Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

  • [] Select “No Religion” when you complete your 2021 Canadian Census

    A few years back, we lost a fight to get StatsCan to fix the religion question on the long-form census. The question asks “What is this person’s religion?”, which already a bad start, but then it goes to instruct that you should specify a religion “even if this person is not currently a practising member of that group”. It almost seems intended to inflate the numbers of religion. To try to counter that trend, you could check the “no religion” option, or you could write something like “atheist” in the denomination box. For the sake of the census, the distinction doesn’t really matter; due to the form of the question, the census is already a lousy way to count atheists, let alone distinguish them from the “nones”. There will be much better ways to count atheists specifically, but for the census, it will be enough for our purposes to get it understood that religion isn’t as pervasive in Canada as it used to be… or as some politicians still think it is.

  • [] Pride flag fights put Catholic school funding in focus

    Like clockwork, once again Ontario’s Catholic schools have done something stupid, bigoted, or otherwise evil… so once again we get new entries in that tired old journalism genre: “is it time to stop funding the Catholic school system?” It feels like there’s a sense of resignation on all sides, like the defunding of the Catholic school system is an inevitability, so all that’s left for key players at this point is either to delay it as long as possible, or to double down on the stubbornness so at least when the system does get shut down, at least they can say they stuck to their (bigoted and regressive) principles right to the end. We got to see examples of both attitudes this go-around: while the Toronto Catholic District School Board decided to begrudgingly throw a bone to the LGBTQ2S+ community and fly their flag, the Halton Catholic District School Board dug in and refused to. Granted, there’s no hope whatsoever of the ending of the Catholic system now—not while the Conservatives are in power… but the writing really does seem to be on the wall.

  • [] “Dear Satan” by Zach Weinersmith (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)

    Did… did Zach Weinersmith just invent “problem of good”? Leibniz must be spinning in his grave.

  • [] Crown seeks lockup, more than $100K in fines for Church of God in Alymer, Ont.

    Better late than never, Ontario has finally found a tiny bit of backbone when dealing with religious groups defying public health orders. It remains to be seen whether this is just making an example of a particularly noisy irritant before going back to its policy of turning a blind eye to churches holding maskless, non-distanced in-person services, while spreading COVID-19 misinformation and conspiracies. It also remains to be seen whether this is really about the province’s concern for health measures being followed, or more just a fit of pique by authorities at having their power challenged.

  • [] COVID Conspiracy Group Moving Forward With Eid-el-Fitr Celebration Despite Condemnation By Muslim Community

    The vast majority of COVID-19 denialism and conspiracy theories, and defiance to public health measures, comes from Christian churches, but that doesn’t mean that Christiandom is the only source of that shit. However, I think it is very illuminating to take a look at the differences between COVID denialism in Christianity, versus in other religions. So I present to you this Canadian Anti-Hate Network investigation of the “Muslims Against Lockdowns” group. The first thing to note is that… it’s just a Facebook group. It’s not an actual mosque anywhere in Canada, let alone a group of mosques collaborating. In fact, there was supposed to be an event in Mississauga… but I can’t find any evidence that it actually happened (by contrast, several events that were run in compliance with public health concerns were run, and widely covered). The Facebook group appears to be primarily just two people, both of whom have links to existing (not specifically-Muslim) anti-lockdown groups, and relies primarily on obscure, fringe, whackadoodle “imams” for religious justification. Another interesting difference from Christianity is that while most Christian churches and leadership have largely ignored the radical, anti-lockdown fringe churches—and most they might express disdain that they’re making Christianity look bad—mainstream Muslim organizations have been very vocal about calling out “Muslims Against Lockdowns”. So, yeah, Christians aren’t the only religious group with a COVID-conspiracy fringe… but there’s really no comparing the sheer volume of Christian COVID-conspiracy theorizing, or the way it is largely tacitly tolerated within mainstream Christianity, with the COVID-conspiracy fringes of other religious groups.

  • [] Canadian Bishops’ Sex Abuse Reporting System Provides “Optics Over Substance”

    I don’t think anyone was really expecting anything much from the new Catholic sex abuse reporting tool rolled out by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB). This is not an organization that has signalled in any way that they actually get the problem, or take it seriously. This is an organization whose focus has always been about protecting the Church… not the congregants. What I like best about Wilde’s piece is the closing words. Because it is true, from a certain perspective, that we’re being a bit uncharitable toward the CCCB and the new reporting service, and focusing more on its shortcomings than on its (claimed) positives. But like Wilde says, this is an organization—both the CCCB and the Church as a whole—that has more than earned it.

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