Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

  • [] Toronto Catholic schools to reopen so kids will be with God sooner

    This is dark humour, but I found it irresistible.

  • [] Are Politically Conservative Atheists Different from Politically Conservative Evangelicals?

    This started a week or two ago, and it has become more and more fascinating. Professor Ryan Burge specializes in the intersection/entanglement of religion and democracy (in the US, natch; unfortunately nobody’s doing the same kind of research at the same depth and breadth in Canuckistan), and he often shares on Twitter interesting tidbits that he digs out of his data. (He’s a great follow if you’re interested in the demographics and political attitudes of religious versus nonreligious people (in the US at least, but a lot of it probably spills over)). A week or so back, he was prompted by a question on Twitter to investigate the difference in “racial resentment” between religious and nonreligious conservatives, versus religious and nonreligious liberals. That resulted in a startling chart that I actually featured in last week’s Update. It was such an interesting and surprising finding, that Burge dug deeper, and the result is this article. Expanding on on what the chart showed, it really does look like there isn’t much difference between right-wing atheists and right-wing religious people – notably evangelicals. (Well, other than in the case of abortion, but I don’t think that was a good choice for a “controversial” political opinion, because it is pretty much entirely a religious thing; there’s really no nonreligious reason to oppose abortion.) Burge also teases new data that suggests one’s religiosity follows one’s politics; not the other way around. Fascinating stuff, and I’d love to see where this line of inquiry leads… but I’d really love to see this type of research done more on the Canadian religious/political landscape.

  • [] Private Christian university says no sex outside heterosexual marriage. LGBTQ alumni say that discriminates

    If this all sounds familiar, yeah, we’ve kinda done this dance before. Multiple times. I mean, every beat of this tune is the same: even down to the school’s defence that, well, they’ve never actually enforced their draconian, discriminatory policy, so, all’s finesies! This case could be a little trickier, because the only “problem” with Trinity Western University’s law school was that provincial law societies refused to recognize their graduates… it was never questioned whether the school itself could exist; it was only a question of whether law societies were justified in refusing accreditation… it was never about what the school was allowed to do, it was about what the law societies were allowed to do – the school’s decisions were not on trial, the law societies’ were. In this case there’s no issue of accreditation (there is an issue about government funding for a discriminatory institution, which is interesting, but, frankly, a little peripheral to the main point), so there doesn’t seem to be any “hook” to justify denying a private institution their constitutional right to be douchey. Except… deep in the CBC article there is a fascinating point raised by Susan Ursel: there is a loophole that allows discrimination based on religion… but if you’re discriminating against LGBTQ2S+ people… then you’re not discriminating based on religion! I’ve made similar points about the harassment of LGBTQ2S+ teachers in Catholic school systems. Will that argument hold up in court? Oof, that’s a good question. Christopher Karas sounds confident; I wish I was as confident as him.

  • [] Canadian Museum for Human Rights rife with systemic racism, sexism, homophobia: report

    I mean, we knew this was going be ugly… but it’s actually a lot uglier than I expected. The investigation report confirms the claims we heard before, and uncovers a lot more. There wasn’t just a racism problem. There wasn’t just a problem of kowtowing to religious homophobia. I mean, geez, it’s like, what kind of ignorance and bigotry wasn’t systemic there? Racism, homophobia, sexism, colonialism… wow. And the report, while I’ve only skimmed it, really seems to lay it all right smack dab at the feet of the board of trustees. It doesn’t quite go so far as to call them all a bunch of fucking racists, sexists, and homophobes… but yeah, it pretty much calls them all a bunch of fucking racists, sexists, and homophobes! It straight up tells them to fix up their make up and get some non-straight-whities on the board, and that all of them should get some diversity training.

