Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

  • [] “Fair” by Zach Weinersmith (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)

    This past week saw a bit of a theme in Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal cartoons: people asking God dumb questions in their prayers, and God giving them snarky answers.

  • [] Canadian pastor charged in Myanmar for defying COVID-19 restriction on gatherings

    This is one of those stories where the deeper you read, the more stupidity you find. The surface story – about a Canadian preacher flouting COVID-19 lock down laws to do large public services in Myanmar – is stupid enough. But then you read a little deeper, and you discover that this wasn’t just a case of ignorance; no, David Lah deliberately flouted the law because he believed Jesus would spare Christians from the plague. That’s pretty stupid. But then you keep reading, and you discover this little gem: when the police actually went to arrest Lah for violating the COVID-19 restrictions and preaching that Jesus wouldn’t allow them to contract the disease, they couldn’t… because Lah was in the hospital… with COVID-19. Yup. I mean, you almost want to laugh at this… except that Lah’s stupidity literally killed people. And this story is still spiralling out of control, because it some big-name celebrities and politicians are involved: the Second Vice-President of Myanmar was at one of Lah’s services. (Also, as noted in the article, there appears to have been a brief period where local authorities lost track of of Lah, but he’s in custody now awaiting trial.) Matters are complicated by the fact that Christians are a religious minority in Myanmar, and face serious persecution… but on the other hand, it does appear to the be the case that Christians (like Lah) are primarily responsible for the spread of COVID-19 in the country, so is this “persecution” or justified targeting of a problematic group? Or a little of both?

  • [] The Church of QAnon: Will conspiracy theories form the basis of a new religious movement?

    This has to be the most horrifying, most terrible thing I’ve read in months… and we’re in the middle of a goddamn global pandemic. But at the same time… I’m not entirely surprised. Early on in my atheist activism, I decided to study recent (20th century) religions, and how they came into being and grew – I studied things like Scientology and the “cargo cults” of Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea – and, frankly… I see all the elements necessary for a new religion in all this “QAnon” bullshit. It’s not crazy; I mean, the beliefs are, but the idea that it might turn into a legit religion is not crazy at all. No doubt that there are many people involved in crafting the whole “QAnon” myth who think it’s all just a big fucking joke, or even are possibly trying to troll idiots with it. But that doesn’t mean a real religion can’t grow out of it; L Ron Hubbard probably intended Scientology as a big damn scam at first… but now look at it. All it takes is a few really dedicated faithful to really run with it. And there are people who truly and seriously believe that the world is evil and corrupt, and these are the end times, yadda yadda… there have always been people like that… and a lot of them have really bought into the belief that Trump represents some kind of plucky, farm-boy outsider – the proverbial moisture farmer from Tatooine – who is facing off against evil empires to bring balance to the Force. Yeah, it has all the ingredients necessary for that toxic stew of a “new religious movement”. We really need to seriously watch this phenomenon carefully.

  • [] “Theodicy” by Zach Weinersmith (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)

    Dumb prayer question #2; snarky answer #2.

  • [] Deadly attack at Toronto erotic spa was incel terrorism, police allege

    This story was a pretty huge deal this week, but it probably sailed over most people’s heads. As the article itself notes, this is probably the first time that something other than Islamic extremism has been prosecuted as terrorism in Canada… ever. Yeah, that’s right. Dude hopped up on “great replacement” rhetoric goes and shoots up a mosque specifically in allegiance with the alt-right and specifically in order to terrorize Canadian Muslims, racking up a death toll of 6 with 19 injured… apparently not terrorism. Dude hopped up on misogynistic, “incel” bullshit drives a van down down a busy city sidewalk after explicitly announcing he was intending to carry out a terrorist act in the name of the incel ideology, killing 10 and injuring 16… apparently not terrorism either. Clearly mentally-ill lady attacks Canadian Tire employees with a golf club and bow (but no arrows), with a death toll of… well, zero, but I think she might have bent the golf club… oh, well that was terrorism, because she was Muslim and was doing it for Daesh. This charge could be the first sign of our authorities actually taking non-Muslim extremism seriously… indeed, this may be the first charge of its kind in the world. Take note of the language the RCMP is using, too: they talk about “ideologically motivated violent extremism”, which looks like part of their effort to move away from defining terrorism as something only pseudo-“state” actors can do.

