Weekly Update: to

by | December 15, 2018

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

[Infographic showing survey data from Leger: “In your opinion, is it acceptable, unacceptable, or you are indifferent about teachers wearing a visible religious symbol (yarmulke, cross, veil, etc.)?” The overall Canadian results are: 42% acceptable, 33% unacceptable, 25% I am indifferent. The province-by-province results for “unacceptable” are: 18% British Columbia, 26% Alberta, 29% Saskatchewan and Manitoba, 25% Ontario, 61% Québec, and 23% Atlantic Canada. The results by age are: for millenials, 51% acceptable, 22% unacceptable, 27% indifferent; for generation X, 43% acceptable, 31% unacceptable, 26% indifferent; for baby boomers, 33% acceptable, 41% unacceptable, 26% indifferent.]

One of these provinces is not like the others. ♫

  • [] Cannabis use for fun is ‘sinful behaviour,’ B.C. and Yukon bishops tell Catholics

    So their position is that pot for medical purposes is okay, but don’t use it for fun. But is there anything surprising about that? They have basically the same position about sex.

  • [] Calgary Catholic students and teachers claim they’re facing ‘roadblocks’ in setting up GSAs

    The pettiness of the school administrators in this article is astounding. They’ll let you have a gay-straight alliance… but don’t call it that! And the goddamn principal is going to sit right there in what is supposed to be a safe space for students to open up about sensitive issues, and glare at you the whole time.

  • [] How events unfolded after foreign affairs minister sent tweet rebuking Saudi Arabia

    This is absolutely fascinating. You may recall a couple months back, after Global Affairs Canada and Minister Chrystia Freeland tweeted critically about Saudi Arabia cracking down on activists, Saudi Arabia completely lost their shit. And nobody stood by Canada through it all. (A few weeks later, journalist Jamal Khashoggi was tortured and butchered in an assault now widely believed to have been directly ordered by Mohammad bin Salman. That shook everybody up, belatedly.) Well, now we’re getting the behind-the-scenes story of what happened before, during, and after those fateful tweets. Turns out, unsurprisingly, a lot of thought went into those tweets – they weren’t just Chrystia Freeland shootin’ from the hip. They were in response to an string of increasingly concerning actions by the Saudi government, and only came after extensive diplomatic efforts to work more quietly with the Saudis on the problem. The CBC article focuses on the lead-up to the tweets and initial catastrophe following the batshit Saudi response. Meanwhile, Global News focuses more on the aftermath, and particularly Canada’s frantic attempts to find allies, only to realize they were alone. Full credit to our government, though: even after realizing that all our “brave”, “ethical” allies were leaving us to twist in the wind, they stood their ground.

  • [] Victoria councillor wants less Christmas, more diversity, in seasonal decorations

    Ben Isitt totally has a point, and I’m glad he managed to get the rest of the council to take his concerns seriously. However… I admit I have a hard time feeling comfortable going quite as far as he does. I don’t consider Christmas trees to be a Christian tradition; they’re an ancient pagan tradition that Christianity co-opted, and have no relationship whatsoever to any Christian religious concepts. By all means, cut all the actual religious shit associated with the holiday – the nativity scenes and so on – but… I just feel that if we give everything associated with the holiday over to Christianity, we lose way too much fun stuff that doesn’t have and never had any real religious significance: the trees, the lights, the presents, Santa Claus, and so on.

  • [] Edmonton Catholic teachers required to sign contracts agreeing to Catholic ‘lifestyles’

    This is the first of multiple articles this week that broke news that Catholic school districts across Alberta are forcing teachers to sign Catholic – and thus, homophobic – covenants. Even though they’re all part of the same story, I’ve opted to include them as separate items because it’s such a big story, and because each of the three stories in the three districts I’ve opted to include tell a different part of the story, or tell the story from a different angle. This one gives a good introduction to the story, and raises the cogent point that while same-sex marriage seems to be an issue for employment, contraception is never mentioned, despite also being a major Catholic no-no.

  • [] Majority Of Quebecers Say Religious Symbols ‘Unacceptable’ For Teachers: Leger Poll

    This is so depressing, but if Québec does go ahead and ban public employees like teachers from wearing religious symbols… I’m gonna go ahead and say this survey shows they fucking deserve all of what will follow. Teacher shortages? Deserve it. Costly court challenges? Deserve it. A reputation of being intolerant, xenophobic assholes for decades to come? Doubly deserve it.

  • [] Medical Assistance in Dying

    After the underwhelming medical assistance in dying bill, the Liberals promised studies would be done on all the stuff the bill didn’t include. Here they are, three studies on 1) mature minors; 2) advance requests; and 3) MAiD for mental disorders. I wish I could link you to something that gives more insight into what the conclusions in these three studies are, but they’re so fresh and so big, there hasn’t been time for people to get a lot of analysis done. My cursory reading suggests that the three reports seem to be generally supportive of extending MAiD to mature minors, allowing advance requests, and even of allowing MAiD for mental disorders. But it’s all wrapped in so much “more research is needed”, and I don’t see any other clear recommendations.

  • [] Same-sex relationships in breach of teaching contract, Red Deer Catholic teachers told

    This is the second article about the purity covenants Catholic teachers in Alberta are being forced to sign, this one about Red Deer. This one gives a decent response by Education Minister Eggen. It also includes a bit of history of the practice, and how previous versions of the covenant were much more explicitly homophobic (“previous” being as recently as 2015, it seems). It also gives a first taste of what a horror it is to live with this threat hanging over you, with the story of a gay teacher who used a fake address to hide his relationship, and the revelation that administrators actually check up on whether you’re going to Church or not. (Also, “Catholic knee surgery”, heh.)

