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Victoria councillor starts debate on religious holiday decorations

The BC Humanist Association is supportive of any municipality reviewing whether public funds are being spent in a secular and inclusive manner.

During a line-by-line debate over the City of Victoria's annual budget, Council approved a motion by Councillor Ben Isitt to have staff review the $64,000 the city spends on seasonal decorations.

The motion has drawn significant coverage, following a front-page story in the Victoria Times Colonist. It's since been picked up by most local news outlets and several national and international publications.

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Canada repeals blasphemy law

Humanists are cheering the passage of a bill repealing Canada's prohibition on "blasphemous libel" in the Senate today. Canada's 19th century blasphemy law will be no more once the bill receives Royal Assent.

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BC Humanist Association endorses $10aDay Child Care Plan

At its most recent board meeting, the BC Humanist Association unanimously agreed to join hundreds of organizations in endorsing the $10aDay Child Care Plan.

The plan is an initiative of the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC. By making quality child care affordable and accessible, the plan sets a realistic path to meet the needs of BC children, women, families and employers. The Government of BC introduced its Child Care BC plan in February 2018 and is based largely on the $10aDay Plan.

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The rise of the Christian Right in Canada

By André Gagné, Concordia University and Andréa Febres-Gagné, McGill University

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.”

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Join the call for a Secular BC

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.

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Poll: British Columbians oppose teaching creationism in schools

According to a new poll from Research Co, a majority (55%) of British Columbians oppose the teaching of creationism in schools.

Teaching creationism in public school science classrooms was effectively banned in 1996 following debates in the Abbotsford School District; however, a number of private Christian schools that receive public funding continue to mix Biblical literalism with science.

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It's time Canada outlaws physical violence against children

By Valerie Michaelson, Queen's University, Ontario

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.

To date, 54 countries have banned the physical punishment of children, and 56 more have declared that they will. Canada has done neither.

In Canada, the law still permits parents to use physical punishment to discipline their children.

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Chilliwack MLA protests passage of Human Rights Commission

On Thursday, Members of the Legislative Assembly of BC voted unanimously at third reading restore the province's Human Rights Commission. One MLA, however, abstained to protest a government he claims is trying to protect the rights of the nonreligious at the expense of "the right of Christians to follow the biblical ethic that their Lord and their conscience requires."

The bill, introduced earlier this month, was welcomed by the BC Humanist Association and other human rights organizations in the province. It's passage means BC will soon have an independent Human Rights Commissioner whose duty will be to educate and promote human rights in the province.

The existing Human Rights Tribunal provides a space where individuals can bring forward specific claims of discrimination. The Commissioner's work will supplement the Tribunal by proactively researching human rights issues in the province and providing guidance to individuals and organizations seeking to adopt best practices.

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Settlement suggests atheists welcome in United Church ministry

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.

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Mandatory AA policy deemed "unreasonable"

A labour arbitrator has ruled that Interior Health's policies around hospital workers with substance use issues are discriminatory. The policy is immediately suspended.

According to the ruling, the health region's policy meant any employee who disclosed a substance use issue could be immediately suspended and required the employee to commit to abstinence, monitoring for two years, attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings and regular meetings with administration. The Hospital Employees' Union (HEU) filed a complaint under the Labour Relations Code alleging that these requirements were discriminatory and failed to account for individual circumstances of each employee.

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