Latest Updates

Almost no one in BC goes to church

A new poll from ResearchCo has found that only 3% of British Columbians say they attend religious services "at least once a week." Only 2% said they had "confessed or sought advice from a religious figure" in the past 12 months.

The poll also found that 29% of people in the province are either "convinced" or "tend to believe" that God does not exist.

ResearchCo was formed by Mario Canseco, who the BC Humanist Association worked with on the 2016 Religious and Secular Attitudes Survey when he was with Insights West. In that survey, 11% of British Columbians said they attended religious services weekly, while 15% said they attended at least weekly in the BCHA's 2013 poll.

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New CRA guidance a step torward freer speech for charities

The BC Humanist Association is welcoming new guidelines from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) that permit charities to engage in advocacy that connects with its mission.

In fall 2018, the Government of Canada announced that restrictions on the so-called "political activities" of charities would be repealed. The new rules, which permit "public policy dialogue and development activities", simply require that charities activities connect with the charity's stated purposes and provide a benefit to the public.

The draft guidance from the CRA provides clarification on what the legal changes mean for boards and staffs of the approximately 85,000 charities operating in the country.

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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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Beyond TWU: The legal conflict between equality rights and freedom of religion

By Bethany Hastie, University of British Columbia and Margot Young, University of British Columbia

From conflicts over wedding cakes to university admissions to religious schools, the tension between equality rights and religious freedom is often in the news in Canada, the United States and beyond.

Public recognition of diverse family forms, fluid gender identity and a range of sexual orientations has triggered negative responses from some religious communities. As a transformation of social norms takes place, equality rights increasingly conflict with tradition freedoms. That means balances of power have to shift.

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New Alberta poll shows overwhelming support for requiring publicly-funded hospitals to provide MAID

A new poll from Dying With Dignity Canada and Ipsos has found that 80% of Albertans support the idea of requiring publicly funded hospitals to provide medically-assisted dying on their premises. The support rises to 86% among non-religious Albertans.

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Jewish Canadians: More cultural than religious

By Robert Brym, University of Toronto and Rhonda Lenton, York University, Canada

“Jewish” used to be considered a religious category. However, for many Jews, that is changing. Increasingly, people who live outside of Israel and identify as Jewish think of themselves as members of an ethnic or cultural group.

For years, researchers have expressed concern that Jewish communities would assimilate and dissipate as religious identification waned. They pointed to intermarriage as an indicator of declining community cohesiveness. For example, they found that in the U.S., half of Jews who are married or in a common law relationship are partnered with non-Jews.

A recent survey reveals that something different is happening in Canada.

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Humanists condemn New Zealand attacks

Fifty more people are dead after an extremist walked through two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, gunning down people while they were saying their Friday prayers. The shooter's manifesto referenced (among others) Alexandre Bissonnette who was recently sentenced to life in prison for shooting up a Quebec mosque in January 2017.

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A belief in meritocracy is not only false: it's bad for you

By Clifton Mark

‘We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else …’ Barack Obama, inaugural address, 2013 
‘We must create a level playing field for American companies and workers.’ Donald Trump, inaugural address, 2017

Meritocracy has become a leading social ideal. Politicians across the ideological spectrum continually return to the theme that the rewards of life – money, power, jobs, university admission – should be distributed according to skill and effort. The most common metaphor is the ‘even playing field’ upon which players can rise to the position that fits their merit. Conceptually and morally, meritocracy is presented as the opposite of systems such as hereditary aristocracy, in which one’s social position is determined by the lottery of birth. Under meritocracy, wealth and advantage are merit’s rightful compensation, not the fortuitous windfall of external events. 

Most people don’t just think the world should be run meritocratically, they think it is meritocratic. In the UK, 84 per cent of respondents to the 2009 British Social Attitudes survey stated that hard work is either ‘essential’ or ‘very important’ when it comes to getting ahead, and in 2016 the Brookings Institute found that 69 per cent of Americans believe that people are rewarded for intelligence and skill. Respondents in both countries believe that external factors, such as luck and coming from a wealthy family, are much less important. While these ideas are most pronounced in these two countries, they are popular across the globe.

Although widely held, the belief that merit rather than luck determines success or failure in the world is demonstrably false. This is not least because merit itself is, in large part, the result of luck. Talent and the capacity for determined effort, sometimes called ‘grit’, depend a great deal on one’s genetic endowments and upbringing.

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Teacher lost job for relationship status: CBC Go Public story

Stephanie Vande Kraats resigned as a teacher at Surrey Christian School after administrators allegedly told her that her contract would not be renewed because she was living with a man she wasn't married to, according to a story from CBC's Go Public.

I didn't want to continue in a place where I already felt humiliated and judged. It was traumatic for me.
-Stephanie Vande Kraats

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Humanists welcome vaccination registry

Religion and ignorance should no longer be acceptable excuses to not vaccinate children, according to the BC Humanist Association as Vancouver is in the midst of a measles outbreak.

The provincial government is in the process of establishing an immunization registry that parents will have to record their children's vaccination status prior to their school enrolment. A similar law in Ontario requires anyone claiming a philosophical or religious objection to vaccines to attend a 30-minute presentation on the benefits of vaccines.

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