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

Why do people believe conspiracies?

By R. Kelly GarrettThe Ohio State University

Following Justice Antonin Scalia’s death on February 13, a former criminal investigator for Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department named William O. Ritchie took to Facebook.

“My gut tells me there is something fishy going on in Texas,” he wrote.

With those words, Ritchie helped draw national attention to an emerging conspiracy theory: that Scalia may have been murdered.

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The next phase of Humanism

By Rebecca Hale and Jennifer Kalmanson, originally published on

Editor's note: This article was written by leaders of the American Humanist Association. While we are legally separate organization, we share a mission of promoting secular humanism and social justice. To help shape our own strategic plan, consider becoming a member and running for our board of directors. Our AGM will be coming up later this spring.

The rising tide of nonreligious people in the United States is accompanied by an intense focus on the “New Atheism,” which, rightly or wrongly, is critiqued as being not vocal enough or downright anti-progressive when it comes to social justice issues like women’s rights, racial equality, and the environment. Those familiar with the movement understand that when one declares themselves to be an “atheist,” they are simply saying that they do not believe in any gods; it doesn’t naturally imply a commitment to any particular social contract, whereas “humanist” means something additional. Atheism is what we don’t believe; humanism is what we do believe.

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A minister's lack of faith comes under fire

By Becky Garrison, originally published on

Seven years after the United Church of Canada minister Gretta Vosper penned With or Without God (Harper Collins, 2008), the UCC chose to examine her suitability for ministry. In 2001 Vosper had begun exploring, with her West Hill United Church in Scarborough, Ontario, how to create services that enable those who wish to come together in community to do so around aspirational values and without the presence of a supernatural, interventionist God.

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Weekly newsletter

Last week we won a major victory for secularism. Not only did the politicians on Parliament's assisted dying committee put the rights of patients first, they cited our arguments when they recommended "that if a health care facility is publicly funded, it must provide medical assistance in dying."

If this recommendation is adopted by Parliament, it would mean that the billion dollars that BC is giving to religious hospitals could be withheld unless those institutions uphold patients' rights.

We still face an uphill battle though. Catholic Providence Healthcare, which runs St Paul's in downtown Vancouver, has refused to allow assisted dying in its facilities and BC Health Minister Terry Lake is lining up to defend their privilege to do so.

Please make a donation to help us make the case that people, not buildings, have rights and that Catholic bishops shouldn't have a veto on the healthcare of Canadians.

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Where, then is evil?

St. Augustine asks: Where, then is evil? What is its origin? How did it steal into the world? What is the root or seed from which it grew?

My answer: Any instance of one creature deriving pleasure from the suffering of another is evil.

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It's time to phase out Catholic hospitals

Editor's note: This post is by Luis Granados and originally appeared on It discusses US hospitals but our recent analysis showed the Government of BC provides nearly $1 billion to religious healthcare institutions.

Common decency took another sucker punch from the God industry last month in a case decided in California.

Late in her pregnancy, Rebecca Chamorro and her doctor agreed that immediately after delivering her third child by Caesarian section, her doctor would perform a tubal ligation (more commonly known as “getting your tubes tied”) to prevent her from becoming pregnant again. The fact that she knew in advance she needed a C-section for this birth indicates that any future pregnancies would be riskier than average for her, and three children were as many as she and her husband wanted to raise. Each year, about 700,000 American women make the same choice.

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The case against Evangelical universities

Editor's note: This article is by Vic Sizemore and was first published on It deals with a specific Christian college in the USA but is relevant to us here in BC in light of the ongoing debate over Trinity Western University's proposed law school.

On February 10, Wheaton College officials and Wheaton Professor Larycia Hawkins gave a press conference in which they announced they had mutually agreed to part ways. “Publicly the school and Dr. Hawkins say they are in agreement about terms of her departure,” but the details remain confidential.

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Where does ISIS come from?

By James L GelvinUniversity of California, Los Angeles

How far back in history does one have to go to find the roots of the so-called Islamic State (IS)?

To the oil shock of 1973-74, when Persian Gulf oil producers used the huge surplus of dollars flowing into their coffers to finance the spread of their severe interpretation of Islam?

To the end of the first world war, when the victorious entente powers sparked resentment throughout the Arab world by drawing artificial national borders we hear so much about today? How about 632 AD, the date of the death of the prophet Muhammad, when the early Islamic community split on who should succeed him as its leader — a breach that led to the Sunni-Shi'i divide that IS exploits for its own ends?

The possibilities seem endless and would make for an entertaining variation on the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon parlour game (which suggests any two people on earth are six or fewer acquaintance links apart) were the subject not so macabre.

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Weekly news Feb 22, 2016

Our first Adopt-A-Clinic blood drive on February 13 was a success, even though I fainted just after my donation.

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By way of introduction

Editor's note: Craig Spence has generously offered to contribute some posts to our blog. He submitted the following as his introduction. ~Ian

Writing is my way of understanding, it’s a vocation, in other words, a part of who I am. So I have built my career – my peculiar contribution to society – around writing. If I could, I would have been among the world’s most popular novelists, and spent my life intensely engaged in speculative fiction of one sort or another. Being ‘successful’ as a creative writer is still my goal. But the necessities of living, and contributing to a family, have taken precedence for the last 30 years. So I have followed my passion in other forms: for 15 years as a community journalist; and another 15 as communications manager with a large, urban school district. More recently I am back behind the editor’s desk at the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle, a small weekly on Vancouver Island. Along the way I have written five novels, had two published, and have plans for at least five more works of fiction, if my health holds out.

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