Weekly Update: to

by | December 7, 2019

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

  • [] Is Canada Losing Its Religion?

    I have to wonder if Dr. Zuckerman is trolling us with this headline, because usually when a headline asks a question, the answer is “no”. But few people know as well as Zuckerman just how wildly wrong that would be. It’s a short piece, but it includes quite a bit of data, with links to sources, and some decent analysis of the data, too. Well worth the read.

  • [] What kids in Canada are taught about contraception, consent and STIs

    This is a really neat summary of the sex ed curricula of every province and territory. Overall… it’s not great. British Columbia and Yukon, you really need to get your shit together. But New Brunswick and Québec… not bad!

  • [] Brampton councillor thinks city is blurring line between church and state

    If any of our readers live in Brampton, Ontario, the next time you see Martin Medeiros, buy him a beer, or at least give him a pat on the back. It’s nice for the government to occasionally give recognition to minority groups, including minority religions, that have had a positive impact on the community – and even, rarely, to give recognition to majority groups or religions. But that should be something that’s only done once in a blue moon. What’s been happening in Brampton is that these ceremonial recognitions have been taking up so much of the Council’s time, they’re actually not getting real work done. Medeiros, and fellow Councillor Pat Fortini, have called out that bullshit. Medeiros has also shone a light on how the Council, via these ceremonial recognitions, has been jerked around and used a platform by bigots. Now, some people have criticized Medeiros for supporting the motion despite all this, but, really, what sense would it have made for him to oppose it at that point? Medeiros’s position is that the motion shouldn’t have been there in the first place… once it was already there, the time-wasting damage had already been done, so there was nothing to be gained from opposing it – and opposing the motion would have been unjustly punishing the target of the motion, who weren’t the ones to blame for Council being made to waste time on the motion (the ones to blame were those who should have said no to the motion before it even got on the agenda).

  • [] Navy investigating reservist who encouraged fellow members of neo-Nazi web forum to enlist

    There are two followup stories this week about neo-Nazis that were in the Canadian Forces, with two very different outcomes. The first is the story that was featured in an item a few weeks back, about a Naval reservist who was not only the moderator of Iron March – one of the most infamous neo-Nazi Internet forums – but who was also involved with Combat 18 and had also apparently organized an illegal weapon sale with a French far-right terrorist. The good news is: Boris Mihajlovic of Calgary claims to have been deradicalized and rehabilitated. Is it true? Well… hard to say. There are a lot of questions that still need to be answered, both about his alleged rehabilitation and about that alleged weapons deal. If Mihajlovic really has escaped hate, then that’s wonderful – I really want to believe that, and to welcome him out of the dark side and back into the light. But he has a lot more to do to fully make that transition – there is a lot of evil he perpetrated that he needs to account for, and to undo.

  • [] Most Canadians Believe Human Beings on Earth Evolved

    Neat little survey by ResearchCo! Most sources have reported it as 61% of Canadians believe human beings “definitely” or “probably” evolved, which is cool, but a deeper dive into the data makes things look even cooler. That’s because the “definitely” group is actually 40% (with the “probably” at 21%)! 2-in-5 – almost half – of Canadians think evolution definitely happened. A lot of the press has also been hand-wringing about the fact that 38% think creationism should be taught in schools (although 39% say no), but I think there’s something more complicated going on here. I don’t think the (for example) 20% of atheists who think creationism should be “definitely” or “probably” taught mean that it should be taught in science class. I think a lot of the support for teaching creationism is based on the idea that it should be taught as “something some people believe”… just so people are aware that it’s a thing out there, not so they’re taught that it’s true. But someone should probably do a more detailed survey to suss that out.

  • [] Freedom of religion widely valued in Canada, but the role of faith in modern society still a source of debate

    Yet another Angus Reid survey on faith brought to us by Cardus, and there’s nothing new or surprising about any of it. (Just ignore their silly “opponent/proponent” typology.) Canadians are pretty damn satisfied with their lives and their community (~80% for both), but nervous about the future – mostly Conservatives and those in the Prairies. They’re very optimistic about their own futures (81%), but not so much about the future of Canada (56%) or the next generation (42%) – again, it’s mostly Conservatives and those in the Prairies who are concerned. Canadians think the contributions of religions are mixed, they want religion to have less influence on public life, and are increasingly irrelevant – the only thing they think religion has some relevance for is “helping people in need”. Canadians overwhelmingly support religious freedom – more than 50% in every demographic except Bloc voters and those who won’t say who they voted for. They like diversity, they think the government is doing a good job respecting religion, and they don’t really mind people wearing religious symbols at work. Other than Evangelicals (go figure), they don’t think their faith is shut out of the public sphere. 14% are strong atheists, 19% are weak atheists, though only 7% call themselves “atheist”, 5% “agnostic”, and 8% “nothing in particular”. Most Canadians feel comfortable expressing their religious views publicly, but they’re generally uncomfortable asking others to support their religion (for example, by donating to a religious charity or cause). All in all, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before, and there’s nothing I think worth being alarmed about (unless you’re a religious accessories ban proponent, or a general anti-religious bigot, in which case, yeah, you should be concerned I suppose, but I don’t give a shit).

