Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

  • [] Opinion | ‘If your god discredits the humanity of a group of people there is a problem with your god’

    Cindy Bourgeois was the first trans person to be ordained in a major denomination in Canada—by the United Church of Canada, natch. It’s important as atheists that we recognize and acknowledge when the religious get things right; the reason we oppose religion generally is because they virtually always, and arguably inevitably, get things so very wrong, so when they get things right, we need to give credit where it’s due in hopes that they’ll learn from that and get things right more often.

  • [] Calling out Andrew Scheer’s religious extremism

    Michael Coren makes a good point here. Most Canadians have pigeonholed Scheer as a wishy-washy, milquetoast centre-rightist; the man practically has “mostly harmless” tattooed across his vernal face. Indeed, even a lot of left-leaning activists seem to think Stephen Harper was a greater threat than Scheer could ever be. But Harper was never a True Believer™; Harper made a point of keeping the so-con loonies in his caucus on a tight leash (arguably on too tight a leash; so tight it became a free speech issue). Scheer is social-conservative, no matter how much he tries to hide it and pass himself off as a middle-of-the-road centrist in line with general Canadian opinion. We need to make this much more of a discussion issue than it currently is.

  • [] 5 facts about religion in Canada

    Nice little roundup of recent data about Canadian religiosity, published for Canada day. There are no surprises here: Canadians generally don’t care about religion, and there are about as many atheists—note: people who identify as “atheist” specifically, not “nones”, and not even counting “agnostics”—as there are Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists combined.

  • [] Alberta city that held LGBTQ pride this year denies request to fly straight pride flag

    From the investigations I’ve been following, it appears that the Airdrie chapter of “It’s Great to be Straight” exists only in the imagination of Larry Boland. What I like best about this story is the response by the Airdrie city council—kudos to them for making the denial unanimous—and particularly Tina Petrow, who said the group should be thankful there’s no need for a straight pride flag or parade, rather than asking why one doesn’t exist.

  • [] ‘This. Hurts. Babies’: Doctors alarmed at weekend courses teaching chiropractors how to adjust newborn spines

    This has to be the “what the fuck” story of the week. First, for those who didn’t already know, chiropractic is complete bunkum; the core concepts of the entire field are pseudoscientific bullshit (watch the video attached to the article!), and the only “good” chiropractic “treatment” does is no different from a simple massage—you can get the equivalent of chiropractic “treatment” at your local rub & tug, plus a happy ending… your local rub & tug is also much less likely to leave you paralyzed or dead. The application of chiropractic to babies triggered cries of horror a few years back when a video of newborns being swung around by the ankles to “get their spines adjusted” spread across the Internet. And now they’re “training” chiropractors… in Canada… to twist baby spines… using toy dolls made for little children. Oh, and the organization running the courses is anti-vaxx. Because of course they are.

  • [] Jason Kenney’s ‘War Room’ is a Threat to Free Speech, Say Civil Liberties and Human Rights Groups

    You’d think the “freeze peach warriors”, usually so quick to jump at phantom stories of free speech being threatened on campuses, would be all over the story of a provincial government putting together a “war room” that is expressly for the purpose of putting a chill on science-based criticism of their environmental policies. But, to no one’s surprise, there’s not a peep from them about this.

  • [] What it’s like to wear the niqab in (not so tolerant) Canada

    I am a critic of modesty garments, like the hijab, and especially of modesty garments that dehumanize the wearer, like the niqab and burqa. At the same time, I’m strongly supportive of individual freedom, so long as it does not interfere with the rights of others. I see no conflict whatsoever in that: I think wearing a niqab is stupid, but I also think that people should be allowed to be stupid if it harms no-one else. So when I consider what the biggest problem in Canada is regarding modesty garb, I don’t see that it’s the fact that there are people who choose to wear them. The biggest problem is that when someone chooses to wear them, they get treated terribly. It’s not just the most glaring examples of being spat on or physically assaulted by complete strangers trying to tear their clothes off them; all the “smaller” aggressions add up, too. That is what we should be trying to fix. That is the real problem. Somehow we can manage to walk past someone wearing a clerical collar without rolling our eyes, making noises of disgust or nasty comments, or spitting on them or trying to tear their collar off; somehow we’ve managed to evolve as a society where we can be at least that polite (and arguably, someone wearing a clerical collar is probably much more likely to deserve our contempt than someone in a niqab). So why can’t we make this—casual public abuse and mistreatment of people wearing Islamic accessories—our priority? Why can’t we focus our efforts on stamping out discrimination and prejudice based on what people wear, rather than trying to control what people wear? That’s the question I want answered by all those who would want dress codes enforced by law, but although I always ask, I’ve never yet been given a sensible answer.

