Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

  • [] “Satanic Panic: Episode 1 – It was such a perfect place” (Video: 36:44)

    Outbreaks of religious hysteria are not uncommon, but perhaps the strangest to occur in North America in recent history is the “Satanic panic” of the 1980s, which actually spread worldwide in the 1990s. These were allegations of ritual abuse – usually sexual in nature, and usually with children as victims – conducted by secret “Satanic cults” that apparently existed everywhere. Most of the allegations were based on the testimony of children, who gave horrifically lurid accounts of being raped with knife blades, being forced to commit cannibalism or eat shit (literally), being raped by a clown (🤨)… testimony that was given under ridiculously questionable conditions, such as the infamous old “show me on the doll where they touched you” nonsense (most children would never say “but I wasn’t touched”; most children, eager to please and/or comply with what the grownup wants, would point to where they think the grownup wants them to point). At first, “experts” found a huge number of these cases to be “substantiated”… but after the Satanic panic started to become discredited, real experts studied 12,000 – no, that number is not a typo; twelve thousand cases of alleged Satanic cults carrying out ritual abuse in a roughly 10-year span – 12,000 cases, and found… ZERO… cases of it actually happening. (Though they did, tragically, find a few cases of very real abuse, in which religious bullshit was used to intimidate the kids into staying silent. But no Satanic cults or anything like that, and no real ritual abuse of any kind.) The Satanic panic is normally talked about as an American thing (because, it’s normally talked about by Americans, and Americans usually think America is the only place in the world that actually exists – everywhere else might as well be Westeros or Narnia). However, not only did the Satanic panic spread to Canada as well, one of its most infamous cases was in Saskatchewan of all places, in Matensville, just north of Saskatoon. And this was a huge case, in which around a dozen people – including a half-dozen police officers from three different forces – were accused. Ultimately only one person was convicted of abuse (nothing to do with anything ritualistic, just regular old molestation, tragic enough on its own), but some of the others ended up getting million-dollar settlements for their wrongful accusations. The CBC podcast Uncover is currently airing a series digging into what actually happened, and the impact it had on the survivors. I’ve only listened to the first episode so far (at the time this Update publishes, episode 3 should be out, I think), but it is fascinating.

  • [] Quebec knew about religious schools in Hasidic community for decades, trial hears

    This past week saw the long-awaited trial in the case of Yohanan and Shifra Lowen, who were raised in Tash – an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community just North of Montréal – and who “graduated” from “school” there with the bare rudiments of an education, if it can even be called that. Their case, once it became public a few years back, was a massive embarrassment for Québec. It triggered massive changes in Québec’s education system – particularly the rules that apply to private, and especially religious, schools. Things are (supposedly) much better now, but it remains to be seen whether they’re “better” enough. Also, the information now coming out in the trial about how much the government knew about the terrible, defective “education” the kids were getting – yet they did nothing about – is pretty damning. The item link is to the reporting on the second day of the trial, here is the link to day 1.

  • [] Surrey naturopath-turned-councillor fined, suspended from practice for campaigning as ‘physician’

    It’s bad enough that naturopaths are allowed to call themselves “Doctor” in some (all?) provinces. But the ones I know about (Ontario and BC, the latter being relevant here) require you to always make it clear that you are a naturopath when you do. That is, you can’t just say “I’m Doctor Quack”, you have to say “I’m Doctor Quack, ND” (ND meaning “naturopathic ‘doctor’”). How much you wanna bet there are naturopaths out there who “forget” to tack on the “ND”? No contest, right? 100% certain there are naturopaths out there who gloss over the “naturopathic” part of “naturopathic ‘doctor’” (and the scare quotes around “doctor”). And, lo, meet Allison Patton, who “forgot” to mention she was a naturopath when she was campaigning as a “community physician” during an (ultimately successful) bid for Surrey city council. In her… “defence?”… she just shrugged off the accusation, basically saying: Hey, sure, I may have “forgotten” to mention I was a naturopath in my campaign materials… but the information was available to anyone who cared enough to do extra research to find out! Yup, because that’s how it works, right Ally? I could walk around declaring publicly to all and sundry that I’ve served my community as a doctor for years, and no-one can accuse me of being a medical fraud because if they actually bother to do the research, they’ll learn that I have a doctorate in mechanical engineering or enlightenment philosophy, and I do volunteer work picking up trash for the city… so, technically not lying! If you assume the obvious implication from my words, well, that’s your error, not mine, right? I mean, if she’s this “honest” about her profession, Patton is sure to an excellent councillor [/sarcasm].

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