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TWU, charities, secular recovery and more - Aug 20, 2018 Newsletter

This has been a busy week.

On Tuesday, we learned that Trinity Western University is making its controversial Community Covenant voluntary for students this fall. This follows the Supreme Court of Canada ruling that law societies in BC and Ontario were justified in refusing to recognizing a proposed law school at TWU due to the discriminatory nature of this Covenant. The school plans to maintain the restrictions for staff and faculty and they are also required to sign a Statement of Faith that offends any notion of academic freedom at the school.

On Wednesday, the federal government seemed to talk out both sides of their mouth as they announced plans to repeal restrictions on the so-called political activities of charities, while at the same time announcing that they intended to defend the rules in court. The repeal of these rules is long overdue and will hopefully be accompanied by a legal definition of charity that ends the automatic assumption that religious groups are inherently beneficial to the public.

And today we submitted our response to the provincial government's draft mental health and addictions strategy. There is still time to add your own voice, so please do so before tomorrow at 4pm.

In addition to that, at last Monday's board meeting (minutes are available online for current members) the Board approved a thorough issues summary that brings together the many positions the BCHA has taken and made it easier for you to become a member through a monthly donation.

All of this work is made possible through the support of individual donors. If you haven't, please consider becoming a member or making a donation today.

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Ensuring choice in addictions recovery

The BC Humanist Association today submitted its recommendations for a draft mental health and addictions strategy in British Columbia.

The provincial government has been collecting feedback for a strategy following the creation of the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions last year.

In its response, the BCHA calls for secular and evidence-based choices in addictions treatment and for greater regulation of treatment facilities to protect patients' freedom of and freedom from religion. Attached to the submission were the names of over 500 people who supported the BCHA's calls.

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Government takes both sides on charities' free speech

The federal government has announced that it will repeal sections of the Income Tax Act that restrict the political activities of charities this fall, while simultaneously defending the restrictions in court.

In 2015, the Liberals campaigned on a promise to modernize rules governing Canada's charitable sector. This followed allegations that previous governments had used the rules to harass environmental and human rights charities it disagreed with. A consultation led by the new government recommended the rules be removed last year.

At the same time, an Ontario court struck down the rules as an unjustifiable infringement on the freedom of expression of charitable organizations. The federal government also said yesterday it will be appealing this ruling due to "significant errors of law."

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TWU abandons mandatory covenant

In furtherance of our desire to maintain TWU as a thriving community of Christian believers that is inclusive of all students wishing to learn from a Christian viewpoint and underlying philosophy, the Community Covenant will no longer be mandatory as of the 2018-19 Academic year with respect to admission of students to, or continuation of students at, the University.

This motion was passed by the board of governors last week and was reported by the Vancouver Sun today.

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Final push to repeal Canada's blasphemy law

The Senate is considering a bill that will finally repeal Canada's blasphemy law but we still need one last push to make sure that bill becomes law.

We've just launched a new push to send a message to Senators on the committee that's studying the bill with a simple message: It's time to repeal Canada's blasphemy laws.

Send your message now

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Humanists in Pride 2018

I want to give a huge thank-you to everyone who came out and joined our group in Vancouver Pride this year.

We had 15 people marching with us and another four volunteers helped tell people about our work at our table at the Sunset Beach Festival. This meant we were able to be seen by the hundreds of thousands of people who came to watch the Parade and thousands who walked through the festival throughout the day.

We've posted a video and pictures on Instagram and Facebook below. If you took your own photos, be sure to tag us @bchumanist on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

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Religion does not determine your morality

By Jim Davies, Carleton University

Most religious people think their morality comes from their religion. And deeply religious people often wonder how atheists can have any morality at all.

I’m going to use Christianity as my example, not because it’s representative of religion in general, but because there’s a lot of research on Christians, and because many readers will likely be familiar with it.

Christians will often tell you that their morality comes from their religion (or from their parents’ version of it). And if you ask them about what their religion tells them about what’s right and wrong, it will likely line up with their own ideas of right and wrong.

But the causal link is not as clear as it first appears.

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BC Government launches consultation on addictions strategy

The BC Humanist Association is encouraging people to share their stories about the importance of secular and evidence based treatments as part of a new consultation for a draft provincial mental health and addictions strategy.

Last year, the Government of BC created the Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction. The Ministry has set out to create a draft strategy to help tackle the challenges faced by people with mental health and addictions issues. It has launched an online consultation to solicit feedback from British Columbians.

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It's time to merge Ontario's two school systems

By Samuel E. Trosow, Western University and Bill Irwin, Western University

There is a pressing need to consolidate Ontario’s separate and public school systems.

Long ignored by most politicians, this controversial idea deserves a fresh and serious policy discussion — especially now, with the new Ontario government contemplating cuts to the education system. School consolidation will result in significant and recurring cost savings, and will do so in an equitable manner that does not threaten existing services or facilities.

Consolidation of school systems will save money by eliminating service duplication, and it will eradicate enrolment competition between the two systems.

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Court strikes down gag on charities

The BC Humanist Association is welcoming a decision by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice striking down rules that restrict the political activities of charities as a victory for freedom of expression.

The decision, released Tuesday, means charities no longer need to navigate the artificial and often arbitrary divide between whether activities are deemed charitable or political when pursuing their mission. It frees charity staff up to focus on their effecting positive change in society.

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