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

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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March 20, 2017 Newsletter

Today is the first day of Spring. And while Humanists don't attach supernatural significance to the position of the Earth relative to the sun, it is a good chance to look forward at the coming year.

So I want to ask you: What are you optimistic about? Email me (or answer by tagging us on social media).

This last year gave us a lot of reasons to be pessimistic but a big part of Humanism is the belief that the arrow will always swing back to progress (even if we have to continually nudge it along).

If we receive enough answers I'll consolidate them into a blog for you for next week.

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Recognize implicit bias or it will undermine egalitarianism

Editor's note: This article relates to our latest Vancouver Sunday meeting topic on implicit bias. Look for a version of that talk to appear on our podcast soon. For more, here's another article from The Conversation on race and implicit bias.

Think you're all for gender equality? Your unconscious may have other ideas

By Magdalena Zawisza, Anglia Ruskin University

The words of my doctor from earlier that morning were still ringing in my ears when I found myself slamming the brakes of my car to avoid a nasty collision. An incompetent driver was cutting across two lanes at a roundabout just in front of me. Still perspiring somewhat I carried on to drop off my screaming child with the nanny. It was a hectic morning. 

Now let’s stop to take a breath and ponder on this story. Was the doctor you imagined male? Was the bad driver female? And what of the nanny and the narrator? Females too? If so, you have just experienced unconscious gender bias. You are not alone. Even the almighty Google image search “thinks” 75% of doctors are male but in reality women make up just over half of GPs in the UK. In fact Google has been accused of unconscious bias in its own operations as over 79% of its managers and engineers are male. Apple, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo are not far behind.

What exactly is unconscious gender bias and why do we have it? Unconscious, or implicit, bias happens outside of our control and awareness. It’s automatic and reflects the associations we acquire as we socialise into the culture we grow up in. You can test your own implicit biases more scientifically by taking this Implicit Association Test. The test was designed to capture the brain’s learnt automatic associations. Since it is based on time reactions it can bypass our social desirability concerns and tap into unconscious biases. As such it is reportedly superior to self-report measures of prejudice in predicting behaviours.

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Mar 13, 2017 Newsletter

Four years ago, the Government of BC denied our request to register representatives that can perform legal marriages.

Last week, we learned through a Freedom of Information request that while Humanism isn't considered a valid "religion" for the purposes of the Marriage Act, Scientology, Zen Buddhists and a group called the Canadian International Metaphysical Ministry are. The latter group appears online to exist for primary purpose of registering celebrants who then offer their services in secular and commercial, rather than religious language.

We detail these findings, plus how Humanists are able to perform marriages in Scotland, Norway, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Ontario in a report we published on Wednesday.

In that report, we make the case for the legislative or judicial changes to the Marriage Act.

It's time to end religious privilege in marriage. As we move toward the upcoming provincial election, I hope you'll ask your candidates whether they'll support such an amendment.

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Mar 6, 2017 Newsletter

Last year, we presented before the BC Legislature's Select Standing Committee on Health. We spoke about how some British Columbians suffering from substance use issues are being forced to participate in religious recovery programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

We asked the government to ensure people have a choice and that public funding for addictions recovery goes to the growing number of secular and evidence-based programs.

Last week, the Committee released its report and there's a lot to like in it.

Unfortunately, the Committee chose to equate "secular and non-secular" treatment programs. While this differentiation would likely have been ignored had we not spoken up, it still puts inclusive programs based on the best science on equal footing with ones based on hundred year old dogma.

Guaranteeing the right to secular recovery programs is vitally important for people like Byron Wood or "A" who have filed human rights complaints against provincial health regions for forcing them into religious treatment programs.

We hope the government will adopt the Committee's focus on evidence and harm reduction and over time reduce the influence of religion in publicly-funded treatment programs.

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Lessons in resistance from MLK, the 'conservative militant'

By Christopher BeemPennsylvania State University

Just days after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, activists from Greenpeace climbed up a large construction crane near the White House and unfurled a large banner with the single word: Resist. The Conversation

On Feb. 11, thousands of protesters used their bodies to spell the word “resist” on a San Francisco beach. The next day, at the Grammys, rapper Q-Tip yelled “resist” no less than four times from the stage.

And on Feb. 26, at a rally outside Washington, Maryland Congressman John Delaney said to the audience,

“What do we have to do? We have to resist. This is a defining moment. It’s stirring our hearts and stirring our emotions and we’re committed to resisting with you.”

All of these examples speak to a widespread and resolute discontent with the election of President Trump. They express a rejection of his agenda and of what they see as his degradation of our democracy. “Resist” reflects their desire, insofar as they can, to stop this from happening.

But what exactly does it mean to resist? And most importantly, how can Americans make sure that their resistance is most likely to effect change?

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Feb 27, 2017 Newsletter

Like Canada, Danish authorities have not invoked their country's blasphemy law in decades. To the average Dane, there has effectively been no punishment for mocking or offending religious ideas.

That changed last week when a man was charged with blasphemy after he filmed himself burning a Quran for an anti-Islam group.

Whether the charge will stand up against the Danish Constitution is an open question but this case has shown that it only takes the right political circumstances for archaic laws to be used to censor free expression.

A dormant law is not a dead law. This case demonstrates why it's so important for Canada's law to be repealed.

The Justice Minister made a commitment last month to review the law as part of a broad review of the justice system and we're planning to keep the pressure up.

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