  • [] Québec’s fashion police: A century of telling women what not to wear

    It’s hardly news that authoritarian assholes have been telling women how to dress forever. This article gives some actual examples from recent Québec history that are amusingly quaint by today’s standards. Dear Lord, their bathing suits don’t have sleeves?! I can see their glenohumeral joints! *Faints in a fit of the vapours.*

  • [] Calgary Catholic teachers must sign contract on values, implying no same-sex relationships

    This is the third item this week about the purity covenants Catholic teachers in Alberta are being forced to sign, this one about Calgary. This one has the most extensive response from a Catholic board spokesperson. He doesn’t really defend it, but he does confirm definitively that, yes, teachers can lose their jobs for being a gay relationships.

  • [] Parents each awarded $5,000 after B.C. preschool insists on retaining religious references in classroom

    This one of those depressing stories where everyone comes out of it looking bad. But let me be absolutely clear about this: If your first impression of this story came from the CBC story… you have an incredibly warped and biased view of what really went down. Honestly, CBC’s reporting, whenever atheism is involved, is uniformly terrible… but that piece is uniquely gross, right from the fucking title (was it deliberately mocking the parents who explicitly don’t celebrate Christmas?). The CBC piece will leave you with the impression that the parents were anti-multiculturalist, islamophobic, neo-Nazi, whackaloons. The reality is much more complex. In fact, the parents actually had a valid point; the school was giving undue preference to Christianity and associated crap. They were literally reading from a book about the nativity in class – that’s one of the things the parents put a stop to. They were also planning Christmas festivities with literally nothing else – when the parents pointed out how that didn’t actually jibe with the alleged love of diversity and multiculturalism the school professed, the response was basically, “okay, we’ll add some Hanukkah stuff too” (and then, apparently, they didn’t really add much, if anything, so it was pretty much all Christian anyway). The rest of the board was ultimately so annoyed at having their faux “diversity” called out, they chose to target the child to blackmail the parents, denying her enrolment unless the parents signed themselves into silence. That’s what the human rights challenge was about, and that’s why the parents won. That’s the other side of the story that you won’t see in the CBC article (the one linked to in the item heading is much more fair). Now… all that being said… it is true that while the parents were definitely in the right a lot of the time… they were also major assholes a lot of the time. I can totally see why the rest of the board didn’t like them. Their behaviour was shitty as hell: they acted more like fucking YouTube comment trolls than as neighbours and colleagues, and while they did compromise… a little bit… they were mostly completely unreasonable in their demands. So nobody looks good here. But don’t judge the parents by the framing in the CBC article; they’re not people I’d like to hang out with, but they’re not the monstrous shitsticks the CBC implies they are.

  • [] New report demonstrates more resources need to be spent on right-wing extremism to properly understand the threat

    This press release is very low key in its surface tone, but what’s in there is astounding. First there’s the galling incongruity of the Public Safety report’s statement that right-wing extremism isn’t openly promoting violence right below a large image of right-wing extremists openly promoting violence. (And that image isn’t an anomaly; go anywhere were right-wingers are, and you will be flooded with similarly violent rhetoric.) There’s the almost absurd revelation that the RCMP doesn’t even know who the Proud Boys are, and have said the Soldiers of Odin aren’t a threat – in direct disagreement with Border Services’ warning that they very much are. There’s the almost unbelievable fact that CSISshut down their right-wing extremism investigation group, and were forced to reopen it after the Québec City mosque shooting. And then there’s that absolutely terrifying story of the Blood and Honour dude trying to recruit a high-school kid, telling the kid to get a gun… and use it on the “leftists” at his school. Can you even imagine what would happen if word got out that a Daesh recruiter hooked up with a high school kid… and told the kid to get a gun and use it on the other kids at the school? I think there’s more than enough evidence at this point to state it as an indisputable fact: our public safety services are bafflingly incompetent and indifferent when it comes to the far right.

  • [] Modern Slavery Bill Targets Canadian Imports Of Goods Made By Slaves

    This is really cool, and there should be a lot more legislation like this. It is completely impractical for the average Canadian to check the insanely complex supply chains of most brands to confirm they’re not doing shady shit – or outright horrific shit, like using child slaves as labour. And of course, companies that are trying to be ethical are fighting an uphill battle because they can’t compete with companies that use slave labour. This is a problem that requires government involvment. It’s amazing legislation like this took this long to be proposed.

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5 thoughts on “Weekly Update: to

  1. Jim Atherton

    8-Dec-2018] Victoria councillor wants less Christmas, more diversity, in seasonal decorations

    At the end of your comment on this topic you say “…we lose way too much fun stuff that doesn’t have and never had any real religious significance: the trees, the lights, the presents, Santa Claus, and so on.”

    I hate to disappoint you but I’m afraid the character Santa Claus whom you refer to above is based on Saint Nicolaus, as far as I know a Christian Saint who was a real historical figure. There may well have been some similar pagan character long lost to history, but as I’m sure you know the Christians are very thorough when they decide to take something for themselves.

    1. Indi Post author

      Except that’s not true. “Santa Claus” is a mish-mash of multiple traditions, of which St. Nicholas is only one. In fact, St. Nicholas’s day was actually December 6th… it was moved to the 25th specifically to munge it in with existing traditions. The reindeer and sleigh and going around the world in a single night? That’s Wodan. The furry red-and-white suit and jolly laugh? That’s Father Christmas. Literally the only things about Santa Claus that come from Christian tradition are the name and the fact that he gives presents… and the latter part is only half from the Christian tradition because gift-giving was part of ancient traditions like Saturnalia.

      I’m perfectly okay with renaming the character, because the name is pretty much the only thing that comes from Christianity. But that seems excessive.

      EDIT: Oh, and the elves and the toy factory? That’s a modern invention by advertisers.


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