Opinions expressed on the BC Humanist Association's blog do not necessarily reflect those of the BCHA or the Board of Directors.
Since the announcement that I won the Nobel Prize in physics for chirped pulse amplification, or CPA, there has been a lot of attention on its practical applications.
It is understandable that people want to know how it affects them. But as a scientist, I would hope society would be equally interested in fundamental science. After all, you can’t have the applications without the curiosity-driven research behind it. Learning more about science — science for science’s sake — is worth supporting.Read more
Recently, a bag thought to contain a bomb was left outside the National Secretariat for Gender Research in Gothenburg, Sweden. The dynamite-shaped device inside turned out to be a fake, but the intent to threaten and scare was clear.
Eva Wiberg, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Gothenburg, expressed her grave concerns, saying some scholars are more exposed to hatred and violence than others.
Lately, we have witnessed global story after story of government rollbacks on abortion provision, LGBTQ rights and now the closure of entire programs devoted to women’s and gender studies. It is part of the populist playbook in places like Poland and Hungary.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsinaro put it bluntly in his inaugural address on Jan. 2. He will fight the “ideology of gender” teaching in schools, “respect our Judeo-Christian tradition” and “prepare children for the job market, not political militancy.”
The war on gender studies is a pillar in the authoritarian critique of liberalism. But for many scholars, it is a sign of the times for liberal democracies as well.Read more
Amid the numerous stories we worked on last week, the BC Human Rights Tribunal released a 90-page decision following a complaint against a Bowen Island Montessori School (BIMS).
When I wrote about the complaint when it was filed over two years ago, I said:
The Montessori’s efforts to single out one family discriminated against them for their beliefs and sends a signal to prospective families on Bowen Island that the school requires ideological conformity from its community.
In her decision, Tribunal Member Barbara Korenkiewciz agreed. She awarded $5000 each to parents Gary Mangel and Mai Yasué and $2000 for their child.Read more
In the past couple days it has come out that anyone in a same-sex relationship is formally barred from working at a Catholic school in Calgary. Further, in a number of human rights complaints, teachers have alleged anti-LGBTQ2+ discrimination by Catholic school boards in Alberta.
While Alberta's Catholic schools are entirely funded by the province, there is no reason to expect many of BC's faith schools (which typically receive half of their funding from the province) are any different.
To investigate this, I went looking through schools' websites to see if they had policies that might reasonably be interpreted as excluding LGBTQ2+ staff or students, or students whose parents are in a same sex relationship. It's also worth mentioning that since December 31, 2016, the BC Government has required all independent schools to include specific references to sexual orientation and gender identity in their anti-bullying policies. However, this requirement does not preclude schools from excluding LGBTQ2+ staff, students or parents.
Once again, it doesn't take long to find some pretty clear language. While none of these schools have been confirmed to have excluded any LGBTQ2+ staff or students, the policies do raise questions about how welcome LGBTQ2+ families are there.Read more
Over the past few years, Christian right groups have made inroads into the political landscape of certain countries. Two recent examples have been the American and Brazilian elections.
Among Christian right organizations, 81 per cent of white evangelicals are credited with helping propel Donald Trump to the White House in 2016.
During the recent midterm elections, 75 per cent of white “born again” evangelicals supported Republican candidates. Their influence was also felt in Brazil with Jair Bolsonaro’s victory. Recent polls estimate that 70 per cent of Brazilian evangelicals voted for the new president.
Some groups in America have been pushing for Christian nationalist-inspired laws through a little-known endeavour originally launched in 2015 called “Project Blitz.”Read more
The past year has seen some big advances for Humanist values in British Columbia - and for the BC Humanist Association itself.
The highlight of the year, for me, came in June when the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the decisions of law societies in BC and Ontario to reject Trinity Western University's proposed law school. Specifically, Justice Malcolm Rowe adopted our arguments that organizations don't have an inherent right to religious freedom.Read more
Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a policy statement recommending that parents not spank, hit or slap their children.
The announcement created a flurry of media attention around the world with headlines such as “Spanking is Still Really Common, and Still Really Bad for Kids.”
The statement is significant, but it’s also old news. It adds to already substantial research evidence about the risks that physical punishment poses to children.Read more
The United Church of Canada reached a settlement agreement with Rev Gretta Vosper recently, meaning she will be able to continue in her role as a minister.
Vosper came to prominence after openly declaring herself an atheist within the Christian and Protestant denomination. Vosper ministers a congregation in Toronto. Officials in the church had sought to defrock her in an internal hearing.
The settlement means that hearing will not go ahead.Read more
“Pray the gay away” is shorthand for Christian programs that, disguised as love, purport that God heals homosexuality. Through the lens of sexual sin, homosexuality is construed as something in need of healing, a disease in need of a cure, an error in need of remedy.
Secular versions are known as conversion therapy, as described in detail by Peter Gajdics in his memoir, The Inheritance of Shame. The book details his experiences with “ex-gay” counselling during the late 1980s and early 1990s.Read more
After Robert Bowers murdered 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, people are looking for explanations. Who would do such a thing? And why? The answers are almost as terrifying as the violence itself. “The most terrifying thing is just how normal he seems,” a neighbour of Bowers told the Associated Press.
Indeed, often “ordinary people” commit these evil deeds. To grasp how extraordinary evils are often committed by apparently ordinary people, we need to take care regarding how we define evil, and most importantly, whom we consider to be the agents of evil.Read more