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May 152011
 

By Daniel Mallett

A Catholic bigot, who also happens to be the Pope’s right-hand man, will be preaching in Edmonton this weekend about atheism, secularism, rationalism… http://www.edmontonjournal.com/life/Pope+preacher+visit+Edmonton/4702517/story.html This is the guy who compared criticism of the Catholic hierachy’s cover-up of the rape and torture of innocent children to be on par with “the most shameful acts of anti-Semitism.”    Here is a link to his outline: http://www.newman.edu/Index.aspx?SitePageId=%2fVI4Q4TCJRLr%40HDJpJ4dqw%3d%3d

  • The Challenge of Atheistic Scientism – 9 a.m.
  • The Challenge of Rationalism – 11 a.m.
  • The Challenge of Secularism – 2 p.m.

I can almost guess what he’ll say.  Us atheists are just as irrational because you can’t prove his particular imaginary sky-daddy Yahweh doesn’t exist.  Science can’t know everything therefore zombie-Jesus is real.  Rationalism is not rational unless you have an invisible Daryl Katz like omniscence in the background holding it up.  And look at how secularism is destroying society what with all the baby killers and lesbian sex.

May 032011
 

This could also be filed under “what’s the harm?” as in why are you so against religion, what’s the harm?  Many people are wondering how it is possible that the C’s won a majority.  Well, here is part of the answer. They have an automatic vote from 65% of religious believers.  from http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/columnists/Reclaiming+religious+vote/4715273/story.html

Among Catholics who go to Mass weekly, the Conservatives had 59% of voter intentions, while the Liberals were at 31%. Among Catholics who don’t go to Mass weekly, the lead was 50% to 26% for the Conservatives. Weekly churchgoers were 65% Conservative, and 18% Liberal.

In the United States, the number-one predictor of voting behaviour is religious practice.

I suspect the same effect holds true in Canada.  Religious belief, which many people claim as the most important thing in their life, matters.  Our beliefs inform our actions.  They influence how we act, and of course, how we vote.  Also, I strongly suspect this effect is exaggerated because church-going people probably tend to vote more often than non-church goers. The problem I have is that the control and misinformation rampant in these church communities is moving people to vote not based on evidence and reason — but on ideology and emotion.  If you’ve read “The Armageddon Factor” and understand the deep roots the Conservative party has to fundamentalist religion, you should be scared for Canada this morning.

 Posted by at 9:15 PM
May 022011
 

By Daniel Mallett
Religion and politics — a dangerous mix.  In a lot of ways I feel the same goes for atheism and politics.  In its most basic sense, atheist is a descriptor of an individual who lacks a belief in god/gods/goddess/goddesses or any other type of supernatural being(s).  That is it. There is a healthy debate in atheist circles as to whether the definition ought to extend further than this.  In practise, I think it does.  But I think the formal definition is a very helpful reminder that the only common thread all atheists share is the lack of belief in god.  From there, yes, many of us will share values such as the use of reason and the scientific method.  Many find common values in humanism and believe strongly in the separation of church and state.  Many atheists will be skeptics.  However, there are no guarantees for any given atheist that any of the above holds.  Why the long pre-amble?  Because this is not a post about who to vote for, and I am not assuming that all atheists will vote a certain way.  I simply want to recommend a book (http://www.amazon.ca/Armageddon-Factor-Christian-Nationalism-Canada/dp/0307356469) point out that there is definetely a party in Canada that the fundamentalist Christians are voting for, and there is a reason for that:

In her new book, award-winning journalist Marci McDonald draws back the curtain on the mysterious world of the right-wing Christian nationalist movement in Canada and its many ties to the Conservative government of Stephen Harper.   To most Canadians, the politics of the United States — where fundamentalist Christians wield tremendous power and culture wars split the country — seem too foreign to ever happen here. But The Armageddon Factor shows that the Canadian Christian right — infuriated by the legalization of same-sex marriage and the increasing secularization of society — has been steadily and stealthily building organizations, alliances and contacts that have put them close to the levers of power and put the government of Canada in their debt.   Determined to outlaw homosexuality and abortion, and to restore Canada to what they see as its divinely determined destiny to be a nation ruled by Christian laws and precepts, this group of true believers has moved the country far closer to the American mix of politics and religion than most Canadians would ever believe.   McDonald’s book explores how a web of evangelical far-right Christians have built think-tanks and foundations that play a prominent role in determining policy for the Conservative government of Canada. She shows how Biblical belief has allowed Christians to put dozens of MPs in office and to build a power base across the country, across cultures and even across religions.   “What drives that growing Christian nationalist movement is its adherents’ conviction that the end times foretold in the book of Revelation are at hand,” writes McDonald. “Braced for an impending apocalypse, they feel impelled to ensure that Canada assumes a unique, scripturally ordained role in the final days before the Second Coming — and little else.”   The Armageddon Factor shows how the religious right’s influence on the Harper government has led to hugely important but little-known changes in everything from foreign policy and the makeup of the courts to funding for scientific research and social welfare programs like daycare. And the book also shows that the religious influence is here to stay, regardless of which party ends up in government. 

