October 26th, 2015 Newsletter Roundup

Through our weekly newsletter, we like to let you know about our upcoming events as well as a number of issues and campaigns that we think might be of interest to you. Let me know if you have any suggestions to include in future roundups. Email: [email protected]

And for the latest news items, be sure to like the BC Humanists on Facebook and follow @BCHumanist on Twitter.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions which appear in the newsletter and in this roundup of all the news which didn't fit within the newsletter are not necessarily shared by all or even most of the members and board of the BC Humanist Association.

This past Sunday, October 25, 2015, Joyce Arthur of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada gave 44 of us an excellent presentation about the recent scurrilous "gotcha" videos campaign by the Christian-right affiliated and Orwellian named Center for Medical Progress to discredit and de-fund Planned Parenthood under the pretext that Planned Parenthood was selling (for profit) "unborn babies" to be cut up for parts to be used in medical research and development. Her extremely well documented talk gave details of how this campaign, like other similar campaigns in the past, used lies to spread the "news" among uncritical news outlets that Planned Parenthood was breaking the law to profit from selling aborted fetuses. A lively discussion followed focused mainly on the dangers of allowing religious dogma to influence medical policies, and the need for more independent press.

Upcoming Events

On Sunday, November 1, 2015, at the Oakridge Seniors Centre, we will be showing a video of Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz, in a panel discussion at Harvard, speaking on the new book on which they have collaborated: Islam and the Future of Tolerance. Maajid is a former fundamentalist Islamist who is now working to reform Islam. Also, just before the video, Ian Bushfield, Executive Director of BCHA, will be giving a short report on his recent trip to meet with skeptics, Humanists, and atheists in Alberta.

On Sunday, November 8, 2015, at the Oakridge Seniors Centre, we will have a presentation by Marylen Reid on The Therapeutic Value of Touch.

On Sunday, November 15, 2015, at the Oakridge Seniors Centre, we will have another presentation by Joyce Arthur on Polyglots and Linguistics - Why only about 3% of people manage to become fluent in more than 4 languages, while most of us have a big challenge with mastery of a second language.

On Sunday, November 22, 2015, at the Oakridge Seniors Centre, Nick Taylor of Basic Income Vancouver will speak on the movement to implement a basic minimum income for all Canadians and why that is a good idea.

See all upcoming events.

BCHA Book Club

The November book club selection is Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Dan Kahneman. The meeting will be on Tuesday, November 3, 2015 at 7pm at Goldis and Kirsten's home. At the beginning of that meeting, we will decide on the selection for the February 2, 2016 meeting.

The December book club selection is Waking Up by Sam Harris. The meeting will be on Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 7pm at Goldis and Kirsten's home. At the beginning of that meeting, we will decide on the selection for the March 1, 2016 meeting.

There will be no January 2016 book club meeting.


Doors open for our Vancouver meetings at the Oakridge Seniors Centre at 10:00 am for BYO coffee, tea, and socializing. Please help us welcome all attendees by introducing yourself and asking about themselves (if you are comfortable doing that). We want all attendees (and especially first-timers) to feel welcome and part of our Humanist community. At 10:30 am we start our presentation. The meetings take place at the Oakridge Seniors' Centre at the West side of the Oakridge Mall at 41st and Cambie. There is a Canada Line station which exits right into the mall.

Check the BCHA Vancouver Meetup page for more details on the meetings mentioned above and for what we have lined up into November and beyond. Also, please RSVP there, so that Meetup members have an idea of how many people usually attend these meetings. Please be aware that while we do our best to ensure that the scheduled programs go ahead as scheduled here, there are no guarantees and last minute changes may be necessary due to circumstances beyond our control.

More News


Most of you have doubtless found out by now that our next Prime Minister is Justin Trudeau of the Liberal Party of Canada. One of the first of hopefully many positive actions he is taking is to invite all 3 major opposition party leaders and all provincial premiers to the Paris Climate Change talks at the end of next month.


National Day of Action Rally

Please join us on November 4, 2015 for a Day of Action and Solidarity for the right to die with dignity in Canada. Our collective voices must be heard by both provincial and federal levels of government as we urge all of our legislators to commit to upholding the spirit and letter of the Carter decision for the right to die with dignity.

Date: November 4th 2015
Time: 12:00-1:30 PM
Venue: Vancouver Art Gallery
Address: 750 Hornby St., Vancouver 
RSVP: Renee [email protected] or Sue [email protected]
More Information: Follow the link.


Leah Remini will be on ABC's 20/20 program this Friday, October 30, 2015 at 10pm Vancouver time, talking about her decision to leave Scientology and the effects that had on her life. 


