Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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