  • [] Neo-Nazi Terror Group Harbouring Missing Ex-Soldier: Sources

    This is the other neo-Nazi in the Forces in the news this week… but this is a much darker story. Unlike Mihajlovic, Patrik Mathews has not only not deradicalized… he may have gone even deeper down the evil hole. Mathews went on the run a few months back, after he was outed as a Nazi connected to The Base, and the RCMP seized a bunch of guns during a raid on his home. At the time it was suspected that Mathews had fled across the border; now it is believed he is being hidden by members of The Base in the US. This is fucking scary shit, because Mathews is trained in explosives and bomb-making by the Canadian Forces, and he has apparently trained members of The Base on bomb-making in Georgia. What’s really outrageous about the whole thing is how the authorities really didn’t give a fuck about Mathews at first. Can you imagine the response if an al-Qaida-affiliated soldier, trained in explosives, disappeared and was believed to have connected with and was training a cell of al-Qaida operatives right here on North American soil? But nope, the authorities were shockingly uninterested, and slow to move, even as journalists – particularly from VICE Canada – took it upon themselves to investigate Mathews, even as The Base posted death threats against the reporters.

  • [] Why Racists (and Liberals!) Keep Writing for Quillette

    Quillette baffles me; not the publication itself or its content – that’s all just old-school racism and other reactionary shit, none of which is the least bit novel or surprising. What baffles me is the phenomenon of Quillette: how does an old-school racist rag not only become a symbol of intellectual freedom in 2019, but also manage to attract so many big-name liberals to not only contribute, but to sing its praises? It turns out the answer is not only simple, it’s stupidly simple: They just don’t read it. Yeah. Seriously. These purported intellectual luminaries have thrown their support behind Quillette because they swallowed, hook, line, and sinker, the spin about Quillette being a bastion of freethought… but they were too intellectual lazy, and to fucking dumb, to actually bother to question the spin, and check the truth out for themselves. It’s a little more complicated than that, of course – a few big name intellectuals who were straight-up racists or rapists called out by #MeToo or woke culture in general published in Quillette, and other public intellectuals just assumed that that meant the rag has some credibility, so they didn’t bother to actually check before going out and enthusiastically defending it. This article is a thorough review of Quillette’s questionable “scholarship”, outlining its dabbling in debunked “race science”, it’s enabling of fascism and white nationalism, and it shoddy standards of review.

  • [] Is atheism a religion? The Ministry of National Revenue is a non-believer

    🤦🏼 Honestly, that facepalm emoji pretty much sums up my feelings about this case, but… I suppose some more explanation is necessary. So a dude named Christopher Bernier created the Church of Atheism of Central Canada, and wanted to register it as a charity. So far there’s not really a problem, but there are 4 ways to be recognized as a charity: advancement of education, relief of poverty, other benefits to the community, and… advancement of religion. Most atheist charities go for one (or more) of the first three, but Bernier decided he wanted to go with option 4. Still, this isn’t entirely bad… because so long as the government says “advancement of religion” is in-and-of-itself a charitable purpose, then a “church” that “advances atheism” should count. Atheism is technically not a religion per se, but it is recognized as a “creed”, and that’s close enough for at least some purposes, legally. Also, it would be discriminatory if “advancement of religion” excluded non-theistic belief systems. So this could have been a great case to challenge Canada’s antiquated charity laws. The problem is… Bernier appears to have been a bit of an idiot. First, the “Church of Atheism” appears to be made up of a congregation of literally one: Bernier himself. Second, not only did Bernier not bother to connect with anyone else in the secular, humanist, atheist, or freethought community, his massive ego was such that he decided he could take on this challenge completely alone. As Ian Bushfield writes, Bernier ended up making a complete fool of himself, and he lost the case. Worse, Bernier’s dipshittery may have actually made it harder for the rest of us to fight this discriminatory law in the future. Look, I get it; I get being passionate about fighting laws that are discriminatory against atheism – I am the motherfucking managing editor of Canadian Atheist; I totally get the drive to do something about this shit. But if you think that you’re such a special flower, that you’re so damn smart that you can just waltz right into these decades-long struggles and solve them with your glorious, rational intellect on your own… dude, you’re a fucking idiot. If you really want to do something about these problems, connect with the community! Talk to the organizations that have been fighting these battles for years! Benefit from their resources; learn from their expertise! They will help you make your great idea airtight… or they will tell you why it needs rethinking. Either way, the way we win these battles is together, as a community.

  • [] Inside the hate factory: how Facebook fuels far-right profit

    I can’t decide whether this is hilarious or horrifying. So it turns out that a group – possibly a very small group, maybe just a couple people – manipulated right-wing idiots into letting them post thousands of completely bullshit stories – most of which were islamophobic in nature – on their platforms. Why? To make ad revenue! Yup, a couple of scammers seem to have tricked dozens of right-wing platforms and hundreds of thousands of their dim-bulb fans and Facebook itself into a lucrative cash-generating grift. On the one hand, the karma here is fucking hilarious. On the other… there was some very, very serious harm done. In addition to the rampant islamophobia the scammers were peddling, they were also pushing anti-Justin Trudeau articles right at the height of the election. They were not just fucking with people’s lives, they were fucking with our democracy itself. But as easy as it is to be mad at the scammers for this, we can’t forget that the lion’s share of the blame falls on the idiots who shared and liked the crap they published.

  • [] How We Let Go

    Anthony Magnabosco and Rebecca Fox did a survey of atheists, asking them about how they let go of their faith. They ended up with over 850 responses – detailed responses – and have turned that into a resource to help others in the process of deconverting, or those trying to help people deconvert, complete with a neat video. There’s nothing really new or shocking in their findings for those who have looked at this stuff before, but there might be some surprises for those who haven’t: for example, virtually no one was deconverted by arguments about the silliness of their beliefs, or pointing out the contradictions, or any of that stuff. And the thing that the newly-deconverted most of all is a community that provides them with fraternity and emotional support… not a bunch of people they can mock their old religion with.

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