Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

[Photo of red and white fireworks over the water against a night sky.]

Have a happy May two-four weekend!

  • [] Red Deer Public Schools trustees vote narrowly in support of single education system

    It’s really remarkable how fast the idea of moving to a single public school system is snowballing in the prairie provinces. This motion only narrowly passed, but even those who voted against it seemed to be generally in favour of the idea, and only voted against for sound reasons (such as the objection that it really wasn’t that Board’s place to make this decision, and thus the motion was little more than just waving a red flag).

  • [] Indigenous Christian ministers walk in 2 worlds

    Given the generations of abuse inflicted on Canada’s indigenous peoples at the hands of Christianity, one would think that non-religion would be welcomed. But we have generally done a tragically bad job of extending a hand to them, and have made no effort to build any bridges between European-style freethought, and indigenous styles of freethought. Even though they plainly recognize the betrayal inherent in cozying up with the churches, these people feel more comfortable with them than with humanists or freethinkers. We have to change this.

  • [] Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate escapes from Canada’s terror list

    This is an interesting story of the politics behind attaching the “terrorist” label to groups.

  • [] The elephant in the classroom amid school closings: Cohn

    Martin Regg Cohn of the Toronto Star believes amalgamating school boards is inevitable, but right now bringing it up would be political suicide. I’m inclined to agree, but the path to a solution that I see runs through electoral reform to proportional representation; only when we have a system where tiny swings in votes doesn’t result in huge swings of power can we hope for real progress.

  • [] What does Canada get out of restoring diplomatic ties with Iran?: Michael Petrou

    A valid question, and one that we really deserve answers to.

  • [] “Brainstorm Podcast: Pregnancy Woo with Dr. Amy Tuteur”(Audio: 1:52:24)

    This is an excellent episode of The Brainstorm Podcast. It’s actually in two parts. The first part, as the title hints, has long-time activist and Skeptical OB Dr. Amy Tuteur talking about nonsense related to pregnancy. The second part has David Richards from OneSystemSask talking about recent events in the province since the infamous ruling against funding non-Catholics in Catholic schools.

  • [] “Calling Bullshit”: Watch Lectures for the College Course Designed to Combat the BS in our Information Age

    “Calling Bullshit” is a course that was offered at the University of Washington by Carl Bergstrom and Jevin West, and it’s available online in the form of a YouTube playlist. I haven’t watched it all yet, but what I’ve seen so far has been excellent. It seems to be all about “new-school” bullshit specifically – bullshit via data, figures, and charts (as opposed to “old-school” bullshit which is just flamboyant verbiage) – and how to spot it.

  • [] Quebec psychiatrists call for new approach for radicalized, mentally ill patients

    It’s no secret to the people who study radicalized fundamentalists that there is a mental health component. That’s not to say that every religious extremist is mentally ill; it’s just that being mentally ill makes one extremely susceptible to radicalization by religious extremists. What’s being suggested here is a difficult balance – on the one hand, it would be wonderful if society was empowered to be able to identify early signs of dangerous mental health issues that could lead to violent extremism, but on the other we should be very wary of giving anyone the power to lock up anyone up just because they’re acting peculiar.

  • [] Manitoba bill aims to protect staff unwilling to offer assisted death

    Just last week there was an item praising the Ontario legislature for doing the right thing in requiring effective referral if a doctor does not want to provide medical assistance in dying… this week we have Manitoba doing the exact opposite, and for no real reason to boot, because the protections they’re promising already exist.

  • [] No more religious exemptions: Montreal is taxing churches

    The headline is misleading; what Montréal is actually doing is taxing any church owned property that isn’t actually being used for religious purposes. Churches are still tax-free, but the logic is that they should only enjoy that benefit if and only if they’re actually being used for religion. If only one room on the church’s property is used for religious services, then all the other rooms do not deserve the religious tax exemption, the reasoning goes.

  • [] “Finding freedom: ​3 Alberta women on leaving the Mormon church”(Audio: 27:30)

    Three Albertan ex-Mormon women talk about what it was like being in the cult, sorry, religion, and what it felt like leaving it.

