Weekly Update: to

by | January 23, 2021

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

  • [] Canada’s new transport minister calls Bloc Québécois attack over his religious views ‘dangerous’

    I’ve seen some Canadian atheists online either supporting the Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet, or at the very least, making vague insinuations that Omar Alghabra deserves the criticism. Nope, that’s just your racism talking. The reality is that Blanchet’s comments are bullshit rabble-rousing; I can’t even call them “lies” because they’re too vague. Alghabra is apparently guilty of holding positions that… someone else stated… because he happened to be president of the Canadian Arab Federation… several years before the statements were made. Furthermore, while it is true that the CAF was stripped of federal funding by the Harper administration (again, almost a decade after Alghabra’s tenure) for antisemitic comments, that was a very shady situation, where the comments the organization was accused of weren’t actually officially sanctioned by the organization—the comments were made by people who didn’t have authority to speak for it, or who were speaking on their own time, in their own, personal capacity. In any case, merely being Muslim should not be justification for suspecting someone of being a regressive, antisemitic, terrorism supporter. And if you think it does… well, then you’re a bigot. That’s just a fact.

  • [] The battle inside Christian churches over COVID-19 orders

    If you’ve been following Weekly Update over the last few months, you’ve seen several stories of churches flouting restrictions on public gatherings, and often also spreading conspiracy nonsense about the pandemic. I’ve taken pains to point out that these idiots are the minority; the vast majority of religious Canadians aren’t swallowing COVID-19 conspiracy theories, and are on board with public health measures. This is a fascinating article for a number of reasons. For one, it gives a platform to reasonable voices from Christendom, including several that we have never had an opportunity to hear from before, and it notably does not platform any of the crackpot opposing voices in the name of “balance”. On the contrary, it actually makes a point of connecting the advocacy of the denialists to their other regressive advocacy. And then it goes into a rather in-depth look at the question of why the whackadoodle conservative churches are so much more effective at sucking up all the oxygen in the discussions of controversial and polarizing topics than the progressive ones. It’s a rare look at how most Christians look at the very loud, right-wing minority that gets most of the airplay, and that usually claims to be speaking for all Christians when, clearly, they’re not.

  • [] Researcher bullish on belief despite growth of atheism

    I don’t want to dump too hard on Reginald Bibby, because he is an excellent researcher, who has done excellent research on the demographics on religion in Canada. He’s just… really into Catholicism. Like, really, really. He’s written like a dozen books on religion in Canada that all amount to screaming “we’re not dead yet!” into the void. (Actually, his bibliography is kinda funny in a tragic way, because there will be a book titled “religion is totally coming back!” and then the next book is “okay, religion really is declining, but it’s not dead yet!” over and over again.) His data is always great… his views on what that data means… not so much. I was aware of his research, which was published last month, but it was while Weekly Update was on break, I didn’t think it worth dredging up when we came back; the findings are the same as every other study, and Bibby’s opinions don’t add anything intelligent. This article is interesting, though, because it doesn’t just report Bibby’s data and his thoughts on it, it actually goes the extra mile and asks other experts in the field what they think about it. Their take is predictable, but nonetheless amusing.

  • [] “Zera Yacob” by Corey Mohler (Existential Comics)

    This was so educational, and so darkly funny, I couldn’t help but share it. What atheist among us hasn’t felt exactly what Yacob’s feeling at one point or another?

  • [] B.C. teenager free to move forward with gender-affirming surgery after mother’s lawsuit tossed

    When this story broke late last year, it was infuriating for several reasons… but now it has a happy ending! The reason it was so infuriating was because even then we knew the case was so much bullshit; the BC Court of Appeals had already decided, earlier that same year, that a religious parent’s objections were not enough to invalidate a teenager’s consent to gender-affirming surgery. And, lo, the Court did eventually figure that out in this case. But that’s not all they figured out. Turns out the mother had loaded her filing with a bunch of egregious mistatements… that is, straight-up fucking lies. Funny how often religious people forget that not lying is one of their commandments, eh? But yeah, not only did the mother and her lawyers “forget” to mention that court case in their filing… they forgot all about the kid’s father! Seriously, they literally did not mention him… or the fact that he supported the kid’s decision… or fact that he had joint custody… or the fact that the mother had already been told in a court order that if she and the father disagreed on a health-care decision then the final call would go to the doctor (with the kid’s informed consent).

