Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .
This week’s items
, Angus Reid Institute released a report based on a pair of surveys. The first was a survey of people in the four largest non-Christian religions—Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism, and Judaism—done in partnership with Cardus. The second was a general population survey done by ARI on their own (though they over-sampled evangelical protestants for some reason).
There’s a lot we could talk about in that report. Different journalists have highlighted different aspects of it; the one I linked to for this item focuses on views on which religions are
benefitting or damaging Canada and Canadian society. That’s certainly one of the more interesting tidbits, but there’s so much more.
Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way. Canadians are less religious than ever, and younger Canadians are the least religious. No surprises there.
Among religious groups, evangelical Christians are by far—by far, far—the most intensely religious, followed distantly by Muslims. 74% of evangelical Christians fit into ARI’s “religiously committed” category; they’re the only religious group where more than half are “religiously committed”. By comparison, only 46% of Muslims are “religiously committed”. Sikhs and Hindus come in third and fourth with 22% and 15% respectively, and then Roman Catholics with 14%. No other group has more than 10%.
The most ridiculous result in the report has to be from the question asking whether
Canadian society today tends to make room for or shuts out your own personal values and faith? Only in three groups do less than 30% say Canada “makes room” for their personal values and faith: the “nones” at 23%, mainstream Protestants at 29%, and evangelical Christians at 17%. All other groups say Canada “makes room” for them at higher than the average rate.
Now, the “nones” don’t say Canada “makes room” for them, sure… but that’s because almost half instead say… “meh”, as in Canada neither particularly “makes room” for their beliefs, nor “shuts them out”. 41% of Protestants also say “meh”… which leaves evangelical Christians as the standout group. They are the only group where more than half think Canada “shuts out” their faith. No other group even touches 25%, except Muslims at 26%… but in Muslims’ case… I mean… yeah, there are literally laws that ban their religious accessories. The evangelical Christians’ persecution fantasy, on the other hand, is just straight-up bonkers.
The headline result of this item’s article is the “benefiting” versus “damaging” question, which ARI helpfully illustrates using a nice grid. They also include “atheism” among the options, and it turns out that almost everyone thinks atheists are okay… except Christians and Muslims. And evangelical Christians particularly hate us.
I wouldn’t let it bother me, though, because it turns out that evangelical Christians are the most hated religious group… even more than Muslims. Generally, only Christians are considered to be damaging to Canada, with the exception of mainstream Protestants. But the only group that thinks evangelical Christians are of any benefit to Canadian society… are evangelical Christians.
There was one other question that was interesting: “Do you believe that God or a higher power exists?” It’s not exactly asking whether people are atheists… but it comes close. And the results are that 35% may be atheist, or at least lean that way… and 14% definitely are. That jibes with other data, which puts the number of people who are indisputably atheist—whether they self-identify as atheist or not—in Canada at 10–15%.
If you’d like to dig into it, the survey data is available on the Angus Reid site.
Hm, I’m not sure how I feel about this one.
The Anglican Church of Canada has recently been struggling with how it handles sexual misconduct allegations. There’s been an ongoing scandal about a leak that occurred when sexual assault survivors tried to tell their story, and the General Secretary of the ACC—without the knowledge or consent of the survivors or the journalists they were talking to—passed their information on to high-ranking Church officials, including some of whom were involved in the allegations. Church leadership tried repeatedly to downplay the incident, and to sweep under the rug, but rank-and-file Anglicans were having none of that; their outrage has yet to produce real, tangible results, but they have certainly at least unnerved the Church leadership.
You might think I would be pleased to see that someone high up in the ACC hierarchy is facing consequences for sexual misconduct… and I am… but… there’s a complicating factor here. The archbishop in question is the Indigenous Archbishop. That is, he’s basically the leader of all indigenous Anglicans (in Canada). He’s actually the first person to hold that position. And, naturally, he’s indigenous himself.
So while I’m pleased to see an archbishop actually facing consequences for sexual misconduct… I’m a little troubled that this guy is the only one. The non-indigenous dude who leaked information about rape victims to those who oversaw their rapists… that dude still has his job. The indigenous dude doesn’t. Seeing justice done is good. Seeing it done so… selectively… bothers me.