 Posted by at 9:02 PM

Catholic bigotry forces parents to move

 Morinville School Issue, News  Comments Off on Catholic bigotry forces parents to move
Apr 272011
 

By Daniel Mallett

Should be a very interesting meeting next Tuesday as the latest developments in the Morinville school debacle continue to play out: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/life/Morinville+selling+house+giving+fight+secular+education/4662182/story.html It should be noted that Donna Hunter and the other parents she represents are not even asking for the dissolution of the Catholic school system in Alberta.  They are only asking for a secular education for THEIR children.  In my humble opinion, I think the Catholic school board should receive no public funds.  But these parents (officially) have nothing against the children of Catholic parents being indoctrinated into the Catholic religion using taxpayer’s dollars.  They just don’t choose that for their own kids.  It is sad, that for some of them, the only option left seems to be to get out of town — which is exactly what the Catholic bigots want.

 Posted by at 9:01 PM
Apr 272011
 

Time
Tuesday, May 3 · 7:00pm – 10:00pm

 


Location
Room 7, 6th Floor, Stanley A Milner Library, 7 Sir Winston Churchill Square, Downtown Edmonton, AB


More Info
The topic for this month’s roundtable discussion is “Secularism and Education in Alberta”. This discussion will have a focus on the recent call by parents in Morinville for a secular option in regards to the schools in Morinville. Donna Hunter and other parents from Morinville interested in a secular education for their children will be special guests at this month’s meeting.

Round table discussion at 7:00 pm Drinks at Elephant and Castle after 9:00 pm All are welcome to both events. Also, We are looking to record this months meeting. So, if anyone has a video camera and would be able to bring it, we would all really appreciate it. Just let one of the board members know if you are able to do this.

Easter for Atheists

 Christianity, Religions  Comments Off on Easter for Atheists
Apr 252011
 

So this weekend the collective “we” celebrate Easter.  It is important to note that the roots of Easter go back to ancient anglo-saxon pagan practises. Rabbits are a symbol of fertility.  It is no coincidence that as the vernal equinox brings fertility to the earth (at least for those of us in the northern hemisphere) we celebrate a holiday of new life and fertility. Easter has pagan roots, although the exact details are uncertain.  It may have been the case that the entire month of April was devoted to the anglo-saxon goddess Eostre: Eggs are a symbol of rebirth.   The use of eggs may also stem from the fact that many Catholics abstained from eggs during Easter.  Also, the Zoroastrians celebrated their new year at the Spring equinox by painting eggs. The point is that don’t buy any nonsense about Easter being a “Christian” holiday.  Enjoy the time with friends and family.  Eat some chocolate bunny’s ear off and watch the snow melt.  And hey, if you’re looking to spend time with someone, call up an Atheist — they’re probably not busy!

Apr 202011
 

By Daniel Mallett

The week leading up to Easter Sunday is traditionally celebrated as “Holy Week” in the Christian calendar. To honour holy week, Jerry Coyne over at whyevolutionistrue.com has been featuring a “Sin of the Day”. So far we have:

What immediately struck me is how none of these “sins” is necessarily anything that actually harms self or others.  Yes, taken to excess they could cause harm — what can’t?  But when committed by responsible consenting adults there is absolutely nothing immoral about masturbation, fornication, blasphemy, divorce or homosexuality.  So why does religion such as Catholicism forbid these things? For one it is the general obsession of religionists concerning sex.  It is only one of these so far (blasphemy) that does not involve human sexuality in some way.  And since sexuality is such a fundamental part of being a human being, perhaps controlling sex is a way of controlling people.  What fascinates me is that I do not believe that some Catholic bishop just sat down some day and randomly pulled these sins out of his pontificating hat.  These memes evolve from complex tapestries of cultural and religious history. Let us know in the comments what your favourite sin is!

Apr 142011
 

By Daniel Mallett

What’s this I hear? An Alberta PC MLA that actually has something logical to say on education. Is hell frozen over? Oh wait, we don’t believe in hell… MLA Ken Allred agrees that:

“Maybe it is time to look at establishing a single secular public school system in Alberta and allowing those who wish to go down a different path to establish private schools,” he wrote.

Ok, well, he’s half-way there. A single secular public school system in Alberta that is fair, well-funded, non-discriminatory, and secular. Sounds simple. Sounds brilliant. I wish he hadn’t added that last part about private schools, but hey, we can’t have it all…

 Posted by at 8:59 PM