“Faith Under Attack in Canada?”

The full title of the April 1, Christian Today article is “Faith Under Attack in Canada? Religious Leaders Think So.” So there you have it: asked and answered. However, it seems that only one religious leader, (with testimony from a lawyer, André Schutten: “bought & owned by Christ”) answered the question: Charles McVety. That’s typical because whenever a group of Christian religious leaders gather together to whine and complain, McVety is among them.

It is a waste of time and space to list the examples McVety uses to plead his case.They are the same old, same old complaints of a Christian with a persecution complex.

André Schutten who “has the mandate of equipping the Reformed Christian community for political action on a broad range of issues,” cites “laws that ‘restrict or curtail the religious freedom of Canadians.'”

Today is a good day to examine McVety’s and Schutten’s complaints because today is Good Friday or Pious Friday, a statutory holiday in most Canadian provinces and territories. On Good Friday, the government restricts or curtails the freedom of Canadians by requiring banks, schools, government offices and large retail stores, among others, to close.

According to Wikipedia, “Some governments have laws prohibiting certain acts that are seen as profaning the solemn nature of the day.” If this surprises you, then you will also be surprised to discover that Canada has a blasphemy law.

So far, Canadian Christians like McVety and Schutten are using a UK publication to complain about the “attacks” on Christianity, but as long as Section 296: Blasphemous Libel, remains on Canada’s Criminal Code, McVety and Schutten could act on their threat:

“While other groups are being granted more and more rights, we’ve been losing ours. We are saying enough is enough. We cannot be silent anymore.”


Many legal opinions seem to suggest that a successful application of blasphemous libel is unlikely. Repeatedly, however, lawyers have indicated that this law is “sleeping, not dead”.

it is time to remove Section 296 from Canada’s Criminal Code.

Unsettling Settlement

The news in the National Post article, “Former Catholic School Student’s Complaints of Homophobia Settled Just Before Human Rights Hearing,” is unsettling. Christopher Karas is the

former Catholic high school student who was set to appear before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal Wednesday with allegations of homophobia and discrimination at his alma mater has settled his case.

Yesterday, April 1, Eric Adriaans told Canadian Atheist readers, “Christopher [Karas] has informed me that his court appearances start today.” However, Karas did not inform Adriaans that, at the last minute, he decided to accept a settlement.

Yes, a decision from Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (HRTO) may have taken a long time and the Tribunal may not have ruled in Karas’s favour, but the school board, Conseil Scolaire de District Catholique Centre-Sud, obviously didn’t want to take that chance. It offered Karas a “‘favourable'” settlement and Karas is pleased:

“I’m very happy that this has come to a resolution. I think that it was really important that we raise awareness and I think we really have seen that over the last year.”

He hopes his case has set a precedent for other students seeking to form clubs under the Accepting Schools Act at their own schools.

Karas’s case has not set a precedent for other students seeking to form clubs under the Accepting Schools Act at their own schools.  A settlement is a weak precedent; an HRTO decision in Karas’s favour would have been more effective in forcing Ontario publicly funded Catholic schools to conform to Accepting Schools Act.

In a statement to Daily Xtra, Karas says,

“I think it’s really important that we raise these issues and also that we come to a resolution. I think we’ve done that today.”

No we haven’t; Conseil Scolaire de District Catholique Centre-Sud used taxpayer dollars to make Karas’s case go away. This issue will not be resolved until other students who are exposed to homophobia and discrimination take their publicly-funded Catholic school all the way to a Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

A Long Time Ago, In A Scientific Field Far, Far Away . . . (Part II)

Guest post by Sebastian Thaci



First, I submitted the post “A Long Time Ago, In A Scientific Field Far, Far Away . . .,” and then I found a justificatory article written by Angus Reid and published almost at the same time as the results of the poll on religion and faith in Canada today.

As I understand science; a gold standard (in this case the survey which is the most randomized and the least biased) should be replaced with another one if it becomes impractical. Never mind that we should continuously look for improved “gold” standards.

These polls are published and everybody assumes they are scientifically sound (after all, they are plastered all over the media) while Reid himself admits,

with the exception of governments with their enormous resources for projects (think the monthly labour market study), few studies carried out by commercial research firms today come close to achieving true random samples. (my emphasis)

This is exactly what I argued in my review of this new religion poll – no randomization, no value. Reid agrees with me – his poll is worthless, but it’s the only one he can do, so it’s OK. From Reid’s article I get the feeling that polling as a science has gone backwards, not forwards. At the very least it is dubious.

