Weekly Update: to

by | February 9, 2019

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

[Photo of François Legault]
François Legault
  • [] Getting it right

    This is a fascinating essay that you’re going to want to set aside time to really slowly read through and digest. It seems like such a trivial question: Should we expect science to tell us the truth? The obvious answer would seem to be “yes, duh, that’s the point of it”. Turns out things aren’t that simple… and yet they are.

  • [] Is the Decline of Religion the Decline of Generosity?

    As the article notes, nonreligious people generally give less to charity that religious people. My own admittedly anecdotal experience aligns with the article’s thesis: Atheists are just far more sophisticated about their generosity; they spend a lot of time considering the most effective ways to help people rather than just throwing buckets of cash at traditional organizations. The article suggests that nonbelievers focus more on social justice activism than simply giving money, and that may be true, but I also see atheists putting a lot of effort into trying to “give better” (for example, in this Life, the Universe, and Everything Else episode, and in this The Reality Check segment).

  • [] Canadian Officials Working On Asylum For Asia Bibi, Pakistani Christian Tried For Blasphemy

    I’d heard rumours of this last week (and there were whispers that she was seeking Canadian help for a while), but it turned out to be damn hard to confirm. I’m still not sure if she’s actually in Canada, though it seems to be confirmed that she’s going to end up here. Bibi’s story is horrifying. She is a poor, illiterate, Catholic woman who lived in the Punjab region of Pakistan; her family was the only non-Muslim family in her village. According to the agreed-upon facts, in 2009 she was picking berries with other women, and used a cup she found lying around to drink some water from a well. One of the other women, who apparently had a long-running feud with Bibi’s family, freaked out – she told Bibi that Christians weren’t allowed to drink from the same cups as Muslims, that she was (basically) scum, and that she should convert to Islam. Bibi retorted that she didn’t see why she should be the one who had to convert, and that she was quite happy with Jesus. Not long after, a mob showed up at her house and beat her in front of her children, and she was arrested and accused of “insulting the Prophet”. She was eventually tried and sentenced to death for blasphemy. Hers was the case that Salmaan Taseer was murdered over, among others. Eventually, the Supreme Court acquitted her – in the ruling the judges noted that her accusers were bald-faced liars, but the key reason she was set free seems to be that she can’t be killed for insulting the Prophet because only Muslims deserve death for that, and she’s Christian. Whatever, right? At least she was no longer facing execution. Except… this is Pakistan we’re talking about. Which means that even though she’s been legally acquitted (and her accusers have been shown to be lying sacks of shit), there were still the angry mobs who want to murder her. It would seem the logical solution to that problem would simply be to let her leave… but no, the Pakistan government made a deal with the murderous mob’s ringleaders that prevented her from leaving the country (her lawyer, incidentally, had already left the country). Finally, as of , she’s allowed to leave Pakistan.

  • [] Atheist minister Gretta Vosper hopes to stay at Canadian church for the long haul

    This is a nice summary of Gretta Vosper’s battle with the United Church of Canada. It also includes the new tidbit that I hadn’t heard before that the settlement doesn’t impose any restrictions on Vosper, which is cool.

  • [] Police investigating man for alleged package theft from houses in Burnaby

    This is so weird. If it were just a case of a door-to-door evangelist helping themselves to packages that would be bad, but pretty mundane. But it’s possible that this dude is just faking the whole religious thing, and the event is not real – he may have just been distributing the pamphlets as cover. On the other hand, it may just be the case that the JWs are trying to cover up the fact that one of their pamphleteers is a thief.

  • [] Winnipeg restaurant vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti

    Another day, another hate crime targeting a religious minority in Canada. Ah, but read closely, and you’ll find an interesting fact buried deep in the article’s copy. Turns out this restaurant has been targeted numerous times since it opened, and just a few weeks ago had been spray-painted with anti-Semitic graffiti again. The cops didn’t consider it a hate crime then, but now they do, go figure.

