Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

  • [] Colby Cosh: The ‘Church of Atheism’ loses its battle. But the war may not be over

    This is a very nice review of that “Church of Atheism” case we covered in last week’s Update. As Cosh explains, the “Church of Atheism” may have been amateurish and silly… but there really was a legitimate point underlying their case. It’s a pity the antics of the “Church of Atheism” ruined the chance of that legitimate point getting a fair hearing. But the point remains, and the Court’s response to the case highlights that it still needs addressing.

  • [] “Canada’s Multiculturalism – Worth Defending | Amira Elghawaby | TEDxOttawa” (Video: 19:13)

    Very nice talk by Amira Elghawaby, about our very admirable history of multiculturalism, how we have been recently faltering in that regard, and why that matters.

  • [] Montreal church leaders ignored warnings about priest convicted of sex crimes

    Weekly Update has been covering the disgusting details of Boucher’s case for a while now (though it’s been a while since his trials, so there hasn’t been much news recently). It’s nice that the CBC has finally caught up, somewhat. Their coverage is pretty damning… not of Boucher, because we already know he’s a rapist, but of everyone else involved. I mentioned this in previous items about Boucher, too: everyone – parents, other priests, everyone – seemed to know, or at least strongly suspect, what Boucher was up to, but they still sent kids, sometimes their own, into his care.

  • [] ‘All French Canadians’ are Catholic, Quebec premier tells governor of California

    Wow, did Legault ever put his foot in it this time. There’s so much about this that I just find hilarious. I just love that Legault tried to engage Newsom in a discussion about religious symbols, and Newsom was like: I ain’t touchin’ that with a 40-foot pole, motherfucker. Also, the response of French Canadians to Legault’s claim that “all French Canadians are Catholic” was awesome, as was the general response on Twitter. My favourite has to be Ted McCormick’s: The neat thing about laicité in Quebec is that your kids can go to a public school named after Jesus or Mary or Joseph and learn about Christmas and Easter and watch movies about the Nativity, and it’s all perfectly secular because no-one with a hijab will get hired or promoted.

  • [] Secular treatment options available for nurses following AA complaint settlement

    The big news this week! Byron Wood finally won his battle to get secular addiction recovery options available for nurses in British Columbia. This fight has cost Wood his career, and has dragged on for years. But this week, he can finally savour victory. And so can nurses across BC who might need help with addiction: no longer must they be forced into religious options like Alcoholics Anonymous.

  • [] Iqaluit city council votes to replace opening prayer with moment of silence

    Well done, Iqaluit! Iqaluit was one of those cities that, in the immediate aftermath of the MLQv Saguenay ruling about government prayer, stubbornly refused to stop praying in flagrant defiance of the law. It took some time, but the story of how they actually changed is interesting. It happened in such a natural, organic way. Four years ago, then-Councillor Kenny Bell tabled a motion to end the prayer. It lost, 3–2, with one person absent, and one abstention. That abstention was Councillor Joanasie Akumalik, who abstained because he wanted a legal opinion on the matter. Fast forward to 2019, and a brand new council. The first day the new council sat, now-Mayor Kenny Bell decided to open the session with a moment of silence. The second day, the Deputy Mayor, Janet Brewster, chose to do a reflection instead. It was only on the third day that a god-bothered councillor – who had been absent the first two sittings – opened the day with a prayer and triggered a debate about it. That debate turned emotional, as Deputy Mayor Brewster recalled the testimonies of residential school survivors, who recounted being forced to pray over and over as part of their brainwashing to erase their indigenous identities. Councillor Kyle Sheppard recalled the Saguenay ruling and made a motion to end the prayers. It passed, 4–3, and the deciding vote and last word was… Councillor Joanasie Akumalik, the same guy who abstained four years ago, and caused that motion to fail. And his reasoning this time was fascinating: he figures that God doesn’t really need the show of a public prayer performance. It’s all a really neat illustration of how secular progress can really be evolutionary, rather than revolutionary. Grand events like Saguenay can surely shake things up… but it’s often little changes in people’s thinking that makes the real difference. After Saguenay, the release of the TRC report on residential schools, and the new climate of reconciliation, opened councillors’ eyes to the ways that doing Christian prayers – previously thought to be just a harmless ritual – can actually be twisting the knife in survivors’ hearts. And for nothing, because as Akumalik noted: if God exists, he really shouldn’t care whether a prayer happens or not. It was a slow accretion of empathy and awareness, that took years, but it made a real difference. Sometimes that’s how change happens.

  • [] One law, many challenges: How lawyers are trying to overturn Quebec’s religious symbols ban

    This is an excellent explanation of the many, many legal arguments that are being brought against Québec’s religious accessories ban. Normally this would be an open-and-shut case: Bill 21 obviously violates the fundamental right to religious freedom, so game over. But Québec’s Coalition Avenir Québec government has insulated the bill against fundamental rights challenges via the Charter’s notwithstanding clause, so people have been forced to find creative workarounds. And some of them really are creative! The most interesting, to me, is the one that argues that the notwithstanding clause isn’t legit in this case – that provinces can’t simply wave it as a magic wand to get around our treaty obligations (because Bill 21 doesn’t violate the Charter, it also violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). There was a minor loss this week: the Court ruled there wasn’t reason enough to suspend the law pending these challenges, so though some had hoped the law would be moot until then (and then, hopefully, permanently moot if one or more of the challenges won out), it ain’t so. Doesn’t mean anything in the long run, though; the likelihood of success of the challenges isn’t affected by the fact they couldn’t get the law suspended.

  • [] Dr. Kristopher Wells on Twitter

    I’m both surprised and impressed by this rather sudden about face: In the mandate letter to the new Minister of Justice, Trudeau explicitly lists one of the things Lametti is to do as: Work with the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth to amend the Criminal Code to ban the practice of conversion therapy and take other steps required with the provinces and territories to end conversion therapy in Canada. Fuck, yeah!

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