Blog

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


The history of institutional religious obstructions

How did we end up in a situation where some publicly funded facilities are permitted to refuse to provide healthcare services in BC? To answer this question we need to look at the history of healthcare in BC and how religious hospitals came to play a part in our medical system.

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The crucial role of public education in fostering a Humanist society

As our province grows increasingly diverse, the need for a strong and inclusive public education system has never been more apparent. At the heart of this endeavor lies the foundation of a humanist society, where reason, compassion, and critical thinking flourish. We recognize the profound importance of public education as a catalyst for nurturing these values and shaping a brighter future for all.

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The end of Bible distribution in BC Schools

The distribution of Gideon Bible in BC actually only ended in December 2016.

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BC Schools must be strictly secular and non-sectarian

Did you know that BC requires every public school to be "strictly secular and non sectarian"?

In fact, this requirement has been in place since the School Act was first introduced in 1872.

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The Supremacy of God and the Rule of Law

The Canadian constitution does not have a formal establishment clause separating church and state as the USA does, so can Canada be considered a secular country? In this presentation, BC Humanist Association Executive Director Ian Bushfield argued that Canada’s unique legal and political history, coupled with a forward-looking Charter of Rights and Freedoms and judiciary, has resulted in more robust protections for the nonreligious and state neutrality than presently exist in America.

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Why Baby Boomers Turned From Religion: Shaping belief and belonging, 1945-2021

By Prof. Abby Day (Goldsmiths, University of London); Visiting Research Fellow, Centre for the Study of Religion and Society, University of Victoria.

Many members of the BC Humanists generously responded to my request in the summer of 2020 to help with interviews for my latest research project on Baby Boomers and religion. Baby Boomers, born post-WWII and defining the 1960s’ cultural revolutions, were the last generation to be routinely baptised, confirmed and taken regularly to mainstream, Anglican/Episcopalian churches. Their parents raised them to be church-attending, and yet questioning semi-conformists, enabling them to become ex-religious and to raise the Millennials to be the least religious generation ever.

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Indigenous cultural practices can be reconciled with state neutrality

Last week we published our latest report: Open for Unconstitutional Business, our detailed examination of prayers in Ontario municipalities. In it, we spent ten pages exploring the complexities raised by the growing prevalence of Indigenous territorial acknowledgements, welcoming ceremonies and even blessings at municipal council meetings. Our arguments built upon our past discussions of the issues—notably Decolonizing Legislative Prayers.

How fortuitous then that the BC Court of Appeal should release a significant judgement in the case of Servatius v Alberni School District No 70. This case dealt with Candice Servatius, an Evangelical Christian parent, who argued that Indigenous demonstrations at her children's school violated their religious freedom and the state duty of neutrality.

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Only seven districts enshrine secularism in BC schools

S76 of the School Act: (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.

Despite the legal requirement that all schools be “strictly secular,” our initial review has found that only 7 of the 60 public school districts in British Columbia have a policy that explicitly limits religious proselytization in schools.

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Changes to legislative prayer in the Isle of Man

A guest post by Peter W Edge and Teale Phelps Bondaroff

Cross-posted with permission from Law & Religion UK

Introduction

Tynwald, the legislature of the Isle of Man, has in recent years spent considerable time reflecting on the inclusion of the Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man in the upper chamber, the Legislative Council, and in particular their ability to vote on legislation and other matters. The discussion culminated in no immediate change. It has recently returned to the constitutional entwining of church and state in relation to legislative prayers in the dominant chamber of Tynwald, the House of Keys.

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In defence of dignity and bodily autonomy

Progressives are still reeling at yesterday's report from POLITICO about a leaked draft majority decision from the Supreme Court of the United States. That decision, from conservative Justice Samuel Alito, would overturn Roe v Wade and lead to the near instant criminalization of abortion in as many as half of the states. The draft has been thoroughly condemned by many groups, including our Humanist allies at Americans United, American Humanist Association and Center for Inquiry.

Canada's legal restrictions on abortion were struck down in 1988 following the fights by activists and former Humanist Canada president Dr Henry Morgentaler. Nevertheless, the potential American ruling is rippling through Canada, raising the spectre that abortion rights could one day be under similar threat here.

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