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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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Humanists raise concern about Christian housing funding

Humanists and secularists are raising concerns about two projects announced as part of a slew of new affordable housing initiatives by the Government of BC.

The BC Humanist Association is concerned that the projects, run by the Pentecostal Christian Life Assembly in Langley and Salvation Army in Vancouver, may exclude LGBTQ+ individuals and use the facilities to proselytize to vulnerable populations. The projects account for 143 of the 4900 new homes and will receive $14.3 million from the province.

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Why conversion therapy and ex-gay ministries should be outlawed

By Gerald Walton, Lakehead University

“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.

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Say no to Operation Christmas Child

Every November, Operation Christmas Child asks parents and families to fill shoeboxes with toys and gifts to deliver to children in the developing world. While seemingly well-intentioned, these gifts are not freely given and are instead a tool to proselytize to a captive audience.

The BC Humanist Association calls on all BC public schools to refuse to participate in this program and has asked the Minister of Education to direct schools to not take part.

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Humanists welcome legislation to restore BC Human Rights Commission

The BC Humanist Association is welcoming legislation introduced today to restore the province's Human Rights Commission.

Ian Bushfield, Executive Director, BC Humanist Association:

Core to Humanism is the promotion of human rights and the creation of a more just and compassionate society. Human Rights Commissions in every other province play a crucial role in that effort as they provide clear guidance to employers, landlords, service providers and citizens about their duties to respect one another's rights.

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