Last August I introduced Secular Connexion Seculair, another Canadian Humanist organization. Well, after recent troubles in CFI Canada, it may be time to revisit what I then dismissed as another group in an already crowded field.
Well a couple weeks ago I received an update from SCS President Doug Thomas, who brings news about their accomplishments to date.
Some time has passed since you reviewed an article about Secular Connexion Séculaire in the K-W Record on canadianatheist.com. Since August 8 we have been active doing the things we set out to do.
Later in August, I spoke to the Liberal Party of Canada caucus regarding our concerns about discrimination in the charitable status regulations in the Income Tax Act and the National Anthem among other things. While this kind of meeting rarely results in immediate action, even if the politicians in question are in power, the people I talked to were surprisingly unaware of our situation and making them aware is a significant step. I note that the recent Liberal policy statement on their website includes a concern that the party needs to recognize the rights of non-believers. No credit claimed, but more voices can sway politicians.
We also emailed every Member of Parliament and every Senator to make them aware of the same issues.
In response to John Baird’s formation of the Office of Religious freedom, we have written him for clarification of his intentions regarding non-believer. This letter (attached) went out just before the winter break in Ottawa, so whether we get a response or not is unknown. The only guarantee is that if we don’t say anything, nothing will happen.
By the way, after investigating charitable status, and receiving a very detailed and reasoned response from one of their people (6 pages – well researched) we have decided not to seek charitable status. Among the limitations this would impose on us are: Lobbying for changes in specific legislation would put the status in jeopardy (e.g. the aforementioned income tax act), and our ability to join and vote in international organizations would be hindered (HC is an associate member of IHEU and has no vote – we want one). We feel that our effectiveness as advocates for atheist rights would be reduced if we were looking over our shoulder to protect our charitable status.
Our activities are now highlighted in the newest iteration of our website on the cycling slides and our new welcoming statement clarifies some issues as well.
I guess we have dragged some old school thinking into the notion that our forum is not really a public media, but a 24/7 plenary session for members:hence the membership fee. Frankly, there are plenty of social media sites out there, including canadianatheist.com that do a fine job of providing open forums. We are looking for the same kind of direction from our membership as one would get from a meeting in a physical locale. Oh yes, we need money too.
As for our comment about not attempting to be a "governing body" for Canadian Humanism, this is a carry over from experiences as a member and director of the Humanist Association of Canada (now HC). A number of people in that organization had a vision that it would act as a central body with local branches. I have no idea whether that is still the case since I left that organization almost a year ago.
In any case, we intend to complement, not duplicate, the activities of other Canadian Humanist groups.
Our contact with local organizations has been spotty, because we adopted the notion that if we actually did something before asking for ongoing support, we would be more credible. That is slowly proving to be true, in the trickling way that atheists support anything in this country.We intend to be much more proactive in our contact with local organizations in the near future.
SCS is definitely not perfect. Our stated goals are somewhat general out of necessity. But, I have no regrets about what we have managed since we started in May of 2011 and I look forward to making further process in 2011.
Thanks for your input and have a great 2012.
Secular Connexion Séculaire
Sounds interesting. I wish them well.
Feel free to give their website a second glance.