  • [] Ban on religious symbols, education reforms top agenda as National Assembly resumes

    I am so not looking forward to this upcoming legislative session in Québec. All indications are that it’s going to be stupid, it’s going to be ugly, and it’s going to accomplish nothing but pissing everyone off. I’m not sure whether to be encouraged or concerned by Chantal Hébert’s theory that the National Assembly will try to really rush their ban though. On the one hand, good, we’ll be done with this shit quickly. On the other… that pretty much guarantees that the law will be utter, slapdash shit, and almost certainly protected by a notwithstanding clause gambit. I suppose either way this won’t end peacefully or quickly, as the court challenges are inevitable.

  • [] Contentious Quebec Councillor Nathalie Lemieux Now Wonders If Earth Is Round

    You know, when this asshole first showed up on my radar, I wasn’t going to write about her. A Québec politician denying islamophobia exists? Please. That’s not a story; Québécois set their watches by those denials… hell the Premier did the same thing this past week (in fact, Lemieux was making her comments in support of Legault’s). A Québec politician denying islamophobia exists while engaging in it in the same breath? Meh, also the norm in la belle province. Besides, she lost her deputy mayor position almost immediately for her comments, so, that was that, I figured. But then… things got weird. Because it turns out that Nathalie Lemieux doesn’t just deny islamophobia… she also denies heliocentrism. And she’s peddling conspiracy theories that NASA is hiding evidence that the Earth is flat. And of course she’s doubled down on it all, as nutters are wont to do.

  • [] Alberta Muslim group condemns racist letter received by Edmonton mosque

    Wow. The letter isn’t signed, but includes the logos of The Clann – which is the latest iteration of the Soliders of Odin, or one of its splinter groups – and the United Conservative Party of Alberta. I mean… you know you have a serious image problem if someone spouting racism and islamophobia this extreme thinks your party is representative of their bullshit. To be clear: the UCP was not in any way associated with the letter (that we know of), and Jason Kenney has already made a lukewarm denunciation statement. But still, the fact that their logo even came up at all really says something.

  • [] Love makes the world go…flat

    Nice piece discussing how people pick up bullshit conspiracy theories. Turns out that you should be very wary of people who “do their own research”.

  • [] “Bethany Lindsay – Reporting on pseudoscience”(Audio: 33:55)

    One of the honourable mentions for story of the year was the story of the naturopath who diagnosed a 4 year-old as a werewolf and then treated him with homeopathic rabid dog saliva. That story was the first part of a massive, sprawling tale that saw several prominent naturopaths and chiropractors sanctioned for making bullshit “medical” claims, and even got people talking about instituting provincial and national standards to combat pseudoscience in medicine. This item is a recording of journalist Bethany Lindsay telling the story of how she broke the original story, and chased down the follow-ups that turned out to be so impactful. It’s well worth a listen, as Lindsay not only recounts her methods, she discusses some of the challenges with reporting on these kinds of topics.

  • [] EMSB community speaks out about proposed religious symbols ban

    It should be obvious, but the Board’s Chair makes a salient point: If it has no impact on student success, why make it an issue?

  • [] Alberta anti-choice advocates secretly supporting UCP candidates to influence legislation

    This is something that Albertans really have to keep an eye on. There is a lot of shady shit going on in the UCP, and too much of it is being ignored under the assumption that it’s not worth bothering about because the UCP is guaranteed to win regardless of anything. That may be true, but it’s still important to figure out who’s going to be pulling their strings.

  • [] Saudi study: Millennial jihadis educated, not outcasts

    The focus of this piece is on Saudi jihadist-wannabes, but there’s a lot of good information about Canadian jihadist-wannabes as well.

  • [] Quebec Mosque killer sentenced to life in prison

    Alexandre Bissonnette, the Québec mosque shooter, will be in prison until he’s at least 70. I don’t know if that will bring any closure to the victims and their survivors, but I hope so. There’s so much to unpack here – for example, the Judge… “edited”… a Harper-era law about consecutive sentences that would otherwise have seen Bissonnette serving a minimum of 150 years (rather than 40), and then there’s the Canadian Anti-Hate Network’s observation that we still haven’t touched the cause of the problem – but I think that should wait for another day.

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