While Buddhists, Wiccans, Unitarians and even Scientologists can perform marriages in British Columbia, Humanists and other atheists are being discriminated against by the province's arbitrary implementation of the Marriage Act, according to a new report by the BC Humanist Association.
The Case for Humanist Marriage in BC sets out the current laws governing the solemnization of marriages in BC and across Canada and contrasts it with seven other jurisdictions around the world where Humanists are permitted to perform marriages. In Scotland, for example, Humanist marriages are now more popular than Church of Scotland weddings.
The report calls for a judicial challenge or legislative change to the province's Marriage Act.Read more
BC's Select Standing Committee on Health released a report last week calling for the province to fund evidence-based addiction recovery programs and expand harm reduction services.
The recommendations were part of the report, Looking Forward: Improving Rural Health Care, Primary Care, and Addictions Recovery Programs, which follows consultations that the BC Humanist Association took part in last June.
Specifically, the BC Humanist Association called on the province to end its tacit endorsement of religious based addictions recovery programs, like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).Read more
Canada's highest court announced last week that it will hear appeals on the proposed law school at Evangelical Christian Trinity Western University.
Law societies in BC, Ontario and Nova Scotia had denied accreditation to the school on the basis that the Community Covenant it forces students to sign excludes same-sex couples. Appeal courts in Nova Scotia and BC sided with TWU, while the Ontario court sided with their law society. The Supreme Court of Canada will hear the appeals to the BC and Ontario decisions together later this year.Read more
A man is facing blasphemy charges after allegedly burning a copy of the Quran for an online video posted to an anti-Islam group in December 2015.
The prosecution marks the first time in 45 years that Denmark has invoked the law. The last accusations were brought against a radio station that was ultimately acquitted in 1971. The last conviction was in 1946.Read more
Canada's blasphemy law is under review by the Minister of Justice and could be repealed as part of broader justice reform.
Jody Wilson-Raybould made the commitment in her response to a petition signed by nearly 7500 people calling on the government to repeal section 296 (the prohibition on blasphemous libel) of the Criminal Code.Read more
The position has been filled
The BC Humanist Association (BCHA) is seeking a Vancouver Meetings Technical Assistant to help us professionalize and produce our weekly meetings. The BCHA has been hosting a weekly meeting series in Vancouver for many years. Recently, the meetings have featured a number of prominent and fascinating local speakers. The majority of those talks have been posted through our podcast and some have been posted as videos online.Read more
The BC Humanist Association (BCHA) joins teachers and the President of the Cariboo-Chilcotin Teachers' Association (CCTA) in celebrating School District No 27 decision to end its policy of distributing Gideon Bibles to grade 5 students in the district.
In a phone call in response to the BCHA, SD 27 confirmed today that it would "not permit" the practice to continue. The BCHA argued in a November 29, 2016 letter, that the distribution violates the School Act's requirement that schools be "strictly secular and non-sectarian" and arguably also puts the district in breech of the Charter by promoting one religious viewpoint to the exclusion of others.
The BCHA had asked whether the District would allow other religious or atheist materials, including editions of Godless Comics, to be distributed, if it refused to cease distributing bibles.Read more
The BC Humanist Association has published its submission to the Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA) online consultation on charities' political activities.
Restrictions on charities political activities came under scrutiny under the previous government and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals campaigned on revising those rules. However, at its core, Canada's charity law dates back to English legislation from 1601 and privileges religious worldviews over atheistic ones.
The BCHA is asking the government to pass new legislation that creates a new legal definition of charity to rectify this inequality and to end the restrictions on charities' free speech.Read more
In a unanimous decision released today, the BC Court of Appeal sided with Trinity Western University over the Law Society of BC.
The Court of Appeal agreed with the BC Supreme Court that the steps taken by the Law Society of BC’s to reject TWU’s proposed law school were flawed. The appeal court went further by declaring that TWU’s religious freedoms outweighed the discrimination against LGBTQ law students would face.
TWU excludes LGBTQ students by requiring all students to sign a Community Covenant that forbids sex outside a heterosexual marriage and abortion.
In June, the BC Humanist Association and Canadian Secular Alliance argued in a co-intervention that religious freedom doesn’t protect the creation of a secular law school. We further argued that the Community Covenant coerces TWU students into following a narrow Evangelical Christian worldview, when TWU, by its own admission, welcomes students of all faiths and none.Read more
The Port Coquitlam Legion is ignoring a local resident’s concerns that its 2015 Remembrance Day ceremony was too Christian.
In a June letter to the Legion, Rhamona Vos-Browning said the 2015 ceremony “left me somewhat saddened.” He described how despite the “small, diverse sea of people” in attendance, the ceremony “ended with a clearly sectarian closing prayer” and included a blessing “May the Lord bless and keep you.”
If the Legion insisted on maintaining the prayer, Vos-Browning offered to help the Legion find a Humanist officiant, such as one from the BC Humanist Association, to provide a secular invocation too.
Two months later, after following up his letter with several phone calls, Vos-Browning was told by the Legion that the agenda is set by the BC/Yukon Command. But when Vos-Browning spoke to the Command, he was told there are no rules to “force branches to use specific prayers or invocations” and that Command would inform the Port Coquitlam branch of this fact.
Despite this assurance, Vos-Browning has not been able to confirm whether the Port Coquitlam Legion plans to include a sectarian prayer again in its 2016 program.
Mr Rhamona Vos-Browning said:
My objective is not to embarrass the folk who organize our local event - they put in a lot of time and effort and they do a good job - however, Port Coquitlam is a diverse community and our public ceremonies need to reflect that.
Ian Bushfield, Executive Director of the BC Humanist Association:
Men and women of all faith and none have fought and died for this country. Public ceremonies like those run by the Legion in communities across Canada should be sensitive to this, particularly as Canada has veterans of all faiths and none. Sectarian prayers dishonour the atheists and members of minority religions who have served the country.
In November 2015, Humanist veterans wrote to the Grandview Legion in Vancouver over concerns that its ceremony excluded non-Christians.Read more