Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .
Ever wondered how religious thinkers view the state of religion in Canada, especially considering the pandemic? Here’s an interesting piece that asks a number of theologians and religious academics about some hot-button issues. Most of their answers are pretty much in line with what I’d say if asked: no, there will not be a massive return to churches after the pandemic (maybe a temporary “bump”, but the trend away from churches will not change); yes, the Canadian view of religion in general and Christianity in particular has soured considerably due to those churches defying public health measures. The one thing I disagree with the most is their vague “concern” about religious freedom, which is a little rich considering they do seem to get why the churches defying public health orders are in the wrong. But I did find one point fascinating: as they mention, there has long been a trend of preachers insisting that some grave event will drive people into the pews… well, we just had (are still having) a global pandemic and… nope, no big rush back into the churches to pray for mercy.
If there’s a theme this week, it’s conservative provincial governments finally cracking down on churches that have been flagrantly defying public health orders. This item is about Alberta, and though it’s headline focus is on the Fairview Baptist Church in Calgary, it does a good job of giving an overview of just how bad the problem has been. The article explains how authorities bent over backwards to give the offenders every possible chance, every possible benefit of the doubt, and even repeatedly let them flout the rules to avoid actually bringing the hammer down, before finally, begrudgingly doing something about it. It also makes a point of quoting nearby residents, who were fed up with having to live next to a plague factory, and frustrated with the lack of action. And it even lists some of the many other offenders—just focusing on Alberta, mind you—that have been just as recalcitrant as Stephens, which reads like a rogues gallery of bigots and idiots.
This is the other big piece in this week’s theme, this time about Ontario. The Church of God in Aylmer has been ground zero for the religious (Christian) revolt against public health measures. The Church and its pastor, Henry Hildebrandt, have been sanctioned and fined multiple times (this is also where Derek Sloan and Randy Hillier were charged), yet continued to hold super-spreader services, so the province finally just locked up the church property. That didn’t stop them either. So what next? Good question. It really shouldn’t have gotten to this point.
It always surprises me how few people know about this, and even more, how few take it seriously. I mean, sure, it sounds absolutely batshit insane to say that significant numbers of high-level policy makers in the US—and the West in general—seriously believe in a first-century prophecy about the end times, and use that as a guide for foreign policy. But it’s actually true. Obviously we can’t read the minds of policy makers to discern exactly what their thought process was when making some decision… but we can look at what their beliefs are, and note when their decisions don’t really make a lot of sense without taking those beliefs into account. And there have been several cases of people straight-up saying that this is what they believe, and this is why they want Israel to be a state, and so on. It’s hard to imagine this much support for Israel’s blatantly apartheid policies without something like this underpinning it. (And if you’re one of those people who seriously believes this is a situation where both sides are equally bad… it’s time to get a clue. It is not necessary for Palestinians to be perfect angels for it to be undeniably true that the Israeli government is committing genocide, or at the very least, apartheid and other related crimes against humanity.)
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