Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

[A cartoon showing two dogs at a pond, bringing a shot duck back to their owner. One says: “Look, the commandments say to bring back shot ducks and to not shit in the car. I don’t need to philosophize! I’m just trying to be a good doggy!”]
Apparently I’ve been breaking more of the commandments than I thought!
  • [] Why Secular Humanism can do what Atheism can’t.

    Numerous people have noted that, as much sense as atheism may make, atheist by itself doesn’t really get you anywhere. Sure, that’s true; if you stop at just not believing that gods exist, that’s a pretty useless worldview. So… what next? Well, for many atheists, the answer to that question is secular humanism. Indeed, for almost all Canadian atheists, that’s the answer they arrive at.

  • [] Lawrie McFarlane: Do religious principles outweigh a peaceful death?

    A couple weeks back, an Update item reported the happy conclusion to the ugly story of a Jewish nursing home’s vendetta against a doctor who helped a suffering old man find peace. But Wiebe’s story is only one of several horrifying tales of doctors having to deal with religious institutions’ refusal to allow legal medical procedures on their premises. We’ve seen stories people transferred in ambulances screaming in pain, or forced to get medical appraisals done outside in the middle of the street. All of these cases boil down to the same core question… but this is not the question. Instead, this piece conflates an entirely different type of problem. The problem the article chooses to focus on is the issue of forcing doctors to do procedures that violate their religious beliefs. Wiebe’s case (and the other cases I mentioned) are cases of institutions forcing religious beliefs on patients and doctors. The first problem is an issue of balancing the rights of patients versus doctors… but the second problem is a complete non-problem, because it involves doctors and patients who both consent to some legal medical practice while an entirely uninvolved third party (the institution) dictates religious policy to both of them.

  • [] Environment groups warned saying climate change is real could be seen as partisan

    The background to this item is bizarre and almost unbelievable. Canadian charities already have to navigate a minefield of vague regulations at risk of losing their charitable status, but a recent Elections Canada training session made the minefield even more fraught. Charities were told that because there is a climate-change political party – albeit a fairly fringe party that hasn’t even even been invited to the leaders’ debate – then if they do any advocacy about climate-change, they could run afoul of rules saying they can’t be partisan. Yeah, really. “Mad” Max Bernier of the PPC says climate change isn’t real, so charities dedicated to doing something about this very real crisis that numerous scientific organizations have called the greatest threat of our era… can’t talk about it, because it would undermine the PPC’s political platform.

  • [] White supremacist in army reserve

    This was the big news this week. We’ve known for some time that far-right extremists and neo-Nazis have infiltrated the Canadian Armed Forced (and other organizations, like the RCMP). Mathews is not the first to be uncovered, and there are several more who haven’t yet been named but who have made a point of declaring in their web spaces that the best way to get ready for the coming “race war” is to enrol in the armed forces and let them train you on the government’s dime. But this particular exposé has really “gone viral” for a number of reasons, not least being that this dude is attached to one of the most outrightly and openly violent of all the neo-Nazi groups, and that he has apparently been extremely active in the group. Despite the efforts by investigators to keep things under wraps, we’ve also had some alarming revelations that the Forces may have known for years that this dude was part of a violent extremist neo-Nazi group. Can you imagine what would happen if it came out that members of al Qaida or Daesh were training in the CAFwhile carrying out their hateful activities?

  • [] Federal Court approves Indian day schools class-action settlement

    The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report on Canada’s residential schools system was a landmark in the history of indigenous rights in this country, but it was always only a small part of the picture. Along with the residential schools, there were also the day schools. The day schools were basically the same as residential schools – they were also the product of a nefarious alliance between the government of Canada and churches – and were often run by exactly the same groups. Pretty much everything that applied to residential schools in the TRC’s report more or less applies to the day schools as well.

  • [] Bernier Claims ‘Islamist Extremists’ Have Infiltrated Canadian Politics

    Wow. In a way, Maxime Bernier is almost impressive. Despite being nowhere in the polls – trailing behind the Bloc, which only runs in Québec – he has managed to have a wildly out-sized influence on politics in the lead-up to the election. Another item this week notes how his opposition to climate change has turned the issue into a major controversy between Elections Canada and charities. And now… this. I mean, this is the kind of batshit crazy conspiracy crap you’d expect to find from some rando on social media, not the leader of a purportedly major federal political party.

