Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .
Ugh, every time I write a Weekly Update item about the Catholic Church, I think that this is as low as they can go, morally. Yet every time, they prove me wrong. So, this isn’t “new” news, in the sense that it actually happened in 2015, though we’re just now finding out about it, because the Catholic Church has been lying about it the whole time. The backstory is that in 2005, the four Christian churches involved in running residential schools signed a settlement agreement to pay millions as part of the reconciliation project. Three of them stuck to the agreement, and paid the full amount they promised. The Catholic Church did not. The settlement deal is infuriatingly complex, so please pardon me if I get some of this wrong, but as I understand it, the promise was that the Catholic Church would pay $29 million in cash, and give $25 million in “services”, and Catholic dioceses across Canada would raise an additional $25 million in cash. Now, the Church has claimed it paid the $29 million… but as the CBC discovered, that’s… not entirely true. First it said it had already paid $8 million before the deal was made, so that was just straight-up deducted. Then it siphoned off $5 million for lawyer and administration fees, and disappeared $1.6 million into things that weren’t approved and still haven’t been accounted for. As for the $25 million in services, they can’t really account for it. And the $25 million that was supposed to be raised… wasn’t; only $3.9 million was, but even that, it turns out, was shady, because it looks like the Church may have double-dipped and counted $1.8 million “loaned” out of the $29 million (most of which was never repaid). (Note that as previously reported, while the Church only managed to raise $3.9 million for residential schools survivors, it raised nearly $300 million for building renovations in Canada during the same period.) Back in 2015, government lawyers called shenanigans on all this… but the Church got away with it because of a poorly worded agreement allowing an escape hatch for “best efforts”. All of this has been secret until now, and the truth only came out because of the CBC investigation; the Church has been lying about it for years, and still (up to the time I’m writing this) hasn’t answered for any of it. At this point, I don’t really see what can be gained by having Pope Francis come to Canada to apologize for residential schools, because that would only be the surface level of Inception-style layers of apologies he’d have to keep diving into for how they’ve behaved since then. If anything, it might be more productive, and cathartic, to have Pope Frankie come here just to slap his goddamn, greedy-ass face a few times.
It’s a toss-up for which is the most ghastly story this week, as Catholics compete with themselves in a race to the bottom. The magnificent irony of this story, which by fluke works with magical timing, is that while this shitstain priest was accusing residential school survivors of lying for money, CBC investigators were discovering that the Catholic Church was lying about the money they were supposed to be paying for reconciliation… even after the amount they were supposed to pay had been dramatically reduced! I watched the video because I wanted to see if I could discern any reaction from the audience—if there was any; it looks like it was an in-person service, but I never really heard or saw the audience—and not a peep, and apparently, not a whiff of concern by anyone in the church who recorded, edited, or posted the video.
We had a series of bad stories about the Canadian Museum for Human Rights this time last year, when it came to like that the Museum’s Conservative-appointed leadership was… not so much into human rights, really. The Museum got a new CEO, and seems to have got its shit together, and this is actually a good story. It started when some dim bulbs started complaining that the Museum was requiring visitors be vaccinated (as required by the province, actually), and trying to claim this was “discrimination”. Now, a perfectly valid response to this kind of bullshit is just to roll one’s eyes and move on, focusing on dealing only with intelligent human beings and not wasting time on morons. But Isha Khan—the new CEO, who actually understands human rights—decided to turn this into a teaching moment instead. She’s gone on a public campaign explaining that rights are not absolute—sometimes they can be restricted, though that restriction should be temporary and justified. She also explained what discrimination really is, and why requiring vaccines is not discrimination. And not only that, she went further to explain how there actually are rights issues related to vaccination… just not the ones anti-vaxxers want. This is actually information I’d like to see more atheists understand; I’ve witness a woeful dearth of understanding about discrimination and rights in general within our community. There’s almost no chance this will actually have any effect on anti-vaxxers… but well played, Ms Khan.
The impetus for this article is the concern that the conversion therapy ban—Bill C-6—will die on the table if the government calls a snap election for later this year. That would massively suck if that happened, but at least we can be pretty confident that it will probably be revived shortly after the election (assuming the Liberals win at least a minority, which seems likely). But this article is massive, because it goes deep into the history of transphobia and how it grew out of disaffected second-wave feminism and badly-understood, outdated science. It makes the important point that while a lot of anti-trans organizations fly under the banner of “feminism”, in practice they ally with far-right and conservative groups… which are kinda the antithesis of feminism (even second-wave feminism).
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