  • [] More young adults are leaving religion, but that’s not the whole story, say researchers

    Yeah, that’s not the whole story, but despite what the lead promises, there’s really not any good news for mainline Protestants. Well, I mean, there’s “good” news in the sense that there’s not terrible news, which is a rare thing for Christian demographics these days. The “good” news for mainline Protestants is that most of the hemorrhaging of believers seems to be going on in Evangelical denominations, and less so in the mainline Protestant denominations. Protestant numbers are apparently roughly steady (still declining, but not precipitously!) partly because: 1) some of the people fleeing the more conservative Evangelical denominations are not fleeing Christianity completely, but are rather merely moving to the (somewhat) more liberal Protestant denominations; and 2) mainline Protestants are not really ditching religion because, frankly, they don’t really give that much of a fuck about it, so to them it’s neither here nor there whether they’re counted as Protestants or Nones, so the might as well just stick with what they’re comfortable with. Do you think that’s “good” news for mainline Protestants? I mean… meh? 🤷🏼

  • [] Hindutva Nationalism and Islamophobia in Canada

    I’m so glad to see that the Canadian Anti-Hate Network has taken this topic up seriously; this is something we’ve been watching here at Canadian Atheist with some trepidation for years. I don’t exaggerate; I just checked, and our “Hindutva” tag goes all the way back to January 2017, and some related tags go back even further. I remember this “Hindutva” bullshit being a major issue behind the fake-“grassroots” islamophobic protests back in late 2016 when the Peel District School Board made that stupid decision about Muslim prayers: virtually all of the protesters (not counting professional agitators like Sandra Solomon) were rallied from South Asian communities, and when they went off-script – as they quite often did – they were quite open about their specific hate for Islam… specifically. Like, you could actually get these people standing out in front of Mississauga City Hall with their “Keep Religion Out Of School” signs to say, “oh yeah, we’re fine with Christian prayers (or Hindu prayers, or Buddhist prayers, etc.)… we just have a problem with Islam.” It was bonkers, but it was something we just never had the resources to really dig into. There really needs to be a stronger connection made between the politics of the far right in India and the strife it inspires even here in Canada… just as we’ve gotten bolder about connecting the politics of the far right in the US with the increase in Christian belligerence it has inspired.

  • [] Edmonton Catholic Schools apologizes to mother, child over durag dispute

    Holy shit did Edmonton Catholic Schools ever drag their feet on this one. Okay, the backstory, because it’s been so long since his happened: Last year, the staff at Christ the King Catholic Elementary/Junior High School hauled 11 year-old Emmell Summerville into the office and demanded he remove his durag because, they said, it was a symbol of gang associations. Summerville objected, and tried to explain to them that it was not a gang thing, that it is, in fact, a part of his cultural heritage. And you should see a video of Summerville speaking… the kid is clear-spoken, obviously intelligent, and makes his case with razor-sharp clarity and respectful eloquence. It boggles my mind that any teacher’s thought process could end with the conclusion that either Summerville is deluded about his own cultural heritage, or actually secretly a gang member trying to sucker the staff. But then it gets worse! Summerville’s mother, Una Momolu, comes in to help her son, and explain to the school what a durag really signifies. Now what happens, next, the school claims, is that Momolu got angre and started issuing threats… to the point that they had to lock down the school and call in the cops! But here’s the thing… Una Momolu recorded the conversation… and at no point is she even remotely agitated, let alone threatening. Instead, she is patiently, but persistently, trying to explain to the school that they’re wrong and that they’re a bunch of fucking racists. (Those are my words, not hers; she never even really raises her voice – you can see where her son gets his cool and eloquence from.) So school officials were caught flat-footed in a racist profiling incident and straight-up lying to the police and media. So how long did it take them to apologize? Eight months. Well, that’s about on track for Catholic apologies, I guess. I mean, they only apologized for persecuting Galileo in 1992, and for the Inquisition in 2000; we figure we’ll finally get the apology for the worldwide paedophilia scandal about the same time Weena gets abducted by the Morlocks.

  • [] The anti-choice movement’s agenda goes beyond rolling back reproductive rights

    This article makes a point I hear often from activists on the front line against anti-abortion protesters: it’s not just about abortion. In fact, I’m often told that keeping abortion as their apparent primary concern is actually a red herring meant to distract us from their other agendas, while at the same time serving as a dog-whistle to like-minded types… who are rarely named, but that this article refreshing unmasks as Christian supremacists. When anti-choice groups goes out to stage a public rally, they’re not stupid: they know they have functionally zero chance of actually getting abortion laws changed in Canada anytime in the near future. Yes, sure, they have fantasies and hopes of eventually making it illegal… but that’s not why they’re on the street today. The task today is simply to lock the public discourse in place, and prevent it from progressing any further. They know that if they let us think that abortion is “solved”, we’ll start moving on to the next thing… and given Canadian proclivities and the general march of progress, that will mean considering even more progressive questions, like perhaps transgender rights. So they have to keep us from moving on; they have to keep us locked in this one particular “debate”. Don’t get me wrong; they’re still totally going to try to undermine abortion access and take away women’s rights to control their own bodies. But that’s also part of the strategy to keep pulling us back – to keep us, as a society, from moving forward and on to the next big question.

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