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Delta Police Interfaith Symposium is "endorsement by exclusion"

The BC Humanist Association has accused the Delta Police Department of religious "endorsement by exclusion" over a recent Interfaith Symposium on drug addiction.

The event, held on March 30 at Baitur Rahman Mosque in Delta, was the second annual Interfaith Symposium held by the Department. This year's focus was on addictions and the role religion plays in addictions recovery.

Delta Police Chief Neil Dubbord reportedly said at the symposium:

Whenever I have spoken to anyone who is making the journey, faith is a major part in what they believe in. Consider these statistics from people who accepted a religious faith into their lives: two times more likely not to smoke, three times more likely not to binge drink, four times more likely not to use illicit drugs and six times more likely not to smoke weed or pot. Without faith nothing is possible and nothing is impossible, so it is clear that faith plays a most important role in drugs and drug addiction.

The BC Humanist Association challenges the constitutionality of excluding non-religious voices from the event and the evidence for Chief Dubbord's comments.

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Humanist marriage report published

While Buddhists, Wiccans, Unitarians and even Scientologists can perform marriages in British Columbia, Humanists and other atheists are being discriminated against by the province's arbitrary implementation of the Marriage Act, according to a new report by the BC Humanist Association.

The Case for Humanist Marriage in BC sets out the current laws governing the solemnization of marriages in BC and across Canada and contrasts it with seven other jurisdictions around the world where Humanists are permitted to perform marriages. In Scotland, for example, Humanist marriages are now more popular than Church of Scotland weddings.

The report calls for a judicial challenge or legislative change to the province's Marriage Act.

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BC Health Committee recommends funding evidence-based addictions recovery

BC's Select Standing Committee on Health released a report last week calling for the province to fund evidence-based addiction recovery programs and expand harm reduction services.

The recommendations were part of the report, Looking Forward: Improving Rural Health Care, Primary Care, and Addictions Recovery Programs, which follows consultations that the BC Humanist Association took part in last June.

Specifically, the BC Humanist Association called on the province to end its tacit endorsement of religious based addictions recovery programs, like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

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Supreme Court of Canada to hear evangelical law school case

Canada's highest court announced last week that it will hear appeals on the proposed law school at Evangelical Christian Trinity Western University.

Law societies in BC, Ontario and Nova Scotia had denied accreditation to the school on the basis that the Community Covenant it forces students to sign excludes same-sex couples. Appeal courts in Nova Scotia and BC sided with TWU, while the Ontario court sided with their law society. The Supreme Court of Canada will hear the appeals to the BC and Ontario decisions together later this year.

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Danish blasphemy case demonstrates risk of Canada's law

A man is facing blasphemy charges after allegedly burning a copy of the Quran for an online video posted to an anti-Islam group in December 2015.

The prosecution marks the first time in 45 years that Denmark has invoked the law. The last accusations were brought against a radio station that was ultimately acquitted in 1971. The last conviction was in 1946.

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Justice Minister to review Canada's blasphemy law

Canada's blasphemy law is under review by the Minister of Justice and could be repealed as part of broader justice reform.

Jody Wilson-Raybould made the commitment in her response to a petition signed by nearly 7500 people calling on the government to repeal section 296 (the prohibition on blasphemous libel) of the Criminal Code.

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Now hiring: Vancouver meetings tech assistant

The position has been filled

The BC Humanist Association (BCHA) is seeking a Vancouver Meetings Technical Assistant to help us professionalize and produce our weekly meetings. The BCHA has been hosting a weekly meeting series in Vancouver for many years. Recently, the meetings have featured a number of prominent and fascinating local speakers. The majority of those talks have been posted through our podcast and some have been posted as videos online.

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Humanists celebrate end of Bible distribution in SD 27

The BC Humanist Association (BCHA) joins teachers and the President of the Cariboo-Chilcotin Teachers' Association (CCTA) in celebrating School District No 27 decision to end its policy of distributing Gideon Bibles to grade 5 students in the district.

In a phone call in response to the BCHA, SD 27 confirmed today that it would "not permit" the practice to continue. The BCHA argued in a November 29, 2016 letter, that the distribution violates the School Act's requirement that schools be "strictly secular and non-sectarian" and arguably also puts the district in breech of the Charter by promoting one religious viewpoint to the exclusion of others.

The BCHA had asked whether the District would allow other religious or atheist materials, including editions of Godless Comics, to be distributed, if it refused to cease distributing bibles.

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Silenced: How non-religious charities are being censored by the CRA

The BC Humanist Association has published its submission to the Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA) online consultation on charities' political activities.

Restrictions on charities political activities came under scrutiny under the previous government and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals campaigned on revising those rules. However, at its core, Canada's charity law dates back to English legislation from 1601 and privileges religious worldviews over atheistic ones.

The BCHA is asking the government to pass new legislation that creates a new legal definition of charity to rectify this inequality and to end the restrictions on charities' free speech.

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BC Court of Appeal ruling a setback for equality

In a unanimous decision released today, the BC Court of Appeal sided with Trinity Western University over the Law Society of BC.

The Court of Appeal agreed with the BC Supreme Court that the steps taken by the Law Society of BC’s to reject TWU’s proposed law school were flawed. The appeal court went further by declaring that TWU’s religious freedoms outweighed the discrimination against LGBTQ law students would face.

TWU excludes LGBTQ students by requiring all students to sign a Community Covenant that forbids sex outside a heterosexual marriage and abortion.

In June, the BC Humanist Association and Canadian Secular Alliance argued in a co-intervention that religious freedom doesn’t protect the creation of a secular law school. We further argued that the Community Covenant coerces TWU students into following a narrow Evangelical Christian worldview, when TWU, by its own admission, welcomes students of all faiths and none.

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