August 25th newsletter roundup

Through our weekly newsletter, we like to let you know about our upcoming events as well as a number of issues and campaigns that we think might be of interest to you. Let me know if you have any suggestions to include in future roundups. Email:

And for the latest news items, be sure to like the BC Humanists on Facebook and follow @BCHumanist on Twitter.

First off, welcome to our new website! Ian Bushfield, our executive director, has been working at it for the past week and was able to launch it on Friday. It has a lot of exciting, new features to help us keep in touch with you and it should also look much better on your phones and iPads. Let us know what you think about it. IMHO, it is a huge improvement over our previous website. Kudos to Ian for an excellent (and incredibly speedy) job well done.

On Sunday, August 23rd, David Beattie dragooned some of the 40 audience members in attendance to read aloud paragraphs of an article by Chris Hedges entitled The Lonely American. The article drives home the increasingly serious problem of social isolation and loss of social capital in modern Western democracies, particularly in the US.  It turned out to be a fairly controversial topic with a very lively discussion involving a larger than usual fraction of the audience following the main presentation.

Upcoming Sunday Meetings


Join us at 10:00 am for BYO coffee, tea, and socializing. Please help us welcome all attendees by introducing yourself and asking about themselves (if you are comfortable doing that). We want all attendees (and especially first-timers) to feel super welcome and part of our Humanist community. At 10:30 am we start our presentation. The meetings take place at the Oakridge Seniors' Centre at the West side of the Oakridge Mall at 41st and Cambie. There is a Canada Line station which exits right into the mall.

On Sunday, 30 August, 2015, Ian Bushfield will update us on the progress of Humanism and Skepticism in the UK and Europe.

The Oakridge Seniors Centre will be closed for cleaning on 6 Sept 2015 and 13 Sept 2015 so there will be no Sunday Meetings on those dates.

On Sunday September 13th, we will have our annual picnic at the Peace Arch Park with Humanists from Blaine and Bellingham, Washington, USA. See our page for details on how to get to and what to bring to this event.

On Sunday, 20 September, 2015, Arie Ross of the Dogwood Initiative's No Coal Port Project will be speaking on her organization's efforts to prevent government approval for a project to build a Coal Port for US Coal to be shipped to Asian markets.  This project has only downsides for the people of BC and for the global warming crisis and no upsides.

Check out the BCHA Vancouver Meetup page for more details on the meetings mentioned above and for what we have lined up into October. Also, please RSVP there, so that Meetup members have an idea of how many people usually attend these meetings. Please be aware that while we do our best to ensure that the scheduled programs go ahead, there are no guarantees and last minute changes may be necessary due to circumstances beyond our control.

Vancouver BC Humanist Association Book Club

The next (September) book club selection is The Meaning of Human Existence by Edward O. Wilson. The September book club meeting will be on Tuesday, 1 September 2015 at 7pm. At this meeting, we will decide on the book for the November meeting.

The October book club selection is Harperism by Professor Donald Gutstein. The October book club meeting will be on Tuesday, 6 October, 2015.

At each meeting we decide on the book to be discussed two months hence in order to allow plenty of time for everyone to acquire a copy of and read the book.

Book clubs are held at Kirsten and Goldis' home in the Dunbar area on the first Tuesday of every month at 7 PM.

Other groups

Check out the Vancouver Skeptic's calendar of events that might be of interest to Skeptics, Humanists, and Atheists.

If you're curious about what some of the other Humanist organizations around the country are up to, Atheist Republic has an excellent article on the dangers of using religious offence as a justification for suppressing the right to freely criticize religious dogma.

Check out this excellent newsletter from the Humanists, Atheists, and Agnostics of Manitoba (HAAM). Better yet, sign up for it.

The Victoria Secular Humanist Association also publishes an excellent newsletter.

Farther up the Fraser Valley, in Abbotsford and Chilliwack, our affiliates in the Fraser Valley Atheists and Secular Humanists are building a non-religious community in the province's "Bible Belt".

Humanist Canada is the voice of Humanism at the national level and helps to amplify the efforts of the various Humanist groups around the country. 

Comments, Questions, or Suggestions relating to the newsletter

As always, you can contact me at Please pass this newsletter on to any friends or acquaintances who might be interested and ask them to click here to subscribe.

If you have an idea for a Sunday meeting topic or wish to give a presentation, let me know.

