Blog

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


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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The first step to decolonizing Humanism

We acknowledge that this event takes place on the traditional and unceded shared territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skxwú7mesh (Squamish) & səlil̓wətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

Attend nearly any event in Vancouver in the past few years, particularly ones held by progressive organizations, and you are likely to hear some variation on those words. The practice of territorial acknowledgements has spread farther, with variations in communities across Canada and the USA recognizing the local indigenous peoples.

For many Humanists, these statements can be reminiscent of ritualistic Christian prayers that have often been said before formal events (and in some places still are). This is further complicated when a local indigenous elder is invited to give the acknowledgement and they invoke a deity — either from their own spiritual traditions or in some cases the Christian God.

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Will charities be free to speak during the election?

Canadian Twitter was ablaze today over a story that seemed to allege that any charity that talks about climate change during the election will be censored by Elections Canada.

The story comes from Mia Rabson’s scoop for The Canadian Press. She reported that Elections Canada may consider charities that run campaigns about climate change during the election to be captured under the Canada Elections Act.

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Respecting one another's pronouns

Last year, over 2600 scientists signed a statement that underlined the reality that gender cannot be defined along a strict binary.

The relationship between sex chromosomes, genitalia, and gender identity is complex, and not fully understood. There are no genetic tests that can unambiguously determine gender, or even sex. Furthermore, even if such tests existed, it would be unconscionable to use the pretext of science to enact policies that overrule the lived experience of people’s own gender identities.

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He died as he lived: David Hume, philosopher and infidel

By Dennis Rasmussen, Associate Professor of Political Science, Tufts University

As the Scottish philosopher David Hume lay on his deathbed in the summer of 1776, his passing became a highly anticipated event. Few people in 18th-century Britain were as forthright in their lack of religious faith as Hume was, and his skepticism had earned him a lifetime of abuse and reproach from the pious, including a concerted effort to excommunicate him from the Church of Scotland. Now everyone wanted to know how the notorious infidel would face his end. Would he show remorse or perhaps even recant his skepticism? Would he die in a state of distress, having none of the usual consolations afforded by belief in an afterlife? In the event, Hume died as he had lived, with remarkable good humour and without religion.

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Quebec's "state laicity" law undermines secularism

The passage of Quebec’s Bill 21 is bad news for the state of freedom of expression, religious freedom and secularism itself in Canada. Humanists should stand united against the clear infringement on our fundamental freedoms by the Government of Quebec.

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Our role in ending Bible readings in BC schools

76 (1) All schools and Provincial schools must be conducted on strictly secular and non-sectarian principles.

(2) The highest morality must be inculcated, but no religious dogma or creed is to be taught in a school or Provincial school.

Since 1876, BC has required schools "be conducted upon strictly secular and non-sectarian principles." Section 76 of today's School Act reflects that language.

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Atheism has been part of many Asian traditions for millennia

By Signe Cohen, University of Missouri-Columbia

A group of atheists and secularists recently gathered in Southern California to talk about social and political issues. This was the first of three summits planned by the Secular Coalition for America, an advocacy group based in Washington D.C.

To many, atheism – the lack of belief in a personal god or gods - may appear an entirely modern concept. After all, it would seem that it is religious traditions that have dominated the world since the beginning of recorded history.

As a scholar of Asian religions, however, I’m often struck by the prevalence of atheism and agnosticism - the view that it is impossible to know whether a god exists - in ancient Asian texts. Atheistic traditions have played a significant part in Asian cultures for millennia.

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In Quebec, Christian liberalism becomes the religious authority

By Hannah Dick, Carleton University

The Québec government is proposing a secularism law to prohibit any new public servants in a position of authority — including teachers, lawyers and police officers — from wearing religious symbols while at work.

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