Weekly Update: 5-Feb-2022 to 11-Feb-2022

by | February 13, 2022

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

This week’s items

[] In the universe of religious fundamentalism, madness is normal

Micheal Coren has found a second career as a critic of religion, after spending many years as a Catholic apologist. He’s got an ugly past with associations like Rebel News, Tarek Fatah, and the short-lived Sun News Network, but he had his own road to Damascus conversion, and has since become pro-LGBTQ2S+ and pro-women’s rights.

As a critic of religion, Coren has been absolutely damning. The title of this piece really makes that point. Here Coren’s focus is the “Freedom Convoy” currently occupying Ottawa and other locations across Canada.

It’s not spoken of in the major media coverage, but the “Freedom Convoy” is actually a mish-mash of far-right activists—buttressed by large numbers of useful idiots—and a large chunk of the core is the far-right evangelical bloc. Calling them “anti-mandate protesters” is dishonest; this protest wouldn’t be happening if a Conservative government were in power. This is an anti-government protest. This is the Canadian version of the Capitol Hill insurrection.

Coren’s focus, though, is on the theology underlying the evangelical support… or rather, the lack of theology.

[] Ontario government faces legal challenge for funding Catholic schools

This is the story that got the most attention in atheist circles this week, but the general consensus seems to be little more than a bored shrug.

I agree with that sentiment. While it would be wonderful to see an end to the publicly-funded religious school system in Ontario, this legal challenge doesn’t seem likely to make that happen.

For starters, there’s no doubt the province is going to fight this challenge tooth and nail. Doug Ford has to keep his religious base happy; he’s already on thin ice with them for at least partially taking the scientific advice on the COVID pandemic.

As the article mentions, Reva Landau took a swing at this almost a decade ago, and was rebuffed because she lacked standing. Well, now she has two plaintiffs with standing. But the problem isn’t the plaintiffs—they actually look like great plaintiffs for the case. The problem is that all of the arguments they’re trying to make have already been adjudicated over and over across Canada… and they’ve all lost.

For example, trying to argue that it is discriminatory for the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board to only hire Catholics. Well, that argument has been tried many times, I think most recently in Alberta. Hell, in Ontario, just a couple of months ago, a court ruled that it is okay for Catholic schools to deny student trustee positions to non-Catholic students.

To put it bluntly, I don’t think this challenge has a ghost of a chance of succeeding.

To put it even more bluntly, I don’t think it’s a good idea at all. I get that even if a single attempt is doomed to fail, it’s still worthwhile to keep chipping away at the problem; eventually, all the little challenges will become an overwhelming wave that just might sweep away even the entrenched apologists. But I don’t see legal challenges like this having much in the way of positive impact, for our side. Reva Landau is a lawyer, so legal challenges are the hammer she uses for every nail. But I think Adrienne Havercroft’s and James Sutton’s stories would have more impact… as stories… than as justifications for legal standing. Just look at the case of Fatemeh Anvari, the teacher who lost her job due to Québec’s Bill 21. Her story has had more impact undermining public support for Bill 21 than months of protests and court challenges.

For example, rather than a court challenge, what might have been more effective is an advertising campaign, featuring people like Havercroft and Sutton and others who have been negatively impacted by the separate school system. You could even highlight the responses by Catholic school supporters… because they’re usually fucking awful. Like Daly’s responses in the article. The last thing we want is a monopoly in publicly funded education. Uh-huh, yeah, except that there is a monopoly: Catholicism is the only religion that gets publicly-funded schools. Hell, you could even get pugnacious, and draw attention to Doug Ford’s entanglement with nasty Catholics like Charles McVety.

But, whatever, this challenge is already happening, so I guess I’ll support it.

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