Weekly Update: to

by | December 28, 2019

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

  • [] In Canada, Christmas traditions change as fewer people see religion as the reason for the season

    There are two items this week that are about polls on what Canadians think about Christmas. This one is from Angus Reid, and focuses more on the “meaning” Canadians ascribe to Christmas. The most interesting thing about this one is the precipitous drop in the number of people who think that the primary reason for the season is religious: down from 27% in 1988 to 10% now. Abacus gets different results: They agree with ARI that ~50% of Canadians think Christmas is a primarily secular holiday, but while ARI finds only 10% think it’s primarily religious, Abacus finds that 35% think so. That’s probably because Abacus doesn’t offer the “both equally” option. The other neat finding in this poll is the drop in people who are celebrating Christmas by going to church or setting up a nativity scene.

  • [] How Canadians celebrate (or don’t celebrate) Christmas

    This is the second item this week this is a poll on Canadians’ feelings about Christmas. This one is a bit sillier, with questions about whether Christmas dinner will be turkey or chicken (for me, it was, as is tradition where I grew up, ham), and whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie. (For me, the movie I most associate with Christmas is Ridley Scott’s Alien. To each their own!)

  • [] Ontario legislature unlikely to stop saying Lord’s Prayer at the start of each day

    If all you focus on here is the headline, your response is probably, “no, duh”. Nobody expects the Ford government to do anything the least bit integrous, and this in particular would put them at odds with their socon backers. But there’s a lot more in the article of interest; it actually provides a very neat overview of which legislatures are still doing prayers, and what kind of prayers they do.

  • [] A school board trustee compared LGBTQ children to vampires & cannibals. He just won an award for it.

    Wow. Okay, in case you forgot: A few weeks back, the Toronto Catholic District School Board was voting on whether to comply with the province’s new requirement that their school handbooks make it clear that discrimination against LGBTQ people is not acceptable. Now, it’s already illegal to discriminate against LGBTQ people – it’s a violation of the province’s Human Rights Code – so simply acknowledging this legal requirement would seem to be a controversy-free option, right? Nope, we’re dealing with Catholics here, and they really want to bully them some queers, for religious reasons. So there was a whole hullabaloo over the vote, with various hard-core Catholic assholes lining up to say the shittiest things they could about gay and trans people. The vote went the right way – mostly because they would probably have lost a ton of funding if it didn’t – but the winner of the shitty things said prize had to have been serial shitbag Michael Del Grande, who said something incoherent along the lines of: if we have to add gender identity, gender expression, family status and marital status to the list of things we can’t bully kids about, then we should also add bestiality, paedophilia, cannibalism, auto-erotic asphyxiation, and auto-vampirism. Yeah, really. Most people and organizations, Canadian Atheist included, of course, condemned Del Grande for his idiotic, ignorant, and bigoted statement. Campaign Life Coalition… went the other way. They gave the fucker an actual award for being the biggest asshole in the room.

  • [] Fringe ‘religious’ group member escalates his headgear fight with ICBC

    So this is another one of those cases where someone wants to wear a colander in an official government photo just because religious people are allowed to wear their magic hats, and that’s not “fair”. Whatever. I’m not really keen on these kinds of stunts. On the one hand, if there’s no real problem with wearing headgear in an official photo – if it isn’t really a problem if a religious person does it – then it’s stupid and unjustifiable to restrict it only to religious headgear. On the other… is this really that big a deal? If a religious person really does need to wear their magic hat, and they really do wear it 100% of the time when they’re out in public, then fine, it makes perfect sense to include it in an identity photo – they won’t look “right” without it, because they never go out without it. Does Smith wear his colander 100% (or even just most) of the time in public? Definitely not. So it’s not really the same thing. I’m obviously no fan of religious-based discrimination, but there’s an entire category of complaints about discrimination that are complete bullshit, where people look at the superficial differences – they’re allowed to wear hats and we’re not! – while ignoring the deeper reason for those differences. Put another way, if Gary Smith really, really does have reasons for his headgear that are fundamentally part of his identity and beliefs about his place in the universe, then fine, I’ll support his fight to wear his colander… but we all know that’s bullshit – we all know he’s only faking this “need” to wear a colander solely for the express purpose of making a political statement. It’s a lie – an act he’s putting on – and for that, I can’t bring myself to muster much support for his crusade.

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3 thoughts on “Weekly Update: to

  1. Stephen Oberski

    If people had been wearing colanders for several hundred years we wouldn’t think that Smith is any more (or less) deranged than the turban, hijab, crucifix, kirpan, veil, burqua wearing nutjobs out there.

    In the same sense that I would not accuse an xtian of not being a true xtian, if Smith says he needs to wear that colander for what ever reason or lack of reason he wants, more power to him and may the noodly appendage of the FSM touch him.

    As for political statement, all these symbols are inherently tribal in nature, designed to separate an ingroup from an outgroup and to demonstrate the commitment of the wearer by exacting an entry cost to the respective cult.

