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The hypocrisy of Québec’s move to ban religious dress

By Richard Moon, University of Windsor

The newly elected government of Québec has indicated that it intends to ban civil servants in positions of authority (including police officers and judges) from wearing religious dress or symbols such as the turban or hijab.

The new government views the wearing of religious dress by civil servants not as an act of personal religious or cultural expression but instead as a political act — an act of the state — that is incompatible with the requirement that the state remain neutral in matters of religion.

The ban will have the effect of excluding the members of certain religious minorities from civil service jobs. And it will, almost certainly, breach religious freedom under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

At the same time, the government has confirmed that a crucifix will continue to hang in the provincial legislature. The government insists that the crucifix is simply a “heritage object” and “part of our history” and so its presence in the legislature doesn’t violate the requirement that the state remain neutral in matters of religion.

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The (partial) end of the War on Drugs

Today is the first day that recreational cannabis is legal to buy and use across Canada.

Here in BC, that means you can buy it from the one open store in Kamloops (pictured above, via bcgovphotos) or via the government's online store.

Nevertheless, this limited step also exposes how many people are still unjustly targeted by Canada's prohibition-esque drug laws.

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Humanists Light the Night - Oct 15, 2018 Newsletter

Thanks to Eugene, Sonia, Wanda, Clayton, Greg, Katie and Aron who came out on Saturday night to support the BC Humanists in the annual Light the Night walk. 

light-the-night-2018.jpgOur Light the Night team

This event builds on our efforts to promote Humanist Action - living Humanist values in an effort to make the world a better place.

We've previously taken part in sorting efforts with the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, done blood drives and helped with the shoreline cleanup.

We're hoping to get our members and supporters involved in more charitable activities in the future.

Let me know what other ideas you have or if you live outside Metro Vancouver, we'd be eager to help you start getting involved in your community.

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Parliamentary petition calls for conversion therapy ban

An effort is underway to get the Government of Canada to ban so-called "conversion therapy" for minors in Canada.

The therapy is based on religious fundamentalism and pseudoscientific claims that a person's sexual orientation or gender identity can be changed. The techniques are discredited by the Pan American Health Organization, the Canadian Psychological Association and other mainstream medical bodies.

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End funding of independent schools - BC finance committee brief

Calling the funding contrary to the province's duty of religious neutrality, the BC Humanist Association today called on the province's finance committee to phase out the public funding of private schools in the next provincial budget.

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The elimination of smallpox showed how humans can work together to solve deadly global problems

By Steven M Opal, Brown University and J.M. Opal, McGill University

If you were to watch a split-screen broadcast with global weather on one side and world politics on the other, you could easily conclude that we are doomed.

Prodigious storms and killer heat waves announce the arrival of human-induced climate change, with more disasters to come as the planet warms and ecosystems collapse.

But right-wing populism is rising faster than the oceans, sinking efforts to combat this and other global crises. Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump keeps tweeting that climate change is fake news. Very bad!

And yet we humans have also shown that we can overcome even our most daunting problems. Exhibit A is our victory over smallpox, perhaps the most feared pathogen of all time.

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Estimating the scale of the elite private school giveaway

Every year the BC government provides hundreds of millions of dollars in public funding to private schools, including elite prep schools. Given that BC’s public education system has been severely underfunded for most of the past two decades—and is still failing to adequately support students with special needs—this use of public resources is hard to fathom. BC should eliminate the flow of taxpayer dollars to elite private schools, and redirect the funding to support special needs students.

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Humanists submit comments on draft political activities proposals

The BC Humanist Association today said proposals in a draft charities reform bill "fall far short of the mark" by failing to implement a modernized charities framework.

The BCHA welcomes the Government's move to delete references to nonpartisan political activities, thereby ending the gag on charities participating in development of public policy. However, the proposed bill offers little else to celebrate.

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SOGI and property tax exemptions

A group of 200 pastors lined up to denounce the province's sexual orientation and gender identity curriculum (SOGI 123).

The curriculum was developed under the previous provincial government and continues to be supported by the current government, the teachers' union, principals' associations, independent and First Nations schools associations.

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September 24, 2018 Newsletter

How you can help end the funding of faith schools in BC

We've just published examples of independent schools in BC that are teaching creationism in science classrooms. These are schools that together receive tens of millions of dollars from the provincial government.

But right now we have an opportunity to push back on this funding.

The BC Legislature's Finance Committee is currently holding public hearings across the province on the 2019 budget. Anyone is welcome to sign up for one of these hearings and speak for five minutes.

A number of these meetings are already full but if you live in Cranbrook, Trail, Nelson, Kamloops or Kelowna, you can sign up to speak this week.

REGISTER TO SPEAK

Let us know if you will be speaking and we'll help you prepare some speaking notes.

Otherwise, you can make a written, audio or video submission and you can complete the committee's survey online. This is a great chance to encourage the committee to put nearly half a billion dollars back in the public education system.

We'll be releasing our own submission to the committee soon.

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