Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

[Photo of two women holdind up a flag - a white Canadian pale bordered by pink on both sides, with a happy cartoon foetus in the middle, across the top is written "CELEBRATE LIFE WEEK", and across the bottom "PLEASE LET ME LIVE", and there's a small white maple leaf in the bottom right.]

The anti-abortion flag that went up at Prince Albert City Hall in 2016.

  • [] Why Brad Wall invoked notwithstanding clause to trump court ruling on Catholic education

    There are no surprises in this analysis; you could probably write it yourself. Why is Brad Wall going to use the notwithstanding clause to overrule the Court decision against funding non-Catholics attending Catholic schools? To pander to the religious base, and distract from his own shitty governance.

  • [] If Someone Mentions God When Asking You For a Loan, Run the Other Way

    A couple funny items from Terry Firma at Friendly Atheist, this one being a study showing that the strongest indicator that someone will default on a loan is if they mention God.

    h/t Friendly Atheist

  • [] Neuroscientists Link Some Brain Injuries To Religious Fundamentalism

    The second amusing item from Terry Firma at Friendly Atheist, linking brain damage suffered during the Vietnam war with increased religious fundamentalism due to [reduced] cognitive flexibility.

    h/t Friendly Atheist

  • [] Globalism and Nationalism in Canada

    Fascinating and uplifting data coming from thins new study. With the rise of fascist populism in the US and Europe, everyone’s been wondering about whether it might take root here in Canada, too. After all, they have their Marine Le Pens, we have our Kellie Leitches. But it turns out that Canadians are actually more globally-minded than nationalistic, and that that’s especially true for younger Canadians, and that while the most globally-minded are unsurprisingly almost universally supportive of immigration and diversity (99%), so too are 37% the hard-line nationalists. In other words, all the anti-immigrant, anti-mutliculturalism noise we’re hearing really is just the baying of a very small, very vocal minority, and is not actually representative of Canada in general.

  • [] Stephen Fry blasphemy investigation prompts New Zealand to repeal its law

    By the way, if you feel inclined to dump on the Gardaí for investigating this blasphemy case to begin with, here’s my take: They did exactly the right thing; they showed far more integrity than any of our Canadian police forces. A police force is not supposed to pick and choose which laws they enforce; if it’s a law on the books, they’re supposed to enforce it. And if they can’t – or if the law is just fucking stupid – the problem shouldn’t be avoided by ignoring it… the law should be fixed. And that’s exactly what’s happening now in Ireland. Their blasphemy law is on serious track to be repealed precisely because someone was actually stupid enough to try using it. Meanwhile, in Canada, the blasphemy law is allowed to linger while our elected officials piss-ass around over it precisely because our polices forces and Crown are too craven to put up or shut up. And it’s not just the blasphemy law; the Blackmore case is also having issues due to the past cowardice of prosecutors regarding the polygamy law. If it takes an actual blasphemy law charge to light a fire under our MPs, then maybe we should start filing blasphemy reports on each other. Maybe that will force them to do something about it.

  • [] Ontario legislature passes assisted dying bill

    With all the drama going on at the federal level over their study on advanced requests for medical assistance in dying, it’s nice to get some good news… well, mostly good news. Ontario has passed its medical assistance in dying bill with the effective referral policy intact, despite efforts by Progressive Conservative MPPs. The bill’s not perfect, as Shanaaz Gokool explains, and it’s already facing legal challenges by Christian medical groups. But after (during?) the debacle at the federal level, it’s nice to see some sensible governance on the issue at last.

  • [] Stephen Fry blasphemy probe dropped after gardaí fail to find ‘substantial number of outraged people’

    On the one hand, everything about this case – a blasphemy charge being investigated in 2017 – is horrifying… on the other, it’s pretty fucking hilarious. “Blasphemy charges dropped because no one gave a fuck” is an awesome outcome.

  • [] Facebook: Prevent religious extremists from censoring atheists and secularists

    You may have heard a couple pages of large atheist groups were shut down by Facebook due to organized efforts by religious groups to trigger Facebook’s auto-ban mechanisms. The pages are back up, but the problem remains, so it will probably happen again. There’s a petition asking Facebook to do something about it. Personally I think it’s a waste of time, not only because, well, it’s Facebook, but also because for-profit petition sites like Change.org are all about harvesting email addresses to sell, but hey, if this is something you care about, knock yourself out.

