Wondering What Belief System Suits You Best? Try the Spiritual Belief System Selector!

Unsure which belief system suits you? No? Well, the Spiritual Belief System Selector is an interesting quiz anyway. From the site:

How could a 20 question quiz that includes just over 2 dozen belief systems possibly work for everyone? Well, given that there are thousands of nuanced religions and faith groups and countless individual beliefs, you are right – it is impossible.

That said, we took our research for this selector seriously and strived to be as accurate as possible. We included the beliefs with the greatest number of adherents. Most visitors have found it fun, informative and often revealing.Note: When doctrine wasn’t available, we looked at the predominant views of the belief system’s adherents. Please share your comments by becoming a member of SelectSmart.com.

Go ahead and give it a try!

Here are my top 5:

  1. Secular Humanism (100%)
  2. Non-theist (85%)
  3. Unitarian Universalism (80%)
  4. Liberal Quakers – Religious Society of Friends (62%)
  5. Theravada Buddhism (48%)

Here are my bottom 5:

  1. Orthodox Judaism (8%)
  2. Roman Catholic (8%)
  3. Seventh Day Adventist (8%)
  4. Hinduism (0%)
  5. Jehovahs Witness (0%)

h/t Sastra via WEIT

Which is worse, being Christian or being Conservative?

Just this week, the Angus Reid Institute released an interesting survey about Canadian attitudes toward the European refugee/migrant crisis. Most of the results really weren’t all that surprising. Canadians support intervention to help the refugees by a slim margin (54%), though that support comes mostly from voters leaning Liberal and NDP – 63% of Conservative supporters show a complete lack of empathy. There was, however, one interesting surprise in the data.

Canada has a very complicated history of accepting refugees, but one that is, on the whole, pretty positive. Older Canadians might remember the “Vietnamese boat people” crisis – people fleeing the Vietnam War and its aftermath (and not just Vietnamese, some were fleeing Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and Laos). The current crisis is an almost perfect echo of that. Then, as now, Western countries were slow to respond. At first they simply turned away refugees and sent them back, usually to die in labour camps. Uncounted thousands died at sea, or were murdered by pirates. Then, as now, the Canadian government at first responded with an overwhelming “meh”.

But that changed when a powerful grassroots movement forced Pierre Trudeau to take action, and Canada ended up taking over 200,000 new immigrants. The result is now considered a landmark historical humanitarian triumph, and a source of Canadian national pride. Unsurprisingly, people are already urging for a repeat of that history (part 1 of that story segment). (And the deaths of Alan and Ghalib Kurdi may be the tragedy needed to force action.)

Canadians’ responses to the current crisis fall quite predictably in line with their preferred party:

Angus Reid survey 2015-09-04: chart-should-canada-take-refugees-by-party-preference

No surprises there. Harper’s message on the situation has been that the refugees are probably harbouring terrorists, and even for the legitimate refugees fleeing war and destruction, we can fix that problem by bombing their home countries more. It’s only natural that his supporters would echo the sentiment.

There was a rather depressing finding that it is mostly older Canadians who are following the story – younger Canadians don’t seem to care all that much. But that’s not the finding I found most interesting.

In addition to party lines, ARI also asked respondents whether they were a “practising Christian”, a “non-practising Christian”, or have “no religious identity”. (These were the only options respondents were given, as far as I’m aware.) This part is entirely unsurprising: Shock of shocks, the Conservative party is heavily Christian, with the Liberals only moderately Christian, and the NDP even less so:

Angus Reid survey 2015-09-04: chart-party-preference-by-religious-affiliation

But here’s where it gets interesting. ARI pulled out all the Conservative supporters, asked them some key questions, and then charted them according to their religious affiliation. Here is the somewhat surprising result:

Angus Reid survey 2015-09-04: chart-conservative-support-for-refugees-by-religious-affiliation

That’s right: Among Conservative Party supporters, the more Christian you are, the more humane and empathetic your position is with respect to the crisis. Another option not in the chart above was “Canada should do nothing”. 25% of practising Christians agreed with that… and 37% of “nones” (and 30% of “non-practising Christians”).

In other words, at least among Conservative Party supporters, the “nones” are the assholes. The people that actually care are the Christians. My head spins.

The reason why this is so shocking is that usually when these types of surveys are done, it’s pretty much a rote result that higher religiosity correlates to decreased empathy for others. We’ve all seen tons of studies that show that the non-religious just care more about other people, and are more willing to acknowledge and respect their individuality, humanity, and dignity. I would have bet big money that the results of this survey would have been the exact opposite: that any empathy for the refugees that exists within the Conservative fan base would come from the “nones”. Colour me surprised.

The key difference may be that this is a rare instance where – unlike LGBTQ issues, or women’s issues – the religion itself has nothing specific to say on the topic. It’s more or less up to individuals to decide what action they think Canada should take.

The result raises several intriguing questions. The standard narrative among nonbelievers is that giving up religion tends to make you more attuned to and interested in “worldly matters”, including your fellow humans, which thus tends to make you more empathetic and more progressive: atheism → empathy → progressivism. But what if that’s all wrong? What if the reality is that empathy doesn’t come from being atheist at all? What if the idea that atheism tends to lead to humanism is entirely specious?