  • [] Famous Canadian Ice Road Melts for the Last Time

    More depressing climate news; the iconic ice road to northern communities is the latest casualty. The loss of the ice road is tragic enough on its own, but it the real tragedy is how it might effect northern communities.

  • [] Saskatchewan government appealing ruling on Catholic school funding

    No shocks here; Wall is still going through with using the notwithstanding clause, but he’s also going to file an appeal at the same time.

  • [] How one Montreal church became popular again by reaching out to LGBT community

    Religious apologists love to blame secular society, weaker morals, shorter attention spans… basically everything… for the crashing number of religious people in Canada. What they rarely put the blame on, despite how obvious it seems, and despite the fact that poll after poll confirms it as the major factor, is their own bigotry. Here is an example of the rare church that eschewed bigotry, and how they’ve managed to thrive because of it.

  • [] Trudeau to ask Pope to apologize over residential schools

    I don’t have high hopes on it panning out, but Trudeau has pledged to ask the Pope to issue an apology for residential schools when he meets him on his trip. While I’d love to see that happen, I still don’t think it makes the trip to Vatican City worth it.

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6 thoughts on “Weekly Update: to

  1. •[16-May-2017] No more religious exemptions: Montreal is taxing churches

    This being Canada our laws are based on English Common Law which has always granted tax free status to religious organizations. I actually don’t know if the same rules were followed in other European countries, but I think it’s pretty safe to assume so.

    Taxation per se has never really been the issue. The real issue has always been accountability. When England had a king as the ultimate authority, rather than parliament, then everyone was ultimately accountable for their actions to him.

    In the United Stated their constitution is designed so that everyone is accountable to the people as a whole, at least that was the original intention. Of course this has never gone down well with the religious, since they want ultimate accountability to be to *their* God.

    Actually, in Canada, I’m not sure who we as citizens are legally supposed to be ultimately accountable to. At any rate the point I’m trying to make is about the importance of ACCOUNTABILITY, which of course means to whom and by what mechanism. In Canada any organization which can qualify as a religious one (I have no idea who does the qualifying) does not have to report anything to the CRA. As far as I know there are no other groups or individuals in Canada who enjoy this remarkable privilege and of course I have never seen any possible justification for this privilege. For this reason I classify all such organizations as criminal for evading taxes to which everyone else functioning in Canada is subject to.

    • I wished I understood this issue better. I don’t. Quebec is under Civil Law which was created by Bonaparte, I believe. The rest of us are under Common Law which is all about precedence, I also believe.

      There are also worse things than tax exemptions. The Federal Government, since Trudeau the elder, matches church charitable donations dollar for dollar. This had the uncomfortable consequence of Canadian tax dollars funding the construction of facilities in Rwanda where a great genocide was orchestrated.

  2. “one would think that non-religion would be welcomed. But we have generally done a tragically bad job of extending a hand to them”

    This is ridiculous. Nobody extended a hand to me. I came to my conclusions like I’m sure most of us did… by using my brain.

    And believe me, if THIS website was going to be the deciding factor in whether I was going to be atheist or not, I’d have run screaming back to the church.

  3. “A valid question”

    You have not had Persian food.

  4. “we should be very wary of giving anyone the power to lock up anyone up just because they’re acting peculiar”

    Indeed, we already know that in the cases of genuine mental illness, this prevents precisely the people who need help from getting the care we need them to get.

    Just like church and state, we need to put a firewall between shrink and cop, and we need to make even involuntary treatment as legitimately appealing as possible, so that people will not view it as a risk they cannot take.

  5. “the rare church that eschewed bigotry, and how they’ve managed to thrive because of it”

    This isn’t good news. It legitimizes the Christian message, and if anyone looks into it, they will find the Bible, and if they look into THAT they’ll find the older or oldest texts, and discover a church that is lying to them. This is the surest way to either atheism or fundamentalism.

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