  • [] ‘Jihadi Jack’ and the folly of revoking citizenship

    For those who haven’t been following the story, “Jihadi Jack” Letts is the idiot who left the UK to join Daesh – maybe, more on that in a bit – got caught, and is now stuck in a prison in Syria. The UK’s handling of Lett’s case has been a spectacular shit show. So far as I can tell, they don’t seem to have any real evidence that Letts actually joined Daesh – merely circumstantial evidence, which is probably okay enough for some charges, but hardly justification for leaving one of their citizens in a Syrian jail for years on end. Letts has freely admitted to wanted to do terrorist stuff, but he seems to have a particular dislike for Daesh, despite apparently wanting an Islamist caliphate of some kind. The reason this is a Canadian issue is because Letts’s father is Canadian, which means that while Letts may have been primarily a UK concern – having been raised there, and having travelled from there to (possibly) join Daesh – the Canadian government still has a responsibility to see to his welfare. More so now, because in an astonishingly irresponsible move, the UK has stripped Letts of his UK citizenship. Is that even possible, one might ask? Yes, but only because Letts also had Canadian citizenship… had he not, then the UK couldn’t strip him of citizenship, because that would leave him stateless, which is illegal under international law. Put another way, what the UK did was just dump responsibility for the problem they created onto Canada.

  • [] The rise of the Satanic Temple in Canada

    Last week’s Update included a hilariously breathless piece by this same reporter giving some (alleged) background of the Satanic Temple, in advance of their first black mass in Ottawa. That piece was full of bizarre non sequiturs, going into long tangents about sacrificing babies, was riddled with errors, and really didn’t give much information about the Satanic Temple itself (rather than about anything associated, even fictitiously, with satanism throughout history). Well between now and then, the reporter actually got to attend the black mass, and see what the Satanic Temple is really all about, so this new piece has much less baby sacrificing, and much more tattooed people hanging around smoking.

  • [] Transgender hate crimes are on the rise even in Canada

    I take issue with the title of this piece, but only on a somewhat pedantic level. I don’t think Curlew actually makes the case that hate crimes against transgender people are actually on the rise (in Canada); or at least, she doesn’t make it all that well. The case she does make is, I think, much more damning: we didn’t even care to count anti-transgender hate crimes until recently, and arguably we’re not even properly counting them now. I’ll grant that C-16 is still pretty new, and law enforcement isn’t really the most progressively-conscious sector of our society, so they’re unlikely to have considered anti-trans stuff “criminal” without being specifically told to. But still, it seems that since we now have explicit protection of gender identity and expression in law, we can do a bit better than tallying hate crimes in violation of those things under “sex, other”.

  • [] “Christ” by Zach Weinersmith (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)

    In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Oily Ghost….

  • [] Catholic church buys $7.5M equestrian facility in Abbotsford, plans ‘agri-retreat’ centre

    What’s interesting about this story is not that the Catholic Church is buying high-end property for a luxury retreat – they’re a private organization they can do what they want with their money. It’s also not particularly interesting that this was all being done on the down-low, hush-hush, and was only uncovered by a fluke. Except… when you consider the wider context, suddenly these things are interesting. Because this is an organization that has repeated cried that the money is tight when it comes time to pay off fines or settlements for their crimes… including crimes that continue to come to light, and that are still working their way through the courts all across Canada. And if that doesn’t raise eyebrows enough… one of the purposes of this property which has been bought by the largest child-raping cabal in human history is… to run programs for underprivileged kids… where the kids will come to stay on the premises.

  • [] Canadians Back Opt-Out System for Organ and Tissue Donation

    I’ve written before about why presumed consent should be the standard for organ donation in Canada, and this year Nova Scotia became the first province to switch to that standard. But one thing I’ve never had is any data about how Canadians at large felt about such a system. Well, now I do, and, to their credit, Canadians agree that presumed consent is the way to go.

  • [] Farber: Struggling to come to grips with our history of genocide

    It’s a hard and bitter pill to swallow, accepting that Canada was not just the perpetrator of a genocide, but that that genocide was being perpetrated during the lifetime of most Canadian Atheist readers. But the evidence is undeniable, and more and more people are growing comfortable with using the word without qualifiers (like “cultural”, as Farber mentions in the article). We’ve been lucky, compared to societies in Europe, Asia, and Africa, to have had a relatively “clean” history we can be proud of… but it’s time we grew up and acknowledged this particular stain. And then, after acknowledging it, we need to take steps to repair the damage.

  • [] “Human Law” by Zach Weinersmith (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)

    This is a surprisingly philosophical argument, delivered is an amusingly disarming way! I couldn’t help but share it.

  • [] Andrew Scheer urged to end ‘boycott’ of gay pride events after 2005 speech on same-sex marriage comes to light

    For quite some time now, Andrew Scheer has been coasting on his former relative anonymity. (Indeed, arguably his entire strategy thus far has been praying the election is over before the inevitable bozo eruption ruins his chances.) He was a non-presence in the CPC, despite being Speaker for a while, and given his baby-faced lack of menace, people just assumed he was a harmless, milquetoast kinda conservative. But those who’ve studied him know better; he is a hard core social conservative (or at least convincingly plays one to his base). Well, now it looks like the Liberals, realizing they can’t really run much of a campaign on their actual performance, have decided to take the gloves off, and show Canadians the truth behind the dimply smile. No one who’s been following politics or Scheer will be surprised. The question is, will the rest of Canada care?

Canadian Atheist’s Weekly Update depends on the submissions of readers like you. If you see anything on the Internet that you think might be of interest to CA readers, please take a minute to make a submission.

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