The Vancouver Institute will be featuring a talk by Mohamed Fahmy, former English Bureau Chief of Al Jazeera at 8:15 pm in the Woodward Instructional Resources Center, Lecture Hall 2 this coming Saturday, October 31, 2015. Mr Fahmy, who is also an award winning author, was finally released from an Egyptian prison where he was being held on trumped-up terrorism charges, barely in time to make this gig. This event is likely to be over-attended so if you want to sit in the main hall, come early with proof of membership in the Institute. Here's more information on the lecture. Attendance is free but you can join the Vancouver Institute for $25 a year.

Upcoming Vancouver Institute lectures are listed here.


Texas authorities raided several Planned Parenthood clinics looking for patient records after cancelling all Medicaid contracts with them. This is an effort to pander to the Christian right affiliated Center for Medical Progress whose recent spate of scurrilous "gotcha" videos falsely purported to show Planned Parenthood breaking the law by selling aborted fetuses to medical research institutions. Joyce Arthur exposed these tactics at our most recent Vancouver Sunday meeting. Attacks like this, which serve not only to generate more abortions under less safe conditions while also harming general health care for poor women, seem to crop up in bible-thumping areas of the US and around the world with appalling regularity. These raids and inquisitions never find any wrong-doing on the part of Planned Parenthood and similar organizations, but they manage to do a lot of damage to the availability of essential medical services. Meanwhile, the daughters, wives, and mistresses of the wealthy have no problem flying off to more liberal jurisdictions when they find themselves embarrassed by unplanned pregnancies.


After Canada's election, we need to worry about the relentless drive toward theocracy in our neighbouring country to the South.  Jeffrey Tayler's Sunday Secular Sermon on Salon takes aim at the trend among US presidential candidates to pander to those who would scrap the provision in the first amendment of the US constitution which mandates a separation between church and state.


Big Think presents an interview with the ever entertaining and enlightening Bill Nye the Science Guy. Nye explains how science education promotes our natural curiosity, which is what allowed us to survive despite a notable paucity of natural weapons with which to fend off predators.


From NPR, here is a moving story of one Nepalese girl's struggle to break the taboos around menstruation that force girls and women to stay outdoors, sleep in wall-less sheds, and refrain from touching anyone while they are menstruating. Some religious traditions are more harmful than others.


Also from NPR, the infamous Hungarian camerawoman whose child-kicking proclivities were exposed to general disapproval on the internet and who lost her job as a result, is suing Facebook.  


E O Wilson, the father of sociobiology tells it like it is in this heartwarming and thought-provoking story from Raw Story


The Secular Coalition for America is sponsoring a campaign entitled Put Kids First. It is a much needed effort to eliminate ALL non-medical exemptions to vaccinations in the United States. Such a campaign is also urgently needed in Canada and other countries where people - whether for religious reasons or because of gullible acceptance of misinformation from the internet - are refusing to vaccinate themselves and their children. The ignorant fear of a minority of scientifically illiterate folks should not be allowed to endanger the lives of children or immune compromised adults. Herd immunity through high vaccination rates is one of the greatest public health advances in history.


Elon Musk, superhero entrepreneur, is building a vacuum-sealed track, 780 mph, maglev train between LA and San Francisco, possibly beginning construction within weeks. 


The Daily KOS reports a welcome, evidence-based change of mind by Dr Sanjay Gupta on the subject of medical marijuana. Dr Gupta, after examining the evidence more closely, concluded that there was never a science-based justification for criminalizing marijuana possession or use.


From the CBC, comes this story where a mother's right to decide what, if any, religious indoctrination her child gets was upheld by a BC provincial court judge. 


From Tony Ortega's excellent blog comes an expose of the techniques used by one of the newest designer religions, Scientology, to ruin members' lives.  The former chief practitioner and refiner of those techniques explains how they work.


From Amnesty International, an open letter to Prime Minister elect, Justin Trudeau. 


Here from the Patheos blog site is an excellent rant on separation of church and state and the charity status of religions.


Phillosophy Dinners are starting up again, sponsored by Glen Brauer. The next topic is The Basic Income Movement, which is also the topic of an upcoming BCHA Sunday Meeting on November 22, 2015. Anyone interested in taking part in Philosophy Dinners must sign up and pay the small fee ($5) in advance via Meetup since there a limited number of physical seats (and their format involves no more than 6 people to a table in order to keep the groups small). Glen is also co-ordinator of psychology dinners, and calopia, your one-stop shopping site for worthwhile causes. 


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