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

Bible classes in schools can lead to strife among neighbours

By Frank S. Ravitch, Professor of Law & Walter H. Stowers Chair of Law and Religion, Michigan State University

federal lawsuit was filed recently against the Mercer County, West Virginia Board of Education, challenging a Bible program in the elementary schools. The plaintiffs are the Freedom From Religion Foundation and two parents and their children. One parent and both children have kept their names anonymous due to fear of reprisal. The Conversation

The Bible class was listed as an elective, but almost all students enrolled. The complaint alleges that the few who opted out were harassed and discriminated against. One of the plaintiffs in the case had already suffered harassment.

In my research for the book I wrote in 1999, “School Prayer and Discrimination,” I explored what happens to religious minorities and dissenters when public schools engage in sectarian prayer and Bible reading.

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Apr 17, 2017 Newsletter

Douglas Todd reports in this weekend's Province about a new Mainstreet Research poll about the religious makeup of each party's support in the lead up to the BC election.

While there is some interesting data in that poll, another poll that he reports on suggests support for school prayers and the National Post suggests data from the Angus Reid Institute proves Canadians are still religious.

Both of these could be taken apart in detail (and we criticized the National Post on Facebook) but in short, the supposed support for school prayer conflates the freedom every student has to pray with the coercive practices as happened in the past, and the data in the Angus Reid poll directly contradicts the narrative the National Post tries to spin.

By treating religion with kids gloves, it's of little surprise that on Friday, Christy Clark tweeted:

Following that, people were quick to question whether Clark took the right lessons from the story of Jesus' crucifixion.

We've also previously criticized the Premier for excluding the majority of British Columbians that don't identify as Christian by pandering to evangelical Christians.

Nevertheless, the BC Humanist Association is a non-partisan association, and we're not lobbying on any issues during the election period. My point today is just that politicians and the media will fail to grow their constituencies or audiences without recognizing the growing non-religious demographic in this province.

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What's the evidence for the resurrection?

By Brent Landau, Lecturer in Religious Studies, University of Texas at Austin

In 1998, Lee Strobel, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune and a graduate of Yale Law School, published “The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus.” Strobel had formerly been an atheist and was compelled by his wife’s conversion to evangelical Christianity to refute the key Christian claims about Jesus. The Conversation

Paramount among these was the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection, but other claims included the belief in Jesus as the literal Son of God and the accuracy of the New Testament writings. Strobel, however, was unable to refute these claims to his satisfaction, and he then converted to Christianity as well. His book became one of the bestselling works of Christian apologetic (that is, a defense of the reasonableness and accuracy of Christianity) of all time.

On Friday, April 7, a motion picture adaptation of “The Case for Christ” was released. The movie attempts to make a compelling case for historicity of Jesus’ resurrection. As one character says to Strobel early in the movie, “If the resurrection of Jesus didn’t happen, it’s [i.e., the Christian faith] a house of cards.”

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April 10, 2017 Newsletter

Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge.

While the battle has become a core part of the Canadian "myth", the event still troubles my consciousness as a Humanist.

Humanism has a long strain of pacificism and anti-war activism, including thinkers and activists like Bertrand Russell and Carl Sagan. The justifications for and jingoism of the First World War go against many of our deepest values.

Today those same nationalistic tendencies, as well as the dehumanizing of people deemed "our enemy" are at play once again.

We must continue to stand for reason, compassion, tolerance and peace. Lest we let another generation be sent to their deaths.

Ian Bushfield's photo of Vimy Ridge, Feb 2015.

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Christianity and the First World War

Editor's note: On Sunday, Canada marked the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge. While written from an American point of view, this article reflects on a similar line of thinking that was prevalent in Canada 100 years ago.

By Jonathan Ebel, Associate Professor of Religion, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Thursday, April 6, 2017, marks 100 years since the United States entered World War I. World War I does not occupy the same space in America’s cultural memory as the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War II or the Vietnam War. The Conversation

The men and women who fought “the Great War” would likely be shocked at this relegation. For them, “the war to end all wars” was the most consequential war ever fought: a struggle between good and evil.

As an author of two books, “Faith in the Fight” and “G.I. Messiahs,” I have spent a good part of the last 15 years thinking about the place of religion in America’s experience of the Great War.

From the beginning of American involvement in the war to the construction of cemeteries in Europe for America’s war dead, Christian imagery framed and simplified a complex, violent world and encouraged soldiers and their loved ones to think of the war as a sacred endeavour.

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April 3, 2017 Newsletter

The subway of St Petersburg was rocked today by a bomb blast, killing 11 and injuring another 40.

Two weeks ago the world watched in suspense as news came out about an attack at the Parliament building in London. That attack could have turned out equally bad had it not been for the quick actions of police.

Our allies at the International Humanist and Ethical Union took to Twitter today to highlight five stories from the past 24 hours showing the dangers of superstition around the world.

Their conclusion ties a thread between each of these stories and the urgency of Humanism.

Stories like this occur every day, usually affecting the most vulnerable people in societies across the world. We need less superstition, less nodding along to irrational beliefs, and more critical thinking, more reason, more humanism. That doesn't mean failing to empathize, or refusing to understand why people believe such. On the contrary, we must empathize, must learn.

When darkness strikes, we must rally to those candles of reason and compassion.

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The rise of INC Christianity

In August of 2011, more than 30,000 people cheered wildly as the then U.S. presidential candidate and Texas Governor Rick Perry – now secretary of energy in the Trump administration – came to the center stage at “The Response: A Call to Prayer for a Nation in Crisis” at Reliant Stadium in Houston. Perry quoted from the Bible and preached about the need for salvation that comes from Jesus. He concluded with a prayer for a country he believed to be overwhelmed by problems: The Conversation

We see discord at home. We see fear in the marketplace. We see anger in the halls of government.

He then proceeded to ask God for forgiveness for forgetting “who made us, who protects us, and who blesses us.” In response, the crowd exploded into cheers and praise to God.

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Notes on the proposed BCHA bylaws

We've just announced our 2017 Annual General Meeting and as part of that meeting, we - the Board of Directors and I - are going to be asking our members to adopt a new constitution and bylaws to keep up with the requirements of the new Societies Act.

These are the documents that govern how we are run as a society and should not be changed lightly. But as changes are required, we thought it prudent to take the time to reflect on what has and hasn't worked in our previous governance.

I'm personally hopeful that these new documents will help us continue to grow and professionalize as an organization. And to get your support for them, I want to use this blog to try to explain some of the changes and what motivated us to make these decisions below.

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Mar 27, 2017 Newsletter

Our Annual General Meeting is coming up on Sunday May 7, 2017.

This is our yearly formal chance to report back on what we've been up to and for members to stand for election for the Board. This year, we will also be proposing a new Constitution and Bylaws to comply with legislative changes.

Learn more.

You must be a current member to vote at the AGM. Formal notice will be going out to all current members later today.

You can check and renew your membership here.

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Last week we asked in our newsletter and on social media, what you were optimistic about? Here's what you told us.

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