Weekly Update: to

by | August 28, 2021

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

[A comic depicting two people talking. The first says: “Do you believe in the afterlife?” The second says: “Of course. Look around you. Everything physical is ordered according to law and reason.”]
I can’t imagine anyone looking at the beautiful chaos of the natural universe and thinking, “yeah, this is totally reasonable”.

This week’s items

[] “Order” by Zach Weinersmith (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)

Bear with what looks like a standard god-of-the-gaps teleological argument for a few panels, then there’s the usual SMBC silly reversal, and it’s worth it.

[] Moral imperative of push for civil rights offers lesson

I like the idea of reframing the residential schools issues as a moral issue, rather than a legal or monetary one. I think that’s how we—the Canadian atheist community—have been viewing it from the start.

But I think it’s important to remember that this is also our moral issue… not just the churches’. The fact that atheists weren’t explicitly running residential schools doesn’t mean it’s not our issue as well. Remember, the residential schools system wasn’t just an initiative of the churches; the secular government was running it as well. And we can’t just shrug off our responsibility by saying that it wasn’t us, it was past secular governments… we wouldn’t accept that argument from the churches involved, so we shouldn’t accept it for ourselves.

As Canadians, we have a direct responsibility to the victims of the residential schools genocide. But even without that, as atheists—as decent human beings—we have a moral responsibility to repair historical injustices, and to help the victims achieve their best possible future together with us.

[] No medical or religious exemptions for B.C.’s vaccine passport system

“Vaccine passports” seem to be a thing now, as—at the current time of writing—BC, Manitoba, and Québec have all announced they’re doing it, and even Ontario seems to be changing course. Hell, even Alberta is promising to allow residents to print “cards”, but still doggedly insisting they’re not vaccine passports.

The evidence is starting to roll in that restrictions requiring vaccine passports are actually having an massive effect on encouraging vaccination. But… as always… religion seems to be getting special treatment.

On the plus side, Dr. Bonnie Henry has refused to allow religious excuses as exemptions for BC’s vaccine passport. But on the negative side, while the passport will be required for everything from sporting events to in-restaurant dining… religious services will get a pass. Why? Why are worship services different from sporting events? 🤷🏼 You’ll have to ask Dr. Henry that.

[] Catholic Church charity set up to pay residential school survivors spent $6.46-million on expenses

Oof, the hits just keep on coming in this mess. With every new investigation on their failure to pay their share of the settlement to residential school survivors, the Catholic Church just looks worse and worse.

Okay, let me try to summarize the situation… which is difficult because it’s so complex to begin with, and because the Catholic Church has lied repeatedly about what was actually spent. As I understand it, the Catholic Church’s portion of the settlement can be best understood in three distinct chunks:

  1. $25 million to be raised by donations by Canadian Catholics.
  2. $25 million in “services” to be provided by the Church to indigenous communities.
  3. A $29 million cash settlement, to be paid by the Church itself.

Let’s review how that actually shook out:

  1. Catholics only managed to raise $3.9 million… about 30¢ per Catholic in Canada.

    Note that during the same period, they raised almost ten times that just for buildings (new chapels and stuff). Note also that the Church raised almost $900 million in one year, all told.

  2. The Church claims it has provided the promised “in-kind services”… but can’t actually account for it.

  3. This is what the current item is all about.

    The Church had originally claimed it had paid the full amount… but…:

    1. they were allowed to just… write off more than $8 million because they claimed they’d paid it before the settlement agreement was made; and
    2. they wrote off over $6 million in expenses.

    So in the end, the Church only ended up paying around $14.2 million… just under half of what they were supposed to pay.

And the article breaks down where the $6+ million in expenses went, noting that the expenses are absurd and unreasonable. They amount to almost 27% overhead, when the overhead should more on the order of 5%.

[] Should vaccines be mandatory in places of worship? Local religious groups weigh in

You might be expecting that having “local religious groups weigh in” on anything is bound to be a dumpster fire. But you could be surprised here.

The “local” here basically means “Ontario-specific” (and even more precisely, “London, Ontario-specific”), where Premier Doug Ford had been refusing to institute a vacccine passport (but, since the article was published, has reversed course). And contrary to what your expectations may be, the local religious groups want Ford to institute a vaccine passport. The quite logical reason for why is that it will make them feel safer when going to in-person services.

Ford is now making noises that he will institute a vaccine passport, but if he takes a cue from how it’s being done in other provinces, it’s very likely he won’t make it mandatory for in-person religious services. That shouldn’t stop individual religious groups from requiring it on their own, though.

[] Charles Lewis: Religion truly is under mob attack

It’s important to look at what the “other folk”—your ideological or political opponents—are saying from time to time, if only to get a sense of how their thinking works. Or, as in this case, how their thinking very much doesn’t work.

I could dig into the many, myriad fallacies and dishonest twisting of the facts… but I’ll refrain, and let you experience this screed in its own, self-serving glory.

[] Time to end tax breaks for religious groups

I mean… yeah. I don’t see anything in this article that could be reasonably disputed.

Centre for Inquiry Canada has been a bit… weird… at times, over the past few years—and they sometimes platform some very problematic people—but they’re still an excellent organization, doing incredible work, and well worth supporting. And while I don’t really know Leslie Rosenthal all that well, everything I have seen about them is just awesome, so I guess I’m a bit of a fan.

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.

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