Melissa Story lives in Eastern Ontario with her husband and three cats. She studied Advertising & Public Relations at St. Lawrence College in Kingston. She worked in the events industry for a few years, before returning to post-secondary to pursue a degree in Psychology. She received her psychology BA from the University of Waterloo in 2010 and continued her studies at Carleton University until 2013 when she graduated with a double honours BA in psychology and religion. She was the recipient of the Robert E Osbourne memorial scholarship for excellence in the study of religion in 2012 and 2013. Melissa currently works from home as a writer, blogger, and social media marketer, while also pursuing her artistic passions. She shares her perspective on religion and public life on her social media feeds and on her blog: https://thefeed.blackchicken.ca/.
Here we talk about provinces and territories, and creationism.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Provinces and territories differ in Canadian society in some ways. One comes from the creationist efforts. The territories see much less or none compared to the provinces. Why the differential between the provinces and the territories? It cannot be the weather alone.
Melissa Story: I’m not familiar with the current rates of creationist efforts in the territories or across the country, however, it’s safe to assume that creationist efforts are concentrated in populations that can sustain the movement. Much like any movement, it’s centered where it’s going to be fed in order to maximize success of surviving and growing.
Jacobsen: What makes the provinces better suited for creationist theological ideologies to flourish in the churches, the home schools and associated home school efforts, the private institutions of higher learning, and the spread of the false notion of controversy amongst scientists on the fact and theory of evolution via natural selection? As we both know, the ‘controversy’ does not amount to a scientific one, but to a socio-cultural and educational curriculum one.
Story: I don’t think they are necessarily better suited. I think we see more creationist activity in provinces because we see more diversity, and thus more people challenging worldviews. I think you will see more creationist activity in the future in the territories as creationist groups who are already mobilised spread the movement into untapped areas. In my own community, one local ministry aligned with the apostolic reformation has plans for a mission to Nunavut. They are collecting cash donations, gas cards, and non-perishable items to drive to Nunavut. We’ve seen these kinds of evangelical missions before. We know they come with a heavy dose of attempted indoctrination. We are also seeing more people identify as non-religious and this threatens the very notion of a Christian society. For those who take the world of God literally, this can present an existential crisis. I think that is why we are are seeing the resurgence of some of these groups and indeed splintering of these groups occurring. The next few years are going to be interesting.
Jacobsen: Sometimes, those who believe in a flat Earth get accused of reading the Bible in too literal a fashion for the young Earth creationists who in turn get seen as reading the Bible in too fundamentalist a manner for old Earth creationists, into the progressive creationists and theistic evolutionists, and so on and so forth, in North America. What in-fighting seems quintessentially Canadian in this regard within the creationist communities found in this country? One would assume a lot of non-Apologetics apologetics, in traditional Canadian fashion. I recall a recent interview with Margaret Atwood, in which she notes Canadians don’t do pride very well – very true.
Story: I’m not sure there is a quintessential Canadian attribute because I see this as a worldwide movement. In particular, there is a lot of influence from some of the megachurches down south. What is quintessentially Canadian is our politeness around the subject of religion. As a multicultural nation, we try and respect all cultures, that includes various Christian cultures, and indeed Creationist ideology. As a Canadian, you are free to believe. The challenge is to bring religion into a public debate about its influences on our institutions. Canadians don’t talk much about religion and therefore they don’t believe we have problems with religion influencing the public sphere. It’s a very slippery slope.
One example I like to point out is that it is very rare for Canadian politicians to talk much about their religion. They usually don’t advertise it on their political pages. Contrast that with our neighbours to the south and you’ll see that a politician’s religion is proudly announced on their political pages. Canadians put forth the appearance of a separation between church and state, but I fear that as that line becomes less and less clear, that Canadians may not even notice it happening. As I’ve mentioned in a previous interview, Canada does not have a strict separation of church and state enshrined into its Charter. Canadians don’t like to talk religion, but the fact is – there IS religious privilege in this country. One only needs to look at ongoing funding of the Catholic School Board to see how Canada is anything, but religiously neutral.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Melissa.
Story: Thanks, Scott.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.
Canadian Atheist Associates: Godless Mom, Nice Mangoes, Sandwalk, Brainstorm Podcast, Left at the Valley, Life, the Universe & Everything Else, The Reality Check, Bad Science Watch, British Columbia Humanist Association, Dying With Dignity Canada, Canadian Secular Alliance, Centre for Inquiry Canada, Kelowna Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists Association.
Other National/Local Resources: Association humaniste du Québec, Atheist Freethinkers, Central Ontario Humanist Association, Comox Valley Humanists, Grey Bruce Humanists, Halton-Peel Humanist Community, Hamilton Humanists, Humanist Association of London, Humanist Association of Ottawa, Humanist Association of Toronto, Humanists, Atheists and Agnostics of Manitoba, Ontario Humanist Society, Secular Connextions Seculaire, Secular Humanists in Calgary, Society of Free Thinkers (Kitchener-Waterloo/Cambridge/Guelph), Thunder Bay Humanists, Toronto Oasis, Victoria Secular Humanist Association.
Other International/Outside Canada Resources: Allianz vun Humanisten, Atheisten an Agnostiker, American Atheists,American Humanist Association, Associação Brasileira de Ateus e AgnósticoséééBrazilian Association of Atheists and Agnostics, Atheist Alliance International, Atheist Alliance of America, Atheist Centre, Atheist Foundation of Australia, The Brights Movement, Center for Inquiry (including Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science), Atheist Ireland, Camp Quest, Inc., Council for Secular Humanism, De Vrije Gedachte, European Humanist Federation, Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations, Foundation Beyond Belief, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Humanist Association of Ireland, Humanist International, Humanist Association of Germany, Humanist Association of Ireland, Humanist Society of Scotland, Humanists UK, Humanisterna/Humanists Sweden, Internet Infidels, International League of Non-Religious and Atheists, James Randi Educational Foundation, League of Militant Atheists, Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, National Secular Society, Rationalist International, Recovering From Religion, Religion News Service, Secular Coalition for America, Secular Student Alliance, The Clergy Project, The Rational Response Squad, The Satanic Temple, The Sunday Assembly, United Coalition of Reason, Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics.
Image Credit: Melissa Story.