Weekly Update: to

by | March 6, 2021

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

  • [] No pirate hat for Pastafarian’s driver’s licence photo: court

    Last week saw the most disappointing and perhaps most important Supreme Court decision relating to secularism, possibly of the decade… but it wasn’t this case. However, this was the case that seemed to capture everyone’s attention, which just baffles me, because it was such a stupid case. I mean, the guy flat-out lied to the courts—he doesn’t really have any “religious conviction”. And they called him on it, exactly as they should. We shouldn’t grant accommodations for beliefs that aren’t sincere; that would be asinine. If there were someone who sincerely believed that they needed to wear a tricorn or a colander, that would be a different matter, of course. But faking it to make some kind of political point is just inherently dishonest, not to mention silly.

  • [] Catholic education system celebrates Supreme Court dismissal of Theodore case

    This is the ruling we should all really be concerned about… not that stupid pirate hat case. This decision is probably the biggest blow to secularism in Canada… well, at least since I’ve been an activist. It’s infuriating watching Catholic school supporters taking their victory lap, but I haven’t yet found time to really dig into the Appeal Court’s ruling (which is huge), so I can’t really muster any decent rebuttals yet. I’d like to read reviews by actual lawyers and legal scholars on the decision, too, but I haven’t seen much of it yet. One thing’s for sure, even if separate Catholic school systems are constitutionally sound, they’re still morally unacceptable, and their existence probably puts us in violation of international treaties, like the ICCPR.

  • [] Health orders aim for balance on curbing COVID-19 spread and religious freedoms: B.C.

    So the court case in BC is underway, one of several being fought by the provinces in defence of their pandemic health measures against recalcitrant churches. And judging by this article at least… it is not going well for Dr. Henry. I’m not particularly surprised; Dr. Henry, like the chief health officers of most of the provinces, hasn’t exactly been consistent, coherent, or clear when it comes to pandemic lockdown rules and religious worship. All the provinces have been half-assed about enforcing lockdown rules on places of worship, presumably out of fear of upsetting the religious voting bloc. It’s that lack of leadership that’s going to bite them in the ass. Maybe. Or maybe not; we won’t know how the decision’s going to go until we get the ruling.

  • [] (Non)Religious Coping with a Natural Disaster in a Rural U.S. Community

    Well here’s an interesting article, though probably far too preliminary to draw any conclusions from. The context is that for many, many years, there just wasn’t any research being done on non-religious populations. Dr. Melanie Brewster actually did a fantastic presentation at Skepticon 7 about it; I highly recommend. It’s only recently that serious research has really started shining a light on the atheist community, and they’ve been busting a lot of old myths. Here we have one of the first studies done on how atheist populations handle catastrophies. Does religious belief actually help people cope? Does the lack of religious belief make it harder for people to cope? Turns out the answers are yes, but no, not necessarily. Atheists may use different strategies to cope—they may prefer “thinky” strategies, like reassessing their life and priorities, or taking part in activities focused on figuring out ways to ameliorate the crisis. And they may benefit more from using “adaptive strategies”—strategies that focus on the solving the problems at hand. The paper is, unfortunately, very technical, but if you can stomach that, it’s an interesting read. I’d love to see this research direction pursued further.

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.

5 thoughts on “Weekly Update: to

  1. steve oberski

    I’d rather have an insincere colander hat person whose belief system is about as benign as they get as opposed to someone whose sincerely held beliefs include women are chattel, LQBTs are not actual human beings and the rights of fetuses trump those of actual human beings.

    When evaluating belief systems I’d have to say that sincerity is about as far down the list as one can get in importance.

    I would look at say how much harm does a belief cause and save my outrage for those that cause the most harm.

    Whatever colander hat persons motivations are, his actions and the reactions to them do a good job in pointing out how batshit insane many ideologies are, and my hat is off to him.

    Reply
    1. Indi Post author

      This is just a textbook strawman fallacy. The belief at issue is not the bullshit you listed, it is the wearing of religious accessories. Allowing people to wear their magic hats in no way sanctions horrible beliefs that they may not even hold… and in Canada, almost certainly don’t. In other words, you want to punish people for beliefs you want them to have—or beliefs that you think they have, in your prejudged opinions of them—not for the beliefs they actually have… which once you spell it out like that is obviously not just.

