Latest Updates

We can dislike the niqab, while still respecting religious freedom

As some would have us believe, Quebec’s Bill 62 doesn’t explicitly mention niqabs or burkas, and anyway, such face coverings are cultural and not religious. Therefore, we’re told, that the renewed debate about the niqab and freedom of religion is completely unnecessary.

If only that were so.

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Humanists launch petition for nonreligious human rights protections

The BC Humanist Association launched a petition today calling on the Government of BC to add "nonreligion" to the provincial Human Rights Code as a protected class.

The Government of BC is in the process of re-establishing a Human Rights Commission and is consulting on what changes should be made to BC's human rights laws.

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#MeToo and Humanist Compassion - Oct 16, 2017 Newsletter

If you're on Facebook or Twitter, you've probably seen a number of people posting "Me Too" over the past 24 hours.

The campaign, started by actor Alyssa Milano, asks people who've been sexually harassed or assaulted to simply say "me too." Hundreds of thousands of people, mostly women but also some men and gender non-binary people, have since spoken up and many have shared their stories.

I've been lucky to not face the unwanted looks, comments or gropes that so many of my friends and acquaintances have. And I've thankfully never been in a situation where I was afraid that someone wouldn't take no for no.

But I have been reading and listening to these stories. And that makes me think about what I, as a Humanist, can do to promote human flourishing and to defend personal autonomy, which are both denied by this harassment.

As an organization, I am proud to say that our board unanimously adopted a Code of Conduct recently. This document simply sets out that our events should be open and welcoming and free from discrimination and harassment.

I wish we lived in a world where a "me too" campaign or codes of conduct weren't necessary. But instead we live in one where people attending a skeptic conference cheered for a harasser. It's one where I'm nervous about sending this email because I've heard the apologetics for harassment from our own supporters and followers.

But speaking up against injustice is too important. The Humanist movement is built upon progressive values. We must embody them and we must defend them.

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Who will be the doctors of death in a time of assisted dying?

By Craig Goldie, Queen's University, Ontario

Medical assistance in dying (MAID) became a reality in Canada when legislation was passed in July 2016. This is the hastening of death through a lethal dose of medication — either by self-ingestion (assisted suicide) or physician injection (euthanasia).

More than 2,000 Canadians have received MAID, administered by a number of physicians. Few of those doctors are palliative care specialists, who are purposely keeping their distance from MAID to avoid further stigmatization as the physicians of death. They do not want to be associated with treatment failure, or viewed as only providing care to those who have either given up or been deemed hopeless.

This has left MAID without leadership or co-ordination, leading to unequal access and confusion among the public and health-care providers.

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Why does Star Trek work when it warps science?

By Bryan Gaensler, University of Toronto

I’ve been alive for 44 years, and I’ve been watching Star Trek for 44 years.

I was a baby sitting on my father’s lap for re-runs of the original series. I watched Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan at the drive-in. And on I watched, through another 11 films and 624 television episodes, and finally, this month, to the brand new Star Trek: Discovery.

Yes, I’m a Trekkie.

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Religious conservatives vs SOGI education in Langley

The BC Humanist Association today wrote in support of the SOGI 123 resources being adopted by the Langley School Board.

SOGI stands for sexual orientation and gender identity and was created for BC teachers in partnership with the Ministry of Education, the BC Teachers Federation, nine school districts and Out in Schools. It aims to promote LGBTQ-inclusive education.

Religious conservatives and activists who view the curriculum materials as part of a "political cult" have been holding rallies and targeting Langley School District specifically, despite the program being in place in districts across the province and having received support from all levels of government and across the political spectrum.

A rally in support of SOGI 123 is being organized for September 26 by Langley Parents for Inclusivity.

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Over 500 for Humanist Marriage

Four weeks ago we launched our petition calling for the Government of BC to give Humanists equal standing with the many religious groups that are able to perform marriages in the province.

Since then, over 500 people joined our call!

On Thursday, we put those first 500 names in the mail to the Health Minister. We reiterated our simple call: Give Vital Statistics a definition of religion that includes Humanists.

Read our letter.

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Organizations don't have a religion

BCHA submits arguments to the Supreme Court of Canada in TWU law school case

The BC Humanist Association filed our arguments at the Supreme Court of Canada today in two cases over the proposed law school at Trinity Western University.

In our factum, we argue that only individuals, and not organizations, should be able to claim to have religious rights. Canadian courts have repeatedly refused to recognize an organization's religious rights and to do so could open a Pandora's Box of unintended consequences. In the USA, rulings such as Citizen's United and Hobby Lobby have resulted in a dramatic expansion of the power of corporations over individual citizens.

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Post Secular

Research from across North America and all over Western Europe show us declining church attendance among almost all sects of Christianity. Census data from a variety of countries also shows that self-described believers themselves are declining. As well, results from polling organizations demonstrate that the actual content of beliefs from remaining believers has also changed.

All of this data indicates both that active believers are declining and that the belief-content has been trending, over time, away from the literal, away from the conservative and from the supernatural. But why now, at this point in history? And why are believers still generally increasing in other faiths, as in Muslim-majority countries?

My new book, Post Secular, tries to answer these questions. It's a nonfiction work about the growth of secularism and non-religion around the world.

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Humanist Marriage petition FAQ

Last week we launched a petition calling on BC’s new Minister of Health to allow Humanists to perform marriages. Since then we’ve spoken with SpiceFM, CBCEarly Edition and CKNW and had nearly 500 people sign the petition.

In those conversations, and over social media, we’ve fielded a number of questions about our petition. While our report The Case for Humanist Marriage in BC answers many of those concerns, it’s worth doing a quick response to the most frequently asked questions.

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