Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .
🤦🏼 I work so hard day-in, day-out as an activist to get positive coverage in mainstream media for atheists… and then just watch one dumbass sonofasow come along and fuck it all up for us all. Again. The media just loves Rand, because they just love asshole atheists – they want to depict atheists as querulous buffoons, and here they find a perfect stooge. I seriously doubt there’s much likelihood of Atheist Freethinkers being granted intervenor status. First of all, Atheist Freethinkers is just a fringe group with no real status among Canadian atheists, who are claiming a position rejected by the vast majority of Canadian atheists. Second, they have no real stake in the case; Rand may have made stripping religious people his personal obsession, but Bill 21 really has no impact whatsoever on atheists – we gain nothing and lose nothing whether the clerk at the passport office is wearing a hijab or not. And third, pare away all of Rand’s melodramatic bloviating (
landmark legislation, a historic advance for secularismhas me rolling my eyes so hard I might tear something), and what you’re left with is completely specious nonsense: Letting everyone wear what they please is discriminating against atheists? How? If an atheist wants to wear a dastar or a hijab… fucking go ahead and do it (anywhere but Québec, natch)! Giving a group the freedom to be who they are (when it infringes no one else’s rights of course) is only “discrimination” in the eyes of bigots who hate that group; Rand’s “logic” that being forced to see Muslims being Muslims somehow offends his rights is exactly the same bullshit you get from religious homophobes who complain about people “flaunting” their sexual orientation.
This is a bleakly funny story; or at least I prefer to try to laugh about the absurdity of it to avoid drowning in the rage about the injustice of it. So – and bear in mind that I’m only trying to suss out the story here from a few scattered news and social media accounts of it, so I might be missing a lot of context – here’s what happened: Powell River is one of the many municipalities across Canada that grant permissive tax exemptions to religious properties. I should say granted, past tense, because their bylaw required renewal every five years and, whoops, the deadline passed last October. So churches in Powell River suddenly found themselves slapped with the same tax bills that every other property in the area have always had to deal with, and they fuh-reaked. City council thought they could simply pass a temporary law re-granting the tax exemptions… but it turns out, no, they don’t have that authority on their own. So to “fix” the problem, council simply… threw money at the churches! Yup, the churches are still getting taxed just like any secular property, but the city is giving them free money to offset that, bringing things back to parity as if the tax exemptions were still in place. What a great use of public funds, eh? Ah, but there may actually be an interesting corollary to this story. I haven’t been able to confirm this, but I was told that the reason the original tax-exemption bylaw was allowed to expire last year was because the city wanted to review their policy. And the trigger that made them want to review their policy may (I was told, unable to confirm) have been the investigation done by the British Columbia Humanist Association. Furthermore, the grant is really just an emergency measure to lessen the shock of unexpected tax bills… it’s not meant to be a permanent solution by any means. So… as bad as this grant is on its face… what we may be seeing here is actually just a really rocky roll-out of changes to the city’s tax exemption policy. Powell River may decide to stop granting exemptions to religious properties (or may decide to implement a public benefits test), and this grant may be one last parting gift, however undeserved.
Sometimes an item comes across my desk that is just so… just so “so”… that I don’t even know what to say about it. Seriously, the fucking Canadian Museum for Human Rights… censoring LGBTQ2S+ rights exhibits… to appease the sensibilities of the very fucking people who made it necessary to include those exhibits in the first place… that’s just so “so”. But here’s the really crazy part: there’s actually more to this story. The reason we found out about this censorship in the first place… is because current and former employees of the CMHR, inspired by the current wave of Black Lives Matter protests, decided to speak out about the systemic racism that exists at the CMHR. 🤯 That’s like bigot-ception! Now, it appears that the censorship was only done for a couple years, and they stopped doing it a couple years ago. And the Museum has issued a decent apology, and does seem committed to taking corrective action. But… damn… this is all just so… “so”!
I gotta say, there’s a lot of schadenfreude that comes with watching politicians who got power by fellating the religious right have to deal with the bill for that support coming due. COVID-19, as terrible as it is, has turned out to be extremely effective at highlighting the uselessness and hypocrisy of religion in a crisis. I don’t think much of Pallister, but I appreciate that he’s actually showing a spine in his response to the church group’s pressure; that’s more than we can say for some other premiers. Also, some of his comments are amusing, like:
I’m sure there’s something biblical or in the Koran about patience.
Canadian Atheist’s Weekly Update depends on the submissions of readers like you. If you see anything on the Internet that you think might be of interest to CA readers, please take a minute to make a submission.