  • [] Saskatoon diocese updates policies to prevent abuse, misconduct in Catholic Church

    The comments by the survivor in this piece highlight that there are really two things the Catholic Church has to do to “fix” the rape and child abuse scandals. The first is implement real, substantive, and effective policies to prevent further abuse. Even getting that done has been like pulling teeth, but—and I’m not going to say “to their credit”, because of how much it’s taken to get them to do even this much—there are some signs the Church is finally taking some steps toward this end. But the second thing the Church has to do is admit their past failings, and take steps of atonement… on and that front the Church has been woefully lacking. It’s so bad it’s even at the point where survivors have just stopped hoping for any real sign of contrition, let alone apology; they’re just happy to see that some steps to prevent future abuses are being taken. The Church apparently hopes everyone involved—victims and abusers alike—will just die off, and the whole thing will fade into the past.

  • [] Quebec Education Minister Roasted For Posting Photo With Malala Yousafzai

    The way this story unfolded is hilarious and beautiful. Jean-François Roberge is the Québec education minister, and he was understandably stoked to meet with a human rights legend: Malala Yousafzai, the young woman shot in the face by the Taliban because she wanted an education. He got a picture, and shared it on social media. But here’s the thing… just a couple weeks ago, Roberge’s government had passed Bill 21, the veil ban. Malala probably had no idea about this when she took the picture (I’ve been waiting for a response from her, but it hasn’t come yet)… but what the fuck was going through Roberge’s head? Journalists around the world have pointed out that Malala—who, recall, is specifically famous for being an education activist defying oppressive authorities trying to control what she could do, and who has an honorary Canadian citizenship—would not be allowed to become a teacher in Québec thanks to Bill 21. Roberge’s incredible response is that she could totes become a teacher in Québec… she just has to remove her iconic chador. Wow. This is the problem with being an oppressive government: You want to rub shoulders with human rights heroes and be fêted by the progressive organizations famous for standing up against discrimination, oppression, and other evils… but doing so highlights that you don’t really belong there; that you’re not really one of them, you’re one of the assholes they’re opposed to. The funniest thing may be that this isn’t even the first time the Québec government has tried to buddy up to Malala and been called out for their bullshit and hypocrisy for the same reason. They like photo ops with Malala because she’s one of the “good Muslims”; the problem with that is that it highlights the fact that she’s too good for them

  • [] Islamophobic acts on campuses show that SFU needs more cross-cultural awareness

    This piece came to my attention this week, and I wanted to highlight it because it makes the point that there is so much islamophobia in Canada, and so little of it actually gets widely reported. I don’t think Simon Fraser is a hotbed of islamophobia—quite the opposite I’d say. And yet… look at the shit they put up with! Someone walks right in and pisses on their prayer space, saying “fuck all Muslims”! And don’t assume that those rare extreme incidents are all they’re dealing with, because the Muslim Student Association gets targeted regularly by lesser acts: apparently, people steal their prayer mats somewhat routinely. This is just one little corner of Canada that is probably much less islamophobic than average, and look at what life is like for them. We should oppose Islam, of course—we should oppose all religious traditions—but we should also be sensitive and empathetic to the way the people of these religions are being treated generally. We’re supposed to be the folks that base their beliefs and actions on evidence… well, look at the evidence of what’s actually happening to Muslims in Canada, then decide based on that evidence how we should act. When I do that, I see that the battle that needs to be fought right now in Canada isn’t against Islam or Muslims; the real bad guys we need to focus our efforts on right now are the islamophobes.

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