      The big problem with Smith’s bone-headed “activism” is that it doesn’t even make any sense. Even you seem to have missed his point. How does being allowed to wear a tricorn or a colander in a driver’s licence photo prove “how batshit insane many ideologies are”? The only thing wanting to wear a colander would prove—if anything—is how “batshit insane” his beliefs are… it proves absolutely nothing about anybody else’s beliefs.

      So your description of his point makes no sense, but then, what really is his point? I don’t think even he’s really thought it through. What exactly is his end goal? What would it look like if he “wins”? It seems to me there are two possibilities:

      1. He wants to make it so that nobody can wear extra accessories in their driver’s licence photos, even something they sincerely, deeply feel they need. Or;
      2. He wants to make it so that anybody can wear any extra accessories in their driver’s licence photos, even if their beliefs are obviously farcical, and insincere.

      So which is it? Turns out it really doesn’t matter because:

      1. That’s just pointlessly restrictive. And;
      2. That’s just stupid.

      From where I’m sitting, he looks like just another RationalGeniusBrain so wrapped up in his own imagined intellectual superiority, he’s can’t see the forest for the trees.

      I also think you’re making a critical mistake undervaluing the importance of sincerity. We absolutely do not want our courts to be arbiters of which faiths are “true”, or of who is “properly” practising a given faith. In other words, we do not want our secular courts to be in the business of studying religious texts and deciding who’s properly following their teachings and who’s not. That would be a nightmare scenario. So instead, our courts don’t really care what you believe, or whether it is a proper interpretation of whatever religion you claim to be following. Instead our courts simply ask if:

      1. the accommodation you want is actually connected to your beliefs; and
      2. your beliefs are sincere

      If your beliefs are not sincere, then you do not deserve to be accommodated. So yes, of course sincerity matters. It would be idiotic to even consider giving accommodations for beliefs that are insincere. Smith’s ridiculous crusade had no chance right from the start.

      But all that aside, even if Smith had some kind of intelligent, coherent point to make, then no, I wouldn’t support it being made via someone who was being insincere. Insincerity is not the way to earn public trust, or respect. The whole “lying for Jesus” tactic is the way the other side does things; we were supposed to be better than that. Even a preschooler understands that two wrongs don’t make a right.

      If he can’t make a point honestly, then he doesn’t have one.

      Reply
  2. shane

    When faced with natural disasters, Atheists actually use their brains to figure out, what, when and how, something needs to be done..Hoping that an imaginary being is going to help you in an immediate crisis is like standing on a train track hoping the speeding train wont’ hit you…..

    Reply
  3. steve oberski

    Mr. Smith included copies of his identification as a B.C. marriage commissioner and federal firearms possession and acquisition licence. He was wearing a pirate hat in each photo.

    Say what you will about his sincerity, there is a certain consistency to his actions.

    And who can’t help but like a religion that has multiple allowable types of headgear, all the better to co-ordinate with your wardrobe, time of the year and demeanor.

    “You are a Pastafarian and member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster which mocks religious beliefs and certain religious practices,” the March 2020 decision said.

    the [Human Rights] Code includes protecting the expression of non-belief and the refusal to participate in religious practice, the protection does not require accommodation of a practice satirizing religious practice in providing a service customarily available to the public

    Sez who ? The mere existence of the 3 “abrahamic” religions are an ongoing satirical criticism of each other, whether the adherents realize it or not. And don’t get me started on Mormons*, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scientologists.

    That one would choose to make satirical criticism of unevidenced ideologies a tenet of ones religion deserves neither more or less accommodation than any other religion.

    So what the tribunal and the court actually decided, was not that Mr. Smith was insincere (not that that matters), but that he was being satirical and therefore his stated beliefs could not be accommodated.

    In fact I read on the internet that we do not want our secular courts to be in the business of studying religious texts and deciding who’s properly following their teachings and who’s not.

    That would be a nightmare.