  • [] Derek Sloan Booted From Conservative Caucus After Secret-Ballot Vote

    I have to preface this commentary by making it absolutely clear: I am glad to see Sloan getting the boot. That man is human garbage, and Canadian politics would be better if he were relegated to the dumpster where all regressive asshole politicians eventually end up. However…. Anyone who doesn’t see through this transparently theatrical move by O’Toole is a fucking moron. That this is what it finally took for Sloan to get trounced from the party… is not a good thing. The list of horrible shit Sloan has said and done over the years is incredible; there were a hundred better occasions for ousting Sloan before this. And this incident was, frankly, not all that much; first of all, there is a legit case to be made that Sloan was unaware that Fromm was one of his donors (Fromm had disguised his name, after all), but second… Paul Fromm is a member of the Conservative Party!Yeah, really. So the hypocrisy here is amazing! And it didn’t get better when O’Toole, commenting on Sloan’s expulsion, managed to denounce bigotry out of one side of his mouth while dog-whistling out of the other that so-cons need not worry, the Conservative Party is still their home.

  • [] De-platforming haters works, according to experts

    This is not novel research, and the general findings have been replicated again, and again, and again… but some people still just don’t get it, and cling to fanciful but entirely imaginary notions of the “free marketplace of ideas”. Yes! Banning shitlords from your platform works! I can confirm that personally; a year or so after I took over the reins of Canadian Atheist, I made a concerted effort to oust the nastiest shitlords from our community spaces (except for Facebook and Twitter, because those are not in my control)… and it worked. Spectacularly. After flushing the sewage out of our community spaces, for years after (right up until the pandemic turned everything on its head) our community grew enormously. Turns out that without shitlords making our community spaces toxic, people came to CA in droves. And in the broader Canadian atheist community (the community of atheists who are Canadian, as opposed to the Canadian Atheist community of readers of this humble site), even though we’re really just a small corner, our efforts combined with the efforts of other sites, podcasts, and personalities, and we’ve seen a significant reduction in bigotry, hate, and toxicity over the last few years. (I don’t have numbers, unfortunately; this is based on my own anecdotal observations.) Oh, there are still pockets where edgelords thrive (looking at you, Facebook), and there are still a number of “celebrities” and Canadian atheist sites that provide a harbour for the hate and intolerance, so there’s still plenty of nastiness to be found in Canadian atheist circles… but the trend is clear. We’re pushing the bigots slowly out of our communities… and it’s working.

  • [] Islamophobia in western media is based on false premises

    It isn’t said often enough, but the anti-Muslim positions of the likes of Sam Harris and Bill Maher are not just odious… they’re flat-out wrong. As in, objectively wrong; not supported by the facts; contradicted by reality. The most charitable thing you could say is that they “misrepresent” the facts, but the most honest thing you could say is that they’re a bunch of lying assholes. As the article mentions, just one example of their dishonesty is the way they spin the statistic that ~10–15% of Muslims say violence against civilians is “sometimes justified”. Whoa! That’s hundreds of thousands, or possibly millions of Muslims that support terrorism! So clearly Islam inspires people to be more violent, and less concerned about innocent casualties, right? Right? Well… no. Because 1) ~10–15% saying violence against civilians is “sometimes justified” means that ~85–90% say it’s never (or at least “rarely”) justified; 2) when you ask that ~10–15% what they actually mean, they explain that violence against civilians is justified only in cases of self-defence; and 3) if you ask non-Muslims the same question, they give the same answers in roughly the same numbers (in fact, non-Muslims are very slightly more in favour of violence against civilians!).

  • [] Groups Opposing LGBTQ Rights, Abortion Received Federal Wage Subsidy

    This is infuriating, but it’s hard to really lay blame. I mean, the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy was—as the name implies—an emergency wage subsidy. It doesn’t really shock me that, in the rush to make sure no one suffered bankruptcy, eviction, or starvation, that no-one bothered to look too closely at the ideology of the recipients. And, honestly, as much as I may be disgusted by the positions of some of these organizations, I’m not really too keen on the government making emergency relief handouts contingent on the ideology of the recipients.

  • [] Atheist Alliance International Leader Resigns After Insult-Filled Tenure

    Ugh, this whole story is emblematic of everything that is wrong with the atheist-verse today. Atheist Alliance International isn’t the worst atheist organization out there, but certainly not for lack of trying. (Note: Atheist Alliance International (AAI) is not the same organization as the International Association of Atheists (IAA). The latter was created by formerAAI board members who left the organization a few months ago for unspecified concerns about ethical violations.) I don’t see how merely booting Sherlock is any indication that AAI has improved in any meaningful way, because this is still the same organization that hired him in the first place, and stood by him through all of the shit he did. Extinguishing a dumpster fire still leaves you with a dumpster.

  • [] British Columbians Support Pandemic Ban on In-Person Worship

    I have to admit that I’m mildly surprised by the results here. I mean, I would have guessed that British Columbians generally support the ban on in-person services, but I would have wildly underestimated by how much. Even 81% of Christians support it!

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