    Personally I do agree that this is a form of political theatre, as practised to great effect by The Satanic Temple (primarily) in the United States.


    The idea that religion belongs to supernaturalists is ignorant, backward, and offensive. The metaphorical Satanic construct is no more arbitrary to us than are the deeply held beliefs that we actively advocate for. Are we supposed to believe that those who pledge submission to an ethereal supernatural deity hold to their values more deeply than we? Are we supposed to concede that only the superstitious are proper recipients of religious exemption and privilege? In fact, Satanism provides us all that a religion should, without a compulsory attachment to untenable items of faith-based belief: It provides a narrative structure by which we contextualize our lives and works. It provides a body of symbolism and religious practice — a sense of identity, culture, community, and shared values.


    Some have conveniently concluded, upon observing The Satanic Temple’s media coverage, that the media attention itself is the primary objective of TST’s activities. While media outreach has helped to raise awareness of the campaigns we have initiated, these campaigns have ultimate goals related issues that are important to us and our membership.

    So inured is the general public to the idea that there is only one monolithic voice of “the” religious agenda that any attempt at a counter-balance — or assertion of a minority voice — is often viewed as necessarily a mere targeted provocation against those who enjoy an unquestioned tacit assertion of sole squatters rights in the religio-political dialogue.

    1. Indi Post author

      If people had been wearing colanders for several hundred years we wouldn’t think that Smith is any more (or less) deranged than the turban, hijab, crucifix, kirpan, veil, burqua wearing nutjobs out there.

      I don’t think people who wear turbans, hijabs, or any of that other stuff are “deranged”, or “nutjobs”, and I think it is both ignorant and offensive to say that they are.

      In the same sense that I would not accuse an xtian of not being a true xtian, if Smith says he needs to wear that colander for what ever reason or lack of reason he wants, more power to him and may the noodly appendage of the FSM touch him.

      This is not about being a “true Pastafarian”. It is not about the purity of Smith’s beliefs, or how well they jibe with the fundamentals of the “religion”.

      It’s a simple matter of asking whether an accommodation is necessary or justified. If there is a legit reason for banning headgear in identity photos – and it seems like there is – then anyone who wants an exemption from that rule needs to have a damn good reason for it. For someone who wears a hijab or turban virtually all the time – every day of their lives, whenever they’re out in public – it’s almost absurd to have an identifying photo of them without that headgear. So accommodating them makes perfect sense.

      What Smith is doing is just abusing the process, and I don’t see that he has a legitimate reason for doing so. We all know he doesn’t really wear his colander all the time – in fact, none of the pictures of him I’ve seen show him wearing it. So he doesn’t really need any accommodation. He’s just demanding it because he feels entitled to it – it’s infantile “logic”: “they get it, so I should get it too”, without any real consideration of why they get it when most people don’t.

      If the process really were unjust, then fine, sure, go ahead and fuck with it. But is it? Is Smith really “righting a wrong” here? Or is he just being an entitled asshole?

      The idea that religion belongs to supernaturalists is ignorant, backward, and offensive.

      Yes, I agree with this absolutely. There is no reason any of this has to be framed in terms of supernatural beliefs.

      You wouldn’t go out in public without wearing pants. You would feel weird, unnatural, and uncomfortable if someone forced you to go out in public with your dong or labs just a-flappin’ out there in the breeze. You’d feel “naked”, or more generally, you wouldn’t feel like you’re in a state where you can be out in public.

      Well, why couldn’t someone feel that way about their hijab or turban? If they’ve been raised in a culture or household that led them to believe they weren’t “fully clothed” without their headgear, it doesn’t really matter if the original source of that idea is supernatural or not. All that matters is that they truly don’t feel like they’re in a state where they can be out in public without their headgear. (Spoiler alert: Your discomfort for going pants-less also has a religious basis; it comes from the Christian teaching about nudity from the Adam and Eve myth.)

      I honestly don’t care about the reasons why someone would want an accommodation to wear headgear in an identity photo – I don’t care whether they’re based in superstition or not, or even whether they’re based in religion or not – so long as the person’s need is real and honest. We all know Smith’s is not. This is not a criticism of how seriously Smith takes his Pastafarianism. It’s simply a factual observation that he doesn’t need the accommodation.

  2. Stephen Oberski

    Kaleed Rasheed, a Muslim PC MPP from suburban Mississauga, said he has no problem with hearing the Lord’s Prayer first thing in the morning. But he was thrilled to hear the Speaker read a translation from the Koran afterward recently.

    “As a Muslim, and as Christians, we hold the same belief of one God,” Mr. Rasheed said, adding that Jesus is revered as a prophet in Islam, second only to Mohammed. “For me, you just respect all races and religions.”

    Hmm, if I were to work really, really hard I would be hard pressed to come up with something more insulting to xtianity than Mr. Raseeds burbling remark. (not that I’m opposed to insulting xtianity).

    So who says ecumenicalism is dead ?


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