  • [] ‘Why not our community?’: Proposal for temples to broadcast Hindu hymns voted down by Mississauga council, for now

    When the Mississauga city council decided to temporarily waive the noise bylaw so mosques could do the call to prayer for Ramadan while smack dab in the worst part of the pandemic lock down, there were almost inevitable slippery slope arguments raised by opponents: “Oh, this means they’ll have to do it for every religious group!” Except… obviously, no. That was an unprecedented situation, in an extreme, national emergency. Things are very different now; we’re in Stage 3, and Hindus can leave their homes and gather… with some reasonable restrictions – which is a far cry from complete lock down. Also, I’m not an expert on Hinduism, but none of the festivals mentioned strike me as having the same importance in Hinduism as Ramadan has in Islam; I mean, it’s not like we’re talking about Diwali or Holi here. Even more, I don’t think that blasting hymns from loudspeakers is actually a part of the traditions of any of those festivals – from what I know (admittedly, my knowledge is limited), they all involve dancing and parades and various events… but hearing hymns played from the temples isn’t nearly as fundamental a part of the culture and tradition of these events as the call to prayer is for Ramadan and Islam generally. Hindu Forum Canada’s argument – “they got it, therefore we should, too” – is bullshit on its face; they “got it” as a special case emergency exemption in the midst of a catastrophe… and the circumstances now aren’t the same as they were then. (It should also be noted that HFC opposed the previous exemption, fulminating about how it violates “secularism” (it doesn’t), so they’re clearly just big ol’ hypocrites, and probably just trying to make a political point rather than really needing this exemption.) Now, as of when this Update was published, Mississauga’s diversity council decided that it would be okay for the city to allow the new exemption, which, sure: we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, and while things are much better now than they were back then, they’re still not great, so… meh, yeah, it’s not an unreasonable accommodation. But the city itself has still voted no. They may or may not change that decision in the next couple of days. Either way… 🤷🏼.

  • [] Canadian pastor jailed in Myanmar for defying coronavirus ban

    You may be thinking, “good – let this asshole rot in jail for the harm he caused”. Well… yeah… but, no. First, it has to be remembered that at the same time you’re cheering this Christian idiot facing some consequences for recklessly endangering so many people… you’re also, at the same time, cheering on the Buddhist idiots who were just looking for an excuse to persecute Christians. It’s kind of an assholes-on-all-sides situation there. On top of that… he’s not really facing much in the way of “consequences”. The article says he was sentenced to three months’ hard labour… except… he could have got three years. So he barely got a slap on the wrist. And as it also points out, they’re also counting time served… which means he could be out in a week or two, if that. Which is not even a tickle on the wrist, especially considering the scale of what this shitbag actually caused. He was responsible for almost 20% of the COVID cases in the entire country. I haven’t seen reports of how many of those he actually killed.

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3 thoughts on “Weekly Update: to

  1. “Also, I’m not an expert on Hinduism, but none of the festivals mentioned strike me as having the same importance in Hinduism as Ramadan has in Islam; I mean, it’s not like we’re talking about Diwali or Holi here.”

    Ouch. Sorry Indi, but you have this part pretty wrong, though you did admit you weren’t an expert!
    Which festivals have “the same importance” to Hindus varies +extremely+ widely and depends entirely on which subgroup community you’re talking about. I know this first-hand – I’m married into it and attend these myself every year. Guess what the biggest, can’t-miss Puja of the year is for us? It’s not Diwali and it’s not Holi! Those are like Canadian St. Patrick’s day in comparison; they are widely recognised and easy for Westerners to pick up and capitalize on, but that doesn’t mean those ones are most important religiously. No, instead it’s one nobody has heard of, like the others listed in the article: Durga Puja.

    “Even more, I don’t think that blasting hymns from loudspeakers is actually a part of the traditions of any of those festivals – from what I know (admittedly, my knowledge is limited), they all involve dancing and parades and various events… but hearing hymns played from the temples isn’t nearly as fundamental a part of the culture and tradition of these events as the call to prayer is for Ramadan and Islam generally.”