Philosophy Dinners


Glen Brauer is the coordinator of Philosophy Dinners. These events take place in restaurant around the world and the intention of these events is to have meaningful conversations with strangers in order to build community.

Admission to these events is $5 per person which must be paid online via their Philosophy Dinners Meetup website. PLEASE NOTE that cash is not accepted at the door since ALL attendees are required to join the Meetup group and to sign up for events online (no exceptions). Click here for details about the program and specifics about coming meet-ups:



On Tuesday, we joined the International Humanist & Ethical Union and hundreds of other organizations, bloggers, free speech campaigners and others in a letter to the president and prime minister of Bangladesh calling for action to tackle the continued violence against Humanist bloggers in that country. Freedom of expression is under attack and it's time our own government took a stand against Islamist violence. 


Closer to home, on Wednesday we highlighted the dangerous influence religion is having in BC schools. Some of the schools with the lowest HPV vaccination rates in the Fraser Health Region are Christian independent schools that receive public funding. CBC has an article with more coverage.


The BC Supreme Court began hearings yesterday into whether Trinity Western University should be allowed to open a law school that would only allow straight Christians. We opposed the school when it was proposed and we will continue to oppose it.  It is past time to put push back such ongoing attempts by religious organizations to exempt themselves from the anti-discrimination and civil rights laws which apply to the rest of Canadian society.


Earth Overshoot day is the day when global demand for ecological resources and services exceeds what the earth can restore in a year. It keeps moving closer to January, this year falling on August 13th, 2015.


Please sign the petition to the Thai government to drop charges against Andy Hall. Hall is facing $11 million in damages and 7 years in prison for exposing slave-labour conditions and worker abuse in the Pineapple industry. Worldwide consumer petitions can have an effect in cases like this. 


Evidence for Democracy is holding an online webinar today (August 25th, 2015) at 8pm on how to make science and evidence based policy making an election issue. 


There has finally been an arrest in the ongoing spate of murders of atheist bloggers in Bangladesh. Bangladeshi authorities arrested a jihadist suspected in planning the murders of Humanist writers Avijit Roy and Ananta Bijoy Das. The death toll from the methodical execution of Humanist and atheist writers and bloggers from an openly published hit list has reached 4. 


Please consider signing this petition from ForestEthics Advocacy demanding regulation and inspection of railroad systems transporting hazardous materials through populated and environmentally sensitive areas.


Please consider helping with the BC Civil Liberty Association's legal campaign to end second-class citizenship. Under recent legislation, over a third of Canadian citizens, including many born in Canada, could have their citizenship revoked and face deportation.


Please consider signing this petition to demand an end to the murder of Mexican journalists for the "crime" of doing their jobs.  Petitions like this can be effective in countries like Mexico where tourism revenue is a Big Deal.


I couldn't resist adding this one.   It is a nice follow-up on the free will discussion of 9 Aug 2015


Wayne Ross has an interesting, if disheartening, column in Vancouver Observer on the allegations of bullying, intimidation, and harassment by senior administration at UBC. This follows the unexplained departure of Arvind Gupta as President of the University.


Vancouver's Adopt-A-Block Program is a worthwhile volunteer opportunity for people with a bit of spare time. Put on your BC Humanist t-shirt and help keep a piece of Vancouver clean and safe. 

Here is a hilarious episode of Mr. Deity making fun of the recent series of "gotcha" videos made by the US Christian fascist groups aiming to defund Planned Parenthood.


President Jimmy Carter spends what are likely his last days of life pushing for progress in one of his more achievable projects for human progress. "I'd like to see the last guinea worm die before I do." He is truly one of the greatest statesmen and humanitarians of the world.


If you've noticed the air is getting hazy and harder to breathe of late, here is a story about the proximate cause of the problem.  For those who love to base their decisions as to what to believe on anecdotes, this should be another small push in the direction of accepting the science of climate change. Yet another "Hell Storm" wildfire, this time in Washington State near Spokane.


Keep October 2nd to 4th in mind for the SFU Institute for the Humanities' conference on Death Ideologies and Culture - The legacy of Ernest Becker. This promises to be an interesting series of talks over the one evening and two days of the conference on a topic with which all of us will need to come to terms, some of us sooner than others.

Hmmm... maybe this isn't the most cheery note on which to end this blog.  :)

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