Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .
This is an interesting story, for a couple of reasons. First, it really undermines the simplistic narrative too many atheists hold to about religion, that it’s all about hate and intolerance, and never evolves beyond Bronze Age thought. Of course the reality is that religion is an extremely complex and multifaceted phenomenon that can inspire hate and intolerance… but can just as easily inspire love and acceptance, and that’s what’s happening here. Second, when I first heard this story, I assumed it was about one of the more progressive denominations, like the United Church (who just recently accepted an atheist minister). I was surprised to discover it was actually a Baptist church. I’m duly impressed, parishioners of Lorne Park. Third, this woman did not do this without real and significant risk. She literally risks being deported if the Church rejected her. Luckily, that doesn’t seem likely. So how are we atheists supposed to parse all this – after all, we’re supposed to hold the high ground on morality and tolerance; for transgender people, it should be a no brainer that they won’t be welcome in religion, and we’re their people. What if that’s not true anymore? Where does that leave us?
This could have been one of those infuriating stories I hate to share, because it just pisses me and everyone else off. A small-town mayor and a couple of confederate bigots on town council voted against recognizing Pride Month because – and I swear I’m not making this up – they weren’t also recognizing “straight pride”. Yup, really. But happily, this story takes a pleasant twist because there are always a lot more decent people than there are bigots and idiots. And in this case, the good people managed a magnificent fuck-you to the bigots: a grassroots Pride Parade, in open defiance of the mayor and his cohorts. While most of the participants were locals, people actually came from all around. In the end, there were over 70 vehicles in the parade, with dozens of mini-events, prizes, and other activities, in this parade in a tiny township of 1,300. Holy shit, right? That’s how we do, folks. That’s how we fight intolerance, by flipping the bird at those in power who want to impose their bigotry on the rest of us, and moving on without them.
Ugh, all the other items this week were positive – a surprise, given the amount of far right extremist activity Canada Day brought (which is why this week’s Update is so thin). I wish I could have ended on a positive note, too. Okay, some context is necessary for those not hip with BC provincial politics. In BC there is no Conservative party. (Okay, there technically is, but it’s a fringe party that hasn’t had a MLA elected since the mid-1970s.) Instead, the right wing party in BC is the BCLiberal Party (the province is currently run by a coalition NDP/Green Party government). Now it probably makes sense why they were advertising in an anti-LGBTQ, anti-abortion, Christian magazine, right? And let’s be clear, Wilkinson’s media-friendly statement attempting to defuse the scandal is bullshit… this was not an accident. This is what the BC Liberals are about. They’ve done it before. They’ll do it again. And every time, Wilkinson will issue a huffy statement that they’re not really bigots. And every time, it will be bullshit.
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