Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .
This week’s Update is a little slim. That’s a combination of not much happening worth noting, and quite a bit happening for me personally. Turns out that trying to spread holiday cheer and good wishes in ways that respect physical distancing and isolation requirements for a pandemic takes up a surprising amount of one’s time. I ended up spending all my free time baking and dealing with package deliveries, and thus not trawling the ’Net for interesting stories (assuming there were even any out there).
Next week’s Update will be even slimmer… due to there not actually being any, due to me taking a break for the holidays. There also won’t be an update the week after, because I’ll probably be fiercely hungover. Don’t panic, though! Weekly Update isn’t going away! Anything of interest that happens during next two weeks will noted in the next update, which will be January 9th.
And now, on with the Update….
Back in September, there was a Weekly Update item about the Third Day Worship Centre in Kingston, Ontario. The crux of the item was about the Mayor, Bryan Paterson, disavowing his links with the church—after being a member for decades—because of the wacky, hateful, conspiratorial bullshit the church’s leader, Francis Armstrong, was preaching. It was actually a good story; the residents of the city took a stand against Armstrong’s bullshit and organized a campaign to protest the Mayor’s involvement. Paterson had not only been a member of the church for decades, he’d actually been a youth pastor, and—in the past—a very enthusiastic supporter of Armstrong, even making videos for him. But when Kingstoners challenged Paterson about the hate and bullshit coming out of Third Day, Paterson actually responded, and he responded well. I admit I was hesitant to give him full credit at the time, because I was wary of the possibility that he was merely acting out of political expediency and not actual principle, but in the weeks since he’s done a good job of showing that he was actually serious about his statements of support for the LGBTQ2S+ community. So it really turned out to be a great story, with a community showing that it won’t stomach hate, and a Mayor (apparently) legitimately changing for the better, and choosing to stand up for tolerance even if it means walking away from the church he’s attended for decades. Unfortunately… more has come out. At first it was horrifying stories of persecution and conversion attempts aimed at LGBTQ2S+ people. But since then, Global reporter Alexandra Mazur has dug deeper into the goings on at Third Day and… there’s been some really creepy, culty shit. I’m not even concerned about all the financial shenanigans; that’s just standard operating procedure for religious organizations—and what else would you expect when you don’t require them to adhere to the same common-sense accounting standards every secular organization has to. What concerns me are the stories of threats of “curses” to terrorize people into staying in line, the demands that members not fraternize with non-members in order to isolate them, and the ways congregants were squeezed for their time and money. Third Day is not a small church, nor is it theologically “fringe”; it’s probably the most well-known Christian Church in Kingston—remember, the Mayor was a member! If this is what is really going on in a church that seemed fairly “average”, if a little conservative and right-wing in its leanings, one has to wonder just how much of this culty bullshit is actually going on in other seemingly mainstream churches across the country.
Yawn, another week, another child-rapey priest. And this one isn’t even theologically unique; it’s yet another Catholic. So why am I even bothering to mention it? Welp, read the coverage to see for yourself. And not just CTV—I don’t want to single them out, because every news outlet’s coverage has the same tone (I just had to pick one to link to, and the CTV article happened to be the most comprehensive). Everyone who is covering the story is taking… great… pains… to very explicitly draw attention to just how seriously the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon took the accusations, and how just how quickly they acted. They even make a point of saying that the assaults happened between September 1st and November 4th, while the report was first received November 5th… so as soon as they heard about it, they stopped the raping right away, those heroes! And the quote the Diocese’s solemn intonations that they take the matter vry srsly; vry, vry, srsly, indeed, harumph, harumph. It’s almost comical. Can you imagine any other organization being so vocally proud that they actually did something to stop child rapes happening? “Yeah, yeah, there was totally child rape happening, and… guess what, guess what… I actually put a stop to it promptly! I know, right? How awesome am I?” Like, what do you want for that, a fucking cookie? That is the bare minimum behaviour I would expect from any decent, thinking being. But what’s really absurd isn’t the Church’s bizarrely overblown pride at being, yanno, barely ethical… it’s the fact that professional journalists are actually patting them on the back for doing what for anyone else would be the minimal expected behaviour. I’m not angered by any of this, though; I’m actually amusedly astonished. This is how low the Catholic Church has sunk, in the ethical estimation of our mainstream media. They’re at the point where they’re asking for a cookie for actually taking prompt action to stop child rape… and the media is responding with, “okay, here you go; good boy, good boy!” and patting them on the head.
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