    Let us not forget the 2nd fundamental tenet of The Satanic Temple:

    The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.

    Now one could make the case that Mr. Smith was not adhering to some of the other TST tenets (there are 7 of them, and they pack more wisdom, empathy and care for human well being in them than thousands of years of judeo-christian ramblings) but who of us is perfect ?

    That Mr. Smith is a flawed human being should come as no surprise, we are all flawed, and that is not a reason for denying him basic rights that our judicial system regularly grants others.

    * Joseph Smith apparently used a magic rock and a hat to translate the Book of Mormon which Mark Twain referred to it as “chloroform in print” (apparently a play on words to the Book of Ether) so perhaps if Smith had used a colander it might have come out better.

    Reply
    1. Indi Post author

      Say what you will about his sincerity, there is a certain consistency to his actions.

      Yeah, sure, it’s a very particular kind of consistency though, where he apparently only needs his religious headgear when taking pictures that might lead to lawsuits, but not otherwise (for example).

      The mere existence of the 3 “abrahamic” religions are an ongoing satirical criticism of each other, whether the adherents realize it or not.

      What? 🤨 No they’re not.

      And don’t get me started on Mormons*, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scientologists.

      Those are actually good evidence that even if a religion is founded as a patently obvious fraud, people can still follow them sincerely.

      Another good example is the Jedi religion. It was obviously started as a joke, and most people who claim to be adherents are being facetious. However, there are people who really do take it seriously, and if someone could demonstrate that they are sincerely following the Jedi religion, they could probably be allowed to wear hoods or carry lightsabers or something.

      That one would choose to make satirical criticism of unevidenced ideologies a tenet of ones religion deserves neither more or less accommodation than any other religion.

      Absolutely. That’s why we don’t base the worthiness of accommodation on whether the religion was founded as a joke or not. That’s why we use the sincerity standard.

      So what the tribunal and the court actually decided, was not that Mr. Smith was insincere (not that that matters), but that he was being satirical and therefore his stated beliefs could not be accommodated.

      Yes, exactly. The Tribunal and Court concluded that Smith was being satirical… which is just another way of saying insincere.

      You read one (partial!) sentence from the decision, while ignoring the larger context (not to mention the entire history of jurisprudence on the subject). The larger context is that the problem wasn’t just that the religion itself is satire. It’s perfectly possible for someone to sincerely follow a religion that was originally started as a joke. The real issue was that Smith himself admitted he was being satirical (and, also, there was pre-existing evidence in the jurisprudence from other Pastafarians, saying that the whole thing is satire). That pretty much torpedoed everything for him. It wouldn’t even matter at that point if the religion had been “serious” (for example, if a Sikh asked to be allowed to wear his dastar, but the court found evidence that he doesn’t usually wear it, then it would be okay to deny the request). The moment Smith admitted he wasn’t sincere, that was the end of his case.

      But hey, don’t take my word for it. Read what the federal Department of Justice has to say on the matter. You can skip on down to the section titled “Analytical Framework”, or just search for “sincere”. It explains quite clearly that you have to have a sincere belief, and that belief doesn’t necessarily need to be in the holy book or whatever (so you can’t tell someone that wearing a headscarf isn’t actually required by the Quran). Smith was insincere (because he was being satirical), so he lost on point 1.

      That Mr. Smith is a flawed human being should come as no surprise, we are all flawed, and that is not a reason for denying him basic rights that our judicial system regularly grants others.

      Exactly what “basic rights” do you think he was denied?

      From where I’m sitting, everyone gets the same rights, freedoms and privileges… though not everyone needs all of them all the time. If Smith had a real sincere belief that he needs to wear a tricorn, then he would be allowed to. He doesn’t, so he doesn’t get a privilege he doesn’t need.

      And this really has nothing to do with religion, either. Just look at that Charterpedia entry again, but this time go down to the “freedom of conscience” section. If Smith truly had a sincere belief about wearing tricorns, he wouldn’t need to fake a religion to request accommodation for it. So I really don’t understand why he feels the need. He’s just being dishonest, and wasting everyone’s time on a poorly-conceived crusade that I don’t think even he knows the end goal of.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.