To be fair, though, the poll is not completely worthless. It is worthless for all of Canada, but maybe less so for the Angus Reid Forum members (I will assume all of them, but again, I cannot be sure, because we are not told which responders were eliminated and why). It might also say something about the organizations and sponsors behind it.

If I try to approximate how the respondents might have understood the questions, I can say that the aspect I like the most is that the “ambivalent” category feels guilty they don’t get more involved in religion: that, and the fact that Canadians manifest “consternation” towards under-18-sex.

I also love the fact that a full 92% of the embracers of religion believe that Jesus was the ‘Divine Son of God.’ That means that 92% of the embracers were devout Christians. Where are the Muslim, Hindu, Jew, Sikh, etc. embracers of religion?

But wait, there are more surprises: 63% of the rejecters of religion think that Pope Francis has a positive impact on the world! Maybe the poll was taken before the “don’t insult my mother or I’ll punch you” and “you can slap your kids, but don’t take their dignity” comments, not to mention the Pope’s position on condoms for poor women in underdeveloped countries. And finally, the “the ambivalent middle”embrace the Pope at “a rather astonishing” 78%.

I think I finally get it (I am so slow!): this poll has an astonishing 90% chance of being conservatively funded, and a consternating 75% chance of being Catholic funded.

I might be off by 4-5%, but it does not matter – there is no gold standard anymore…

Introducing Secular Lynx

Secular LinksShawn announces the launch of Secular Lynx, a new and welcome addition to the Canadian blogsphere:

Welcome. My name is Shawn and this blog, the Secular Lynx, is designed to be a secular news portal. My immediate goal for this site is to be a single location to find information about secularism in Canada. Get bulletins that link you to where the story is developing.


How will I do this? I am monitoring other blogs and forums that provide Canadian news and linking to them with a short summary. Right now I do not plan to provide extensive commentary.


Why am I doing this? Because I cannot find one place that covers most Canadian news. There are many great sources of Canadian news, and great discussion. But they are full blogs that require you to step through lots of other great content. But I cannot read them all. I want to link out to those from here so if you are interested in the state of play in Canada you can find that here, and look through the archives here to catch up on stories. Now, I have my own resource. I can know that the stories will be listed here going forward, and can use this to find sources and discussion on other sites.


I intend this site to be a one stop shop for looking up and keeping up with Canadian news on religious privilege, religious discrimination, and building a society based on equity and reason.


How you can help:

*Read these stories

*Share these stories (or the stories I link to) to raise awareness in Canada

*Send in news tips and links to Shawn@cohumanists.ca

*Volunteer to be a contributor to this site by monitoring sources


And finally, you can follow me on Twitter and like Secular Lynx on Facebook. If you are a WordPress user, follow on WordPress.

Shawn monitors Canadian Atheist and links to selected posts. Thank you Shawn!

Aisyah Tajuddin: Blasphemy’s latest victim?

2015 has been a terrible, appalling year so far.  In just a few short months, brave outspoken people have been attacked, tortured and murdered time after time around the world.  The list of names, unfortunately, continues to grow.

Aisyah Tajuddin is a journalist with an independent radio station in Malaysia who is facing rape and death threats and investigation by policy for blasphemy – all this, according to The Independent, due to an outspoken video critical of a political party’s proposals.  In other words – something Rick Mercer or the crew at This Hour Has 22 Minutes might do without a second thought.

I’ve said that this has been a terrible, appalling year – and clearly I meant that in relation to the issue of blasphemy laws and punishments that have broken into my awareness….and inevitably, I asked myself if it was possible that 2015 has been no different than any other year excepting that I’m paying attention to blasphemy laws this year when I honestly hadn’t given the issue specific ongoing scrutiny in the past.

Is 2015 so very different?

The Independent article seems to offer a hint that 2015 is actually different in Malaysia:

29 people have been arrested or investigated under the law so far in 2015, compared to 23 in the whole of 2014, according to Amnesty International.

On the same page as the article, I found a link to another story with the headline Atheists are being hacked to death in Bangladesh, and soon there will be none left.

Probably the words which I take most seriously and with grave concern in this article by Rory Fenton are in two separate but inseparable paragraphs:

My contact had written for the same blog as Rahman. The message sent by his murder was clear: “This is beyond just insulting the Prophet. They don’t want anyone to question any authority, it doesn’t even have to be insulting; they will silence you”.


Washiqur Rahman was right: words cannot be killed. But a struggling movement can only take so much battering, and Bangladeshi atheism is fighting to survive.

Maybe 2015 is no worse than any other year…and shouldn’t the idea that 2015 isn’t an anomaly be more chilling than the idea that it is?

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