and slaughtered their opposition”. The second part is titled “Differences”, and lists the following pairs of points for Hitler and Muhammad: “1 wife versus 11+ wives”, “no records of paedophilia versus active paedophilia both towards boys and girls”, “no records of sexual activity versus sex slavery and rape”, “loved dogs versus hated dogs”, “loved arts and music versus hated arts and music”, “no records of domestic violence versus committed and preached for domestic violence”, “personally killed no one while in power versus beheaded many while in power”, “considered a simple mortal versus considered holy”, “shunned and taboo today versus still respected, loved, and protected in modern time”, “his book is taboo and considered dangerous versus his book is considered beautiful and sacred”, and “modern followers are shunned and hated versus modern followers are given special privileges and… (image cuts off)”.]

Wait, Hitler didn’t personally murder anyone? Well, shit, I guess he wasn’t as bad a person as I thought!

  • [] It Is Unethical To Teach Evolution Without Confronting Racism And Sexism

    There is a fascinating idea underneath the punchy title. There’s a good case to be made that the real threat to public acceptance and understanding of evolution is not really creationism, it’s mangled notions of evolution that entangle with racism. I think everyone knows that racists love “evolution”, but what they love isn’t really evolution, it’s a warped and narrow version of the idea that doesn’t really reflect the science. I like the idea of actively calling out the misunderstandings and the mangled forms of “evolution” that racists live on, and honestly confronting the way evolution has been abused in the process of teaching why the truth about evolution is so progressive and, yes, even humanistic.

  • [] There’s Nothing Unscientific About Gender Identity

    I’m so pleased to see how aggressively the scientific community has come out in support of modern gender theory. In the past, scientists have often ignored – and even been actively disdainful – of stepping into the muck of public debates where a lot of bad science is used. (You don’t see a lot of scientists charging into debates on “race” pseudoscience, for example.) But for whatever reason, this topic has stirred them up. And they’re coming out swinging. And it’s beautiful.

  • [] Outfit covered up by South Surrey school officials ‘purchased by grandmother’

    I’ll be honest, I have a hard time summoning up much sympathy for the mother in this story. That’s because, in the end, she’s really not that much different from the school officials – both want to slut-shame girls for what they wear, and the only difference is where they draw the line. Welch’s position isn’t that girls should be allowed to wear what they please and shouldn’t be sexualized or slut-shamed, it’s that her daughter wasn’t slutty. She even posted a picture to “prove” it.

  • [] Opinion split after atheist minister keeps job

    So a couple weeks back we reported that atheist minister Gretta Vosper got to keep her job when the heresy trial against her by the United Church of Canada was dropped. Good for her, really. But now it’s time to assess what really happened. I don’t think any atheist really believes the United Church opened their hearts and found real tolerance there; we’re not that naïve. It was probably just more trouble to prosecute Vosper than the Church was willing to put up with. So what does it all mean? What have we learned from the case? What’s the takeaway? I think these are all great questions that we in the Canadian atheist community should discuss.

  • [] Couple claims they were driven out of workplace for being ‘too gay’

    When I first saw the headline for this case, I wondered just what being too gay involved. (Naturally being as immature as I am, immediately I jumped to assumptions of an absolutely extreme over-the-top stereotype of fabulous.) Turns out being too gay just means… existing publicly. And this isn’t a he-said-she-said thing… these women have audio that proves their case. Here’s a tip for any other employer or supervisor who might be facing the same issue, where you have a conflict between a gay or transgender or whatever employee and other employees who are uncomfortable because of them: DON’T SIDE WITH THE FUCKING BIGOTS, YOU KNOB. Don’t tell the gay employee to “be less gay”, tell the bigots to be less ignorant and judgmental (and to mind their own fucking business).

