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BC Budget continues faith school giveaway

Humanists are disappointed that today's provincial budget continues the multimillion dollar giveaway to independent faith schools across the province.

Budget 2018 estimates that independent schools across BC will receive over $425 million in public funding for 2018/19.

Independent schools across BC can qualify for up to 50% of the per-student funding as neighbouring public schools. The majority of independent schools that receive this funding are religious. 

These include schools that "teach creation in science class", prioritize students on the basis of whether they can speak in tongues and ones that discriminate against LGBTQ2+ families.

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February 19, 2018 Newsletter

On Saturday, thirteen happy Humanists helped sort donations at the Vancouver Food Bank for three hours.

On Friday, our Humanist Chaplain from Kwantlen University Polytechnic Dr Marty Shoemaker and his ex-wife spoke to fourth graders at Stratford Hall.

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Happy (belated) Darwin Day - Feb 13, 2018 Newsletter

Yesterday was Darwin Day, the anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and a chance to reflect on the theory of evolution.

While we didn't participate in formal celebrations in BC this year, one event that caught my eye was a Darwin Day lecture in Pittsburgh. At this lecture, Princeton emeritus professors Peter and Rosemary Grant discussed their research into how Darwin's finches are continuing to develop and evolve. Their research found that some new species evolved in as few as three generations!

As I told Gurpreet Singh on SpiceFM over the weekend, the theory of evolution is alive and a vibrant area of study.

But it's also under threat from religious fundamentalists in India and Turkey, despite the victories we achieved in BC in the 1990s.

Let me know if there's something we should do next year to stand up for evolution and to celebrate Darwin Day 2019.

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Millennials abandon hope for religion but revere human rights

By Galen Watts, Queen's University, Ontario

A sea change in the religious landscape of Canada is underway. Led by millennials, Canada is increasingly moving towards a secular culture. “Spiritual but not religious” has become our new normal.

A 2015 Angus Reid poll found 39 per cent of Canadians identify as “spiritual but not religious.” Another 27 per cent identify as “neither religious nor spiritual;” 24 per cent as “religious and spiritual;” and 10 per cent as “religious but not spiritual.”

What sparked this dramatic change in beliefs and self-identification? And what does it mean for the future of Canadian society?

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O Canada becomes more inclusive

The BC Humanist Association welcomes news that Canada's national anthem is now officially gender neutral.

The Senate passed bill C-210 yesterday, officially changing the line "in all thy sons command" to "in all of us command." The bill now awaits Royal Assent before becoming law.

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Looking back on the Abbotsford creationism battles

All schools and Provincial schools must be conducted on strictly secular and non-sectarian principles. The highest morality must be inculcated, but no religious dogma or creed is to be taught in a school or Provincial school.

This section of British Columbia's School Act was written in 1876 and is, as far as I know, unique in Canada for explicitly establishing the school system as secular.

Nevertheless, it was in Abbotsford, BC where the biggest controversy over teaching creationism in Canadian science classes occurred. Today, we're re-publishing Melissa Story's four part series on Creationism in Canada that tells that story.

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What's changed in one year? - Jan 29, 2018 Newsletter

Ibrahima Barry, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Aboubaker Thabti, Abdelkrim Hassane and Azzedine Soufiane.

One year ago today a man walked into a Quebec Mosque and shot and killed these six people and injured another nineteen.

After the shooting, I wrote in our newsletter: "Now more than ever the world needs an impassioned defence of compassion, human rights and secularism. The world needs Humanism."

As we reflect on one of the worst shootings in Canadian history, I'm thinking about what's changed, what's still the same and what's gotten worse.

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Barriers for Humanist refugees - Jan 22, 2018 Newsletter

As a Humanist, Hamza bin Walayat fled Pakistan for the UK fearing that he could face execution or vigilante attacks for his "apostasy."

The UK Home Office recently denied Walayat's asylum application, however, as they claim he couldn't identify Plato and Aristotle as Greek Humanist philosophers and that he contradicted himself by saying Humanism both is and isn't a religion.

The case is frankly baffling. While Greek philosophers laid the groundwork for Humanism in Europe, it's hardly the only path to freethought. Similarly, whether Humanism should be considered a "religion" or not is a philosophical and semantic question; it's not a sensible basis to reject a refugee application. There's more information about the case at the International Humanist & Ethical Union and Humanists UK.

What this story highlights is the ever present threat faced by atheists and Humanists in theocratic states around the world. It also shows the importance of programs to support refugees fleeing those situations.

In 2016 we started a process to sponsor a Syrian refugee family to come to Canada. That application is still working its way through the bureaucracy. We're hopeful that we can welcome those people to Vancouver later this year.

But we're just one small organization with neither the resources nor the capacity to meet the demand. Luckily, we're not alone and this recent feature in The Atlantic discusses some of the other important work being done.

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Humanists support Canada Summer Job funding requirement

The BC Humanist Association has launched a petition in support of new application requirements for the Government of Canada's Canada Summer Jobs program.

The program provides wage subsidies to employers to hire high school and post-secondary students. The new policy requires applicants to attest that neither the job nor the employer's "core mandate" are contrary to human rights, including reproductive rights and the rights of transgender Canadians.

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City of Vancouver urged to ban homophobic conversion therapy

The BC Humanist Association urges the City of Vancouver to adopt a recommendation from the City's LGBTQ2+ Advisory Committee to prohibit "conversion therapy" within the city.

According to Xtra, the committee's recommendation passed unanimously in November and calls for the city to amend a licensing bylaw to prohibit any services that "purport to alter an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity."

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