Weekly Update: to

by | March 14, 2020

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

  • [] End of Quebec course on religion and ethics seen as win for nationalists

    I didn’t realize how frank the CAQ government has been about their motives for shutting down the ethics and religious culture course. The ethics and religion course has been the ire of religious conservatives and far-right hatemongers for over a decade. Some Catholic parents even took a case all the way to the Supreme Court, trying to get their kids an exemption from the course because it, I dunno, undermined the Catholic dogma the parents wanted to force on their kids or something. And of course, Québec nationalists hate the course because it explains that there are many different types of worldviews, and their existence should be tolerated… which is anathema to nationalism. Naturally, kids who have taken the course and learned that about tolerating the existence of diversity are generally opposed to the Québec religious accessories ban… but I’m quite surprised at how frank ban supporters have been about the fact that that’s why the course is such a problem. It’s like: “People have realized that a religious accessories ban is based on bigotry!” “What, really?” “Yes, after people learn about diversity and tolerance, it becomes obvious.” “Damn, well, we don’t want to be accused of being a province that pushes programs based on bigotry… so we’ll have to stop teaching people about diversity and tolerance!”

  • [] How Many Nones Are There? Maybe More than We Thought

    I have a pet peeve about the term “nones”, because it overestimates the number of nonbelievers by conflating not being affiliated with a religion with not having any religious beliefs. Here we see almost the opposite problem, the “nones” being underestimated. This is American data, but Burge does a deep dive into what might be causing the problem, and it turns out it may just boil down to the way the question is being asked. This is an important finding, and it even has relevance here in Canada, where our census question about religious affiliation is badly worded. It’s too late to fix it, unfortunately (and we did try).

  • [] Standard Prayers make Clerk “the arbiter of religious dogma”

    The BC legislature is planning to do an update of their “standard prayers” – a list of prepared prayers that MLAs can choose from when deciding something to open the proceedings. The plan is to make the list of standard prayers a little more diverse. On the one hand… not bad – recognizing diversity and breaking Christianity’s stranglehold on the centres of power is a good thing. On the other, as the BCHA points out, this puts the Clerk in the bizarre situation of having to be the judge of what is and what is not a religion worthy of consideration, and which prayers are theologically acceptable to those religions. That’s not only bizarre, it’s pretty wildly contrary to the principles of secularism.

  • [] Liberals introduce bill to ‘eradicate’ conversion therapy

    Ah, the Liberal Party of Canada, the party that does the Right Thing™… occasionally … eventually… if you push them hard enough… and there’s not a lot of corporate interest in opposition. After months of waffling and saying “it can’t be done!”… well, they went and done did it: the Liberal Party has introduced a government bill to ban conversion therapy. Now, I admit I haven’t had a lot of time to dig into this bill yet – it’s been a bit of a coronavirus-y week, news-wise – but I’ve given it a quick scan and it looks pretty damn good. It not only bans using conversion therapy on minors, it bans forcing it on anyone. It also bans advertising or profiting off of conversion therapy. Not bad!

  • [] Pope Francis Urges Priests To Refrain From Molesting Children Over Coronavirus Fears

    This hilariously dark Onion piece was making the rounds this week, and stirring up significant controversy. It is brutally funny, with Pope Francis allegedly registering concern about elderly priests, deacons, and bishops who engage in pedophilia with infected boys or girls… while pointedly never showing even the slightest whiff of concern for the victims. Francis also cautioned priests against succumbing to the natural impulse to touch an altar boy’s face or mouth every few minutes. Also worth mentioning is Canada’s own The Beaverton, which had a piece titled: “Report: Outbreak of idiocy spreading 10,000 times faster than coronavirus”. My favourite line: Patients are usually asymptomatic until they open their mouths or start tweeting.

  • [] The economics of the toilet paper panic—and why more stockpiling is inevitable

    Perhaps the funniest thing to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic is the truly bizarre panic-driven run on… toilet paper. What makes this comedy gold is not just the fact that it’s toilet paper people are stockpiling, it’s that there is no logical connection between the disease and any particular need for toilet paper – diarrhea is not one of the symptoms, for example. Plus, there’s not even a shortage of any kind – the only reason shelves are currently empty of toilet paper is because no-one was anticipating this crazy level of demand; give ’em a week or two, and the stores and suppliers will all auto-correct, and there’ll be pallets full of toilet paper on the sales floor (probably with special prices, too). This Maclean’s piece delves into the psychology of panic-buying. Turns out that that fear may be far more contagious than COVID-19. (And stupidity may be even still more contagious.)

  • [] Misinformation, alternative medicine and the coronavirus

    As I was collecting items to include in the Update over the course of the week, I had over a half-dozen about quack “alternative medicine” practitioners – chiropractors, naturopaths, and so on – making fraudulent medical claims about being able to “cure” or “prevent” COVID-19. I was wondering what to do about them all: Include them as multiple individual items? Wrap them all together as a single mega-item? Luckily for me, the venerable Timothy Caulfield did the lifting for me, and wrote a well-researched, and strongly-worded piece about “alternative medicine” claims about the novel coronavirus loaded with links to many of the stories I already had (though even all that is just the tip of the iceberg). Caulfield makes a good point that our tolerance for bullshit “medicine” is really being tested by this pandemic.

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One thought on “Weekly Update: to

  1. rj

    Clerk “arbitrator of religious dogma” hows that supposed to work? Will they be like Harpers universal prison chaplins? Even a Unitarian would have trouble with the father,son,Mary and the holy ghost let alone the entire pantheon. How about a Mertonist? These things are a waste of time thus tax payer money. They should be relegated to a ceremony once a year at the years opening. Rotating the groups that want to participate and always including one of our first nations groups.


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