Anywho, as for the case in question, it doesn’t seem like this was more than a bog-standard extra-marital affair. That’s what I’ve picked up from rumours though; officially there is no word on exactly what MacDonald did, though a church spokesperson made a point of saying the police weren’t involved because nothing illegal happened.
 Mom furious Grade 8 students at Woodstock, Ont., school must make posters for anti-abortion group’s contest
Yeah, you’re right. You read the headline and you guessed: this is a Catholic school, right? Yes. It is.
There’s not a lot of sympathy for this mother in the atheist internet universe. And, yeah, she really does come across as incredibly naïve. Or at least, hopelessly confused. Like, what the hell did she think would happen at a Catholic school? Why does she think they make such a big deal about being Catholic? What does she think they mean by it, if not that they intend to teach Catholic dogma?
However, while I agree she seems bizarrely out of touch about what Catholic schools are about, she does nevertheless have a lot of good points. There are quite a few things wrong with this “assignment”, even for a Catholic school assignment.
What appears to have happened is a lazy teacher took advantage of an anti-abortion group’s contest. The anti-abortion group has apparently been running this contest for decades, where they get kids to make anti-abortion posters, and award some cash to the “winners”. That’s fine; it’s a free country, so they have every right to do that. (The group’s leader sounds like a real winner, though, slipping in the “cancel culture” dog whistle in her comments.)
However, this year, a teacher looked at the contest, thought, “meh, beats having to do any work myself!”, and passed the contest on to the students as an assignment. To be graded.
Now, I’m not a teacher, I don’t have any school-age kids, and I’m no expert in educational theory, but I can’t really see the point in a “lesson” like this. What exactly are the kids supposed to learn by doing this assignment? They are not being taught the Church’s position on abortion, they were already indoctrinated with that dogma; this is a grade 8 assignment, but the Catholic curriculum teaches the Church’s position on abortion starting in grade 6 (at least). They’re not being asked to research anything, or find anything out themselves at all. They are literally told what words to put on the fucking poster!
And what makes it really shady is that the teacher explicitly said the work was supposed to be done at school
only at school. As in, “don’t do this at home where your parents might see”.
So you’ve got the coercive power of grades pressuring the kids to comply, instructions that seem to have no purpose other than avoiding parental awareness of what they’re doing, all for the sake of something that has no educational value whatsoever. Seems pretty skeevy.
And the worst part is that it even made the kids uncomfortable! Kaydence Dixon—the daughter of the mom in the headline—obviously felt the need to bring it up to her mother… but the article mentions that another kid tried to raise concerns in class, but was ultimately cowed into silence.
(As an aside, the kids in this story sound absolutely awesome. The pic of Kaydence with the pro-choice poster… which I sincerely hope she handed in as her assignment… is brilliant. And the other, unnamed student who questioned the assignment sounds like impressively brave, too.)
This assignment is nothing more than compelled speech. An anti-abortion slogan is a political statement. Forcing kids to make that statement—for their grades—is not just a violation of their fundamental rights… it’s just fucking disgusting. I’m just astonished that any teacher would be dumb enough to think this is a good learning assignment. (It would be just as bad, by the way, if one of the secular public schools forced students to make posters saying “my uterus, my choice”.)
(Another aside: If this were merely a case of the teacher informing the kids of the contest, and letting them take part if they wanted to—with no grades involved—then there would be no problem. I mean… that would absolutely not be cool in the secular system… but Dixon is right about this much: this is the Catholic system, after all. They’re allowed to be Catholic. So, in that context, a teacher telling the kids about the contest, and even helping those who want to take part, is okay. But making it mandatory?! For grades?! And taking measures to keep the parents from finding out?! That teacher should be fucking fired.)
So, yeah, while Rachelle Lynn Dixon is… a little out touch with the reality of the separate, Catholic school system… she’s absolutely right to be flabbergasted by this “assignment”. Everything about it stinks… even in the context of Catholic schools.
Dixon does seem to be waking up to the reality of Catholic schools pretty quickly though. She’s taking her kids out of the Catholic system, and she apparently went to the school on Friday to talk to them about the assignment. I haven’t heard how that talk went, but I don’t really have high hopes that Dixon will find the school’s response to be satisfying.
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