Blog

Opinions expressed on the BC Humanist Association's blog do not necessarily reflect those of the BCHA or the Board of Directors.


Nonbelievers still minimized by Census 2021

Statistics Canada calls the census "the country's storyteller" but the accuracy of that story depends deeply on the quality of the questions being asked of Canadians.

For years, Humanists, atheists and other nonreligious Canadians have been concerned by the wording of the question that Statistics Canada includes in the census. Similar to the census in England and Wales, Statistics Canada asks "What is this person's religion?", which is problematic enough for the presumption of religious belief that it carries with it.

But Statistics Canada goes further and asks census takers to indicate a religion "even if this person is not currently a practising member of that group."

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Our comments on BC Budget 2021

The Government of British Columbia is currently consulting for Budget 2021.

On Monday, I spoke before the BC Legislature's Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services and presented two of our ideas for that budget. First, that municipalities be given the ability to tax places of worship. And second, that the public subsidy for private schools be fazed out.

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Humanists support international COVID-19 relief

Humanists believe that the solutions to the world’s problems lie in human thought and action rather than divine intervention.

As a global pandemic, Humanists recognize that COVID-19 affects around the world. As part of our commitment to supporting one another, regardless of nationality, the BC Humanist Association is eager to support secular international relief efforts.

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Combating coronavirus misinformation

One of the most common questions we've heard during the pandemic has been how to navigate the good science from the junk.

This is a big concern for Humanists, who value science and evidence, so I'll do my best to provide some pointers that I use when browsing the news.

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Humanism in action during COVID-19

Humanists have a duty of care to all of humanity including future generations.

Humanism commits us to an ethical way of life that looks after each other. For many of us, this has been never been more apparent than in the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the coming days and weeks, we'll be sharing some ways that you can put those Humanist values in action both locally and globally.

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Taking precautions and protecting our community

The evidence and warnings from our public health officials are clear: To prevent the novel coronavirus COVID-19 from overwhelming our healthcare system and leading to a lot of unnecessary suffering and death, immediate action is required from every one of us.

Yesterday, BC's Chief Public Health Officer banned all gatherings of over 50 people and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau restricted travel to Canada to Canadian residents and Americans. Municipalities are also starting to close non-essential public facilities. More measures are expected today and throughout the week.

For our own part, the BCHA's Board of Directors is taking steps to protect our members and the broader community. Specifically, we are suspending all in person meetings and encouraging online connections until public health officials deem the risk to be over.

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Teaching about religion and culture still legal

Over three years ago, I wrote about an allegation that a student in Port Alberni was forced to participate in an Indigenous smudging ceremony in a BC public school.

So as Humanists and secularists, we stand with the parent in speaking out against the forced participation of students in such a ceremony.

Today, Justice Thompson of the Supreme Court of British Columbia dismissed that case, finding that the school district did not infringe the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including the state’s duty of religious neutrality. The entire ruling is worth reading as this was possibly the first case to examine the place of Indigenous spiritual practice in a secular school classroom in the era of reconciliation.

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Winning the fight against religious privilege

After discussing what we're up against last week, we saw a major change on Thursday when the Legislature agreed to amend its practice of starting each day's session with "prayers" to "prayers and reflections."

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What we're up against

As Humanists, we’re used to fighting the religious right. From the battles over creationism or Bible distribution in public schools to securing the right to a medically-assisted death, we know well how to respond to arguments based on dogma and religious authorities.

But as we continue to push toward a more peaceful, compassionate and secular world, we’re coming up a number of other challenges that threaten our progress.

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Seven prayers from MLAs that left us scratching our heads

Going through over 850 prayers this summer, we came across a few gems I wanted to share with you prior to the release of our study on Monday.

Unfortunately, we can't embed the videos here but the prayers are the first item of business if you want to watch them (you might need to skip ahead past the procession).

If you think prayers like these have no place in the legislature, make sure to send you MLA an email.

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