  • [] Indonesia’s courts have opened the door to fear and religious extremism

    Standing in stark contrast to the Stephen Fry case (and much more of a downer than the Sokolovsky case mentioned later), there’s this. Purnama – aka “Ahok” – got a WU mention about a month ago, in an item about a Marvel comic artist who got fired for sneakng anti-Purnama (along with anti-semitic) propaganda in X-Men comics. To recap, Purnama was Governor of Jakarta in Indonesia, having got the job from his predecessor, who became President. He was running for election to the job, and was facing waves of bigotry for being a “double minority”: Christian (not Muslim), and Chinese (not Javanese or Sundanese). Some of his opponents were telling Muslims that they couldn’t vote for Purnama, because the Quran prohibits voting for a non-Muslim. It was an obvious ploy, and Purnama called bullshit on it. But his “mistake” was… he actually cited the Quran to prove it didn’t say what his opponents said it did. His opponents took the video, edited it, and made it look like he was bashing the Quran. Thus, the blasphemy charge. Oh, it gets worse. See, Purnama’s obvious defence was that the video was faked; he simply produced the real video. Didn’t help. It’s blasphemy even for non-Muslims to teach about the Quran, apparently. Not that it would have made any difference even if he had been Muslim, it seems, because the Judge actually said As part of a religious society, the defendant should be careful to not use words with negative connotations regarding the symbols of religions, including the religion of the defendant himself. The The Guardian article goes into some detail about how this shitty situation came to be, how it was ultimately the fault of Purnama’s buddy, President Widodo, for trying to pander to moderate Muslims rather than undoing the damage done by previous extremist administrations. But the bottom line is, Purnama is going to jail for two years. For the crime of pointing out that some asshole was lying about what the Quran said.

  • [] Campaigns against blasphemy laws gather steam following Ahok conviction and Fry investigation

    We should take advantage of this momentum as well, and pressure Minister Wilson-Raybould to do something about our own blasphemy law.

  • [] Anti-abortion flag at Ottawa City Hall taken down after backlash

    There was a similar story just a couple weeks ago about an anti-abortion flag raised over a city hall in Saskatchewan. My advice then is as now: If their excuse is that they just allow all flags so long as they’re not outright offensive, let’s get some atheist flags a-flyin’.

  • [] Russian blogger convicted of ‘inciting religious hatred’ for playing Pokemon Go in church

    I’ve been covering this story since it broke. Ruslan Sokolovsky heard a story on the news that you could be charged with a crime for playing Pokémon Go in a church, but he didn’t believe it because it sounded too ludicrous, so he did it and posted the video. Turns out there’s nothing too ludicrous for authoritarian tyrants, so Sokolovsky was duly charged with “inciting religious hatred”. Not just for playing Pokémon Go in a church – no, they dug through his social feeds and found videos mocking Christianity, denying the existence of Jesus and Muhammad, and poking fun at the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. Even then he thought there was no way they would convict him of such a ridiculous crime in a supposedly modern state. Well, they did. He was looking at 5 years, but they were “mercifully” looking at only giving him 3 1⁄2 years. Well, he lucked out. They did give him 3 1⁄2 years… but as a suspended sentence. So basically, aside from some probation, he’s free. But he’s learned a valuable lesson, and so have we all from following his case: Authoritarians don’t fuck around.

  • [] Sharp rise in home-schooling for Montreal Hasidic children

    A while back, the Québec government started a crackdown on the ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups in the province, focusing particularly on child welfare issues. (You may remember the Lev Tahor case a few years ago.) Well, they shut down a couple of dodgy “schools” in the process, but that hasn’t resulted in the kids being brought into the public school system. On the contrary, nothing’s really changed except now they’re not pretending their “schools” are schools anymore… they’re just saying the kids are being home-schooled. But that’s not a bad thing, because there are standards for home-schooling, and now these kids will be under provincial scrutiny… which includes actually taking exams for the first time in their lives, it seems.

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