    Except, it kinda is, or can be – again, totally varies. It’s an almost completely auditory experience for us. Maybe not on a loudspeaker outside, (well yes if you’ve ever been to Ratha yatra on Centre Island in Toronto) but hearing the mantras, prayers and the sounds are 90% of the experience and purpose (the rest is food). There is no way you could fit the number of people who attend these things with social distancing in phase 3. So if that was their argument, they are possibly justified.

    • Ouch. Sorry Indi, but you have this part pretty wrong, though you did admit you weren’t an expert!

      Well, there you go—I learned something new today!

      I mean, I knew that different sects/regions/etc. attach different importance to different festivals, but I’d always assumed that Diwali was kinda the “big” one that every group more or less celebrated together (though with a different focus on different days). I should’ve known better than to assume that because they’re marketed broadly to Westerners that means they really matter within the faith.

      Presumably the Mississauga city council would be better informed than I on which festivals are really important, broadly, to Hinduism. They have Hindu councillors, after all. If these festivals are really important to a broad swath of Hinduism (and not just to specific sects), then sure, fine, it would be reasonable to consider an exemption. But if they’re just minor, monthly observances, or ones that are only relevant to a specific sect, then that makes the case a lot weaker.

      Except, it kinda is, or can be – again, totally varies. It’s an almost completely auditory experience for us. Maybe not on a loudspeaker outside…

      But that’s exactly my point.

      I don’t doubt that some temples, somewhere in the world habitually broadcast hymns during some festival or other. Hinduism is so broad and so vast that if you search hard enough, you’ll find virtually everything practised somewhere. The issue isn’t “do they do it?”, it’s “is it integral to the holiday?”

      For example, take the playing of Christmas carols over the PA systems of stores. Do they do it? Oh, hell yes! Virtually everywhere where there’s a Christian majority in the world, they play holiday carols and hymns in stores. It’s absolutely a Christmas tradition, and people will even say that the signal for the Christmas holiday season’s beginning is when stores start playing the carols. But… is it integral to the holiday? Well, hell no. If, hypothetically, all stores suddenly stopped playing carols during December, that would have zero impact on a Christian’s ability to practise their faith, or to celebrate the season according to religious traditions.

      The Islamic call to prayer is fundamental the practice of Islam, and inextricably tied to the celebration of some of its most important festivals… including the end of Ramadan. It’s so important to the culture, that they even remember the name of the first slave that did it (which escapes my mind right now). Muslims in Canada (and other places that don’t allow the adhan generally) obviously get by without it… but while its lack is accepted, it is felt as a loss.

      Again, not really hip on Hindu traditions, but I don’t see that there’s anything even remotely similar in Hinduism. Do they do it (broadcasting hymns during festivals)? I have no doubt they do, somewhere. But is it really a integral practice for the faith? I’m not seeing it. And as strong evidence for that, I point to the widespread Hindu opposition—particularly from HFC!—to the adhan exemption. You’d think that if this were something even remotely relevant to their own religion, rather than simply saying no, Hindus would have said, “okay, let the Muslims have their adhan for Ramadan… in return we want the same exemption for the night of Shiva (or whatever)”.

      There are plenty of other ways we could accommodate real Hindu practices. For example, given the social distancing requirements put on temples, we could allow the festival to be celebrated in local parks and other facilities, and we could even allow for PA systems blasting the hymns in those places. That actually seems more in line with the way the festivals are usually celebrated than a fake “Hindu adhan” for the sake of faux equality.

      I find HFC’s argument to be complete bullshit, and it really just stinks of petulant political posturing. They’re saying “they (Muslims) got this exemption; we should get it too”. No, that’s not how reasonable accommodation works. An accommodation that is reasonable for the adhan isn’t necessarily going to be reasonable for anything else. You need to take into account the situation, the characteristics of what is being asked for, etc.. Should Hindus get some accommodation, given the pandemic? Absolutely. Should they (and every other faith) get the same accommodation Islam got? No, absolutely not. Accommodations aren’t precedents.

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