In fact, what if it’s the other way around entirely? What if being empathetic and inclined to humanism leads you to recognized the evils wrought by religion, and that is what creates atheists? That would have unnerving implications. Atheists prefer to identify the source of their atheism as reason, not emotion. On the other hand, it would explain why atheists who came by their atheism by other means – not via humanism – could seem like a different species altogether. It could explain why there are such deep divides between the “empathy atheists” – those that came by and associate their atheism with humanism and empathy, and thus consider social justice the paramount issue – and the “academic atheists” – those that came by and associate their atheism with purely logical processes, and thus who consider advancing and protecting science (and debunking pseudoscience) as the paramount.

Obviously we can’t draw any conclusions from a single result in a single non-peer-reviewed survey that was only tangential to the main aim of the survey. Clearly more study is needed before we can take any of these speculations seriously. But that doesn’t mean we can’t let these results give us pause, or that we can’t consider their implications.

At the very least, they seem to suggest this much: When someone identifies as a “Conservative Christian”, the most worrisome part of that might not actually be the “Christian” part.

Election Dos and Don’ts for Churches

The Church for Vancouver has published “Guidelines for Church Engagement in Elections” on its website. The guidelines are a shorter version of the 25 page Election Kit prepared by the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC).

While the EFC Election Kit  includes

A Call to Prayer; Understanding Canadian Elections; and Tips for Holding an All Candidates’ Meeting,

“Guidelines for Church Engagement in Elections” warns,

Whether it is federal, provincial, municipal or school board elections, your church can participate in the democratic process.

However, given that many churches are registered with the Canada Revenue Agency as charities with the ability to issue income tax receipts, there are certain considerations and policies that must be considered. The government has set out specific guidelines that outline the allowable political activities of charities.

and goes on to list what churches can do and what churches cannot do.

Churches can

get to know the candidates, pray for them, and ask about issues of interest or concern. It is highly beneficial for members to become involved in the electoral process and to vote.

invite all candidates to speak at the same event or service where the church meets. Churches can also organize an all-candidates’ debate.

provide information on issues of interest or concern that flow from biblical teaching, as long as the church does not link its views to any party or candidate.

Churches cannot

Invite candidates to speak at different times, or at separate events or services.

Promote or oppose any one (or more) candidate or political party.

Post signs for a candidate or political party on church property.

Endorse a candidate or party from the pulpit.

Highlight or publish how one particular party or candidate voted on a given issue.

Distribute literature for any one candidate or party.

Encourage its members to vote for a particular candidate or party.

Link its views on issues of concern with those of a particular party or candidate.

Collect a church offering for a political candidate or a political party.

The “Guidelines” add this reminder:

Churches that engage in prohibited activities such as partisan politics can face deregistration and lose their charitable status.

If only a few churches would get caught and disciplined for engaging in prohibited activities, that would be great from an atheist perspective. However, don’t depend on this happening. As Douglas Todd says in his Vancouver Sun article,

No church, gurdwara or mosque wants to lose its charitable tax status, which is what could happen (emphasize could, since I’ve rarely heard of it) if Revenue Canada finds a religious group to be directly supporting a political party or candidate. So far Revenue Canada has mainly targeted environmental and left-wing non-profits for tax audits.

On its Twitter account, BC Humanists called attention to Todd’s Vancouver Sun article and asked,

What do you think of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada’s guidelines for church political activities?


voted in a church for the 2011 fed election. Election signs not allowed, but the church posted anti-choice propoganda all over.

BC Humanists’ reply to Chilliwack Atheist shows the question had a purpose:

Let us know if that happens again. Studies have suggested polling stations effect voting behavior too.

BC Humanists is correct; polling stations can affect voting behavior. The abstract to Abraham Rutchick’s article, “Deus Ex Machina: The Influence of Polling Place on Voting Behavior” points out

Voting is perceived as free and rational. Citizens make whatever choices they wish, shielded from external influences by the privacy of the voting booth. The current paper, however, suggests that a subtle source of influence—polling places themselves—can impact voting behavior. In two elections, people voting in churches were more likely to support a conservative candidate and a ban on same-sex marriage, but not the restriction of eminent domain.

So if you vote at a polling station in a church on October 19, watch for anti-choice propaganda or any other religious propaganda and let Canadian Atheist or BC Humanists know about it.

Will the Real monks please stand up

When is a monk not a monk?

When he scares the tourists?

Mills said that when people refuse to donate, the monks often grab their wrists and force red beaded bracelets on them. He said if people are unwillingly grabbed, these actions can be considered assault. On Aug. 12, police arrested 51-year-old Zongyin Wang for mischief interfering with enjoyment of property. On Aug. 19, he was arrested again near the CN Tower for breaching his conditions.

Unwillingly grabbed by a monk? Yeah that’s the Catholic Church’s turf, damn multiculturalism, immagrints is takin er jerbs!

Faith Based Bigotry Exposed by TV President

I’ve been lax about writing here lately due to the perfect storm of allergies and unsettled weather that have been making all my regular health conditions worse.

So, I thought I’d at least share this little gem that nicely complements the CFI Jesus message at the Ottawa Pride 2015. It comes from Occupy Democrats’ Facebook page and uses the Kim Davis fiasco as a way to illustrate how Christians cherry pick the bible. This one is nice because it shows how much secularism has tamed Christianity.

Here is the video: How to Silence Kim Davis Supporters.


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