  • [] Religious symbols in the workplace: opinion nuanced in and outside Quebec, driven by specific symbols

    The headline is adorably euphemistic. Here’s the literal translation: a majority of Canadians in general are okay with a woman wearing a shapeless bag over her body in the name of religious modesty… if and only if it happens to be a nun’s habit. But if it’s anything associated with Islam, then they are at least twice as likely to object (and in most provinces many times more likely). Oh, and 2⁄3 of Québécois say they’re okay with the plan to ban public employees from wearing religious symbols… but 2⁄3 also say that shouldn’t apply to crucifixes. Because, dammit, it’s so important that we make sure our public service doesn’t appear to have any religious influence… except in the case of the one religion that actually did have influence over the public service for decades.

  • [] The Mental Health of Atheists and the ‘Nones’

    I have been hammering on this point for some time now, but it’s long past time we stopped lumping atheists in with the general “non-affiliated” population… because, as evidence is increasingly making clear, we are very different groups. Most people who say they’re “not religious” or “not affiliated with any religion” – or the ever-popular “spiritual but not religious” (SBNR) label – are, in actual fact, very religious. In some ways, they’re even more religious than the people who actually identify as religious. They’re also far more likely than any other group to believe in “secular” nonsense like UFOs, Bigfoot, psychics, the power of crystals, etc.. Historically there was a prevailing myth – backed up by evidence, but as we’re now seeing, incomplete evidence – that religion makes you happier, healthier, better adjusted, and so on. What we’re now learning is that’s not true: what makes you happier, healthier, better adjusted, and so on is being less “metaphysically anxious”. It doesn’t really matter whether you believe God exists or not… what matters how chill you are with the position you’ve taken. Atheists, in general – in spite of theist myths to the contrary – are very comfortable with their atheism. But the “religiously unaffiliated” in general are very much not comfortable with their metaphysical beliefs – they agonize over their beliefs so much they can’t even stand to be lumped in to any group. That’s where all the mental health issues formerly associated with atheism really come from… and atheists got tarred by association because everyone who was “religiously unaffiliated” were treated as a single group. Now the research is busting the myth: atheists are not less happy, healthy (mentally and physically), or well-adjusted than religious people… instead both atheists and very religious people who are “metaphysically relaxed” are quite happy, healthy, and well-adjusted… and it’s the “metaphysically anxious” SBNR folks who have the issues.

  • [] Former principal alleges Calgary Catholic School District pushed her out over her sexuality

    This is the second case in this week’s Update of someone being fired for being gay. But I’m a lot less sympathetic to this case. Oh, don’t get me wrong: I think it’s always wrong to fire someone for being gay… but in this case, the firing itself seems the lesser crime; the existence of the separate school system is the real crime here. And that position seems justified too, especially by a little nugget buried deep in the article: 10 students in Grade 8 and Grade 9 at St. Joseph Elementary Junior High School who were believed to identify as LGBTQ and had intentionally hurt themselves. The self-harm was believed to be in response to the homophobic slurs they faced or family members who had told them ‘they would go to hell if they were gay’.

  • [] From America to Ontario: The political impact of the Christian right

    Hard to believe it’s been almost a decade since The Armageddon Factor. Not so hard to believe the Christian right is still making a power play into conservative politics. But Gagné and Febres-Gagné make some interesting points about the nature the Canadian Christian right, their relationship with (and dependence on) the American Christian right, and their role in federal and provincial politics. I think it’s overstating the case to say the Christian right put Doug Ford in power, because – as Gagné and Febres-Gagné note – he wasn’t really their man… their real choice got her ass handed to her badly in the first round (and literally no-one endorsed her except for fricken’ Brad Trost). And even though Ford eventually won, it was a squeaker; he actually got less votes than Christine Elliot, but the Ontario PC party has some weird weighting thing that put Ford barely over the top. And while I’d say that Ford definitely panders to the Christian right, his real support is more popularist than religious.

  • [] Large coalition of far-right, anti-Muslim groups in Ottawa this weekend

    Well this looks like it’s going to be a fun party.

