Weekly Update: 13-Nov-2021 to 19-Nov-2021

by | November 20, 2021

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

This week’s items

[] Stats on religion in Canada not surprising for scholars

A couple weeks back, I wrote about an article by Statistics Canada about the change in the demographics in religiosity in Canada from 1985 to 2019, showing a precipitous drop in religious affiliation, from 90% to an estimated 68%.

At the time I commented that the data wasn’t surprising. John Longhurst of the Winnipeg Free Press contacted his scholarly “brain trust” to ask what they thought about the data, and their response was: it’s not really surprising.

Nevertheless, they try their best to find good news in the data… and largely fail. No, the increased religious affiliation among new immigrants does not really offer much hope. Even worse, while affiliation among younger Canadians is already alarmingly low, the trends suggest that will further drop over time.

One thing they do mention that I’ve also been keeping a close eye on is the fact that while affiliation is dropping like a rock, that doesn’t necessarily mean religiosity is dropping quite as quickly. There is some evidence that while people are undeniably leaving organized religion in droves, they’re not necessarily abandoning religious belief. There appears to be a growing trend of “private” religious faith, as opposed to “public” religious faith. I don’t think there’s been nearly enough research into this trend, or what it means.

[] Liberals to introduce tougher bill banning conversion therapy

Well, this is a pleasant reversal. When the Liberals called a completely unnecessary and ultimately pointless election earlier this year, they killed C-6, the conversion therapy ban bill, which was in progress at the time. C-6 was almost certainly going to get passed, so seeing it die on the table—and for such a stupid reason—was infuriating. Everyone knew it would almost certainly come back with the new parliamentary session, but that would mean starting all over.

Well, as predicted, we are about to start all over with the conversion therapy ban. However, it looks like it won’t be a simple rehash of C-6.

There were a lot of problems with C-6. I mean, it was a Liberal bill, so, yeah, it was compromised so aggressively it was almost toothless. In particular, there was a loophole allowing for conversion therapy if an adult (and only an adult) “consented” to it.

The problem with that is that “consent” is a dangerous loophole for quack “medical” procedures… particulary procedures that might be deadly. We don’t allow medical doctors to offer untested, experimental, or outright bullshit pseudo-medical treatments to patients, even if those patients “consent” to the treatments, because we realize that people in desperate medical situations can’t really “consent” in a meaningful way, especially when those with power—their doctors—are pressuring them. I hope we can all understand why.

Conversion therapy can be deadly, and even when not, it can do serious, long-lasting, and in some cases, irreparable psychological harm. And the amount of pressure a person can feel toward “consenting” to it can be enormous; even if the “therapists” weren’t pressuring them to get it, they could still be facing incredible pressure from their families, their community, their religious leaders… not to mention personal pressure they fail due to fear of eternal torment in the afterlife.

If conversion therapy were merely “modestly effective, but highly dangerous”, then we might be obligated to accept personal choice to get the therapy… regardless of how coerced that “choice” may be. But conversion therapy is complete bullshit. It’s just not effective… at all. It’s literally just torture. There is no reason to entertain the possibility that someone might “consent” to being tortured under the guise of a fake “medical” procedure.

The whispers out of Ottawa are hinting that the drafters of the new C-6-ish bill have gotten the message. It looks like the loopholes that plagued C-6 are being removed. It’s still too early to say; this all may just be the lawmakers floating trial balloons to test the waters for a potential revision, but they may cave to religious conservative pressure in the end (they are Liberals, after all). But, if true, then the collapse of C-6 may turn out to have been a blessing in disguise.

[] Saskatoon police charge member of faith group with sexual exploitation

Yet another religious leader is outed as a molester. This time, the religion is Baháʼí.

The article isn’t really all that clear, but the charge of “sexual exploitation” means the victims were between 16 and 18.

The article also mentions another offence involving the sexual assault of a 16 year-old, seemingly unrelated to his religious activities.

I don’t know the details of the story—I don’t really have much in the way of sources either in Saskatoon or in Baháʼí—and the article is vague. But it doesn’t sound like this is a situation like the Catholic sex abuse scandals. It sounds like this guy was a Baháʼí youth group leader, where he may have targeted one or two victims… but as soon as the Baháʼí Community found out about his mischief, they kicked him out. Whether or not they reported him to the cops themselves or did anything else is unclear. But (unlike with Catholics) it doesn’t seem they had any idea about his predatory leanings until too late, and they acted as soon as they found out.

If I find out more, I’ll report it.

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