  • [] Andrew Coyne: Andrew Scheer steers hard to right on UN migrants pact

    The Conservative Party has been blowing the far-right’s dog-whistles for some time now, but mainstream journalists are finally cluing into the game. This piece serves well for calling out Scheer on his attempts to play to far-right anti-immigration nutwankery, but it also works as a brief debunk of their conspiracy theories.

  • [] Notwithstanding clause or not, Québec must accommodate its employees

    This is a really interesting piece. The gist of it is that it may be completely irrelevant whether François Legault opts to use the notwithstanding clause to protect his obviously unconstitutional religious accessories ban. That’s because if Québec does pass a law banning wearing religious accessories from the public services… and even if that law survives a Charter challenge (or, more likely, Legault uses the notwithstanding clause to avoid one)… that doesn’t mean the law is sound. Because what happens if – for example – a Sikh public employee refuses to remove his turban? Well, he’ll have to be disciplined or fired, right? Aha, but… at that point, you’ve entered the realm of employment law. Even if the law saying public employees must not wear religious symbols is legit (or is made legit by notwithstanding), the government – as an employer – must follow employment law with regards to things like having just cause for firing. And guess what, folks… you can’t fire someone for their religion! That includes for doing anything associated with practising their religion that doesn’t interfere with the job. And it’s a pretty clear-cut case that wearing a silly hat generally won’t interfere with most jobs. Québec may end up with the bizarre situation where the law says public employees can’t wear religious symbols… but if they do, the government can’t do a fuckin’ thing to stop them!

  • [] University of Ottawa students denounce posters comparing Muhammad to Hitler

    A far-too-common variety of asshole is the asshole who thinks every discussion is valid (or at least pretends they think that), and that refusing to debate a particular topic is the harbinger of the apocalypse because something something free speech something SJWs something gulags… I dunno. Nobody – other than a handful of extremist imams that nobody in the free world gives a fuck about their opinions anyway – nobody believes that Islam should not open to criticism. But most sensible people recognized that 1) there are times when criticism is inappropriate; and 2) not everything that says something mean about Islam is “criticism” of Islam. You want a good example of something that is not real criticism of Islam? I think “Hitler was better than Muhammad” is a pretty dam good example.

  • [] ‘The values test is gone’: Faith groups welcome changes to summer jobs attestation

    In news that will shock absolutely no one, the Liberals caved on a values test. Okay, that’s not fair, because the truth is this was a stupid fight to begin with. On both sides: the government were stupid for provoking the issue in the first place, and the groups that freaked out over it were freaking out over nothing at all. This was completely discretionary money, and the government was and is well within its rights to simply not give any to bigot groups. They didn’t need to say so explicitly, and they don’t need to give any justification. Making groups explicitly declare that they aren’t bigoted was just being petty. (Which is not to say that opponents’ refusal to sign was justified; they were being silly, too.) For anyone wondering what’s really changed, the answer is: nothing. Nothing was really changing at any point in the whole fiasco. Bigot groups won’t get any funding… just like they weren’t going to get it with the declaration… just like they weren’t going to get it before the declaration. The only thing removing the declaration “changes” is that now groups don’t actually have to do any soul-searching when filling out the form about whether their positions are contrary to Canadian values. Which, frankly, they shouldn’t have to do when filling out an application form anyway.

  • [] Kurl: Quebec’s – and Canada’s – tolerance for religious symbols remains selective

    Shachi Kurl is a pollster, so what she’s doing here is basically just putting the data together from a few different polls… and the conclusion is pretty damning. If anyone still buys the lie that the religious accessories ban in Québec has anything to do with secularism… I don’t even know what to tell you at this point, except, I suppose, enjoy that non-religious crucifix in the National Assembly. One thing I want to call out that increasingly frustrates me, though, is this repeated narrative that this is an issue that will just… fade away… in a few years, or in the next generation, because the kids are much less bigoted than the current cohort in Québec. While I have no doubt that the next generation is much less bigoted than the current, this problem is not going to just go away because of that. That’s because the damage being done now – the enmity being stirred up now will linger. The children of the minorities being targeted today will remember.

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